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04.20.19

Links 20/4/2019: Weblate 3.6 and Pop!_OS 19.04

Posted in News Roundup at 2:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Death by PowerPoint: the slide that killed seven people

      Edward Tufte’s full report makes for fascinating reading. Since being released in 1987 PowerPoint has grown exponentially to the point where it is now estimated than thirty million PowerPoint presentations are made every day. Yet, PowerPoint is blamed by academics for killing critical thought. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has banned it from meetings. Typing text on a screen and reading it out loud does not count as teaching. An audience reading text off the screen does not count as learning. Imagine if the engineers had put up a slide with just: “foam strike more than 600 times bigger than test data.” Maybe NASA would have listened. Maybe they wouldn’t have attempted re-entry. Next time you’re asked to give a talk remember Columbia. Don’t just jump to your laptop and write out slides of text. Think about your message. Don’t let that message be lost amongst text. Death by PowerPoint is a real thing. Sometimes literally.

  • Server

    • Video: A Greybeard’s Worst Nightmare (Updated)

      Trying to wrap one’s head around the paradigm changes happening in the industry can be difficult. Everything is just moving way too fast. Daniel Riek has been giving a talk for a while now entitled, “A Greybeard’s Worst Nightmare.” Here is a fairly recent iteration of his talk where he does an excellent job of providing both a historical context and a bridge to understanding the revolution and evolution that is happening. Unfortunately a lot of the progress has been coming from black box services provided by proprietary companies who don’t see lock-in as a problem. Daniel explains how the benefits that have been gained by adopting free and open source software don’t have to be abandoned in an effort to keep up with industry methodology shifts providing the most innovation and value. We can and are keeping up… but there is a LOT to learn.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Ang Takes a Punch – The Friday Stream

      A bunch of the crew get together and share a few stories, recap the week, and play a little music.

      This is a beta test of a community live event we are doing on Fridays at 2pm Pacific: http://jblive.tv

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.9

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.9 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.36
    • Linux 4.14.113
    • Linux 4.9.170
    • Linux 5.1 Picking Up Keyboard Mappings For Full-Screen, Toggle Display Keys

      Coming as a late addition to the Linux 5.1 kernel are some long overdue keyboard key mappings for different functionality.

      Linux Input subsystem maintainer Dmitry Torokhov sent in a pull request on Friday of input updates for Linux 5.1. Among the changes are adding of mapping for Expose/Overview, Keyboard Brightness Up/Down/Toggle, Full Screen, and Toggle Display keys within the kernel’s generic HID driver.

    • Linux 5.2 Is Introducing The Fieldbus Subsystem

      A new subsystem queued for introduction in the upcoming Linux 5.2 cycle is the Fieldbus Subsystem, which is initially being added to the staging area of the kernel.

      This newest subsystem for the Linux kernel benefits industrial systems. Fieldbus is a set of network protocols for real-time distributed control of automated industrial systems. Fieldbus is used for connecting different systems/components/instruments within industrial environments. Fieldbus is used for connecting facilities ranging from manufacturing plants up to nuclear energy facilities.

    • Panfrost DRM Driver Being Added To Linux 5.2 For Midgard / Bifrost Graphics

      Not only is the longtime Lima DRM driver for Arm Mali 400/450 graphics set to finally premiere with the Linux 5.2 kernel, but the Panfrost DRM driver is also being mainlined for the newer Mali graphics hardware.

      The Panfrost DRM driver is set to be added to the Linux 5.2 kernel. Panfrost is the open-source, reverse-engineered DRM/KMS driver for Arm Mali Midgard and Bifrost graphics processors where as the Lima driver focuses on the 400/450 series.

    • Graphics Stack

      • amdgpu drm-next-5.2
      • AMDGPU Has Another Round Of Updates Ahead Of Linux 5.2

        Feature work on DRM-Next for the Linux 5.2 kernel cycle is winding down while today AMD has sent in what could be their last round of AMDGPU feature updates for this next kernel release.

        Building off their earlier Linux 5.2 feature work are more updates. That earlier round brought new SMU11 enablement code for Vega 20, various other Vega 20 features, HMM preparations, and other code changes.

      • 2019 Election Round 2 voting OPEN

        To all X.Org Foundation Members:

        The round 2 of X.Org Foundation’s annual election is now open and will remain open until 23:59 UTC on 2 May 2019.

        Four of the eight director seats are open during this election, with the four nominees receiving the highest vote totals serving as directors for two year terms.

        There were six candidates nominated. For a complete list of the candidates and their personal statements, please visit the 2019 X.Org Elections page at https://www.x.org/wiki/BoardOfDirectors/Elections/2019/

        The new bylaw changes were approved in the first round of voting.

        Here are some instructions on how to cast your vote:

        Login to the membership system at: https://members.x.org/

        If you do not remember your password, you can click on the “lost password” button and enter your user name. An e-mail will be sent to you with your password. If you have problems with the membership system, please e-mail membership at x.org.

        When you login you will see an “Active Ballots” section with the “X.Org 2019 Elections Round 2″ ballot. When you click on that you will be presented with a page describing the ballot. At the bottom you will find a number of dropdowns that let you rank your candidates by order of preference.

        For the election: There is a pull-down selection box for 1st choice, 2nd, choice, and so on. Pick your candidates top to bottom in order of preference, avoiding duplicates.

        After you have completed your ballot, click the “Cast vote” button. Note that once you click this button, your votes will be cast and you will not be able to make further changes, so please make sure you are satisfied with your votes before clicking the “Cast vote” button.

        After you click the “Vote” button, the system will verify that you have completed a valid ballot. If your ballot is invalid (e.g., you duplicated a selection or did not answer the By-laws approval question), it will return you to the previous voting page. If your ballot is valid, your votes will be recorded and the system will show you a notice that your votes were cast.

        Note that the election will close at 23:59 UTC on 2 May 2019. At that time, the election committee will count the votes and present the results to the current board for validation. After the current board validates the results, the election committee will present the results to the Members.

        Harry, on behalf of the X.Org elections committee

      • It’s Time To Re-Vote Following The Botched 2019 X.Org Elections

        While there were the recent X.Org Foundation board elections, a do-over was needed as their new custom-written voting software wasn’t properly recording votes… So here’s now your reminder to re-vote in these X.Org elections.

        At least with the initial round of voting they reached a super majority and the ballot question of whether the X.Org Foundation should formally fold FreeDesktop.org into its umbrella worked and that X.Org + FreeDesktop.org hook-up passed so all is well on that front. But for the Board of Directors elections, that’s where re-voting is needed with the voting software that now correctly records the votes.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.05 Linux Driver Brings Vulkan Ray-Tracing To Non-RTX GPUs

        As we’ve been expecting from NVIDIA’s recent DXR ray-tracing support back-ported to Pascal/Volta GPUs, there’s now a NVIDIA Linux driver beta that offers VK_NV_ray_tracing for pre-Turing graphics processors.

        The NVIDIA 418.52.05 beta driver released on Friday now officially supports the company’s Vulkan ray-tracing extension going back to GeForce GTX 1000 “Pascal” graphics cards. The line-up going back to the GeForce GTX 1060, including the Volta-based Titan V and Turing GTX 1600 series now has the ability to utilize Vulkan-powered ray-tracing. This is nice for developers though for Linux end-users/gamers there isn’t any significant available yet utilizing Vulkan ray-tracing besides a few code samples and some early engine work for allowing the functionality; most of the ray-tracing activity has been on the Windows side and focused on DirectX 12, but hopefully that will change.

      • NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Install Docker Compose

        In our last blogpost NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit – Introduction we digged into the brand-new NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit and we did found out, that Docker 18.06.1-CE is already pre-installed on this great ARM board.

      • NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Upgrade Docker Engine

        In our last blogposts about the NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit – Introduction and NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Install Docker Compose we digged into the brand-new NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit and we know, that Docker 18.06.1-CE is already installed, but…

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • How do you say SUSE?

        SUSECON 2019 has come and gone and was definitely one for the books. Whether you were able to attend the event in person or not, you can still view plenty of videos and content that was shared at the event.
        One of my favorite videos from the week was “How do you say SUSE” -which comically reminded attendees how to properly say “SUSE.” Don’t quite know exactly how to pronounce SUSE? We’ve got you covered….Broadway musical style.
        The keynote videos from each day are not to be missed as well as the series of amazing music parody videos that have recently been created. One of the major take-a-ways this year was the recent announcement that as of March 15, not only did SUSE become an independent company, we are now the largest independent open source company in the industry.

    • Debian Family

      • New Features Coming to Debian 10 Buster Release

        There is no set release date for Debian 10 Buster. Why is that so? Unlike other distributions, Debian doesn’t do time-based releases. It instead focuses on fixing release-critical bugs. Release-critical bugs are bugs which have either security issues CVE’s or some other critical issues which prevent Debian from releasing.

        Debian has four parts in its archive, called Main, contrib, non-free and optional. Of the four, Debian Developers and Release Managers are most concerned that the packages which form the bedrock of the distribution i.e. Main is rock stable. So they make sure that there aren’t any major functional or security issues.

        This is necessary because Debian is used as a server in many different environments and people have come to depend on Debian. They also look at upgrade cycles to see nothing breaks for which they look for people to test and see if something breaks while upgrading and inform Debian of the same.

      • Jonathan Carter: Debian project leader elections 2019

        I mentioned internal turmoil at the beginning of the post, this was because up until a few days before my self-nomination, I’ve been very confident, and consistently so for a very long time, that I never want to run for DPL. The work that I care about and spend most attention on doesn’t at all require me being a DPL. Also, having more responsibility in areas that I’d rather let others take care of sounded a bit daunting. I’d much rather spend time on technical and more general community issues than very specific interpersonal problems or administrative tasks like reading and approving budget proposals, sending out developer certificates, etc. On top of that, I was aware that running for DPL and opening myself like that means that I open myself to a very wide array of critique, that people might put everything I say under a microscope and try to tear it apart, and that running for DPL means being prepared for that.

        Despite that turmoil, a small nagging part kept asking the questions “But what if?”, what if I were DPL, what would I do? What would I change? What would I do as DPL that would make Debian better, and better as a DPL than I just could as a normal debian developer? These questions helped form in my head what my platform would look like, why I wanted to run for DPL, and how the rest of my campaign would shaped up. This year is also unique for me compared to previous years in that I will actually have time over the next year to focus on DPL-like activities. That, combined with the plans that were shaping up that I’m very enthusiastic about, convinced me that it’s time to step up and proceed with my self-nomination.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 19.04?

            If you like shiny new software, you may already know that Canonical just launched a new version of Ubuntu. It may be exciting, but is it worth the upgrade? The same question applies if you’re one of those people that don’t care about new things. Your old(er) Ubuntu installation gets the job done. But does version 19.04 solve any problems you currently have?

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Release | Stephan Fabel – Director Of Product – Canonical Ltd

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent innovations from key open infrastructure projects – like OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud. OpenStack Stein brings AI and NFV hardware acceleration with GPGPU and FPGA passthrough. Ceph Mimic provides multi-site replication and the latest Kubernetes 1.14 enables enterprise storage and the new containerd direct runtime. Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

          • 开源基础设施,桌面和物联网开发者都聚焦在Ubuntu 19.04 [Ed: Canonical has been producing many articles like these lately. Aiming at new markets.]
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pop!_OS 19.04 is here!

              It’s spring again! Leaves are budding and updates are blooming for Pop!_OS. Here’s what’s new in Pop!_OS 19.04:

              -The Slim Mode option maximizes your screen real estate by reducing the height of the header on application windows
              -Dark Mode gives your applications a relaxing ambience for nighttime viewing. Both Dark Mode and Slim Mode can be activated in the Appearance settings menu.

            • Pop!_OS 19.04 Run Through

              In this video, we look at Pop!_OS 19.04.

            • Fixing the icon regression in Pop!_OS 19.04

              After installing Pop!_OS 19.04 yesterday, my desktop experience became an eyesore as the previously consistent icon set was replaced with what I can only describe as icon vomit soup.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • State of enterprise open source: 5 telling stats

    For starters, open source plays a big role in three of the biggest intersecting trends in IT right now: Containers, cloud, and DevOps. Each has open source DNA (and each encompasses highly coveted IT talent skill sets). Kubernetes has become the highest-velocity project in open source history. In fact, IT leaders now see open source not only as agile but also as strategic, according to “The State of Enterprise Open Source,” a new report conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by Red Hat, which queried 950 IT leaders worldwide.

    What does that mean in practice for your peers? Is open source now connected to moving the business forward? How does security weigh in?

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 57
      • My 20 years of web

        Twenty years ago I resigned from my former job at a financial news wire to pursue a career in San Francisco. We were transitioning our news service (Jiji Press, a Japanese wire service similar to Reuters) to being a web-based news site. I had followed the rise and fall of Netscape and the Department of Justice anti-trust case on Microsoft’s bundling of IE with Windows. But what clinched it for me was a Congressional testimony of the Federal Reserve Chairman (the US central bank) about his inability to forecast the potential growth of the Internet.

        Working in the Japanese press at the time gave me a keen interest in international trade. Prime Minister Hashimoto negotiated with United States Trade Representative Mickey Cantor to enhance trade relations and reduce protectionist tariffs that the countries used to artificially subsidize domestic industries. Japan was the second largest global economy at the time. I realized that if I was going to play a role in international trade it was probably going to be in Japan or on the west coast of the US.
        I decided that because Silicon Valley was the location where much of the industry growth in internet technology was happening, that I had to relocate there if I wanted to engage in this industry. So I packed up all my belongings and moved to San Francisco to start my new career.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Meet the programmer-turned-drummer-turned-lawyer who’s helping open source startups stand their ground against Amazon’s cloud amid a ‘clash of ideologies’

      She’s made a name for herself as one of the top experts in the field, especially in the last year. Companies like MongoDB, Redis Labs, and Confluent turned to Meeker to help them write new, more restrictive licenses that prevent big cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, and Tencent from using their code freely.

      She calls 2018 a “watershed year” for these new licenses, which sparked fierce debate in the open source software community. The companies in question argued that while it’s completely legal for the big tech companies to take open source code and resell it as a commercial service for profit, it’s not especially fair — especially since Amazon, in particular, is seen as not contributing enough code back to the open source communities in return.

    • Long Lost ‘Zork’ Source Code Uploaded to GitHub, But Few People Understand It

      Using a compiler created by McGrew, the ZIL Facebook group is now testing the code—and it’s working. One user has got all three Zork games to compile. This leaves things open for ZIL enthusiasts to tinker with the code and test it in-real time, packing on additions and modding existing games. But the licenses here are tricky; Scott noted that these were given to him anonymously and “not considered to be under an open license,” he wrote in the repository notes. That’s because Activision owns the IP[sic].

  • BSD

    • docbook2mdoc-1.0.0 released

      After doing active development on it for about a month, i just released version 1.0.0 of the DocBook to mdoc converter, docbook2mdoc(1). The OpenBSD port was updated, too. In a nutshell, docbook2mdoc was brought from experimental status to an early release that can be considered mostly usable for production, though no doubt there are still many rough edges. That’s why i called it 1.0.0 and not 1.1.1.

      Lots of features were added including support for many new DocBook XML elements and for two kinds of file inclusion, formatting was improved in many respects, and several reorganizations were done with respect to internal code structure. The expat library is no longer needed, and no other dependency is required.

      See its homepage for all information about the utility and the release notes for details about this release.

      Thanks to Stephen Gregoratto for a number of patches and many useful reports.

      The rest of this article explains some important design and implementation decisions and mentions some use cases.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 13 new GNU releases!

      coreutils-8.31
      ddrescue-1.24
      dr-geo-19.2
      gnuhealth-3.4.1
      gnupg-2.2.15
      help2man-1.47.10
      librejs-7.19
      linux-libre-5.0-gnu
      mit-scheme-10.1.6
      nano-4.0
      octave-5.1.0
      parallel-20190322
      unifont-12.0.01

    • Meetup – with the FSF’s John Sullivan and Donald Robertson, III (Bellingham, WA)

      Free Software Foundation (FSF) executive director John Sullivan and licensing & compliance engineer Donald Robertson, III, will be hosting a meetup in Bellingham, WA, to show appreciation for your support of the FSF’s work and to provide you with an opportunity to meet other FSF members and supporters. They will give a brief update on what the FSF is currently working on and will be curious to hear your thoughts, as well as answer any questions you may have.

  • Programming/Development

    • Eclipse IoT Developer Survey 2019

      The Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Working Group has released the results of its 2019 IoT Developer Survey, an annual exercise intended to deliver valuable insight into programming languages, platforms, infrastructure and tools for building IoT solutions.

      This is the fifth year that this survey has been conducted and the number of participants this time, over 1700, had more than trebled from last year’s 500. Two-thirds of of respondents are currently working professionally on IoT projects, or are expecting to do so in the next 18 months. In all 80% if respondents were already actively involved in doing or learning about IoT, 30% of them outside work.

    • imapautofiler 1.8.0

      imapautofiler applies user-defined rules to automatically organize messages on an IMAP server.

    • Modern business logic tooling workshop, lab 3: Create a domain model

      Since starting to update my free online rules and process automation workshops that showcase how to get started using modern business logic tooling, we’ve come a long way with process automation. The updates started with moving from JBoss BPM to Red Hat Decision Manager and from JBoss BPM Suite to Red Hat Process Automation Manager.

      The first lab update showed how to install Red Hat Decision Manager on your laptop, and the second lab showed how to create a new project. This article highlights the newest lab update for Red Hat Process Automation Manager, where you’ll learn how to create a domain model.

    • AiC: Adventures in consensus

      In the talk I gave at Rust LATAM, I said that the Rust project has always emphasized finding the best solution, rather than winning the argument. I think this is one of our deepest values. It’s also one of the hardest for us to uphold.

      Let’s face it – when you’re having a conversation, it’s easy to get attached to specific proposals. It’s easy to have those proposals change from “Option A” vs “Option B” to “my option” and “their option”. Once this happens, it can be very hard to let them “win” – even if you know that both options are quite reasonable.

      This is a problem I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. So I wanted to start an irregular series of blog posts entitled “Adventures in consensus”, or AiC for short. These posts are my way of exploring the topic, and hopefully getting some feedback from all of you while I’m at it.

      This first post dives into what a phrase like “finding the best solution” even means (is there a best?) as well as the mechanics of how one might go about deciding if you really have the “best” solution. Along the way, we’ll see a few places where I think our current process could do better.

    • Quansight Labs Blog: MOA: a theory for composable and verifiable tensor computations

      Python-moa (mathematics of arrays) is an approach to a high level tensor compiler that is based on the work of Lenore Mullins and her dissertation. A high level compiler is necessary because there are many optimizations that a low level compiler such as gcc will miss. It is trying to solve many of the same problems as other technologies such as the taco compiler and the xla compiler. However, it takes a much different approach than others guided by the following principles.

    • The Human in Devops

      This week a mild epiphany came to me right after a somewhat heated and tense meeting with a team of developers plus project owner of a web project. They were angry and they were not afraid to show it. They were somewhat miffed about the fact that the head wrote them an email pretty much forcing them to participate to make our DevOps initiative a success. All kinds of expletive words were running through my head in relation to describing this team of flabby, tired looking individuals in front of me, which belied the cool demeanour and composure that I was trying so hard to maintain.

      It happened. In the spur of the moment I too got engulfed in a sea of negativity and for a few minutes lost site of what is the most important component or pillar in a successful DevOps initiative. The people.

      “What a bunch of mule heads !” I thought. It’s as plain as day, once this initiative is a success everybody can go home earlier and everything will be more predictable and we can do much much more than we could before. “Why are you fighting this ?!” I was ready to throw my hands up in defeat when it finally dawned on me.

    • Python Bytes: #126 WebAssembly comes to Python
    • Testing metrics thoughts and examples: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT with pytest-play

      In this article I’ll share some personal thoughts about test metrics and talk about some technologies and tools playing around a real example: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT collecting test metrics.

      By the way the considerations contained in this article are valid for any system, technology, test strategy and test tools so you can easily integrate your existing automated tests with statsd with a couple of lines of code in any language.

      I will use the pytest-play tool in this example so that even non programmers should be able to play with automation collecting metrics because this tool is based on YAML (this way no classes, functions, threads, imports, no compilation, etc) and if Docker is already no installation is needed. You’ll need only a bit of command line knowledge and traces of Python expressions like variables["count"] > 0.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Science doesn’t explain tech’s diversity problem — history does

      “Reducing female attrition by one-quarter would add 220,000 people to the highly qualified [science, engineering, and technology] labor pool,” says a 2008 Harvard Business Review research report.

    • What is ZIL anyway?

      The Infocom ZIL code dump has kicked off a small whirlwind of news articles and blog posts. A lot of them are somewhat hazy on what ZIL is, and how it relates to MDL, Lisp, Z-code, Inform, and the rest of the Golden-Age IF ecosystem.

      So I’m going to talk a lot about it! With examples. But let’s go through in chronological order.

    • Should I Resign From My Full Professor Job To Work Fulltime On Cocalc?

      Nearly 3 years ago, I gave a talk at a Harvard mathematics conference announcing that “I am leaving academia to build a company”. What I really did is go on unpaid leave for three years from my tenured Full Professor position. No further extensions of that leave is possible, so I finally have to decide whether or not to go back to academia or resign.

    • Is Email Making Professors Stupid?

      I can think of at least three strong arguments for why higher education should be that industry, significantly restructuring its work culture to provide professors more uninterrupted time for thinking and teaching, and require less time on email and administrative duties.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Sitting all day ruined my health. VR saved me.

      You probably don’t know me. I’m not a famous writer.

      But I have worked on some famous games, such as Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11. This story isn’t about writing fighting games, though. It’s about how my sedentary, workaholic writing habits made me overweight, and slower and weaker than I should have been. And how it rapidly went downhill from there.

      Then I’m going to tell you how I fought back.

    • Why Big Pharma Is Winning the Drug Price Wars

      Robin Feldman is a law professor at the University of California Hastings with a particular expertise in antitrust and patent issues. She is also one of those professors who are unusually good at explaining complex issues in terms laymen (like me!) can understand. Her 2012 book on how to fix the patent system, “Rethinking Patent Law,” is considered one of the more important contributions to the field in recent years.

      Feldman then turned her attention to the problem of skyrocketing drug prices. “Economically,” she says, “it doesn’t make sense. So I decided to look into it. It took years of research.”

      That research has culminated in a new book: “Drugs, Money and Secret Handshakes: The Unstoppable Growth of Prescription Drug Prices.” I spoke to her a few days ago about drug prices — and what might be done to halt their inexorable rise. What follows is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

    • John Oliver Has Famous Actors Act Out The Deposition Richard Sackler Is Trying To Hide

      One of the issues that we’ve discussed quite a bit on Techdirt over the years is the lengths that some people want to go to to hide court records and important public documents. The main story on this past weekend’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackled this issue in relation to Richard Sackler, the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, the company that developed and promoted Oxycontin. Much of the episode focused on questionable things said or done by Sackler, but towards the end, Oliver notes that Sackler has done an amazing job hiding from public scrutiny. There are very few pictures of him even online and no real videos they could find.

    • Anti-Vaxxers Are Just as Bad as Climate Deniers

      There have been at least 555 confirmed cases of the highly contagious measles virus since January alone, prompting officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call this sudden eruption the worst outbreak of the disease in nearly 20 years. The story about measles spreading across the U.S. is unfolding alongside a parallel and troubling trend of increased measles infection rates globally. The World Health Organization issued a report at the same time as the CDC, finding that measles cases worldwide have surged by nearly four times the average number in the first three months of the year.

      But the national and global trends spin a tale of two separate realities. An irrational fear of vaccines among well-educated and largely white Americans has fueled an utterly preventable and dangerous disease that had been considered “eliminated” by scientists. Reuters explained that “[a] growing and vocal fringe of parents in the United States oppose measles vaccines believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.” Michelle M. Mello, a professor of law at Stanford Law School and a professor of health research and policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine explained to me in an interview that while there have been pockets of low vaccination rates in minority communities—like Somali Americans in Minnesota or Orthodox Jews in New York City—“On a national level, overwhelmingly, the demographic is educated, relatively affluent white families” that are choosing not to vaccinate their children. The epicenters of measles outbreaks are in liberal states such as California, New York, Oregon and Washington.

    • ‘Prohibition Only Ends Once’: 421 For All Group Takes Aim at Cannabis Criminal Justice Reform

      A new group, 421 For All, aims to use the day after 4/20—a national day to enjoy marijuana products—to promote what organizer Sky Cohen, a New York-based event promoter and activist, called “equitable growth in the industry.”

      “Prohibition only ends once,” said Cohen. “We want to make sure that our intervention encourages policy that guarantees access to those who have been historically criminalized.”

      The push for a more equitable marijuana industry begins with the legalization process, 421 For All founder Cristina Buccola told Cannabis Now Wednesday, but shouldn’t end there.

      “Cannabis legalization all too frequently omits meaningful criminal justice reforms, fails to repair communities that have borne the brunt of prohibition, doesn’t require diverse economic, ownership and educational opportunities, and forgets to protect patients’ rights and our environment,” said Buccola.

      The group will kick off its inaugural fundraising event on April 21 at New York’s Chelsea Music Hall.

      “The event is going to be a mixture of spoken presentation from our beneficiary organizations and music from local talent,” said Cohen. “The event will be hosted by Mike Glazer and Mary Jane from Weed + Grub Podcast.”

    • In Anti-Choice Hands, Abortion Clinic Inspections Become a Weapon

      Like many gynecological offices, Falls Church Healthcare Center in Virginia offers a range of services from annual wellness exams to Pap smears and contraceptives. The center also provides abortion care, which means that since 2011, when the state of Virginia introduced new regulations, it has needed a facility license to operate.

      Although abortion care is extremely safe in the United States, it is regulated to a different degree than other health care. If it were a dermatologist’s office, the Falls Church Healthcare Center wouldn’t need a facility license. Not only is it medically unnecessary, but the license is redundant, given that other medical bodies already oversee the abortion clinic’s equipment and staff.

      But doctors or health professionals didn’t develop the licensing requirement; politicians did. And as part of that licensing requirement, inspectors from the Virginia Department of Health can visit the Falls Church Healthcare Center at any time, without notice. This is true of abortion clinics in at least 22 other states, according to the Policy Surveillance Program at Temple University.

    • Just After Sanders Revealed Fox Viewers’ Approval of Medicare for All, Trump’s Medicare Chief ‘Smears’ Program on Network

      Days after Sen. Bernie Sanders’s town hall hosted by Fox News revealed that many Fox viewers would support his Medicare for All plan, President Donald Trump’s appointee in charge of Medicare appeared on the network in an apparent attempt at damage control.

      Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday to claim that Sanders’s proposal would deliver worse health outcomes for Americans at a higher price than the current for-profit system—contrary to a number of studies from across the political spectrum.

      Media Matters labeled Verma’s interview an intentional “smear” of the Vermont Independent senator’s appearance and proposal.

      “What we’re talking about is stripping people of their private health insurance, forcing them into a government-run program,” Verma told host Brian Kilmeade, calling the proposal “the biggest threat to the American healthcare system.”

    • Study Shows Even ‘Moderate’ Consumption of Red and Processed Meat Increases Risk of Colon Cancer

      For over five years, experts at the University of Oxford, University of Auckland, and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the diets and cancer rates of people who voluntarily participate in the U.K. Biobank research project.

      The findings, published Wednesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology, align with previous research and subsequent warnings from public health experts about the risks of colon cancer, also known as bowel or colorectal cancer.

    • Food standards on the menu at U.S.-EU talks

      With the endorsement on April 15 by a majority of the heads of government of its member states, the European Union has finally taken the formal step needed to move ahead with trade negotiations with the United States. The talks may yet blow up over automobile tariffs, airplane subsidies or a dispute about the inclusion of agriculture in the negotiations. The EU says it never agreed to include agriculture; the Trump administration claims that agriculture is included, and powerful members of Congress have asserted there can’t be a deal without it.
      The U.S. negotiating objectives clearly intend to cover agriculture broadly. The trade negotiation mandate adopted by the EU has two parts, one of which addresses tariffs and the other, domestic regulatory changes. The negotiation instruction on tariffs is limited to industrial goods and specifically excludes “agricultural products.” The latter instruction on regulatory cooperation and compatibility, however, does not exclude agriculture.
      Thus, we can be sure that food and agriculture will be directly affected by an EU-U.S. trade deal, because any potential carve-out relates only to discussing tariff reductions. As in the New NAFTA, food and agriculture—including product labeling and oversight of food safety, chemical use and emerging technologies—will still be directly affected. This is because both the EU and the U.S. have committed to reducing so-called “non-tariff barriers” through regulatory cooperation measures, conformity assessments and mutual recognition agreements specifically aimed at public protections such as food safety oversight.

    • Private Health Insurance Stocks ‘In Free Fall’ as Medicare for All Gains Momentum

      With comprehensive Medicare for All legislation now introduced in both chambers of Congress and bolstered by surging grassroots support, health insurance stocks are “crumbling” as investors grow increasingly fearful that single-payer could eventually become a reality.

      “Together, the shares of hospitals and insurers lost $28 billion in market value on Tuesday,” Bloomberg reported. “The slide in hospital and insurance stocks continued Wednesday, wiping out billions of dollars more in market value from some of the biggest health companies in the U.S.”

      As Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur put it on Twitter, “Health insurance stocks are in free fall as Democrats introduce ‘Medicare for All’ legislation in Congress and Bernie Sanders pushes it on Fox News.”

    • Flint Residents ‘Will Get Their Day In Court’ After Federal Judge Rules They Can Sue EPA Over Water Crisis

      As Flint, Michigan, marks five years since the city’s deadly water crisis began, a federal judge ruled in favor of residents who want to sue the federal government for not acting promptly to ensure the city had clean drinking water.

      Residents filed suit against the EPA in 2017, demanding $722 million in damages and arguing that the agency was able to inform the city that its drinking water was contaminated months before it finally issued an emergency order.

      “These lies went on for months while the people of Flint continued to be poisoned,” Judge Linda Parker, an Obama appointee, wrote in her ruling Friday.

    • Fox Never Expected This—The Medicare for All Moment

      It was an unexpected teaching moment for Fox News — a lesson that all the fear mongering in your playbook doesn’t carry quite so far when you confront a mass movement for transformative change that will dramatically improve people’s lives.

      In a town hall April 15 with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Fox host Bret Baier threw out an anticipated gotcha question for the audience Fox likely presumed were Fox viewers.

      How many people “get their insurance from work, private insurance,” he asked. Most hands went up. How many, Baier then asked, “are willing to transition to what the Senator says a government run system?”

      To no doubt his shock, nearly all the hands stayed up, accompanied by wild cheers – for the Medicare for All proposal the Fox network, and the President who is their number one cheerleader, have spent months demonizing.

  • Security

    • Riccardo Padovani: Responsible disclosure: improper access control in Gitlab private project.

      As I said back in September with regard to a responsible disclosure about Facebook, data access control isn’t easy. While it can sound quite simple (just give access to the authorized entities), it is very difficult, both on a theoretical side (who is an authorized entity? What does authorized mean? And how do we identify an entity?) and on a practical side.

    • Integrating Password and Privilege Management for Unix and Linux Systems[Ed: More spammy pages under the guise of "whitepaper"]

      Unix and Linux build the foundation for most business-critical systems. Thus, they present target-rich environments for cyber-attackers. Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps to mitigate such risks. To succeed, security teams must follow an integrated approach, covering both privilege elevation and centralized management of shared account credentials.

    • How Not to Acknowledge a Data Breach

      My guess is that what Wipro means by “zero-day” is a malicious email attachment that went undetected by all commercial antivirus tools before it infected Wipro employee systems with malware.

    • Facebook stored millions of Instagram passwords in plain text

      Facebook says it stored millions of Instagram users’ passwords in plain text, leaving them exposed to people with access to certain internal systems. The security lapse was first reported last month, but at the time, Facebook said it only happened to “tens of thousands of Instagram users,” whereas the number is now being revised up to “millions.” The issue also affected “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users” and “tens of millions of other Facebook users.”

    • Update: Facebook passwords for hundreds of millions of users were exposed to Facebook employees

      Facebook confirmed March 21 that hundreds of millions of user passwords were being stored in a “readable format” within its servers, accessible to internal Facebook employees—including millions more Instagram users than previously thought. Affected users will be notified, Facebook said, so they can change those passwords.

    • Facebook ‘unintentionally’ uploaded 1.5 million people’s email contacts without asking

      This is how it unfolded: a security researcher spotted that Facebook was asking some users to put in their email passwords when they signed up with a new account to verify their identity. Business Insider then experimented with what would happen if you were brave/mad enough to do so and found that a message popped up saying it was “importing” its contacts without having the decency to check that was okay first.

      Apparently, 1.5 million people just accepted this as just one of those things, and the information was then used to build up Facebook’s uncanny ability to predict when you know somebody.

    • In new gaffe, Facebook improperly collects email contacts for 1.5 million

      Facebook’s privacy gaffes keep coming. On Wednesday, the social media company said it collected the stored email address lists of as many as 1.5 million users without permission. On Thursday, the company said the number of Instagram users affected by a previously reported password storage error was in the “millions,” not the “tens of thousands” as previously estimated.

    • Facebook says it ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent

      Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network, Business Insider can reveal. The Silicon Valley company said the contact data was “unintentionally uploaded to Facebook,” and it is now deleting them.

    • With Nation Distracted by Mueller Report, Facebook Admits Millions of Users’ Passwords Affected by Latest Privacy Breach

      On Thursday, Facebook added to a blog post from March 21 to let users know that instead of storing tens of thousands of Instagram passwords, as it had reported last month, the number of users affected by the privacy breach was in the millions. Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.

      “Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” wrote Pedro Canahuati, vice president of Engineering, Security and Privacy. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

      The stored passwords were found in January during a routine security check, according to Facebook. In March, when the breach was first announced, the company said the passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook.

    • In 2019, Most Linux Distributions Still Aren’t Restricting Dmesg Access

      Going back to the late Linux 2.6 kernel days has been the CONFIG_DMESG_RESTRICT (or for the past number of years, renamed to CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT) Kconfig option to restrict access to dmesg in the name of security and not allowing unprivileged users from accessing this system log. While it’s been brought up from time to time, Linux distributions are still generally allowing any user access to dmesg even though it may contain information that could help bad actors exploit the system.

      The primary motivation of CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT and an associated sysctl tunable as well (dmesg_restrict) is for restricting access to dmesg so unprivileged users can’t see the syslog to avoid possible kernel memory address exposures among other potentially sensitive information that could be leaked about the kernel to help anyone trying to exploit the system. But even with these options being available for years, most Linux distributions leave dmesg open to any user.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street

      The United States had intensified its bombing of both northern and southern Vietnam earlier in April. 1972. Nixon, Kissinger and their henchmen in the Pentagon called the campaign Operation Freedom Porch. The northern cities of Hanoi and Haiphong were carpet-bombed with wave after wave of United States Air Force B-52s dropping their explosives across both metropolises. Meanwhile, the US Navy was preparing to mine Haiphong Harbor.

      On April 20th, 1972 a rally against the US bombing northern Vietnam and the mining of its harbors took place in Seattle, Washington at the University of Washington. It was one of hundreds such protests against the US actions taking place that week around the world. I attended one in Frankfurt am Main, Germany that ended up being broken up by police with truncheons and water cannons. People I knew in Maryland and DC wrote to me about similar police attacks at protests in DC and at the University of Maryland. Following their stories about the bombing raids, the military’s daily newspaper Stars & Stripes (published for men and women stationed overseas) provided its readers with a brief summary of demonstrations against the latest US attacks. So did the International Herald Tribune and various European newspapers available at the newsstands in downtown Frankfurt.

      Anyhow, back to that rally in Seattle. One of the reasons for the protest there was unique to that city. It involved a student at the University who was being threatened with deportation because of his antiwar activities. That student’s name was to become the name of the street I opened this story with: Nguyen Thai Binh. Born in southern Vietnam, Binh was attending the university on a scholarship provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Now, despite the claims made by the agency and many of its staffers, USAID was (and is) essentially a branch of the CIA. It is the carrot that operates along with the stick; the good cop who works with the bad cop.

    • Sixth Circuit Court Dumps Lawsuit Seeking To Hold Twitter Responsible For The Pulse Nightclub Shooting

      Another one of 1-800-LAW-FIRM’s lawsuits has been tossed for a second time. After being shut down at the district level for attempting to hold social media companies responsible for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, the law firm asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at its dubious legal theories.

      The Appeals Court has taken another look and it doesn’t like what it sees any more than the district court did. The violent act committed inside the nightclub was horrible, but the court cannot provide a remedy for every wrong — especially not in a case where the plaintiffs are trying to hold a third party responsible for violent acts they neither encouraged nor committed.

    • Video evidence of Islamic cleric beheading 38-year-old mam emerges

      An Igbosere High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday admitted in evidence a video recording of a confessional statement of an Islamic cleric, Taofeek Adamu, charged with beheading a 38-year-old congregant.

      [...]

      Section 84 of the Evidence Act provides that a computer generated document shall be admissible as evidence of any fact stated in it of which direct oral evidence would be admissible and the period in which the document was generated, the computer was operating properly.

      The judge said that the prosecution was able to show that the computer from which the document was generated was working properly at the time the evidence was generated.

    • Saudi runaway sisters plead for help on social media

      Two Saudi sisters appealed for help Wednesday from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after fleeing their country, in the latest case of runaways from the ultra-conservative kingdom using social media to seek asylum.

      Using a newly created Twitter account called “GeorgiaSisters,” they identified themselves as Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25. Like other Saudi women who have fled and turned to social media, they posted copies of their passports to establish their identities.

    • Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches

      Recent US attacks on Venezuela have generated a widespread international response. Good willed people from all walks of life have come forward to express their solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution and their opposition to intervention. This is inspiring and leads one to conclude that there is generalized dissatisfaction with the global system and, together with it, a willingness to be critical and work for change.

      Naturally these defenses have focused on imperialism, intervention and interference. The overall consensus is “Hands off Venezuela.” This slogan is a good one, since every thinking person today defends democracy, and a condition for democracy is that nations maintain (or attain) their sovereignty. (Nothing could be more antidemocratic than having foreign powers interfere in a country and have them sponsor foreign-appointed pretenders such as Juan Guaidó).

      However, this focus on imperialist interference, correct as it is, has sometimes led to an apparent indifference to the content of the revolution and its internal dynamic. One might think that the oversight is actually for the better since internal affairs are “none of our business, but rather the responsibility of Venezuelans.” Yet I think that this sidelining of the internal dynamic and contents of the Bolivarian process is mistaken. Although it has been a pattern of internationalist behavior for some time, I believe it is not necessary and could be even harmful.

      From the start, the Venezuelan revolution skillfully interpellated people from all around the world. It said to them: Our struggle is your struggle, your struggle is our struggle. That is not just a tactically useful position but is actually scientifically correct.

      For this reason, the Venezuelan revolution declared from the beginning that the problems of neoliberalism, imperialism, and later capitalism, were not unique to Venezuela. They were challenges that peoples from all around the world faced, and it invited people to join in a common struggle.

    • Rosneft wants ‘Reuters’ news agency banned in Russia for report about Venezuela

      The Russian state oil company Rosneft says a recent report by the news agency Reuters contains “patently false” information that President Nicolas Maduro is funneling money from Venezuelan oil sales through Rosneft to evade U.S. sanctions.

      In a press release on April 19, the Russian energy giant called Reuters a “pseudo news agency” and accused its journalists of “spreading disinformation,” “legitimizing rumors,” and “inventing news opportunities” to damage Rosneft. The company says it plans to turn to Russian law enforcement agencies to stop the news agency’s “illegal activities.”

    • By not investigating the U.S. for war crimes, the International Criminal Court shows colonialism still thrives in international law

      On April 5, the United States revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for her attempts to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan. A week later, judges at the ICC rejected Bensouda’s request to open a probe into U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

      While rights advocates condemned this move as amounting to U.S. interference in the workings of the ICC, it’s more alarming than mere obstruction — and is rooted in the pre-existing hierarchy and embedded colonial structures in international legal order.

      Bensouda’s visa revocation underscores the existing systematic inequality in international legal order. This is rooted in the presumed hierarchy by a group of elite nations that have dominated international order from a position of assumed racial, cultural, political, historical, material, economic and legal superiority.

      These developments come in light of comments made by the Trump administration’s national security advisor, John Bolton, who delegitimized the role of the ICC in a speech he delivered in September 2018. He said that “the U.S. will take any means necessary” to overcome “unjust prosecution by this illegitimate Court.”

    • Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?

      When hijacked planes hit their targets on the morning of September 11, 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) sprang into action. Within hours, through its disaster response network the APA mobilized expert practitioners and worked with the American Red Cross to provide psychological support to families of the victims and to rescue workers. The APA’s public affairs office moved quickly as well to assist the public—and especially families, children, and schools—by developing and disseminating materials that provided psychological guidance about coping with fear and trauma.

      But with comparable urgency, the APA also ensured that the Bush Administration would view the association as a valued partner in the military and intelligence operations central to the new “war on terror.” Within days, the APA’s science directorate called upon research psychologists to identify how psychological science might contribute to counter-terrorism initiatives. Shortly thereafter, a newly established APA subcommittee on psychology’s response to terrorism directed its attention to “offering psychologists’ expertise to decision-makers in the military, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State and related agencies” and to “inventorying members’ expertise and asking government psychologists how agencies could put that expertise to use.”

    • As We Mourn Notre Dame, Let Us Remember Black Churches Also Matter

      When Notre Dame burned, I mourned. A beautiful cathedral, a destination, a sanctuary for quiet invocation, Notre Dame was also an architectural gem, a landmark for more than 850 years. The collapse of its beautiful spire was heartbreaking to see. I am glad that the world stopped, recognized that the fire that engulfed the cathedral roof was a significant loss to us all, and gathered, albeit virtually, to bear witness.

      While I felt sad as I watched news coverage of the Paris event, as a woman of color, I couldn’t help but also feel a certain indignation, a kind of anger, an unexpressed rage. The kind of unexpressed rage that, for over 400 years, Black folks have just swallowed like a communion wafer in pursuit of infinite grace.

      My sadness mixed with resentment partly because, stretching over a 10-day period in one rural Louisiana town just last month, three Black churches burned to the ground. Officials recently arrested a white man, Holden Matthews, the son of a parish deputy sheriff, and charged him with a hate crime. This one case is enough to spark sorrow, but it is not the sole reason for my consternation.

    • Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her

      Some have said that Notre Dame represented colonial oppression and feudalism. But indeed, the same could be said about the Imperial Palaces of China, the monasteries of Tibet, St. Basil’s in Moscow, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Akshardham in Delhi, even the ancient ruins of the Acropolis or Teotihuacan. All of them represent some kind of oppression, caste or injustice. And of course each of them should be understood beyond mere romanticism and in this historical context. Many of the colonial structures we see today were erected on the razed temples or cities of conquered peoples and were placed there erase that peoples history. A message of ruthless and brutal imperial supremacy. But there is often a tendency to reduce the power of place, that enduring spirit of loci, to fit places and their nuanced and complex meaning into neat and tidy narratives. What is lost is ambiguity, movement, and the very weight of human history itself.

    • Who Are the Real Terrorists in the Mideast?

      Back when I still wore the uniform of a U.S. Army officer, and well before many of my former brothers in arms labeled me a traitor, I taught freshman (“plebe”) history at West Point. I loved asking my cadets provocative questions, the sort of queries they never heard in high school Advanced Placement U.S. history courses. Consider just one. At the end of the class on World War II, I always asked: “What is the moral difference between flying three planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon—killing 3,000 civilians—and using hundreds of U.S. planes to firebomb Tokyo on March 9, 1945—killing some 90,000 civilians?” Suffice it to say that most cadets didn’t like this question at all.

      Nevertheless, let’s break that debate query down. The standard retorts of cadets ran something like this: “Well, Japan attacked us first,” or “It’s different—the U.S. had officially declared war on Japan!” Fair points, both. Still, an honest analysis complicates the standard American apologetics. Osama bin Laden and company would argue that actually, the U.S. had attacked (the Muslim world) first. After all, U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iraq caused the death of an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children from 1991 to 2003. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted as much on camera, callously declaring that “we think the price is worth it.” Indeed, bin Laden pointed to the Iraqi sanctions regime as one of his three core motives for attacking the U.S. homeland. Furthermore, I’d remind my cadets, bin Laden did publicly declare jihad on America on Aug. 23, 1996, more than five years before the 9/11 attacks.

      Now, I’m no fan of al-Qaida or bin Laden, or of any attacker of civilians. I grew up in a Staten Island neighborhood in New York where the avenues are named for dead firemen. I took 9/11 personally. Still, intellectual honesty demands a fair analysis of complex ethical issues in warfare—my profession of choice. Critical thinkers must be able to hold two seemingly opposing thoughts in their heads at the same time; in this case, that the 9/11 attacks were criminal and that American firebombings of Japanese women and children were lawless. One of the architects of that deliberate bombing—former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara—has admitted as much.

    • Trump Cracks Down on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela

      The Trump administration on Wednesday intensified its crackdown on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, rolling back Obama administration policy and announcing new restrictions and sanctions against the three countries whose leaders national security adviser John Bolton dubbed the “three stooges of socialism.”

      “The troika of tyranny — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — is beginning to crumble,” Bolton said in a hard-hitting speech near Miami on the 58th anniversary of the United States’ failed Bay of Pigs invasion of the island, an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

      The measures seem likely to hit hardest in Cuba, which is at a moment of severe economic weakness as it struggles to find cash to import basic food and other supplies following a drop in aid from Venezuela and a string of bad years in other key economic sectors.

    • Pompeo is “Setting the Stage for a War with Iran”

      Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the Trump administration would not rule out going to war with Iran even though there is no explicit authorization from Congress to do so. Pompeo said this in the context of being asked whether the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be used to attack Iran on the basis that Iran supported the 9/11 attacks and is connected to Al Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attack.

    • ICC Makes “Dangerous Decision” to Drop Probe into U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan After U.S. Pressure

      The International Criminal Court has announced it will not investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the United States and other actors in Afghanistan. The court suggested the U.S.’s lack of cooperation with the investigation was behind the decision. Earlier this month, the U.S. revoked the visa of the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. A 2016 report by the ICC accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. We speak to Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

    • We already know who will win the war in Libya – western arms dealers

      In the shadow world of the arms trade there is one business model that outshines all others: selling arms to both sides in the same war. Ideally it works best when weapons you have sold to one side destroy weapons you have sold to the other. Thus if one side uses air-launched precision-guided missiles to destroy the other’s aircraft (or tanks, armoured personnel carriers or whatever), then it will need to buy replacement missiles, will need to have your people service its aircraft and, if it ‘wins’ the war it will most likely buy new planes from you as it rearms. The other side will need to replace the materiel destroyed, will want to upgrade its weapons and also buy in heavily for the next phase of the conflict.

      All this is a matter of routine business and the results of a war will often be reflected in marketing afterwards. In 1982 the UK fought a short and bitter war with Argentina for control of the Falklands/Malvinas; in the months that followed military magazines carried full-page adverts for ship-based anti-aircraft missiles that had been successfully used to shoot down Argentine aircraft. The adverts were the same as those published before that war but for the words ‘combat proven’ stamped across them.

      There was bitter irony in this when it was learned that one such missile, fired from a British Type 42 destroyer, had shot down a British army helicopter by mistake, killing all four people on board. To add to the bitterness, two Type 42s had also been sold by Britain to Argentina before the war.

    • Libyan Humanitarian Crisis Worsens as Over 170 Killed, 18K Displaced in Warlord Assault on Tripoli

      At least four people died in heavy shelling on Tuesday in the capital city of Tripoli. According to the United Nations, over 170 people have been killed and 750 injured since a Libyan warlord launched an assault on Tripoli on April 5. The fighting pits the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord against a militia led by former Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who already controls much of eastern Libya. The Libyan government has accused the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt of funding and arming Haftar, who has dual U.S.-Libyan citizenship. Meanwhile, Qatar has called for the enforcement of an arms embargo against Haftar. The fighting has displaced nearly 18,000 people, but authorities fear the humanitarian crisis could quickly escalate if the fighting continues. We speak to Anas El Gomati, director of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, Libya’s first independent research organization.

    • We Are All Complicit in America’s War Machine

      You’ve probably heard that tired old trope. Whenever someone dares suggest that after eighteen years of fruitless wars perhaps it’s time for Uncle Sam’s losing war machine to de-escalate in the Greater Middle East, you can expect some version of the worn out platitude of “here” and “there” justification. Utterly simplistic and regularly debunked by existing evidence, the cliché remains ever so pervasive and (for some) persuasive. As a facile, fear-based rationalization it’s rather effective. It’s very superficiality seduces a populace that is utterly apathetic towards U.S. foreign policy – and make no mistake, the owners of this country count on that indifference to wage profitable (for shareholders and CEOs) forever wars in places few Americans could find on the map.

      Still, with three more US Marines killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan – all reservists from a Massachusetts-based unit (so much for that one weekend a month deal) – its time to tear down the intellectually dishonest rationalizations for America’s longest war. The Taliban – which is really a coalition of impoverished young nationalists dedicated to drive out the American occupier – simply is not heading to the US to kill your family anytime soon. There were no Afghans on the 9/11 planes and even though the Taliban regime had harbored Osama Bin Laden no Afghans had directly attacked America.

      The September 11th attack was a singular event. The catastrophic outcome – the towers collapsing – doubtlessly surprised even the Al Qaeda organization. Critical was America’s militarized response, the original sin of the war on terror, especially the decision to maintain the occupation of Afghanistan once the Taliban was deposed. Shifting gears from counter-terror to counterinsurgency and nation-building was the true turning point, the moment when any sort of American “victory” became impossible. (As if it ever truly was!)

      That decision was based upon a series of lies. The lie that if done “right” counterinsurgency can remake whole societies (faux military “intellectuals like that one in particular); that Afghanistan could be transformed into a Jeffersonian republic at the point of a foreign bayonet; that trapped inside every Afghan there’s an American just dying to escape. But the biggest lie is the notion that if the US doesn’t transform that country or keep our military in place indefinitely, the result would be another 9/11. Taliban fighters – think scruffy farm boys really – are highly unlikely to travel to America and attack our cities. They can’t read, hardly afford to travel, and inhabit a narrow world centered on village and district life. Their goals have always been much more circumscribed and limited to ruling Afghanistan. Anything else is grandiose fantasy. Taliban does not equal Al Qaeda, or ISIS, and it never has.

      Make no mistake, the Taliban movement is largely abhorrent and brutal. Still, this doesn’t mean they present a existential strategic threat to the Homeland. Nor does this mean they’re easily beatable since, like it or not, the Taliban is popular in large swaths of the country. That inconvenient fact must drive any sober assessment of the costs and benefits of perpetual US military intervention in Afghanistan. Is the US presence in the country making us any safer? What if our foreign occupation actually generates a nationalist backlash and drives young men into the ranks of the Taliban? These are the sorts of hard questions that sober strategists must consider before asking another young American soldier to fight and potentially die in a war with no end in sight.

      To its credit, the Trump administration is now attempting to negotiate with the Taliban, but such peace attempts have dragged on before (during the late Obama years) and, frankly, the Taliban holds the stronger hand. Don’t be surprised, then, if the Taliban ends up getting most of its demands, especially if the peace process is protracted. Which is a scary notion – because we’ve seen this before, in Vietnam.

    • Kim Jong-un to visit Russia in late April for first-ever meeting with Putin

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly accepted an invitation from Vladimir Putin to visit Russia. According to the Kremlin’s official website, Kim and Putin will meet in late April. It’s still unclear where the two leaders will meet, though the North Korean media has suggested it could happen in Vladivostok, near Russia’s border with China and North Korea.

    • Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’

      The only US president to complete his term without war, military attack or occupation has called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.”

      During his regular Sunday school lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter revealed that he had recently spoken with President Donald Trump about China. Carter, 94, said Trump was worried about China’s growing economy and expressed concern that “China is getting ahead of us.”

      Carter, who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979, said he told Trump that much of China’s success was due to its peaceful foreign policy.

    • Hell Mixed With Futility

      Oh, the normalcy of militarism! Our annual financial hemorrhage to this complex menagerie of institutions — from the Pentagon to Homeland Security to the Nuclear Security Administration to the CIA and its secret expenditures — must not be seriously questioned in the corridors of Congress, even though, all things considered, it comes to almost a trillion dollars annually.

      Call it the Defense budget, smile and move on.

      Even the current “liberal revolt” in the House of Representatives over the Dems’ proposed budget isn’t a serious questioning of the American way of war but, rather, a demand for “parity” between social and defense spending, which, if anything, further hardens the latter into an unquestioned reality. Yes, yes, America spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, but let’s make sure we have money available for healthcare too, OK?

      Norman Solomon called it the “toxic lure of guns and butter,” this creation of an America that has both the values of democratic socialism, a la Canada and Western Europe, and yet is the global cop extraordinaire, fighting (and creating) terrorism, bombing civilians, operating some 800 military bases in over 80 countries and maintaining a nuclear arsenal second to none (indeed, developing “usable” nukes). What’s wrong with that?

      The headache here for the Dem establishment is the “democratic socialism” part, which is often covered with disdain by the mainstream media, e.g.:

      “U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Tuesday canceled a planned floor vote on legislation to set federal spending levels for next year after the party’s left wing demanded more money for domestic programs,” Reuters reported last week.

    • U.S. Continues Supplying Kurds to Counteract Turkey

      The mass media has been widely covering the details of the disastrous humanitarian situation in Rukban refugee camp over recent months. By the way, the crisis in other sites deserves more considerable attention. Al-Hol refugee camp located in Al-Hasakah province and run by the Syria Democratic Forces is one of them.

      Every single day from 10 to 20 people, mainly women and children die due to the lack of drinking water, essential goods, and medicine. Only for the past two months, 250 children passed away in the camp. According to estimates, now more than 50,000 refugees reside there, although initially it was designed only for 25,000.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • On WikiLeaks Email Releases, Mueller Team Ignored Findings Of Former US Intelligence Officials

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on an investigation into alleged Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election does not confirm, without a doubt, that Russian intelligence agents or individuals tied to Russian intelligence agencies passed on emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks.

      Mueller’s team highlighted statements from WikiLeaks on Twitter about former Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff member Seth Rich, which seemed to relate to the alleged source of emails and documents the organization published. Yet, more explicit claims from WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange on the source of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were not addressed in the report.

      A group of former military and intelligence officials, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), conducted their own forensic tests that received a bit of attention in the United States press because they were some of the first people with prior backgrounds in government to question the central allegations of hacking into DNC servers. They asserted their examinations of the files showed DNC emails published by WikiLeaks were leaked, not hacked.

      However, the Mueller report makes no mention of the claims made by VIPS over the past two to three years—not even to debunk them.

    • From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State

      When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

      In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

      That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

      On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

      Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

      There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

    • Media Cheer Assange’s Arrest

      Julian Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11. The Australian-born co-founder of Wikileaks had been trapped in the building since 2012 after taking refuge there. He was immediately found guilty of failing to surrender to a British court, and was taken to Belmarsh prison. An extradition to the United States is widely seen as imminent by corporate media, who have, by and large, strongly approved of these events.

      [...]

      Both the United Nations and the ACLU have denounced Assange’s arrest, with the former condemning Sweden and the UK for depriving him of liberty and freedom, ordering them to pay compensation for the many years he was confined to the embassy. Despite this, establishment media have overwhelmingly described this situation with a euphemism: Mr. Assange’s “self-imposed isolation” (CNN, 4/11/19; USA Today, 4/11/19; New York Times, 4/11/19), a phrase that conjures a very different image of the situation and the responsibilities of the various parties involved. The Daily Beast (4/11/19) made this implication explicit, describing Assange’s predicament as “voluntary confinement.”

      Assange is a controversial character who originally took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy after England’s High Court ruled to extradite him to Sweden to face charges of rape. Yet most of the media coverage downplayed or even did not mention this (e.g., Bloomberg, 4/11/19; National Review, 4/12/19; Daily Beast, 4/11/19), suggesting they did not consider it relevant.

    • A Marriage of Conscience: Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

      No one should have been surprised by this despicable spectacle carried out in the noonday light for all to see, for the British government has not served as America’s jailer for the past seven years for no reason. It doesn’t take x-ray eyes to see that the British and the Moreno government in Ecuador are twin poodles on the American leash. After a phony display of judicial fairness, the British, as required by their American bosses, will dispatch Assange to the United States so he can be further punished for the crime of doing journalism and exposing war crimes.

      Assange has suffered mightily for American sins. The Anglo-American torturers know how to squeeze their victims to make old men out of the young. Abu Ghraib was no aberration. The overt is often covert; just a thin skin separates the sadists’ varied methods, but their message is obvious. No one who saw Assange dragged to prison could fail to see what the war-mongers, who hate freedom of the press when it exposes their criminal activities, can do to a man. Nor, however, could one fail to see the spirit of defiance that animates Assange, a man of courageous conscience cowards can’t begin to comprehend.

    • Nearly 100,000 Pentagon Whistleblower Complaints Have Been Silenced

      I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to be a whistleblower. I’d like to think I would. We all like to think we would, just like we all like to think we could catch the game-winning touchdown, triumph on “America’s Got Talent,” and fold a fitted sheet quickly and without cursing.

      But to blow the whistle on a huge organization with a lot of power, likely drawing that power to come crashing down on your head—that takes some serious spine-age. Now, imagine the organization you’re calling out is arguably the largest, most powerful, most secretive and most violent organization on planet Earth. I’m speaking, of course, of the U.S. Department of Defense.

      Yet thousands, even tens of thousands, of people have taken that step over the past five years. (More on this in a moment.)

      All the while our organized human murder machine continues its work around the world. Every day. Every hour. Never a moment of rest. Never pausing to clip their toenails or scratch their ass. Bombs dropped. Buildings blown up. People killed or imprisoned. No end in sight.

      By the way, that’s the term I like to use instead of “military”—Organized Human Murder Machine.

    • Assange and the Cowardice of Power

      Trump has never heard of WikiLeaks, the publishing organization whose work he repeatedly and unequivocally touted during the 2016 election campaign. “I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” he told reporters after Julian Assange was illegally arrested, after being illegally detained for seven years, in London. “It’s not my thing and I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange.”

      Moving past the Trumpian contradiction (he knows both “nothing” and “something” about WikiLeaks”), here’s a question for our dear leader: is your own Justice Department “your thing”? Because it was your Justice Department that filed the charges against a man who risked his liberty, and his life, to tell the truth about the most powerful criminal organization in the world—the American empire.

      Is Trump’s cabinet “his thing”? Was he golfing when his erstwhile attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, told the press that arresting Assange was “a priority”? How about when his secretary of state called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service”? Trump’s regime appears to have a remarkable level of interest in an organization about which he knows nothing.

      “The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking.” That was Edward Snowden’s reaction to the Justice Department’s indictment against Assange. He adds that one of the government’s principal allegations—that Assange attempted to help Manning crack a password in the interest of protecting her identity—has been public knowledge for nearly ten years. Also that Obama, no friend to whistle-blowers, refused to act on it, citing dangers to press freedom.

    • All Will be Punished

      The image of London police dragging Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy was so disturbing and resonant on so many levels, one hardly knows where to begin. First, this person, this Moreno, has disgraced and degraded himself beyond historical repair. His name will be forever synonymous with betrayal of the most abject, vicious, and cowardly sort. Paul Craig Roberts has called him Judas, and the comparison is apt. Indeed, to see Assange carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy was to witness a contemporary crucifixion, complete with smirking Centurion and a smattering of curious, if not bloodthirsty, onlookers.

      But another association comes to mind, and that is rape. As Harold Pinter famously noted in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, which should be required reading in US high school civics’ classes—it certainly would be in mine, if I were still teaching—the US (used to) carry out its imperial depredations with a kind of wicked panache, disguising its true predatory intentions with clever language and even a certain wit. But no more. With a brief, somnolent interlude for the reign of the smiling assassin (who, above all, was skilled in the arts of public relations, an exemplar of the Pinter model), we have had, since the reign of Bush the Lesser, unapologetic, snarling, in-your-fucking-face, imperial barbarity. Now, with our very own fascistic goon, our Mussolini (another comparison, between Assange and Gramsci, is also apt), we are taking it to new depths, reveling in (trumpeting!) our lawlessness and undisguised brutality. It is the savage cry of the rapist, the brute, the one who knows only naked aggression and force. It is us.

    • Assange: Between Gratitude and Betrayal

      Julian Assange was arrested in England on Thursday, April 11, and is feared to be extradited to the United States to face charges for his actions during the Obama administration.

      According to an editorial in the Washington Post in 2011, such a conviction “would also cause collateral damage to the liberties of the U.S. media so Washington should not attempt to do so with Julian Assange.

      The Post’s editorial of years ago is still relevant, given that Assange would be tried for a “crime” which took place almost a decade ago. What has changed since then is the public perception of Assange and, in a supreme irony, that of Donald Trump. At one point in Trump’s demagoguery, he proclaimed himself a fanatic twitter lover of WikiLeaks,. Now he has now been left as the ultimate beneficiary of public support for initiating a process that the Obama administration hesitated to push when he was President.

      The current accusation is the extension of a years-long effort, begun prior to Trump, to build a legal argument against those who release secrets the government finds embarassing.

      But much of the U.S. citizenry now sees the arrested founder of WikiLeaks through the lens of the 2016 elections, having been denounced as a Russian ally in favor of Trump’s election.

    • Why Academics Should Oppose Julian Assange’s Extradition

      The attempt to extradite Assange to the US sets a dangerous precedent for academics. Attacks on whistleblowers, the press and academics all aim to undermine the foundations of democracy. Each group seeks the truth and is a potential thorn in the side of governments attempting to hide their activities from the public.

    • ‘Stupid Brexit’ should hit UK fast & hard if Assange is handed over to US – German MEP

      The UK should get its “stupid Brexit” right now and face the hardest divorce deal possible if it extradites Julian Assange to the US, which is keen to cover up Iraq War crimes, a German MEP said in an emotive speech.
      The controversy over Julian Assange’s arrest in London seems to have spilled over into the European Parliament this week. Martin Sonneborn, a long-time contributor to Spiegel and ZDF, used his time to tell“a couple of words to the Brits who are likely to remain in the EU until Halloween.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Movement to Build National Support for Green New Deal Starts in Boston, ‘City of Revolutions’

      The past two years, 2017 and 2018, brought the U.S. two major youth-led movements. The first was borne out of the March for Our Lives, which saw hundreds of thousands rallying for gun violence prevention in D.C. and across the country. The second was the Sunrise Movement.

    • Critics Say Louisiana ‘Highjacked’ Climate Resettlement Plan for Isle de Jean Charles Tribe

      Albert Naquin, Chief of the Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe (IDJC), often loses sleep over his tribe’s fate as its historic island homeland continues to lose land at an alarming rate. His dream to relocate the tribe from Isle de Jean Charles with a federal grant has turned into a nightmare.

      After helping the Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD) win a $98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Tribe no longer wants to be associated with the State’s project, which included $48 million earmarked to relocate the IDJC Tribe.

    • South Dakota Can’t Silence Our Protest Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

      For Indigenous Peoples in South Dakota, the land is more than just the ground beneath our feet.

      We believe in and act upon the notion that people, nature, society and all living things are interconnected, in relation to one another, and operate as a system. Our Indigenous cultures have taught us through our languages, stories and life ways that our identity and very existence is directly connected to the land.

      First proposed in 2008, the 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline would carry as much as 830,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day from the Alberta, Canada, oil sands through South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., en route to Gulf Coast refineries. Though the proposed pipeline route does not go through federally recognized reservations in South Dakota, should there be an oil spill, it has the potential to seriously affect our land, our water, our environment and future generations.

    • It’s Time to Transform the Tax Code and Implement a Green New Deal

      One area where the two parties of the millionaires and billionaires put in place policies that favor the rich are tax laws. Tax policy has favored the wealthy under both parties, but the Trump-administration has brought this tax corruption to new levels. We need to transform tax policy to build the working class base of the economy, shrink the wealth divide, and confront the climate crisis. An honest analysis of the tax code calls out in stark detail the extreme injustice of the economy in the United States.

      The tax system favors the wealthy as low- and middle-income people are hit the hardest while big business and high-income people are subsidized. The most regressive tax of all is the FICA payroll tax at 15.3 percent for Social Security and Medicare. 15.3 percent includes the employer match. But employers include the tax in their labor budgets and it limits what they can pay their workers. The 12.4 percent Social Security share of FICA is outright regressive because it is capped for high-income earners at $128,400 in 2018.

    • Why Is Going Green So Hard? Because Our System Isn’t

      Every year around Earth Day, I’m reminded of papers I graded in an environmental sociology class. The assignment was to assess your values, explain how you thought you would live as an adult (about 20 years in the future), and then complete an online calculator to find out: If everyone in the world lived like you, how many planets would we need?
      The students were all young and idealistic, and most of them cared deeply about the environment. In their papers, they professed how they would live their lives in the most sustainable ways possible — eating vegan diets, avoiding car travel, growing their own food, and so on.
      Most were sure they’d find a way to make it work without sacrificing luxuries like international travel.
      Then they calculated how many planets would be needed to support everyone in the world living with their ideal lifestyle. Every single student required more than one planet. Most needed about three.
      That’s right: If everyone in the world lived like these idealistic, passionate environmentalists, we’d need three planets to produce enough resources for their needs.
      These papers hit me hard emotionally. When I was their age, I was them. Their dreams were my dreams — only for me, those dreams are dead.
      Even the most committed of them couldn’t get her environmental footprint down to what one planet can provide. There’s almost no way to live in the United States as it is now and be fully sustainable. Attempting to do so requires a constant, overwhelming amount of effort.

    • New Interior Chief Bernhardt Reportedly Held Secret Meeting Linked to One of His Predecessor’s Many Scandals

      It’s only been a week, but newly-confirmed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s conflicts of interests are already raising questions about his involvement in the very same scandals for which his predecessor is now under investigation.

      The Guardian reported Wednesday that Bernhardt, who was confirmed last week over the objections of climate action and conservation groups, met in 2018 with a lawyer for the Schaghticoke tribal nation of Connecticut, which opposed the operation of a new casino in the state by two other tribes.

      Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned in December after coming under scrutiny for a number of conflicts of interest, including allegations that he was involved in blocking the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ approval for the casino.

    • Bernie Sanders ‘Raises the Bar Even Further’ on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking, All New Fossil Fuel Projects

      Bernie Sanders won praise from environmental groups after releasing a climate platform that calls for a complete ban on fracking, a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, an end to oil exports, and a Green New Deal.

      “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet,” the Vermont senator and 2020 contender wrote on the climate page of his website, which was unveiled this week.

    • ‘You Cannot Ignore Science’: In Emotional Plea, Greta Thunberg Begs EU to Take Urgent Climate Action

      “My name is Greta Thunberg, I am 16 years old, I come from Sweden, and I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire.”

      That’s how the young climate activist began her address to members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Tuesday.

      In a 13-minute speech that equated civilization to “a castle built on sand” and was punctuated by applause from the chamber, Thunberg admonished the MEPs for inaction on the climate crisis and begged them to “wake up” and “unite behind the science.”

    • Children’s Moral Power Can Challenge Corporate Power on Climate Crisis

      The famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said to me that children have a distinct moral authority to change some of their parents’ habits or opinions. She gave use of seat belts and smoking cigarettes as examples.

      Indeed, most of us know instances when sons and daughters have looked into the eyes of their fathers and mothers and urged them to wear their seatbelts or stop smoking. They say in their own plaintive way that they want mommy and daddy around for them. Many mothers and fathers have had such experiences.

    • Walruses are jumping off cliffs to their deaths — yes, because of climate change

      The new Netflix series “Our Planet” documents the devastation wrought by humans on animals and their habitats. It’s heartbreaking. In fact, some scenes are so wrenching that Netflix last week tweeted a list of time stamps for scenes that “animal lovers may want to skip.”

      One of those scenes is in the second episode (“Frozen World”). It shows Pacific walruses, one after another, tumbling off 250-foot-high cliffs to their deaths.

      As a scientist who works to protect walruses and other species from the ravages of climate change, I dreaded watching this scene with every bone in my body. But I did. And I want everyone to watch it, especially “animal lovers.”

      There’s a difference between covering your eyes during the ending of “Old Yeller” and fast-forwarding through this walrus footage.

    • New Report Highlights Need for Clean Energy Transition That Doesn’t Rely on Dirty Mining

      The report, entitled Responsible Minerals Sourcing for Renewable Energy (pdf), was prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) for Earthworks, as part of the U.S. nonprofit’s new “Making Clean Energy Clean, Just & Equitable” initiative. It was released Wednesday.

      “As we scale up clean energy technologies in pursuit of our necessarily ambitious climate goals, we must protect community health, water, human rights, and the environment,” said Payal Sampat, director of Earthworks’ Mining Program.

      “We have an opportunity, if we act now,” Sampat added, “to ensure that our emerging clean energy economy is truly clean—as well as just and equitable—and not dependent on dirty mining.”

    • This Blessed Plot, This Earth

      This week, residents of a village in Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula saw this exhausted, emaciated polar bear – a species some consider the poster child for climate change – prowling for food over 500 miles from its native habitat. With the Arctic warming, the ice receding, the seals slowly disappearing and the ever-mindless, greedy cretins in charge still pushing to drill drill drill, enraged environmentalists, scientists and cognizant humans ask, “At what point are we going to take climate change seriously?”

    • A Climate Rebellion in Downtown New York

      On Wednesday, more than 100 activists from the New York chapter of Extinction Rebellion descended on City Hall to protest the extraction of fossil fuels and raise awareness about a crisis that threatens the very survival of humankind. Patch reports that police have arrested 62, with demonstrators laying down in the streets and climbing light poles to unfurl banners declaring a climate emergency. According to an April 14th press release, Extinction Rebellion has planned to “disrupt business as usual” in 80 cities across 33 countries, from India to Australia and throughout Europe and the U.S.

    • Perverse Housing Policy Perverts Forest Policy

      As many Americans know all too well, concerns about forest conservation and affordable housing have drawn increasing attention across the US. These topics are of special interest in regions where logging is primarily devoted to provided lumber for human housing.

      What may be less known is that the pairing of forest and housing policy has had a long and colorful history spanning the past 70 years.

      In his 1947 book, Breaking New Ground, Gifford Pinchot, an early head of the U.S. Forest Service, wrote that, “The rightful use and purpose of our natural resources is to make all the people strong and well, able and wise, well-clothed, well-housed…with equal opportunity for all and special privilege for none.”

      Back then, if only briefly, America’s political leadership was responsive to ordinary needs and dreams of being “well-housed.” In 1949, America passed its Housing Act, which stated that it is the policy of the United States to provide “…a decent home and suitable environment for every American family.”

      With this, Congress stated a clear end-use of forest products when logging delivers wood to the market.

    • Global Climate Rebellion Hits New York City (Photo Essay)

      On Wednesday, approximately 350 activists from the New York chapter of Extinction Rebellion descended on City Hall to protest the extraction of fossil fuels and raise awareness about a crisis that threatens the very survival of humankind. Patch reports that police have arrested 62, with demonstrators laying down in the streets and climbing light poles to unfurl banners declaring a climate emergency. According to an April 14 press release, Extinction Rebellion has planned to “disrupt business as usual” in 80 cities across 33 countries, from India to Australia and throughout Europe and the U.S. Truthdig’s Michael Nigro reports from downtown New York.

    • This Earth Day, Beware of Greenwashing

      This Earth Day, I’d like to warn you about “greenwashing.” That’s the practice of corporations branding their products “eco-friendly,” even when they actually pollute, to deceive environmentally concerned customers.

      Even if you’ve heard nothing about greenwashing, you’ve probably read about the Volkswagen emissions scandal, “Dieselgate.”

      A few years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many Volkswagen cars being sold in America had been outfitted with software that enabled their diesel engines to detect when they were being tested. This allowed the engines to improve emissions performance under controlled laboratory conditions.

      But out on the road, the engines were emitting 40 times above the nitrogen oxide pollutant levels allowed in the United States. The software was simply covering that up.

      Volkswagen apologized for the scandal and recalled its cars. But for customers who bought from the company thinking they were having a positive impact on the environment, the damage was already done. Volkswagen had successfully duped them — while also doing enormous environmental destruction.

      Unfortunately, Volkswagen is nowhere close to alone. Greenwashing has a deep history dating back to the start of the modern environmental movement in the 1960s. Since then, no industry has been immune to greenwashing.

    • Ways to Save the World

      With all the doom-and-gloom studies that have come out about climate change, you might be feeling a little guilty about your carbon footprint. Did you turn off the lights when you left for work this morning? Or leave the air conditioner running?

      Doing what you can individually to bring down greenhouse gas emissions is important to keep in mind this Earth Day, April 22, although this can only make so big a dent. If we really want to make a difference, we have to confront the problem at its source and euthanize the fossil fuel industry.

      The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, as is necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences, will require huge reductions in the use of coal, oil and gas by mid-century. Meanwhile, a recent analysis by Carbon Tracker found that 92 percent of top oil and gas companies directly incentivize growth in fossil fuel “production, reserves, or both.”

    • Watchdog Sounds Alarm Over Regulatory Capture as New Reporting Shows Nuclear Plants Unprepared for Climate Crisis

      New reporting highlights how the nation’s nuclear power plants are woefully unprepared to handle the growing impacts of the climate crisis.

      Despite that threat, says a watchdog, the industry’s regulatory capture means its interests are set to continue to take precedence over public health and safety.

      As Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle and Jeremy C.F. Lin laid out Thursday, in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tasked the roughly 60 operating plants in the U.S. with assessing what their flood risks were compared to what flood risks the plants were actually built to withstand.

      That was a logical step, given many of the American plants’ proximity to waterways, and the heightened risk of flooding in the face of the climate crisis.

    • The Iran Floods and US Sanctions: 10 Million at Risk, But Who Cares?

      You have certainly not heard much about this in the West. And it didn’t get a fraction of the media attention (and none of the hundreds of millions of Euro pledges by the perversely rich) that the Notre Dame fire did.

      However, if disastrous floods had hit 28 out of 31 provinces and affected 10 million people in some European country or in the US, I believe you would have heard about it from Day One.

      But now it is Iran. Only the Iranians.

      The situation is disastrous but not so much because thousands have died. Rather, because floods of this magnitude are likely to have terrible long-term consequences for agricultural and other production, infrastructure, energy production, transport and daily lives (see pictures below and on the links).

    • A political stalemate over Puerto Rican aid is leaving all US disaster funding in limbo

      Senate Democrats recently blocked US$13.5 billion in relief for Americans whose lives were disrupted by hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding and other natural disasters. The objections had to do with Puerto Rico.

      In addition to aid for Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, this bill included $600 million to cover six months’ worth of nutritional assistance requested by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But Democrats refused to back the bill because it lacked funds that would protect the island from floods and rebuild its electrical grid.

      The result is an impasse between a Congress that wants to assist a U.S. territory in distress and a hostile White House. As the daughter of Puerto Ricans who moved to the mainland and a policy analyst of racial inequities, I’m concerned that the Trump administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico is based in racial bias.

    • Noam Chomsky: The Green New Deal Is Exactly the Right Idea

      Supporters of the Green New Deal are launching a nationwide tour Thursday to build support for the congressional resolution to transform the U.S. economy through funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Democracy Now! spoke with Noam Chomsky about the Green New Deal and the lessons of the old New Deal in Boston last week.

    • 5 Ways to Celebrate National Parks Week

      Happy National Parks Week! This year, between April 20 and 28, escape to the beautiful national parks — either in person or in your imagination — and celebrate the amazing wildlife that calls these spaces home.

  • Finance

    • Getting Serious About Power

      t was 1971 and Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, who had been president of the American Bar Association and a member of the board of the giant tobacco company Philip Morris, had come to believe that American capitalism was facing a dire threat. Americans were angry about corporate abuse and corporate pollution; President Richard M. Nixon had responded by signing the National Environmental Policy Act and creating the Environmental Protection Agency through executive order. Across the country, activists marched for Earth Day, and Congress passed the first air pollution standards. Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates had successfully fought for safer cars and other products.

      [...]

      The Democracy Alliance, created in 2005, attempted to remedy that anarchy, with mixed success. It was launched with a smart PowerPoint elaborating on how the left should respond. But, as current Democracy Alliance president Gara LaMarche admits, “liberal values aren’t command and control. It’s a steep climb to get donors to consider collective aims. The right believes in long-term funding and general operating support while the left requires groups to perform against metrics in project grants and cuts them off after a short time to fund something new.”

      Progressives are unlikely to adopt the hierarchical approach that works on the right, but we do need something like a Powell Memo of our own, an overarching strategy that focuses on winning and maintaining power, not just on issues; one that recognizes the need for large-scale and long-term investment in progressive infrastructure—think tanks to generate ideas, media to disseminate them, lawmakers to enact them, and judges to uphold them. Right-wing foundations are indeed famous for long-term funding of core institutions. Liberal foundations tend to have short attention spans. For our ideas to take hold and remain strong, we need to understand that long-term victories will require locking in democracy with a small d: nonpartisan districts, broad access to the voting booth, and fair-minded judges.

    • Refused U.S. Visa Eight Times, Zoom CEO Is Now a Billionaire

      Yuan, Zoom’s chief executive officer, joins Alphabet Inc.’s Sergey Brin, Nvidia’s Jensen Huang and Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk as immigrants who became billionaires after helping create Silicon Valley companies. The U.S. is the favored country for more than three-quarters of wealthy Chinese looking to emigrate, according to the Hurun Research Institute and immigration adviser Visas Consulting Group.

    • Nuclear Lobbying Power: N.J. Utility Customers Will Pay $300M in Subsidies

      After a long, expensive lobbying effort over the fate of nuclear power in New Jersey, the energy company PSEG on Thursday secured $300 million in subsidies for the state’s aging nuclear plants.

      It was an important victory for PSEG, which had threatened to close the three plants, and for the nuclear power industry as it seeks to preserve its place in the energy market amid an abundant supply of natural gas.

      And in New Jersey, the vote by the Board of Public Utilities laid bare the effectiveness of the efforts, as board commissioners voted yes even as some of them expressed doubts about the need for subsidies.

      “The board is being directed to pay ransom, and the hostages are the citizens of New Jersey,” said Commissioner Bob Gordon, a former state legislator, who voted for the subsidy.

      Indeed, the 4-1 vote came despite findings by the board’s staff that the nuclear plants were financially viable and over the objections of the state’s chief advocate for utility customers.

    • U.S. to Allow Lawsuits Over Properties Seized by Castro’s Cuba

      The Trump administration on Wednesday opened the door for lawsuits against foreign firms operating on properties Cuba seized from Americans after the 1959 revolution.

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he won’t renew a bar on litigation that has been in place for two decades, meaning that lawsuits can be filed starting on May 2 when the current suspension expires. The decision could affect dozens of Canadian and European companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in compensation and interests.

      “Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement,” Pompeo said.

      Pompeo said the administration was acting because it recognized the “reality” that the bar on lawsuits, which has been in place since 1996, had not achieved the goal of pressing Cuba to enact democratic reforms or reining in what he called its export of oppression throughout the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Venezuela.

      “We see clearly that regime’s repression of its own people and unrepentant exportation of tyranny in the region has only gotten worse because dictators perceive appeasement as weakness, not strength,” he told reporters at the State Department.

    • Making Wall Street Pay for the Financial Crisis

      Last week, as Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., convened a House Financial Services Committee hearing, featuring the CEOs of Wall Street’s biggest banks, the financial watchdog group Better Markets released a stunning report on the banks’ criminal records: Wall Street’s Six Biggest Bailed-Out Banks: Their RAP Sheets and Their Ongoing Crime Spree

      The report profiled the records of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Detailing the staggering $8.2 trillion that was committed to bail out these banks when their excesses blew up the economy in 2008, the report laid out what it called their RAP sheets — the record of illegal activity for which they have been fined a cumulative total of $181 billion in over 350 major legal actions.

      The report concludes that these big banks “have engaged in — and continue to engage in — a crime spree that spans the violation of almost every law and rule imaginable. …That was the case not just before the 2008 crash, but also during and after the crash and their lifesaving bailouts. … In fact, the number of cases against the banks has actually increased relative to the pre-crash era.”

      The scope of the illegal activity is breathtaking — overcharging soldiers on their mortgages, conspiring to fix the price of credit card fees, massive improper foreclosure practices, billing customers for services never provided, rigging interest rates, violating sanctions against countries like Iran, and more. The large fines are, for these mega-banks, merely a cost of doing business. And so the crime wave continues.

    • Making American Schools Less Great Again

      Three weeks ago, I sat in a cramped conference room in the large public high school where I teach in Beaverton, Oregon. I was listening to the principal deliver a scripted PowerPoint presentation on the $35 million budget deficit our district faces in the upcoming school year.

      Teachers and staff members slumped in chairs. A thick funk of disappointment, resignation, hopelessness, and simmering anger clung to us. After all, we’ve been here before. We know the drill: expect layoffs, ballooning class sizes, diminished instructional time, and not enough resources. Accept that the teacher-student relationship — one that has the potential to be productive and sometimes even transformative — will become, at best, transactional. Bodies will be crammed into too-small spaces, resources will dwindle, and learning will suffer. These budgetary crises are by now cyclical and completely familiar. Yet the thought of weathering another of them is devastating.

      This is the third time in my 14-year-career as a visual arts teacher that we’ve faced the upheaval, disruption, and chaos of just such a budget crisis. In 2012, the district experienced a massive shortfall that resulted in the firing of 344 teachers and bloated class sizes for those of us who were left. At one point, my Drawing I classroom studio — built to fit a maximum of 35 students — had more than 50 of them stuffed into it. We didn’t have enough chairs, tables, or spaces to draw, so we worked in the halls.

      During that semester I taught six separate classes and was responsible for more than 250 students. Despite the pretense that real instruction was taking place, teachers like me were largely engaged in crowd management and little more. All of the meaningful parts of the job — connecting with students, providing one-on-one support, helping struggling class members to make social and intellectual breakthroughs, not to speak of creating a healthy classroom community — simply fell by the wayside.

    • Stop the Gucci and Prada Talk

      Western leftists are obsessed with this topic. They do not even realize how ridiculous, how racist their arguments actually are!

      China, with some 6,000 years long history, 1.3 billion inhabitants and the second largest economy in the world, has almost eradicated extreme poverty in the cities, and in the countryside. For the first time in modern history, people are moving from the urban centers to the villages. The great Ecological Civilization effort is demonstrating to the world how to save the environment, and the planet. The country is firmly back with its brilliant model of “Communism with the Chinese characteristics”. Its foreign policy is more and more internationalist.

      But the more progressive, independent-minded and kind to its people China becomes, the more it is attacked and antagonized by the West. The more is its Communist model scrutinized, under the microscope.

    • In a Time of Cheap Fossil Fuels, Nuclear Power Companies Are Seeking — and Getting — Big Subsidies

      The energy company PSEG had a simple message for the New Jersey Legislature as it weighed the fate of three nuclear plants in the state.

      “What’s good for New Jersey is what’s good for PSEG,” Ralph Izzo, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, told the Legislature at a December 2017 hearing in Trenton. “What’s bad for New Jersey is bad for PSEG.”

      And with rock bottom natural gas prices, costly safety upgrades looming and energy usage flat, the outlook for the plants was bleak, he said. Within two years, the Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek nuclear plants in South Jersey would be “cash negative” and the company would have to close them, Izzo said.

      Hundreds of people would lose their jobs. And the state would lose a source of cleaner energy generation, forcing it to rely more heavily on natural gas. But the Legislature could avert that, Izzo said. To keep the plants open, PSEG would need about $300 million in subsidies over the next three years.

      It would be a “safety net” for the company’s nuclear operations in New Jersey, Izzo said. It would not, he emphasized, be “a bailout.”

      On Thursday, regulators in New Jersey are scheduled to decide whether PSEG has shown that it needs the subsidies, which would be paid for through a surcharge on all customer bills in the state. If the Board of Public Utilities approves the requests, New Jersey would join two other states, Illinois and New York, in giving nuclear power plants hundreds of millions of dollars in order to stay competitive in the wholesale energy market.

    • ‘Women Take Home Less Money Than They’ve Rightfully Earned’ – CounterSpin interview with Deborah Vagins on the gender pay gap

      Designating April 2 the day when US women’s salary “catches up” to men’s of the previous year, is a device, of course, a way to illustrate the gap that persists between what women and men are paid. Equal Pay Day is not, as The Root’s Maiysha Kai put it, a day to celebrate, but to educate, coordinate and advocate. Media can help or hinder that effort, and they do some of both.

    • A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide

      The gap between America’s ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is growing dramatically as wealth continues to concentrate at the top at the expense of the rest of us. One major symptom of this economic rift is the racial wealth divide, which is greater today than it was nearly four decades ago.

      The median Black family today owns $3,600 — just 2 percent of the $147,000 of wealth the median white family owns. At the extreme top, the Forbes 400 richest Americans own more wealth than all Black households, plus a quarter of Latinx households, combined.

      When analyzing the racial wealth divide, it’s important to note that this is a systemic issue — a result of policies, not individual behavior.

      Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State, emphasizes that the key ingredient of how successful you’ll be in America isn’t how hard you work individually — it’s how wealthy your family is.

    • What the Teapot Dome Scandal Has to Do With Trump’s Tax Returns

      There have been a lot of comparisons between President Donald Trump and President Richard Nixon, but Warren G. Harding’s 1920s administration — and the Teapot Dome scandal that tainted his presidency — may actually be a better guide to what’s going on right now. The scandal also helps address the question of whether Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal (D-MA) can lawfully request Trump’s tax returns from the IRS.

      This request takes on extra urgency in light of the news that Trump’s sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry recently retired from the federal bench, thereby ending an inquiry into her taxes. Both siblings stand accused by the New York Times of allegedly violating tax laws for years.

      On April 3, Chairman Neal asked the IRS to provide Trump’s personal tax returns and the tax returns of several of his business entities. As the debate unfolds over whether Congress has the authority to obtain the president’s tax returns, it’s worth considering two outcomes of Teapot Dome: (1) Congress has the authority to obtain the president’s tax returns and (2) Congress can compel testimony from hostile witnesses.

    • Amazon—and 56 Other Corporations—Took Your Tax Dollars

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, Bernie Sanders, castigator of the one percent, is a millionaire now. So are Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Big whoop. There’s a crucial difference between these candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and the super wealthy – particularly 60 gigantic, massively profitable U.S. corporations. The candidates faithfully pay federal taxes. The corporations don’t.

      That’s right. Sixty profitable corporations paid no federal taxes in 2018, twice the number that typically paid nothing in the years before the 2017 tax breaks took effect. In fact, it’s worse than that. Fifty-seven of these corporations demanded rebates from the government – which means taxpayers like you and me paid them to exist. These are corporations on the dole. They claim to hate socialism if it means Medicare for All, but they sure as hell love socialism when it’s welfare for them.

      Sanders, Harris, Warren and other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination paid their taxes because they are patriots. Most working Americans pay a fair share to support their country. True citizens pay so that their nation can thrive. They pay so that the United States can afford to educate its citizens, pave its roads, operate its courts, care for its vulnerable and sustain its military. They pay because they understand they have a duty to the country that nurtured them, that protects them and that they love.

      But too many U.S. corporations, which the U.S. Supreme Court has anointed with human rights, refuse to acknowledge their concomitant obligations. Corporations and the super wealthy pushed hard for the tax breaks Republicans bestowed on them in 2017. Fat cats paid untold tens of millions to dark money groups that served as cash cows for GOP candidates who, once elected, shepherded those tax breaks.

    • Two Russian brothers started a video game company and got onto Bloomberg’s billionaire list. Here’s their first long interview.

      In April, Bloomberg added Igor and Dmitry Bukhman to its list of U.S. dollar billionaires. The brothers, born in the northwest Russian city of Vologda, founded a video game company out of their hometown in 2004. Now, Playrix, which employs more than 1,000 employees and entertains about 30 million users every day with popular games like Homescapes and Township. The Bukhmans made their first games out of their Vologda apartment and almost immediately started raking in a profit. Now, Igor is 37 years old, Dmitry is 34, and each is said to have a net worth of $1.4 billion. We spoke with the Bukhmans about how they started making more money off their games, why they no longer live permanently in Russia, and what’s going on in the country’s domestic video game market today.

    • ‘Oppressed Labor’ Not Backing Down as Stop & Shop Strike Enters Second Week

      The New England Stop & Shop strike entered its eighth day Friday as the grocery store’s parent company continued to refuse to honor the union’s demand for a fair contract.

      At the heart of the dispute is an inability for Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch grocery conglomerate that owns Stop & Shop, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) to reach an agreement on a new contract. The sticking point is Ahold Delhaize’s refusal to back down from its demand that the grocery store’s workers take a cut in benefits—even as the parent company is reporting billions in profits.

      “We want our pension to be left the way it is, our healthcare not to be taken away from us, to keep our time and a half,” Watertown, Mass., striker Chris Pacitto told Hell World’s Luke O’Neil. “Everything that we fight for every day.”

      It’s the largest strike in at least three years for a private company and comes on the heels of two years of public school teacher strikes that have transfixed the country from West Virginia to Oakland, California.

      The strike, which affects 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, has closed “several dozen” stores—and the ones that are open, according to The Boston Globe, are struggling to keep fresh products in place.

    • Democrats Battle Over How to Raise the Minimum Wage

      The call for a $15 minimum wage is getting louder, and more people are hearing it. The Fight for $15 has won numerous victories, as states (including California and New York) and localities have passed their own laws to institute a $15 minimum wage—or even higher. In January, Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced the Raise the Wage Act (RTWA), which would make $15 the national wage floor by 2024. As of now, 31 Democratic senators and 205 House Democrats have signed on to the proposal.

      But Democrats need to persuade a few more members to ensure they can pass the bill in the House (it will go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate)—if all House members vote, the Democrats need 218. In early April, however, new legislation to raise the minimum wage was introduced by Democratic Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama. Instead of a universal minimum wage, this legislation calls for differing minimum-wage levels across the country, varying by region and cost of living. Only about a dozen Democrats have yet signed on to this legislation, and some who have signed on are also co-sponsors on the RTWA.

      Sewell’s act, as she said in a statement, “establishes a regional minimum wage structure that provides all minimum wage workers with a much-needed raise while protecting jobs, giving every community the flexibility to grow their economy and taking into account that the cost of living in Selma, Alabama is very different than New York City.” Regional wage proposals have been discussed over the past several years as an alternative to a national wage floor.

    • Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy

      The dominant American ideology has long claimed that capitalism is about democracy. It isn’t – and one need not be an anti-capitalist “radical” to know better. My old copy of Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines capitalism as “the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution … are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions: it has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth and, [in] its latter phase, by the growth of great corporations, increased government controls, etc.”

      There’s nothing—nada, zero, zip—about popular self-rule (democracy) in that definition. And there shouldn’t be. “Democracy and capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of power,” liberal economist Lester Thurow noted in the mid-1990s: “One [democracy] believes in a completely equal distribution of political power, ‘one man, one vote,’ while the other [capitalism] believes that it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of business and into extinction. … To put it in its starkest form, capitalism is perfectly compatible with slavery. Democracy is not.”

      Thurow might have added that capitalism is perfectly compatible with fascism, racism, nativism, sexism, militarism, and imperialism among other authoritarian and anti-democratic forces and formations. More than being merely compatible with slavery, moreover, U.S.-American capitalism arose largely on the basis of the Black cotton slave system in the nation’s pre-Civil War South. This is demonstrated at length in historian Edward Baptist’s prize-winning study The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

      “We must make our choice,” onetime Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is reputed to have said or written: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” This statement (whoever made it) was perhaps unintentionally anti-capitalist. Consistent with Webster’s(above), the historically astute French economist Thomas Piketty has shown that capitalism has always been inexorably pulled toward the concentration of wealth into ever fewer hands.

    • Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter

      Type the word “manslaughter” into any news search engine and up will come a series of stories of ordinary Americans charged with killing others through criminal negligence or recklessness.

      One such case that came up this month involved a Pennsylvania man who plead guilty to manslaughter. The man was accused of texting while driving and as a result killed a 12-year old girl walking on the side of the road. The driver obviously didn’t intend to kill the 12-year old girl. But due to his recklessness, he did. And he will now spend time in jail.

      If manslaughter charges can be brought against ordinary American citizens, why not against powerful American corporations and their executives?

      Two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets have crashed within five months leaving 346 dead. Early evidence of Boeing’s wrongdoing in the design of the 737 Max 8 and the company’s failure to train pilots to handle its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) warrants a criminal manslaughter prosecution of both the company and the responsible executives.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups

      In the past decade, people, companies and unions have dispensed more than $1 billion in dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The very definition of that phrase, to many critics, epitomizes the problem of shadowy political influence: Shielded by the cloak of anonymity, typically wealthy interests are permitted to pass limitless pools of cash through nonprofits to benefit candidates or political initiatives without contributing directly to campaigns.

      Such spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names — as long as politics isn’t the organization’s “primary activity.” The Internal Revenue Service has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard.

      But the IRS’ attempts to police this class of nonprofits have almost completely broken down, a ProPublica investigation reveals. Since 2015, thousands of complaints have streamed in — from citizens, public interest groups, IRS agents, government officials and more — that C4s are abusing the rules. But the agency has not stripped a single organization of its tax-exempt status for breaking spending rules during that period. (A handful of groups have had their status revoked for failing to file financial statements for three consecutive years.)

    • Trump raged at former White House counsel Don McGahn for taking notes about their conversations

      People familiar with Trump’s thought process said he was particularly incensed about McGahn’s contemporaneous notes, The Post reported.

    • Mueller identified ‘dozens’ of US rallies organized by Russian [astroturfer] farm

      Special counsel Robert Mueller in his highly-anticipated report said his team identified “dozens” of U.S. political rallies organized on social media by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian [astroturfer] farm that was later indicted for attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

    • Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”

      There are a number of things that stand out as the most relevant and interesting in Robert Mueller’s Special Council report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which was released in redacted form on Thursday. After consuming as much of the report as a person can without going blind or insane (I’m attempting to save you the trouble), here are what I see as the more alluring Mueller finds. Please note: save your harassment for someone else that Mueller got it all wrong, that Russia didn’t hack, that Assange was used etc. I’m only reporting and commenting on what Mueller claims to have found, not that he got it right. A few of these “findings” were already part of the public record and they are listed in chronological order, not by order of importance.

    • After Mueller Report, Progressives Say ‘Begin Impeachment Hearings Now’

      After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report detailed numerous instances in which President Donald Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice, progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups on Thursday made the case that it is the duty of Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

      “Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the president,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “As such, I’ll be signing onto Rashida Tlaib’s impeachment resolution.”

      Formally introduced last month, Tlaib’s resolution directs the House Judiciary Committee to immediately begin investigating whether Trump “committed impeachable offenses.”

    • Mueller Went Looking for a Conspiracy, What He Found Was Conflict and a Cover-Up — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      On Thursday, the “Trump, Inc.” team gathered with laptops, pizza and Post-its to disconnect — and to read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

      What we found was page after page of jaw-dropping details about the inner workings of the administration of President Donald Trump, meetings with foreign officials and plots to affect our elections. But we also found rich details on how Trump ran his business dealings in Russia, itself the subject of our recent episode on his Moscow business partners.

    • The Destruction of the Palestinians Will Be Israel’s Undoing

      The Israel-Palestine conflict is at the heart of politics not only in the Middle East, but in the United States. As the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu moves further toward the hard right with the support of U.S. President Donald Trump, the plight of Palestinians is reaching a new level of urgency. Journalist and filmmaker Mariam Shahin, the daughter of Palestinians, has dedicated much of her life’s work to documenting Palestinians’ stories through film as well as in her book “Palestine: A Guide” (Interlink Books, 2006). Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer describes Shahin’s films as poignant portrayals of “the forgotten people of every intrusion, every war.”

      “What I loved about your work,” Scheer tells Shahin in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” “is you capture … the ordinary person living in a place like Gaza. How they eat, how they survive. Male, female, children. These are not people who invented the situation. These are not people who have agency of any significance.”

      While the situation in the Palestinian territories looks increasingly dire, Shahin has found reasons for hope. “I think as the world increasingly becomes more polarized, there’s more people willing to listen to Palestinians,” the journalist tells the Truthdig editor in chief.

    • RussiaGate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!

      Now that Mueller’s $40 million Humpty Trumpty investigation is over and found wanting of its original purpose (to retire Trump), perhaps the ruling class can return without interruption to the business of destroying the world with ordnance, greenhouse gases, and regime changes. A few more CIA-organized blackouts in Venezuela (it’s a simple trick if one follows the Agency’s “Freedom Fighter’s Manual”), and the US will come to the rescue, Grenada style, and set up yet another neoliberal regime. There is a small solace that with Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton, there is at least a semblance of transparency in their reckless interventions. The assessed value of Guaido and Salman, they forthrightly admit, is in their countries’ oil reserves. And Russians better respect the Monroe Doctrine and manifest destiny if they know what’s good for them. Crude as they may be, Trump’s men tell it like it is. And when Bolton speaks of “the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law,” he is of course referring to US-backed coups, military juntas, debt bondage, invasions, embargoes, assassinations, and other forms of gunboat diplomacy.

      That the US is not already formally at war with Russia (even with NATO forces all along its borders) has only to do with the latter’s nuclear arsenal deterrent. Since World War II, a period some describe as a “a period of unprecedented peace,” the US war machine has wiped out some 20 million people, including more than 1 million in Iraq since 2003, engaged in regime change of at least 36 governments, intervened in at least 82 foreign elections, including Russia (1996), planned more than 50 assassinations of foreign leaders, and bombed over 30 countries. This is documented here and here.

    • The Mueller Report: Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston on Trump-Russia Ties, Obstruction & More

      The Justice Department has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and President Trump’s attempts to impede the special counsel’s investigation. The report states the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” but Mueller concluded, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Mueller also outlined at least 10 instances where Trump attempted to impede the special counsel’s investigation, but Mueller came to no definitive conclusion on whether Trump broke the law by obstructing justice. In the report, Mueller suggests that this is a decision for Congress to make. We host a debate on the report’s findings between two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists: Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept and David Cay Johnston, who has covered Donald Trump since the 1980s. His most recent book is “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

    • Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away

      Whatever might come of the remaining details of the Mueller probe, lessons ‘learned’ by the American press won’t be among them. The story was never about truth, so exposing bits and pieces as untrue won’t undo its success. And the government officials and pundits who put it forward largely got what they wanted from the effort. The national security and surveillance establishments were rehabilitated, the ‘press’ was shown once again to be a reliable mouth-piece for official interests and the 2016 electoral outcome was successfully portrayed as an accident of history made worse by the moral depravity of voters.

      Given that Russia’s economy today is smaller than Italy’s and its military budget wouldn’t buy a toilet seat or hammer in the U.S. military procurement system, the question of why Russia would seem a great mystery outside of history. And left unstated is that the U.S. defense industry needs enemies to survive. ‘Radical Islam,’ an invention of oil and gas industry flacks that turned out to be serviceable for marketing Tomahawk missiles and stealth fighter jets as well, lost some of its luster when ISIS and Al Qaeda came over to ‘our side.’ And humanitarian intervention ain’t what it used to be with Libya reduced to rubble and open-air slave markets now dotting the landscape.

      From 1948 through the early 1990s Russia was Pennywise the evil clown, helping to sell bananas, nuclear weapons and cut-rate underwear around the globe wherever American empire alighted. Costumed ‘communists,’ locals paid a day-rate to dress up and shout whatever slogans conveyed evil most effectively, were a staple of CIA interventions from Iran to Guatemala to the streets of New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Never mind that the slayer of monsters is more monstrous than an army of evil clowns, as the Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans, Chileans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Yemenis and on and on, were to learn.

    • What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?

      It is hard to recall now but before the 2016 election, blatant contempt for the rule of law and other longstanding (small-r) republican values, public displays of stupidity, extreme character flaws, and irrefutable evidence of psychological instability could wreck a presidential campaign; and it was practically axiomatic that no presidency could be headed by anyone to whom those descriptions apply.

      No longer. By force of example, Donald Trump has proven the conventional wisdom wrong.

      The sixty percent or so of Americans whose heads are screwed on more or less correctly have therefore had to face up to the fact that as many as forty percent of their fellow citizens are either too benighted to face the truth about the president they elected, or, if they do have some inkling, that they either don’t care, or actually like being led by “a fucking moron.”

      It was one of the handful of by now long gone “adults in the room,” Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, a man of impeccably nefarious capitalist (and anti-environmentalist) credentials, who described Trump that way. He was spot on right.

      Persons outside the Trump base cannot help but believe that there is a tipping-point somewhere; that, while Trump mentally decomposes, the other forty percent cannot maintain their collective idiocy indefinitely. However, this belief, which I share, is based solely on respect for and faith in humankind; at this point, the available evidence does not support it.

    • House Escalates Trump Inquiry With Subpoena for Full Mueller Report

      The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Friday for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as Congress escalates its investigation of President Donald Trump.

      “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. He expects the Justice Department to comply by May 1.

      While Mueller declined to prosecute Trump on obstruction of justice, he did not exonerate the president, all but leaving the question to Congress.

      Mueller’s report provides fresh evidence of Trump’s interference in the Russia investigation and challenges lawmakers to respond. The risks for both parties are clear if they duck the responsibility or prolong an inquiry that, rather than coming to a close, may be just beginning.

    • ‘Purity Tests’: How Corporate Media Describe Progressives Standing Up for Principles

      In the political world, the term “purity test” has a very specific meaning, largely used by elites to chastise and attack the left, or to gaslight them into supporting more centrist or right-wing policies. Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi (4/24/17), for example, bemoaned the ideological “activists” infiltrating the Democratic Party, undermining “more pragmatic party leaders everywhere” with their “purity tests.” She highlighted the supposed “danger” in “pushing the party too far to the left and imposing rigid orthodoxy,” warning that they are creating a “one-size party suitable only for zealots.”

      An example Vennochi gave of an intolerable and self-defeating purity test was leftists’ pressure on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to change her mind about supporting Trump nominee Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Apparently opposing one of Trump’s most stridently right-wing appointees constitutes a “demand for ideological purity.”

    • Trump abruptly blocks U.S. from appointing anyone to UN committee on racism

      The Trump administration will not nominate anyone from the United States to serve on the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

      A State Department official told Politico that the White House intervened to stop the expected renomination of a human rights lawyer selected by Barack Obama to the 18-member UN panel. As a result, the U.S. will not nominate anyone to the committee.

      Gay McDougall, who has served on the committee since 2015, was informed by State Department officials that she would be renominated before the White House abruptly scrapped the plan without providing an explanation, according to the report.

      The committee meets three times per year in Geneva to review progress toward the implementation of a 1960s global pact on “the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.”

      McDougall, a human rights expert, told the outlet she intended to finish out her four-year term, which ends this fall.

      “I regret that I’m not able to continue, and that was not of my choosing,” she said.

      McDougall previously criticized Trump for emboldening racists in the United States around the world.

    • Snubbing UN and Fight Against Racism, Trump Admin Blocks Seat on Key Committee From Being Filled

      Also criticizing the development was Jasmine L. Tyler, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch’s U.S. Program, who called it “yet another example of the U.S.’s backpedaling from multilateralism/international organizations,” noting “a series of U.S. withdrawals from international treaties and supporting organizations.”

    • ‘Justice Delayed Is Democracy Denied’: Trump to Fight Subpoenas From House Dems

      President Donald Trump is making clear he will resist Congressional subpoenas into his personal finances and his administration’s behavior, setting up a clash between two ostensibly co-equal branches of government.

      That announcement came Tuesday evening via reporting by The Washington Post. The Post, citing sources inside the White House, described Trump as digging in his heels over the requests.

      “The administration does not plan to turn over information being sought about how particular individuals received their security clearances, Trump’s meetings with foreign leaders and other topics that they plan to argue are subject to executive privilege, according to several aides familiar with internal discussions,” the Post reported.

      At issue are records pertaining to Trump administration security clearances from the House Oversight and Reform committee, the president’s tax returns from the Ways and Means Committee, and business loans from international banks from the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees.

    • How Volodymyr Zelenskiy went from comedian to Ukraine’s presidential front runner

      In Ukraine’s current presidential elections, the first round of voting left actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy on top. In a sense, Zelenskiy has already held the Ukrainian government’s leading role — at least in Sluha Narodu (Servant of the People), a television series produced by his company, Studio Kvartal 95. Shortly before the election took place, Meduza correspondent Ilya Zhegulev visited Ukraine to find out how the enormously popular comedian decided to transfer his presidential image from a sitcom into the real world — and what Zelenskiy the politician has to offer besides his already evident skills in showmanship.

    • At Risk—the Idea of America

      Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the Trump years is the disservice he and his associates are doing to Americans’ sense of self and nation. In ordinary times there would not be much debate about what it means to be an American or what are American values. Every school child learns these things: It’s Civics 1. Race, class, and gender identity have always been important, but generally they have been subsumed under a larger identification with the nation. “We’re all Americans, we all share the dream, we live in a land of opportunity.” But under Trump identity politics has come to the fore, pushing aside the tenets of liberal democracy and respect for diversity, and replacing them with right-wing white nationalism framed by a (false) populist (i.e., anti-establishment) political agenda, a narrowing of opportunity, and mean-spirited discourse.

      Liberal intellectuals uniformly denounce that agenda but they differ among themselves, as the latest issue of Foreign Affairs shows, about whether or not racial, class, and other identities promote or undermine national unity. Those identities are critical to maintain in the face of unequal treatment, yet the (liberal) nationalists fear they will undermine a focus on repurposing America. A related debate is evidently taking place at the state level. In Michigan we learn that public school educators are arguing over whether curricula should describe the American form of government as a republic or a democracy, with implications for how civil society and social equality are taught. These debates reveal just how uncertain the idea of America still is.

      So long as these debates persist, America will have no special claim to being an enlightened example to the world. Instead, America will remain divided, consumed by antagonisms between races, classes, and gender, and by contending nationalisms, rather than propelled by demonstrating how a pluralistic society is able, through consensus politics and democratic choice, to surmount differences. Chalk up these painful debates to Trump’s intentionally divisive way of governing, which he relied on to get to the White House and is relying on again to stay there.

    • Russian Foreign Ministry official says Mueller report contains ‘no evidence’ of election meddling

      “There’s nothing there that would attract attention. It actually confirms the absence of any argument that Russia supposedly meddled in the American elections. There’s not a shred of evidence there. In fact, the report’s authors concede that they have no evidence,” Borisenko says.

    • Chomsky: By Focusing on Russia, Democrats Handed Trump a “Huge Gift” & Possibly the 2020 Election

      As Attorney General William Barr releases Robert Mueller’s long-anticipated report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky about what he sees as the political perils of “Russiagate.”

    • Barr Lies Down With Trump, Wakes Up With Fleas

      Ladies and gentlemen, today’s Final Jeopardy question in the category Lost Americans: Where was Special Counsel Robert Mueller?

      He wasn’t standing there at the Department of Justice press conference Thursday morning, despite the fact that the event was about Mueller’s report on Russia, President Donald Trump and his possible acts of obstruction. Attorney General William Barr insisted that the purpose of the briefing was to “discuss my response to that report.” and not, by implication, a platform from which Mueller might steal the spotlight or worse, protest the jabberwocky that came flying out of the AG’s mouth.

    • Top Democrats Accuse Barr of ‘Acting to Protect Donald Trump’ Ahead of Mueller Report Rollout

      In response to news that Attorney General William Barr plans to hold a morning press conference before the Mueller report is sent to Congress on Thursday, top House Democrats accused Barr of attempting to “shape public perceptions” of the Special Counsel’s findings in President Donald Trump’s favor before anyone can read them.

      The group of Democrats—which included House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)—also raised alarm about reports that Justice Department officials have had “numerous conversations” on the Mueller report with White House lawyers in recent days.

    • No More Excuses. Donald Trump Must Be Impeached.

      Over the course of more than 400 scalding pages, the Mueller report details the parallel and often cooperative course traveled by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the sophisticated Russian operation devoted to his victory. Mueller’s report also lays out the myriad ways Trump obstructed justice through his ham-fisted attempts to either take over the investigation or obliterate it entirely.

      There is but one conclusion to reach after reading this exhaustively prepared report: Donald Trump must be impeached. There is no more time for vacillation, and no room for doubt.

      The report is divided into two distinct hemispheres: Volume I deals with the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election and the question of Trump campaign participation in that attack, and Volume II deals with the manner in which Donald Trump actively obstructed the investigation into Russian election meddling.

      Many of the report’s details have been in the public sphere for months and even years. Having it all in one place, however, gives the document the depth and gravity of gruesome history. There are also plenty of new and alarming surprises. It is atomically detailed and deeply sourced, ultimately conservative in its conclusions regarding the law but profoundly damning nonetheless.

      Donald Trump was right to fear its release, and after reading it, I believe those fears are only just beginning.

    • Sarah Sanders must go: After Mueller, White House press secretary is toast

      The Justice Department released on Thursday a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited 400-plus-page report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to the report, when Sanders faced the press at two different press conferences in May of 2017 to explain Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director, she told bald-faced lies.

      On May 10, 2017, Sanders said that Trump “had countless conversations with members from within the FBI” and learned that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”

      That same day she said that “most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI, as evidenced by the numerous comments that we’ve seen from Democrat members in the House and Senate, Republican members, members of the FBI, and people across the board.”

    • “Don’t Listen to Barr—Read Mueller’s Words Yourself”: Here Is the Special Counsel’s Report

      Attorney General William Barr delivered a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress and posted the special counsel’s findings online Thursday morning.

      The document’s publication followed a Justice Department press conference that critics and Democratic lawmakers denounced as an effort to spin Mueller’s findings and protect President Donald Trump.

      “Before the American people can read it themselves, Barr is trying to spin a report he knows will damage his boss,” tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee during Barr’s morning press conference. “Don’t listen to Barr—read Mueller’s words yourself.”

      Though Democrats demanded the full report, the findings delivered to Congress were redacted. During his press conference, Barr insisted that none of the redactions were the result of “executive privilege.”

    • William Barr reveals he “disagreed” with Robert Mueller on “legal theories” of Trump obstruction

      Ahead of the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly 400-page report detailing his nearly two-year investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, Attorney General William Barr said ten documented episodes involving President Donald Trump and “elements of an obstruction offense” were not illegal.

      Barr revealed that both he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, “disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law,” although they accepted Mueller’s “legal framework.”

      “After finding no underlying collusion with Russia, the special counsel’s report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction of the special counsel’s investigation,” Barr added. “As I addressed in my March 24 letter, the special counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. Instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.”

    • Barr Gets in Last Word Before America Sees Mueller Report

      After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some Trump-Russia answers straight from Robert Mueller.

      Eager to get in a first word ahead of the public release of the special counsel’s report, Attorney General William Barr on Thursday laid out in advance what he said was the “bottom line:” No collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government hackers.

      While Mueller drew no conclusion about whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally had concluded that while Trump was “frustrated and angry” about the Mueller probe, nothing the president did rose to the level of an “obstruction-of-justice offense.” Barr said Mueller’s report examined 10 episodes pertaining to Trump and obstruction.

    • Demanding to Hear Directly From Mueller, Nadler Subpoenas Full, Unredacted Report Friday

      House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Friday morning that the committee would issue a subpoena for the entire unredacted Mueller report “in the next couple of hours.”

      The demand reinforced a sense of dissatisfaction from House Democrats with the Trump administration’s suggestion that the report is a closed matter.

      On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Nadler told George Stephanopoulos his committee would demand access to the full report, which, while it did not establish a criminal conspiracy between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, also did not exonerate the president of potential obstruction of justice.

      Attorney General William Barr, Nadler said, “misled the country” when he held a press conference focusing largely on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings regarding collusion.

    • Biden Expected to Launch Presidential Campaign Next Week

      Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential race next week.

      The decision answers one of the most significant outstanding questions of the early presidential primary season, which has already seen announcements from 18 high-profile Democrats. Biden, 76, would be the oldest and most experienced politician in the race.

      His plans were confirmed by three people with knowledge, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The announcement is expected as early as Wednesday and would cap months of deliberation over his political future.

      The specific launch date and location is unclear. Biden is likely to quickly make visits to early-voting states.

      One person said Biden’s advisers are also considering an early event in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of a deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in 2017. The location would be intended to draw a contrast between Biden and President Donald Trump, who initially said there were some “very fine people on both sides” of the violent confrontation.

      Biden has been particularly outspoken against the rise of white supremacy in the Trump era.

    • Russia’s ruling political party releases viral campaign videos ahead of local elections outside Moscow

      In the videos, United Russia candidates from different precincts in the district recite the names of streets and boroughs in Odintsovsky. Each clip ends with a call to go vote on Sunday. The candidates are never identified as United Russia politicians and the name of the party is never mentioned or shown on screen.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • UK Porn Filters Could Mean Sweaty Palms For Piracy Blockers

      This summer the UK government will attempt to ban underage access to sites that have a third or more of their content dedicated to porn. Everyone will be required to verify their age and sites that don’t comply with the regime will be blocked by ISPs. However, citizens who seek to circumvent the rules with VPNs, for example, will also find pirate sites wide open again.

    • Porn block: UK to require age checks for adult content as of July 15

      Opponents of the new rules pointed out that they won’t cover smaller sites or social networks, and can be circumvented by the use of VPNs. Others fear the systems used to verify age will be open to exploitation, and could result in people’s privacy being violated and their browsing histories being circulated beyond their control.

    • Facebook Pulls Plug on Anti-Immigration News Site Ahead of Danish Elections

      The social media giant has banned a Danish news outlet critical of the EU, immigration and mainstream media two times in a single day. The blackout occurred after a state broadcaster blew the whistle ahead of looming general elections.

    • US Slides Down Annual Press Freedom Ranking, With Watchdog Calling Nation ‘Problematic’ for Reporters’ Rights

      An annual accounting of press freedoms around the world describes an “intense climate of fear” in which reporters are being forced to work, calling out world leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for their attacks on the media.

      Trump’s repeated statements that journalists are “the enemy of the people” and his threats to roll back their right to report political news have been a contributing factor in the United States’ descent to 48th place in the Press Freedom Index, which was released Thursday by Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).

      The U.S. slid down the list three places and is now categorized as a “problematic” country for journalists’ rights, according to RSF.

      “The violent anti-press rhetoric from the highest level of the U.S. government has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions,” RSF reported.

    • US slides down global press freedom rankings amid warning of ‘climate of fear’ for journalists

      Releasing its annual Press Freedom Index after a tumultuous 12 months for the media, Reporters Without Borders sounded the alarm over an “intense climate of fear” for reporters, and condemned attacks on press outlets by world leaders including Donald Trump.

      The US slid three places to 48th in their global rankings, dropping below Botswana, Chile and Romania and entering the category of “problematic” regions for press freedom. Norway claimed the top spot for the third consecutive year, ahead of Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and North Korea climbed off the bottom of the table.

    • Global press freedom under threat, says Reporters Without Borders

      Once again, Norway tops the global ranking, followed by Finland and Sweden.

    • Journalist shot dead in Derry during rioting in the city

      Dissident republicans are being blamed for killing 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in Derry’s Creggan area on Thursday night.

    • An Open Source Survey of the Shooting of Lyra McKee

      By the end of the night, a man would open fire from the crowd’s position towards the police, killing Lyra McKee. The shooting was captured on video from at least four vantage points. Additionally, the authorities have released a CCTV compilation showing some of the unrest, including the moment that the shooter opened fire.

      What follows is an account of the events in Creggan on the night of April 18 2019 that ended with the killing of Lyra McKee.

    • The U.S. Now Ranks As A ‘Problematic’ Place For Journalists

      Reporters Sans Frontières, or Reporters Without Borders, dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 on its annual World Press Freedom Index, three notches lower than its place last year. The move downgrades the country from a “satisfactory” place to work freely to a “problematic” one for journalists.

    • Under Chinese censorship, Game of Thrones becomes a mundane medieval documentary

      Chinese viewers who watched the censored version of the season 8 premiere became confused when they participated in post-episode discussions. Many fans were angry about the censorship because it kept important plot points hidden from them, including the fall of the Last Hearth, the death of Ned Umber, and the Night King’s message. But others simply suggested that pirating the show was a better solution than watching a bowdlerized version. One user wrote a comment half in English and half in Chinese on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform: “I want my money back, #TencentVideo. I want a refund, I don’t want the censored version of #GameofThrones #EighthSeason.”

    • Scribd taking down the Mueller Report is the future the EU has voted for

      Scribd thought the Mueller Report was copyrighted because there was no one to think otherwise—the company uses an algorithm to make determinations about intellectual property violations.

    • Don’t Force Web Platforms To Silence Innocent People

      The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week to discuss the spread of white nationalism, online and offline. The hearing tackled hard questions about how online platforms respond to extremism online and what role, if any, lawmakers should play. The desire for more aggressive moderation policies in the face of horrifying crimes is understandable, particularly in the wake of the recent massacre in New Zealand. But unfortunately, looking to Silicon Valley to be the speech police may do more harm than good.

      When considering measures to discourage or filter out unwanted activity, platforms must consider how those mechanisms might be abused by bad actors. Similarly, when Congress considers regulating speech on online platforms, it must consider both the First Amendment implications and how its regulations might unintentionally encourage platforms to silence innocent people.

      Again and again, we’ve seen attempts to more aggressively stamp out hate and extremism online backfire in colossal ways. We’ve seen state actors abuse flagging systems in order to silence their political enemies. We’ve seen platforms inadvertently censor the work of journalists and activists attempting to document human rights atrocities.

    • EU Parliament Votes To Require Internet Sites To Delete ‘Terrorist Content’ In One Hour (By 3 Votes)

      A bit of deja vu here. Once again, the EU Parliament has done a stupid thing for the internet. As we’ve been discussing over the past few months, the EU has been pushing a really dreadful “EU Terrorist Content Regulation” with the main feature being a requirement that any site that can be accessed from the EU must remove any content deemed “terrorist content” by any vaguely defined “competent authority” within one hour of being notified. The original EU Commission version also included a requirement for filters to block reuploads and a provision that effectively turned websites’ terms of service documents into de facto law. In moving the Regulation to the EU Parliament, the civil liberties committee LIBE stripped the filters and the terms of service parts from the proposal, but kept in the one hour takedown requirement.
      In a vote earlier today, the EU Parliament approved the version put for by the committee, rejecting (bad) amendments to bring back the upload filters and empowering terms of service, but also rejecting — by just three votes — an amendment to remove the insane one hour deadline.

    • Stop Saying That Section 230 Was A ‘Gift To Internet Companies’

      Saying that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) is a “gift” to internet companies that should be taken away because some people use the internet badly is like saying the interstate highway system is a “gift” to the big shipping companies, and should be destroyed because some people send illegal things via UPS or Fedex.

    • New Paper: Why Section 230 Is Better Than The First Amendment

      We’ve talked a lot over the years about the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in helping to create and enable the internet and all of the free speech on the internet. Expect us to continue to talk about it as it is increasingly under attack. Professor Eric Goldman has now released a short, and very worth reading, paper about Section 230, with the provocative title: Why Section 230 Is Better Than the First Amendment. The importance here is that many have argued that CDA 230 and the 1st Amendment go hand in hand. At times, in the past, I’ve argued that in a reasonable world we shouldn’t even need a CDA 230, because the proper application of liability should obviously be with the person posting the law-breaking content, rather than the platform hosting it. But, that was clearly talking about in an idealistic world that does not exist. Given the frequency of lots of people — plaintiffs, journalists, politicians, and more — going after platforms for actions of their users, CDA 230′s broad immunity is absolutely necessary if we’re to have free speech online.

    • That Was Quick: Thomas Goolnik Already Gets Google To Forget Our Latest Story About Thomas Goolnik Getting Google To Forget Stories About Thomas Goolnik

      Right. So if the rest of you hadn’t guessed by now, Thomas Goolnik has, once again, successfully convinced Google to “erase” our most recent article about Thomas Goolnik getting Google to delete a previous article about Thomas Goolnik getting Google to delete a previous article about Thomas Goolnik getting Google to delete a previous article from its search results on the name Thomas Goolnik in the EU.
      Even if one were to agree that the original articles he wanted delisted from searches under his name (which began with a NY Times article from 2002, which we don’t believe should have been delisted under the RTBF guidelines in the EU), the fact that Goolnik continues to get more modern articles about his abuse of the RTBF process delisted seems problematic. It seems like the sort of thing that is very much in the public interest to monitor and report on, seeing as many supporters of the GDPR insist that the RTBF process would not, in fact, be used to censor news stories. It is being used to do exactly that.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Government Tossing Child Porn Cases Rather Than Discuss Its Torrent-Tracking Software In Court

      The federal government isn’t done tossing cases rather than let defendants have access to slightly more level playing field. A new investigation by ProPublica has uncovered more dismissed prosecutions due to the government’s unwillingness to allow defendants to examine the software used to build cases against them.

      The cases deal with child porn and BitTorrent distribution. The defendants are hardly the most sympathetic. But, like the cases that exposed the FBI’s use of malware to gather identifying information from devices around the world, child porn investigations are on the front line of the government’s tech deployments. From the description of the cases covered here, it almost appears the government had enough evidence to see the prosecution through to the end. It just chose not to because continuing the cases would mean turning over info on their tracking software to the accused

    • Facebook fights to “shield Zuckerberg” from punishment in US privacy probe

      According to NBC, FTC officials are “discussing whether and how to hold Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company’s history of mismanaging users’ private data.” However, NBC said its sources “wouldn’t elaborate on what measures are specifically under consideration.”

    • Facebook’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Privacy Week

      I know that some will argue that “every week” is a bad week for Facebook with regards to privacy, but this week in particular is looking especially awful, with (last I checked!) three “big” stories regarding the company’s bad decisions and handling regarding data. Of course, because this is Facebook, I still think the reporting is getting the story a bit wrong. The story that has gotten the most attention is the least concerning, while the ones getting less attention are the real problems.

      First up is the NBC News story going through a big pile of leaked internal documents from its ongoing lawsuit with app developer Six4Three. If you don’t recall, the company, which made a skeezy app to let you find pictures of other people on Facebook wearing bikinis, got mad and sued Facebook when Facebook (finally) realized that maybe it shouldn’t give app developers access to so much data, and cut them all off (effectively killing Six4Three’s entire ability to operate). Many people reacted to this week’s story as if it was some big reveal that Facebook cut favorable data deals with some partners, and that it toyed around with business models selling access to data, but frankly, I don’t see all that much that’s different from the cache of documents that was released back in December.

      As I said then, most of the stuff that people are freaking out about appears to be taken out of context. Facebook investigating different business models isn’t inherently bad. And many people are framing those discussions completely outside of the context of what Facebook was actually doing at the time or how people viewed the data it had access to. A lot of focus is on the fact that Facebook put a dollar value on the data — but that doesn’t actually mean (as many are suggesting) that it ever planned to “sell the data.” It did look at charging app developers to access the data, but that’s not a particularly crazy idea — and one that lots of people discussed at the time, and one that plenty of companies with lots of data use.

    • James Comey Offers Up Half-Assed Apology For Being Such An Asshole About Encryption

      Former FBI director James Comey’s move to the private sector has been… well… annoying, if we’re honest. After being booted by President Trump for allegedly failing to pledge his fealty to the Oval Office throne, Comey has become a hero of the so-called Resistance. Those lionizing Comey as some sort of truth-to-power speaker seem to have forgotten he ignored everything ever about pre-election propriety to announce his reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and his years spent trying to undermine encryption.

      You can take a man out of the FBI, but you can’t take the g-man out of the man. Comey may be as unimpressed as many of us are with the current White House leadership, but that only makes him somewhat relatable, not some hero molded from the fires of the long tradition of reshuffling agency leadership with every peaceful transfer of power.

      Comey will speak to whoever will listen and/or publish his thoughts. He recently spoke at a conference and offered up his limited apologies for the War on Encryption he waged following the San Bernardino shooting.

    • Google’s Sensorvault Can Tell Police Where You’ve Been

      In a new article, the New York Times details a little-known technique increasingly used by law enforcement to figure out everyone who might have been within certain geographic areas during specific time periods in the past. The technique relies on detailed location data collected by Google from most Android devices as well as iPhones and iPads that have Google Maps and other apps installed. This data resides in a Google-maintained database called “Sensorvault,” and because Google stores this data indefinitely, Sensorvault “includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.”

      The data Google is turning over to law enforcement is so precise that one deputy police chief said it “shows the whole pattern of life.” It’s collected even when people aren’t making calls or using apps, which means it can be even more detailed than data generated by cell towers.

      One deputy police chief said Google’s location data “shows the whole pattern of life.”

      The location data comes from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons. According to Google, users opt in to collection of the location data stored in Sensorvault. However, Google makes it very hard to resist opting in, and many users may not understand that they have done so. Also, Android devices collect lots of other location data by default, and it’s extremely difficult to opt out of that collection.

    • Google’s Infinite Reach – How Google Builds a Profile on Everyone

      [...] People who refuse to participate are still tracked by FaceBook cookies and url tracking.

      The difference is that Google’s method of attack is by aggregation. Google builds many tools that are useful to users and administrators, but they are engineered to gather data about users and build as much of a profile as possible, which is then sold to advertisers, governments, other data brokers, or anyone else who is willing to pay.

      [...]

      Google AMP is a service that caches data, usually media, on Google servers around the world. This means that when you load a website with AMP enabled, the images and media come from Google’s servers. This means that when you are visiting a website with AMP enabled, Google knows every resource that you’ve loaded on the page. Interestingly, this gives Google access to substantially more information than your ISP would be able to get, because https encryption prevents the ISP from seeing what specific pages you visit. They can only see the domain. As an example, your ISP could see that you visited Reddit, but not what subreddit or posts. Google AMP linked content on Reddit (there is a ton of it) gives Google a direct IP – Content link that they can document and use to profile user behavior and activity.

      This problem is widespread. WordPress sites, which is the most popular content management system in the world, have AMP on by default.

      Even worse, Google has recently announced that mobile Chrome users wont even be able to tell when they are using amp-served content. Chrome will hide the AMP content behind the original URL.

    • NYC subway denies using ‘real-time face recognition screens’ in Times Square

      Young says that the recordings aren’t being monitored to identify individuals in the footage, though. “There is absolutely no facial recognition component to these cameras, no facial recognition software, or anything else that could be used to automatically identify people in any way, and we have no plans to add facial recognition software to these cameras in the future,” he tells The Verge. “These cameras are purely for the purpose of deterring fare evasion — if you see yourself on a monitor, you’re less likely to evade the fare.”

      The cameras can supposedly detect motion and recognize that a human is on-screen, which is a feature that’s common in security cameras as well as general purpose photography and video equipment. “But again, there is no capability to recognize or identify individuals and absolutely no plan to,” says Young. New York’s subway system is already heavily surveilled; the MTA contracted with Lockheed Martin and others to install 1,000 cameras and 3,000 motion sensors across the system in 2005, and in 2015, the MTA said there were 4,500 cameras watching the subways. Police also conduct random bag checks in subway stations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Social-Media Surveillance of Teenagers Led to a New Kind of Policing

      [...] Jelani was charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with a shooting outside a public-housing development in Harlem, with the cops citing an eyewitness account as well as Jelani’s “likes” of Goodfellas photos on Facebook. A judge denied him bail. The teenager’s social-media use helped earn him a trip to Rikers Island, where he would remain for 19 months.

      As Jeffrey Lane writes in his new book The Digital Street, such blurring of the physical and online worlds can be particularly dangerous for many teenagers of color, especially those growing up amid poverty and violence. Legal surveillance of spaces like Facebook and Twitter gives police new power to interpret behavior and—in the case of the Henry brothers—weave narratives that can suggest guilt by digital association. Asheem ended up striking a plea deal for a reduced sentence on his conspiracy charge; Jelani’s case was eventually dismissed because of the lack of a speedy trial.

    • ‘Tank man’ video for Leica sparks outcry in China ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

      The five-minute dramatisation, released this week, touches on a highly sensitive topic in China. The ruling Communist Party has never declared how many people died in the crackdown and discussion of the incident is censored on social media.

      The video shows the photographer hiding and running from Chinese-speaking policemen before taking a picture that has come to symbolise the protests – the “tank man” – a protester standing in front of a convoy of tanks to block their path. The video ends with the Leica logo.

    • How Chinese [Internet] [shills] go after Beijing’s critics overseas

      Facebook (FB) is banned in China, as are Twitter (TWTR) and Reddit — accessing them requires jumping the Great Firewall, the country’s vast censorship and surveillance apparatus.

      Despite this, these sites appear to be becoming a key battleground of Chinese influence, as a growing army of [Internet] [astrotrufers] assemble on Chinese forums and in Facebook groups to attack voices they perceive to be hostile to Beijing’s interests.

    • Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the N.R.A.

      LaPierre is right that the N.R.A. is troubled; in recent years, it has run annual deficits of as much as forty million dollars. It is not unusual for nonprofits to ask prospective donors to help forestall disaster. What is unusual is the extent to which such warnings have become the central activity of the N.R.A. Even as the association has reduced spending on its avowed core mission—gun education, safety, and training—to less than ten per cent of its total budget, it has substantially increased its spending on messaging. The N.R.A. is now mainly a media company, promoting a life style built around loving guns and hating anyone who might take them away.

      On NRATV, the organization’s programming network, the popular host Grant Stinchfield might appear in a “Socialist Tears” T-shirt, taking a sledgehammer to a television set cycling through liberal news shows. The platform’s Twitter account circulates videos of the spokesperson Dana Loesch, a former Breitbart News editor who has said that mainstream journalists are “the rat bastards of the earth” and deserve to be “curb-stomped.” Over menacing images of masked rioters, she asserts that the only way to stop the left is to “fight its violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” A lawyer and activist called Colion Noir, whose real name is Collins Idehen, Jr., also has a large following. After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, Noir appeared in a video chiding “all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else’s Second Amendment.”

    • Peachtree Officials Come To Their Senses, Vote Down Plan To Finance Lawsuits Against Critics Following Widespread Criticism

      The intent is never pure when the goal is for public officials to sue critics. And, the problem was not that it wasn’t written correctly. The problem was with the whole idea. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean there’s a plan to “rewrite” this proposal. Just leave it be and maybe get a somewhat thicker skin if you’re going to work for the government.

    • Peachtree City Wants To Use Taxpayer Money To Sue Critics Of City Government

      What is it with the state of Georgia and its attempts to stifle free speech and a free press? It’s the state that argues its official copy of the law is covered by copyright and cannot be posted online. The same state that is currently trying to regulate journalism by creating “ethical standards” they have to follow. The same state that is so bad in responding to public records law that an official was actually criminally charged for it?

      The latest, as sent in by a few people, is that tonight, Peachtree City, a suburb of Atlanta, is voting on a laughably obviously unconstitutional provision that would allow city officials to file bogus SLAPP suits, using taxpayer funds, against critics. Really. Specifically, the proposal says that the city will provide “coverage for legal expenses when a City official has been defamed in a public media outlet or otherwise slandered or libeled to the public…” It does note that the defamation must be a “valid claim for defamation… under Georgia law.” So, one might argue that filing a bogus SLAPP suit wouldn’t be covered by this policy — but it’s unclear how that will work.

    • Zero Tolerance: Inside the Secretive Network of Immigrant Youth Shelters in Illinois

      This week, ProPublica’s reporting on the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism (and ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier won a Pulitzer for her amazing feature reporting on MS-13).

      We encourage you to read all of ProPublica’s zero-tolerance reporting, but we’d also like to take this opportunity to recap our work on immigrant shelters in Illinois, reported by Melissa Sanchez, Jodi S. Cohen and Duaa Eldeib.

    • Beyond Prisons: Native Feminisms feat. Dr. Kimberly Robertson

      Kim Wilson interviews Dr. Kimberly Robertson on her work on Native feminisms and practices, use of beadwork and zine making to generate knowledge, and the uncompensated emotional labor of Black and women of color in the academy and liberatory work.

      Kimberly Robertson is a citizen of the Mvskoke nation, an artivist, scholar, teacher, and mother who works diligently to employ Native feminist theories, practices, and methodologies in her hustle to fulfill the dreams of her ancestors and to build a world in which her daughters can thrive.

      She was born in Bakersfield, CA and currently lives on unceded Tongva lands. She is an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Robertson is also a founding member of the Green Corn Collective and a member of the Indigenous Goddess Gang.

    • Real Sanctuary Demands More Than Lip Service. Cities Must Step Up.

      President Trump is ramping up his threats against Democrats and progressives, tweeting repeatedly over this past weekend that he plans to send detained immigrants to sanctuary cities like Chicago and New York, and to sanctuary states like California. This is a childish attempt at retaliation against his perceived political opponents — leaders and constituents who have declared their intent for their communities to be safe havens for immigrants who are tirelessly hunted down by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

      While Trump may see this as some sort of punishment to Democrats, instead he is reinforcing the divide that his politics represent, and prompting our communities to step up and demand more. Leaders in 27 states across the country have rebuffed the president’s racist and xenophobic agenda, resisting this administration’s attempts to persecute migrants, asylum seekers and the Latinx community. It isn’t just the blue states that reject his cruel vision. Sanctuary sites can be found in red states that voted for Trump in 2016, including 14 counties in Iowa, 18 counties and cities in Pennsylvania, and six counties in North Carolina.

      It is time to defend the right of these jurisdictions to act in solidarity with immigrants, and to demand a full realization — and expansion — of sanctuary. We have now borne witness to the cruelty of immigration enforcement under Trump, and conditions are more than likely to worsen, as they just did with Attorney General William Barr’s announcement on Tuesday that asylum seekers can be detained indefinitely instead of being released on bond. Now is the time to push sanctuary cities and counties again to be proactive and enact policies that eliminate the threat of ICE persecution from our cities and be the sanctuary that our communities need right now.

    • Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society

      This is an extraordinary moment for civil liberties lawyers, unfortunately not in the happy sense. “America,” Heidi Boghosian says in the Foreword, “is in a constitutional crisis.” Ordinary, long-assumed rights are being challenged in the courts, by law-and-order conservative judges, unabashedly repressive police (largely freed from restraints) and the rigged system of incarceration. Rather than advancing rights, radical lawyers find themselves struggling to stay in one place and keep their clients from harm.

      This situation is, of course, not so new and, just as important, not the project of looney conservatives. “In 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill drafted in secret, behind closed doors. The Act authorizes the U.S. military to pick up and indefinitely imprison American citizens without charge or trial…” We could say that 9/11 opened up the Pandora’s Box and out jumped those who were eager, Republican and Democrat alike, to extend the authoritarian state wherever it wanted to go.

      Michael Steven Smith, a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights for many years, a scholar by inclination, and a socialist by commitment, is eminently qualified to connect several generations of courtroom militants.

      Not that the logic of legal defense is new. Smith cites the capacity of lawyer Leonard Weinglass to put the CIA decades ago. Students at the University of Massachusetts, including presidential daughter Amy Carter, resisted attempts of the Agency to recruit on campus. Arrested after they obstructed the recruitment by sitting in, they were defended on the grounds of “necessity,” that is the act of halting an ongoing crime by committing a lesser one.

    • ‘The FBI Appears to Be Engaged in a Modern-Day Version of COINTELPRO’

      Does that sound like a bizarre and dangerously imprecise targeting of people of color engaged in righteous and constitutionally protected protest? It sure does.

      But as we discussed at the time with our next guest, a tool in the hands of the country’s most powerful law enforcement need not be precise to be used to do tremendous damage.

      Nusrat Choudhury is deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program. She joins us now by phone from here in town. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Nusrat Choudhury.

    • Parents Who Starved and Shackled Children Get Life Sentence

      The eldest son and daughter of a couple who starved and shackled 12 of their children spoke publicly for the first time Friday, alternately condemning and forgiving their parents before a judge sentenced the pair to up to life in prison.

      Since being freed from their prison-like home more than a year ago, the two adult children of David and Louise Turpin described how they had gained control of lives and, despite receiving little education at home, were now enrolled in college and learning simple things, including how to ride a bike, swim and prepare a meal. They are still thin from years of malnutrition.

      “I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up,” said the oldest son, now 27. “Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us.”

    • More Than Me Founder and CEO Katie Meyler Resigns

      Katie Meyler, the CEO and founder of More Than Me, has resigned six months after a ProPublica investigation revealed her charity missed opportunities to prevent the rapes of girls in its care by a senior staff member, Macintosh Johnson, with whom Meyler once had an intimate relationship.

      Meyler, who founded the charity in 2009 to save vulnerable girls from sexual exploitation, had been on a leave of absence pending the results of three separate inquiries by the charity and the Liberian government into ProPublica’s report, which outlined that Meyler and charity officials gave Johnson significant power over vulnerable students, were not transparent about the extent of his abuse and failed to make sure that all of his potential victims were tested after it came to light that he had AIDS when he died.

      The findings of these inquiries have yet to be made public, but Meyler announced her departure Friday evening on Facebook:

      “Over the past few months, false allegations have been circulating around the horrific mistreatment of girls in our program. Some of the false allegations suggest I knew or should have known what was happening to these girls. That’s simply not true,” Meyler wrote.

      “Here’s the truth: I first learned about these crimes in June 2014 and immediately ensured the perpetrator was reported to the Liberian authorities; he was in jail four days after I learned of his abuse. I cooperated fully with the police investigation and did everything I could to protect our students.

    • United Against Forgiveness

      Bolsonaro is probably not the most forgiving person around. He freely spews misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, and racist statements. However, he is a devout Christian and forgiveness is central to Christianity of all denominations. Forgiveness is not an ‘option’ as far as Christianity is concerned, it is actually a must. Forgiveness in Christianity is a manifestation of submission to Christ.

    • Officer Attack on Teen Reignites National Debate on Cops in Schools

      On January 29, 16-year-old Dnigma Howard was asked to leave Chicago’s Marshall High School after using her cellphone in class. Her father, Laurentio, was at the school to pick her up when two police officers arrived and violently attacked her in front of her father without provocation.

      School resource officers Johnnie Pierre and Sherry Tripp lied about punching, Tasing and stomping on Howard, as well as dragging the child down a flight of stairs. They falsely charged Howard with attacking them and tried to send her to jail. Even more disturbing is the fact that the officers brazenly lied about their criminal actions despite all the people, both students and adults, who witnessed the attack. Luckily, camera footage exposed the officers, because, as Howard said, “It was just my word against the court’s word.”

      Howard’s father filed an amended federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers, the city of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Education on April 11, after the school security footage showing Pierre dragging Howard down the stairs was released. The lawsuit states that “the City of Chicago’s lack of directives, oversight, and standards pertaining to its police officers in its schools has resulted in the violation of students’ civil rights and unnecessarily involved students in the criminal justice system.”

      It also states Chicago police officers are assigned to the school “without proper recruitment, training, directions, or supervision.” Many organizations and individuals have been calling for reform of policing in Chicago’s schools, from the Office of Inspector General, to concerned community members, to various news agencies. Chicago is now under a federal court order to address the problems in its highly troubled police department, including the way officers interact with students.

      Pierre, the police officer filmed dragging Howard down a flight of stairs in the school, has more use-of-force incidents in his record than 96 percent of his colleagues, according to data from the Invisible Institute database. Yet, he was assigned to Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side.

    • There’s No Such Thing as a Right Not to be Called a Nazi

      Gavin McInnes’ attempt to silence those who have every right to call him out for his bigoted views should fall flat
      For years, Gavin McInnes has spewed bigoted views on everything from race and religion to gender and immigration. He has described a transgender person as “[a] hideous man who thinks he’s a woman;” claimed that “Muslims can rape children with reckless abandon;” and argued that a Black man who is “mistaken for a homeless man,” should be “mad” not at the person who mischaracterizes him, but “at all the homeless black men who . . . created this stereotype in the first place.” As a result, McInnes has made quite a name for himself.

      Yet in a lawsuit he filed in February against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), McInnes claims that it’s SPLC’s characterizations of him, not his own repugnant views that have given him a bad name in the eyes of the public. Specifically, he claims that SPLC has inaccurately characterized him as a “neo-masculine reactionary” and “self-described Islamophobe” who founded a “hate group” and expresses “extremist,” “blatantly misogynistic,” and “anti-gay” views. Because he maintains that he should instead be referred to as a “satirical” and “rebellious, humorist, businessman, political commentator and social critic,” McInnes sued SPLC for defamation.

      As tweeted by his attorney, his theory is, in part, “You may not agree with what I say. But I hope you’ll fight with me for the right not be called a Nazi for saying it[.]” It’s worth noting it was McInnes’ attorney who used the term “Nazi” – that one didn’t come from SPLC.

      The problem with McInnes’ theory is: that’s not how the First Amendment works.

    • Armed Bounty Hunters Raided Our Clients’ Home to Prevent Private Companies from Losing $1,670.

      The for-profit bail industry condones trauma and incentivizes violence to improve their bottom line.
      Around 9:20 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, 2017, Eugene Mitchell, Shayleen Meuchell, and their four-year-old daughter were in bed at their home in Lolo, Montana, when they heard a violent crash. “It sounded like a truck had driven straight into our house,” Mitchell later said. In a surreal flash, armed bounty hunters kicked in the front door, broke into the bedroom, pointed assault rifles and pistols at the family, and shouted at them not to move.

      The bounty hunters terrorized the Montana family. But the trauma and harm did not end there.

      The bounty hunters arrested Mitchell, drove him to another county about an hour away in handcuffs, and eventually surrendered him to the jail, all despite not having a valid warrant for his arrest. The entire family remains shaken by the experience, and the damage to their property—which they cannot afford to fix—has caused a dramatic increase in their utility bills.

      The bounty hunters were sent to arrest Mitchell not by police; they were hired by a bail bondsman. That past January, Mitchell was in jail related to a driving with suspended license charge, he could not afford his $1,670 bail, and so he used a commercial bail bondsman to secure his own release and return to his family and return to work to support them. When Mitchell accidentally missed a court date that April, his bail bondsman immediately activated a network of bounty hunters to search for and apprehend him.

    • Roger Waters to Madonna: Don’t Normalize Violations of Palestinians’ Rights With Performance in Tel Aviv

      Continuing his call to musicians to boycott an upcoming international song competition, rock legend Roger Waters on Wednesday urged Madonna not to perform at a Tel Aviv contest.

      The venue at issue is the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place mid-May. Madonna’s press team confirmed this month that she’d be performing. But in so doing, according to Waters, Madonna would be ignoring the Israeli occupation’s deprivation of Palestinians’ human rights.

      In op-ed published Wednesday at the The Guardian, Waters wrote that Madonna’s acceptance of the invitation to perform raises “fundamentally important ethical and political questions for each and every one of us to contemplate.”

    • Police in St. Petersburg arrest 11 LGBTQ-rights activists at annual ‘Day of Silence’ protest

      Police in St. Petersburg arrested 11 LGBTQ-rights demonstrators at the city’s annual “Day of Silence” protest. According to the website OVD-Info, the activists picketed the Great Gostiny Dvor department store plaza on Wednesday. After one arrest, the remaining demonstrators made their way toward the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, wearing red tape over their mouths. Police started arresting more people, as they marched, including some minors.

    • Dialing 911 Can Get You Evicted

      The eviction of Beverley Somai for calling the police is part of a disturbing trend.

      Last year, Beverley Somai learned a brutal truth that too many people across the country face: Calling the police can get you evicted.

      In 2017, Ms. Somai and her adult disabled son moved to Bedford, Ohio, to seek housing stability and better educational and employment opportunities. However, a few months after settling in, Ms. Somai discovered that her neighbor played loud music at all hours of the night, making it impossible for her and her son to rest. Even worse, the neighbor began to intimidate Ms. Somai and her son by following them on their errands and lurking outside their home.

      She asked for help from her landlord, who told her to call the police. So she did. But then the city of Bedford sent a letter to Ms. Somai’s landlord, citing her calls for help and threatening to impose steep penalties for any future police responses to the property. Because of the letter, her landlord filed an eviction action against Ms. Somai.

      Ms. Somai’s experience is far from an anomaly. Bedford’s criminal activity nuisance ordinance imposes civil and criminal penalties against property owners when there are two or more alleged violations of any law, excluding traffic violations, within a one-year period. The city enforces the ordinance based on calls for police assistance — even if the resident is the victim of the crime or needs aid, such as Ms. Somai and her son.

    • “No One is Above the Law:” You Have to be Kidding

      Reacting to the arrest and detention in British custody of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that the arrest confirms “that no one is above the law.” This was a phrase repeated multiple times by members of her government.

      It is, or ought to be, a fundamental principle of a society based upon the rule of law, that this is indeed the case. If an individual, or group of individuals, transgress upon the law then they ought to be held accountable. That ought to apply regardless of that person’s status. We know of course that this is an ideal not always applied. There is ample sociological evidence to that effect.

      A related principle is that a person is presumed innocent until they either plead guilty or are found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction applying the law to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

    • The European Union and Refugees in the Mediterranean

      The modern UN Refugee Convention is now so flea-bitten it’s been put out to the garbage tip of history. At least the enthusiastic fleas think so, given their conduct as political representatives across a range of parliaments keen on barbed wired borders and impenetrable defences. Across Europe, the issue of refugees arriving by sea – in this case, the Mediterranean – has become a matter of games and deflection. Lacking any coherence whatsoever, the approach to certain, designated arrivals is to push them on to the next port in fits of cruel deflection, hoping that the next recipient will give in. Such conduct demonstrates how states have adopted notions of penalisation and discrimination against the arrival who seeks sanctuary, positions severely in breach of international humanitarian law.

      Australia remains the undisputed pioneer in this, at least in the last two decades. Incapable of establishing a decent environmental policy, hostage to the gunpoint of the mining lobby, and suspicious of enshrined rights, its backwater parliamentarians have been dazzling with other efforts: finding a suitably bestial policy to repel maritime arrivals, for instance. Boats have been towed back to Indonesia, a country which many of its representatives grudgingly do business with. People smugglers, the very same ones demonised as “scum” by Australian politicians, have been paid when and where necessary. A veil of secrecy has been cast with suffocating effect across the operations of the Royal Australian Navy, and criminal provisions have been passed punishing any whistle-blower who dares disclose the nature of operations in the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

    • Will Albania fail again to join the EU?

      On April 11th, the majority of Parliament of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, upon request of the three parliamentary groups: the Christian Democratic Party, the Socialist Party and the Liberal Party, voted for the proposal of the reinstatement of visas for Albanian citizens due to the growing criminality as well as the increase of the illegal emigration in Holland.

      Yesterday, on April 17th, the Parliament of the Netherlands voted in favor of the reinstatement of visas for Albania proceeding with the formal request for the approval of the EU institution to implement such a decision. This came as a big blow for Albania’s government which most likely will face another refusal from Brussels on the invitation of opening the negotiations for the EU membership.

    • State corporation Rostec fires Chelyabinsk CEO after offices are raided by feds

      The state-owned corporation Rostec has fired Alexey Adaev, the CEO of the “Turbine” Special Design Bureau, following a raid by federal agents on the enterprise’s offices in Chelyabinsk. Rostec did not directly tie Adaev’s termination to the FSB searches, which are part of a criminal investigation into the alleged theft of more than 300 million rubles ($4.7 million) allocated to defense contracts. A nonprofit organization owned by “Turbina,” however, previously reported the theft of more than 200 million rubles ($3.1 million).

    • Good Samaritans Punished for Offering Lifesaving Help to Migrants

      Todd is the county attorney for Jeff Davis County, a vast expanse of mountains, cactus, and 2,500 residents — as well as undocumented migrants hiking and stumbling north from the U.S.-Mexico border. She’s also the city attorney for Marfa, in neighboring Presidio County.

      The three siblings had just walked 65 miles in eight days. For the past two days, they’d had no food or water. Esmeralda was in terrible shape and would later be diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition that develops when a person’s muscle tissue dies. It can be caused by overexertion and dehydration.

      Todd put the siblings in her car and — according to her attorney, Liz Rogers — called two friends, a Border Patrol lawyer and a lawyer who works with ICE, to ask how to help the immigrants.

    • Amee Chew on Philippines Under Duterte

      Note the passivity of “have been slain,” and the choice to lead with an official death toll, rather than human rights groups’ less self-interested numbers. The “12,000” figure provides a link to a Human Rights Watch report that has never been the subject of a Washington Post news story.

      Among many things such reporting wouldn’t lead you to suspect: Two years ago, when the Philippine Senate tried to cut funding for the campaign of state and state-sanctioned violence, for which the toll of “even 20,000” is almost certainly conservative, it was the United States that stepped in with the money to fill the shortfall. That’s a direct line from your tax dollars to the leader who said, “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews…. There’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

      Corporate media don’t talk much about the Philippines, much less about the US responsibility there. A recent piece from Foreign Policy in Focus, headlined “It’s Time to End US Military Aid to the Philippines,” filled some of that void. We’ll hear from its author, Mellon-ACLS public fellow Amee Chew, and hear also from two Filipino activist/organizers, Ed Cubelo and Mong Palatino.

    • ACLU Demands Investigation Into Pro-Trump ‘Fascist Militia’ Unlawfully Detaining Migrants at Gunpoint

      “The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law,” the group wrote in a letter to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

      “This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the letter continues. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.”

      The ACLU cited videos and photographs posted to social media that appear to show the right-wing militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, detaining dozens of migrants.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • [Older] A Map of the Internet from May 1973

      The first part of ARPANET was built nearly 50 years ago and became the basis of the modern [Internet].

    • The DOJ Isn’t Buying T-Mobile’s Nonsensical Merger Benefit Claims

      Back in 2011 DOJ regulators blocked AT&T from acquiring T-Mobile, arguing that that the deal would have harmed consumers and resulted in higher rates by eliminating one of just four major wireless players. That’s a pretty easy argument to make, given every time a country allows four wireless carriers to morph into three, the sector gets less competitive and prices go up (see: Ireland or Canada). Blocking the deal wound up being a good thing: T-Mobile went on to be even more disruptive, and has helped introduce a number of consumer-friendly market shifts like cheaper international roaming and the death of long-term contracts.

      In 2014 T-Mobile and Sprint tried to merge, and regulators (quite correctly) pointed out the deal wouldn’t be good for consumers or the market, and blocked it from happening.

    • FCC Under Fire For Putting ALEC Rep On ‘Consumer’ Advisory Board

      In 2017, FCC head Ajit Pai came under fire for filling a new “Broadband Deployment Advisory Council” (BDAC) task force with oodles of industry representatives, but few if any consumer representatives or local town or city officials. Not too surprisingly the panel saw a significant amount of controversy, several protest resignations, and the arrest of a one-time panel chair for fraud, but the panel itself never actually accomplished much of anything to address the problem it was created for.

    • Don’t Regulate The Internet Like Every Company Is The Same

      This year seems to be the year in which governments all over the globe really, really want to regulate the internet. And they’re doing a ridiculously dumb job of it. We’ve talked a lot about the EU, with the Copyright Directive and now the Terrorist Content Regulation. And then there’s Australia with its anti-encryption law and its “abhorrent content” law. India has already passed a few bad laws regarding the internet and is discussing a few more. Then there’s the UK, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Cameroon, etc. etc. etc. You get the idea.

      Oh, and certainly, the US is considering some really bad ideas as well.

      When you look at what “problem” all of these laws are trying to solve, it can basically be boiled down to “people do bad things on the internet, and we need to regulate the internet because of it.” This is problematic to me for a variety of reasons, in part because it seems to be regulating the wrong party. We should, ideally, be going after the people doing the bad things, rather than the tools and services they are using to do the bad things (or to merely promote the bad things they’re doing). However, there is an argument — not one that I wholly buy into — that one reasonable way to regulate is to focus less on which party is actually doing the bad thing, and more on which party is best positioned to minimize the harm of the bad thing. And it’s that theory of regulation (applied stupidly) that is behind much of the regulatory theory on the internet these days.

      Well, there’s also a second theory behind many of the regulatory approaches, and it’s “Google and Facebook are big and bad, so anything that punishes them is good regulation”. This makes even less sense to me than the other approach, but it is certainly driving a lot of the thinking, at least in the EU (and possibly the US).

    • Google Pays $3.8 Million To Clean Up Its Fiber Mess In Louisville

      When Google Fiber launched in 2010, it was lauded as a game changer for the broadband industry. Google Fiber, we were told, would revolutionize the industry by taking Silicon Valley money and disrupting the viciously uncompetitive and anti-competitive telecom sector. Initially things worked out well; cities tripped over themselves offering all manner of perks to the company in the hopes of breaking free from the broadband duopoly logjam. And in markets where Google Fiber was deployed, prices dropped thanks to this added competition.

      The fun didn’t last. In late 2016 Alphabet began getting cold feet about the high costs and slow return of the project, and effectively mothballed the entire thing — without admitting that’s what they were doing. The company blew through several CEOs in just a few months, laid off hundreds of employees, froze any real expansion, and cancelled countless installations for users who had been waiting years. And while Google made a lot of noise about how it would be shifting from fiber to wireless to possibly cut costs, those promises so far appear stuck in neutral as well.

    • The Internet now contributes to Russia’s economy almost as much as Rosneft generates in tax revenue

      In 2018, the Internet contributed 3.9 trillion rubles ($61.1 billion) to the Russian economy — an 11-percent jump from just a year earlier, according to statistics released by the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. E-commerce generated a large chunk of this income — about 1.95 trillion rubles ($30.5 billion). Marketing and advertising brought in another 263 billion rubles ($4.1 billion); Internet infrastructure, including domain, hosting, and cloud services, earned 106 billion rubles ($1.7 billion); and media and entertainment generated 75 billion rubles ($1.2 billion).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Rising Confusion About ‘Arising Under’ Jurisdiction in Patent Cases

      By statute, all cases “arising under” patent law must be heard exclusively by the federal courts (not state courts) and, on appeal, by the Federal Circuit (not the twelve regional circuits). But not all cases involving patents “arise under” patent law. As recently as 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the mere need to apply patent law in, for example, a malpractice case involving a patent lawyer, is insufficient to trigger exclusive jurisdiction. Rather, the Court held, for a case that does not involve claims of patent infringement to arise under patent law, the patent issue must be “important . . . to the federal system as a whole.”

      Despite the Supreme Court’s clear holding that “fact-bound and situation-specific” patent issues do not warrant exclusive jurisdiction outside of infringement cases, the lower courts’ precedent in this area remains unsettled. The Federal Circuit has, at times, tried to resurrect its older case law extending exclusive jurisdiction to practically any patent-related tort, contract, or antitrust case. But, in other decisions, the Federal Circuit has constricted jurisdiction so dramatically that the Fifth Circuit, earlier this year, refused to accept a case transferred to it by the Federal Circuit, deriding the Federal Circuit’s jurisdictional ruling as not just wrong, but “implausible.” All of this uncertainty incentivizes costly and wasteful procedural maneuvering in a field where litigation is already notoriously expensive.

      This article is the first to chronicle the rising confusion about the scope of the federal district courts’ and the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction over cases arising under patent law. The article critiques the case law emerging in the lower federal courts and proposes a jurisdictional rule that is both clear and consistent with Supreme Court precedent: for a case that does not involve claims of patent infringement to nevertheless arise under patent law, it must present a dispute about the content of federal patent law or a question about the interpretation or validity of the federal patent statute.

      In arguing for this new approach, the article also engages broader questions about the jurisdictional structure of patent litigation. Among other things, it suggests that the courts or Congress should rethink longstanding doctrine that makes the test for Federal Circuit appellate jurisdiction precisely the same as the test for exclusive original jurisdiction in the district courts. Exclusive district court jurisdiction entirely precludes state courts from shaping their own state’s law, so federal courts should be hesitant to exercise jurisdiction over a tort or contract claim simply because there is a patent lurking in the background. But when a patent-related case is properly in federal district court, the Federal Circuit’s expertise in patent law and ability to provide uniformity counsel in favor of giving the court a broad scope of appellate jurisdiction.

    • Patent case: Handel’s Enterprises Inc. v. Schulenburg, USA

      An ice cream parlor franchisor showed that information it gave to a franchisee was not known outside the business and was restricted by confidentiality agreements and was therefore likely a trade secret, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

    • Trademarks

      • Battle for .amazon Domain Pits Retailer Against South American Nations

        The dispute has dragged on for seven years, with a number of proposals and counterproposals. Last year, Amazon.com offered $5 million worth of Kindle e-readers and various hosting services as part of a proposed compromise.

      • The End Of The Absurdity: Iceland, The Country, Successfully Invalidates The Trademark Of Iceland Foods, The Grocerer

        Way back in late 2016, we asked the same question that has been on the minds of all of humanity for eons: who gets to trademark Iceland? If that seems like an odd question to you, perhaps a little context will help. See, Iceland has been a sovereign nation since the early 1900s, whereas Iceland Foods has been a grocery chain in the UK since the 1970s. And, yet, somehow the latter managed to get an EU-wide trademark for the term “Iceland” and then went around bullying companies from Iceland out of using that term in their own names, even when they weren’t competing in the grocery marketplace. How did the EU manage to think it would be okay to grant this trademark in the first place, you ask? By not putting a whole lot of thought into it, would be my guess.

        Well, when Iceland, the country, applied for a trademark for “Inspired by Iceland”, only to have it blocked by Iceland Foods, it apparently represented the last straw. Iceland petitioned the EU to invalidate this absurd trademark, leading to reps from Iceland Foods trekking to meet with the nation’s officials. The outcome of that meeting was apparently Iceland Foods being totally confused as to why Iceland wasn’t just being cool, maaaaan.

    • Copyrights

      • What happened with Demonoid and Deimos?

        With great sadness, I want to announce that Deimos, the founder of Demonoid known as someone who was one of the earliest and influential people on the torrent scene since it’s beginning has died in an accident back on August, 2018.

      • EFF Backs Stream Rippers in Legal Battle Against Record Labels

        Digital rights group EFF has filed a brief in support of the stream-ripping sites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. The sites are involved in a legal battle with several record labels and have appealed a district court decision to dismiss the case over a lack of jurisdiction. EFF sides with the stream ripper operator, while highlighting that these sites have plenty of legal uses.

      • Huge Video-Hosting Site Openload Stops Paying Uploaders

        Openload, one of the world’s most-visited sites, particular by those looking for movies and TV shows, has ended its uploader affiliate program. The announcement is tied to falling advertising revenues and related economic stresses. Last year it was reported that Openload generated more traffic than Hulu or HBO Go.

      • ‘Suspending’ parties not enough to save EU rule of law

        From Bucharest to Valetta, to Budapest and Warsaw, the very threads of the values that bind the fabric of our European Union together are being torn apart.
        In Poland, judges were forced to occupy courthouses to fight against the government’s attempts to control the judiciary.

      • We lost the fight for balance in the EU’s Copyright Directive, but here’s what we won

        On the eve of her departure, Reda has published her postmortem on the Directive and what it means. It’s an uplifting and important missive, one that draws a distinction between the incredible political malpractice from European politicians who continue to treat the internet as though it were a video-on-demand service, or a jihadi recruiting tool, or a pornography distribution system; and the mass-scale, unprecedented popular perception that the internet is our planetary, species-wide electronic nervous system, whose regulation needs to take account of all that we do online, not just one industry or lobby’s corner of it.

        We are living through an all-out, global blitz on online free speech, privacy, competition and self-determination, a realtime Chinafication of the western internet, and the past year has set us back a decade or more. But as Reda notes, the difference between the fight now and the fight a decade ago is the size of the army we’re fighting with: the cause of online freedom has a self-recruiting mass movement of people, more of whom wake up every day and realize that their future is tied to the internet’s future.

      • EU copyright reform: Our fight was not in vain

        Member states now have two years to implement the reform into national law. The wording of the Directive does leave some leeway – for example, in the specific interpretation of what constitutes a “large amount” of user uploads, and thus how many platforms fall under the scope of Article 17 (formerly 13).

        The publishers’ lobby will without doubt advocate for the strictest possible interpretations of the Directive – civil society must resist, and we must do this in all member states. So please stay involved – or at least support NGOs like EDRi and Epicenter.works, who will continue lobbying for our rights. SaveTheInternet.info, the activists who started the petition, have also announced that they will keep working on the subject.

      • Movie Studios Are Suing Canadian BitTorrent Users, But That’s Nothing New

        There’s some uproar in Canada about a supposed ‘novel’ tactic that’s being used to sue alleged BitTorrent pirates. In reality, however, these lawsuits have been ongoing for years. They are typically known as “copyright trolling” efforts and have targeted thousands of Canadians already. For the record, this has nothing to do with Game of Thrones.

04.19.19

Links 19/4/2019: PyPy 7.1.1, LabPlot 2.6, Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 3:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Back in the Day: UNIX, Minix and Linux

    I don’t remember my UCSD email address, but some years later, I was part of the admin team on the major UUCP hub hplabs, and my email address was simply hplabs!taylor.

    Somewhere along the way, networking leaped forward with TCP/IP (we had TCP/IP “Bake Offs” to test interoperability). Once we had many-to-many connectivity, it was clear that the “bang” notation was unusable and unnecessarily complicated. We didn’t want to worry about routing, just destination. Enter the “@” sign. I became taylor@hplabs.com.

    Meanwhile, UNIX kept growing, and the X Window System from MIT gained popularity as a UI layer atop the UNIX command line. In fact, X is a public domain implementation of the windowing system my colleagues and I first saw at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. PARC had computers where multiple programs were on the screen simultaneously in “windows”, and there was a pointer device used to control them—so cool. Doug Englebart was inspired too; he went back to Stanford Research Institute and invented the mouse to make control of those windows easier. At Apple, they also saw what was being created at PARC and were inspired to create the Macintosh with all its windowing goodness.

    Still, who doesn’t love the command line, as Ritchie and Kernighan had originally designed it in the early days of UNIX? (UNIX, by the way, is a wordplay on a prior multiuser operating system called Multics, but that’s another story.)

  • Desktop

    • Entroware launches desktop-grade Helios laptop lineup with Ubuntu Linux

      Entroware is a relatively new UK-based company that specializes in Linux-based laptops. There are several lineups designed for specific budgets and almost all of these are now getting upgraded components up to gen 9 Intel CPUs and RTX 2080 GPUs. Additionally, Entroware is introducing the Helios high-end lineup with desktop-grade components.

      The budget-oriented Apollo 14-inch laptop has been updated with Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs up to Core i7-8565U, while the RAM capacity has been upped to 32 GB of DDR4-2400, and the total storage space can be expanded to 6 TB (2 TB SATA SSD + 2 TB NVME SSD + external 2 TB HDD). Prices for this model start from ~US$850. The similar 15-inch Proteus model has prices starting at ~US$1,000.

    • This is how System76 does open hardware

      Most people know very little about the hardware in their computers. As a long-time Linux user, I’ve had my share of frustration while getting my wireless cards, video cards, displays, and other hardware working with my chosen distribution. Proprietary hardware often makes it difficult to determine why an Ethernet controller, wireless controller, or mouse performs differently than we expect. As Linux distributions have matured, this has become less of a problem, but we still see some quirks with touchpads and other peripherals, especially when we don’t know much—if anything—about our underlying hardware.

      Companies like System76 aim to take these types of problems out of the Linux user experience. System76 manufactures a line of Linux laptops, desktops, and servers, and even offers its own Linux distro, Pop! OS, as an option for buyers, Recently I had the privilege of visiting System76′s plant in Denver for the unveiling of Thelio, its new desktop product line.

    • 9 Essential Linux Classroom Tools

      Educators face a constant variety of challenges that can impact classroom management and the learning process. An inattentive audience, mobile phone texting, disruption by unruly students, absenteeism, time constraints, students forced to take a course they would rather have avoided, and regular changes to the curriculum are just a few examples of the difficulties faced by teachers. Fortunately, there are many different ways for those involved in education, whether in teaching, training, or leadership, to help to improve student’s learning in the classroom, and overcome the obstacles that are encountered.

      Information and communications technology (ICT) plays an important role in the planning, delivery, assessment and recording of classroom lessons. The software featured in this software offers indispensable ways to help manage a computer-based classroom, and provide the freedom to offer an exciting, creative, and challenging environment.

      With this software, educators can create, administer, and grade tests, help manage a computer-based classroom, create an interactive whiteboard, and produce modular courses. All of the software featured in this article is released under a freely distributable license and can be downloaded without charge. With even tighter constraints facing the public sector, cost is an important consideration for any ICT solution.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 9 of the finest classroom tools covering a wide variety of different ways to effectively integrate ICT into the classroom. Here’s our verdict.

    • Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows

      In this article, we’re spotlighting 20 applications that are functionally identical (or at least pretty similar) between Windows and Linux.

      While there aren’t absolute brand-for-brand equivalents for about 30 percent of the applications, there are workable substitute solutions.

      In the following slides, I’ll show you the applications that are either exact matches across platforms, or which work as solid substitute solutions when jumping between platforms and still needing to get the job done.

  • Server

    • Newer isn’t always better when performance is critical

      Some years before I formalised my engineering education, I was working as an instrument technician on a seismic survey vessel mapping an area off West Africa. These ships map the geology under the sea bed as the first stage of marine oil exploration. In full production, a single vessel will generate a revenue of several hundred thousand dollars a day. So you need to have a good excuse for when the recording system fails and you leave a hole in the survey coverage, especially when you have an ex-military Norwegian built like the proverbial Viking as party manager.

      The recording system was crashing; no error warnings, no smoke or fire. It just stopped recording. Repeatedly. The survey was looking like a cartoon Swiss cheese that had been attacked by hungry mice. What had changed? To save money the company had developed its own recording system, replacing Old Faithful with New Unreliable. I had my reservations when the prototype was tested in parallel with Old Faithful leading to my tearing out the connection between the two systems with under a minute to the start of a production line to go. I was younger then and could handle the excitement.

    • Minikube: 5 ways IT teams can use it

      As far as tool names go, Minikube is a pretty good reflection of what it does: It takes the vast cloud-scale of Kubernetes and shrinks it down so that it fits on your laptop.

      Don’t mistake that for a lack of power or functionality, though: You can do plenty with Minikube. And while developers, DevOps engineers, and the like might be the most likely to run it on a regular basis, IT leaders and the C-suite can use it, too. That’s part of the beauty.

      “With just a few installation commands, anyone can have a fully functioning Kubernetes cluster, ready for learning or supporting development efforts,” says Chris Ciborowski, CEO and cofounder at Nebulaworks.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S12E02 – Light Force

      This week we have been upgrading disk drives (again) and playing Elite Dangerous. We discuss Mark’s homebrew Raspberry Pi based streaming box, bring you some command line love and go over your feedback.

      It’s Season 12 Episode 02 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

  • Kernel Space

    • Did Linux’s inventor chastise social media?

      Collaboration, messaging, sharing and dissemination of information – all those possibilities and more. Plus, the platform is developed by what’s termed “the community,” a loose, unorganized bunch of developers, designers, administrators, geeks, bug testers and tech-types who stand to gain nothing (in most cases) by way of monetary gain. Distributed for free, and freely, it represents everything great and good about the human race, the epitome of what this nascent race of ours is capable.

      But Linux’s founder, inventor and guiding (some would say) father figure, Linus Torvalds recently summed up the other side of what the internet enables humans to do: socialize and communicate with others in despicable ways. In an interview with Linux Journal, he stated, “[…] I absolutely detest modern social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It’s a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior. I think part of it is something that email shares too, and that I’ve said before: “‘On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle.’”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Zend Framework Headed to the Linux Foundation as Open Source Laminas Project

        Core framework used by enterprise application developers for PHP is moving to an open governance model.

        Nearly 14 years after Zend started its effort to build a PHP competitor to the .NET and JavaEE development frameworks, the company is gearing up to contribute the Zend Framework to seed the new Luminas open-source project at the Linux Foundation.

        Zend Framework as an idea was first discussed back in October 2005. The 1.0 release debuted nearly two years late in July 2007 and has been steadily improved over the last dozen years. In 2015, however, Zend was acquired by software development firm Rogue Wave, which has now decided to transition the Zend Framework.

        “Over the years, Zend Framework has seen wide adoption across the PHP ecosystem, with an emphasis on the Enterprise market,” Matthew Weier O’Phinny, principal engineer at Zend by Rogue Wave Software wrote in a blog. “It has formed the basis of numerous business application and services including eCommerce platforms, content management, healthcare systems, entertainment platforms and portals, messaging services, APIs, and many others.”

      • Open Hardware Group – CHIPS Alliance – Building Momentum and Community with Newest Member Antmicro

        CHIPS Alliance, the leading consortium advancing common, open hardware for interfaces, processors and systems, today announced Antmicro is joining the organization. Antmicro is a software-driven technology company focused on introducing open source into strategic areas of industry, especially edge AI. Announced just last month, the CHIPS Alliance welcomes Antmicro among its initial members Esperanto Technologies, Google, SiFive, and Western Digital.

        CHIPS Alliance is a project hosted by the Linux Foundation to foster a collaborative environment to accelerate the creation and deployment of more efficient and flexible CPUs, SoCs, and peripherals for use in mobile, computing, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The CHIPS Alliance project hosts and curates high-quality open source Register Transfer Level (RTL) code relevant to the design of open source CPUs, RISC-V-based SoCs, and complex peripherals for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and custom silicon. Members are committed to both open source hardware and continued momentum behind the free and open RISC-V architecture.

        “The RISC-V Foundation directs the standards and promotes the adoption of the open and free Instruction Set Architecture. This enables organizations to innovate for the next generation of hardware development. CHIPS Alliance is a natural extension for companies and universities who want to collaborate and create RTL based on RISC-V and related peripherals,” said Calista Redmond, CEO of the RISC-V Foundation.

      • Blockchain 2.0 – What Is Ethereum [Part 9]

        In the previous guide of this series, we discussed about Hyperledger Project (HLP), a fastest growing product developed by Linux Foundation. In this guide, we are going to discuss about what is Ethereum and its features in detail. Many researchers opine that the future of the internet will be based on principles of decentralized computing. Decentralized computing was in fact among one of the broader objectives of having the internet in the first place. However, the internet took another turn owing to differences in computing capabilities available. While modern server capabilities make the case for server-side processing and execution, lack of decent mobile networks in large parts of the world make the case for the same on the client side. Modern smartphones now have SoCs (system on a chip or system on chip) capable of handling many such operations on the client side itself, however, limitations owing to retrieving and storing data securely still pushes developers to have server-side computing and data management. Hence, a bottleneck in regards to data transfer capabilities is currently observed.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit – Introduction

        Let me introduce the brand new NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit, which is basically a quad-core 64bit ARM Cortex-A57 CPU with 128 GPU cores – suitable for all kinds of maker ideas: AI, Robotics, and of course for running Docker Containers…

      • Mesa’s Vulkan Drivers See More Extension Work Ahead Of The 19.1 Branching

        Mesa 19.1 is due to be released at the end of May and for that to be the feature freeze is in two weeks followed by the weekly release candidates. With the feature development ending soon for this next quarterly Mesa release, the Radeon “RADV” and Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver developers in particular have been quite busy on their remaining feature work.

        On the RADV front, this morning brought VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block support. This is the Vulkan extension to let uniform blocks be backed directly with descriptor sets.

      • VIRTIO 1.1 Released With 2D Graphics Support, Evdev Input Device

        The Virtual I/O Device standard has christened its VIRTIO 1.1 specification this month. This is the virtualization standard around network/storage/graphics/other-hardware in mind for cross-hypervisor compatibility.

        VIRTIO 1.1 brings a GPU device type at this stage providing 2D acceleration that pairs with the VirGL efforts.

    • Benchmarks

      • Running Intel MKL-DNN On 2 x Xeon Platinum 8280 CPUs With GCC 9 “Cascadelake” Tuning

        On the dual Xeon Platinum 8280 server built on a Gigabyte Xeon Scalable barebones setup while running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, I did some quick tests of this initial MKL-DNN profile while using the current GCC 9.0.1 compiler. The GCC9 compiler will debut as stable in the next few weeks in the form of “GCC 9.1″ as the first stable release and with this annual GNU compiler update is the initial “cascadelake” target that includes enabling AVX-512 VNNI support over the existing “skylake-avx512″ target that is used for 1st Gen Xeon Scalable CPUs. I ran MKL-DNN benchmarks both when built by GCC9′s skylake-avx512 target and then again with cascadelake while “-O3″ was also part of the CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • LabPlot 2.6 released

        We are happy to announce the next release of LabPlot! As usual, in the release announcement we want to introduce the major points in the new release. Some of the new developments were already described in the previous blog posts were we reported on the ongoing achievements. Many other smaller and bigger improvements, bug fixes and new features were done in this release. The full list of changes that are worth to be mentioned is available in our changelog.

        LabPlot has already quite a good feature set that allows to create 2D Cartesian plots with a lot of editing possibilities and with a good variety of different data sources supported. Analysis functionality is also getting more and more extended and matured with every release. Based on the overall good foundation it?s time now to take care also of other plot types and visualization techniques. As part of the next release 2.6 we ship the histogram…

      • KDE Applications 19.04 Released For Linux Distros And Plasma Desktop

        The KDE community bundles all its open source applications as the KDE Applications Bundle. This software suite keeps getting updated from time-to-time, bringing new features and improvements to popular apps like Kdenlive, Dolphin, Kmail, Kate, Konsole, Gwenview, KmPlot, KMail, KOrganizer, Okular, Kontact, etc.

        As a result of three months of development, 2019’s first KDE Applications release is here in the form of KDE Applications 19.04. The bundle comes with more than 150 bugs that cover a wide variety of small, big changes.

        Here’s a brief run-down of the major changes; you can read the complete list of changes in the announcement post.

      • Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

        Kipi Plugins is a set of app plugins for manipulating images. They use libkipi which is released as part of KDE Applications. It used to get standalone releases and was then moved to be part of Digikam releases. Since Digikam 6 they have been deprecated by Digikam in favour of their new plugin framework DPlugins. While in KDE Frameworks the Purpose Framework is another newer project covering similar features.

        However Kipi Plugins are still supported by KDE apps KPhotoAlbum, Gwenview, Spectacle so they shouldn’t disappear yet.

        I’ve made a new release available for download now.

      • Kdenlive Video Editor 19.04 Arrives with Major Changes in Tow

        A major update to the Kdenlive video editor is now available for download.

        Kdenlive 19.04 ships as part of KDE Applications 19.04, released on April 19.

        This is the vaunted “refactoring” release we’ve written lots about, as the release announcement explains further:

        “Kdenlive has gone through an extensive re-write of its core code as more than 60% of its internals has changed, improving its overall architecture.”

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Condres OS Conjures Up Pleasing Arch Linux Transition

        Working with an Arch-based Linux distro put me out of my Debian Linux comfort zone. I was pleased by how quickly I acclimated to Condres OS. The Condres/Arch-specific software was intuitive to use. The few times I needed to clarify an issue regarding software, the answer was readily available. Hopping from Linux Mint to Condres OS was an easy move.

        That said, the other Condres OS desktop offerings should not pose any technical or usability challenges for new users coming from other computing platforms. For that matter, Condres OS in any desktop flavor should be a comfy fit on any hardware.

        I tested Condres OS on one of the oldest laptops in my lingering collection. I ran the live session ISO on both new and old gear without experiencing any glitches. I installed it on a laptop running an Intel Core 2 DUO processor with 3GB RAM for more extensive testing. The next step is to install it on my primary desktop computer in place of the troublesome Linux Mint.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Dirk Eddelbuettel: tint 0.1.2: Some cleanups

        A new version 0.1.2 of the tint package is arriving at CRAN as I write this. It follows the recent 0.1.1 release which included two fabulous new vignettes featuring new font choices. The package name expands from tint is not tufte as the package offers a fresher take on the Tufte-style for html and pdf presentations.

        However, with the new vignettes in 0.1.1 we now had four full-length vignettes which made the package somewhat bulky. So for this release I reorganized things a little, added two new shorter vignettes with links to the full-length vignettes but keeping the size more constrained.

      • Molly de Blanc: developer

        I became a Debian Developer towards the end of 2018. I started the process in August 2017 at DebConf in Montreal. Over the course of 17 months I wrote emails, searched the Debian wiki, and learned a lot about the project.

      • Iustin Pop: Debian DPL election 2019

        As planned for this long weekend (in Switzerland), I went and re-read the platforms, and cast my vote. Which made me very happy, because I voted in the elections for the first time in a long while…

        But it didn’t start like that. The first call for nominations ended up with no (valid) nominations, and the follow-up thread was a bit depressing (high load for the DPL role, unclear expectations, etc.) For a time, it looked like the project is drifting, and some of the trolling on the list definitely didn’t help. I managed to prod a bit the thread and there was a nice reply from Lucas which seems to open the gates—the discussion livened up, and after many more meaningful mails, we ended up with 4 candidates. That’s, in my memory, a very good result.

      • Paris BSP and this blog

        I’ve never had a blog up to today, and apparently now I do. Why? Well, it happened that there was a Debian Bug Squashing Party in Paris a few weeks ago, and I thought that it might be nice to go, meet some nice people and humbly help releasing Buster. Great news is that the Debian project is willing to reimbourse its members some of the expenses for taking part to a BSP, asking in return to communicate publicly about what you do during a BSP so that others are motivated to participate as well.

        So I guessed that might be the occasion for me to start a blog, and start writing something about what I do in Debian. Here it goes!

        It was my first BSP ever, and I am very happy of it. We met for a couple of days at very nice Mozilla’s office in Paris (I think they are moving and we were at the old one, though). We were probably around 15 people, mostly from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and UK (which is not surprising if you look at the high-speed rail map in Europe; or any map of Europe, as a matter of facts).

        The great thing of a BSP is that you have a very short loop to other developers. Since a BSP is all about getting RC bugs closed, it is useful to talk directly to Release Team members, and discuss whether they would unblock your fix or not when you are not sure. This saves a lot in terms of human bandwidth and context-switching. Also, I had the occasion to watch more experienced developers in action and learn how to tackle issues I haven’t dealt with ever before, like bumping up a library SONAME.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical announces Ubuntu 19.04 – Software – Press Release

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent innovations from key open infrastructure projects – like OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            OpenStack Stein brings AI and NFV hardware acceleration with GPGPU and FPGA passthrough. Ceph Mimic provides multi-site replication and the latest Kubernetes 1.14 enables enterprise storage and the new containerd direct runtime.

            Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Desktop Installation Guide with Screenshots

            Canonical has released its non-LTS Ubuntu 19.04 Operating system for Desktop and Servers on 18th April 2019, Code name for Ubuntu 19.04 is “Disco Dingo”. As it is non-LTS release, so we will get latest packages and patches for next 9 months (January 2020) from canonical.

          • What’s new in Ubuntu 19.04

            In this video, we look at what is new in Ubuntu 19.04.

          • What to do after installing Ubuntu 19.04

            In this video, we look at some of the new features in Ubuntu 19.04.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 To Be The Eoan ________

            With Ubuntu 19.04 out the door, it’s time to kick off Ubuntu 19.10 as the next six-month installment of Ubuntu Linux and the last before Ubuntu 20.04 as the next LTS release.

            The full codename of Ubuntu 19.10 has yet to be revealed, but it will start with “Eoan.” Ubuntu Eoan is now in the archive and this distro-info-data bug report from today confirms it will be EOAN EANIMAL. Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s codename’r in chief (among other roles), has yet to officially announce the EE codename or cycle objectives.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ Released
          • Ubuntu 19.04 overview | Fast, secure and simple.

            In this video, I am going to show an overview of Ubuntu 19.04 and some of the applications pre-installed.

          • Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 Released with Budgie 10.5 Desktop and Brand-New Theme

            The Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 operating system arrived today as part of the major Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) release, adding several new features, a new look, and other improvements.

            Shipping with the latest Budgie 10.5 desktop environment by default with the latest budgie-applets, the Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 operating system replaces the Nautilus file manager with Nemo from the Cinnamon desktop environment as it retains desktop icons capability and integrates with the Catfish search utility.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical released today Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), the latest version of one of the world’s most popular Linux-based operating systems incorporating the newest GNU/Linux technologies and the most recent Open Source software.
            The 30th release of the Ubuntu Linux operating system, Ubuntu 19.04, is dubbed as the Disco Dingo because it’s a fun release consisting of up-to-date components. It’s a release for the bleeding-edge Ubuntu user who wants to have the latest GNU/Linux software and technologies on his/her personal computer.

            Ubuntu 19.04 has been in development during the past six months and it’s the obvious upgrade to last year’s Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) release. Of course, users can also update from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) or a previous LTS release, but it’s not recommended to do so because of the short lifespan.

          • How To Upgrade Ubuntu 18.10 To Ubuntu 19.04?

            Ubuntu 18.10, the latest release of the world’s most popular open source operating system, is finally here. Codenamed Disco Dingo, this Linux distro comes with major changes like Linux 5.0, GNOME 3.32, Mesa 18.0, etc.

            If you haven’t tried Linux and you’re willing to make a change, Ubuntu is a fine place to start. However, there are many other beginner-friendly distros as well that you can try. In any case, all the distros have detailed documentation on their websites that you can follow and start your Linux journey.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” Released, Eclipse Foundation’s 2019 IoT Developer Survey Results, OpenSSH 8.0 Now Available, digiKam 6.1.0 Is Out and Three New openSUSE Tumbleweeds Released

            Canonical this morning announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo”. According to the press release, Ubuntu 19.04 is “on open infrastructure deployments, the developer desktop, IoT, and cloud to edge software distribution”. Of the release, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth says, “The open-source-first on Ubuntu movement in telco, finance, and media has spread to other sectors. From the public cloud to the private data center to the edge appliance or cluster, open source has become the reference for efficiency and innovation. Ubuntu 19.04 includes the leading projects to underpin that transition, and the developer tooling to accelerate the applications for those domains”. You can download Ubuntu 19.04 from here.

          • Ubuntu Studio 19.04 Released!

            The Ubuntu Studio team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu Studio 19.04, code-named “Disco Dingo”. This marks Ubuntu Studio’s 25th release, and is its largest and most feature-full release in a long while. This release is a regular release and as such, it is supported for 9 months.

            For those requiring longer-term support, we encourage you to install Ubuntu Studio 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” and add the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA, which will keep 18.04 supported through April 2020. Please do not install Ubuntu Studio 16.04 LTS anymore as it reaches end-of-life (EOL) on April 21, 2019.

            Since it’s just out, you may experience some issues, so you might want to wait a bit before upgrading. Please see the release notes for a complete list of changes and known issues.

          • What’s New In Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo”

            Honestly speaking, this release does not ship with a huge list of new features. Actually, there are a few new things that you won’t even notice easily without reading a review. So you must be thinking that it’s not even worth reading a review then. Well, not really.

            Ubuntu 19.04 might not ship with so much cool stuff for your eyes, but it does make Ubuntu better by improving its performance to a great level. You will quickly notice improved performance on the very first boot.

            And that’s what we have been noticing for the past few Ubuntu releases. It is more focusing on performance rather than pre-loading your system with new features. But don’t worry the new features are also worth checking out.

          • Open infrastructure, developer desktop and IoT are the focus for Ubuntu 19.04

            Canonical today announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04, focused on open infrastructure deployments, the developer desktop, IoT, and cloud to edge software distribution.

            “The open-source-first on Ubuntu movement in telco, finance, and media has spread to other sectors. From the public cloud to the private data center to the edge appliance or cluster, open source has become the reference for efficiency and innovation. Ubuntu 19.04 includes the leading projects to underpin that transition, and the developer tooling to accelerate the applications for those domains” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical.

            Open infrastructure from cloud to edge

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent innovations from key open infrastructure projects – like OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            OpenStack Stein brings AI and NFV hardware acceleration with GPGPU and FPGA passthrough. Ceph Mimic provides multi-site replication and the latest Kubernetes 1.14 enables enterprise storage and the new containerd direct runtime.

            Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Makes Linux a Snap

            Canonical announced the release of the open-source Ubuntu 19.04 Linux distribution on April 18, with new versions for cloud, server and desktop users.

            The Ubuntu 19.04 update is code-named the “Disco Dingo” and is a standard release, which means Canonical will support it for nine months. The 19.04 update is largely an evolutionary step forward, extending features that Ubuntu has been building on for the last several releases. Among the most noteworthy aspects of Ubuntu 19.04′s evolutionary path is the use of “snaps,” an approach for packaging, delivering and updating software in a highly agile manner.

            In a video interview with eWEEK, Ubuntu and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth outlines the growing importance of snaps in the Ubuntu 19.04 update.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Flavours Available to Download

            Ubuntu 19.04 is out, and so too are new versions of official ubuntu flavors, including Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and more. We recap the key changes.

          • 10 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 19.04

            In this article we share our list of essential things to do after you install (or upgrade) to Ubuntu 19.04.

            That’s not to say Ubuntu isn’t perfectly usable out of the box — it is — but with a couple of post-install tweaks you can easily get more from it.

            We’ve published one of these ‘things to do after installing Ubuntu’ articles for the past 20 Ubuntu releases, starting way back in 2009 with the launch of Ubuntu 9.04 ‘Jaunty Jackalope’.

            While the exact list of ‘things to do’ changes for each release but our overall aim hasn’t: we list practical, actionable items rather than idly suggesting “zomg ruin ur desktop by adding alpha software!!1” tweaks.

          • First Half of Ubuntu 19.10 Codename Revealed, And It’s Obscure

            The first part of the Ubuntu 19.10 codename has been revealed — but it’s probably not a word any of us would’ve guessed!

            Yes, I know: you’ve barely had time to soak up all of the Ubuntu 19.04 features on offer in the latest release, yet planning for the next version of Ubuntu is already underway!

          • Ubuntu 19.04 released with focus on IoTs, open infrastructure

            Canonical has rolled out a new version of its Ubuntu software.

          • Pydio: How to Install on Windows 10 or Ubuntu 19.04
          • SD Times news digest: Ubuntu 19.04, Zephyr LTS release, and Mozilla’s Pyodide project

            Canonical, providers of the Ubuntu operating system, released version 19.04 of its flagship product, which focuses on open infrastructure, developer desktop and IoT.

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates innovative open infrastructure projects such as OpenStack, Kubernetes and Ceph with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations. In 19.04, multiple instances of the same snap can be installed for CI/CD, testing or phased rollouts.

            In addition, Ubuntu 19.04 introduces GNOME 3.32, a free and open-source desktop environment with higher frame rates, quicker icon load times and reduced CPU/GPU load, and smoother startup animations than earlier versions.

          • How to install Plex media server on Ubuntu 19.04 -Simplest method

            Are you looking for the simplest and easiest method to install Plex Media Server on Ubuntu 19.04? Here is that. Single command of snap will setup Plex server for you…

            Plex Media server doesn’t need an introduction however, those are not acquainted with it; the Plex Server is a software which is free to use and cross-platform. This means it is available for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, NAS and MacOS along with a wide range of Client apps to stream videos from Plex Medi server. Not only videos, but the users can also stream music files too locally as well as remotely along with TV shows, and photos on PC, Chromecast, Android or iOS smartphone, tablet, ROKU etc.

            We are going to use the Snap package manager for the installation Plex server here. The benefit of using SNAP is it makes everything so simple. No need to download and install each file separately.

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo,” Available Now
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Lubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Released!

              Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 19.04 has been released! With the codename Disco Dingo, Lubuntu 19.04 is the 16th release of Lubuntu and the second release of Lubuntu with LXQt as the default desktop environment.

            • Xubuntu 19.04 releases with latest Xfce package releases, new wallpapers and more

              The team behind Xubuntu, have released a new update for the lightweight, GTK-based desktop environment built around Ubuntu. Xubuntu 19.04 is available since yesterday as a part of the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” launch. New features include latest Xfce package releases, new wallpapers/artwork, re-addition of GIMP to ISO, and various other changes. Xubuntu 19.04 also halts the production of x86 32-bit install images.

            • Xubuntu 19.04 released!

              The Xubuntu team is happy to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 19.04!

              Xubuntu 19.04 is a regular release and will be supported for 9 months, until January 2020. If you need a stable environment with longer support time, we recommend that you use Xubuntu 18.04 LTS instead.

              The final release images are available as torrents and direct downloads from xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/

              As the main server might be busy in the first few days after the release, we recommend using the torrents if possible.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 Best Kodi Sports Addons For Streaming Live Sports In 2019

    Kodi media player is a boon for cord cutters. In an era where subscription-based streaming services are popping left and right, Kodi presents an easy method to watch movies free online. By installing some of the best Kodi addons and top Kodi repositories, you can access hundreds of millions of movies and TV shows.

  • NVMe Driver Now Available

    Due to the awesome work by long-time developer waddlesplash, nightly images after hrev53079 have read/write NVMe support built-in.

    What is NVMe? For those not keeping up with the latest advances in tech, NVMe is a M.2 form-factor flash-based storage device which attaches directly to the system’s PCI Express bus. These flash devices are present in modern desktops and laptops and offer transfer speeds of several GiB/s.

    These devices now show up in /dev/disk/nvme/ and are fully useable by Haiku.

  • Haiku OS Picks Up An NVMe Storage Driver

    Back during the BeOS days of the 90′s, NVM Express solid-state storage obviously wasn’t a thing but the open-source Haiku OS inspired by it now has an NVMe driver.

    Haiku that aims to be an open-source OS based off BeOS now has support for NVMe SSDs. This driver didn’t make last September’s Haiku R1 beta but now being found within the latest development code is for NVMe SSD hardware.

  • Events

    • Join Us In New York City

      OSI Board Directors have broad backgrounds and experience, working in a variety of roles—Chief Open Source Officer, Chief Information Office, Chief Technology Officer, Open Source Program Manager, Community Manager, Developer, Architect, Engineer, Attorney—for both corporations and communities—Clojure Community, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Debian Project, Free Software Foundation, Github, Google, Kubernetes Community, Microsoft, One Laptop Per Child, Open edX, Oracle, Python Software Foundation, Red Hat, Salesforce, Sun Microsystems , The Document Foundation, Wikimedia, Zalando… and many, many, more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Android Browser Choice Screen in Europe

      Today, Google announced a new browser choice screen in Europe. We love an opportunity to show more people our products, like Firefox for Android. Independent browsers that put privacy and security first (like Firefox) are great for consumers and an important part of the Android ecosystem.

      There are open questions, though, about how well this implementation of a choice screen will enable people to easily adopt options other than Chrome as their default browser. The details matter, and the true measure will be the impact on competition and ultimately consumers. As we assess the results of this launch on Mozilla’s Firefox for Android, we’ll share our impressions and the impact we see.

    • Mozilla

      • Introducing Mozilla WebThings

        The Mozilla IoT team is excited to announce that after two years of development and seven quarterly software updates that have generated significant interest from the developer & maker community, Project Things is graduating from its early experimental phase and from now on will be known as Mozilla WebThings.

      • The Mozilla IoT Team Announces Mozilla WebThings, LibreOffice 6.2.3 Released, LabPlot 2.6 Now Available, OpenJDK 11 Is Now the Default in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 19.04, and Zend Framework Heads to The Linux Foundation as the Laminas Project

        The Mozilla IoT team announces that its Project Things is moving on from its experimental phase and now will be known as Mozilla WebThings. The team’s mission is to create a “Web of Things” implementation that helps “drive IoT standards for security, privacy and interoperability”. Mozilla WebThings is “an open platform for monitoring and controlling devices over the web” and includes WebThings Gateway (“a software distribution for smart home gateways focused on privacy, security and interoperability”) and WebThings Framework (“a collection of reusable software components to help developers build their own web things”).

      • Mozilla “WebThings” No Longer An Experiment

        Mozilla WebThings is what was formerly known as “Project Things” while serving as an experiment around a platform for IoT devices on the web.

        Project Things has moved on from being just an experiment to now being promoted to Mozilla WebThings as part of their IoT effort for ensuring an open and accessible web down to connected devices. Mozilla WebThings is an open platform for monitoring and controlling of devices.

        WebThings Gateway is their component designed for smart home gateways while the WebThings Framework are reusable software components. Mozilla looks forward to “a future in which Mozilla WebThings software is installed on commercial products that can provide consumers with a trusted agent for their “smart”, connected home.” But at this stage it doesn’t appear Mozilla has landed any deals for WebThings-powered devices. At this stage they are working on an OpenWrt-based offering for showing off the WebThings Gateway.

      • Mozilla Announces Pyodide – Python in the Browser

        Mozilla announced a new project called Pyodide earlier this week. The aim of Pyodide is to bring Python’s scientific stack into the browser.

        The Pyodide project will give you a full, standard Python interpreter that runs in your browser and also give you access to the browsers Web APIs. Currently, Pyodide does not support threading or networking sockets. Python is also quite a bit slower to run in the browser, although it is usable for interactive exploration.

        The article mentions other projects, such as Brython and Skulpt. These projects are rewrites of Python’s interpreter in Javascript. Their disadvantage to Pyodide is that they cannot use Python extensions that were written in C, such as Numpy or Pandas. Pyodide overcomes this issue.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: April edition

        The deadline to ship localization updates in Firefox 67 is quickly approaching (April 30). Firefox 68 is going to be an ESR version, so it’s particularly important to ship the best localization possible. The deadline for that will be June 25.

  • LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Indie Web Server 8.1.1: Reverse proxy (local mode)
    • This site now runs on Indie Web Server

      In the interests of eating my own hamster food1, I just switched this site from nginx to Indie Web Server.

      The only complication in the process was that I had to update the hostname of the server to match the domain name.

    • Administrating Nextcloud as a Snap

      As I’ve described in both my Linux in Action book and Linux in Motion course, Nextcloud is a powerful way to build a file sharing and collaboration service using only open source software running on your own secure infrastructure. It’s DropBox, Skype, and Google Docs all rolled into one, but without the vendor lock-in, security, and privacy fears.
      While the platform is certainly well-designed and polished, the initial installation can be tricky. Looking for proof? Try manually installing Nextcloud on an Ubuntu 18.04 server using any one of the detailed instructions available around the internet. Sometimes everything goes smoothly, but not always. You might encounter packages no longer supported by the official upstream repositories or changed dependencies. Don’t blame the people who wrote those guides: blame the pace of change in official Linux software repositories.

    • FOSS Project Spotlight: Drupal

      Drupal is a content management framework, and it’s used to make many of the websites and applications you use every day. Drupal has great standard features, easy content authoring, reliable performance and excellent security. What sets Drupal apart is its flexibility; modularity is one of its core principles. Its tools help you build the versatile, structured content that ambitious web experiences need. With Drupal, you can build almost any integrated experience you can imagine.

    • Carlos Soriano: DrupalCon

      Last week I went to DrupalCon in the lovely city of Seattle invited by Tim, the executive director of Drupal.

      Our plan was to have a panel discussion about the tooling we use in FOSS organization such as GNOME, Debian, Drupal, etc. Specially since we recently transitioned to GitLab. The panel discussion was between Tim himself, Alex Wirt from Debian, Eliran Mesika and Tina Sturgis from GitLab and me. We were 5 out of 9 featured speakers!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Why Companies Open Source Their Software?

      When a company releases its code as open source and contribute it to foundations like CNCF, it literally loses control over the project. What benefit is there in doing so? Why would you want to lose control over the very project you created? Dan Lahl of SAP has an answer: that’s the beauty of Open Source.

  • BSD

    • OpenSSH 8.0 released; addresses SCP vulnerability and new SSH additions

      Theo de Raadt and the OpenBSD developers who maintain the OpenSSH, today released the latest version OpenSSH 8.0.

      OpenSSH 8.0 has an important security fix for a weakness in the scp(1) tool when you use scp for copying files to/from remote systems. Till now when copying files from remote systems to a local directory, SCP was not verifying the filenames of what was being sent from the server to client. This allowed a hostile server to create or clobber unexpected local files with attack-controlled data regardless of what file(s) were actually requested for copying from the remote server. OpenSSH 8.0 adds client-side checking that the filenames sent from the server match the command-line request.

      While this client-side checking added to SCP, the OpenSSH developers recommend against using it and instead use sftp, rsync, or other alternatives. “The scp protocol is outdated, inflexible and not readily fixed. We recommend the use of more modern protocols like sftp and rsync for file transfer instead.“, mention OpenSSH developers.

    • CFT for FreeBSD + ZoL

      We’re pleased to make available images allowing testing of FreeBSD using ZFS on Linux. During this development cycle, the ZoL code has been made portable, and available in the ports tree as sysutils/zol and sysutils/zol-kmod, for userland/kernel bits respectively. While some have used these for testing, we felt it necessary to generate some installation images which are an easier method of getting up and started using ZoL. These images are built against FreeBSD 12-stable and 13-HEAD and will install a world / kernel with the base system ZFS disabled and the sysutils/zol ports pre-installed.

      It is possible to these with both UFS or ZFS on root, and we’re looking for feedback on any stability issues or other regressions that you see vs the legacy ZFS in base.

    • FreeBSD Images Reworked With ZFS On Linux Code Up For Testing

      Last year FreeBSD developers decided to re-base their ZFS file-system code based on the “ZFS On Linux” port rather than the Illumos source tree where they originally had been acquiring the support for this BSD. There’s now FreeBSD 12 and FreeBSD 13/Head images available for testing of this re-worked ZFS file-system support.

      Kris Moore of iXsystems has been involved in this large undertaking to get the FreeBSD ZFS code re-based over ZoL. They are still working on this big effort but have now spun some FreeBSD 12-STABLE and 13-HEAD installation images for those easily wanting to test out this ZoL’ed FreeBSD.

    • The SSH Tarpit | BSD Now 294

      A PI-powered Plan 9 cluster, an SSH tarpit, rdist for when Ansible is too much, falling in love with OpenBSD again, how I created my first FreeBSD port, the Tilde Institute of OpenBSD education and more.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • X-Gimp 2.10.10 [rev25]

      Image editors are ten-a-penny nowadays, so anything which wants attention from a divided audience needs to offer something quite special. X-Gimp is the portable version of GIMP (or the GNU Image Manipulation Program), which is one of the most powerful free image editors available and is frequently described as being a free alternative to the likes of Photoshop.
      This is a highly versatile tool which can be used as a basic drawing program but can also be employed to edit digital photographs to a professional level. Despite being free of charge, opting to use GIMP does not mean having to compromise on features. Layers, masks, channels, filters and special effects, in addition to the usual range of editing tools, are all on hand to make image editing as easy as possible.
      Powerful tools such as the correction mode which allows for the correction of barrel distortion and perspective problems are usually only found in expensive packages but are included here for anyone to try out. Whether you are an amateur digital photographer or a professional graphic artist, GIMP has something to offer you.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Avalanche Noise Generator Notes

        I’ll probably go through another iteration of tweaking before final integration, but afaik this is the smallest, lowest power open-source avalanche noise generator to date (slightly smaller than this one).

  • Programming/Development

    • COBOL, C, C++ all due for updates in early 2020s

      You have never heard of Chris Tandy, a Toronto-based programmer for IBM since 1985, but his work in standardizing computer programming languages is vital to everything you do as a software developer.

      Tandy chairs the American INCITS PL22 group and is an officer in the global ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22 committee, which are the primary standards bodies responsible not only for pivotal languages such as COBOL, C, and C++, but also for historic ones like Ada, APL (famously named as “A Programming Language”), and Fortran. They also deal in esoterica—try your hand at coding in PL/1 or REXX.

      Future versions of the COBOL standard are now entirely in ISO hands, while before it was mostly an American project, Tandy explained. The ISO working group members intend to have the next version, known as an FDIS (final draft international standard), done in 2020.

    • PyPy 7.1.1 Bug Fix Release

      The interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the double release.

      This bugfix fixes bugs related to large lists, dictionaries, and sets, some corner cases with unicode, and PEP 3118 memory views of ctype structures. It also fixes a few issues related to the ARM 32-bit backend. For the complete list see the changelog.

    • Generators in Python
    • Immutability in Python
    • Completing Account Deactivation on Building SaaS with Python and Django
    • About psychopy tool.
    • Python’s dynamic nature: sticking an attribute onto an object
    • Packaging Python inside your organization with GitLab and Conda

      Python Packaging has recently been discussed a lot, but the articles usually only focus on publishing (open source) code to PyPI.

      But what do you do when your organization uses Python for in-house development and you can’t (or don’t want to) make everything Open Source? Where do you store and manage your code? How do you distribute your packages?

    • Getting started with social media sentiment analysis in Python

      Natural language processing (NLP) is a type of machine learning that addresses the correlation between spoken/written languages and computer-aided analysis of those languages. We experience numerous innovations from NLP in our daily lives, from writing assistance and suggestions to real-time speech translation and interpretation.

      This article examines one specific area of NLP: sentiment analysis, with an emphasis on determining the positive, negative, or neutral nature of the input language. This part will explain the background behind NLP and sentiment analysis and explore two open source Python packages. Part 2 will demonstrate how to begin building your own scalable sentiment analysis services.

    • Building scalable social media sentiment analysis services in Python

      The first part of this series provided some background on how sentiment analysis works. Now let’s investigate how to add these capabilities to your designs.

    • Creating a GUI Application for NASA’s API with wxPython

      Growing up, I have always found the universe and space in general to be exciting. It is fun to dream about what worlds remain unexplored. I also enjoy seeing photos from other worlds or thinking about the vastness of space. What does this have to do with Python though? Well, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a web API that allows you to search their image library.

      You can read all about it on their website.

      The NASA website recommends getting an Application Programming Interface (API) key. If you go to that website, the form that you will fill out is nice and short.

    • Custom Home Automation System source release

      I am happy to announce the release of my generation 1 home automation system source code. I will be releasing Generation 2, the code which is currently in-use in the next couple of days to a week. If you would like to be informed of the Generation 2 code drop, please watch the BitBucket repo to be informed.

      First, a little bit of history. I originally started writing this code back in 2015 to run exclusively on my Raspberry Pi connected to an external speaker. It was controlled using HTTP URL endpoints, which can be hit using various NFC tags throughout my home. Eventually I bought a 7″ touch-screen and an additional Raspberry Pi. This is when my automation system began to grow and mature more into what it is today. The first external display was placed in my bedroom, and ran PyCARS, another project I wrote for my home automation system. As a result, the original Raspberry Pi running the home automation system no longer needed an attached speaker, and instead a UDP broadcast packet was sent on my home network to notify any listening HUD(a PyCars device).

    • Wing Tips: Using Anaconda with Wing Python IDE

      Anaconda’s key advantage is its easy-to-use package management system. Anaconda comes with a large collection of third party packages that are not in an installation of Python from python.org. Many additional packages can be installed quickly and easily as needed, from the command line with conda install.

      Anaconda’s marketing focuses on data science and machine learning applications, but its extensive packages library makes it a good option also for other types of desktop and web development.

      There is much ongoing work in the world of Python packaging but, at least for now, Anaconda seems to fail less often than other solutions for resolving dependencies and installing necessary packages automatically.

    • Python’s dynamic nature: sticking an attribute onto an object
    • PyCharm at PyCon 2019: The Big Tent

      Last week we announced our “big tent” at PyCon 2019 with the blog post PyCharm Hosts Python Content Creators at Expanded PyCon Booth. Next week we’ll announce more on each individual piece.

    • GStreamer 1.16.0 new major stable release

      The GStreamer team is excited to announce a new major feature release of your favourite cross-platform multimedia framework!

      The 1.16 release series adds new features on top of the previous 1.14 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

    • Why Django Is The Popular Python Framework Among Web Developers?

      Nowadays, a lot of backend web development programs are developed and run with Python. Python has been one of the most popular programming languages for web development and its agility and versatility are strong reasons for its growing success. From developing simple codes to data analytics and machine learning, Python has become the go-to language for many developers.

      There are a lot of frameworks that work with Python and these frameworks basically allow the developers to choose a platform on which they can customize their website and test it freely according to their preferences. Among all the frameworks of Python, Django seems to be the most popular option. In fact, in the Stack Overflow Survey of 2018, Django was included as one of the most loved frameworks with 58% of the developers voting for it.

    • Not all OpenJDK 12 builds include Shenandoah: Here’s why

      A little history: Shenandoah, a high-performance low-pause-time garbage collector, is a Red Hat-led project. When we first proposed to contribute Shenandoah to OpenJDK, Oracle made it clear that they didn’t want to support it. That’s fair enough: OpenJDK is free software, so you don’t have to support anything you don’t want. We told Oracle that we’d work with them to design a really clean pluggable garbage-collector interface that allows anyone easily to select the garbage collectors to include in their builds. We did that together, and Shenandoah went in to JDK 12.

      Evidently Oracle has chosen not to build Shenandoah. They aren’t doing anything strictly wrong by excluding it, but something doesn’t feel right to me. These builds aren’t supported by Oracle—you need their commercial binaries to get support—so why exclude Shenandoah? It might simply be that they used their standard build scripts to build their open source binaries. However, in a rather feature-light OpenJDK release, I find it odd for open source builds to exclude one of the most significant contributions. I really appreciate Oracle providing GPL-licensed OpenJDK builds, but I wish they’d build all of it.

    • Announcing OpenJDK 11 packages in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

      OpenJDK 11 is now the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, replacing OpenJDK 10, the previously supported rapid release version and original package default for Ubuntu 18.04. This OpenJDK package is covered by the standard, LTS upstream security support and will also be the default package for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 release.

      Version 11 is the latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of the open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE). It incorporates key security improvements, including an update to the latest Transport Layer Security (TLS) version, TLS 1.3, and the implementation of ChaCha20-Poly1305 cryptographic algorithms, a new stream cipher that can replace the less secure RC4.

    • Learn Ansible By Doing With These Courses And Hands-On Labs

      Infrastructure as code has changed the way that we plan, deploy, and maintain infrastructure. One of the technologies that made this transformation possible is Ansible. Ansible is a popular orchestration tool used by many individuals and small to large scale organizations, so knowing how to use it can provide a lot of opportunities.

      Even if you end up needing to learn other tools in the future such as Puppet, Chef, Salt, or Terraform (read: Ansible vs. Terraform), understanding Ansible and how it works will make it much easier to then learn how to use these other technologies. So don’t worry about the “which tool should I learn first?!” question. Just pick one, learn it, and you’ll be setup for the future.

    • Qt 6 Might Drop Their Short-Lived Universal Windows Platform Support

      While the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is needed for targeting the Xbox One, Microsoft HoloLens, and IoT, The Qt Company is thinking about gutting out their UWP support in the big Qt 6 tool-kit update.

      The Qt Company is busy brainstorming changes for Qt 6, which is expected to see its maiden release in late 2020 barring any delays. One of those fundamental changes being tossed around is eliminating the Universal Windows Platform coverage with Qt 6.0.

    • Qt 6 Planning: Consideration of dropping support for UWP applications

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Diet and colorectal cancer in UK Biobank: a prospective study

      In conclusion, in this systematic analysis of a contemporary cohort of half a million men and women from the UK population, we found that consumption of red and processed meat and alcohol was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. We also found that fibre from bread and breakfast cereals was associated with a reduced risk. The current recommendation by the UK Government Department of Health is that people should not eat more than 90 g of red and processed meat a day.29 Participants in the highest category of red and processed-meat consumption were consuming an average of 76 g of red and processed meat per day and thus this group was on average meeting the current recommendation but still had a 20% (95% CI: 4–37) increase in risk of colorectal cancer compared with those who ate an average of 21 g of red and processed meat per day. Therefore, our results suggest that reductions in meat intake below the current recommendation may further reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    • Even ‘Moderate’ Consumption of Red and Processed Meat Increases Colon Cancer Risk, Study Finds

      For over five years, experts at the University of Oxford, University of Auckland and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the diets and cancer rates of people who voluntarily participate in the UK Biobank research project.

      The findings, published Wednesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology, align with previous research and subsequent warnings from public health experts about the risks of colon cancer, also known as bowel or colorectal cancer.

      “Our results strongly suggest that people who eat red and processed meat four or more times a week have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than those who eat red and processed meat less than twice a week,” said coauthor Tim Key, deputy director of Oxford’s cancer epidemiology unit.

  • Security

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange and WikiLeaks: A view from Kenya

      In August 2007, very few people in Kenya had heard of Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, his “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis”. The organisation was barely a year old and had posted a handful of documents.

      Then they leaked the Kroll report – an investigation commissioned in 2003 by the newly elected Mwai Kibaki administration in an attempt to uncover where the former dictator, Daniel arap Moi, and his family and cronies had stashed away the hundreds of millions of dollars they had stolen from Kenyans in the previous quarter of a century.

      Kroll Associates, the consultancy firm hired to lead the investigation, eventually traced over $1.3bn in cash and assets spread out in nearly 30 countries. The report, which provided a rare comprehensive look at the scale of the looting, was submitted to the Kenyan government in 2004, by which time the Kibaki government had not only lost the appetite to fight corruption, but was itself deeply engaged in “gluttonous eating”. So, the report was buried.

    • Ecuador Judge Orders Detention for Ex-minister Connected to Assange

      A judge in Ecuador has ordered former foreign minister Ricardo Patino be held in pre-trial detention on a so-called instigation charge, the attorney general’s office said on Thursday, but the ex-official’s whereabouts are unknown.

      The administration of President Lenin Moreno has said that Patino, who served as foreign minister under the previous government of President Rafael Correa, is connected to WikiLeaks.

      Moreno stripped WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of his diplomatic asylum last week. Assange was given refuge in the London embassy in 2012 by Correa, but Moreno has accused WikiLeaks and Assange of violating his privacy by publishing private family photographs.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Chemists can turn carbon dioxide into coal

      Australian scientists have found a way to take carbon dioxide and turn it back into something like coal.

      It is as if they had translated the hundred-million-year process of making fossil fuel – a natural process powered in the Carboniferous Era by immense amounts of time, massive pressures and huge temperatures – in a laboratory in a day.

      They used liquid metal catalysts – a catalyst is a compound that can midwife chemical change without itself being changed – to convert a solution of carbon dioxide into solid flakes of carbon.

      And in a second reminder of the high levels of ingenuity and invention at work in the world’s laboratories, as chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers confront the twin challenges of climate change and efficient use of renewable energy, Swedish scientists report that they know how to make timber transparent and heat-storing. That is, they have a way of fashioning wood that can transmit light, and at the same time insulate the building it illuminates.

    • ‘A New Day in New York’: City Council Passes Visionary Climate Bill

      The New York City Council passed the world’s “largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward” on Thursday afternoon, marking a major milestone in the fight against the climate crisis.

      The Climate Mobilization Act contains 10 provisions for a greener New York.

    • Chevron and Exxon Say They Can Turn Around the Failed Finances of Fracking Industry

      After a decade of the American fracking industry burning through hundreds of billions of dollars more than it earned, this industry previously dominated by shale drilling specialists is entering a new phase. The oil majors — a group of multinational companies that typically have divisions throughout the oil supply chain — now are investing heavily in fracked oil and gas operations.

    • Climate science supports youth protests

      The global youth protests demanding action on climate change are having a marked effect.

      In their thousands, concerned climate scientists, backed by colleagues from other disciplines, are voicing support for the school students and other young people who are staying away from lessons to urge more resolute political action to protect the climate.

      The campaign to support the protesters has been launched by an international group of 22 scientists spanning a range of disciplines; several of them are renowned climate specialists.

    • Comment: Judge in Peter Ridd Case Says Trial Was Not About Climate Science or Freedom of Speech

      Sacked Australian scientist and hero of climate science deniers everywhere — Dr. Peter Ridd — has won his case against former employer James Cook University (JCU).

      Judge Salvatore Vasta, in Australia’s circuit court, said actions the university took to censure and ultimately fire Ridd were all “unlawful.”

      In a long statement, JCU said it was “considering its options” and said it disagreed with the judgment, adding it “does not refer to any case law, nor any authority in Australia to support its position.”

    • Climate change: Sir David Attenborough warns of ‘catastrophe’

      Sir David Attenborough has issued his strongest statement yet on the threat posed to the world by climate change.
      In the BBC programme Climate Change – The Facts, the veteran broadcaster outlined the scale of the crisis facing the planet.
      Sir David said we face “irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies”.

    • David Attenborough Gives Stark Warning in New BBC Climate Change Special

      The hour-long program, called Climate Change—The Facts, marked Attenborough’s strongest warning to date on the dangers posed by global warming, BBC News reported.

      “In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined,” Attenborough said in the film. “It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”

    • Air Permit OK’d After New Evidence of Carcinogens at Enbridge’s Planned Gas Facility in Massachusetts Left out

      In the Greater Boston area, Enbridge is planning to build a controversial natural gas facility at a densely populated site which already has elevated levels of previously unreported carcinogens, documents obtained by DeSmog suggest.

      Despite receiving new information indicating the current presence of these pollutants in the air around Enbridge’s proposed gas compressor station in Weymouth, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not include the data in the project’s health impact assessment (HIA) which it oversaw. The assessment, which was published 10 days later, found that human health likely will not be affected by direct exposure to the station.

    • Guinness to Ditch Plastic Packaging

      Guinness’s parent company, Diageo, announced that the iconic Irish stout will no longer use plastic rings or shrink wrap. Instead, the company will invest $21 million to replace plastic with 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard, according to CNN Business. The change, which will be introduced in Ireland in August and the rest of the world by August 2020, also applies to Guinness’s other products, Harp and Smithwick’s.

      “Great packaging is essential for our products,” said David Cutter, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer added, reported the The Telegraph. “Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable. I am proud to announce this investment, through which we have been able to combine all three. We have been working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly.”

    • MEPs Decide not to Punish Exxon for Failure to Show at Climate Denial Hearing

      ExxonMobil will retain its ability to lobby the European Parliament after MEPs refused to take away their badges.

      The ability of the oil major to meet with Brussels decisionmakers was under question after the company refused to attend a hearing on their history of climate denial, citing ongoing litigation in the US.

      Party presidents within the European Parliament decided against banning ExxonMobil in a meeting last week. Instead, they pushed the decision to a smaller group of MEPs, known as ‘quaestors’, and to Klaus Welle, the Secretary General of the European Parliament.

    • It Will Take 10 Million Years to Recover From This Man-Made Apocalypse

      The climate crisis humanity has caused has us spiraling towards higher temperatures while also knocking out marine life and insect species at an alarming rate that continues to accelerate. But, just how long will it take Earth to recover? A new study offers a sobering answer: millions of years.

    • Morphospace expansion paces taxonomic diversification after end Cretaceous mass extinction

      Highly resolved palaeontological records can address a key question about our current climate crisis: how long will it be before the biosphere rebounds from our actions? There are many ways to conceptualize the recovery of the biosphere; here, we focus on the global recovery of species diversity. Mass extinction may be expected to be followed by rapid speciation, but the fossil record contains many instances where speciation is delayed—a phenomenon about which we have a poor understanding. A probable explanation for this delay is that extinctions eliminate morphospace as they curtail diversity, and the delay in diversification is a result of the time needed for new innovations to rebuild morphospace, which can then be filled out by new species. Here, we test this morphospace reconstruction hypothesis using the morphological complexity of planktic foraminifer tests after the Cretaceous–Palaeogene mass extinction. We show that increases in complexity precede changes in diversity, indicating that plankton are colonizing new morphospace, then slowly filling it in. Preliminary diversification is associated with a rapid increase in the complexity of groups refilling relict Cretaceous ecospace. Subsequent jumps in complexity are driven by evolutionary innovations (development of spines and photosymbionts), which open new niche space. The recovery of diversity is paced by the construction of new morphospace, implying a fundamental speed limit on diversification after an extinction event.

    • Heavy Pollution in Southwest Detroit Will Worsen With the Gordie Howe Bridge

      Champions of the Green New Deal have a powerful argument to make in industrial centers like Michigan, as the proposal would prioritize communities saturated by pollution from highways, power plants and manufacturing facilities, and it would ensure that those communities are involved in the planning of new infrastructure projects. Cities like Detroit are precisely why these provisions exist.

      Head south from the stately skyscrapers downtown to southwest Detroit, a community rich in culture, but suffocating in pollution. The predominantly Hispanic community is known for its colorful murals, Spanish groceries, historic churches and Mexicantown, one of the top tourist destinations in the city. But southwest Detroit has another, more ignominious claim to fame as one of the most polluted places in Michigan, surrounded, as it is, by three busy highways, a coal-fired power plant, a gas-fired power plant, an oil refinery, a steel mill and a wastewater treatment plant. If that weren’t enough, the state is now building a six-lane bridge through the middle of the neighborhood.

    • Major Threats to New Zealand’s Environment Highlighted in Government Report

      New Zealand’s pristine image as a haven of untouched forests and landscapes was tarnished this week by a brand new government report. The Environment Aotearoa 2019 painted a bleak image of the island nation’s environment and its future prospects.

    • Missed Connections: How Climate Change Is Imperiling Pollinators

      Amy Boyd never planned to study climate change.

      Boyd, a biology professor at Warren Wilson College, was researching sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus), a native woodland plant that thrives in forests near her office in Asheville, North Carolina, when she noticed something was off.

      Each spring, when Boyd ventured out into the forest to check bloom time of the sweet shrub, she separated the petals and watched as sap beetles (Nitidulidae) flowed out. As their name suggests, sap beetles are known for feeding on sap, often in the wounds of trees. The plump black beetles also nosh on flowers, fruits and fermenting plant tissues and are attracted to sweet shrub for its pungent rotting-fruit fragrance. On the sweet shrub, Boyd noticed the beetles bedded down in the shelter of the reddish-brown petals before they unfurled. Sap beetles, the main pollinators of sweet shrub, populated the plant in significant numbers. “They would come out like clowns out of a clown car at a circus. You can’t even imagine how many beetles were hiding in there!” Boyd recalls.

    • New EPA Asbestos Rule Falls Short of Full Ban

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a new rule on asbestos Wednesday that it says will “close the door” on new, unapproved uses. But public health advocates warn the rule could actually open the door to increased use of the carcinogenic fibrous material.

    • Trump Order to Allow LNG by Rail Would Expand ‘Bomb Train’ Risks

      On April 10, first responders in Durham, North Carolina, responded to a suspected natural gas leak. While they were evacuating people from the area, the gas exploded, killing one person and injuring at least 25.

      The same day Durham was dealing with the aftermath of a deadly natural gas explosion, President Donald Trump was issuing an executive order directing federal regulators to create new rules allowing rail companies to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) by train in the next 13 months, or less.

    • When Does Plant and Animal Species Loss Become a Societal Crisis?

      It’s heartening, in the midst of the human-caused sixth mass extinction, to find good wildlife recovery news. As plant and animal species disappear faster than they have for millions of years, Russia’s Siberian, or Amur, tigers are making a comeback. After falling to a low of just a few dozen in the mid-20th century, the tigers now number around 500, with close to 100 cubs — thanks to conservation measures that include habitat restoration and an illegal hunting crackdown.

    • This Adorable Seal Returns to the Sea After 5 Months of Rehab

      On Nov. 21, Seal Rescue Ireland— Ireland’s only seal rescue center — found five to six week old Sesame underweight at only 13 kilos with deep lacerations all over her body. Waves from big storms had likely thrown her against the rocks when she was less than 2 months old. Today she’s at a healthy weight of 42 kilos and ready to return home.

  • Finance

    • Green Party statement on fielding joint remain lists

      The Green Party welcomes the European Elections and the enthusiasm being shown for them by those who, like us, believe we must do everything possible to stay in the European Union. The Green Party is the largest remain party in the EU Parliament, with the largest number of MEPs and is currently the lead remain party in the polls. We are the most credible choice for pro-EU voters.

      In terms of joint lists, the deadline for formal arrangements passed before the EU Council meeting on 10 April, which granted the “flextension” that makes fighting the European elections possible. As far as informal arrangements are concerned, no party has made any approach to us about them, and claims that we have turned down overtures are untrue, since none have been made. We understand, however, that Change UK has in any case ruled them out.

      While we agree with other remain parties on continued membership of the European Union, we have fundamental ideological differences on other issues – not least on the urgent priority of bold action on the accelerating climate crisis, and on major economic transformation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The UK’s Dubious Plan For Age-Based Porn Filters Begins On July 15

      Undaunted by the fact that internet filters never actually seem to work, the UK continues its quest to censor the internet of all of its naughty bits.

      The UK has long implemented porn filters in a bid to restrict anybody under the age of 18 from accessing such content. New age verification controls were also mandated as part of the Digital Economy Act of 2017. But as we’ve previously noted, the UK government has seen several fits and starts with its proposal as it desperately tries to convince the public and business sectors that the ham-fisted effort is going to actually work. This week the country formally announced that its filter proposal officially now has a start date: July 15.

    • Supreme Court Again Ducks A Chance To Clarify First Amendment Protections

      The First Amendment is getting no help from the nation’s highest court. Yet again, the Supreme Court is declining an opportunity to answer a very important question about free speech: where is the dividing line between threats and violent — but protected — speech?

      The Supreme Court already punted on this issue in 2015 with the Elonis v. United States case. In that case, Anthony Elonis posted a bunch of nasty stuff online about his ex-wife. He ended up being jailed for these, with the court finding his posts — which he claimed were merely him venting in the form of ultraviolent rap lyrics — constituted threats.

      His appeal went all the way to the top but the Supreme Court had nothing for him. It did overturn his conviction, but it left the First Amendment question unanswered. The Supreme Court said the trial court adhered to the wrong negligence standard — one that said Elonis should have known his posts were threatening if any “reasonable person” would find them threatening. The correct standard to use was mens rea, meaning the government needed to prove Elonis knew his posts were illegal (i.e., that they were “genuine threats”) when he posted them.

      As for the First Amendment, the Supreme Court seemed happy to avoid this issue completely. Having decided the wrong standard was used by the trial court, the Supreme Court declared it did not need to hand down an opinion on the First Amendment implications, leading to the mess we’re in now, with lower courts drawing disparate conclusions about the line between threats and protected speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Californians Want and Deserve Stronger Privacy Laws

      California made strides to protect privacy last year with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This year, we want to make sure that the state has tools necessary to make sure it can enforce that law, and that everyone will be able to stand up for their own privacy without fear of discrimination.

      That is why we are supporting both A.B. 1760 and S.B. 561: two essential bills to provide Californians with the privacy protection they want and deserve. We stand fully behind these bills and their authors, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

      Wicks’ bill, A.B. 1760, would give California consumers the knowledge and protection to defend their privacy rights. It makes sure that they can learn which companies have received their personal information through a sale or other form of sharing. The bill also requires that all companies that share data, as well as those that sell it, get the consumer’s opt-in consent to do so.

    • DARPA is Working on an Anonymous Mobile Communication System

      The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is behind the many innovative and useful technologies such as Unix, GPS, Tor, etc. The agency usually works on technologies required by or can help the US army in any way. But sometimes, DARPA also makes some breakthrough technologies available for common people as well.

    • Facebook Exposed Millions Of Instagram Passwords By Storing It In Plaintext

      Just a month ago, Facebook admitted it had mistakenly exposed hundreds of millions of passwords by storing them in plaintext where employees could access them.

      Facebook had announced back then that thousands of Instagram passwords were also leaked in the unencrypted storage blunder. Now, the company has quietly added a major update to that news: not “tens of thousands” but “millions” of Instagram users were actually affected by the leak.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • California Attorney General Must Investigate Improper Database Searches on Community Observers at Controversial Police Event

      For the last two years (2017 and 2018) of the Urban Shield weapons expo and SWAT drill in Alameda County, I was a community observer. I went as a citizen to see how my tax dollars were being spent, and as an activist/journalist so I could describe the event to others and to the media. What I didn’t know is that in exchange the Alameda County Sheriff would access my driving record, parking tickets and legal history through CLETS, the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.

      Urban Shield, as a Homeland Security-funded regional training exercise for SWAT, Fire and Emergency Services, was not open to the public, although some volunteers were solicited to role-play victims and perpetrators in the counterterrorism scenarios. So the great battle that sprung up around the event starting in 2013 with protests in Oakland dislodging the weapons expo from the Downtown Marriot, reporters getting thrown out of the event, civil disobedience outside the gates, and finally bloodied heads at a Berkeley City Council meeting debating the city’s possible withdrawal from the event, was largely waged by people who had never seen the event, but knew that militaristic training of local law enforcement wasn’t helping the growing problems with excessive use of force and the deaths of unarmed people.

    • Tennessee Sheriff Defends Department’s Armored Vehicle With A String Of Non Sequiturs

      Recently, the Greene County (TN) Sheriff’s Department spent the day being owned on Twitter. It wasn’t necessarily the sheriff’s fault. The Tennessee Dept. of General Services decided to show off the Sheriff’s armored vehicle, obtained via the Defense Department’s 1033 program. This program allows agencies like the GCSD to obtain military equipment so they can ensure the safety of [checks census figures] the 68,000 residents of Greene County.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • White House Won’t Share Data On Whether It Interfered In AT&T Merger Review

      The late 2017 DOJ announcement that it would be suing to stop AT&T’s $86 billion merger with Time Warner turned more than a few heads. While the DOJ insisted that the move was driven entirely by an interest in protecting consumers, the decision was utterly discordant with the Trump administration’s often facts-optional assault on consumer protections that have bipartisan support, ranging from net neutrality to basic environmental protections. And the DOJ’s sudden concern about the impact of media consolidation was in stark contrast to Trump’s FCC, where demolishing decades-old media consolidation rules has been a top priority.

      At the time of the lawsuit, many wondered if some other motivations were really at play. After all, Rupert Murdoch had been pushing Trump for more than a year to scuttle the deal for anti-competitive reasons. Time Warner rejected a News Corp. acquisition offer in 2014, and more recently AT&T rebuffed the company’s attempt to buy CNN… twice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Federal Circuits decides that 100% is different than One Hundred Percent

      In 2014, DuPont sued Unifrax for infringing its patented flame-barrier that is both lightweight and thin. U.S. Patent 8,607,926 (“Composite Flame Barrier Laminate for a Thermal and Acoustic Insulation Blanket”). The jury sided with DuPont — finding the asserted claims infringed and not proven invalid. Over a dissent from Judge O’Malley, the Federal Circuit has affirmed — finding that substantial evidence supports the verdict. (Majority authored by Judge Reyna and joined by Judge Hughes).

      When 90% counts as 100%: A key issue on appeal was the meaning of the claim term “100%.” DuPont’s claims required an “inorganic refractory layer” made of “platelets in an amount of 100% by weight.” That particular limitation was added during prosecution to get around a prior art reference that taught a platelet concentration of less than 100%.

      The accused product layer approximates 100% platelets, but has some small amount of residual dispersant that didn’t fully evaporate. Prior to trial, the district court sided with DuPont on claim construction and ruled that “100%” be interpreted as allowing for “some residual dispersant.” This substantially foreclosed Unifrax’s non-infringement argument that it had hoped to take to the jury.

      [...]

      The claim language is actually quite mess in the same clause it indicates that the refractory layer comprises “platelets in an amount of 100% by weight” but may also have a moisture content of up to 10% by weight. 110% by weight concentration is not ordinarily allowed in physics. However, we do sometimes talk about “110% effort” and Cecil Quillin has reported a USPTO’s patent grant rate as greater than 100% (by comparing original filings to all patents issued in the resulting family).

      I pulled up the prosecution history and found that the 100% and 10% elements were added at the same time in the same amendment with the statement that the claim now “requires a refractory layer containing 100% platelets (and also requires . . . a defined residual moisture content).” In my mind, this works strongly in the patentee’s favor — that the 100% allows for residual moisture. Still, it is unfortunate that the ultimate holding is a rejection of the defendant’s argument that “‘100%’ means one hundred percent.”

    • MOAEC Techs. patent determined to be likely unpatentable

      On April 17, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 6,232,539, owned and asserted by MOAEC Technologies, a General Patent Corporation subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’539 patent, directed to a music organizer and entertainment center, was recently determined to cover ineligible subject matter by the Delaware District Court in three cases involving Spotify, SoundCloud, and Deezer. Those cases are currently pending appeal.

    • The Federal Circuit Goes Through The Looking Glass

      The process of claim construction—interpreting the meaning of the words used in a patent claim—can be confusing at the best of times. At its worst, as in the Federal Circuit’s Dupont v. Unifrax decision this week, it most closely resembles an exchange from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.”

      [...]

      100% by weight is fairly clear. 100% of the layer, when dry, must be platelets (and must weigh from 15-50 gsm). But that language isn’t clear-cut if you’re the Federal Circuit. According to two CAFC judges1, instead of the plain meaning of “100% by weight”, what the patentee actually meant by this was “[t]here is no carrier material such as resin, adhesive, cloth, or paper in addition to the inorganic platelets. There may be some residual dispersant arising from incomplete drying of the platelet dispersion.” They did this based on various brief passages in the specification which mention other embodiments that aren’t 100% platelets by weight and a related patent, but ignore portions of the specification that contradict this and the patentees’ amendment during prosecution to get around prior art that had a platelet layer, but not a 100% platelet layer.

      According to the Federal Circuit, reading a limitation from the specification into the claims is “one of the cardinal sins of patent law.” But here, the Federal Circuit did exactly that, taking a clear term—“100% by weight”—and reading in limits from the specification to stretch the meaning out to mean only that it’s 100% of the platelet material and 0% carrier, but we can safely ignore things that are neither platelet material nor carrier.

      So a layer which is composed of 80% platelets and 20% dispersant by weight? That, according to the Federal Circuit, meets a limitation which—on the patent’s face—says “100% by weight.”

    • Patent case: Omega Patents, LLC v. CalAmp Corp., USA

      In a patent infringement suit brought by Omega Patents against CalAmp Corp. alleging infringement of Omega’s U.S. Patent Nos. 6,346,876 (’876 patent), 6,756,885 (’885 patent), 7,671,727 (’727 patent), and 8,032,278 (’278 patent), the federal district court in Orlando’s judgment of no invalidity of the asserted claims was affirmed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has decided. However, multiple errors required reversal of findings of infringement with respect to each of the patents-in-suit, requiring remand for a new trial on these issues. In addition, the lower court’s judgment was vacated and remanded for a new trial on its compensatory damages award, the jury’s willfulness finding, and the court’s enhanced damages and attorney fees award (Omega Patents, LLC v. CalAmp Corp., April 8, 2019, Dyk, T.).

    • Japanese Nobel laureate seeking to gain the support of the public to raise royalty rate for Opdivo patents

      Reportedly, in 2006, Honjo and Ono entered a license agreement for the patents on PD-1 which was applied to the cancer drug Opdivo (nivolumab). However, in 2011 when Opdivo was along in development, Honjo requested the raise of royalty rate. The negotiation has not proceeded as he expected. So, finally on April 10 2019, Honjo took the step of publishing the background and the outline of the agreement to gain the support of public.

      The agreement specifies that Ono has the exclusive right to use the joint patents between Honjo and Ono, and Ono pays a certain of royalties to Honjo. Ono has paid the cumulative amount JPY 2.6 billion (about USD 23.6 million). However, dissatisfied Honjo has not received it and deposited the entire amount with the Legal Affairs Bureau.

    • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Par Pharmaceutical Inc. (D. Del. 2019)

      Last week, in Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Par Pharmaceutical Inc., District Judge Richard G. Andrews of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted a Motion for Estoppel under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2) filed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. Defendant Par Pharmaceutical Inc. had taken no position on the estoppel issue.

      The dispute between the parties began when Novartis filed three suits against Par (as well as related suits against Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc. and West-Ward Pharmaceutical Corp.), with the parties agreeing that the validity of the patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 5,665,772, would be tried only once. Defendants challenged the validity of claims 1-3, 7, and 10 of the ’772 patent, arguing that the claims were obvious in view of 27 references.

      [...]

      In addition, the Court pointed out that “one of the policy objectives behind the introduction of IPR proceedings was an intention to conserve judicial resources,” adding that “[a]llowing an IPR petitioner to have two bites at the apple by holding back certain obviousness combinations runs counter to both the clear language and purpose behind § 315.” Despite Breckenridge’s argument that IPR estoppel should not apply after a district court has held trial, the Court indicated that it did “not think the application of IPR estoppel is dependent on the order in which certain events occur,” and stated that “[t]he plain language of the statute does not indicate that Congress intended for there to be a time limitation upon the estoppel effect of a final written decision of an IPR.”

      On the issue of whether estoppel should apply to the 27 references put forward by Defendants at trial, Novartis argued that the 27 references all “could reasonably have been raised” in the IPR proceeding because they were used in the September 2016 trial which occurred before the reply due date in the IPR. The District Court therefore determined that Defendants were precluded from pursuing a § 103 invalidity argument as to claims 1-3 and 8-10 of the ’772 patent. However, because no IPR was instituted as to claim 7 of the ’772 patent, the Court determined that IPR estoppel did not apply for this claim. Nevertheless, Novartis had withdrawn its infringement contention as to claim 7 and had agreed to provide Par with a covenant not to sue on that claim. The Court therefore granted Novartis’ Motion for Estoppel with respect to claims 1-3 and 8-10 of the ’772 patent.

    • Trademarks

      • Beebe and Fromer: Study on the Arbitrariness of 2(a) Immoral or Scandalous Refusals

        For those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it, I recommend the fascinating and, honestly, fun, new study by Barton Beebe and Jeanne Fromer on the arbitrariness and unpredictability of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s refusals of trademarks that are deemed to be “immoral” or “scandalous.”

        The study, entitled Immoral or Scandalous Marks: An Empirical Analysis, has been posted on SSRN. This paper served as the basis for Professors Beebe and Fromer’s amicus brief in Iancu v. Brunetti.

        This study follows up on Megan Carpenter and Mary Garner’s prior 2015 paper, published in the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal and Anne Gilson LaLonde and Jerome Gilson’s 2011 article, Trademarks Laid Bare: Marks That May Be Scandalous or Immoral.

      • Dallas Mavericks Fail To Get Trademark For Its Star Player’s Nickname

        We’ve not been shy about pointing out that the recent practice by famous athletes of trademarking their nicknames all seems somewhat silly. The whole thing smacks of some combination of a money-grab over terms often not coined by the athletes themselves, and the kind of protectionism by the famous that is just all the rage these days. A recent incidence of this concerning the trademark application for Luka Doncic’s nickname carried with it a twist, however, in that the applicant was not by Doncic himself, but by the Dallas Mavericks, the team for which he plays. The thrust of our post on the matter was roughly: well, that seems kind of shitty. After all, NBA players tend not to play for the same teams forever, though it’s worth pointing out that the Mavericks pulled this off with Dirk Nowitzki, so there’s that. Still, should Doncic move to another team, what happens to that trademark on his nickname?

04.18.19

Links 18/4/2019: Ubuntu and Derivatives Have Releases, digiKam 6.1.0, OpenSSH 8.0 and LibreOffice 6.2.3

Posted in News Roundup at 2:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Entroware Linux laptops introduced with NVIDIA TRX and 9th Gen Intel CPUs

      UK-based computer company Entroware has updated its range of Linux laptops with 8th Gen Intel CPUs as well as NVIDIA RTX graphics. The companies Proteus, Athena, Zeus, and Helios have all received hardware updates in the form of with latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series graphics and 8th and 9th Gen Intel CPUs.

      The Athena, Helios, and Zeus Linux laptops received Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060/2070/2080 graphics cards featuring up to 8GB memory. Although the Zeus laptop can only be purchased with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card, while the Helios laptop now has a 16GB RAM option and the Proteus Linux laptop a 8GB RAM and 120GB SSD options.

    • USB Support In Chrome OS 75 Will Make Linux Incredibly Versatile

      Chrome OS Linux instances are on the cusp of becoming immensely more useful and versatile based on a recent change spotted by Keith I Myers in the beta-specific Developer Channel following an update to version 75.0.3759.4. That’s because while the update inevitably introduced some new bugs that will need to be squashed before a final release, it also included full support for USB devices on the Crostini side of the equation.

    • Old computer? Linux can give it a new lease on life

      The operating system is called Linux and was created in 1991 by Finnish student Linus Torvalds. He released Linux as open source which meant that any good programmer could tinker with it and improve upon the original. Today Linux is a popular free alternative for Windows and Mac computers and used by millions of people. The beauty is that Linux requires much less processing power and memory than Windows and is perfect for older computers.

  • Server

    • Deploying Services in Kubernetes

      In my opinion, services are the most potent resource provided in Kubernetes. A service is essentially a front-end for your application that automatically re-routes traffic to available pods in an evenly distributed way. This automation is a relief for administrators because you no longer have to specify exact IP addresses or hostnames of the server in the client’s configuration files. Having to maintain this while containers are being moved, shifted and deleted would be a nightmare.

    • The Future of Cloud Providers in Kubernetes

      Approximately 9 months ago, the Kubernetes community agreed to form the Cloud Provider Special Interest Group (SIG). The justification was to have a single governing SIG to own and shape the integration points between Kubernetes and the many cloud providers it supported. A lot has been in motion since then and we’re here to share with you what has been accomplished so far and what we hope to see in the future.

    • Pod Priority and Preemption in Kubernetes

      Kubernetes is well-known for running scalable workloads. It scales your workloads based on their resource usage. When a workload is scaled up, more instances of the application get created. When the application is critical for your product, you want to make sure that these new instances are scheduled even when your cluster is under resource pressure. One obvious solution to this problem is to over-provision your cluster resources to have some amount of slack resources available for scale-up situations. This approach often works, but costs more as you would have to pay for the resources that are idle most of the time.

      Pod priority and preemption is a scheduler feature made generally available in Kubernetes 1.14 that allows you to achieve high levels of scheduling confidence for your critical workloads without overprovisioning your clusters. It also provides a way to improve resource utilization in your clusters without sacrificing the reliability of your essential workloads.

    • Understanding Anthos: Google’s multi-cloud bid to define the next 20 years of enterprise IT

      In response, Google has brought to market a multi-cloud-enabling platform called Anthos, which it claims can help enterprises containerise their applications so they can run in the Amazon and Microsoft public clouds, as well as traditional on-premise datacentre environments, with minimal modifications.

      [...]

      “Once a platform is high quality and open and gets traction, it actually stays around for a long time,” he said. “So Linux will last another 20 years because, unless [the underlying] hardware deeply changes, it’s a good solution and continues to be a good solution. If Anthos is high quality and broadly adopted, it will last for 20 years.”

      Hölzle added: “This is a natural successor to Linux. If you pick Linux as your operating system, you can pick any hardware below and any software above because pretty much any software runs on this.”

    • Red Hat: Give Everyone the Data They Need, When They Need It
  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 526: Ionic

      Ionic Framework is the free, open source mobile UI toolkit for developing high-quality cross-platform apps for native iOS, Android, and the web—all from a single codebase. Build with intuitive UI components that accelerate app development, and can be deployed virtually anywhere.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 805
    • The Xfce Surprise + Entroware Ares Review | Choose Linux 7

      Jason leaves the warm embrace of GNOME and finally tries Xfce for 24 hours. What happened took him by surprise!

      Then we dive into some hardware talk about the latest All-In-One Linux PC from Entroware, which packs in a lot of quality for the price. But are there any downsides?

  • Kernel Space

    • ZFS On Linux 0.8.0 RC4 Up For Testing WIth TRIM, Native Encryption, Direct I/O

      The ZFS On Linux (ZoL) crew released version 0.8-RC4 of their Linux file-system port today as the newest pre-release for this massive feature update.

      ZFS On Linux 0.8 is shaping up to be a massive update with native encryption capabilities, direct I/O, sequential scrub, device removal, Python 3 compatibility work for Pyzfs, pool checkpoints, and other work introduced in earlier test releases.

    • Rethinking race-free process signaling

      One of the new features in the 5.1 kernel is the pidfd_send_signal() system call. Combined with the (also new) ability to create a file descriptor referring to a process (a “pidfd”) by opening its directory in /proc, this system call allows for the sending of signals to processes in a race-free manner. An extension to this feature proposed for 5.2 has, however, sparked a discussion that has brought the whole concept into question. It may yet be that the pidfd feature will be put on hold before the final 5.1 release while the API around it is rethought.
      The fundamental problem being addressed by the pidfd concept is process-ID reuse. Most Linux systems have the maximum PID set to 32768; if lots of processes (and threads) are created, it doesn’t take a long time to use all of the available PIDs, at which point the kernel will cycle back to the beginning and start reusing the ones that have since become free. That reuse can happen quickly, and processes that work with PIDs might not notice immediately that a PID they hold referred to a process that has exited. In such conditions, a stale PID could be used to send a signal to the wrong process. As Jann Horn pointed out, real vulnerabilities have resulted from this problem.

      A pidfd is a file descriptor that is obtained by opening a process’s directory in the /proc virtual filesystem; it functions as a reference to the process of interest. If that process exits, its PID might be reused by the kernel, but any pidfds referring to that process will continue to refer to it. Passing a pidfd to pidfd_send_signal() will either signal the correct process (if it still exists), or return an error if the process has exited; it is guaranteed not to signal the wrong process. So it would seem that this problem has been solved.

    • Making slab-allocated objects movable

      Memory fragmentation is a constant problem for memory-management subsystems. Over the years, considerable effort has been put into reducing fragmentation in the Linux kernel, but almost all of that work has been focused on memory management at the page level. The slab allocators, which (mostly) manage memory in chunks of less than the page size, have seen less attention, but fragmentation at this level can create problems throughout the system. The slab movable objects patch set posted by Tobin Harding is an attempt to improve this situation by making it possible for the kernel to actively defragment slab pages by moving objects around.
      Over the course of normal operation, the kernel allocates (and sometimes frees) vast numbers of small objects in memory. The slab allocators are designed to make these allocation operations efficient; they allocate whole pages, then parcel out the smaller objects from there. Sets of pages (“slabs”) are set aside for objects of a fixed size, allowing them to be efficiently packed with a minimum of overhead and waste. Linux users can choose between three slab allocators: the original allocator (simply called “slab”), SLUB (the newer allocator used on most systems), and SLOB (a minimal allocator for the smallest systems).

      For a window into how the allocator on a given system is working, one can look at /proc/slabinfo. On your editor’s system, for example, there are currently 338,860 active dentry cache entries, each of which requires an object from the slab allocator. A dentry structure is 192 bytes on this system, so 21 of them can be allocated from each full page. Thus, a minimum of 16,136 pages are needed to hold these objects; on the system in question, 16,461 are actually used for that purpose. There are thus over 300 pages allocated beyond what is strictly needed, which is actually a relatively low level of overhead; it can get a lot worse.

    • Managing sysctl knobs with BPF

      “Sysctl” is the kernel’s mechanism for exposing tunable parameters to user space. Every sysctl knob is presented as a virtual file in a hierarchy under /proc/sys; current values can be queried by reading those files, and a suitably privileged user can change a value by writing to its associated file. What happens, though, when a system administrator would like to limit access to sysctl, even for privileged users? Currently there is no solution to this problem other than blocking access to /proc entirely. That may change, though, if this patch set from Andrey Ignatov makes its way into the mainline.
      The use case that Ignatov has in mind is containerized applications that, for one reason or another, are run as root. If /proc is mounted in the namespace of such a container, it can be used to change sysctl knobs for the entire system. A hostile container could take advantage of that ability for any of a number of disruptive ends, including perhaps breaking the security of the system as a whole. While disabling or unmounting /proc would close this hole, it may have other, unwanted effects. This situation leads naturally to the desire to exert finer-grained control over access to /proc/sys.

      In recent years, one would expect such control to be provided in the form of a new hook for a BPF program, and one would not be disappointed in this case. The patch set adds a new BPF program type (BPF_PROG_TYPE_CGROUP_SYSCTL) and a new operation in the bpf() system call (BPF_CGROUP_SYSCTL) to install programs of that type. As can be inferred from the names, these programs are attached by way of control groups, so different levels of control can be applied in different parts of the system.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Move Data to the Cloud with Azure Data Migration[Ed: The Linux Foundation promotes Microsoft today, linking to a longtime Microsoft booster, Simon Bisson, to help Microsoft and the NSA. Was this included in the membership fees of Microsoft?]
      • Network Service Mesh Project Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        Network Service Mesh should not be confused with Istio, which is a different open source effort that is providing a service mesh that can work in cloud native environments, including the Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Istio is an increasingly popular approach for service mesh, that now has multiple commercial vendors supporting it and providing their own supported implementations.

        With a service mesh, networking connectivity and security policies are managed and deployed in a fabric that can span multicloud environments.

        Networking in Kubernetes can be achieved with different approaches, including the use of the Container Networking Interface (CNI), which enables plugins to different networking technologies and vendor hardware. Network Service Mesh does not require users to have a new version of Kubernetes or a specific Container Networking Interface (CNI) plugin.

      • Fluentd Graduates From Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        Fluentd has become the sixth project to graduate from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), following in the footsteps of Kubernetes, Prometheus, Envoy, CoreDNS and containerd.

        Fluentd is also one of the latest project to graduate from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

    • Graphics Stack

      • More Icelake Graphics Fixes Are On The Way With The Linux 5.2 Kernel

        Intel’s open-source developers sent in another pull request this morning to DRM-Next of additional feature material they are planning on having in the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel.

        Already for this next kernel in previous pull requests they staged the Elkhart Lake graphics support, promoted Gen11 / Icelake out of being experimental graphics along with other Gen11 graphics fixes, and a variety of other fixes and low-level improvements.

      • Stable Steam Client Gets Vulkan Pipeline Collection, Better NTFS, Steam Play Fixes

        On Wednesday night Valve issued their latest stable Steam client update and carries much of the work we’ve seen out of their recent beta releases.

        This Steam client update is notable for Linux users in that Steam Play configuration settings are now exposed in Big Picture Mode, the important fix for 0-byte downloads / missing data files for Steam Play titles, Steam Overlay issues, automatic update issues with these titles relying upon Proton, and other Steam Play bugs.

      • GLAMOR Sees More Improvements For What Will Eventually Be X.Org Server 1.21

        We haven’t been seeing as much GLAMOR activity these days but then again the pace of X.Org Server development has certainly slowed up in recent years. GLAMOR as a reminder allows for X.Org Server 2D acceleration to happen in a generic manner via OpenGL / GLES and has been a common area for improvement.

        There hasn’t been much to report on GLAMOR’s development in recent months with it generally working out well already on X.Org Server 1.20, at least for desktop systems with modern OpenGL drivers. Eric Anholt of Broadcom on Wednesday landed the latest GLAMOR code into X.Org Server Git.

    • Benchmarks

      • Ubuntu 19.04 Radeon Linux Gaming Performance: Popular Desktops Benchmarked, Wayland vs. X.Org

        Leading up to the Ubuntu 19.04 release, several premium supporters requested fresh results for seeing the X.Org vs. Wayland performance overhead for gaming, how GNOME Shell vs. KDE Plasma is performing for current AMD Linux gaming, and related desktop comparison graphics/gaming metrics. Here are such benchmarks run from the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” while benchmarking GNOME Shell both with X.Org and Wayland, Xfce, MATE, Budgie, KDE Plasma, LXQt, and Openbox.

        Using a Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card with the stock Ubuntu 19.04 components were used for this desktop graphics/gaming benchmark comparison. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with the Linux 5.0 kernel, Mesa 19.0.2, and X.Org Server 1.20.4 as the most prominent components for this comparison. GNOME Shell 3.32.0, Xfce 4.12, MATE 1.20.4, KDE Plasma 5.15.4, Budgie, LXQt 0.14.1, and Openbox 3.6.1 are the prominent desktop versions to report. KDE Plasma with Wayland wasn’t tested since on this system I wasn’t able to successfully start the session when selecting the Wayland version of Plasma from the log-in manager. The Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card was running from the common Core i9 9900K used by many of our graphics tests with the ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard, 16GB of RAM, Samsung 970 EVO 256GB NVMe SSD, and a 4K display.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 2019 Toulouse [KDE] PIM sprint report

        There were a number of those, the most important ones being about food, of course.
        Among the topics of lesser importance: turning some PIM libraries into KF5 frameworks (that’s just their way to dump more work on me, clearly… but it also means a lot of cleanup work for Volker, first), outreach to the Plasma Mobile PIM team, how to increase the number of attendees for this kind of sprint, how to make it easier to start contributing to KDE PIM, how to blog more often about progress.

        In terms of the actual work done, the list is quite long, here is my view on things.

      • Some theming fixes to arrive with Plasma 5.16

        One of the things which makes Plasma so attractive is the officially supported option to customize also the style, and that beyond colors and wallpaper, to allow users to personalize the look to their likes. And designers have picked up on that and did a good set of custom designs (store.kde.org lists at the time of writing 454 themes

      • Qt 5.9.8 Released

        Qt 5.9.8 is released today. As a patch release Qt 5.9.8 does not add any new functionality, but provides security fixes and other improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.9.7, the new Qt 5.9.8 contains multiple security fixes, updates to some of the 3rd party modules and close to 20 bug fixes. In total there are around 130 changes in Qt 5.9.8 compared to Qt 5.9.7. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.9.8.

      • digiKam 6.1.0 is released

        Dear digiKam fans and users, after the first digiKam 6 release published in February 2019, we received lots of user feedback to consolidate this important stage of this project started 2 years ago. We are proud to quickly announce the new digiKam 6.1.0, with plenty of new features and fixes.

      • KDE: Applications 19.04

        The KDE community is happy to announce the release of KDE Applications 19.04.

        Our community continuously works on improving the software included in our KDE Application series. Along with new features, we improve the design, usability and stability of all our utilities, games, and creativity tools. Our aim is to make your life easier by making KDE software more enjoyable to use. We hope you like all the new enhancements and bug fixes you’ll find in 19.04!

      • KDE Applications 19.04 Released
      • KDE Applications 19.04 Available for all Distros Through the Snap Store
      • Kubuntu 19.04 is released today
      • KDE Applications 19.04 Open-Source Software Suite Has Been Officially Released
      • KDE Applications 19.04 Released With Many Dolphin Improvements, Better KMail & Konsole
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Shell & Mutter 3.32.1 Released With Many Fixes

        While missing the GNOME 3.32.1 point release that shipped last week, GNOME Shell and Mutter today experienced their 3.32.1 updates with a variety of fixes.

        GNOME Shell 3.32.1 fixes avatar scaling on the login screen, fixes the Alt+Esc switcher, multiple desktop zoom fixes, supporting stick-to-finger workspace switch overview gestures, and a variety of other fixes and clean-ups.

      • GNOME Shell 3.32.1
      • Mutter 3.32.1
  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

      • At Least 27% Of Gentoo’s Portage Can Be Easily LTO Optimized For Better Performance

        entooLTO is a configuration overlay for Gentoo’s overlay to make it easy to enable Link Time Optimizations (LTO) and other compiler optimizations for enabling better performance out of the Gentoo packages. GentooLTO appears to be inspired in part by the likes of Clear Linux who employ LTO and other compiler optimization techniques like AutoFDO for yielding better performance than what is conventionally shipped by Linux distributions. The GentooLTO developers and users have wrapped up their survey looking at how practical this overlay configuration is on the massive Portage collection.

        The initial GentooLTO survey has been going on since last October and they have collected data from more than 30 users. The survey found that of the Gentoo Portage 18,765 packages as of writing, at least 5,146 of them are working with the GentooLTO configuration.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Tumbleweed Snapshots Deliver Curl, Salt, FFmpegs Packages Updates

        Mozilla Firefox had a minor release of version 66.0.3 in the latest Tumbleweed 20190415 snapshot. The browser addressed some performance issues with some HTML5 games and provided a Baidu search plugin for Chinese users and China’s Internet space. The command-line tool for transferring data using various protocols, curl 7.64.1 fixed many bugs and added additional libraries to check for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) support. The update of libvirt 5.2.0 dropped a few patches and added several new features like Storage Pool Capabilities to get a more detailed list XML output for the virConnectGetStoragePoolCapabilites Application Programming Interface (API) and libvirt also enabled firmware autoselection for the open-source emulator QEMU. The newest salt 2019.2.0 package in Tumbleweed enhanced network automation and broadened support for a variety of network operating systems, and features for configuration manipulation or operational command execution. Salt also added running playbooks to the 2019.2.0 release with the playbooks function and it includes an ansible playbooks state module, which can be used on a targeted host to run ansible playbooks, or used in an orchestration state runner. The snapshot was trending at a 95 rating at the time of publishing this article, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

      • My Kind of SUSE Support

        Another SUSECON has come and gone, and what an event it was! If you follow us on social media, you’ve seen the amazing, informative and inspiring keynote speakers, pictures of the great parties and videos of people from all over the globe who share our enthusiasm for open source.

      • Operating SUSE Cloud Application Platform for the Swiss Federal Government

        The recent SUSECON in Nashville had hundreds of great sessions, including 11 on SUSE Cloud Application Platform. The one I was most looking forward to was by our partner, Adfinis SyGroup AG, telling their early adopter’s story about implementing SUSE Cloud Application Platform for the Swiss Federal Government. In addition to attending their session, I was able to sit down with Nicolas Christener (CEO/CTO) and Lucas Bickel (Software Engineer) and have a long conversation on about it.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora vs Ubuntu – Differences and Similarities

        Two of the most popular (yet different) Linux distros are Fedora and Ubuntu. There are quite a lot of differences and similarities between the two. For beginners, they may seem the same or very similar, but read our comparison and you’ll learn more about Fedora and Ubuntu and how they correlate to each other.

      • Stories from the amazing world of release-monitoring.org #4

        The Future chamber was lit by hundreds of candles with strange symbols glowing on the walls. In the center of the chamber stood I, wearing the ceremonial robe and preparing for the task that lies before me.

        Somebody opened the doors, I turned around to see, who that could be. “Oh, a pleasant surprise, traveler. Stand near the door and watch this, you will love it.” I focused back to my thoughts and added. “Today I will show you the future that is waiting for this realm, but first we need to see current situation to understand the changes.”

      • What syslog-ng relays are good for

        While there are some users who run syslog-ng as a stand-alone application, the main strength of syslog-ng is central log collection. In this case the central syslog-ng instance is called the server, while the instances sending log messages to the central server are called the clients. There is a (somewhat lesser known) third type of instance called the relay, too. The relay collects log messages via the network and forwards them to one or more remote destinations after processing (but without writing them onto the disk for storage).A relay can be used for many different use cases. We will discuss a few typical examples below.
        Note that the syslog-ng application has an open source edition (OSE) and a premium edition (PE). Most of the information below applies to both editions. Some features are only available in syslog-ng PE and some scenarios need additional licenses when implemented using syslog-ng PE.

      • Rafał Lużyński: New Japanese era

        1 December 2017 the Emperor of Japan Akihito officially announced that he would abdicate on 30 April 2019. From 1 May his successor Naruhito will rule which will also begin a new era in the Japanese calendar. This is rather unusual event because so far emperors ruled until their death. Obviously, this made the moment of the era change difficult to predict. The emperor’s decision will help the country prepare for the change.

        Although the Gregorian calendar (the same as in many countries around the world) is known and used in Japan, the traditional Japanese calendar is also used with the years counted from the enthronement of an emperor. Each period of an emperor’s rule is called an era and has its own proper name. For example, the current era is named Heisei (平成), at the time of writing we have 31 year of Heisei era.

        On 1 April, one month before the beginning of the new era its name was announced. It will be named Reiwa (令和). As we know it we can adapt computers and other devices displaying dates automatically.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • First Look: Ubuntu 19.04: What’s New? [Video]

            Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ is (very nearly) here, serving as latest version of the Ubuntu operating system — but what’s changed?

            Well, honestly: not much. The Disco Dingo dances to a subtle beat, favouring modest evolution over dramatic dance floor revolution.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ Has Arrived: Downloads Available Now!

            Unlike Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, this will not be supported for 10 years. Instead, the non-LTS 19.04 will be supported for 9 months until January 2020.

            So, if you have a production environment, we may not recommend upgrading it right away. For example, if you have a server that runs on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – it may not be a good idea to upgrade it to 19.04 just because it is an exciting release.

            However, for users who want the latest and greatest installed on their machines can try it out.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Released As A Big Linux Desktop Improvement Thanks To GNOME 3.32

            The Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” has been officially released as the latest non-LTS, six-month installment to Ubuntu Linux.

            Ubuntu 19.04 on the desktop front is a big step forward thanks to the use of GNOME 3.32. GNOME 3.32 has turned out superb and offers better performance, better Wayland support, CPU/GPU handling improvements, fractional scaling for HiDPI displays, and many other improvements.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 comes refreshed with the Linux 5.0 kernel

            The heart of the Linux desktop beats on with the latest release of Canonical’s Ubuntu distribution: Ubuntu 19.04. But, in addition, the server version comes ready with the latest cloud and container tools.

            Now, if you’re using Ubuntu in production, you probably should stick with the Long Term Support Ubuntu 18.04. After all, it comes with ten years of support. But there’s a lot of tempting goodness in Disco Dingo, Ubuntu 19.04′s playful moniker.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) released

            Codenamed “Disco Dingo”, 19.04 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition
            of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a
            high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at
            work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs.

            The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 5.0 based Linux kernel,
            our default toolchain has moved to gcc 8.3 with glibc 2.29, and we’ve
            also updated to openssl 1.1.1b and gnutls 3.6.5 with TLS1.3 support.

          • Ubuntu Linux 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ is finally available for download

            Christmas. Thanksgiving. Ubuntu release day. What do those three things have in common? They are days that cause many people to get excited. Back in the day, computer users would get excited about a new version of Windows too, such as Windows 95, XP, and 7 to name a few. Since Windows 8, however, Microsoft’s new operating systems are hardly a reason for celebration. New versions of Ubuntu, the extremely popular Linux-based operating system, does pique the interest of many, including yours truly.

            Today, Linux users around the world should celebrate, as Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” is finally here! Following the Beta release, the stable version is now available for download. Keep in mind, version 19.04 is not LTS (Long Term Support), meaning it is only supported until January 2020.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Is Now Available to Download

            Six months in development, the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) opertating system is finally here and you can download it right now for Desktop and Server, as well as all official flavors, including Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, and Ubuntu Studio.

            The Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) release is powered by the most recent Linux 5.0 kernel series and ships with some of the latest software releases and GNU/Linux technologies, including the GNOME 3.32, MATE 1.22, and KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environments, LibreOffice 6.2 office suite, and Mozilla Firefox 66 web browser.

          • Disco Dingo brings usual Ubuntu trademark tweaks

            Ubuntu is now under the control of this platoon and I expect discipline. It’s understood that the barracks will be visited by Major Update today, so FAAAAALL IN!

            Now, we’ve had a dossier from Commander Shuttleworth which gives details of exactly what you can expect during Major Update’s visit.

            Firstly, let’s deal with cypher execution. This is a .04 release. That means it’s not Long Term Supported, but rather the most cutting edge offering yet from Ubuntu.

          • Xubuntu 19.04 Is Ready With To Provide Its Updated Lightweight Xfce Desktop Experience

            While it may not seem like a big release with Xfce 4.14 having yet to materialize, the Xubuntu developers have been doing a fine job providing a nice upgrade with Xubuntu 19.04 for those appreciating a lightweight, GTK-based desktop environment built around Ubuntu.

            Xubuntu 19.04 is available today as part of the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” launch and it ships with the very latest Xfce package releases, new wallpapers/artwork, GIMP has been re-added to the ISO after a four year hiatus, LibreOffice Impress now ships on their ISO, and various settings changes. Most notably though is just all of the latest Xfce packages released over the past six months on the road towards Xfce 4.14.

          • Disco Dingo fever: Ubuntu 19.04 has an infrastructure bent, snappier GNOME and another stupid name

            Pull on those flares and perch atop your most precipitous platforms – Canonical has emitted Ubuntu 19.04, aka “Disco Dingo”, with its sights set firmly on infrastructure.

            Although, as this is not a Long Term Support (LTS) version, enterprises are likely to hold off a while – the Dingo is only getting support until January 2020. If you need LTS, then Ubuntu recommends sticking with 18.04 LTS instead.

            However, if you cannot wait to get your hands on the new shiny, there are all manner of toys in the box with which to play.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Released With Plenty Of Features, Download Link

            Ubuntu 19.04 is officially available out for the public. Ubuntu 19.04 will be supported for 9 months until January 2020. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with the latest GNOME desktop 3.32.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Released: Download For Linux 5.0, GNOME 3.32 And More Features

            Ubuntu 19.04 comes with its fair share of significant changes. So, let’s discuss some of the important ones. Most of these changes are related to the default Ubuntu Desktop version that ships with GNOME shell.

          • What’s New In Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo)

            Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) will be released today. Read on if you want to see what new features and improvements are included with this new Ubuntu release.

            This Ubuntu version is supported until January 2020. For a longer supported release, use Ubuntu 18.04 LTS instead, which is supported until April 2023.

          • Xubuntu 19.04: The Exhaustive Update

            Xubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” is just around the corner. It features numerous updates and an updated snapshot of Xfce 4.14 development. If you want to see all the changes, you’ve come to the right place!

          • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Final Release

            Let’s rip that band-aid off and get this over quickly. Ubuntu MATE 19.04 is shipping with MATE Desktop 1.20. Albeit, the latest maintenance release of MATE Desktop 1.20 with some of the bug fixes and new features from MATE Desktop 1.22 included. In fact, the version of MATE Desktop being shipped in 19.04 is derived from the same MATE packages that will feature in the upcoming Debian 10 (Buster) release.

            You may be wondering why we’re not shipping MATE Desktop 1.22? The answer, stability. MATE Desktop 1.22 introduces some underlying API changes in core components and while all first party MATE Desktop applications are compatible with the changes and completely stable, some third party applications are not. Some third party applications are big crashers now and we’ve not been able to fix them in time.

          • 15 Things I Did Post Ubuntu 19.04 Installation

            Ubuntu 19.04, codenamed “Disco Dingo”, is well on its way. I’ve been on Ubuntu 19.04 since its first Alpha, and this has been a rock solid release as far I’m concerned. Changes in Ubuntu 19.04 are more evolutionary though, but availability of the latest Linux Kernel version 5.0 is significant. New wallpapers are pretty great too.

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 16 April 2019

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team

          • Flavours and Variants

            • A New Snapshot is now here for Feren OS 64-Bit and 32-Bit (Cinnamon)!

              It’s been 3 months since the last Snapshot, so… if you don’t know what that means: It calls for a New Feren OS Snapshot, and it’s now released for the 64 Bit Architecture and the 32 Bit Architecture… To also celebrate this, this snapshot brings forth a whole bunch of improvements and more importantly changes to make the experience even better than before!
              This release comes with a serious set of changes and improvements over the January 2019 Snapshot, most being significant and others being too insignificant to be properly listed here. This announcement post is a summary of most of these changes.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ecuador: Immediately release software developer Ola Bini

    As an evidence, the General Prosecutor presented a number of digital devices, such as laptops, iPads, iPods, USB cables, and encrypted USB data storage devices, literature as well as travel patterns and payments for Internet services.

    ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the arrest and illegal detention of Ola Bini is part of a crackdown against the community of developers who build digital security technology tools which enable Internet freedoms and secure communication online.

  • Enterprises Are Driving The Adoption Of Open Source: Red Hat Report

    While ‘open source’ may still be an unknown term among the masses, the enterprise world has gone full monty with open source.

    I have not met a single enterprise customer that doesn’t use open source. In fact, we are reaching a point where people are not using the term open source as much, as that’s the way the default way to write software.

    I recall my interview with the former Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO, Sam Ramji, who said that within the next five years, we may not even use the term open source. That’s actually already happening.

  • Zstd 1.4 Brings Even Better Compression / Decompression Performance

    The engineers at Facebook maintaining Zstandard “Zstd” as a speedy real-time compression algorithm debuted version 1.4.0 on Tuesday with some notable improvements.

    Zstd 1.4 stabilizes its advanced API, which allows finer tuning of compression/decompression parameters for advanced use-cases. Exciting us the most out of the new Zstandard is continuing to evolve the compression and decompression performance.

  • VLC media player may be returning to Huawei handsets

    Now, it appears that the Huawei P30 range has access to download VLC from the Play Store, which either suggests that VideoLAN is working towards reinstating the app, or that it just hasn’t got round to updating the Play Store block to cover the new phone yet. It’s still blocked on older models.

  • Events

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 Labs: Emerging technology roadmap

      Red Hat Summit 2019 is rocking Boston, MA, May 7-9 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Everything you need to know about the current state of open source enterprise-ready software can be found at this event. You’ll find customers talking about their experiences leveraging open source in their solutions, creators of open source technologies you’re using, and hands-on lab experiences relating to these technologies.

      This hands-on appeal is what this series of articles is about. In previous articles, we looked at labs focusing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Integration and APIs, and cloud-native app development. In this article, we’ll look at labs in the “Emerging Technology” track.

      The following labs can be found in the session catalog online, by searching on title or filtering on “instructor-led labs” and “emerging technology.”

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 Track Guide: Emerging Technology

      From optimizing existing IT infrastructure to executing on their digital transformation goals, enterprises have a lot to think about – especially when emerging technologies may soon be disrupting entire industries. In our annual Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook, we asked customers what they are keeping an eye on in 2019. Blockchain, edge computing and developer productivity tools are top three. In other words, it’s all about security, data insights and application development in a world where developers rule the school.

    • Khmer Translation Sprint 3
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Chris H-C: Distributed Teams: A Test Failing Because It’s Run West of Newfoundland and Labrador

        When Firefox starts up the first time, it doesn’t know where it is. And it needs to know where it is to properly make a first guess at what language you want and what search engines would work best. Google’s results are pretty bad in Canada unless you use “google.ca”, after all.

        But while Firefox doesn’t know where it is, it does know is what timezone it’s in from the settings in your OS’s clock. On top of that it knows what language your OS is set to. So we make a first guess at which search region we’re in based on whether or not the timezone overlaps a US timezone and if your OS’ locale is `en-US` (United States English).

        What this fails to take into account is that United States English is the “default” locale reported by many OSes even if you aren’t in the US. And how even if you are in a timezone that overlaps with the US, you might not be there.

      • Fluent 1.0: a localization system for natural-sounding translations

        Fluent is a family of localization specifications, implementations and good practices developed by Mozilla. It is currently used in Firefox. With Fluent, translators can create expressive translations that sound great in their language. Today we’re announcing version 1.0 of the Fluent file format specification. We’re inviting translation tool authors to try it out and provide feedback.

      • Mark Surman: Getting crisper about ‘better AI’

        As I wrote a few weeks back, Mozilla is increasingly coming to the conclusion that making sure AI serves humanity rather than harms it is a key internet health issue. Our internet health movement building efforts will be focused in this area in the coming years.

        In 2019, this means focusing a big part of our investment in fellowships, awards, campaigns and the Internet Health Report on AI topics. It also means taking the time to get crisper on what we mean by ‘better’ and defining a specific set of things we’d like to see happen around the politics, technology and use of AI. Thinking this through now will tee up work in the years to come.

        We started this thinking in an ‘issue brief’ that looks at AI issues through the lens of internet health and the Mozilla Manifesto. It builds from the idea that intelligent systems are ultimately designed and shaped by humans — and then looks at areas where we need to collectively figure out how we want these systems used, who should control them and how we should mitigate their risks. The purpose of this brief is to spark discussions in and around Mozilla that will help us come up with more specific goals and plans of action.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • Mozilla reacts to European Parliament plenary vote on EU Terrorist Content regulation

        As the recent atrocities in Christchurch underscored, terrorism remains a serious threat to citizens and society, and it is essential that we implement effective strategies to combat it. But the Terrorist Content regulation passed today in the European Parliament is not that. This legislation does little but chip away at the rights of European citizens and further entrench the same companies the legislation was aimed at regulating. By demanding that companies of all sizes take down ‘terrorist content’ within one hour the EU has set a compliance bar that only the most powerful can meet.

        Our calls for targeted, proportionate and evidence-driven policy responses to combat the evolving threat, were not accepted by the majority, but we will continue to push for a more effective regulation in the next phase of this legislative process. The issue is simply too important to get wrong, and the present shortfalls in the proposal are too serious to let stand.

      • Mark J. Wielaard: Valgrind 3.15.0 with improved DHAT heap profiler

        Julian Seward released valgrind 3.15.0 which updates support for existing platforms and adds a major overhaul of the DHAT heap profiler. There are, as ever, many refinements and bug fixes. The release notes give more details.

        Nicholas Nethercote used the old experimental DHAT tool a lot while profiling the Rust compiler and then decided to write and contribute A better DHAT (which contains a screenshot of the the new graphical viewer).

      • Valgrind 3.15 Released With Overhauled DHAT Profiler

        Valgrind 3.15 has been released, the programming utility famous for catching memory leaks and helping with memory debugging/profiling.

        Valgrind 3.15 most notably overhauls DHAT, their Dynamic Heap Analysis Tool. DHAT looks at how programs are using heap allocations and is able to identify possible leaks, excessive turnovers, excessive transients, useless/underused allocations, and blocks with inefficient layouts.

      • A better DHAT

        DHAT is a heap profiler that comes with Valgrind. (The name is short for “Dynamic Heap Analysis Tool”.) It tells your where all your heap allocations come from, and can help you find the following: places that cause excessive numbers of allocations; leaks; unused and under-used allocations; short-lived allocations; and allocations with inefficient data layouts. This old blog post goes into some detail.

        In the new Valgrind 3.15 release I have given DHAT a thorough overhaul.

        The old DHAT was very useful and I have used it a lot while profiling the Rust compiler. But it had some rather annoying limitations, which the new DHAT overcomes.

        First, the old DHAT dumped its data as text at program termination. The new DHAT collects its data in a file which is read by a graphical viewer that runs in a web browser. This gives several advantages.

  • Databases

    • SQLite Release 3.28.0
    • SQLite 3.28 Released With More Feature Additions, Performance Enhancements

      SQLite 3.28 is now the latest version of this widely-used, embed-friendly cross-platform database library.

      As is the case for most SQLite releases, new features and performance enhancements are the principle changes. SQLite 3.28 presents enhanced window functions, enhancements to its TCL interface, various CLI improvements, new API additions, security improvements to its tokenizer, more robust handling against corrupt database files, and various fixes.

  • LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 6.2.3

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.3, the third bug and regression fixing release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family, targeted at tech-savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

      LibreOffice’s end users are helped by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all of these resources available.

      LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • LibreOffice 6.2.3 Office Suite Released with More Than 90 Bug Fixes

      LibreOffice 6.2.3 is here about a month after the release of LibreOffice 6.2.2 to add another layer of bug fixes and improvements to various of the components included in the beloved open source office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide. LibreOffice 6.2.3 contains a total of 92 changes to make your LibreOffice experience more stable and reliable.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenSSH 8.0 released

      This release contains mitigation for a weakness in the scp(1) tool
      and protocol (CVE-2019-6111): when copying files from a remote system
      to a local directory, scp(1) did not verify that the filenames that
      the server sent matched those requested by the client. This could
      allow a hostile server to create or clobber unexpected local files
      with attacker-controlled content.

      This release adds client-side checking that the filenames sent from
      the server match the command-line request,

      The scp protocol is outdated, inflexible and not readily fixed. We
      recommend the use of more modern protocols like sftp and rsync for
      file transfer instead.

    • OpenSSH 8.0 released

      OpenSSH 8.0 has just been released. It will be available from the
      mirrors listed at http://www.openssh.com/ shortly.

      OpenSSH is a 100% complete SSH protocol 2.0 implementation and
      includes sftp client and server support.

      Once again, we would like to thank the OpenSSH community for their
      continued support of the project, especially those who contributed
      code or patches, reported bugs, tested snapshots or donated to the
      project. More information on donations may be found at:

      http://www.openssh.com/donations.html

    • OpenSSH 8.0 Released – Addresses SCP Vulnerability, New SSH Additions

      Theo de Raadt and the OpenBSD developers maintaining OpenSSH today unveiled OpenSSH 8.0.

      OpenSSH 8.0 does have an important security fix if you use scp for copying files to/from remote systems. Up until now when copying files from remote systems to a local directory, SCP was not verifying the filenames of what was being sent from the server to client and that could allow a hostile server to create or clobber unexpected local files with attack-controlled data regardless of what file(s) were actually requested for copying from the remote server.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Gnuastro 0.9 released

      I am happy to announce the 9th stable release of GNU Astronomy
      Utilities (Gnuastro).

      Gnuastro is an official GNU package consisting of various command-line
      programs and library functions for the manipulation and analysis of
      (astronomical) data. All the programs share the same basic
      command-line user interface (modeled on GNU Coreutils). For the full
      list of Gnuastro’s library, programs, and a comprehensive general
      tutorial (recommended place to start using Gnuastro), please see the
      links below respectively:

      https://www.gnu.org/s/gnuastro/manual/html_node/Gnuastro-library.html

      https://www.gnu.org/s/gnuastro/manual/html_node/Gnuastro-programs-list.html

      https://www.gnu.org/s/gnuastro/manual/html_node/General-program-usage-tutorial.html

      Many features have been added and Gnuastro has become much more stable
      with the many bugs that were found and fixed (see [1], below). The most
      interesting new feature may be that Gnuastro now also installs scripts
      (with this naming convention: `astscript-*’). Since Gnuastro’s
      programs are designed to be highly modular, they are relatively
      low-level. With this new feature, it is now very easy to include
      common higher-level operations within Gnuastro also, for example to
      call multiple programs together, or use a single program’s outputs in
      a special way. With version 0.9, only one script is installed (as
      described in [1]), but because of their high-level nature, we expect
      many more to be added soon. If you commonly run several Gnuastro
      programs together for a certain operation, please share it with us so
      we add it as a script for everyone to use.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Is Open Source Part of Your Search Stack?

      We are now seeing a new trend in the industry: product vendors integrating with selected open source projects to deliver specific capabilities, along with a licensed proprietary commercial platform that delivers the user experience. This lets software developers utilize the best open source technology under the hood for specific functions, along with smaller set of code that delivers the user experience and capabilities.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Best Programming Tools for Tutoring Kids

      Have you ever noticed how easily children use TVs, tablets, and other smart devices? It used to surprise me how quick kids are to find their way on smart devices not any longer because I now understand that such operations will be like their second nature because it is the era they have been born into – technology. In light of this information, it is never too early to start introducing them to computing and programming concepts.

      The world’s advancement is partly dependent on technology and you can never tell how useful the skills they develop from playing programming-inclined games and reading related material will be to them.

    • Red Hat Developer Toolset 8.1 Beta now available

      Red Hat Developer Toolset augments Red Hat Enterprise Linux with the latest, stable versions of GCC that install alongside the original base version.

    • Red Hat Software Collections 3.3 Beta: New and updated components

      Red Hat Software Collections supply the latest, stable versions of development tools for Red Hat Enterprise Linux via two release trains per year. We are pleased to introduce three new and two updated components in this release, Red Hat Software Collections 3.3 Beta.

    • Red Hat Extensions for Microsoft Visual Studio Code receive 3.8 million installs

      Since the introduction of open source more than 20 years ago, software development has undergone significant shifts. Open source development has enabled new programming languages (see Go, Rust, etc.); and as a result, IDEs that are designed to be used with multiple languages are increasingly useful. In addition, enterprises can feel mounting pressure to compete in the digital economy, which can increase developer requirements to produce more microservices and cloud-native applications – and doing it faster. The ability for developers to optimize use of their favorite tools can be essential towards improving developer productivity.

    • Tutorial: Text Classification in Python Using spaCy
    • Sum the factorial of a list object with python
    • Reverse a number with Python
    • Selenium Using Python: All You Need to Know
    • Introduction to Generators in Python
    • Catalin George Festila: Update python modules of 3.73 version.
    • Testing metrics thoughts and examples: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT with pytest-play

      In this article I’ll share some personal thoughts about test metrics and talk about some technologies and tools playing around a real example: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT collecting test metrics.

      By the way the considerations contained in this article are valid for any system, technology, test strategy and test tools so you can easily integrate your existing automated tests with statsd with a couple of lines of code in any language.

      I will use the pytest-play tool in this example so that even non programmers should be able to play with automation collecting metrics because this tool is based on YAML (this way no classes, functions, threads, imports, no compilation, etc) and if Docker is already no installation is needed. You’ll need only a bit of command line knowledge and traces of Python expressions like variables["count"] > 0.

    • Python’s dynamic nature: sticking an attribute onto an object
    • How to Work With a PDF in Python

      The Portable Document Format or PDF is a file format that can be used to present and exchange documents reliably across operating systems. While the PDF was originally invented by Adobe, it is now an open standard that is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). You can work with a preexisting PDF in Python by using the PyPDF2 package.

    • Positional-only parameters for Python

      Arguments can be passed to Python functions by position or by keyword—generally both. There are times when API designers may wish to restrict some function parameters to only be passed by position, which is harder than some think it should be in pure Python. That has led to a PEP that is meant to make the situation better, but opponents say it doesn’t really do that; it simply replaces one obscure mechanism with another. The PEP was assigned a fairly well-known “BDFL delegate” (former BDFL Guido van Rossum), who has accepted it, presumably for Python 3.8.

    • A backdoor in a popular Ruby gem

      Finding ways to put backdoors into various programming-language package repositories (e.g. npm, PyPI, and now RubyGems) seems like it is becoming a new Olympic sport or something. Every time you turn around, there is a report of a new backdoor. It is now apparently Ruby’s turn, with a new report of a remote-execution backdoor being inserted, briefly, into a popular gem that is installed by some sites using the Ruby on Rails web-application framework.

      The bootstrap-sass gem provides a version of the Bootstrap mobile-centric JavaScript library for Sass environments. It can be easily added to web sites, so it is included in many. As with much of the web-application development today, these kinds of dependencies are often picked up automatically, built into cloud or container images, and deployed into production with little or no human supervision. Unfortunately, bootstrap-sass was backdoored by persons unknown in late March.

      The backdoor was discovered quickly, less than a day after the release was made, according to a timeline in a Snyk blog post about the flaw. Version 3.2.0.2 of bootstrap-sass gem was removed from the RubyGems repository, presumably by the malicious actor(s), sometime prior to March 26. That was done to cause users to pick up a new version, 3.2.0.3, that was published on RubyGems on March 26. It contained the backdoor.

    • Qbs 1.13 released

      We are happy to announce version 1.13.0 of the Qbs build tool. This is the last version to be released under the auspices of the Qt Company, but certainly not the least.

      Qbs projects can now make use of pkg-config modules. Syntax-wise, the same dependency mechanism as for Qbs’ own modules is used. For instance, on a typical Linux machine with an OpenSSL development package installed, the following is enough to let a Qbs project build against it…

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Elsevier’s Presence on Campuses Spans More Than Journals. That Has Some Scholars Worried.

      Scholars are beginning to discuss the idea of Elsevier-as-monolith at conferences and in their research. Not only are librarians and researchers speaking openly about the hefty costs of bulk subscriptions to the company’s premier journals, but they’re also paying attention to the products that Elsevier has acquired, several of which allow its customers to store data and share their work.

    • A College President Stands Up for Academic Freedom

      What happens when university students call on authority figures to censor students or staff at institutions of higher education? At Yale such students have been awarded prizes, at the University of Missouri they’ve been successful in forcing administrators to resign, at Claremont they were able to force their president to implement a long list of demands, and at Evergreen State College a throng of students were allowed to take control of the campus while harassed faculty sought refuge off-campus. At other colleges around America, and even on campuses in the U.K., Canada and Australia, university administrators have met illiberal student mobs with a parade of mealy-mouthed platitudes and prostrations. This pattern of weakness has been dismaying for all people who value academic freedom and open inquiry. This week, however, a line has been drawn by David Yager, President of Philadelphia’s University of Arts (UArts). In response to students calling for the censorship of Camille Paglia—one of the most admired humanities scholars in the world—he articulated a full-throated defence of intellectual freedom, showing administrators of supposedly superior universities what real leadership looks like.

  • Hardware

    • Intel says it will exit the 5G phone business as Apple and Qualcomm strike multiyear deal

      It’s likely Intel’s decision here was what prompted Apple and Qualcomm’s decision to settle — which came as quite a surprise since it happened just as lawyers were presenting opening arguments at the latest courtroom trial that began yesterday in Southern California. But it’s unclear when Intel came to this decision, or when it informed Apple, and Intel declined to comment. Either way, phone manufacturers like Apple will need to look elsewhere for their 5G radios now, and that means Intel just ceded that business to Qualcomm.

  • Security

    • State-sponsored actor targets Mideast, North Africa using DNS hijacking

      A new cyber threat campaign that is claimed to be targeting public and private entities, including national security organisations in the Middle East and North Africa, has been discovered by Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group.

      Researchers Danny Adamitis, David Maynor, Warren Mercer, Matthew Olney and Paul Rascagneres said in a detailed blog post that the campaign, which they had christened Sea Turtle, had kicked off probably in January 2017 and was continuing.

    • Cisco: These are the flaws DNS hijackers are using in their attacks

      Cisco has warned that state-backed hackers are attempting to manipulate domain name systems (DNS) by using a combination of spear phishing and a number of known software flaws.

      “DNS is a foundational technology supporting the internet. Manipulating that system has the potential to undermine the trust users have on the internet. That trust and the stability of the DNS system as a whole drives the global economy. Responsible nations should avoid targeting this system,” the Cisco Talos researchers said.

    • ‘Sea Turtle’ Campaign Focuses on DNS Hijacking to Compromise Targets

      For at least two years, a highly capable threat actor has been running a campaign that relied on DNS hijacking to reach their targets. In the operation, at least 40 public and private organizations in 13 countries have been compromised.

      The domain name system (DNS) is the service that allows us to access websites by typing domain names instead of IP addresses in a browser’s address bar. It translates the names into the numerical destination of the server hosting the web page we want to load.

      Access to DNS records enables an attacker to replace the addresses of a target’s name servers so that they point to their own infrastructure. Once in control of the name servers responsible for handling requests for IP addresses associated with web domains, the threat actor can direct victims to content on malicious servers.

    • The wave of domain hijackings besetting the Internet is worse than we thought

      The report was published Wednesday by Cisco’s Talos security group. It indicates that three weeks ago, the highjacking campaign targeted the domain of Sweden-based consulting firm Cafax. Cafax’s only listed consultant is Lars-Johan Liman, who is a senior systems specialist at Netnod, a Swedish DNS provider. Netnod is also the operator of i.root, one of the Internet’s foundational 13 DNS root servers. Liman is listed as being responsible for the i-root. As KrebsOnSecurity reported previously, Netnod domains were hijacked in December and January in a campaign aimed at capturing credentials. The Cisco report assessed with high confidence that Cafax was targeted in an attempt to re-establish access to Netnod infrastructure.

    • New Windows Zero-Day Vulnerability Grants Hackers Full Control Over PCs [Ed: The NSA already had these permissions. Now everyone has these.]

      According to the latest Kaspersky Lab Report, a Windows Zero-Day vulnerability is serving as a backdoor for hackers to take control of users’ PCs.

      The latest exploit utilizes a use-after-free attack and has a technical name CVE-2019-0895. The exploit is found in win32k.sys and grants hackers Local Privilege meaning they’re able to access resources usually outside of users’ capabilities.

    • New zero-day vulnerability CVE-2019-0859 in win32k.sys
    • AP Exclusive: Mysterious operative haunted Kaspersky critics

      He also asked Giles to repeat himself or speak louder so persistently that Giles said he began wondering “whether I should be speaking into his tie or his briefcase or wherever the microphone was.”

      “He was drilling down hard on whether there had been any ulterior motives behind negative media commentary on Kaspersky,” said Giles, a Russia specialist with London’s Chatham House thinktank who often has urged caution about Kaspersky’s alleged Kremlin connections. “The angle he wanted to push was that individuals — like me — who had been quoted in the media had been induced by or motivated to do so by Kaspersky’s competitors.”

    • Feds: Saint Rose grad used ‘killer’ device to fry computers

      In 2016, College of Saint Rose graduate assistant Vishwanath Akuthota said he believed there was a “lot of opportunity” for him at the school.

      On Monday, federal prosecutors said he took advantage of a different kind of opportunity — access to campus — when he destroyed dozens of computers at a cost of more than $50,000.

    • Student Uses “USB Killer” To Fry $58,000 Worth of Computers
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • I Made a Promise to Assange if this day ever came I would Fight for Him

      Anyone who has followed WikiLeaks for as long as I have knows that, if there ever was a time to fight for Assange, it is now.

      I made a promise not only to myself but to him as well a long time ago that, if this day ever came, that I would fight against any attempts to bring him to America.

      I really hope that everyone, despite what they think of him as a person, can look beyond the personality and understand what is at stake here for the future of journalism, the right to know about wrongdoing of powerful entities, such as humans, or their husks of an authority.

    • Sell Out: How Corruption, Voter Fraud and a Neoliberal Turn Led Ecuador’s Lenin to Give Up Assange

      The images of six Metropolitan police officers dragging Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London have provoked rage by citizens around the world. Many have warned that his extradition to the US for trial on conspiracy charges – and possibly much more if federal prosecutors have their way – will lead to the criminalization of many standard journalistic practices. These scenes were only possible thanks to the transformation of Ecuador’s government under the watch of President Lenin Moreno.

      Since at least December 2018, Moreno has been working towards expelling Assange from the embassy. The Ecuadorian president’s behavior represents a stunning reversal from the policies of his predecessor, Rafael Correa, the defiantly progressive leader who first authorized Assange’s asylum back in 2012, and who now lives in exile.

      While Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Jose Valencia, blamed his government’s expulsion of Assange on the Australian journalist’s “rudeness,” the sell out is clearly a byproduct of Moreno’s right-leaning agenda.

  • Finance

    • Africa’s Amazon Is Set for a New York IPO as Online Retail Takes Off

      Less than 1 percent of retail sales in Jumia’s African footprint are conducted online compared with almost 24 percent in China, the company said in the filing, citing Euromonitor International data. That makes the continent ripe for internet sellers as more Africans adopt smartphones and get access to mobile broadband. Jumia’s revenue jumped by almost 40 percent last year to 130.6 million euros ($147.3 million).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Is America’s media divide destroying democracy?

      In some ways, the talk about Americans trapped in news echo chambers may be exaggerated. That’s because the people who routinely bemoan the other side’s “fake news” are also the most dedicated partisans – and a relatively small share of the population. Yet this doesn’t mean biased or distorted information has little effect.

    • Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends, leaked documents show

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News.

      The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook’s trove of user data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over companies it partnered with.

      In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps.

    • 15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook

      Then he shifted to his next idea of a global menace: Google and Facebook. “Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” he said. “The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position … Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered.”

    • London cops switch off wifi in the tube to make it harder for climate protesters to organise

      London’s climate protesters are organised under the banner of Extinction Rebellion (previously), one of the world’s most effective and important climate change action groups. 300 Extinction Rebellion protesters have been arrested in London this week, as they have shut down “main roads, bridges, and Tube stations.” Extinction Rebellion’s demands include zero emissions by 2025.

    • UK police shut off Wi-Fi in London Tube stations to deter climate protestors

      The spokesperson says the shutdown is ongoing and would be “reviewed throughout the day.” They did not say exactly which stations were affected.

      Shutting down Wi-Fi at London Tube stations is an unusual move for the British Transport Police. It’s not clear to what degree it would stop climate protestors from coordinating, as the vast majority of DLR stations (the line targeted today by Extinction Rebellion) are above ground and have access to mobile networks.

      It’s also not clear what procedures police have to follow in order to effect a shutdown. A spokesperson for Virgin Media, the ISP that provides Wi-Fi in London Tube stations said only that the company had received an instruction from the police and had to comply.

    • 5 Stupid, Stupid Ways Social Media Is Destroying The World

      Ironically, the number of people visiting a site can destroy what made it popular in the first place.

    • Jack Dorsey Is Captain of the Twittanic at TED 2019

      Dorsey didn’t address any of these incidents specifically at TED. In fact, his answers lacked specificity overall. When he was asked pointed questions, he evaded them, as he often does. Rodgers asked him how many people are working on content moderation on Twitter—a number the company has never published, and Tuesday continued the vagueness streak.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Explained Why She’s Imposed “Little Rules” on Her Social Media Usage

      “I personally gave up Facebook,” Ocasio-Cortez shared, “which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook, and Facebook was my primary digital organizing tool for a very long time.” She said she still maintains some accounts and agreed that Facebook’s audience tends to skew older, before speaking more broadly about social media.

      “I actually think that social media poses a public health risk to everybody,” AOC said. “There are amplified impacts for young people, particularly children under the age of 3 with screen time. But I think it has a lot of effects on older people. I think it has effects on everybody: increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.”

    • On the eve of a contentious election, Twitter suspends the accounts of progressive activists

      Today, Alberta is having one of its bitterest, hardest-fought elections, with far-right/xenophobic elements on the upswing through the United Conservative Party, led by Jason Kenney, who has been awfully cavalier about the white nationalists in his party.

      On the literal eve of the election, Twitter suddenly — and without explanation — removed the accounts of many prominent progressive activists who’d been campaigning against the UCP.

    • Twitter suspends UCP critics before election

      “I feel like this is a way to silence some of the more vocal non-UCP supporters,” said Leung, who has expressed support on Twitter for NDP candidate Julia Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont, where he grew up.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Another month’s mental test for FB user jailed 10 years for insulting Islam

      Alister pleaded guilty before Sessions Court judge Jason Juga on March 8 to uploading offensive materials about Islam on social media.

    • TikTok Brings Chinese-Style Censorship to America’s Tweens

      The music video app owned by the Chinese startup Bytedance is like Facebook—but with a younger audience, more data mining, and different ideas about free speech.

    • UK gov’s porn block will now come into force on 15 July

      The so-called “porn block” was originally set to arrive in April 2018, then at the end of 2018, and most recently on 1 April this year. Likely after Googling “porn block problems,” the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) failed to meet this seemingly-unironic April Fools’ target.

      We now have yet another launch date that will likely also be missed, with the DCMS confirming on Wednesday that the bongo-site-block will be rolled out nationwide from 15 July.

    • Porn sites must age-verify British users starting July 15

      The mandate applies to porn sites globally. Sites that fail to comply with the rules will be put on an official blacklist of non-compliant porn sites. British ISPs will be required to block access to these sites, and payment processors will be required to deny them payment services.

    • To hell with model code of conduct, says Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut

      He went on to say that his blood boils when someone tries to “intimidate” him with the model code of conduct.

    • German court dismisses comedian’s case against Merkel

      Following the broadcast, a furious Erdogan demanded Böhmermann be prosecuted under Germany’s “lese majeste” law, which forbids insulting foreign heads of state. The criminal investigation against him was dropped in late 2016, but a separate civil court case banned certain “defamatory” verses of the poem.

      German lawmakers scrapped the “lese majeste” law altogether in 2017.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 1.5M Users’ Contacts Uploaded By Facebook Without Their Consent

      As part of its habit (which seems to die hard), Facebook has been found uploading contact details of around 1.5 million users without their knowledge while it asked users of his or her email passwords.

      The new revelation suggests that since 2016, Facebook has been “unintentionally” accumulating users’ contacts, and uploading them onto the platform when users sign up.

    • Facebook confirms it’s working on an AI voice assistant for Portal and Oculus products

      The first of the those two divisions is the AR/VR hardware group responsible for developing the Portal video chatting device, and that division now also includes the remnants of Facebook’s disbanded Building 8, a secretive division formerly run by former DARPA director and Google employee Regina Dugan, who left the company in late 2017. The second division is now known as Facebook Reality Labs, run by video game pioneer Michael Abrash, who became a Facebook employee by way of Oculus and now holds the title of chief scientist at the VR company.

      It seems the Facebook AI assistant is being jointly built by both teams, with Snyder seemingly holding positions at both divisions. Whatever the eventual purpose, it’s clear Facebook is treating its growing family of hardware devices as conduits for a shared vision for the future, one in which AI is layered throughout Facebook-owned platforms and not restricted to singular products.

    • Facebook is working on a voice assistant to rival Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri

      Facebook is working on a voice assistant to rival the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

    • Leaked docs suggest Zuckerberg gave his mates access to Facebook data

      4,000 pages of leaked company documentation from 2011-2015 show in a variety of formats that Facebook’s strategy involved using the power of that data in the way it dealt with partner organisations.

      Some companies were given preferential access to the Information Graph, whilst others were penalised with reduced access, that could potentially mean the difference between a service that works, and a service that doesn’t.

      In other words, rather than out-and-out sell access to the data, it has opted to drip feed it to companies it likes, as a reward for compliant behaviour, which is about as creepy as it gets.

    • Facebook Poised to Fight Disclosure of U.S. Privacy Assessments

      As part of a 2011 settlement settling charges that Facebook deceived users when it said they could keep their data private, the company had to submit to privacy assessments every other year for 20 years to document that it had enough controls to protect user data. Facebook hired PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to conduct the reviews. In three reports that the FTC has made public, with dozens of pages blanked out, PwC concluded the privacy program was working.

      Questions about the accuracy and thoroughness of those checkups have arisen amid a string of scandals and missteps in how the world’s largest social media site has been handling user data.

    • Public, Council Were in the Dark on Police Access to ‘Smart’ Streetlights

      City officials billed the streetlight sensors and cameras as a means of gathering atmospheric data and analyzing traffic and pedestrian flow to better understand the city’s infrastructure needs. The devices’ use as a crime-fighting tool never came up. But that’s what the approximately 3,000 cameras raised high above San Diego street corners have become.

      Since August, the San Diego Police Department has been accessing the raw video footage with permission from City Hall and using its contents in dozens of criminal investigations, as the U-T reported. Some of that footage could appear at a trial scheduled to begin later this month, according to police.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Shrouded in secrecy’: Saudi women activists due back in court

      He said that following her arrest Ms Hathloul had been taken to a secret detention facility near the maximum security prison of Dhahban in Jeddah. There, she told her family, she was taken down to a basement and subjected to waterboarding and electrocution.

      He named Saud al-Qahtani, a close confidant of the Saudi Crown Prince, as the man who oversaw her torture, allegedly laughing as he threatened to have her raped and murdered.

    • The Copenhagen Post

      The zones encompassed are Nørrebro/Nordvest, Tingbjerg, Urban Planen and Christianhavn, and the police measure will last until April 23.

    • DeepMind becomes the second Alphabet company to disband an AI ethics panel

      More crucially, delegates were concerned that Google and DeepMind couldn’t be completely independent, which created a risk to privacy.

    • Leaked Docs Show Qatari Charity Funds MB, Tariq Ramadan in Europe

      The spending serves Qatar’s political goal of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, analysts told the journalists in their accompanying documentary, a portion of which has been posted online. The Brotherhood aims to control people’s public and private lives, they said, and to obtain political power with the end goal of establishing their caliphate.

      Qatar Charity may be best known in the West for its funding of terrorist operations.

      French intelligence reported in 2013 that Qatar Charity funded an al-Qaida linked terrorist group in Mali called Ansar Dine. It also helped finance the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

      Qatar Charity has legitimized itself through partnerships with mainstream Western charities including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, the documentary said.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Bad bots now account for one in five internet traffic requests

      So-called ‘bad bots’ now account for one in five net requests – 20.4 per cent of internet traffic. That’s up 20 per cent in two years.

    • FCC chairman moves to block China Mobile from entering the US

      Senior FCC officials said that they believed China Mobile to ultimately be owned by the People’s Republic of China and, if supported in the US, could lead to Chinese government-led espionage on US consumers. The officials also said that the Commission will not be pursuing a mitigation agreement because of these threats and a lack of trust between both the US and China. China Mobile presented a possible mitigation agreement to the administration, but it was rejected by both the executive branch and the FCC.

    • Bendgate 2.0: Samsung’s $2,000 foldable phone is already breaking

      Since the Galaxy Fold folds in half, the flexible OLED display quickly forms a visible crease in the middle. People were worried about the durability of folding a display in half like this, and it looks like Steve Kovach of CNBC has experienced everyone’s worst fear: his Galaxy Fold display broke right along the fold crease—all the pixels in the folding area went black and the screen started flickering like crazy.

    • Galaxy Fold Is Suffering From The Most Obvious Issue – Broken Screen
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent Prior Art Inherency Requires More Than Mere Possibility

      A finding that prior art inherently disclosed elements of claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,802,310 was not supported by substantial evidence; the Federal Circuit therefore reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s conclusion that the ’310 patent was unpatentable as obvious. Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., No. 2018-1599 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 8, 2019). This precedential opinion arose from an inter partesreview (IPR) proceeding, but will be of interest to patent prosecutors, inasmuch as inherency is often used (and misused) by patent examiners.

    • Another Delayed Patent Eligibility Decision

      Once again, a district court in California urged parties to improve their pleadings before deciding patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In Kajeet v. Qustodio, CV18-01519 JAK (Feb. 28, 2019), the Central District of California granted, without prejudice, a motion to dismiss a complaint for patent infringement under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6).

      Plaintiff Kajeet, Inc. asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 8,712,371, 8,630,612, and 8,667,559, directed toward rule enforcement for mobile devices, against Defendant Qustodio, LLC. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), alleging that the claims of the asserted patents were ineligible under § 101. Defendant analogized the claims to those in Bascom Glob. Internet Servs., Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, arguing that the concepts embodied in the claims were well-known and conventional, failing the second part of the two-part Alice v. CLS Banktest. Plaintiff provided an expert declaration to support that the claims were directed to a technical improvement that would satisfy the second part of the Alice test.

    • Factual Dispute Precludes Summary Judgment on Alice / § 101 Motion

      Finding that competing expert declarations raised a factual question concerning whether claims recited an inventive concept, a Delaware magistrate judge found that a summary judgment motion for invalidity of claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,490,123 under 35 USC § 101 and the Mayo/Alice test should be denied. S.I.SV.EL. Societa ltaliana per lo Sviluppo Dell’Elettronica S.p.A v. Rhapsody International Inc., Civil Action No. 18-69-MN-CJB (March 12, 2019). A defense expert said that there was no novelty in an ordered combination recited in the claims, and the plaintiff’s expert said there was. This was enough for the court to deny the summary judgment motion.

      The ’123 patent is directed to “generating a user profile on the basis of playlists.”

    • PTAB: Derivatives Trading Patent Claim Passes Alice Test, Opinion Designated “Informative”

      The PTAB only very rarely designates a decision as “informative,” which it does according to a strictly defined “Standard Operating Procedure.” The “informative” designation means that, while the decision “is not binding authority,” it is deemed to “provide the Board’s general consensus on recurring issues and guidance to examiners, appellants, patent owners, or petitioners in areas where parties routinely misapply the law.”

      [...]

      As reflected by the fact that three-judge panel in Smith was actually split 2-1, one might question the “general consensus” that Smith is purported to represent. Nonetheless, the lesson here hardly need be stated – the PTAB has gone out of its way to state a broadening view of § 101 and patent-eligibility.

    • Attorney Fees for Suing on Patent that “Looks Like Alice”

      After dismissing a lawsuit alleging infringement of US Patent No. 9,569,755 (“Financial Management System”), Delaware’s Judge Richard Andrews has awarded attorney fees under Octane Fitness and 35 U.S.C. § 285, finding an exceptional case because claims of the ’755 patent were so clearly ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Mayo/Alice abstract idea test. Finnavations LLC v. Payoneer, Inc., Civil Action No. 1: 18-cv-00444-RGA and 1: 18-cv-00445-RGA (Mar. 18, 2019).

      [...]

      Some courts have awarded attorney fees against plaintiffs who asserted patents later found to be ineligible under § 101, where other courts have declined to award fees for Alice invalidity. Regardless, decisions such as this highlight that, even with the uncertainty that continues to attend patent-eligibility, some cases are clear cut.

    • Specification Provides Insufficient Structure for MPF Claim

      Plaintiff Nichia Corp.alleged infringement of United States Patents Nos. 7,901,959, 7,915,631, 8,309,375, and 7,855,092 by Defendant VIZIO Inc. After a claim construction hearing, VIZIO filed a motion for summary judgement which the court granted-in part and denied-in-part. This post addresses the Court’s grant of summary judgment for VIZIO finding claims 1 and 12 of the ‘092 patent to be indefinite under 35 U.S.C. §112(6) for lack of sufficient structure in the specification for the claim term “control unit.”

    • Radio over Internet Protocol (RoIP) is Patent-Eligible

      The District of Delaware recently denied a motion to dismiss based on lack of patent-eligible subject matter, under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, in claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,333,806 directed to two-way radio communications utilizing either a computer network or the Internet. RICPI Communications LLC, v. JPS Interoperability Solutions, Inc., No. 18-1507-RGA (D. Del. Mar. 18, 2019). The ‘806 patent was eligible because “the computer network or internet connection serve[d] as one claim element of a concrete system for two-way radio communication.” Additionally, “‘the particular arrangement of elements recited in the ‘806 patent improves the manner in which two-way radios may establish communication by allowing them to do so over a computer network.”

    • Courts Don’t Follow the PTO’s § 101 Patent-Eligibility Guidance so Why Should You?

      The Federal Circuit’s recent dicta in a non-precedential decision stating that it need not give deference to the USPTO’s 35 U.S.C. § 101 patent-eligibility guidance highlights the challenges faced by patent applicants. In Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, No. 2018-1218 (Fed. Cir. April 1, 2019), the court affirmed a District Court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based on invalidity of claims of US Patent Nos. 9,575,065 and 9,581,597, as “invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to an ineligible natural law.”

      The patent owner argued, among other things, that, under Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944), the District Court should have given “appropriate deference to subject matter eligibility guidance published by the PTO,” specifically “Example 29,” published on May 4, 2016. Judge Lourie, writing for the court, explained that

    • Prior to settlement, Apple got Qualcomm’s German fake patent injunction lifted: appeals court deemed it likely flawed

      Days before the sudden settlement between Apple and Qualcomm, a German appeals court had preliminarily annulled the latter’s most significant courtroom victory over the former, as I found out today. After months of briefing and in-depth analysis, the Oberlandesgericht München (Munich Higher Regional Court) granted a motion by Apple to stay the enforcement of a Germany-wide patent injunction Qualcomm had obtained from the Landgericht München I (Munich Regional Court). Apple had worked around that injunction anyway, and its effects were as minimal as they were short-lived. But the implications for patent enforcement in Germany–a sizable market in which injunctions have so far (change may be coming soon) been granted as a near-automatic legal remedy.

      Blogs are opinion platforms, and my outspokenness and willingness to make sometimes daring predictions position me as a particularly opinionated blogger on patent matters. In fact, patent professionals sometimes share my posts on LinkedIn saying that they disagree with my views but find useful information here–which is perfectly fine, and it would be a surprise if a former anti-software-patent campaigner’s positions were perfectly congruent with those of people whose job it is to prosecute or enforce patents.

    • Copyrights

      • DSM Directive Series #4: Article 17 obligations … in a chart

        One of the seemingly most complex -if nothing else, due to its length – provisions is what is now Article 17 (formerly, Article 13) of the DSM Directive, on “Use of protected content by online content-sharing service providers”.

      • EU Copyright Directive faces implementation battle on several fronts

        The European Council’s April 15 adoption of the EU Copyright Directive sets a two-year implementation deadline, while some member states remain opposed to the update

      • Demonoid Founder ‘Deimos’ is Believed to Have Passed Away

        The founder of Demonoid, one of the most iconic torrent trackers in history, is believed to have passed away. Deimos suddenly disappeared without a trace last summer. According to information reviewed by Demonoid’s staff, he was likely the victim of a tragic accident.

      • As the EU Copyright Directive was approved, Germany admitted it requires copyright filters, putting it on a collision course with the EU-Canada trade deal

        And right on cue, as soon as the Directive was passed, European Commissioners who’d argued for the Directive and insisted that filters would not be required changed their tunes, saying that filters would be inevitable. The French government — who were so committed to the Directive that they dropped their opposition to a Russian gas pipeline to get it passed — also immediately announced that they would pass a law mandating filters.

        Here’s where it gets weird and interesting: Back in 2016, Canada and the EU agreed to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a dirty-as-fuck gift to large corporations, incorporating an extensive and restrictive chapter on copyright and the internet as well as an Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause that gives corporations standing to sue governments to overturn laws that interfere with their profits.

        Guess what? CETA bans EU and Canadian governments from making tech companies liable for their users’ copyright infringements, [...]

      • Will the EU Parliament uphold or reject “terror filters” on April 17?

        The European Parliament will vote on its position on the terrorism regulation this week on Wednesday, 17 April. After this position is adopted, the next European Parliament will start trilogue negotiations with the Council, which has already rubber-stamped the Commission proposal, including mandatory upload filters.

        Call your MEPs (consult the list here) and ask them:

        1. Support the amendments proposed by Greens/EFA (Amendment 157), S&D (Amendment 160) and GUE (Amendment 164) to delete the strict one hour deadline

        2. Don’t support amendments which would undo the wins for a free internet by re-introducing upload filters or referrals!

        Due to the incredible pressure to pass this legislation before the European Parliament election, not even a debate on the proposal is planned. Time pressure is no reason to pass a law that has fundamental flaws and would be a threat to our fundamental rights online!

      • Top Film Director Sees Piracy as Most Successful Form of Distribution

        In many countries it can still be a challenge to access some films through legal channels. If that’s the case people can pirate them instead, legendary German film director Werner Herzog says. According to the movie industry veteran, piracy has been the most successful form of distribution worldwide.

      • Germany: Upload Filters Can Only Be Prevented “As Far As Possible”

        Much of the debate preceding the vote on the new EU Copyright Directive had proponents stating that since so-called “upload filters” weren’t explicitly mentioned in the text, opponents must be scaremongering to suggest they will become a reality. In a statement in the wake of Monday’s Council vote, Germany now says that not only are they “likely” but they can only be prevented “as far as possible.”

04.17.19

Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

Posted in News Roundup at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Entroware’s Linux laptops now available with up to Intel Core i9, NVIDIA RTX 2080

      UK-based Entroware sells a line of computers that ship with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, ranging from the 14 inch Orion, which sells for £550 ($720) and up to the 17 inch Helios mobile workstation, which goes for £1,700 ($2,220) and up.

      The company has just announced upgrades for several models, bringing support for up to a desktop-class 9th-gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics in the Helios model.

  • Server

    • Do We Have More Kubernetes Distributions Than We Need?

      Kubernetes itself—meaning the source code you can download from kubernetes.io—is not very useful on its own. Setting up a Kubernetes cluster using the source code would require you to compile the code and set up a server environment (or, in most cases, a cluster of servers) to host it, install it, configure it, set up tools to manage it and update it all on your own.

      That’s a lot of work, and it’s not a realistic way for most people to use Kubernetes. That’s why a number of companies have created Kubernetes distributions. The distributions provide not just a preconfigured version of Kubernetes itself, but also other important tools for installing and working with Kubernetes. Many distributions also include host operating systems. Some even give you hosting infrastructure in the form of IaaS in a public cloud.

      Kubernetes is not unique in spawning an ecosystem of distributions. The Linux kernel has done the same thing. So have other complex software platforms, inlcuding Spark, Hadoop and OpenStack.

    • Shuttleworth: OpenStack made mistakes, but Kubernetes not a replacement

      Pity OpenStack. Celebrating its 10th birthday this coming October, the open-source cloud was conceived as the future: the open-alternative to Jeff Bezos’ proprietary behemoth.

      A decade on and despite success among telcos and internal IT departments, OpenStack is now being mentioned in the same breath as Kubernetes – just not in a good way.

      There’s a burgeoning discussion as to whether it’s possible to wire a serverless cloud using open-source containers instead of OpenStack.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • A Year Later, Speculative Page Fault Code Revised For Possible Performance Benefits

      It’s been nearly one year already since the previous patch series working on speculative page faults for the Linux kernel were sent out for review. Fortunately, IBM’s Laurent Dufour has once again updated these patches against the latest code and sent them out for the newest round of discussions.

    • Linux 5.0.8

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.8 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.35
    • Linux 4.14.112
    • Linux 4.9.169
    • Support for Persistent Memory

      Persistent memory is still sort of a specialty item in Linux—RAM that retains its state across boots. Dave Hansen recently remarked that it was a sorry state of affairs that user applications couldn’t simply use persistent memory by default. They had to be specially coded to recognize and take advantage of it. Dave wanted the system to treat persistent memory as just regular old memory.

      His solution was to write a new driver that would act as a conduit between the kernel and any available persistent memory devices, managing them like any other RAM chip on the system.

      Jeff Moyer was skeptical. He pointed out that in 2018, Intel had announced memory modes for its Optane non-volatile memory. Memory modes would allow the system to access persistent memory as regular memory—apparently exactly what Dave was talking about.

      But Keith Busch pointed out that Optane memory modes were architecture-specific, for Intel’s Optane hardware, while Dave’s code was generic, for any devices containing persistent memory.

      Jeff accepted the correction, but he still pointed out that persistent memory was necessarily slower than regular RAM. If the goal of Dave’s patch was to make persistent memory available to user code without modifying that code, then how would the kernel decide to give fast RAM or slow persistent memory to the user software? That would seem to be a crucial question, he said.

    • Linux kernel-bypassing Quobyte plug-in goes with the TensorFlow for faster file access

      Linux-loving hyperscale types at Euro startup Quobyte have pushed out a plug-in for its Data Centre File System, used in HPC-style workloads, that enables TensorFlow apps to access its files directly instead of having to traipse through the Linux kernel.

    • Quobyte plugs in to Google’s TensorFlow

      HPC file system supplier Quobyte has added a plug-in for TensorFlow that by-passes the Linux kernel to speed machine learning.

      TensorFlow machine learning apps that apply inference and model training on servers with attached GPUs can use the plug-in to go direct to Quobyte files.

      Berlin-based Quobyte provides scale-out, parallel access, distributed Data Centre File System software, supporting file, object and block access, including S3 and HDFS. The software supports and optimises the use of NVMe, SAS and SATA SSDs and hard disk drives. The company said its software is self-healing and fault-tolerant.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLFW 3.3 Adds Vulkan macOS Support Via MoltenVK, Better HiDPI & Scaling

        GLFW is the traditionally OpenGL library (now also encompassing the Vulkan graphics API) that offers a basic API for the creation of windows/contexts/surfaces across software platforms. GLFW works for both desktop and mobile, various devices, and works across all major operating systems while being under the liberal Zlib license. GLFW 3.3 is now available with some exciting enhancements.

      • Intel’s New Iris Driver Gets Speed Boost From Changing The OpenGL Vendor String

        Following yesterday’s Intel Iris vs. i965 OpenGL benchmarks against Windows 10, there is already an optimization out of our latest testing as a result.

        Iris driver lead developer Kenneth Graunke of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center landed a change in Mesa 19.1 today to really help out the performance in at least Valve’s Portal game. In our benchmarks yesterday, Iris was coming in at 52 FPS to i965′s 69 FPS and Windows 10 at 75 FPS. With the quick change in Mesa Git today, Ken finds on at least his system to get 1.8x better Portal performance where Iris equates to being 3.86% faster than the i965 driver.

      • CLVK Still Making Progress As Experimental OpenCL Over Vulkan

        We’ve seen many efforts like DXVK that are mapping Direct3D atop Vulkan, efforts like Zink in getting OpenGL over Vulkan, and less popular but still progressing is getting OpenCL — at least a reasonable subset of it — working under Vulkan. That’s what the CLVK project is about and it’s been making more progress since we last looked at it on Phoronix.

        [...]

        Since last writing about CLVK, it’s picked up support for Talvos as a Vulkan emulator/interpreter for handling SPIR-V modules on the CPU and thus allowing CLVK to operate without a Vulkan-enabled GPU.

      • Mesa 19.1 Likely To See Radeon “RADV” Vulkan FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync Support

        Mesa 19.1 is now even more exciting as RADV’s co-lead, Bas Nieuwenhuizen has requested the Radeon Vulkan’s FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support be a blocker bug for this quarterly Mesa update.

        As explained last week, RADV’s FreeSync support has been held up by lacking a configuration system to selectively enable the functionality when not dealing with any compositor, multimedia program, or other applications where this variable rate refresh technology could intefere and to only enable FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync for full-screen games. That’s been the blocker while a patch has been available for flipping on VRR for RADV.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This Linux Article About Loving The Xfce Desktop Environment

      My Choose Linux co-host Joe Ressington swears by Xfce. He has no interest in eye candy. He simply wants to get his production work done. I also appreciate a distraction-free environment (like elementary OS), but I crave a bit of elegance and visuals that don’t bore me.

      Every time I looked at screenshots of Xfce, though — even from the official website — I was reminded of something from the days of Windows 2000. Grey. Archaic. Uninteresting. It struck me as as one of the few alternatives people with anemic PCs are forced to use. MATE is one of those alternatives, but it comes off as sharper and more modern despite also thriving on low-end hardware. Even if it is obsessed with the color green.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.12.3 Released

        Qt 5.12.3, the third patch release of Qt 5.12 LTS, is released today. While not adding new features, the Qt 5.12.3 release provides a number of bug fixes, as well as performance and other improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.12.2, the new Qt 5.12.3 provides almost 200 bug fixes. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.12.3.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Pre-Beta Run Through

        In this video, we are having a look at the pre-Beta version of KDE Plasma 5.16. It still have a few bugs but it is expected.

      • Qt Creator 4.9.0 released with language support, QML support, profiling and much more

        Yesterday, the team behind Qt released the latest version, Qt Creator 4.9.0, a cross-platform software development framework for embedded and desktop applications. This release comes with programming language support, changes to UI, QML support and much more.

      • Qt Creator hits 4.9 with ever-growing language skills

        Qt Creator 4.9 has been released, extending support for the language server protocol and improving diagnostics for C++ developers.

        The language server protocol was added in version 4.8 but can now work with document outlines, find usages and – using code actions – lets the language server suggest fixes or refactoring actions at a specific place in a piece of code. The custom highlighting file parser, meanwhile, has been replaced with KSyntaxHighlighting – the library also used in KDE.

        Another slew of changes improve C++ support, with – amongst other things – an option to format code instead of only indenting it, a tooltip button for copying and ignoring diagnostics, and an option to synchronise ‘Include Hierarchy’ with the current document.

      • Qt Creator 4.9 uses KSyntaxHighlighting

        As you can read in the official Creator 4.9.0 release announcement, Qt Creator now uses the KSyntaxHighlighting Framework for providing the generic highlighting.

        This is a nice step for the wider adoption of this MIT licensed part of the KDE Frameworks.

        And this is not just an one-way consumption of our work.

        The framework got actively patches back that make it more usable for other consumers, too, like Kate ;=)

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 130 released

        Just a couple of days after the release of IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 130, the next release is available. This is an emergency update with various bug fixes and a large number of security fixes.

      • Linspire Enterprise Server 2019 Released [Ed: Linspire still sending data to Microsoft]

        Today the PC / Opensystems development team is pleased to announce the release of Linspire Enterprise server, our high-performance solution to SMB customers who need constant uptime coupled with reliability, scalability, and flexibility. LES 2019 is well suited to web, application, file and print services; it can just as easily be deployed as a thin client server or virtual machine host. The LTS server kernel 4.18 will offer rock-solid for any workload you throw at LES 2019. Linspire Enterprise Server is part of our Linspire Enterprise Services offering which includes Linspire Embedded Desktop and Linspire Community Server.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Announcing Mageia 7 Beta 3

        Everyone at Mageia is very happy to get the final beta release before Mageia 7 out for testing! We all hope that this release builds on the quality of the previous two beta releases and that with the extra tests from the community will put Mageia 7 in a good place for the coming release candidate.

        There is still lots to be done before the final release, and the more tests that we can get, the better. There have been large updates to Qt and Plasma, as well as some other key components since beta 2, with the new artwork for Mageia 7 almost ready for integration too.

      • Mageia 7 Beta 3 Arrives With KDE Plasma 5.15.4 + Linux 5.0
    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo News: Nitrokey partners with Gentoo Foundation to equip developers with USB keys

        The Gentoo Foundation has partnered with Nitrokey to equip all Gentoo developers with free Nitrokey Pro 2 devices. Gentoo developers will use the Nitrokey devices to store cryptographic keys for signing of git commits and software packages, GnuPG keys, and SSH accounts.

        Thanks to the Gentoo Foundation and Nitrokey’s discount, each Gentoo developer is eligible to receive one free Nitrokey Pro 2. To receive their Nitrokey, developers will need to register with their @gentoo.org email address at the dedicated order form.

        A Nitrokey Pro 2 Guide is available on the Gentoo Wiki with FAQ & instructions for integrating Nitrokeys into developer workflow.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Kubernetes Cluster vs Master Node

        In Software engineering, a cluster resembles a group of nodes that work together to distribute the work load. Additionally clustering helps in fault tolerance, by having a cluster acting as a secondary (backup) to a primary cluster.

      • The Bright (green) Lights of Denver

        You may have read some of the release notes or press coverage from the recent release of OpenStack Stein, in which case you’ll know that Stein introduced multi-factor authentication receipts for Keystone. This really just completes the work that was originally begun in the Ocata release, making it easier to implement a challenge/response mechanism in your OpenStack environment. Multi-factor authentication is quickly becoming the norm in everything from free online email services, to social media sites and more – catching up with the security that most, if not all online banking services have been offering for some time now.

      • How Big is a Container, Really?

        One of the first questions in any discussion about cluster sizing tends to be “How many containers are you running?”. While this is a good data point (especially if you are pushing the scheduler to its limit) it doesn’t show the whole story.
        We tend to abstract out a container as this homogeneous building block that represents any workload.

        This abstraction has a lot of value for learning how containers work and how the system treats all workloads similarly (which is hugely valuable). However, it falls down when we start looking at planning our hardware requirements.

      • Two New Open Source Projects From SAP: Dan Lahl

        In this episode of Let’s Talk, Daniel Lahl, Vice President (Product Marketing) – SAP talks about the two new Open Source projects at SAP.

      • A Special Offer for SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems Early Adopters

        In my blog, “Is time running out for your SAP Linux support?”, I talked about SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications 11 SP4 soon reaching its March 31, 2019 end date for General Support. This date has passed. To maintain support you have a choice of either upgrading to a currently supported version or adding Long Term Service Pack Support (LTSS). But if you’re an early adopter of SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems, then it’s not just a matter of upgrading the Linux OS. You need to migrate your data from Big Endian to Little Endian format. Also, your data is still probably in an SAP HANA 1.0 database so you’ll also need to migrate to SAP HANA 2.0. All of this can take significant time and effort.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Cloud images, qemu, cloud-init and snapd spread tests

            I found myself wanting an official Debian unstable cloud image so I could use it in spread while testing snapd. I learned it is easy enough to create the images yourself but then I found that Debian started providing raw and qcow2 cloud images for use in OpenStack and so I started exploring how to use them and generalize how to use arbitrary cloud images.

          • Industrial & Embedded Linux: Looking Ahead

            I recently returned from an extended visit to Germany, where my colleagues and I kept busy attending conferences, visiting customers and partners. We travelled around the country, talking to many, many people at dozens of companies about embedded Linux. We confirmed existing trend data, and gained exciting new insights! Now that I’m back, I’ll summarize key takeaways here.

            We started off at Hannover Messe, the mother of all trade shows. Billed as ‘The world’s leading trade show for industrial technology,’ the attendees occupy every hotel, hostel and spare bedroom within 100 km of Hannover for the week. The booths themselves are massive; something to behold. I suspect the quickest path through all the halls would take hours of walking. We only scratched the surface, it was a tremendous experience!

            [...]

            Each time we explained the benefits of Ubuntu; our pedigree in the cloud, and the services we offer, including support, long-term maintenance and hardware certification. There was often a sense of strong alignment with the needs & wants being described to us, which was both gratifying and exciting! Lastly, some of the more forward-thinking companies were already planning for their futures managing containers and packages, they were pretty excited to hear about snapcraft.io.

          • 2 Ways to Upgrade Ubuntu 18.04/18.10 To Ubuntu 19.04 (GUI & Terminal)

            Ubuntu 19.04, codenamed Disco Dingo, will be released on April 18, 2019. This tutorial is going to you 2 ways to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 18.10 to 19.04. The first method uses the graphical update manger and the second method uses command line. Usually you use the graphical update manager to upgrade Ubuntu desktop and use command line to upgrade Ubuntu server, but the command-line method works for desktops too.

          • Upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 to Ubuntu 19.04 Directly From Command Line

            In the last article, I explained how to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 18.10 to Ubuntu 19.04. However, because Ubuntu 18.10 is stilled supported by the Canonical company, Ubuntu 18.04 users need to upgrade to 18.10 first and follow the same process to upgrade to 19.04. This tutorial will be showing you how to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 directly to Ubuntu 19.04 from command line, bypassing Ubuntu 18.10.

          • How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from 18.10, Right Now

            We’re a mere day away from the final, stable release of Ubuntu 19.04 — and based on the results of recent intentions poll, a titan-sized troupe of you plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 as soon as it arrives!

            But why wait? You can upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from Ubuntu 18.10 right now if you want.

            Sure, you’ll be a day or so early, and thus technically running the development version, but since the entire Ubuntu archive is in freeze, and there are no show-stopping issues affecting upgrades to report, it’s not a terrible idea.

            Just install any last minute updates that arrive and, voila, you’ll be on the GA build like the rest of the world.

            Of course, the main purpose of this post is to help those of you looking to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from 18.10 after the release is out on April 18.

            You don’t need to do a fresh install to run the latest (and I think greatest) version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system yet — no-sir!

          • ZFS Indications Have Us Already Eager For Ubuntu 19.10

            While Ubuntu 19.04 isn’t even coming out until tomorrow, the indications around Ubuntu desktop ZFS support and functionality likely debuting the next cycle has us already quite eager for the Ubuntu 19.10 release coming out in October.

            We’ve been anxiously clamoring for more details on the Ubuntu desktop ZFS plans as part of their new desktop installer initiative and much more than simply offering ZFS On Linux (ZoL) that they’ve been doing through their archive in recent years. In order to get this support ready before next year’s Ubuntu 20.04 Long Term Support release, they need to have the initial work ready for Ubuntu 19.10 to ensure sufficient testing pre-LTS cycle.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint Founder Calls for Better Developer Support

              Linux Mint is among the most popular and seemingly most easy to use Linux distributions. The Ubuntu-based distribution has built its loyal user base and has been growing ever since. However, the founder of Linux Mint seems to be burning out.

              In the latest blog post, Linux Mint founder Clement ‘Clem’ Lefebvre wrote that he didn’t enjoy the latest development cycle as two of the most talented developers have been away. The project couldn’t make the performance improvements it expected.

              “Boosting performance in the Muffin window manager hasn’t been, and still isn’t, straight forward,” he wrote.

            • One Year Leading Ubuntu Studio

              I hardly know how to describe this entire past year. If I had one word to describe it, that would be “surreal.”
              Just a little over a year ago, I answered a call to put together a council for Ubuntu Studio. The project leader at the time couldn’t commit the time to lead, and the project was failing. As someone who was using open source software for audio production at the time, and at the time using Fedora Jam, I saw Ubuntu Studio as too important of a project to let die. I just had no idea how dire the situation was, or how it had even ended up that way.
              With the release of 18.04 LTS Beta around the corner, I knew something had to be done, and fast. So, I jumped-in, feet first.
              Ubuntu Studio, as it turns out, was on life support. It hadn’t been worked on, save a few bugfixes here and there, for two years. Many considered it a dead project, but somehow, the plug never got pulled. I was determined to save it.
              I had many connections and sought a lot of advice. We got the council going, and since I was running the meetings, I became the chair. Then, I acted as the release manager. However, I wasn’t quite comfortable with signing-off on a release that would be supported for three years. I was advised by those already involved with the Ubuntu release team that it might be a good idea to have Ubuntu Studio 18.04 be a non-LTS. I presented this idea to the council, and they agreed.
              Ubuntu Studio 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” was released as a non-LTS. The community was unhappy with this decision since now that meant those that only use LTS, especially in professional applications, were feeling left out. Eventually we figured out a solution, but not until much later, and that became the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Survey says: Enterprise open source is inventing the future of software

    We don’t need to ask if enterprises are using open source. They are, and we know because we’re helping many of them with their open source journeys. But how do they think about open source, why do they choose it, and what do they intend to do next? Well, those are questions we wanted to pose to IT leaders—so we did. Today we’re excited to share our findings in a first-ever report conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by Red Hat, “The State of Enterprise Open Source.”

  • Red Hat survey finds we’re living in an open-source world [Ed: But Red Hat sold itself to a proprietary software company and had considered Microsoft also]

    Some people still insist open source and Linux are fighting a war against the evils of proprietary software. Actually, we won that war years ago. The latest Red Hat State of Enterprise Open Source report, based on 950 interviews with worldwide enterprise IT leaders, makes that crystal clear. Only a mere 1% of enterprises dismiss the importance of open-source software.

    [...]

    Historically, businesses turn to open source software because it’s cheaper: 33% of enterprise users count it’s lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as open-source’s chief benefit (but “enterprise open source is increasingly used not because it’s cheaper — though it often is — but because it’s genuinely better software.” And 29% turn to open source because it gives them access to the latest innovations. For example, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are all built almost entirely on open-source software.

    Right behind those, when asked what open source’s top benefits were, respondents pointed to better security, higher quality software, access to support, and the power to customize software.

    Yet another reason to embrace open source, according to a New York-based IT leader, was: “For us, this is our way to become more agile. That’s our biggest push. We don’t want dependency upon these proprietary companies. We want those shackles to be broken.” Simultaneously, “We still want support because we’re not ready to take off the guardrails.”

    On the other hand, security remains a concern: 38% of those surveyed identified security as the top barrier. That’s because, unless you keep on top of open-source code, you may miss security patches and fixes. The most well known such case was when Equifax exposed 143 million Americans’ credit data, thanks to not updating Apache Struts.

  • IoT development matures, according to Eclipse Foundation survey

    Internet of Things developers are focused on cloud platforms, home automation, and industrial deployments with most devices based on ARM, according to an Eclipse Foundation survey.

    Eclipse Foundation surveyed 1,700 developers and found that they are increasingly working on commercial IoT projects.

  • Open Source Is Important To 99% Enterprises, Red Hat Survey Finds

    For many enterprises, open source technologies are becoming an integral part of their businesses and the way they do things. Technology giants like Google and Microsoft are also acknowledging the power of open source — Google Cloud’s recent partnership with companies like Elastic, MongoDB, Redis Labs, Neo4j, and Confluent is a testament to the same.

    But what about the actual extent of this open source revolution? Is it limited to just a bunch of top-tier companies that get just enough press coverage to bring their open source endeavors into the limelight? Well, Linux giant Red Hat’s “The State of Enterprise Open Source” is here to answer some important questions.

  • What Is the State of Enterprise Open-Source Software?

    Open source has evolved over the past two decades into a cornerstone of the modern IT landscape.

    At the core of the open-source revolution is the concept of enterprise open source, which is software that is backed and supported in a way that makes it easier for enterprises to consume and use in a stable, predictable manner. One of the leading vendors in the enterprise open-source space has long been Red Hat, which has a growing list of enterprise open-source offerings, including its namesake Linux platform, developer, cloud and container offerings.

    On April 16, Red Hat released its annual State of Enterprise Open Source report, gauging the landscape for adoption and usage, based on 950 interviews with IT leaders worldwide. In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at some of the highlights of report.

  • The Ecuadorean Authorities Have No Reason to Detain Free Software Developer Ola Bini

    Hours after the ejection of Julian Assange from the London Ecuadorean embassy last week, police officers in Ecuador detained the Swedish citizen and open source developer Ola Bini. They seized him as he prepared to travel from his home in Quito to Japan, claiming that he was attempting to flee the country in the wake of Assange’s arrest. Bini had, in fact, booked the vacation long ago, and had publicly mentioned it on his twitter account before Assange was arrested.

    Ola’s detention was full of irregularities, as documented by his lawyers. His warrant was for a “Russian hacker” (Bini is neither); he was not read his rights, allowed to contact his lawyer nor offered a translator.

    The charges against him, when they were finally made public, are tenuous. Ecuador’s general prosecutor has stated that Bini was accused of “alleged participation in the crime of assault on the integrity of computer systems” and attempts to destabilize the country. The “evidence” seized from Ola’s home that Ecuadorean police showed journalists to demonstrate his guilt was nothing more than a pile of USB drives, hard drives, two-factor authentication keys, and technical manuals: all familiar property for anyone working in his field.

    Ola is a free software developer, who worked to improve the security and privacy of the Internet for all its users. He has worked on several key open source projects, including JRuby, several Ruby libraries, as well as multiple implementations of the secure and open communication protocol OTR. Ola’s team at ThoughtWorks contributed to Certbot, the EFF-managed tool that has provided strong encryption for millions of websites around the world.

    Like many people working on the many distributed projects defending the Internet, Ola has no need to work from a particular location. He traveled the world, but chose to settle in Ecuador because of his love of that country and of South America in general. At the time of his arrest, he was putting down roots in his new home, including co-founding Centro de Autonomia Digital, a non-profit devoted to creating user-friendly security tools, based out of Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

  • To Ola Bini, a Political Prisoner Caught Up in the Assange Debacle

    Dear Ola,

    The last time we had a long conversation, it was about the night. We were at a hotel in South America, where the ambient noise near your room was fairly loud. By ambient noise, I mean music. There was a band playing, a bar in motion, people happy for the evening. You said that it was impossible for you to sleep with noise. I asked if you ever considered a white noise machine. You laughed, saying that the white noise would bother you more than anything. We left it at that. You went to your room and probably stayed up all night, looking at the ceiling, thinking about the mysteries of the internet or of software, or else wondering about the long silences of the winter from your Swedish childhood.

    When word came that you had been removed from a flight by the Ecuadorian police on April 11 and that you were being held in detention, I thought immediately about how you would be able to sleep. I wondered where you had been detained and whether the cell would be noisy. Then, as news trickled out that you were not being charged, but merely held in the airport and interrogated, I thought about that band, the white noise machine, the laughter of the people. How far away that must seem as you sit now in a cell in Quito, Ecuador.

    You are not the first of my friends to be imprisoned over the past 12 months. The Bangladeshi photographer and intellectual Shahidul Alam spent 100 days in a Dhaka prison last year. Shahidul, a sensitive and decent man, had gone on television to say that his government had failed its population, particularly the young children who merely wanted to be safe as they walked to school. For his remarks, Shahidul was arrested, interrogated, and then jailed. His crime was simply to speak with honesty about the collapse of basic human behavior in our kind of societies.

  • Daniel Stenberg: One year in still no visa [Ed: Is the country which has just kidnapped Assange after Chelsea Manning used GNU WGet to download evidence of crimes blacklisting the developer of Curl?]

    One year ago today. On the sunny Tuesday of April 17th 2018 I visited the US embassy in Stockholm Sweden and applied for a visa. I’m still waiting for them to respond.

    My days-since-my-visa-application counter page is still counting. Technically speaking, I had already applied but that was the day of the actual physical in-person interview that served as the last formal step in the application process. Most people are then getting their visa application confirmed within weeks.

    Initially I emailed them a few times after that interview since the process took so long (little did I know back then), but now I haven’t done it for many months. Their last response assured me that they are “working on it”.

    Lots of things have happened in my life since last April. I quit my job at Mozilla and started a new at wolfSSL, again working for a US based company. One that I cannot go visit.

    During this year I missed out on a Mozilla all-hands, I’ve been invited to the US several times to talk at conferences that I had to decline and a friend is getting married there this summer and I can’t go. And more.

    Going forward I will miss more interesting meetings and speaking opportunities and I have many friends whom I cannot visit. This is a mild blocker to things I would want to do and it is an obstacle to my profession and career.

  • Platform9 Launches Open Source Kubernetes Tools

    SaaS-managed hybrid cloud company Platform9 has launched Klusterkit – a set of three open source Kubernetes tools. With these tools, organizations can deploy and operate production-grade Kubernetes clusters in air-gapped, on-premises environments.

    The three tools – etcdadm, nodeadm and cctl – could be used independently or in tandem:

    Adopted by Kubernetes Cluster Lifecycle SIG, etcdadm is a kubeadm-like command-line interface (CLI) that simplifies the operation of etcd clusters.

  • Leadership of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 Transitions to Red Hat

    OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java, one of the most widely-used programming languages for building enterprise-grade applications. In its role as steward of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 update releases, Red Hat will work with the community to enable continued innovation in Java.

    Red Hat has been a member of the OpenJDK community since 2007 and is one of the largest contributors to the project. Red Hat’s long-time Java technical lead, Andrew Haley, was appointed as project lead for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 in February 2019. He has been an active member of the OpenJDK governing board for seven years and, in this capacity, helps to guide the future direction of Java and OpenJDK.

    In addition to its work within individual OpenJDK communities, Red Hat leads the upstream development of Shenandoah, a high-performance garbage collector that is now part of OpenJDK 12.

  • Blender short film, new license for Chef, ethics in open source, and more news

    Spring, the latest short film from Blender Animation Studio, premiered on April 4th. The press release on Blender.org describes Spring as “the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits in order to continue the cycle of life.” The development version of Blender 2.80, as well as other open source tools, were used to create this animated short film. The character and asset files for the film are available from Blender Cloud, and tutorials, walkthroughs, and other instructional material are coming soon.

  • 6 alternatives to OpsGenie for managing monitoring alerts

    Now, if an issue comes up with any of this company’s products, the response team should act before the customer (and company) experiences negative effects. There won’t be much of a problem if the response team is immediately there to jump on the issue, but in case they are not, someone from the response team should notify them in some way to reduce the diameter of functional or possible financial losses.

    Here’s the problem. People are not able to notice and respond to issues all the time. If you send the response team an email or text message, there is a probability that no one on the team will see it before the issue causes significant financial loss. Also, the response team might already be receiving so many email alerts that even if they are available, they may find it difficult to spot the high-impact issues among the smaller ones. In this situation, you should send someone from the response team a distinct alert, such as making a phone call or messaging a pager. However, if you decide to call, you need to know who is actually available, otherwise you might have to call multiple people until you find the response team member who is ready to jump on a ringing phone at that very moment, which can take even longer if your call is at an odd time for their location.

    Instead, what you need is a tool that not only monitors your systems but also intelligently manages the alert process for the quickest results possible. A popular commercial option is OpsGenie, and in this article, we will talk about open source alternatives to this proprietary option.

  • Events

    • The introvert’s guide to Red Hat Summit

      Events like Red Hat Summit fill me with excitement and, admittedly, a bit of trepidation. Thousands of people, a schedule packed with informative and useful sessions, and opportunities to meet and talk with folks doing exciting work in open source sounds great. It also, well, sounds a bit exhausting if you’re an introvert. It doesn’t have to be, though, and Red Hat wants everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and able to fully enjoy the event. With that in mind, read on for some strategies and resources for success.

      Introverts aren’t (necessarily) misanthropes, we just tend to like smaller gatherings and less noisy and intense social situations. Even those can be fun, in limited doses. The thing about a large conference like Red Hat Summit, though, is that it’s a huge helping of people and activities turned up to 11. Don’t worry, you can still go and have a great experience, it just takes a little bit of planning.

    • Rounding out the list of Red Hat Summit keynotes [Ed: A summit led by Microsoft CEO’s (first in the list); Red Hat sold out.]

      For the last few months, we’ve been sharing the exciting and thought-provoking keynotes that you can look forward to at Red Hat Summit 2019. From hybrid cloud, containers and cloud-native app platforms to management, automation and more, customers, partners and technology industry leaders from around the world will come together for a high-energy week of innovation, education and collaboration.

      In our 14th year, we’re bringing you inspirational, educational and actionable content, industry-shaping news, and innovative practices from customers and partners from across industries. With just fours week to go, we’re proud to announce the last round of partners and customers who will be taking the stage in Boston, May 7-9.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Emacs finally gets Unicode-11.0-ready

      Unicode 11.0 has come to Emacs 26.2, which – although not the most recent edition lets devs using GNU’s text editor – at least lets devs get more creative with scripts and emojis.

      To reduce crashes, the new version includes a xft-ignore-color-fonts variable that in its standard setting will stop the editor loading colour fonts when using the X FreeType interface library. Setting it to nil will, however, let users access those fonts if needed.

      The movemail program from the GNU Mailutils is now set to be the default of mail-source-movemail-program, meaning it will be used even if it couldn’t be found when the editor was built. Adding the absolute file name of another executable will let users work with this instead.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Black Hole Image Has an Open Source Connection

      Two imaging libraries responsible for the image are fully open source.

      Last week the whole world was stunned by seeing what was unseen – a black hole. Scientists were able to create picture of a black hole named Messier 87 in the Virgo A galaxy. The black hole is more than 55 million light years away.

      The first image of a black hole is the outcome of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, which created a virtual telescope as big as earth by networking 8 ground-based telescopes. The telescopes generated more than five petabyte of data. Collecting data was the first part of the puzzle. The team of scientists used various algorithms to fill gaps in this data to be able to generate an image of the black hole.

  • Programming/Development

    • Is it a class or a function? It’s a callable!

      If you search course curriculum I’ve written, you’ll often find phrases like “zip function”, “enumerate function”, and “list function”. Those terms are all technically misnomers.

    • DIY System Monitoring, Part 1: Python

      This is an update to the original (several years old now) psutil and MongoDB for System Monitoring

    • Cogito, Ergo Sumana: PyCon NA, !!Con, and WisCon
    • Catalin George Festila: Using the ORB feature from OpenCV python module.
    • Real Python: Hands-on Python 3 Concurrency With the asyncio Module
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #364 (April 16, 2019)
    • Introducing our 2019 Keystone Sponsor: Microsoft! [Ed: PyCon is compromised. It sold out. More worryingly, it’s close to the Foundation, so Python as a whole is now at risk.]
    • Federico Mena-Quintero: Containing mutability in GObjects

      Traditionally, GObject implementations in C are mutable: you instantiate a GObject and then change its state via method calls. Sometimes this is expected and desired; a GtkCheckButton widget certainly can change its internal state from pressed to not pressed, for example.

      Other times, objects are mutable while they are being “assembled” or “configured”, and only yield a final immutable result until later. This is the case for RsvgHandle from librsvg.

      Please bear with me while I write about the history of the RsvgHandle API and why it ended up with different ways of doing the same thing.

    • Startup.py

      Someone recently asked how to permanently change the prompt in the Python interactive REPL. The answer is you can point the PYTHONSTARTUP environment variable at a Python file, and that file will be executed every time you enter the interactive prompt.

      I use this to import modules I often want to use, define helpers, and configure my command history.

    • This Week in Rust 282
    • US Schools Must Implement Coding Into Their Curriculum

      The integration of coding into a school’s curriculum has become all the more important with the advancement of technology.

      Despite an awareness for an increase in coding attainment, the implementation of computing and coding resources into classrooms has faced numerous challenges. In large part, this is due to a lack of engaging resources that support STEM learning in practical ways, according to Ricky Ye, CEO of DFRobot.

      “Recently, we have witnessed greater emphasis on STEM learning and as a result, more and more primary school are implementing coding into the curriculum however, it is essential to ensure that these classes are continued throughout secondary schools as well,” said Ricky Y.

    • PHP Zend Framework Becomes “Laminas” At The Linux Foundation

      The newest project being hosted by the Linux Foundation is Laminas, what was the PHP Zend Framework.

      The long-standing Zend Framework for PHP software is being rebranded as Laminas and is becoming a Linux Foundation project rather than just an effort led by Zend Technologies and Rogue Wave. They are hoping that putting this widely-used PHP framework under the stewardship of the Linux Foundation will lead to more communication collaboration, new contributors, and includes related projects like the Expressive micro-framework and Apigility API framework.

    • The Linux Foundation forms new Laminas project to support continued growth of Zend Framework and PHP tooling

      In conjunction with Zend Technologies and Rogue Wave Software, we are excited to announce that the Zend Framework is transitioning to the Linux Foundation and will launch later this year as a new project called Laminas.

      The Zend Framework is a collection of professional PHP packages that can be used to develop web applications and services using PHP 5.6+, and it provides 100% object-oriented code using a broad spectrum of language features.

      Over the years, the Zend Framework has seen wide adoption across industries and application types with more than 400 million lifetime installs. It is used by companies including the BBC, BNP Paribas, and Offers.com. It has formed the basis of numerous business applications and services including eCommerce platforms, content management, healthcare systems, entertainment platforms and portals, messaging services, APIs, and many others.

    • At 3.8-million installations, Red Hat extensions help developers with VS Code, Language Servers, and microservices

      Back in the early days of 2016, together with a few fellow Red Hatters who were primarily working on implementing IDEs, my team was looking for new architectures that would give different communities, such as programming languages, runtimes to integrate easily with IDEs without a deep knowledge of the IDE itself. As our experiments continued, the development team at Microsoft open sourced the Visual Studio Code (VS Code) and introduced the Language Server Protocol (LSP).

    • Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment: Keys to the DevOps Revolution

      Continuous delivery and continuous deployment are two core concepts at the foundation of modern software development practices and the broader DevOps movement. These methods greatly boost the speed and efficiency of software development – which is greatly needed in today’s cloud computing era.

      The so-called Waterfall method of development, where developers work for months building code that is eventually ready for release doesn’t work in the modern world, where Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the norm. Instead, agile methods of rapid code iteration – focusing on continuous development and deployment – is the approach favored by modern application development.

    • How to Get Current Date and Time in Java

      There are multiple ways to get the current date and time in Java programming language. Here we will discuss two ways using java.util.Date and java.util.Calendar Classes.

Leftovers

  • How to Stop Grazing on Public Lands: Buy Out the Permits

    Livestock production is not benign. Livestock pollute public waters with their waste. Livestock compact soils reducing infiltration. Their hooves break up biocrusts which hold the soil together and reduce wind erosion. They spread diseases to wildlife, for instance, pneumonia to bighorn sheep. They spread weeds. They eat forage that might otherwise support native herbivores from ground squirrels to elk. They socially displace native animals like elk from the best lands. We kill predators like wolves, cougars, bears, and coyotes to facilitate livestock operations. Fences on public lands block wildlife migrations, and serve a look out posts for avian predators that prey on sage grouse and other endangered species. Grazing can also reduce the capacity of soil to store carbon.

    To add insult to injury, we charge ranchers a ridiculously low fee for grazing our public lands. Currently the fee is $1.35 an AUM (animal unit month) or the amount of forage a cow and calf can consume in a month. You could not feed a pet goldfish on $1.35 a month.

    A 2005 General Accounting Office review estimated that federal public lands grazing on BLM and Forest Service lands may cost taxpayers as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually in indirect and direct costs-a huge subsidy to a small number of livestock producers.

  • Science

    • Optimizing network software to advance scientific discovery

      High-performance computing (HPC)—the use of supercomputers and parallel processing techniques to solve large computational problems—is of great use in the scientific community. For example, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory rely on HPC to analyze the data they collect at the large-scale experimental facilities on site and to model complex processes that would be too expensive or impossible to demonstrate experimentally.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘The Greed of UnitedHealth Is Killing Americans’: Progressives Hit Back as Insurance CEO Bashes Medicare for All

      The CEO of America’s largest private insurance company faced a flood of pushback from progressives Tuesday after he launched a misleading attack on Medicare for All.

      UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said during a call with investors that Medicare for All would “destabilize the nation’s health system”—a common talking point that has been deployed by the right-wing media, Republicans, and establishment Democrats.

    • EU Threatens to Legalize Human Harm From Pesticides

      Current EU regulations forbid human exposure to pesticides that are classified as mutagenic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction), persistent or capable of disrupting endocrine systems. By virtue of these and other protective measures EU regulations are considered the gold standard in public protection.

      However, experts who are closely linked to industry (or are part of anti-regulation pressure groups) have taken control of the EU’s new Science Advice Mechanism (SAM). These experts have contributed to a report commissioned to reevaluate the EU’s authorisation of pesticides. The report, called “EU authorisation processes of Plant Protection Products”, and published in late 2018, recommends dramatically weakening the EU regulatory system. Especially notable is the adoption of many ideas previously proposed by the chemical industry. For example, the EU currently deems the acceptable level of public exposure to mutagenic pesticides (those that damage DNA) to be zero. The new report recommends scrapping this standard of protection.

      The history of the new SAM report is that it was requested by EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. Its purpose was to determine how to act in cases of so-called ‘diverging views’; that is, when media and public interest groups get involved. The request follows a series of major controversies over EU regulatory decision-making. One such controversy was over the herbicide Glyphosate. A “European Citizens Initiative” delivered more than a million signatures to the EU Commission asking for a ban on Glyphosate. Several cities banned Glyphosate. Even a dairy company banned the use of Glyphosate by their farmers.

      With this pressure from all over Europe, the EU Commission had difficulty reaching a decision since many EU member states (Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and the U.K) opposed a ban. Ultimately, a very unusual 5-years extension for glyphosate was agreed but soon the discussion will start again.

    • Award-winning writer Dmitry Bykov hospitalized in critical condition

      The award-winning writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov has been hospitalized in the Russian city of Ufa. Igor Molchanov, the lead anesthesiologist and emergency care physician for Russia’s Health Ministry, told the Moscow news agency that Bykov is in a medically induced coma.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Revised Patches Out For New Kernel “mitigations=” Option For Toggling Spectre/Meltdown [Ed: Profoundly defective chips aren't being recalled/replaced (or even properly fixed). All the cost is being passed to the victim, the client, who should instead be compensated. Corporate greed has no bounds. They also hide NSA back doors in these chips. Imperial.]

      The effort to provide a more convenient / easy to remember kernel option for toggling Spectre/Meltdown mitigations is out with a second revision and they have also shortened the option to remember.

      See the aforelinked article if the topic is new to you, but this is about an arguably long overdue ability to easily control the Spectre/Meltdown behavior — or configurable CPU mitigations in general to security vulnerabilities — via a single kernel flag/switch. For the past year and a half of Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF mitigations there has been various different flags to tweak the behavior of these mitigations but not offering a single, easy-to-remember switch if say wanting to disable them in the name of restoring/better performance.

    • Why Not Install Software Packages From The Internet

      Someone from the Internet has told you not to execute random scripts you find on the Internet and now you’re reading why we shouldn’t install software packages from the Internet. Or more specifically, the aim of this article is why it’s wise to stick to distribution maintained packages and not those latest software packages we find out there on the Internet even if it’s distributed by the official brand’s page.
      However, it’s okay to download software packages that are not available on the distribution repository but not vice versa. Read on below to learn more about why.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Oracle Management Software Supplier Adds Security Patching for MySQL and SQL Server
    • Oracle releases Critical Patch Update addressing 296 vulnerabilities

      Oracle has released a Critical Patch Update addressing 296 vulnerabilities across several of its software products.

    • Cisco Talos details exceptionally dangerous DNS hijacking attack
    • DevOps and Security: Be Ready to Shield Your Application

      All of us have heard of continuous improvement/continuous delivery (CI/CD). There are many benefits to implementing CI/CD, as it helps seamless integration from end to end for development and deployment processes. CI/CD helps in rapid improvement, shorter release cycles and more, but it also helps with the challenge of handling security effectively at DevOps speed.

    • Top 9 Free Wi-Fi hacking apps for Android

      The core reason people want to get access to free Wi-Fi is to gain high speed internet connection. Here are top WiFi hacking apps for Android.

      [[...]

      A trusted and reliable app used and trusted by many hackers. Widely used over the Ubuntu operating system. Since Ubuntu and Android are both Linux based, hence it was designed again and released by enthusiastic Android developers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Shameful’: With Millions on Brink of Famine in Yemen, Trump Vetoes Resolution to End US Complicity

      “Donald Trump’s veto today is reckless and shameful,” Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, said in a statement. “Sadly, it is also to be expected from a president who has pretended to be a champion of peace while actually expanding every war he inherited and putting us on a collision course to war with Iran.”

      Trump’s veto—the second of his presidency—came nearly two weeks after the House of Representatives passed the Yemen measure with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, marking the first time Congress has sent a War Powers resolution to the president’s desk.

      Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who helped lead the House effort to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen, denounced Trump’s veto on Twitter.

      “With Trump’s veto of Bernie Sanders’ and my War Powers resolution, which passed with bipartisan support in Congress, he is risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime,” Khanna wrote. “We must override his veto.”

      In a separate tweet, Khanna challenged Trump’s claim in his veto message that the Yemen measure represented “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken [his] constitutional authorities.”

    • Insurgencies in Malaysia and Vietnam: Boyhood Reflections

      The Communist insurgency in British Malaya (as it then was before becoming Malaysia) started in 1948, which happened to be the year I was born, and ended in 1960. The country became independent in 1957.

      My youthful recollections of the insurgency are confined to the episodic.

      Travelling in our car to visit relatives in another part of the country and being bunched with other cars in a convoy escorted by military vehicles with machine guns.

      Going on visits to my rubber-planter uncle and his family, where my brothers would always be car-sick on the narrow, winding roads.

      My uncle’s rubber estate, with floodlights illuminating, nightly, the fenced compound where they lived.

      This compound was guarded by a permanently-stationed military barracks.

    • The Official Skripal Story is a Dead Duck

      One of the striking things about the official Skripal story is the way its more wildly improbable aspects have been released to the mainstream media over a long period, so as to manage their impact. So, for example, police acknowledgement that the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals is comparatively recent, and it took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

      I covered these points in full in my article on the ten points I do not believe in the official story – an article which nobody has sought to refute, other than to yell “conspiracy theory”, as though that was an argument.

      But today we learn from the Guardian (quoting the New York Times) that Donald Trump was only convinced to back the UK government line after being shown photos of dead ducks and hospitalised children by CIA director Gina Haspel.

    • Trump Vetoes Measure on U.S. Involvement in Yemen War

      President Donald Trump has vetoed a congressional resolution to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

      The veto is just the second in Trump’s presidency. It has been expected, and Congress lacks the votes to override it.

      Passing the never-before-used war powers resolution has been viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties.

      In explaining his veto, Trump calls the resolution “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.” He also says it endangers the lives of American citizens and service members.

      Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.

    • Trump Wants to Maintain US Empire But Without the Alliances

      During the U.S. invasion of Iraq, even more reluctant scholars on both ends of the political spectrum were finally forced to acknowledge that the United States is an empire and that it has been acting as one since the end of World War II. Of course, there was a natural disagreement among them as to whether the U.S. was a different sort of an empire from those that had dominated world politics in the past, with conservative thinkers like Niall Ferguson arguing that the U.S is essentially a benign empire.

      Yet, as Daniel Immerwahr, associate professor of history at Northwestern University, reminds us in his pathbreaking book, How to Hide an Empire, U.S. imperialism was alive and kicking throughout the 19th century. In fact, the United States was an empire from the very beginning of the founding of the nation, although this fact has never been part of standard educational narratives about U.S. history and foreign policy.

      Meanwhile Donald Trump’s fetishization of the military is a reflection of the way imperial logic has been deeply ingrained into the mindset of most Americans, although Trump’s own vision, as Immerwahr argues, is one of a “fortress America” and of a U.S. foreign policy that relies less on alliances and on the presence of military bases across the globe.

    • US Welcomes Fraudulent DRC President as a Strategic Ally

      What do the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Atlantic Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Adviser John Bolton have in common? In early April, they all hosted and/or welcomed the newly elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi.

      Despite the celebratory tone of these meetings, it was not U.S. officials and institutions that ended the 18-year rule of DRC President Joseph Kabila. Rather, undeterred by years of indefinite detention, torture and mass killings by Kabila’s state security apparatus, Congolese activists marched, organized and successfully pressured Kabila to abandon his effort to remove presidential term limits from the DRC’s constitution and hold elections.

      Faced with unrelenting internal pressure and growing international condemnation, Kabila caved, running a figurehead candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, on his behalf in 2018. To ensure his successor’s victory, Kabila waged a campaign of electoral violence and institutional “reforms,” including packing the constitutional court, shutting down media outlets, barring potential presidential candidates from re-entering the country, violently restricting opposition candidates, jailing and killing activists, and purchasing unreliable electronic voting machines.

      Still, Kabila’s electoral violence and foul play was not enough to thwart the Congolese people’s desire for change. Kabila’s proxy candidate finished dead-last among the three presumed front-runners, with Tshisekedi finishing second. Martin Fayulu (former Exxon Mobil executive and Felix’s former political ally) was the actual winner, according to Catholic Congolese election monitors, poll results leaked to Radio France Internationale and the Financial Times, and subsequent statistical analyses.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange wins EU journalism award

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been given an award established in honour of an assassinated journalist.

      Assange, jailed last week after being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, was awarded the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.

    • Julian Assange Is Now The Litmus Test

      Where you stand on Julian Assange is now a litmus test such as has not been seen since the Iraq War, which was itself a litmus test such as had not been seen since the Miners’ Strike. If you are not for us, then you are against us. If you are not one of us, then you are one of them.

      Led by Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips, those who have already failed that test have declared their desire to criminalise male heterosexual activity per se, with no defence to that charge, but with the understanding that there would at least ordinarily be no prosecution unless the female party complained. If they took any other view, then they would no more advocate the extradition of Assange to Sweden than they would advocate that an adulterer or a homosexual be extradited to Brunei.

      This case has also shed some much-needed light on this country’s scandalously one-sided extradition arrangements with the United States. They can get pretty much anyone from the United Kingdom simply by issuing a demand, while we cannot get anyone at all from them. Those arrangements need to be repealed.

    • FBI Affidavit In Assange Case Shows Government Is Criminalizing Publication Of Afghanistan War Logs

      An affidavit from the United States Justice Department’s prosecution of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange shows prosecutors are focused on criminalizing the publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.

      The focus on the publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs is baselessly linked to an alleged “password cracking agreement” that prosecutors believe existed between Assange and Pfc. Chelsea Manning, who disclosed over a half million documents to WikiLeaks.

      Assange was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in the United Kingdom and arrested by British police on April 11. The expulsion and arrest was linked to an indictment and extradition request that was filed by the U.S. government over a year ago.

      FBI Special Agent Megan Brown, who was assigned to the “counterespionage squad” at the Washington Field Office in the District of Columbia, was tasked with sifting through information to compile the “basis” for a case against Assange.

      Using language derived from the Espionage Act, which has been wielded by the Justice Department to aggressively crack down on whistleblowers, Brown contended, “Manning and Assange had reason to believe that public disclosures of the Afghanistan War reports and Iraq War reports would cause injury to the United States.”

      “Documents included in the Afghanistan War reports contained information the disclosure of which potentially endangered U.S. troops and Afghan civilians and aided enemies of the United States,” Brown added. “Numerous [‘Secret’] reports, for example, related to the identity and significance of local supporters of United States and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    • Julian Assange’s Prosecution is about Much More Than Attempting to Hack a Password

      The recent arrest of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange surprised many by hinging on one charge: a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) charge for a single, unsuccessful attempt to reverse engineer a password. This might not be the only charge Assange ultimately faces. The government can add more before the extradition decision and possibly even after that if it gets a waiver from the UK or otherwise. Yet some have claimed that as the indictment sits now, the single CFAA charge is a sign that the government is not aiming at journalists. We disagree. This case seems to be a clear attempt to punish Assange for publishing information that the government did not want published, and not merely arising from a single failed attempt at cracking a password. And having watched CFAA criminal prosecutions for many years, we think that neither journalists nor the rest of us should be breathing a sigh of relief.

    • The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

      In what is arguably one of the most craven opportunistic moves by a business/media group to increase its circulation/profitability, on 10 April the New York Times (NYT) embarked on what it describes as its Privacy Project. A day later on 11 April, no doubt with the NYT’s foreknowledge of what was to come thanks to an unofficial US government tip, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks founder) asylum in its UK Embassy and fed him to the British Police dogs eagerly awaiting to arrest him and dump him in jail.

    • Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

      “Your honour, I represent the United States government”. The Westminster Magistrates Court had been left with little doubt by the opening words of the legal team marshalled against the face of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange was being targeted by the imperium itself, an effort now only garnished by the issue of skipping bail in 2012. Would the case on his extradition to the US centre on the matter of free speech and the vital scrutinising role of the press?

      Thomas Jefferson, who had his moments of venomous tetchiness against the press outlets of his day, was clear about the role of the fourth estate. A government with newspapers rather than without, he argued to Edward Carrington in 1787, was fundamental so long as “every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” To Thomas Cooper, he would write in November 1802 reflecting that the press was “the only tocsin of a nation. [When it] is completely silenced… all means of a general effort [are] taken away.” The press provided the greatest of counterweights against oppressive tendencies, being the “only security” available.

      Not so, now. The fourth estate has been subjected to a withering. The State has become canny about the nature of the hack profession, providing incentives, attempting to obtain favourable coverage, and, above all, avoiding dramatic reforms where necessary. An outfit like WikiLeaks is a rebuke to such efforts, to the hypocrisy of decent appearances, as it is to those in a profession long in tooth and, often, short in substance.

      It has logically followed that WikiLeaks, the enemy of the closed press corps and an entity keen to remove the high priests of censorship, must be devalued and re-labelled. This has entailed efforts to delegitimise Assange and WikiLeaks as those of a rogue enterprise somehow detached from the broader issue of political reportage. In this, traditional media outlets and the security establishment have accommodated each other; the State needs secrets, even if they rot the institutional apparatus; exposing abuses of power should be delicate, measured and calm. Scandals and embarrassments can be kept to a minimum, and the political system can continue in habitual, barely accountable darkness.

    • Reporters Committee analysis of U.S. government indictment of Julian Assange – Part II

      In response to our analysis of the Justice Department’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act conspiracy charge against Julian Assange, we’ve received questions about two specific aspects of the charge.

      The first is whether it’s relevant that Chelsea Manning had authorized access to the Defense Department’s secret-level classified network, SIPRNet, and had already been sending Assange classified information for several months when she asked for help cracking a password. The second is whether it’s relevant that there’s no allegation in the indictment that Assange succeeded in helping Manning crack the password (or even tried).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Researchers Tie Climate Crisis to Hurricane Maria’s Record-Breaking Rainfall Over Puerto Rico

      The report, recently published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Geophysical Research Letters, focuses on data from the 129 major storms that impacted the U.S. territory between 1956 and 2016.

      “What we found was that Maria’s magnitude of peak precipitation is much more likely in the climate of 2017 when it happened versus the beginning of the record,” lead author David Keellings, a geographer at the University of Alabama, said in a statement Tuesday.

      Specifically, a storm like Maria—which caused unprecedented flooding and landslides that severely damaged the island’s electrical, water, and communications infrastructure—was nearly five times more likely two years ago than it was in the middle of the last century, according to the study. Maria produced more rain than any other regional storm in the six decades studied.

    • Plankton Research Equipment Inadvertently Reveals Skyrocketing Plastic Pollution Levels in World’s Oceans

      The equipment was towed across millions of miles of ocean for six decades by marine scientists, meant to collect plankton—but its journeys have also given researchers a treasure trove of data on plastic pollution.

      The continuous plankton reporter (CPR) was first deployed in 1931 to analyze the presence of plankton near the surface of the world’s oceans. In recent decades, however, its travels have increasingly been disrupted by entanglements with plastic, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

    • ‘No Platform for Fascists’: Event Honoring Bolsonaro Will Not Be Held at Museum

      Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not welcome at the American Museum of Natural History.

      That’s the message sent by the institution, which Monday evening chose not to host a May 14th black-tie event honoring Bolsonaro.

      The event, a gala hosted by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, was to honor Bolsonaro as Brazilian Person of the Year.

      But days of sustained outcry focused on Bolsonaro’s pledge to open the Amazon rainforest for industrial and commercial exploitation—and the Brazilian leader’s extreme right wing political positions—convinced the museum that it was not the correct venue for the event.

      “With mutual respect for the work and goals of our individual organizations, we jointly agreed that the Museum is not the optimal location for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala dinner,” the museum and the chamber announced. “This traditional event will go forward at another location on the original date and time.”

    • ‘Great Example’ of Local Organizing as Maine AFL-CIO Signs Onto #GreenNewDeal

      Maine’s Green New Deal legislation is the first to be backed by labor unions.

      The Maine AFL-CIO made its support for the state-level bill public on Tuesday.

      The union delivered a strong statement allying the organization with the environmentally friendly policy from executive director Matt Schlobohm.

      Schlobohm said that the Green New Deal could answer the “twin crises” of climate change and inequality.

      “Climate change and inequality pose dire threats to working people, to all that we love about Maine, and to our democracy,” said Schlobohm. “The work of moving towards a renewable economy must be rooted in workers’s rights and economic and social justice.”

    • Youth-Led Petition Urges 2020 Democratic Candidates to Hold Climate Debate

      A petition calling on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to hold a climate-specific debate has garnered over 30,000 signatures in just around 48 hours, providing evidence of the widespread grassroots pressure on White House hopefuls to offer bold and detailed solutions to the ecological crisis.

      Led by the U.S. Youth Climate Strike team, the petition aims to “ensure environmental issues from climate change, access to clean water, environmental racism, and everything in between that are disproportionately impacting people of color and working class folks are given the serious attention they deserve.”

    • Greta Thunberg Chastises European Parliament for Prioritizing Brexit Over Climate Change

      Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old who has inspired young people around the world to strike from school over climate change, addressed the European Parliament’s environment committee Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

      At one point during her speech at the parliament’s seat in Strasbourg, Thunberg choked back tears as she discussed the sixth mass extinction.

    • NOAA Science Helps Restore Coastal Places

      Thousands of oil spills happen every year, and most pollution cases don’t make the news. But when there’s a major oil spill or pollutant found in the water, you hear about it. Local, state, and federal government agencies rush to clean up the mess. In many cases, after a few days or weeks, it’s out of the spotlight. This is just the beginning of the story, however. In can take years or decades for waterways to recover from pollution. NOAA is just one of the federal government agencies tasked with settling in for the long haul. Its role is to use science to figure out exactly what damage has been done so that ecosystems can be restored.

    • Oil and Gas Industry Has Way Too Much Control Over Congress

      The reason is straightforward: the oil and gas industry finances the campaigns of many Republican members of Congress, as well as some Democrats from oil-producing states, who repeatedly side with their financiers against the interests of the American people.

      In an effort to underscore the urgency of political action on this issue, I recently testified in Congress. As I listened to the Republican members question the two witnesses ahead of my panel, former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, I was struck by the crazy state of affairs of our country. One Republican member, Rep. Thomas Massie, asked such an absurd question that Kerry finally had to respond, “Are you serious?”

      Then I looked up the campaign funding of the various congressmen on Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics, and had a plausible explanation for the tragedy before my eyes. Perhaps the congressmen that I had been listening to were not really as ignorant as they seemed to be. Perhaps they were simply corrupted by campaign financing.

      My own testimony was to the Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (Kerry and Hagel had been testifying to the full committee). Every one of the five Republican members of the subcommittee received 2018 campaign funds from political action committees (PACs) of the oil and gas industry. That was true of only one of the seven Democrats. The Republicans combined received $181,150 in oil and gas PAC money, compared with $3,000 for the single Democratic recipient.

    • One of the World’s Most Endangered Whales Is Experiencing a Mini Baby Boom

      One of the rarest species of whale in the world is experiencing a mini-baby boom off the coast of New England, lending hope to the survival of the once-imperiled population.

    • Baby boom for North Atlantic right whales off US coast

      One of the world’s most endangered whale species is experiencing a mini baby boom off the US state of Massachusetts.
      Researchers at the Center for Coastal Studies have announced they have seen three North Atlantic right whale mother and calf pairs in Cape Cod bay.
      The whales give birth off Georgia and Florida in the winter before moving up the US east coast in the spring.
      Only about 450 of the species are believed to remain.
      Scientists reportedly did not spot any right whale newborns in 2018, so researchers were elated to report the sighting of two pairs of right whales in Cape Cod bay this week.

    • Surging Plastic Pollution in Oceans Revealed by Plankton Research Equipment

      The equipment was towed across millions of miles of ocean for six decades by marine scientists, meant to collect plankton — but its journeys have also given researchers a treasure trove of data on plastic pollution.

      The continuous plankton reporter (CPR) was first deployed in 1931 to analyze the presence of plankton near the surface of the world’s oceans. In recent decades, however, its travels have increasingly been disrupted by entanglements with plastic, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

    • The rise in ocean plastics evidenced from a 60-year time series

      Plastic production has increased exponentially since its use became widespread in the 1950s. This has led to increased concern as plastics have become prevalent in the oceanic environment, and evidence of their impacts on marine organisms and human health has been highlighted. Despite their prevalence, very few long-term (>40 years) records of the distribution and temporal trends of plastics in the world’s oceans exist. Here we present a new time series, from 1957 to 2016 and covering over 6.5 million nautical miles, based on records of when plastics have become entangled on a towed marine sampler. This consistent time series provides some of the earliest records of plastic entanglement, and is the first to confirm a significant increase in open ocean plastics in recent decades.

    • The Burning Cathedral and the Dead Turtle

      Like many people, I was shocked when I first heard the news that the Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire and saw the photos of smoke pouring out of the iconic structure. Though I’ve never been to Paris, I can imagine something of what was lost, since I have visited other architectural wonders in Europe including St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and the Duomo di Siracusa in Sicily, which incorporates columns from the fifth-century BC, Greek doric temple that it replaced on the same site.

      Such places undeniably have a power when experienced in person. They are at once both monumental, with their soaring roofs and larger-than-life scale; and intricate, in their detailed ornamentation in stone, glass and wood. A palpable sense of history also inhabits these spaces. Certainly, damage to them is a real thing. But how real? And compared to what? In a world on the brink of multiple planetary-scale disasters, it is fair to ask such questions.

      Writer Shiv Malik was one of many commentators who waxed poetic throughout the day. When the blaze first started: “Notre Dame, Paris, is on fire and it feels like the end of the world.” Later: “It’s past midnight here. The brave firefighters are still dousing Notre-Dame in the water from the Seine. But this feels like a baptism. With fire, comes rebirth. Let the morning bring new hope [to] my cathedral on the river.” I don’t doubt Malik’s sincerity for a second, and he certainly has a way with words.

      And as one would expect, there were plenty of sentiments such as this, from Henri Astier of the BBC Online: “Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.”

    • Extreme heat is growing threat to harvests

      Ever-higher average global temperatures mean more intense extreme heat over ever-wider regions.

      When the planet becomes on average 1.5°C warmer than it was for most of human history, then for two out of every three years, one-fourth of the northern hemisphere will experience the kind of blistering heat waves recorded in 2018.

      And should planetary average temperatures creep up by 2°C – the maximum proposed by 195 nations at the global climate conference in Paris in 2015 – then the probability rises to 100%. That is, extreme heat over a large area of the hemisphere will be guaranteed every summer.

    • Dr. Robert Bullard: Lessons From 40 Years of Documenting Environmental Racism

      For Dr. Robert Bullard, the findings weren’t a surprise. A distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, he’s been gathering data on environmental racism since long before there was a term for it. As a sociologist at Texas A&M in the late 1970s, he began researching environmental racism in Houston communities after his wife, attorney Linda McKeever Bullard, took a case representing members of a black middle- class community who were fighting a landfill in their suburban neighborhood.

      The lawsuit was the first case in the United States to use civil rights law to challenge environmental discrimination. And while a judge ultimately ruled in favor of the company running the landfill, Dr. Bullard was inspired to learn more about other communities of color facing unjust pollution burdens. Over the past 40 years, he’s become a leading expert, with 18 books on the topic. Along the way he’s been recognized as “the father of environmental justice.”

      We talked with him about the Houston study that led to a career-long investigation and how much progress he thinks we’ve made since.

    • Court Blocks Gold Mining Near Yellowstone National Park

      A Canadian company cannot carry out exploratory drilling for gold mining on land just north of Yellowstone National Park, a Montana district court ruled Monday.

      Protecting the public lands around Yellowstone has been a bipartisan effort, as Earthjustice, which argued the case against the Canadian company, pointed out in a press release. Former Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke banned mining on public lands near Yellowstone for 20 years in October 2018, and this was made permanent in March when President Donald Trump signed a massive, bi-partisan public lands bill. But Lucky Minerals Inc. had sought permission to mine on private land in Emigrant Gulch.

    • How Bernie Sanders trounced Fox on Medicare for All, and why a Carbon Tax could help Pay for It

      Bernie Sanders trounced Fox News on its own turf when he demonstrated that the town hall audience assembled for him by the pro-plutocrat White Nationalist channel was enthusiastic about medicare for all.

    • ‘We Can Be Whatever We Have the Courage to See’: New Video From AOC Envisions a #GreenNewDeal Future

      “Before we can win a Green New Deal, we need to be able to close our eyes and imagine it. We can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

      That was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) expressing one of the messages behind an urgent video on climate change released Wednesday by The Intercept.

      The video, “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” was produced by The Intercept’s Naomi Klein. Narrated by Ocasio-Cortez, the short film is presented as a look back to the present day from a future in which the Green New Deal passed Congress and reshaped America and the planet for the better.

      The video features art from Molly Crabapple and was written by Ocasio-Cortez and Avi Lewis. It was co-directed by Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt.

      “Despite all the horrors of climate change that we have seen and continue to see,” said Crabapple, “we can save ourselves, accomplish brave, beautiful, and world-changing things.”

      Klein pointed to the hope the video could give to people interested in working to change the planet for the better.

      “This beautiful film helps us imagine a different version of ourselves, and a future in which we decided to come together in the face of crisis, rather than surrender and fall apart,” said Klein.

    • Vote-Trading for Big Coal

      The closing weeks of Montana’s legislative sessions are always perilous. Legislators are worn out from more than three months of hearings, floor debates, and living on chicken wings and bacon-wrapped appetizers at nightly “receptions.” To say their judgment is clouded would be a vast understatement. But what’s going on in the Montana Senate right now cannot be excused due to exhaustion and must fall fully on Senate President Scott Sales and Majority Leader Fred Thomas, who allowed Republican senators to engage in open vote trading on the “save Colstrip” bill.

      There is no worse form of lawmaking than vote trading. Bills should be judged on their merits, but vote trading means, in context to the Colstrip bill, “if you don’t vote for my bill I’ll vote against yours.”

      That’s exactly what happened late last week when five Republican senators who had signed on as co-sponsors of the Medicaid expansion bill voted against the measure on the Senate floor, resulting in a 25-25 tie. Since it takes a majority to approve a bill, the tie vote means the Medicaid expansion measure is, for the time being, stuck in the Senate as the clock ticks down to session’s end.

      Rather astoundingly, Sen. Tom Richmond, the sponsor of the Colstrip bill and co-sponsor of the Medicaid expansion bill, openly admitted to reporters that: “We have some issues with one of my bills and we’ll see what that’s going to be a little later on.” In plain language, Richmond is blatantly saying unless the Colstrip bill gets the votes to pass in the House, he and the other four “save Colstrip” Republican senators won’t vote to pass the Medicaid expansion bill they all co-sponsored.

      One can very credibly ask “what does Colstrip have to do with Medicaid expansion?” The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing. Tens of thousands of Montanans would lose their current Medicaid health coverage if the measure doesn’t pass, since the 2017 Medicaid bill sunsets this year. Continuing to operate Colstrip, on the other hand, means all Montanans will be harmed by the increasing impacts of climate change caused by the massive output of greenhouse gases the coal plant generates. Medicaid expansion gives us a healthier population and Colstrip does just the opposite.

  • Finance

    • Tesla’s Brazen Disregard for Workers’ Well-Being Revealed

      Inside a medical clinic not far from Tesla’s electric car factory, Yvette Bonnet started noting a troubling pattern. The automaker’s workers’ compensation manager would pressure her boss, Dr. Basil Besh, to make sure Tesla wasn’t on the hook for certain injured workers.

      And in her observation, Besh did whatever he could to not jeopardize his chance to run Tesla’s on-site factory clinic.

      “He would say, ‘I’m not losing the contract over this – get this case closed,’” said Bonnet, who was operations manager for Besh’s Access Omnicare clinic in Fremont, California, for about a year.

      “Besh wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” she said. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

      It’s not unusual for employers to be pushy about how they want their workers’ injuries handled, Bonnet said. But the intensity of Tesla’s pressure, she said, combined with Besh’s willingness to let bottom-line concerns influence clinical decisions, made this situation different from any Bonnet had encountered.

      Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting previously reported that Tesla systemically kept worker injuries off the books, artificially improving its safety record and violating the law on recording workplace injuries. We also showed that Tesla’s medical clinic ignored worker injuries, sending the hurt back to work without proper treatment and helping the company claim publicly that it had improved. Besh said in an interview last year that Tesla doesn’t pressure him to dismiss injuries and that his determinations are “only based on what the patient needs.”

    • Corporations Need to Pay More

      For all that some might grumble about paying our taxes when this time of year rolls around, we do it. And most of us do it not just because it’s the law, but because we understand and agree with the one of the basic underlying concept behind taxes: We all pay some portion of what we have into a shared pool of resources. And that money goes to fund the services we all need, collectively, like water infrastructure, schools, and transportation.

      [...]

      It’s becoming more and more clear how our current economic and political system is failing to provide, take care of, and manage the resources and services we all need. Our aging water infrastructure is in dire need of public reinvestment. Public schools struggle mightily around the country. And in most places in the U.S. public transportation is not equitable, in need of major reinvestment, or doesn’t even exist.

      Who bears the brunt of these failures? Well, certainly not super wealthy corporate and mostly white CEOs being driven in limos stocked with bottled water. Or celebrities and hedge fund managers bribing college coaches to get their children into Ivy League and other prestige-bestowing schools.

      It’s the mostly Black folks in Flint and Detroit whose water is poisoned or shut off who are experiencing these systemic failures to the greatest degree. It’s people who rely on public transportation to get them to their hourly wage jobs—and who get docked pay or fired if they come in late because of a broken- down subway. It’s low-income families who do the best they can by their kids in resource-starved public K-12 schools.

    • Bernie Sanders Releases 10 Years of Long-Awaited Tax Returns

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday released 10 years of his long-anticipated tax returns as he campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
      The returns provide a more detailed look at Sanders’ finances than when he ran for president in 2016. The release also confirms that Sanders’ income crossed the $1 million threshold in 2016 and 2017, though he reported less earnings in his most recent return.

      His 2018 return reveals that he and his wife, Jane, earned more than $550,000, including $133,000 in income from his Senate salary and $391,000 in sales of his book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.” Sanders’ campaign said in a news release that he paid 26% effective tax rate in 2018.

      During his first presidential bid, Sanders released just one year of his tax returns despite primary rival Hillary Clinton pushing him to follow her lead and release multiple years of tax information. He declined to do so, disclosing only his tax return for 2014. Tax transparency has been in the spotlight as Donald Trump bucks decades of presidential tradition by declining to show voters his tax filings and House Democrats seek to force him to turn them over.

      During a Fox News Channel town hall on Monday, Sanders said that he’d increased his income by publishing a book — he’s written two with campaign themes — and that he wouldn’t apologize for that. He also challenged Trump to release his tax returns.

    • Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements

      Approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 2.0 also known USMCA) will do little to reverse the problems of the NAFTA trade agreement of 1994. Nothing in the proposed replacement agreement will prevent job outsourcing, nor is there any part of the agreement that would reverse our current agricultural trade deficit. So what’s the deal with the “Motorcade for Trade” tour?

      The 2018 Census of Agriculture documents the occurrence of a clear shift in farm size. Small and medium sized farms are exiting production while the number and overall size of larger farms continues to increase. We are told growth is inevitable in any business if they wish to succeed, because growth goes hand in hand with efficiency and profit.

    • The Public Banking Revolution Is Upon Us

      As public banking gains momentum across the country, policymakers in California and Washington state are vying to form the nation’s second state-owned bank, following in the footsteps of the highly successful Bank of North Dakota, founded in 1919. The race is extremely close, with state bank bills now passing their first round of committee hearings in both states’ senates.

      In California, the story begins in 2011, when then-Assemblyman Ben Hueso filed his first bill to explore the creation of a state bank. The bill, which was for a blue-ribbon committee to do a feasibility study, sailed through both legislative houses and seemed to be a go. That is, until Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, not on grounds that he disapproved of the concept, but because he said we did not need another blue-ribbon committee. The state had a banking committee that could review the matter in-house. Needless to say, nothing was heard of the proposal after that.

      So when now-Sen. Hueso filed SB 528 earlier this year, he went straight for setting up a state bank. The details could be worked out during the two to three years it would take to get a master account from the Federal Reserve, by a commission drawn from in-house staff that had access to the data and understood the issues.

      Sen. Hueso also went for the low hanging fruit—a proposal to turn an existing state institution, the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (or “IBank”), into a depository bank that could leverage its capital into multiple loans. By turning the $400 million IBank currently has for loans into bank capital, it could lend $4 billion, backed by demand deposits from the local governments that are its clients. The IBank has a 15-year record of success; experienced staff and detailed procedures already in place; low-risk customers, consisting solely of government entities; and low-interest loans for infrastructure and development that are in such high demand that requests are 30 times current capacity.

      The time is also right for bringing the bill, as a growing public banking movement is picking up momentum across the U.S. Over 25 public bank bills are currently active, and dozens of groups are promoting the idea. Advocates include a highly motivated generation of young millennials, who are only too aware that the old system is not working for them and a new direction is needed.

    • Trump Whacks the Middle Class

      In 2016 Trump promised tax cuts for the middle class. Now it’s clear Trump’s 2018 tax cut is making the middle class pay for corporations, businesses, investors and the wealthiest 1% households historic tax cuts totaling no less than $4.5 trillion over the next decade.

      A massive redistribution of income favoring the capitalist class–at the expense of everyone else–is underway. Only now approaching April 15 ‘tax day’ in the US are the dimensions becoming apparent.

      Polls show 80% of the 170 million taxpayers in the US are saying they’re paying much more this year.

      And 17% indicate they used to get refunds in the past but are now writing the IRS checks for $ thousands more this year. That’s 17% of 170M, or almost 30 million households no longer getting refunds! And 136 million saying they’re paying more! So that’s a middle class tax cut?

    • Anti-corruption activists say the family of Khabarovsk’s long-time mayor owns six million dollars in U.S. real estate

      The family of Alexander Sokolov, who served as mayor of Khabarovsk for a whopping 18 years, owns six homes in the United States worth more than $6 million, according to a new investigative report by Alexey Navalny’s researchers in Khabarovsk. Five of the homes are reportedly in California, and the sixth is apparently in Washington state. Navalny’s team says the real estate was purchased between 2004 and 2018 by Sokolov’s wife, Leonora, and their children Elena and Alexey, who now own the homes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrats Raise $75 Million So Far, Signaling a Drawn-Out Fight

      Democratic presidential candidates raised about $75 million during the first quarter of the 2020 election, a lackluster sum spread out across more than a dozen campaigns that signals a drawn-out battle likely lies ahead.

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led the field by raising $18 million and California Sen. Kamala Harris came in second with $12 million. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke came in third with $9.3 million, followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who capitalized on a flurry of publicity to raise $7 million.

      The rest of the field of more than a dozen candidates raised $6 million or less apiece.

    • Joe Biden Unmasked

      Let me tell you something about unplugging from the patriarchy.

      I don’t know how it happens for others, but I can tell you how it’s happened for me.

      It’s taken over 40 years. All the way from the shock and awe and twinges of guilt I felt for reading Ms. magazine, furtively, down by the river in California’s Sonoma County, to openly writing “fuck you” on social media, in all caps, to Joe Biden more than 25 years later. That act, obviously, represents neither the height of decorum nor the pinnacle of my power, but it illustrates the white-hot rage you feel when coming up for air after decades of slowly being drowned, only to have a wealthy white man—or any white man, or any man—put his hand on your head and blithely push you back down.

      While laughing.

      That’s what Joe Biden did recently when he joked onstage about making women and girls profoundly uncomfortable. He laughed, as he pushed us all right back down.

    • Still Doing The Job

      Celebrating the tenacious work of beleaguered journalists nationwide, the 2019 Pulitzers were awarded to three newsrooms documenting and even enduring gun violence – the Parkland, Tree of Life, and Capital Gazette mass shootings – and several laying bare Trump’s criminal enterprises and porn-star payoffs. Speaking for the 18-member Pulitzer prize board, Dana Canedy cited the extraordinary work submitted “even in a year when journalism is yet again under relentless assault, including from the highest office in the land, and when the security threats remain high for journalists simply seeking to do their jobs” – often, he could have added, in newsrooms forced to make serious cuts. Recipients of key awards included the South Florida Sun Sentinel for exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials in connection with the Parkland shootings, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for “immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.”

    • Report: 13% of Americans Still Believe Men Are ‘Better Suited Emotionally’ for Politics

      A record number of women are running for president in the 2020 election cycle: six as of April 2019, including Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Marianne Williamson, a bestselling self-help author and Oprah’s spiritual adviser. There are now more women than ever in Congress.

      Despite these recent signs of improvement, a new poll from Georgetown University Center on Education, using data from the General Social Survey, reveals the lingering sexism that pemeates the thinking of American voters, about 13% of whom still believe men are “better suited emotionally” to be in politics.

      That number, Benjamin Wermund writes in Politico, “is lower than it’s ever been — and indicates major progress, especially compared with 1975, when nearly 50 percent of Americans held the belief.”

      Even 13% however, is high enough, as the report’s authors point out, to “cause candidates to lose elections.”

    • Maybe Rich Liberals Don’t Hate Sanders Because They Fear He Can’t Win, But Because They’re Rich

      Why does the New York Times take rich liberals at their word that their concern with Bernie Sanders is that he would lose to Trump, rather than the obvious, glaring fact that his election would run counter to their interests?

      The New York Times (4/16/19) profiled a network of “wealthy liberal donors” who, shockingly, are not fans of Bernie Sanders, who according to the same report has rejected their big-bundler funding and instead opted for small donations. (The Times reported the same day that 84 percent of Sanders’ donations are less than $200; by contrast, only 37 percent of Kamala Harris’ donations are.)

      That a network of multi-millionaire and billionaire donors would dislike a candidate who not only rejects their funding, but is actively trying to tax them at rates not seen since 1960, would surely be enough reason to explain why these wealthy elites would want to “stop” his nomination. But not to the credulous New York Times, which takes at face value rich donors’ claim to oppose Sanders because they believe he simply can’t defeat Trump…

    • Washington’s Biggest Fairy Tale: “Truth Will Out”

      The arrest of Julian Assange has produced rapturous cheering from the American political elite. Hillary Clinton declared that Assange “must answer for what he has done.” Unfortunately, Assange’s arrest will do nothing to prevent the vast majority of conniving politicians and bureaucrats from paying no price for deceiving the American public.

      “Truth will out” is a phrase that is routinely recited to keep Americans paying and obeying. Politicians and editorial writers toss this phrase out to simmer down any fears that the government might be conspiring against the people. Actually, “truth will out” is the biggest fairy tale in Washington.

      The phrase “truth will out” is first recorded in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Often in Shakespeare’s plays, truths come out only after almost everyone has been conned, stabbed, or screwed. It’s not much better nowadays.

      When it comes to politics, “truth will out” should be confined to sarcasm and satire, not to serious pontificating.

    • At Last, Mueller Reveals [REDACTED]

      It is fortunate Attorney General William Barr was not able to lay hands on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Had he been afforded the chance to play Poe’s editor/bulldozer as he has with the Mueller report, generations of macabre literature fans would have spent their candlelit Halloween nights grimly intoning, “Quoth the raven: REDACTED.”

      In other words, friends, don’t get your hopes up. Unless the creek rises, the Mueller report as redacted by Barr will see the light of day tomorrow. Nothing in Barr’s distant or recent past gives me hope that he has done anything other than slash that document to black-lined ribbons. You can cross your fingers and wish for Barr’s people at the “Justice” Department to be as hilariously incompetent at redacting as Paul Manafort’s legal team was back in January, but I wouldn’t bet on the possibility with someone else’s money.

      This is Barr’s Roy Cohn moment — defend the president even at the cost of your reputation — and he has risen vigorously to the occasion. Barr got his current gig by coughing up an unsolicited and dubiously argued letter slandering the Mueller report using rhetorical tools manufactured by Donald Trump’s allies. His four-page “summary” of the report gave Trump just enough cover to go on a mind-bending self-congratulation spree that has been, of course, utterly divorced from the facts at hand. Just last week, Barr sent the Trumpiverse into paroxysms of glee when he publicly endorsed a strange conspiracy theory regarding “deep state” spying on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

      This behavior does not instill a sense of optimism. “Barr appears to be demolishing his reputation as a respected former Attorney General,” writes Steve Denning for Forbes, “and cementing a revised assessment of him as a mere lackey of a lawless president, thus politicizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and undermining the rule of law throughout government.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Wherein The Copia Institute Updates The Copyright Office On The First Amendment Problems With The DMCA

      A few years ago the Copyright Office commenced several studies on the DMCA. One, on Section 1201, resulted in a report to Congress and some improvements to the triennial rulemaking process. But for the other study, on Section 512, things had been quiet for a while. Until earlier this year, when the Copyright Office announced it was hosting an additional roundtable hearing to solicit additional input. What the Copyright Office wanted to know in particular was how recent developments in US and international law should inform the recommendations they may issue as a result of this study.

      The Copia Institute had already submitted two rounds of comments, and both Mike and I had separately given testimony at the hearing held in San Francisco. This new hearing was a good chance to remind the Copyright Office of the First Amendment concerns with the DMCA we had already warned them about, many of which are just as worrying — if not more so — today.

      One significant, overarching problem is the way the DMCA results in such severe consequences for speech, speakers, and platforms themselves based on the mere accusation of infringement. It is unique in American law for there to be such an effect like this: in most instances, sanction cannot follow unless and until a court has found there to be actual liability. In fact, when it comes to affecting speech interests it is expressly forbidden by the First Amendment to punish speakers or speech before a court has found specific instances of speech unlawful. To do otherwise – to punish speech, or, worse, to punish a speaker before they’ve even had a chance to make wrongful speech – is prior restraint, and not constitutional. Yet in the DMCA context, this sort of punishment happens all the time. And since the last roundtable hearing it has only gotten worse.

    • US Media Lament Internet Censorship—in China, Not US

      The New York Times invoked this trope last summer (8/6/18) when it fretted that “a generation” was coming of age without access to such US-founded internet companies as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (a Facebook property) and Google, whose availability is restricted in China. Instead, Chinese youth were using Chinese-founded platforms, including social-media service Weibo, search engine Baidu and shortform-video application Tik Tok.

      By dint of their internet options, according to the Times, teenagers and 20-somethings living in China are excluded from the “Western liberal democracy” embodied on US platforms. The internet to which they’re exposed is censored, the Times contended—without elaboration of the forms said censorship took—and thus stripped of the values of free speech and expression employed on, say, Twitter or Google. The argument garnered an endorsement from Columbia Journalism Review (8/8/18) two days later.

      The Washington Post (2/20/19) similarly wrung its hands via a February opinion piece. Written by a member of the historically US-aligned nonprofit Human Rights Watch, the op-ed expressed apprehension over the popularity of Chinese social-media platform WeChat, which it claimed censored posts containing “‘sensitive words’—such as Tiananmen Square, Liu Xiaobo and Occupy Central.”

    • Arizona Lawmakers Running Scared After Anti-Boycott Law Ruled Unconstitutional

      Last year, an Arizona federal court blocked the state from enforcing its anti-boycott law, ruling that the law — which requires government contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank — violates the First Amendment. In response, the state appealed the court’s decision and asked the Ninth Circuit to allow it to continue enforcing the unconstitutional law pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit refused and scheduled oral arguments for the appeal for June 6.

      But instead of trying to defend its law in court come June 6, the state of Arizona is running scared. Today the state amended its anti-boycott statute in a transparent attempt to avoid another loss in court. The new law, signed today by Gov. Ducey, limits the anti-boycott certification to for-profit companies with more than 10 employees and government contracts worth more than $100,000. This means the law no longer applies to our clients as well as many other individuals and small businesses. It also means that the state will try to escape further judicial review and continue imposing the anti-boycott certification in at least some cases, even though a federal court has held that the law unconstitutionally infringes the First Amendment rights “that Americans and Arizonans use ‘to bring about political, social, and economic change.’”

      We’ve seen this tactic before.

    • No, YouTube Cannot Reasonably Moderate All Content On Its Platform

      The thread got tons of attention and retweets, and lots of people agreeing and promoting it. The only trouble is that it’s utter nonsense. Let’s go through the details. First, and most obviously, the 400 hours stat is old. That was based on a report in 2015. Much more recent testimony (as in, from last week before Congress) has YouTube saying “over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute.” To be conservative, let’s use the number 500, even though YouTube says it’s higher than that, and in all likelihood the number continues to grow each year. That means we’re already talking about 30,000 minutes of content added every minute. Hern talks about having 30,000 people employed at any one time to view all that content, but that makes a few assumptions that are incorrect.

      First, assuming that anyone can sit there and just watch content straight for 8 hour shifts is crazy. There have already been lots of discussions about the difficult situation content moderators are in, in that reviewing content all the time is incredibly stressful, and often requires significant breaks. So even as Hern “rounds up” his numbers, we’re likely talking a much higher need for reviewers to actually cover all this content in an 8 hour day. Also, Hern assumes that a single viewing by a single individual is all that content moderation would take. That makes no sense at all. To determine if a video is appropriate often would require multiple viewings, and sometimes some level of research to understand the context/language/etc. in a video to determine whether or not it met some criteria. And let’s not leave out the ongoing training that would be required of moderators to keep up on the ever changing nature of what’s allowed/not allowed under YouTube’s terms of service. The Radiolab episode we discussed last year showed just how difficult a process it is to train moderators, and to continually update what’s allowed, as so much content falls into a “gray zone” rather than being black and white (allowed/not allowed).

      So, just on that criteria alone, you’re probably talking about at least doubling the number of reviewers needed just so you’d actually have enough time to view each video enough times to fully understand what’s going on and to keep up with the rules. So now we’re talking about at least 200,000 content moderators. The last report I’ve seen says that in 2018 Google had 98,771 employees. So this alone would nearly triple its workforce.

    • Russian municipal official reportedly threatens staff who won’t unsubscribe from a critical social-media group

      Natalia Shakhova, the chief of staff of the Tyumen region’s Golyshmanovsky Municipal District, has ordered her staff to leave a community on VKontakte where users criticize the local authorities, according to a letter allegedly bearing her signature that’s appeared online. “This group is anonymous and contains many fake posts, all of which lean heavily negative,” the letter states.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ‘Dangerous and irresponsible’ age verification goes ahead

      Government announces 15 July 2019 launch date for dangerous and irresponsible age verification scheme, without compulsory privacy scheme.

      Reacting to the government’s announcement on age verification for adult content, Jim Killock Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

      “The government needs to compel companies to enforce privacy standards. The idea that they are ‘optional’ is dangerous and irresponsible.

    • Zuckerberg reportedly mulled 100 deals with developers to decide ‘real market value’ of user data

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once considered making deals with third-party developers just to help him find out how much users’ data is worth, according to an NBC News report.

      The report, which cites 4,000 leaked pages of internal documents, shines a light on the way senior company executives viewed attaching a dollar sign to sensitive user data, despite Facebook’s public commitment to protect such information.

      It said the social network’s boss once mulled 100 deals with app developers for potentially selling access to user data. In one message highlighted by the publication, Zuckerberg says the goal “wouldn’t be the deals themselves,” but learning “what developers would actually pay.”

    • Zuckerberg Used Facebook User Data To Eliminate Competition & Favor Friends

      A new NBC report has revealed another damning story about how Mark Zuckerberg had plans to consolidate Facebook’s power by leveraging user data as a bargaining chip.

      The 4,000 pages report, which was leaked by anonymous sources, sheds light on how top executives of Facebook, including CEO Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, considered making deals with third-party developers to evaluate exactly how much profit users’ data would fetch.

    • EFF Argues Against Forced Unlocking of Phone in Indiana Supreme Court

      Justices to Consider Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination
      Wabash, IN—At 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 18, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue to the Indiana Supreme Court that police cannot force a criminal suspect to turn over a passcode or otherwise decrypt her cell phone. The case is Katelin Seo v. State of Indiana.

      The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that people cannot be forced to incriminate themselves, and it’s well settled that this privilege against self-incrimination covers compelled “testimonial” communications, including physical acts. However, courts have split over how to apply the Fifth Amendment to compelled decryption of encrypted devices.

      Along with the ACLU, EFF responded to an open invitation from the Indiana Supreme Court to file an amicus brief in this important case. In Thursday’s hearing, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker will explain that the forced unlocking of a device requires someone to disclose “the contents of his own mind.” That is analogous to written or oral testimony, and is therefore protected under the U.S. Constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Scaring Up Division and Hatred

      Trump’s presidential campaign continues to this day with constant rallies around the country. Corporate media are served up to the audience as targets of abuse from the stage and from the audience.

      Yet the same outlets Trump derides as “enemies of the people” continue to boost him— highlighting presidential tweets that scare up division and hatred as news is a dangerous course for corporate media to follow.

    • Steve Miller and the Nationalist Takeover of the White House
    • Photo: Kirill Serebrennikov, recently released after almost two years of house arrest, receives national theater awards

      Director Kirill Serebrennikov receives a Golden Mask award for his ballet “Nureyev” on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. “Nureyev” was named the best ballet of 2019. Serebrennikov also received the award for Best Director for his staging of “Little Tragedies.”

    • Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Traumatized American Women, Study Shows—And May Have Made Them Less Safe

      More than six months after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, a new study shows how women and men were affected by revelations that the judge had been accused of sexual assault.

      The non-partisan research firm PerryUndem surveyed about 1,300 people from across the country, finding that more Americans believe Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, than did directly after the hearings—and that most believe Kavanaugh lied under oath about the alleged assault.

      One in four women told the company that watching the hearings in September had caused them to re-experience past trauma. The number was larger for Latin American women, at one in three.

    • Motel 6 To Pay Out Another $12 Million For Handing Guest Info To ICE

      A handful of Motel 6 owners and operators suddenly decided the best use of their guest info was as fodder for law enforcement agencies. In Connecticut, a Motel 6 just decided to start faxing its guest list over to the local cop shop every night. After this questionable practice was made public, the PD announced it never asked for this info and was going to route it right into the shredder going forward.

      Other Motel 6 owners decided ICE needed to know about every suspected illegal immigrant being housed overnight at their franchises. Using a highly-technical process that narrowed forwarded guest lists to those with foreign-sounding surnames, Motel 6 owners sicced ICE on paying customers in an effort to… I don’t know… earn good citizenship awards or something.

      It may have netted ICE a few busts and warmed the cockles of meathead managers who had discovered a way to increase occupancy turnover rates with the federal government’s help, but it also netted Motel 6 a handful of lawsuits.

    • Investigation into Trump’s sister ends with her retirement

      President Donald Trump’s older sister, federal appellate Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired — ending a judicial investigation into whether she broke judicial conduct rules by committing tax fraud, according to a still-unreleased court filing.

      The New York Times first reported Barry’s retirement, saying Barry filed her retirement papers in February, just 10 days after court officials notified complainants that the matter was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council.
      But because Barry retired, the investigation automatically closed.
      “In concluding these proceedings, the Judicial Council does not reach the merits of complaints,” the judicial council of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote of Barry’s case in an April 1 document obtained by CNN.

    • Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges

      President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

      The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

      Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

    • Hawai’i in Trouble

      Heap of black stones from the Christian destruction of a temple for the worship of Hawai’ian gods. Ulupo Park, Kailua, Hawaii. Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos

      I first visited Hawaii (Oahu and Maui) in the early 1980s. The islands retained some of the glorious beauty of their pre-American life. I remember the mountains in Oahu. They are not tall. They are smooth, green, with deep ridges. It’s like the Hawaiian goddess Pele drew her fingers over a soft matter at the moment of creation.

    • TSA Agents Say They’re Not Discriminating Against Black Women, But Their Body Scanners Might Be

      Dorian Wanzer travels frequently for work. And almost every time she steps out of an airport body scanner, security screeners pull her aside and run their fingers through her hair. It’s called a hair pat-down.

      “It happens with my natural Afro, when I have braids or two-strand twists. Regardless,” said Wanzer, who lives in Washington, D.C. “At this point in my life I have come to expect it, but that doesn’t make it any less invasive and frustrating.”

      Wanzer, who had her hair patted down by Transportation Security Administration officers two weeks ago while she flew home from Raleigh, North Carolina, said she feels singled out when she is asked to step aside.

      “When you find yourself in that kind of situation, it makes you wonder,” Wanzer said. “Is this for security, or am I being profiled for my race?”

      Black women have been raising alarms for years about being forced to undergo intrusive, degrading searches of their hair at airport security checkpoints. After a complaint five years ago, the TSA pledged to improve oversight and training for its workers on hair pat-downs.

      But it turns out there’s an issue beyond the screeners: the machines themselves.

      The futuristic full-body scanners that have become standard at airports across the United States are prone to false alarms for hairstyles popular among women of color.

    • Detention center contractors will keep reaping profit even after DHS upheaval

      As the case backlog in immigration courts swell and detention beds fill with asylum-seekers waiting for a day in court, so do the pockets of private prisons, security contractors and tech firms.

      The number of families fleeing violence and poverty and apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border increased by 300 percent this fiscal year, challenging an already strained immigration system, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This comes as the nation’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reels from a recent overhaul.

      Last week, Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down as secretary of DHS after just over two years. Nielsen’s legacy will likely be stained by the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, separating over 2,700 immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. The government has yet to reunite all separated families.

    • ‘Heartless Punishment Against Vulnerable People’: AG William Barr Rules Asylum Seekers Can Be Detained Indefinitely

      “This appalling decision could also force parents to decide to either be locked up with their children indefinitely, or relinquish custody of them for the duration of their approval process, which could take months or years,” Krishnaswami added. “This is both a heartless punishment against vulnerable people, and a potential back-door way for the administration to separate families. This decision must be reversed.”

      Barr’s ruling comes as President Donald Trump continues to ramp up his attack on the U.S. asylum system and hand more power over immigration policy to his xenophobic senior adviser Stephen Miller.

      Prior to Barr’s ruling, Reuters reported, “those who had crossed the border between official entry points and asked for asylum were eligible for bond, once they had proven to asylum officers they had a credible fear of persecution.”

      “Barr said such people can be held in immigration detention until their cases conclude, or if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides to release them by granting them ‘parole,’” according to Reuters.

    • Opening Tombs and Resurrecting Lives

      Easter is about opening tombs and resurrecting lives. Today’s tombs include the Trump administration’s walls and bans and lies that confine people, threaten their safety, and block their aspirations and fulfillment. Thus, in this life, Easter is celebrated whenever people, fleeing such oppression, are offered the safety of sanctuary. Here, people of faith not only worship a god of justice in their holy place; they do the work of justice in that very holy place itself.

      In the 1980s, The Community Church of Boston (CCB), where I was minister, was one of over 500 churches in the U.S. that provided sanctuary for Guatemalan, Salvadoran and other refugees fleeing political persecution. For two years, from November of 1983 to December of 1985, CCB housed a Guatemalan refugee who was on the Guatemalan Army’s death list. He lived in the Church building’s third floor — with my wife, Eva, our five-year-old daughter, Amy, and I living on the fourth floor. In his late 20s, “Manuel Hernandez,” as he called himself, was one of a reported 250 thousand Guatemalans fleeing their government’s — U.S. supported — oppression. (See “A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration Crisis,” by Mark Tseng-Putterman, Medium.com, June 20, 2018) In 1985, CCB helped him to gain political asylum in Canada. Recalling the political context is important here.

      During the 1980s, Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees fled their governments’ persecution and thus qualified for political asylum in the United States. As reported, “The Reagan administration supported military governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, viewing them as bulwarks against pro-Communist insurgencies. And so it played down widespread human rights outrages by those regimes and affiliated death squads.” Thus, “When Salvadorans and Guatemalans tried to enter the United States, claiming a fear of persecution in their homelands, they were typically labeled ‘economic immigrants,’ not political refugees.” (“Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America,” By Clyde Haberman, The New York Times, March 5, 2017) To recognize their political persecution would have required the U.S. government to admit its complicity in that persecution.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Apple And Qualcomm End All Of Their Legal Disputes

      In a surprising turn of events, Apple and Qualcomm have dropped all the charges they had against each other and have put an end to the two-year-old legal battle both companies were fighting.

      As per both Apple and Qualcomm, the companies have entered a six-year license agreement that is extendable to another two years. The contract (which came in effect from April 1, 2019) will lead to a multi-year chipset deal between Apple and Qualcomm with the latter providing chips to Apple.

    • Apple and Qualcomm settle their antitrust/FRAND/patent dispute: clash of California tech giants is amicably resolved

      Opening statements in the Apple, Foxconn et al. v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in San Diego (Southern District of California) were ongoing when CNBC broke the news of a settlement. A little later it was confirmed by Apple’s newsroom: All pending lawsuits between Apple and Qualcomm, and Apple’s contract manufacturers and Qualcomm, have been dismissed.

      There is a new patent license agreement as well as a new chipset supply deal in place. In other words, California’s two mobile hardware giants–Apple from the North, Qualcomm from the South–are working together again. An amicable resolution of a dispute that last more than two years and was a bit acrimonious at times.

      Cravath Swaine & Moore’s Evan Chesler finished his opening statement (with only about 20 minutes left at the time the settlement became known). Counsel talked to Judge Curiel privately, and he then explained the situation to the jury. He also invited jurors to his chambers to thank them personally for everything.

      A trial that could have lasted, if one includes jury deliberations, 1.5 months or more has therefore ended after only 1.5 days.

    • Adidas Wins Product Customization Section 101 Reversal at the PTAB

      The Federal Circuit may have some doubts about the USPTO’s new Section 101 guidelines (see the Cleveland Clinic case), but that is not stopping the flow of patents that will be issuing in light of them. While here may still be uncertainty on what claims will ultimately stand in litigation many years in the future, applicants should take heed that the scope of eligible subject matter has been clarified at the USPTO and even the PTAB is following these guidelines.

      A recent case by Adidas (SN 13/340,919) shows just how powerful these new guidelines can be. The invention relates to product customization (see claim 1 below) and was classified in art unit 3625. If you handle cases in that art unit, you know that it has one of the highest Alice rejection rates at the USPTO. Not surprisingly, Adidas faced a 101 rejection.

    • Apple, Qualcomm Settle—But That Doesn’t Mean The FTC Should

      Apple and Qualcomm have reached a global settlement to the wide-ranging dispute between the two companies. Stretching from China to the UK to the US, in a range of forums in various countries, Apple had accused Qualcomm of anti-competitive conduct in patent licensing, while Qualcomm brought a grab-bag of counterclaims. All of that is over.

      The FTC’s case against Qualcomm isn’t. In fact, this settlement only makes it more clear why the FTC’s case must proceed.

    • Trademarks

      • Take-Two Dismisses Its Lawsuit Against Pinkerton Agency As The Latter Runs From Its Own Cease And Desist

        At the very start of the year, we discussed a lawsuit filed by Take-Two Interactive against the Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations agency over content within the hit game Red Dead Redemption 2. Take-Two filed the suit seeking a declaratory judgement that its depiction of Pinkerton agents within the game was fair use, as Pinkerton had fired off a cease and desist notice to the game developer declaring that the game was violating its trademark rights and demanded either a lump sum payment or royalties as a result. Pinkerton, which most gamers will not know is a real-life union-busting, outlaw-getting agency that has existed since the west was still wild, probably thought Take-Two would pay it to go away. After all, the arguments for fair use and the First Amendment are quite clear when a work of fiction portrays a parody-take on an historically accurate and quite infamous agency of the wild west.

        We said at the time that it was hard to see how a ruling by the court in favor of Pinkerton would do anything other than force artists to license history, which is about as clearly antithetical to First Amendment law as could be imagined. It seems that Pinkerton’s lawyers agreed, as Take-Two announced it has dropped its suit as Pinkerton has agreed to withdraw its demands.

      • Iceland v Iceland: EUIPO turns up heat on descriptiveness

        Following a request from Iceland’s government, the EUIPO has invalidated Iceland Foods’ trademark in a decision that shows how rights owners must give solid evidence to overcome an increasingly strict approach to descriptiveness

        In a judgment that lawyers say is unlikely to be overturned, the office’s Cancellation Division has ruled that the EU trademark (EUTM) for ‘Iceland’, owned by UK supermarket Iceland Foods, is invalid.

      • Scandalous TM case may not follow Tam, as many predicted

        The US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case on scandalous trademarks on Monday, and the line of questioning suggests a reversal is possible

      • Fooey on the Draft

        In this case, the Federal Circuit held that the prohibition on registering “immoral” or “scandalous” marks is a facial violation of a registrant’s First Amendment free speech rights. Here, Brunetti is seeking to register the mark “FUCT,” which the solicitor identified as a close homonym of “the paradigmatic word of profanity in our language.” Oral arguments were held on April 15 before the nine Supreme Court justices.

        In the case before the Supreme Court, the Government has conceded that the USPTO’s historic application of the test has been hit-or-miss, but that going forward the agency can be trusted to to draw the line against “marks that are offensive [or] shocking to a substantial segment of the public because of their mode of expression,
        independent of any views that they may express.” This would include words like FUCT, as well as certain sexually explicit images, for instance.

        Although the prohibition is content based, the government argues that its approach would be viewpoint neutral – just like many of the other conditions for obtaining trademark rights. This should lead to a lower level of scrutiny than that faced in Tam v. Matal (2017). In addition, my view is that Tam itself was decided on thin grounds because trademark denial does not actually limit anyone’s speech. The difficulty with merging speech issues with trademark law is – as Chief Justice Roberts stated at oral arguements – The whole point of this program [i.e., trademark law] is to regulate content.”

      • Tam 2.0? SCOTUS Likely to Strike Down Bar on Immoral/Scandalous Marks in Iancu v. Brunetti
      • Disenthrall: Stephan Kinsella on Tim Pool Subverse and Trademark

        I appeared today on the Disenthrall.me Youtube channel, host Patrick Smith, to discuss the trademark issues between Tim Pool and his company media Subverse, and StudioFOW which has a popular crowdsourced porn video game coming out also called Subverse. We touched a bit on bitcoin ownership, patent and copyright, defamation law, and trademark law, and related matters.

    • Copyrights

      • Could Article 13′s Upload Filters Be Thrown Out Because Of The EU-Canada Trade Deal CETA?

        Now that the EU’s awful Copyright Directive has been passed, it would be easy to give up, and assume that nothing more can be done. That’s far from the case. Under EU law, this directive must now be implemented through national legislation in all of the EU Member States. Although that process is compulsory, there is still plenty of scope for interpreting what exactly the Copyright Directive’s text means. As a result, the fight against the worst elements — the upload filter and ancillary copyright for news — can now begin at a national level.

        Moreover, there are other ways in which these aspects of the Copyright Directive can be challenged once they are law. A number of people have pointed out that Article 13 (now renumbered as Article 17) effectively imposes an obligation on sites to carry out “general monitoring”. That’s something that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the highest court of the region, has already thrown out because it runs counter to Article 15 of the EU’s e-Commerce Directive. Once upload filters are implemented in national law, they can be challenged in the local courts. Since a question that affects the whole of the EU is involved — are upload filters a form of general monitoring? — the national court would almost certainly make a reference to the CJEU for clarification. The hope has to be that the whole approach would be ruled as inadmissible, as has already happened twice with other cases of general monitoring.

04.16.19

Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Rapid Progress Of The AV1 Video Format Over The Past Year

    Mozilla presented at the NAB Streaming Summit last week over the state of the royalty-free AV1 video format aiming to compete with H.265/HEVC and succeeding VP9 for open-source use-cases.

    In particular, a lot of AV1 progress was made over the past year compared to when the bitstream wasn’t finalized, poor encoder performance, lack of AV1 support, and slow adoption. 2018 also brought the introduction of the Dav1d AV1 video decoder, more members joining the AOMedia Foundation, and other advancements.

  • Open Source Is Eternal

    The Internet Archive was set up in part to address the problem of older web pages being lost. It aims to take snapshots of the internet as it evolves, to record and store the fleeting moments of our digital culture. Already it preserves billions of web pages that no longer are available, acting as a bulwark against time and forgetting. It’s an incredible, irreplaceable resource, which receives no official funding from governments, so I urge you to donate what you can—you never know when you will need it.

    The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, with its 347 billion web pages already saved, is a marvel. But it’s not perfect. In particular, it does not seem to have any backup copies of my Getting Wired column. No great loss, perhaps, but it is indicative of the partial nature of its holdings. More generally, it raises two important questions. First: who should be preserving our digital heritage? And second: what should be kept? Although some digital artefacts are being preserved in the US, UK and elsewhere, the resources are piecemeal, reactive and generally without any proper strategy for long-term preservation.

  • Some Of The Best Open Source VPN Tools

    With the help of VPN connections, You can establish private connections between two networks or points. VPNs are popular due to it’s security features.

    In this post, We are going to write about the best open source VPN tools.

  • On The Block with Parity’s CEO: Snowden, open-source businesses, and surviving the hack

    “We’re seeing young companies that have found business models on top of open source. They recognize it makes sense to collaborate on the foundational layers that are more infrastructure. And then find your competitive edge on a higher level,” she said. She also seemed to hint at profiting from an on-chain founder’s reward model similar to that of ZCash. “[If] you have a protocol that has some payment value mechanism built into it, it should be possible…to build some reward mechanism so that the open source protocol doesn’t suffer.”

  • Events

    • Two Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 labs at Red Hat Summit 2019: Definitive RHEL Beta, Applications Streams

      We’ve had wonderful participation in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, and if you participated in it, we hope you found the numerous related articles helpful. But whether or not you’ve tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, if you’re attending Red Hat Summit 2019 next month, here are two hands-on labs you’ll want to participate in.

      The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta lab (with three time slots) will be applicable for nearly everyone and cover topics from AppStreams to yum. The Application Streams lab will be more for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 application development including container development with Podman and Buildah. If you’re not familiar with Application Streams, read Langdon White’s Introducing Application Streams in RHEL 8—he not only wrote the article but is also one of the lab instructors.

    • Sirko Kemter: An Awesome Week

      The best day was by far the wednesday, first I got confirmed that Open Development Cambodia will host the next Translation Sprint and even more they would host us month for month. After a short consultation with the most active translators, we will do starting May bi-monthly Translation Sprints. I had 3 weeks ago a meeting at Open Development Cambodia and they just wanted me to note down what Fedora is and what we doing, just for their sponsors. The meeting took me the whole day, not the meeting itself but getting there was one hour for me without bike and of course one hour back. But now after 6 months searching and dozens of unsuccessful meetings I finished it and the next sprint can happen. I already made all the necessary tickets and after Khmer New Year we will announce it.

    • Hackergram Journey Part 2 – The Conclusion

      As my bags were mostly packed, they just had to be fetched. While Karan did the hotel checkout thing, Sanjay helped me with the luggage and putting it in his car. The journey which lasted about 30-45 minutes was beautiful. Sanjay had Acousic blues which added to the beauty of the place and the ride. While Karan had questions for me as he wanted to know about Javascript, my mind was still unfolding hence decided to stick to the very basics . While I don’t remember if I told him about js-team in Debian, their work on Salsa . For those who don’t know what Salsa is, it is a gitlab instance which Debian uses and also contributes to. I possibly might not have shared the JS-Tutorial although that is more aimed at packaging javascript nodejs modules for Debian. I think Karan was more into upstream development hence told him about some of the web frameworks but obviously not all as still was in recovery mode and then again it is very much a personal choice what tool you choose to express yourself. For e.g. I find wordpress easier to use while there are many people who rave about medium while there are others who use their own very basic static sites using one of the tools mentioned in the list. So it probably is a good idea to just let them be and let them figure out what works for them. I did share that Pune has around 100 or so co-working places and there are some big names like TRIOS and others who are making quite some noise. There has also been quite some noises made about co-living . For Sanjay I did tell him that either Pune or most metros have more or less many places which have open mic nights. Although, the newest-oldest trend has been to open your place. for singers or performers. I had been to places such as these for more than a decade or more but now it’s a bit more formalised rather than something between friends. I shared about balconytv which Sanjay knew about. We also had discussions about Indian blues, melody etc. and time went by. Before we knew it, we were in/near Kathgodam Railway Station.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Peter Bengtsson: Whatsdeployed rewritten in React

        All old URLs will continue to work but now the canonical URL becomes /s/5HY/mozilla-services/tecken, for example. The :org/:repo isn’t really necessary because the server knows exactly what 5HY (in this example means), but it’s nice for the URL bar’s memory.

        Another thing that changed was how it can recognize “bors commits”. When you use bors, you put a bunch of commits into a GitHub Pull Request and then ask the bors bot to merge them into master. Using “bors mode” in Whatsdeployed is optional but we believe it looks a lot more user-friendly. Here is an example of mozilla/normandy with and without bors toggled on and off.

      • Firefox 67 Beta 10 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday April 12th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 67 Beta 10.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Rok Žerdin, noelonassis, gaby2300, Kamila kamciatek

        From Mozilla Bangladesh Community: Sayed Ibn Masud, Md.Rahimul Islam, Shah Yashfique Bhuian, Maruf Rahman, Niyaz Bin Hashem, Md. Almas Hossain, Ummay hany eiti, Kazi Ashraf Hossain.

      • How you can take control against online tracking

        Picture this. You arrive at a website you’ve never been to before and the site is full of ads for things you’ve already looked at online. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine because it happens every day. It can feel creepy, especially if you don’t understand why you’re seeing those ads. It can be particularly uncomfortable when you start seeing ads that try to shape your political opinions. With elections coming up in the EU, Canada and the US, it’s important to understand how online tracking can influence you.

      • The Bug in Apple’s Latest Marketing Campaign [Ed: Mozilla calls out misleading ads from Apple, which is in NSA PRISM and is spying on people, putting back doors in everything and so on]

        Each iPhone that Apple sells comes with a unique ID (called an “identifier for advertisers” or IDFA), which lets advertisers track the actions users take when they use apps. It’s like a salesperson following you from store to store while you shop and recording each thing you look at. Not very private at all.

        The good news: You can turn this feature off. The bad news: Most people don’t know that feature even exists, let alone that they should turn it off. And we think that they shouldn’t have to.

        That’s why we’re asking Apple to change the unique IDs for each iPhone every month. You would still get relevant ads — but it would be harder for companies to build a profile about you over time.

      • Alex Gibson: My sixth year working at Mozilla

        This week marks my sixth year working at Mozilla! I’ll be honest, this year’s mozillaversary came by so fast I nearly forgot all about writing this blog post. It feels hard to believe that I’ve been working here for a full six years. I’ve guess grown and learned a lot in that time, but it still doesn’t feel like all that long ago when I first joined full time. Years start to blur together. So, what’s happened in this past 12 months?

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Announcing the Hubs Discord Bot

        We’re excited to announce an official Hubs integration with Discord, a platform that provides text and voice chat for communities. In today’s digital world, the ways we stay connected with our friends, family, and co-workers is evolving. Our established social networks span across different platforms, and we believe that shared virtual reality should build on those relationships and that they enhance the way we communicate with the people we care about. Being co-present as avatars in a shared 3D space is a natural progression for the tools we use today, and we’re building on that idea with Hubs to allow you to create private spaces where your conversations, content, and data is protected.

        In recent years, Discord has grown in popularity for communities organized around games and technology, and is the platform we use internally on the Hubs development team for product development discussions. Using Discord as a persistent platform that is open to the public gives us the ability to be open about our ongoing work and initiatives on the Hubs team and integrate the community’s feedback into our product planning and development. If you’re a member of the Discord server for Hubs, you may have already seen the bot in action during our internal testing this month!

      • Pyodide: Bringing the scientific Python stack to the browser

        The impetus for Pyodide came from working on another Mozilla project, Iodide, which we presented in an earlier post. Iodide is a tool for data science experimentation and communication based on state-of-the-art web technologies. Notably, it’s designed to perform data science computation within the browser rather than on a remote kernel.

        Unfortunately, the “language we all have” in the browser, JavaScript, doesn’t have a mature suite of data science libraries, and it’s missing a number of features that are useful for numerical computing, such as operator overloading. We still think it’s worthwhile to work on changing that and moving the JavaScript data science ecosystem forward. In the meantime, we’re also taking a shortcut: we’re meeting data scientists where they are by bringing the popular and mature Python scientific stack to the browser.

      • Brussels Mozilla Mornings: A policy blueprint for internet health

        On 14 May, Mozilla will host the next installment of our Mozilla Mornings series – regular breakfast meetings where we bring together policy experts, policymakers and practitioners for insight and discussion on the latest EU digital policy developments.

        This event will coincide with the launch of the 2019 Mozilla Foundation Internet Health Report. We’re bringing together an expert panel to discuss some of the report’s highlights, and their vision for how the next EU political mandate can enhance internet health in Europe.

      • Google Accused Of Betraying Firefox To Boost Chrome Adoption

        We all know that since Google Chrome came into being, other popular web browsers–Mozilla Firefox being one of them–failed to maintain their position in the market. As a result, today Chrome is the most used web browser. However, it also faces scrutiny for its popularity and the most recent one to do so is an ex-Mozilla employee.

        According to a Twitter thread by Johnathan Nightingale, former general manager and vice president at Mozilla Firefox, Google deliberately sabotaged Mozilla with its “amateur hours” tactics.

      • Mozilla’s Common CA Database (CCADB) promotes Transparency and Collaboration

        The Common CA Database (CCADB) is helping us protect individuals’ security and privacy on the internet and deliver on our commitment to use transparent community-based processes to promote participation, accountability and trust. It is a repository of information about Certificate Authorities (CAs) and their root and subordinate certificates that are used in the web PKI, the publicly-trusted system which underpins secure connections on the web. The Common CA Database (CCADB) paves the way for more efficient and cost-effective management of root stores and helps make the internet safer for everyone. For example, the CCADB automatically detects and alerts root store operators when a root CA has outdated audit statements or a gap between audit periods. This is important, because audit statements provide assurance that a CA is following required procedures so that they do not issue fraudulent certificates.

  • LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Can schools be agile?

      Not surprisingly, a go-to resource I recommend to any school wanting to begin or accelerate this process is The Open Organization by Jim Whitehurst. Not only does the book provide a window into how educators can create more open, inclusive leadership structures—where mutual respect enables nimble decisions to be made per real-time data—but it does so in language easily adaptable to the rather strange lexicon that’s second nature to educators. Open organization thinking provides pragmatic ways any organization can empower members to be more open: sharing ideas and resources, embracing a culture of collaborative participation as a top priority, developing an innovation mindset through rapid prototyping, valuing ideas based on merit rather than the rank of the person proposing them, and building a strong sense of community that’s baked into the organization’s DNA. Such an open organization crowd-sources ideas from both inside and outside its formal structure and creates the type of environment that enables localized, student-centered innovations to thrive.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source vs. Open Core: What’s the Difference? [iophk: "Microsoft contaminating and disrupting whole projects"]

      “Open source is everywhere,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. A quick look at the proprietary software vendors of yesteryear drives his point home. Open Source code is not only leveraged by most of them, but they are also large contributors to open source projects. Consider that Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP, SUSE and many others back the Cloud Foundry Foundation. And even though Red Hat is the company everyone points to when they think open source, Microsoft has twice as many employees — 4,550 — who contribute code to open source projects. Amazon, IBM and SAP also land in the top 10.

    • Pengwin: A Linux specifically for Windows Subsystem for Linux [Ed: This isn’t “Linux”, that’s just Windows and Microsoft is hijacking the brand.]
  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • OSI updates licence categories

      The European Union Public Licence (EUPL) is now listed among “International licenses”, with CeCILL (a licence created in France by the three main public IT research organisations, INRIA, CEA and CNRS) and LiLiQ (a licence created by the State of Quebec – Canada)

  • Programming/Development

    • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Pierre Denis

      I’ve a Master in Computer Science from UCL Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, where I reside. I’m working since 20 years as software engineer in [Spacebel](http://www.spacebel.be), a company developing systems for Space. Basically, I like everything creative and elegant. Beside arts, music, literature, I’m looking for this in physics, algorithmic, GUI and mathematics. I love programming, especially in Python.

    • Reinout van Rees: Summaries of the Python meetup in Amsterdam
    • Remove multiple entries of the same command in .bash_history with preserving the chronological order
    • Pattern Matching In Bash
    • Count the number of occurrences of each character and return it as a list of tuples in order of appearance
    • Closer Look at the Double Ratchet
    • Getting started with Mercurial for version control
    • Clang Flips On Modules Support With C++2A Switch

      With modules being an accepted feature for C++20, LLVM’s Clang compiler has now enabled the functionality when tapping the compiler’s experimental support via the -std=c++2a compiler switch.

      The LLVM Clang compiler has offered experimental modules support already but has required the -fmodules-ts compiler switch to enable the functionality. With modules now officially approved for C++20, the functionality will also be available when using the standard -std=c++2a switch.

    • GDA Starts Beta Stage

      GDA 6.0 Beta has been Released. Valgrind tests and memory leak fixes are in progress.

      To reach Beta stage, some providers and tools, like GTK widgets, has been cataloged as experimental and disable by default.

    • GStreamer: GStreamer 1.15.90 pre-release (1.16.0 release candidate 1)

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the first release candidate for the upcoming stable 1.16.0 release.

      Check out the draft release notes highlighting all the new features, bugfixes, performance optimizations and other important changes.

      Packagers: please note that quite a few plugins and libraries have moved between modules since 1.14, so please take extra care and make sure inter-module version dependencies are such that users can only upgrade all modules in one go, instead of seeing a mix of 1.15 and 1.14 on their system.

    • GStreamer 1.16 Is Nearly Ready With AV1 For Matroska/MP4 Containers, V4L HEVC
    • GStreamer: Orc 0.4.29 bug-fix release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce another maintenance bug-fix release of liborc, the Optimized Inner Loop Runtime Compile

    • What is your biggest work environment distraction?

      The 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results show that more than 40% of respondents say a distracting work environment is the biggest challenge to productivity. What distracts you most in your work environment?

    • More than coders

      Lately, the compiler team has been changing up the way that we work. Our goal is to make it easier for people to track what we are doing and – hopefully – get involved. This is an ongoing effort, but one thing that has become clear immediately is this: the compiler team needs more than coders.

      Traditionally, when we’ve thought about how to “get involved” in the compiler team, we’ve thought about it in terms of writing PRs. But more and more I’m thinking about all the other jobs that go into maintaining the compiler. “What kinds of jobs are these?”, you’re asking.

    • Python for NLP: Introduction to the TextBlob Library
    • Linux C Programming tutorial part 22 – Accessing command line arguments within C program

      In the previous tutorial, we discussed multiple concepts related to pointers in C programming language. One of the concepts we discussed was an array of pointers.

    • PyCharm: Webinar: “Effective Data Science with PyCharm” with Dan Tofan

      Data Science! A huge topic which has swept through all programming languages, especially Python. PyCharm has unique facilities aimed at data science professionals. But if you’re a data scientist, where to start on using PyCharm with it?

    • Linear Regression in Python

      We’re living in the era of large amounts of data, powerful computers, and artificial intelligence. This is just the beginning. Data science and machine learning are driving image recognition, autonomous vehicles development, decisions in the financial and energy sectors, advances in medicine, the rise of social networks, and more. Linear regression is an important part of this.

      Linear regression is one of the fundamental statistical and machine learning techniques. Whether you want to do statistics, machine learning, or scientific computing, there are good chances that you’ll need it. It’s advisable to learn it first and then proceed towards more complex methods.

    • Programming languages: Python developers now outnumber Java ones [Ed: Makes the typical grave error of using a Microsoft site as an indicator of programming and FOSS trends as if coders don't exist unless they give their code to Microsoft]

      Python’s rise among developers around the world has been documented by several well-known programming-language indexes. But UK developer-focused analyst SlashData has now put a figure on the actual number of developers that use the language.

    • C++ Knocks Python From Top Three Popular Programming Languages

      The widely used object-oriented programming language C++ has finally gained back its position in the top three slots for the most popular programming languages ranked by the TIOBE Index.

      It marks the return of C++ after September when Python snatched the third position in the programming languages list. Back then, C++ managed to occupy the fourth slot, Java and C seated at first and second position.

    • Removing Files from Git History

      Today I did run again into an old problem: You need to archive a lot small and large files inside a single Git repository and you have no support for Git LFS available. You did this several year and now you ended up in a state where cloning and working with the repository is unbearable slow.

      What now? Last time I did run into that, I archived the overfull repository to some “rest in peace” space and used git filter-branch to filter out no longer needed and too large objects from a repository copy that then will replace the old one for daily use.

      There are a lot of guides available how to use git filter-branch for that. All variants I ever used were complex to do and did take very long. Especially if you need several tries to get a sane set of stuff you want to remove to gain enough space savings.

    • An important message to people designing testing frameworks!

      Do not, I repeat, NOT make your test framework fail a test run if it writes any text to stderr! No matter how good of on idea you think it is, it’s terrible.

      If you absolutely, positively have to do that, then print the reason for this failure in your output log. If you can’t think of a proper warning message, feel free to copy paste this one…

    • Detecting malaria with deep learning

      There are several methods that can be used for malaria detection and diagnosis. The paper on which our project is based, “Pre-trained convolutional neural networks as feature extractors toward improved Malaria parasite detection in thin blood smear images,” by Rajaraman, et al., introduces some of the methods, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). These two tests are typically used where high-quality microscopy services are not readily available.

      The standard malaria diagnosis is typically based on a blood-smear workflow, according to Carlos Ariza’s article “Malaria Hero: A web app for faster malaria diagnosis,” which I learned about in Adrian Rosebrock’s “Deep learning and medical image analysis with Keras.” I appreciate the authors of these excellent resources for giving me more perspective on malaria prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment.

    • removing array duplicates

      I had an array with some duplicates. I wanted to remove them. I know how to do this, but I searched for solutions anyway to make sure I wasn’t missing some trick. The results were disappointing, very language specific, and rarely discussed run time. And if we’re working with an unsorted array, the provided answers are even worse. Just sort the array first. Well, duh; any problem with unsorted data can be transformed into a problem with sorted data by sorting first. That’s not very interesting, though, and maybe there’s a reason the data is unsorted. Here’s a few solutions I worked through, but no stunning algorithmic breakthroughs.

    • A Rule of Divisibility by 7

      A number m of the form 10x + y is divisible by 7 if and only if x − 2y is divisible by 7. In other words, subtract twice the last digit from the number formed by the remaining digits. Continue to do this until a number known to be divisible or not by 7 is obtained; you can stop when this number has at most 2 digits because you are supposed to know if a number of at most 2 digits is divisible by 7 or not.

      The original number is divisible by 7 if and only if the last number obtained using this procedure is divisible by 7.

    • Debugging Clang AST Matchers

      Last week I flew to Brussels for EuroLLVM followed by Bristol for ACCU.

      At both conferences I presented the work I’ve been doing to make it easier for regular C++ programmers to perform ‘mechanical’ bespoke refactoring using the clang ASTMatchers tooling. Each talk was prepared specifically for the particular audience at that conference, but both were very well received. The features I am working on require changes to the upstream Clang APIs in order to enable modern tooling, so I was traveling to EuroLLVM to try to build some buy-in and desire for those features.

      I previously delivered a talk on the same topic about AST Matchers at code::dive 2018. This week I presented updates to the tools and features that I have worked on during the 6 months since.

      One of the new features I presented is a method of debugging AST Matchers.

    • Introduction to the Python Calendar Module

      Python has an built-in module named Calendar that contains useful classes and functions to support a variety of calendar operations. By default, the Calendar module follows the Gregorian calendar, where Monday is the first day (0) of the week and Sunday is the last day of the week (6).

      In Python, datetime and time modules also provide low-level calendar-related functionalities. In addition to these modules, the Calendar module provides essential functions related to displaying and manipulating calendars.

      To print and manipulate calendars, the Calendar module has 3 important classes: Calendar, TextCalendar, and HTMLCalendar. In this article, we will see how these classes can help implement a variety of calendar related functions.

Leftovers

  • Game Exclusivity Wars Are Upon Us And Valve’s Anti-Review-Bombing Process Is Without A Rip-Cord

    Earlier this year, we wrote about the rather sudden emergence of Epic Games’ entry into the game distribution business. In a move to directly compete with Valve’s Steam, the Epic’s store has been attempting to gobble up AAA titles into a program of limited exclusivity, typically six months. The lure for all this is a split for Epic and the game publisher that is more generous for the latter. Valve, meanwhile, responded to one of the larger stories about a game going Epic exclusive, Metro Exodus, by complaining that it was bad for gamers generally and Steam users specifically. That quite predictably served as a rallying cry for Steam users to go to the store pages for other Deep Silver Metro games and bomb those pages with negative reviews that had nothing to do with those games and everything to do with the exclusivity deal.

    All of which is at odds with Steam’s policies and the platform’s stated goals of preventing review-bombing of this type. But as the exclusivity wars appear to be upon us, with more games jumping on with Epic, it’s becoming clearer that this is probably a purposeful strategy on Valve’s end. The latest example of this is the announcement that the next game in the Borderlands series has signed on with Epic to be exclusive for six months. The backlash on Steam was almost immediate.

  • Massive Fire Engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral, Toppling Spire

    A massive fire engulfed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the French capital Monday, toppling its spire and sending thick plumes of smoke high into the blue sky as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

    A spokesman said the entire wooden frame of the cathedral would likely come down, and that the vault of the edifice could be threatened too.

    “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

    The cause of the catastrophic blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead. Paris police said there were no reported deaths.

  • Notre Dame and Lateral Thinking

    France is a country which has spent hundreds of billions of euros on nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction, and hundreds of billions of euros on other military capabilities. France possesses the technological capability to utterly flatten a city the size of Paris in minutes. Yet it does not possess the technological capability to prevent one of its greatest buildings from being destroyed by fire.

    If the many trillions spent all around the world on the research, development and production of instruments of destruction had been devoted to peaceful purposes instead, what new technologies might we have now? It is not a huge step in lateral thinking to imagine that in such a world, more might have been available to save Notre Dame – and Grenfell – than too short ladders and hoses squirting water.

    I posted this simple idea on twitter a couple of hours ago. As with all my twitter posts, right wing trolls came in to dispute my point very quickly. Their posts are worth reading because they so stunningly miss the point. They talk about standard lengths of firefighting ladders and about water pressure. They appear completely unable to even register, let alone extrapolate from, the notion that had the resources mankind has squandered on agents of destruction been better used, we might have different technologies.

  • YouTube’s Bad Anti-Conspiracy Algorithm Links Notre Dame Fire to 9/11 Attacks

    On Monday afternoon, as people around the world started tuning in to YouTube live-streams of a massive fire that’s destroying the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, some viewers noticed something odd. Beneath some of the YouTube videos, the platform inserted an Encyclopedia Britannica link and preview for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

  • YouTube Flags Notre-Dame Fire as 9/11 Conspiracy, Says System Made ‘Wrong Call’

    YouTube, a division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, introduced this text box feature last year to combat the spread of conspiracy theories, including those that question the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, YouTube’s software mistakenly labeled the plumes of smoke in Paris as footage from 2001, triggering the panel below the video.

    “We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral,” said a YouTube spokesman. “These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire.”

  • YouTube’s New Fact-Check Tool Flagged Notre Dame Fire Coverage And Attached An Article About 9/11

    As the Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday, YouTube flagged livestreams of the incident as possible sources of misinformation and then started showing people articles about the 9/11 attacks.

    The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but it broke out as the 12th-century cathedral was undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation project. Police in Paris also said no deaths were reported from the site.

  • Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

    Others packed the banks of the Seine across from the Gothic masterpiece, hoping against hope that some 400 firefighters could prevent further damage. Still others held their heads in their hands, unable to watch.

  • Jane Goodall and Other Environmental Leaders Respond to Notre Dame Fire

    Around 500 firefighters worked to control the blaze. In the end, the church’s structure, including its two towers, was “saved and preserved as a whole,” Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said. No one was killed, though one firefighter was seriously injured. The fire also had a profound emotional impact on those who watched it burn.

    “It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” 45-year-old marketing director Pierre Guillaume Bonnet told The New York Times. “For me there are so many memories tied up in it.”

    As expressions of grief and solidarity poured out from around the world, environmental leaders were among those who responded to the tragedy.

    Primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall wrote on her website about how much the cathedral had meant to her. She shared an excerpt from her book Reason for Hope in which she described how visiting the church had helped her through a difficult time in her life.

  • Science

    • Monkeys Genetically Edited to Mimic Human Brain Development

      Rhesus monkeys engineered to express a human gene reportedly show delayed brain development and better short-term memory. Fellow scientists are raising ethical red flags.

    • Welsh and Hawaiian were saved from extinction. Other languages might not be so lucky

      This is already happening across the border in Guangdong province, the region of China where Cantonese (Gwongdungwa) originated. National government policies have been aggressive in pushing Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools, often at the expense of regional languages and dialects. Television broadcasts and other media have also switched to Mandarin, and most young people in China use Pinyin, a system of inputting Chinese characters based on Mandarin, when they communicate online.

      “What is happening with the renaissance of Welsh is the polar opposite of Cantonese,” said Marco Kwan, founder of Words.hk, a website dedicated to documenting how the city’s language is used in daily life. “To preserve or promote or kill a language is largely dependent on educational policy.”

      While he says many defenders of the language overstate the risk it faces, Kwan is wary of a “top-down aversion to Cantonese.” He says this is largely down to city officials and schools seeking to curry favor with the Chinese government by promoting Mandarin teaching in its stead.

    • This Is How Human Extinction Could Play Out

      In 2015, a study in the Journal of Mathematical Biology pointed out that if the world’s oceans kept warming, by 2100 they might become hot enough to “stop oxygen production by phyto-plankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.” Given that two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, that would “likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”

    • Concerns rising over global helium shortage

      With just 14 liquid helium plants in the world, those outages are enough to send helium prices skyward.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pesticide Marketed as Safe for Bees Harms Them in Study

      Bayer, the producer of FPF, says that the compound is safe for bees. Its website states that FPF “targets key damaging pests while helping safeguard beneficial insects.” While that may be the case with FPF alone and at labeled doses, the team’s experiments show that FPF and PRO together increase mortality of both bees residing in the hive and foragers. They also report that the two chemicals together boost the frequency of bees showing abnormal behaviors, such as hyperactivity and a lack of motor coordination.

    • Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds

      The survey also found that one in four Americans have skipped treatment because of the cost, and that nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency.

    • Medicare for All 64-Year-Olds

      The push for universal Medicare was given new momentum by Bernie Sanders campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination. While it is still quite far from becoming law in even an optimistic scenario, it is certainly now treated as serious political position. This is probably best demonstrated by the fact that the Medicare for All (M4A) bill put forward by Washington representative Pramila Jayapal has 107 co-sponsors, nearly half of the Democratic caucus in the House.

      As much progress as M4A has made, it will still be a huge lift to get it implemented. A universal Medicare system would mean shifting somewhere around 8 percent of GDP ($1.6 trillion at 2019 levels) from the private system to a government managed system. It would also mean reorganizing the Medicaid program and other government-run health care programs, as well as the Medicare program itself. The current system has large co-pays and many gaps in coverage, such as dental care, that most proponents of M4A would like to fill. It also has a large role for private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program, as well the Part D prescription drug benefit.

      The difficulty of a transition is demonstrated by the fact that there is no agreed upon mechanism for paying for this expansion of Medicare. Instead of a specific financing mechanism, the Jayapal bill features a menu of options. Actual legislation of course requires specific revenue sources, not a menu. The fact, that even the most progressive members of the House could not agree on a financing proposal that they could put their names to, shows the difficulty of the transition.

    • ‘That Backfired’: Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

      “Millions of people, every single year, lose their health insurance. You know why? They get fired. Or They quit. And they go to another employer,” said the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender after Fox moderator Bret Baier suggested 180 million Americans with employer-provided insurance would lose coverage under Medicare for All.

      “Every year, millions of workers wake up in the morning and their employer has changed the insurance that they have,” Sanders added. “So this is not new… Now what we’re talking about actually is stability. That when you have a Medicare for All [program] it is there now and it will be there in the future.”

    • Scared to Death: Immigrants in Need of Health Care Face Perilous Choices
    • Mapping the U.S. Counties Where Traffic Air Pollution Hurts Children the Most

      In the U.S., more than 6 million children had ongoing asthma in 2016. Globally, asthma kills around 1,000 people every day — and its prevalence is rising.

      This condition has a high economic cost. Each year in the U.S., more than $80 billion is lost because of asthma. This is mainly due to premature deaths, medical payments and missed work and school days. The burden is higher for families with asthmatic children, who, on average, spend $1,700 more on health care than families with healthy children.

    • Mentally Ill New Yorkers Seeking Independence Find Safety Net Has Holes, Report Finds

      New York state officials are behind in investigating incidents where mentally ill New Yorkers may have come to harm, according to an independent report filed in Brooklyn federal court this month.

      At issue is the welfare of hundreds of vulnerable people who have moved out of troubled adult group homes and into their own apartments under a federal court order issued by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

      Last December, ProPublica and Frontline identified more than two dozen cases in which former adult home residents struggled without adequate support, living in conditions that were unsafe and inhumane. We exposed six deaths, including a woman who had been strangled in her bathtub and a man who was found naked and dead during a blizzard.

    • As Single-Payer Gains Traction, Industry Launches Attack Ads

      The health care industry spends hundreds of millions lobbying each year. The post-Citizens United political ad frenzy has been extremely profitable for news broadcasters for nearly a decade. So, one can only imagine how much money the major power brokers of the health industry are prepared to spend to stop single-payer from becoming a consensus position among Democrats.

      The U.S. health system works, in that it is doing what it was built to do: create profit for wealthy shareholders. The system works great for wealthy executives and the ownership class but is entirely dysfunctional for the majority of people: It bankrupts and kills the poor while widening profit margins for the wealthy. It is a national embarrassment and a brazen moral abdication of one of the most basic functions a government can serve.

      Most Americans in supporting Medicare for All seem to either know or strongly suspect this to be true. But the industry’s privileged status and hefty profits nevertheless allow it to shape the national debate and politicians in Washington. Our electoral system allows the most powerful industries so much influence that invariably, the people shaping the debate are doing so on behalf of commercial interests — not for patients, taxpayers or citizens.

      This election cycle the hub of the single-payer opposition has come mostly in the form of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a coalition of nearly every major powerful lobby in the private health industry. Among the powerful entities in the coalition are the largest drug, insurance and hospital lobbies in the country, among many others (all large spending lobbyists in their own right). The coalition has one goal: to prevent support for single-payer from emerging into a consensus position for Democrats, despite being so popular with Democratic voters.

    • Nothing Less Than Improved Medicare for All

      Isn’t this a “radical transformation” of the US healthcare system?

      No. Medicare for All expands the role of public financing in healthcare- 60% of healthcare is already paid for by our taxes. It does so through an existing “single-payer” called the Medicare Trust Fund that already pays virtually every provider in the US but just for seniors. Under Medicare for All it will cover everybody and reimburse providers who remain mostly private. The new financing replaces all premiums, co-pays and deductibles –Medicare for All is the only reform program to do so.

      Besides the government, the primary payers in the current system are the commercial insurance companies, funded by employer contributions, taxes, and individuals (those premiums, co-pays, and deductibles). These insurance companies are “middle men.” For prescription drugs, the insurance companies often pay Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who set the limits on coverage and pay pharmacies. The Medicare program in part currently uses insurance companies and PBMs. The new Medicare for All will directly pay for prescriptions, services and providers, cutting out all “middle men.”

    • Trump Wants to End Regulation That Cut Mercury Pollution by 81 Percent

      Americans have one day left to tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve life-saving pollution standards.

      Last year, the Trump administration proposed a plan to move forward with dismantling safeguards on dangerous mercury and toxic pollution from power plants. Doing so would boost levels of mercury, soot and other hazardous pollution into our nation’s air, water, food and communities. These standards — the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) — were developed in consultation with medical and public health experts in order to keep Americans healthy and safe.

      As a doctor in Pennsylvania, I have seen just how important these standards are. Children are especially vulnerable to mercury’s harmful effects on the brain before birth and during early childhood. Coal-related mercury pollution has so contaminated Pennsylvania’s landscape that the state’s Fish and Boat Commission has advised pregnant women to limit local fish consumption to one meal per week.

      The technology that reduces mercury and hazardous air pollution also cuts pollution from other microscopic soot particles (particulate matter) and lung-tissue-burning ozone. Known as a “co-benefit” to the MATS, this is where these standards save the most lives. Our medical literature is replete with studies showing that cutting these pollutants prevents death, disability, and hospital visits that result from lung disease, asthma, heart attack, stroke and even diabetes.

      These standards are working as intended, keeping families healthy and safe. Before these standards were put in place, mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants was completely unlimited, and accounted for 48 percent of all human-caused mercury pollution, according to a report by Columbia University.

    • Windborne Microplastics Are Everywhere

      The researchers found a daily rate of plastic pollution falling from the sky in the Pyrenees was comparable to the amount raining down on Paris and Dongguan, a large industrial city in China, NPR reported.

      “It was incredible how much microplastic was being deposited,” said Deonie Allen, a researcher at EcoLab in the School of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Toulouse, France, as reported by National Geographic. There were no obvious sources for the microplastics within 60 miles, said Allen, the lead author of the study published Monday in Nature Geoscience.

      The study is the first of its kind to show the how far microplastics can travel on the wind. Scientists had previously thought that atmospheric microplastic pollutants would rise up and settle again near the cities and industrial hubs where they originated.

      The researchers looked at computer models of wind patterns to pinpoint the source of the microplastics, but none was found within a 60-mile radius of the region — which is sparsely populated and without commercial, industrial or large agricultural centers. While scientists know how dust gets blown and travels from the Sahara to Europe, they know very little about how microplastics move.

  • Security

    • ApparitionSec

      Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995.

    • Internet Explorer Flaw Lets Hackers Steal Your Files Even If You Don’t Use It

      Internet Explorer was already useless for most of us, but now it is dangerous to have the obsolete browser on your computer. A security researcher, John Page, found a new security flaw in Internet Explorer that allows hackers to steal data.

    • Internet Explorer exploit lets hackers steal your data even if you never use it

      Finally stopped using Internet Explorer? Good! But, now it’s time to completely delete it from your computer, too. Security researcher John Page has discovered a new security flaw that allows hackers to steal Windows users’ data thanks to Internet Explorer. The craziest part: Windows users don’t ever even have to open the now-obsolete web browser for malicious actors to use the exploit. It just needs to exist on their computer.

    • DARPA Making An Anonymous And Hack-Proof Mobile Communication System

      The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, develops technologies that are deployed by the US army and sometimes the agency makes the technologies available for civilians as well. DARPA is behind many breakthrough technologies, including the internet itself, GPS, Unix, and Tor.

      Now, DARPA is currently working on an anonymous, end-to-end mobile communication system that would be attack-resilient and reside entirely within a contested network environment.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Passwords and Policies | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure
    • FBI now investigating “RobinHood” ransomware attack on Greenville computers [Ed: Microsoft Windows TCO]
    • RobinHood Ransomware Is “Honest” And Promises To “Respect Your Privacy”

      The world of cybersecurity is full of surprises. From using Game of Thrones torrents to exploiting popular porn websites — notorious cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to cause you harm.

      In a related development, a ransomware called RobinHood is spreading havoc in North Carolina, where the ransomware has crippled most city-owned PCs. The FBI is currently investigating the issue along with local authorities.

    • Adblock Plus filter lists may execute arbitrary code
    • Purism at SCaLE 2019 – Retrospective on Secure PureBoot

      Once again, we were so busy we barely had the time to leave our booth: people were very interested in the Librem 5 devkit hardware, in the latest version of the Librem laptops and PureOS, on having the same apps for the Librem laptops and the Librem 5 phone… so we got to do the full pitch. On a less technical note, our swag was quite a success. People told us they loved our paper notebook and carpenter pencil, and asked questions about the pencils – which, according to Kyle Rankin, Chief Security Officer of Purism, have a section that is “kind of shaped like our logo”, and being carpenter pencils “are designed so you can sharpen them without having to use a proprietary pencil sharpener.” Visitors (and team) loved them for being beautiful, unusual and useful.

    • Hackers could read non-corporate Outlook.com, Hotmail for six months [iophk: "Microsoft Peter soft-pedalling the state of disaster"]

      Late on Friday, some users of Outlook.com/Hotmail/MSN Mail received an email from Microsoft stating that an unauthorized third party had gained limited access to their accounts and was able to read, among other things, the subject lines of emails (but not their bodies or attachments, nor their account passwords), between January 1 and March 28 of this year. Microsoft confirmed this to TechCrunch on Saturday.

      The hackers, however, dispute this characterization. They told Motherboard that they can indeed access email contents and have shown that publication screenshots to prove their point. They also claim that the hack lasted at least six months, doubling the period of vulnerability that Microsoft has claimed. After this pushback, Microsoft responded that around 6 percent of customers affected by the hack had suffered unauthorized access to their emails and that these customers received different breach notifications to make this clear. However, the company is still sticking to its claim that the hack only lasted three months.

      Not in dispute is the broad character of the attack. Both hackers and Microsoft’s breach notifications say that access to customer accounts came through compromise of a support agent’s credentials. With these credentials, the hackers could use Microsoft’s internal customer support portal, which offers support agents some level of access to Outlook.com accounts. The hackers speculated to Motherboard that the compromised account belonged to a highly privileged user and that this may have been what granted them the ability to read mail bodies. The compromised account has subsequently been locked to prevent any further abuse.

    • Three encryption tools for the cloud

      Safeguard your cloud storage with some preemptive file encryption. Here are three open source tools that get the job done in Linux.

      From a security perspective, cloud storage ought never to have happened. The trouble is, it relies on the ability of users to trust the provider, yet often the only assurance available is the provider’s word. However, the convenience of cloud storage is too great for many companies and individuals to avoid it. Fortunately, security can be regained by users storing only encrypted files.

      Numerous tools exist for encrypting in the cloud. Some are proprietary. However, these solutions also require trust — they only shift the trust requirement to a third party, and basic security requires the user to verify security for themselves.

    • Your Favorite Ad Blocker Can Be Exploited To Infect PCs With Malicious Code

      In July 2018, the popular Adblock Plus software released its version 3.2 that brought a new feature called $rewrite. This feature allowed one to change the filter rules and decide which content got blocked and which didn’t. It was said that often there are content elements that are difficult to block. This feature was soon implemented by AdBlock as well as uBlock.

      In a troubling development, it has been revealed that this filter option can be exploited by notorious actors to inject arbitrary code into the web pages. With more than 100 million users of these ad blocking tools, this exploit has great potential to harm the web users.

    • Adblock Plus filter lists may execute arbitrary code in web pages

      A new version of Adblock Plus was released on July 17, 2018. Version 3.2 introduced a new filter option for rewriting requests. A day later AdBlock followed suit and released support for the new filter option. uBlock, being owned by AdBlock, also implemented the feature.

      Under certain conditions the $rewrite filter option enables filter list maintainers to inject arbitrary code in web pages.

      The affected extensions have more than 100 million active users, and the feature is trivial to exploit in order to attack any sufficiently complex web service, including Google services, while attacks are difficult to detect and are deployable in all major browsers.

    • Big Companies Thought Insurance Covered a Cyberattack. They May Be Wrong.

      The disputes ares playing out in court. In a closely watched legal battle, Mondelez sued Zurich Insurance last year for a breach of contract in an Illinois court, and Merck filed a similar suit in New Jersey in August. Merck sued more than 20 insurers that rejected claims related to the NotPetya attack, including several that cited the war exemption. The two cases could take years to resolve.

      The legal fights will set a precedent about who pays when businesses are hit by a cyberattack blamed on a foreign government. The cases have broader implications for government officials, who have increasingly taken a bolder approach to naming-and-shaming state sponsors of cyberattacks, but now risk becoming enmeshed in corporate disputes by giving insurance companies a rationale to deny claims.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘This is insensitive, and it’s offensive’: Democratic and Republican lawmakers who served in Afghanistan condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

      CAIR was founded in 1994, seven years before the 9/11 attacks. A spokesperson for the congresswoman told The Washington Post that Omar misspoke; CAIR doubled in size after the attacks.

    • An American Soldier’s Dissent

      So what should this now-retired Army major make of it all? The inconvenient truth is perhaps very little. It’s unlikely that anything I’ll write will change many minds or affect policy in any way. In the decade following World War I, when Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his time, took up the pen to expose the ills of American-style corporate warfare, he (unlike me) made a true splash. As today, however, the American intervention machine just rolled on. So what chance does a former Army major have of moving the needle on US militarism?

    • At least seven from my university joined IS, says captured fighter

      The BBC’s investigation now exposes the secret funnelling of fighters and funds from the UK to IS in Syria.

    • Feds: Dearborn man was trained by ISIS for 3 years

      As Assistant Attorney General John Demers stated: “The (Dearborn) defendant traveled overseas, joined ISIS, and received training from the terrorist organization. He was ultimately detained overseas and turned over to the FBI. With these charges, he will be held accountable.”

    • The making of an American terrorist: Hoda Muthana joined ISIS. Now she can’t come back

      By November 2018 – more than four years into her time with ISIS – the situation for Muthana in Syria had soured. She contacted Shibly, the Florida-based attorney whose help she had earlier spurned. With the U.S. and its allies in Syria on the verge of reclaiming most of ISIS’ territory, Muthana was looking for a way out.

    • Peace activist or atomic spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist

      CNN has reviewed the documents provided by Roff, as well as additional — since declassified — secret surveillance records on Burhop found by CNN in the British and Australian archives. Two independent academics also reviewed the documents on CNN’s request. Their conclusions are presented below.

      [...]

      “He was a man of peace who worked tirelessly towards a nuclear bomb-free world,” the statement said. “(We) would hate to see all that he achieved being hugely diminished by suggestions that he was a spy.”

    • American War Is Off the Charts

      Still, I’d like to explain — but I’m nervous about doing so. I know perfectly well that the next word I plan to write will send most of you tumbling elsewhere in a universe in which “news” is the latest grotesque mass shooting; the craziest tweet from you-know-who; celebrities marching into court over college-admissions scandals; or even a boy, missing for years, who suddenly turns up only to morph into a 23-year-old impostor with a criminal record. How can America’s wars in distant lands compete with that? Which is why I just can’t bring myself to write the next word. So promise me that, after you read it, you’ll hang in there for just a minute and give me a chance to explain.

      Okay, here goes: Somalia.

      A country in the horn of Africa, it once glued American eyeballs, but that was so last century, right? I mean, there was that bestselling book and that hit Hollywood movie directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien!) about the disaster early in Bill Clinton’s presidency that came to be known as Black Hawk Down (aka the battle of Mogadishu).

      In the age of Donald Trump, wasn’t that a million presidencies ago? Honestly, can you even tell me anymore what in the world it was all about? I couldn’t have, not without looking it up again. A warlord, starvation, U.S. intervention, 18 dead American soldiers (and hundreds of dead Somalis, but that hardly mattered) in a country that was shattering. President Clinton did, however, pull out those troops and end the disastrous mission — and that was that, right? I mean, lessons learned. Somalia? Africa? What in the world did it all have to do with us? So Washington washed its hands of the whole thing.

      And now, on a planet of outrageous tweets and murderously angry white men, you probably didn’t even notice, but more than two years into the era of Donald Trump, a quarter-century after that incident, American air strikes in… yep, Somalia, are precipitously on the rise. Last year’s 47 strikes, aimed at the leaders and fighters of al-Shabaab, an Islamist terror outfit, more than tripled the ones carried out by the Obama administration in 2016 (themselves a modest increase from previous years). And in 2019, they’re already on pace to double again, while Somali civilians — not that anyone (other than Somali civilians) notices or cares — are dying in significant and rising numbers. And with 500 troops back on the ground there and Pentagon estimates that they will remain for at least another seven years, the U.S. military is increasingly Somalia-bound, Congress hasn’t uttered a peep on the subject, and few in this country are paying the slightest attention.

      So consider this a simple fact of the never-ending Global War on Terror (as it was once called): the U.S. military just can’t get enough of Somalia. And if that isn’t off the charts, what is? Maybe it’s even worth a future book (with a very small print run) called not Black Hawk Down II but U.S. Down Forever and a Day.

    • After Israeli Election, We Need to Think Beyond Two-State Solution

      For at least 20 years, experts on Israel and Palestine have warned that the window of time during which a two-state solution can be realized is closing as a result of changes made on the ground by Israel. Yet this warning is almost always framed within the context of calls for a return to two-state negotiations. What happens if the window of opportunity for two states is closed, however, is never discussed. But after decades of warning, it is time to push that discussion forward.

      In a reality where establishing two states is increasingly unlikely, where non-Jews are dehumanized by the Israeli state and those in power, where the Jewish population of Israel is (or will soon be) a demographic minority in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and where the Israeli state has a monopoly on power, the insistence that only two states can protect the rights of Jewish Israelis is an open door to violence against Palestinians.

    • Russia and NATO have cut off all active collaboration, Russian deputy internal affairs minister says

      In an interview with RIA Novosti, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Alexander Grushko said that all military and civilian collaboration between his government and the NATO alliance have ground to a halt. “NATO itself has refused to adopt a positive agenda for its relationship with Russia. It just doesn’t exist. And so far, there’s no sign that anyone in NATO knows how to get out of this impasse,” Grushko argued.

      The deputy minister noted that current Russian-NATO relations are reminiscent of the state of the Soviet-NATO relationship during the Cold War. He openly expressed hope for a change in that state of affairs but asserted that the responsibility for that change should rest entirely on NATO’s shoulders.

    • The Toxic Lure of “Guns and Butter”

      The current political brawl over next year’s budget is highly significant. With Democrats in a House majority for the first time in eight years, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other party leaders continue to support even more largesse for the Pentagon. But many progressive congressmembers are challenging the wisdom of deference to the military-industrial complex—and, so far, they’ve been able to stall the leadership’s bill that includes a $17 billion hike in military spending for 2020.

      An ostensible solution is on the horizon. More funds for domestic programs could be a quid pro quo for the military increases. In other words: more guns and more butter.

      “Guns and butter” is a phrase that gained wide currency during escalation of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. Then, as now, many Democrats made political peace with vast increases in military spending on the theory that social programs at home could also gain strength.

      It was a contention that Martin Luther King Jr. emphatically rejected. “When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer,” he pointed out. “We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don’t even get good oleo [margarine]. These are facts of life.”

      But today many Democrats in Congress evade such facts of life. They want to proceed as though continuing to bestow humongous budgets on the Pentagon is compatible with fortifying the kind of domestic spending that they claim to fervently desire.

    • Terrorist Designations: Trump and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

      It’s designed to give the US more leg room in the sanction stakes but may end up having its own hemming consequences. The designation by the Trump administration of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation was meant to expand options for the US while shutting others out. While Trump attempts to defrost matters with North Korea, Iran has played the convenient bug bear.

      As President Donald Trump outlined in a statement, “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognises the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

      The policy had an inevitable resonance in Israel, where it cheered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the Tuesday national poll. Designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guards “as a terrorist organization” kept “the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism”. Such a consequence may well be wishful thinking. Jacob Heilbrun opines rather pessimistically that such a policy shift is bound to be disruptive; the president “has allowed himself to be captured by a neocon contingent, housed at the Foundation of Defense for Democracies, that is thirsting for a new crusade to vanquish the mullahs in Tehran.”

    • War Crimes and National Security

      How dare she question the sanctity of American militarism?

      As national security adviser John Bolton declared last fall, the International Criminal Court constitutes “an assault on the constitutional rights of the American people and the sovereignty of the United States.”

      That’s you and me that Bolton is speaking about, and the recent revocation of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s visa — in the wake of her insistence on investigating, among other things, U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan — is just the latest step in the diplomatic war the United States has declared against the court since it was established in 2002.

      The “largely unspoken, but always central, aim” of the International Criminal Court’s “most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States” Bolton said, whipping up the rhetoric against the very idea of international law and global values. “The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. service members, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure.”

      This is shock-and-awe level rhetoric, words meant to crush all debate, all discussion. American is a free country, man. That’s the highest value on Planet Earth. It has the freedom to wage any war it wants, and every war it wages is absolutely necessary, according to Bolton and the military-industrial machine he represents.

      It seems to me that a more complex set of values used to drive this country’s official rhetoric. In the Trump era, things have gotten increasingly simplistic, as the administration seeks to define the country as complete: no more evolution allowed. The borders are closed . . . to Muslims, Mexicans and International Criminal Court prosecutors.

    • We need to be honest, Pakistan is not an easy country to travel in: travel blogger Alex

      Alex, American traveller behind the travel blog Lost With Purpose, was invited to speak at the Pakistan Tourism Summit last month. However, she says her talk was cancelled last minute as the organisers said it was too critical and didn’t fit the agenda of the summit.

    • Historian Peter Kuznick

      Historian Peter Kuznick returns to the Project Censored Show to discuss the newly released second edition of The Untold History of the United States. The new material covers the period from 2012 through 2018. In the interview on this week’s show, Kuznick addresses issues including nuclear arsenals, climate change, Trump and Russia, and the leadership vacuum in the U.S. and worldwide.

    • Russia to send up to 30 troops to Central African Republic to support UN missions

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order allowing for “up to 30 military servicemembers” to be deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) for the purpose of supporting UN peacekeeping missions. The document states that communications officers, staff specialists, and military observers could be among those deployed.

    • Attendees of Secret Meeting for ‘US Military Assault’ on Venezuela Revealed

      The list (in which the meeting is misdated as being on April 20) shows that the event, held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., boasted as attendees members of the State Department, the Colombian and Brazilian embassies, members of the Venezuelan opposition, and other officials in the American national security state.

      The meeting comes after multiple failed attempts to depose the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected in 2018. The President Donald Trump administration has made no secret of their intent to see Maduro gone—but thus far, nothing has worked.

      “The CSIS meeting on ‘Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,’” wrote Blumenthal, “suggests that the Trump administration is exploring military options more seriously than before, possibly out of frustration with the fact that every other weapon in its arsenal has failed to bring down Maduro.”

      In the article, Blumenthal gave a brief overview of a number of the meeting’s more prominent attendees, including Iran-Contra veteran Roger Noriega and David Smolansky, a Venezuelan national who works with the right wing Organization of American States (OAS), a regional organization for the Americas led in recent years by hardline Venezuela regime change advocates.

      “Few of these figures are well known by the public, yet many have played an influential role in U.S. plans to destabilize Venezuela,” explained Blumenthal.

    • Leaked Docs Show Saudis ‘Overwhelmingly Dependent’ on Western Weapons to Wage War on Yemen

      Leaked documents from France’s military agency “show that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are overwhelmingly dependent on Western-produced weapon systems to wage their devastating war in Yemen,” The Intercept reported Monday.

      The latest evidence of Western complicity in the slaughter comes from a highly classified report by France’s Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM), dated Sept. 25, 2018. The report was obtained by the French investigative news organization Disclose, and published in full Monday by The Intercept, Disclose, and four other French media outlets.

    • Defining Endless War Down

      Taking a country to war is the most consequential step political leaders can take. So it would follow that a free press tasked with holding political leaders accountable for such a fateful decision would exercise the utmost scrutiny when it comes to reporting on the costs—both financial and human.

      This necessarily rigorous journalistic oversight should never be satisfied with repeating vague claims of progress or accepting easily contradicted evidence about having achieved peace. Literal human lives, both civilian and military, hang in the balance, and so as a war drags on, it becomes increasingly important for a free press to avoid complacency and ruthlessly interrogate the facts on the ground.

      Tragically, coverage of US military combat in Iraq offers an untold number of examples where the corporate press spectacularly failed to live up to this critical responsibility. Whether it was the unabashed cheerleading that colored much of the reporting during the first Gulf War (Extra!, 4/91) or the credulous parroting of false WMD claims in the lead-up to the 2003 re-invasion—with the New York Times earning special condemnation (FAIR.org, 7/21/16)—the US media has compiled a dreadful record when it comes to Iraq.

    • Exporting Dictators

      The U.S. government gets little credit for it, doesn’t even like to brag about it, but as of 2017 provided military “aid” to 73% of the world’s dictatorships. Ocassionally, the U.S. turns against one of its dictators and chooses that moment to tell everyone about him: Hussein, Noriega, Gadaffi, Assad. Sometimes it loses a dictator for other reasons: the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak.

      Sometimes the U.S. imposes a U.S. dictator on a foreign colony: as historically in the Philippines, or Haiti, Chile, or post-“liberation” Iraq. More often it selects and trains, imposes and props up a dictator from within the population of “natives” or “savages.” And sometimes such a dictator spends many years in the United States preparing and awaiting opportunity.

      When I heard that Juan Guaido, a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had proclaimed himself president of Venezuela, I was reminded that his fellow GW (and Harvard and Princeton) graduate Syngman Rhee was flown to South Korea by the United States government and put in charge of the place, and given the power to commit massive atrocities — the greatest of which was pushing the Korean peninsula into war. Does George Washington University recruit students with promises of small distant countries in which to have life-and-death power over the primitives?

      Then Khalifa Haftar hit the news again. This guy lived in Falls Church, Virginia, from around 1990 to 2007, and Vienna, Virginia, until 2011. If you’re not from Fairfax County, Virginia, you should know that you could practically topple over a pyramid of naked Muslim prisoners on the roof of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and land some of them in Falls Church or Vienna. Haftar was exported to Libya multiple times during those years in failed attempts to take the place over. His latest attempt has been ongoing since the United States exported him in 2011. Maybe there is an area of U.S. exports other than weaponry that is increasing.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Declaration Of War’ By Rumours Of War

      Mark Ayling is a singer songwriter, who has worked in a number of projects, produces what he describes as “raw, aggressive, angry, acoustic punk” music. He would not necessarily characterize his work as protest music, but he does believe that punk is about having something to say.

      Rumours Of War is Ayling’s latest project, and the band is based in Scotland. They recently released their “Sloganeering” EP on March 28, 2019.

      The first tune on the EP, “Declaration Of War,” slowly builds as a picture is painted of society, where the rich amass all the food while those in need go hungry. It seems metaphorical because the next line declares, “Power and obsession will scratch your itch, but all the money in the world doesn’t make you rich.”

      The chorus acknowledges the “impotent promises” of elites, who pledge to make citizens’ lives better “from beneath the veil of authoritarian democracy.”

    • Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake? No.

      We appreciate Danny Sjursen’s April 3 article “Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake?” He raises some key questions that many people have also considered about the draft and about whether or not it is a viable way to curb American militarism and adventurism. Sjursen is an important voice in the small antiwar movement in the U.S. at present, and we are glad to see more public discussion challenging U.S. imperialism. That said, we wanted to pose a few questions and concerns we had with his piece.

      Sjursen argues that “a move toward a no-deferment, equitable lottery draft might result in a nation less prone to militarism and adventurism than the optional AVF [All Volunteer Force] has.” There are quite a few problems with this statement that should be addressed before we start lobbying for more federal power over our lives.

      We agree with Sjursen that the “economic or poverty draft” is still the driving force responsible for the bulk of the recruits for the U.S. military, especially for filling the ranks of the infantry in the Army and the Marines. Yes, regional disparities, as well as the rural/urban divide are notable; yet, aren’t these the same criticisms made of the Vietnam-era draft?

      In his classic history of the Vietnam War, “Working Class War,” historian Christian Appy reviewed a Newsday study of the Long Island, N.Y., community of Massapequa, then home to 27,000 residents. “As a group, the study concluded, “Long Island’s war dead have been overwhelmingly white, working-class men. Their parents were typically blue-collar or clerical workers, mailmen, factory workers, building tradesmen, and so on.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Doctor Who Evaluated Julian Assange Told UN His Confinement Was Torture

      In the Ecuadorian embassy, the “cumulative severity of the pain and suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange—both physical and psychological—is in violation of the 1984 Convention Against Torture,” she wrote.

    • Calling Assange a Narcissist Misses the Point

      “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards,” and “ha, ha, I hit them” say the pilots of a US Apache helicopter in jubilant conversation as they machine-gun Iraqi civilians on the ground in Baghdad on 12 July 2007.

      A wounded man, believed to be the Reuters photographer, 22-year-old Namir Noor-Eldeen, crawls towards a van. “Come on buddy, all you have to do is pick up a weapon,” says one of the helicopter crew, eager to resume the attack. A hellfire missile is fired and a pilot says: “Look at that bitch go!” The photographer and his driver are killed.

      Later the helicopter crew are told over the radio that they have killed 11 Iraqis and a small child has been injured. “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into battle,” comments somebody about the carnage below.

      Except there was no “battle” and all those who died were civilians, though the Pentagon claimed they were gunmen. The trigger-happy pilots had apparently mistaken a camera for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Journalists in Baghdad, including myself, were from the start sceptical about the official US story because insurgents with weapons in their hands were unlikely to be standing chatting to each other in the street with an American helicopter overhead. As on many similar occasions in Iraq, our doubts were strong but we could not prove that the civilians had not been carrying weapons in the face of categorical denials from the US Department of Defence.

      It was known that a video of the killings taken from the helicopter existed, but the Pentagon refused to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. Plenty of people were being killed all over Iraq at the time and the incident would soon have been forgotten, except by the families of the dead, if a US soldier called Chelsea Manning had not handed over a copy of the official video to WikiLeaks which published it in 2010.

    • First Julian Assange, Then Us

      CH: The arrest of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange, are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives. Under what law did Ecuadorian President, Lenín Moreno, capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy – diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory – to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister, Theresa May, order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States? Joining me to discuss the arrest and pending extradition of Assange is the Historian, Vijay Prashad. What have we just seen?

      VP: You know it’s a very interesting situation we’re in. You and I have been and reported directly from very ugly situations, and over the course of our careers we’ve tried to tell stories about atrocities, we’ve tried to tell stories about what are tantamount to war crimes – editors don’t believe you — Editors don’t want to publish those stories, the ownership of newspapers and of course televisions, don’t want to run those stories, because they say ‘You don’t have the smoking gun’ ‘You don’t have the evidence’. And what both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and the entire team at Wikileaks did when they provided the raw materials of war crimes, was they allowed us to tell the stories that we had seen with our own eyes. And I think that rather than have the conversation about the war crimes, rather than for the Reuters organization for instance, to concentrate on the fact that an employee of Reuters was killed, you know, in cold blood by the United States —

    • The Assange Indictment and Press Freedoms

      The Justice Department hasn’t crossed the line that many feared it would: It hasn’t charged Julian Assange for publishing truthful information about matters of public concern. That kind of prosecution would have been unprecedented in the nation’s history and would have opened the door to criminal investigations of other publishers. Instead, the indictment accuses Assange of having conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack a government database. Hacking government databases isn’t protected by the First Amendment, and it isn’t a legitimate part of investigative journalism.

      But the indictment is troubling nonetheless. It characterizes as “part of” a criminal conspiracy journalistic activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom. And there is reason to be concerned that the charge of “Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion” that was unsealed today may not be the Justice Department’s final word on the matter. There are already reports that the government expects to bring additional charges against Assange once his extradition has been completed.

      It’s not clear that the Justice Department will be able to establish a conspiracy to violate the hacking statute, as some have noted. Though Assange allegedly agreed to help Manning crack a password, cracking that password apparently wouldn’t have allowed Manning to access more files than she could already access—only to access the same set of files under a different username. A few years ago, the Obama administration considered filing charges against Assange but ultimately decided not to. From this indictment, we can guess at some of the difficulties that might have led it to abandon the effort.

      If the Justice Department had filed an indictment focused more narrowly on the alleged hacking, none of this would warrant much comment. The Justice Department would present its evidence; Assange would defend himself; and few people would raise concerns about the prosecution’s implications for press freedom. The problem is that the indictment seems to have been drafted not just to justify the prosecution of Assange but to tar legitimate journalistic activities by association with Assange’s alleged crime.

    • On Sky News, an inconvenient fact from Julian Assange’s lawyer collapses the official narrative

      Sweden’s prosecutors dropped their investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against Assange in May 2017 (note: this does not affirm his guilt or innocence). Former director of public prosecution Marianne Ny said this was because it was “not possible to take any further steps that would move the investigation forward”.

    • Punishing the Past, Impeding the Future: the Arrest of Assange

      I met Assange two years ago at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, and remembering what he had told me during our encounter I think one can understand why he was arrested today. Assange mentioned to me that he was investigating how Google was planning to make use of the immense quantity of information at its disposal. It had to do with, according to Assange, selling to insurance companies and secret services data about the interests, desires, consumption habits, state of health, reading practices…in a nutshell data about the life of millions of individuals in all its aspects.

    • A Land Uncharted: the Persecution of Julian Assange

      The persecution and arrest of Julian Assange is the first and most definitive step toward full blown global fascism. The symbolism of a gravely ill journalist being manhandled by uniformed henchmen is the exact imagery it needed to send a chilling message to whistleblowers and the press. The assault and eventual dismantling of what remains of a free press has always been that first step, and it is what lies on the horizon barring mass dissent. For decades the mainstream media has acquiesced to the demands of the corporate world of high finance that now owns them outright and the military and surveillance state that informs their narrative. To be sure, many of them must be trembling at the events that unfolded in London.

      That so many prominent American liberals are cheering this on is hardly surprising. History is replete with examples of how the privileged bourgeoisie are the first to capitulate to fascism. It happened in the 1930’s in Germany, Spain and Italy. It happened in the 1970’s in Argentina and Chile. It is happening now across the supposedly “democratic” western world. The animus they possess for Assange is not over his personal ethics, politics or affiliations, which are indeed open for criticism and debate. Like any human being, he is flawed. It is rooted in sore feelings over Wikileaks exposure of the machinations of the corrupt Democratic Party and their Wall Street favoured war hawk, Hillary Clinton. None of what Wikileaks revealed was untrue, but they blame the failure of their deeply flawed candidate on it nonetheless. They care little about the war crimes the platform helped expose through the courage of Chelsea Manning or the threat his persecution represents to press freedom itself.

      That the fascist despot Trump has disavowed Wikileaks is hardly surprising either. After all, he may have used the leaks to his benefit, but the man who has relentlessly demonized the press will undoubtedly use this moment to his benefit again. Wikileaks as an organization isn’t perfect and, like any other media outlet, it is not beyond criticism. But nearly every major news outlet has used and published its material, without appreciation or gratitude, because it provided an unprecedented glimpse into the nefarious activities and guiding principles of the ruling elite. The veil had been finally lifted. But with the arrest of Julian Assange this makes all of those news outlets vulnerable to state or corporate repression and censure.

    • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Will No Longer Be Honored at American Natural History Museum

      The American Museum of Natural History will no longer host a gala intended to honor controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose plans to open the Amazon rainforest to industry were seen by many as incompatible with the museum’s mission, Reuters reported Monday.

      The museum faced criticism after it was discovered Bolsonaro would be honored at a Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala to present its “Person of the Year” award. The museum said the group had booked it as a venue before Bolsonaro was announced as the award’s recipient.

    • Julian and Martin: Reflections on the Arrest of Assange

      Will someone please explain to me why Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered a hero for violating laws sustaining the system of racial discrimination, while Julian Assange is considered a villain for violating laws sustaining the system of imperial war?

      Democratic Party bigwigs are celebrating the arrest of the Wikileaks founder in London and the request of Donald Trump’s Justice Department for his extradition to the U.S. According to Senators Chuck Schumer, Mark Warner, and Joe Manchin – and, of course, ex-Senator Hilary Clinton – Assange deserves to be punished severely for plotting with Chelsea Manning to obtain and release classified military information, and for allegedly helping the Russians to influence the election of 2016. These are War Democrats, of course, who never met a defense corporation or armed intervention that they didn’t like. One is not surprised to hear them howling for revenge against the “traitor” who revealed American war crimes to the world.

      Democrats calling themselves progressives are more inclined to defend Assange – sort of – on the ground that his imminent prosecution represents an attack on journalistic freedom that may make it difficult for the media to publish classified documents like those contained in the Pentagon Papers. More legalistic progressives aren’t so sure about this, since they consider publishing classified info OK so long as it has been “sanitized” to avoid exposing intelligence agents, but obtaining the info by hacking into a government computer not ok: i.e., a crime.

      What neither camp wants to talk about, however, is whether it’s ok to break securities laws in order to expose the American Empire’s war plans, errors, and misdeeds.

    • The Ordeal of Julian Assange

      The scenes of six Metropolitan police officers dragging Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he was clutching a copy of “History of the National Security State” by Gore Vidal have sent shockwaves of horror and an avalanche of condemnation from all around the world.

      Although Lenin Moreno has been working towards expelling Assange from the embassy since at least December 2018, a chain of events in the last several months shows a clear pattern of increasing political instability, revelations of a mass corruption of Moreno’s family, a further turn towards neoliberal economic reforms with the implementation of the IMF deal and the gradual and total embrace and support for the US foreign policy in the region.

      The INA Papers Scandal and growing political instability

      WikiLeaks’s decision to re-publish the details of Moreno’s use of off-shore bank accounts in Panama, infamously titled INA Papers after the name of the shell corporation at the centre of the scandal (INA Investment Corporation) allegedly served as the main cause for his decision to expel the Australian journalist from the embassy. The Ecuadorian Communications Minister Andrés Michelena event went as far as claiming that the INA Papers were a conspiracy plot between Julian Assange, the former president Rafael Correa and the current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

      The INA Papers scandal has cast a long shadow on Moreno’s regime and its rhetoric of allegedly fighting against institutional corruption. Most notably, the scandal reveals a close associate of Moreno, Xavier Macias, lobbying for the contract of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric power plant (valued at $2.8 billion) as well as the ZAMORA 3000 MW plant to be awarded Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned construction company. Additionally, the money route from the Chinese corporation passes through bank accounts in Panama belonging to INA Investment Corporation – a shell company originally founded in Belize (a notable tax haven) by Edwin Moreno Garcés, the brother of the current President. The most crucial pieces of evidence indicate that the INA Investment funds were used for the purchase of a 140 m2apartment in the city of Alicante, Spain, and a number of luxury items for President Moreno and his family in Geneva, Switzerland, during his time as a special envoy on disability rights in the United Nations.

    • First They Came for Assange

      I wanted to meet Assange because of my deep appreciation of the original WikiLeaks concept. As a teenager reading George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I, too, was troubled by the prospect of a high-tech surveillance state and its likely effect on human relations. Assange’s early writings – particularly his idea of using states’ own technology to create a huge digital mirror that could show everyone what they were up to – filled me with hope that we might collectively defeat Big Brother.

      By the time I met Assange, that early hope had faded. Surrounded by bookcases featuring Ecuadorian literature and government publications, we would sit and chat late into the night. A device on top of a bookshelf emitted mind-numbing white noise to counter listening devices. As time passed, the claustrophobic living room, the badly hidden ceiling-mounted camera pointing at me, the white noise, and the stale air made me want to run out into the street.

      Assange’s detractors have been saying for years that his confinement was self-inflicted: he hid in Ecuador’s embassy because he jumped bail in the United Kingdom to avoid answering sexual assault allegations in Sweden. As a man, I feel I have no right to express an opinion regarding those allegations. Women must be heard when reporting assault. Only the violence that men have inflicted upon women for millennia is viler than the disrespect and denigration to which women are subjected when they speak up.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Taking Nonviolent Action in Defense of Mother Earth

      On February 4 of this year, four farmers and Catholic workers from the Midwest, myself included, attempted to shut off the flow of deadly, poisonous tar sands oil through Minnesota and the treaty territory of several Ojibwe nations. As the “Four Necessity Valve Turners,” we felt compelled to take this necessary, nonviolent action in the face of the imminent threat of the climate crisis – which, according the United Nations’ October 2018 report, requires an immediate response.

      Given the dramatic failure by governmental bodies to adequately respond to this threat, we felt, as people of faith, that we had to act. Our intent was to responsibly call for a “timeout” from the pumping of poison through the heart of Mother Earth.

      Our group – which besides myself includes Brenna Cussen-Anglada, Allyson Polman and Daniel Yildirim – was fully informed of the safest way to proceed with the shutdown process. We put no one in danger. We called Enbridge Energy Corporation (a Canadian company) before attempting to close the valve ourselves, suggesting that they shut off the pressure remotely, which they did. We took responsibility for our action, and waited for the police to arrive. We were charged with a felony and a misdemeanor, and we intend to invoke the necessity defense at our trial.

      Actions such as these – combined with a strong Indigenous-led frontline resistance movement, pushback from the nonprofit environmental movement, and the development of new community-based viable green energy projects – seem to be scaring fossil fuel industries. That’s why they are insisting on harsher criminal charges, prosecution and consequences.

    • Talking Trash: Unfortunate Truths About Recycling

      Americans have come to embrace recycling their trash with an almost religious fervor, but in some sense they are praying to a false god. In the quarter-century over which its acolytes have swelled, recycling has almost come full circle, from near total indifference all the way around to near total impossibility. In between, and especially over the past couple of years, just when many localities had seen the light, their recycling efforts started bogging down. It wasn’t just that China banned imports of raw recyclables from the US in early 2018, although that was a wallop that the industry hasn’t recovered from.

    • Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

      That’s according to a study published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The paper’s findings add even more weight to scientists’ urgent warnings about the mounting threats of permafrost thaw.

      Permafrost is a frozen mix of soil, rocks, and sand that covers about a fourth of the Northern Hemisphere—and is primarily found in the uppermost areas, where temperatures are rising more rapidly than the rest of the world.

      When permafrost melts because of human-caused global warming, it pours greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere, further heating the planet.

      Nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas nearly 300 times more potent than CO2, stays in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    • The Last Known Female Yangtze Giant Turtle Has Died — What Happens Next?

      The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) died over the weekend, pushing the world’s most endangered turtle species one step closer to extinction.

      Known by her keepers at China’s Suzhou Zoo as Xiangxiang, the nine-decade-old turtle died unexpectedly on April 13 after an artificial insemination procedure, the fifth such attempt to help the animal produce offspring with Susu, the zoo’s 110-year-old male. The procedure reportedly went well, and Xiangxiang was in good health before it began, so the cause of her death is not yet known. A necropsy has been planned, and her ovarian tissue has already been collected and saved.

      Her passing leaves the species with just three known individuals: Susu and two wild turtles that each live in separate lakes in Vietnam. The sex of those two wild turtles, one of which was just discovered a year ago, is not yet known.

    • The Right’s New Rallying Cry in Finland: ‘Climate Hysteria’

      And then there was Jussi Halla-aho, the chairman of the Finns Party, in vigorous, passionate dissent. His position is not to deny climate change, but to deny that Finland is obliged to make sacrifices to combat it.

    • How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse

      An unsettling fact of Wall Street today is that some of the same people who accurately predicted the housing bubble are now describing another bubble, whose collapse will make the financial crisis of 2008 look mild. Perhaps the most famous is Jeremy Grantham, a founder of the Boston-based asset-management firm G.M.O. and a commander of the British Empire. In 2005, Grantham began to write letters to his investors saying that the housing market appeared overleveraged; in 2007, he warned of “the first truly global bubble.” His latest prediction overshadows the preceding one. We are, he says, in the midst of a historic period of mispricing. Because the global economy depends on hydrocarbons, practically every asset in the world relates in some way to oil and gas. Grantham believes hydrocarbons will be priced, or regulated, into submission. In light of that belief, not only oil companies’ stock but practically everything else on the market looks falsely inflated.

    • The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World

      In his speech, Nordhaus explained that people use too much dirty energy because they don’t have to pay the true costs it imposes on the world: pollution-related health problems in the short term and climate change in the long term. Economists refer to these costs as externalities, because they are not naturally part of the market system. “We have a climate problem,” Nordhaus said, “because markets fail, and fail badly, in the energy sector.” The only solution, he argued, was for governments to raise the price of emissions.

    • A Former Oil-Industry Lobbyist Is Now In Charge of America’s Public Lands

      With an intensity of purpose and a deep, unrivaled knowledge of the institution he’s running, Bernhardt will seek to put his stamp on public-lands policy for decades to come. If Zinke used the office for short-term political gain—it was no secret that he saw the post as a stepping-stone to higher office—Bernhardt is playing the long game. “I think the industry and its friend in Bernhardt really sees this as their last big chance to try and lock in a huge amount of federal land before the party’s over,” says Michael Saul, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    • Oil-eating microbes found in the deepest part of the ocean could help clean up man-made oil spills

      According to a new study published in the journal Microbiome, a group of bacteria trawled from the depths of the Challenger Deep can not only survive its extreme conditions, but also chomp on hydrocarbon molecules found in everyday crude oil and natural gas.

      Oil-eating bacteria like these are also found on the ocean’s surface, and helped degrade much of the oily refuse that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The scientists think these microbial deep ocean oil-eaters can also be used to clean up surface oil spills.

    • The Renegade Nuns Who Took On a Pipeline

      While their case wended its way through the courts, they continued protesting. In July, 2017, they built an open-air chapel on their land, along the proposed route of the pipeline, to block construction. It consisted of an arbor, an altar made of a tree trunk, and a dozen wooden pews, and they named it the Cornfield Chapel. They held morning and evening services there, trudging up to the cornfield with their canes and walkers, sometimes in cold rain or by flashlight. They hoped that, through their services, they would help people understand the religious significance of the environment, and that this, as much as opposing abortion, was a pro-life issue. “People often see pro-life in terms of pro-birth,” Dwyer told me. “But all the elements that go into protecting life—clean water, clean air, good soil—go into protecting the earth.”

    • The Billionaire Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Is a Little Lonely

      Before Dakota Access, few outside the industry had ever heard of Warren or his company. He seemed to prefer it that way. He could fraternize with blues and folk singers and country rockers who might have been frostier if he’d introduced himself as, say, CEO of ExxonMobil Corp. Indigo Girls, Keb’ Mo’, and Lucinda Williams all recorded songs for Music Road Records, the label Warren founded in 2007, and played at an annual charity shindig at his ranch north of Austin.

      Now Warren is the face of a company famous for a pipeline project that, a sympathetic shareholder says, has become a symbol of “the big, bad energy industry.” The notoriety hasn’t helped as the company tries to build new lines. “People who didn’t know who Energy Transfer was before certainly did after that,” says Tom Seng, assistant professor of energy business at the University of Tulsa and a pipeline industry veteran himself. “So when you’re sitting around at a town hall meeting where representatives of Energy Transfer are coming to talk to you about a proposed project, your hair stands up and you say, ‘Oh my God, it’s those guys!’ ”

    • More States Crack Down on Pipeline Protesters, Including Supporters Who Aren’t Even on the Scene

      Environmental and civil liberties advocates, as well as many Native American tribes, say the bills are an attempt to stifle legitimate protest by creating harsh penalties for minor infractions and by trying to scare off advocacy groups. An organization that holds a nonviolence training, for example, might be targeted under the law if attendees are later part of a protest that ends in a clash with private security forces or police.

      “‘Riot boosting’ is an unusual and new term. You might be asking yourself what that means, and I think protesters will too,” said Vera Eidelman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has tracked the bills. “I think it poses a unique threat to speech and appears to be targeted at protests. It uses words like ‘encouraging’ and ‘advising’ that are very broad and refer to a category of protected speech.”

      On Thursday, the ACLU sued South Dakota officials in federal court on behalf of indigenous and environmental groups, arguing that the new law and two related statutes violate the Constitution by suppressing free speech and failing to describe what actions could qualify as violations. In a statement, the group said “such vague and broad language invites arbitrary enforcement, will chill protected speech, and will result in indiscriminate targeting of peaceful organizers.”

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It’s Time To Confront The Major Factor Fueling Global Migration—Climate Change

      A large portion of the asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border come from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central American countries—Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—where drought has devastated food and economic security.

      The World Food Programme (WFP) warned in September that poor harvests caused by drought in parts of Central America, including the Northern Triangle, could leave more than 2 million people hungry. Lower than average rainfall in June and July led to significant crop losses, particularly for smaller-scale maize and bean farmers in the so-called Dry Corridor, which runs across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. As a result, farmers were left with not enough food to sell, meaning families were left with not enough food to eat.

    • If you can’t beat them, eat them: dangerous invasive species on the menu

      A beautiful exotic fish is devastating reef ecosystems off the coast of Florida. Native to the Indo-Pacific, lionfish are prized aquarium pets. But they reproduce rapidly and are voracious, indiscriminate eaters. So when a few ended up in Florida waters, with no natural predators, lionfish quickly took over the reefs.

      Now the lionfish hunt is on.

    • Tick-borne encephalitis-virus found in unpasteurized cow milk in Norway

      TBE-virus has been identified in milk in other European countries, where the consumption of unpasteurized milk has been associated with infection.

      Although the virus is killed during pasteurization in conventional milk production, there are some processes of cheese production in other countries that do not undergo full pasteurization. Incomplete pasteurization may allow the virus to survive in these products as well.

    • Oil-wealthy Norway faces a political crossroads as climate concerns grow

      Thus far, Norway’s parties have held Lofoten exploration at bay by using it as a bargaining chip in political negotiations. But with the sizable Labor Party’s official opposition to exploration, oil companies see almost no future in Lofoten exploration.

    • Scientists are split on whether a virus is killing B.C.’s salmon, but an inside look shows Ottawa chose sides long ago

      The self-described activist has spent decades fighting to expose the risk fish farms pose to the environment. She makes this trip several times a week, dipping a net into the water just outside the pens teeming with farmed salmon, gathering samples of dead tissue.

      Here, farmed fish swim in the same water as wild salmon, and Morton believes the farms are breeding grounds for dangerous pathogens that could be killing marine life.

      “They are viral factories,” she says.

    • 5 Unintentional Ways Humans Are Totally Changing Evolution

      If we’ve proven anything in the last seven nuclear meltdowns, nothing spurs evolution more than a bunch of rude humans wrecking the place up. That’s why some critters have decided to skip the natural struggle altogether, and focus instead on finding ways to make it in the big city. Like …

    • Monday’s papers: Replacing fossil fuels, [...]

      Plants for heating have to be located close to consumers to avoid losses. For this reason, power companies operating in the capital region, Fortum, Vantaan Energia and Helen are implementing projects on the local level.

    • Sweden’s temperature is rising more than TWICE as fast as the global average

      The average temperature in Sweden is rising more than twice as fast as the global average temperature, according to a new report by the country’s national weather agency SMHI.

      Between 1991 and 2018, Sweden’s annual average temperature rose by 1.7C compared to average temperatures in pre-industrial times, which SMHI calculated using data from the years 1861-1890. In the same period the global average temperature only rose by 0.73C.

    • Climate Change Activists Stripped Semi-Naked In British Parliament

      A group of demonstrators with Extinction Rebellion, a campaign that demands that governments “tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency” and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, stripped in the House of Parliament’s public gallery, asking for “climate justice now.”

    • A Broken Land: Ecological devastation in the American heartland.

      Range promised people like Haney that fracking would create jobs and swell their bank accounts, bringing economic progress to a region that badly needed it. And for some families, those promises came true. But Haney wasn’t so lucky: She never got her barn, and soon enough, she lost her well water, too. Illness eventually drove her family out of their farmhouse, and they briefly took shelter in a camper. In the winter, Griswold writes, they had to be careful: When the weather got very cold, the sleeping family members could stick to the sides of the camper. The Haneys’ old farmhouse didn’t fare well, either. An unoccupied husk, it became easy prey. Where the land attracted a predatory company, the house attracted those left behind by the shale boom; vandals began to gut it for its pipes.

    • Use less water, like your neighbour down south, Malaysian minister tells citizens

      At the same event, Dr Xavier also said that the Pakatan Harapan government has made other efforts to ensure clean water for the people.

    • After bleaching, Great Barrier Reef corals aren’t bouncing back quickly

      These back-to-back bleaching events had a much larger impact on the coral population than other types of disasters. Two tropical cyclones hit the reefs of Lizard Island in 2014 and 2015, for example, but the number of young recruits stayed strong. Bleaching, however, reduced the number of recruits by over 95 percent.

    • Judge says Trump can’t re-open Arctic waters that Obama closed to drilling

      Gleason wrote on Friday that “Congress’s silence in Section 12(a) as to according the President revocation authority was likely purposeful; had Congress intended to grant the President revocation authority, it could have done so explicitly, as it had previously done in several (but not all) of its previously enacted uplands laws.”

    • The Finns Party Campaigned Against Climate Action. It Came in 2nd.

      A Finnish political party that campaigned against ambitious climate change policies won the second-highest number of seats in parliamentary elections on Sunday, in a vote in which global warming became a polarizing issue.

    • The world’s most sacred river—the Ganges—is also one of its dirtiest

      Low flows not only harm the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers downstream. They also degrade water quality. Sewage is pumped raw into the stream. Levels of fecal coliform bacteria are off the chart. Tests from the Yamuna, a tributary which flows through Delhi, have found 1.1bn such bacteria per 100 millilitres—nearly half a million times the officially recommended limit for bathing. No wonder “Delhi belly” is so prevalent. Victor Mallet describes in “River of Life, River of Death” how the Ganges system appears to be a conduit for bacteria increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

    • Finnish tech enables recycling of black plastic

      The problem is that normal near infrared (NIR) sensors at recycling plants are unable to detect the black pigment, so black plastics usually go unrecycled worldwide and contribute to climate change.

      The new MWIR technology is able to perform this task, said Specim head of applications Katja Lefevre.

    • Restoring forests rules out growing crops

      Nations of the world are committed to restoring forests covering an area the size of India to soak up carbon dioxide and combat climate change. But British scientists have identified a serious flaw in the plan.

      “Two-thirds of the area committed to global reforestation for carbon storage is slated to grow crops,” they write in the journal Nature. “This raises serious concerns.”

      Their argument is simple. To limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C by the end of the century requires both rapid cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use, and investment in efficient ways of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

      Altogether 43 tropical and subtropical nations have pledged to restore 350 million hectares of forest to remove 42 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2100.

    • Climate Change Parallax

      There exists a very seductive delusion that once we cool (or heat) the planet to the proper temperature that the majority of our ecological ills will be over. This is a dangerous self-dectption. “Climate change” per se is not the problem. Temperature fluctuations (increases) reflect underlying carnage caused to nature by excessive human activity.

      Once “global warming” has been defeated, and temperatures have been restored to “normal” levels, it will be clearly evident that nothing has been solved. Environmental deterioration will continue its ugly descent. Here is a small itemization of conditions that will not be addressed by a “normal climate”:

      + Concrete. The manufacture and overuse of concrete represents perhaps the leading edge of ecological destruction. Endless earth surfaces are being ripped apart and mined to obtain the literal mountains of sand used in concrete manufacture. The manufacture of the cement component is energy intensive and releases voluminous harmful by-products into the air and water. The impervious surfaces created all over the world by indiscriminate use of concrete are entombing the planet in sterile death.

      + Plastic. The ubiquity and environmental chaos of plastic has been endlessly documented and need not be addressed here. The point is that once temperatures (climate change) have been restored, all of the environmental repercussions of plastic will remain behind.

    • Trump, Climate Change and the Parable of the Two Dogs

      Occasionally we are surprised by Mr. Trump when he makes pronouncements that none of us thought to be within his realm of expertise. Of course, those realms are so all inclusive, as we have learned during the course of his presidency, that we should not be surprised. His recent pronouncements on wind, and wind related devices, however, have caused some of us to wonder if there resides within Mr. Trump, a body of scientific knowledge of which we were unaware or, alternatively, is he is simply an ignoramus.

      The question presented itself because of an interview he had with one of his admirers, ardent follower, and assistant policy maker, Sean Hannity, of Fox News, followed by public comments made to adoring crowds at rallies and other events.

      In an interview with Mr. Hannity (known to some as Sean Inannity for reasons that need no explanation,) Mr. Trump surprised listeners with an observation about a climate phenomenon, and a device used to take advantage of it. It pertained to wind of the non-flatulent sort.

      In the interview, Mr. Trump explained to Mr. Hannity, that wind power doesn’t work because wind only blows sometimes. Following up on that cogent observation, in a rally in Michigan shortly after that interview, he said that he “knows a lot about wind, if it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night.”

    • Keep Carbon in the Forests

      A new report by Friends of the Clearwater documents that 18,000 Idaho roadless acres and 22,000 roadless acres in Montana were logged while presumably protected under the roadless rule. While commercial logging is illegal, there is a loophole that permits logging for “forest health.”

      However, where the U.S. Forest Service sees a “health” problem, ecologists such as myself see healthy ecosystems. Forest Service policies are dominated by the industrial forestry paradigm that considers anything that kills tree-except chainsaws — as a problem. Wildfire, bark beetles, root rot, disease, drought, and other natural mortality factors are indicative of functioning forest ecosystems.

      Just as wolves or cougars might remove susceptible elk from a herd which in the long run improves the herd’s health; natural tree mortality ultimately creates healthy and resilient forest ecosystems.

    • State of Apocalyptic Nature: A Contract with Gaia

      As for the individual, every one is a son of his time; so philosophy also is its time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present world, as that an individual could leap out of his time or jump over Rhodes.

      The very fact that something is determined as a limitation implies that the limitation is already transcended. – Hegel

      Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and most recently Rawls have all been exemplary practitioners of contract theory.

      As is well known, all four of these political theorists began with a particular conception of the state of nature or put into other words man’s original existential situation prior to all forms of government or social contract.

      In each case, the state of nature is pre-historical because pre-political.

    • Only Rebellion Will Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse

      Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.

      The commonest current excuse is this: “I bet those protesters have phones/go on holiday/wear leather shoes.” In other words, we won’t listen to anyone who is not living naked in a barrel, subsisting only on murky water. Of course, if you are living naked in a barrel we will dismiss you too, because you’re a hippie weirdo. Every messenger, and every message they bear, is disqualified on the grounds of either impurity or purity.

    • ‘Everything Is at Stake’: Global Extinction Rebellion Kicks Off Week of Civil Disobedience to Demand Climate Action

      The Extinction Rebellion movement kicked off a week of marches, demonstrations, and peaceful civil disobedience across the U.S. and around the world on Monday to demand “systemic changes to stop global warming while there’s still time left.”

      [...]

      “Governments have failed us,” Bea Ruiz, national coordinator for Extinction Rebellion U.S., said in a statement. “Those who are most vulnerable and least responsible for this crisis are the ones who are suffering the most. People are dying. Species are disappearing. Everything is at stake.”

      “It’s time to do what’s never been done before in the fight against climate change—a collective and coordinated international rebellion that will continue to escalate until our demands are met,” Ruiz added.

    • Climate Change Emerges as Key Issue in Close Finland Election

      The center left Social Democrats secured a narrow victory Sunday in a Finnish election dominated by the question of climate change.

      In Finland, one-third of which sits above the Arctic Circle, most parties campaigned on taking greater climate action, while the nationalist Finns party argued against climate policy that it said required sacrifices from the populace.

    • Utah’s Coal-ash Pollution: A Toxic Example of a National Problem

      The three smokestacks of PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Hunter Power Plant loom in the skies on a 1,000-acre site just south of Castle Dale, Utah.

      Commissioned in 1978, the Hunter plant burns millions of tons of coal a year and generates more than 1,500 megawatts of electricity for use in nearby communities.

      But it also generates something else: greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants, including coal ash.

      Coal ash, or coal-combustion residuals, is primarily produced from burning coal in power plants. It contains mercury, arsenic and other byproducts that can pollute waterways, drinking water and the air, according to the EPA. These chemicals can cause cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive problems, says Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that specializes in litigation of environmental issues.

      While some power plants dispose of coal ash in landfills, others discharge it into nearby waterways under the plants’ discharge permits.

      Those discharges add up. According to the first comprehensive national study of coal-ash pollution, 91 percent of all coal plants in the country are contaminating nearby groundwater with toxic pollutants.

    • Last Known Female of Endangered Turtle Species Dies

      The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) has died, putting the critically endangered species at risk for extinction. There are now only three left in the world.

    • Will American Museum of Natural History Dignify ‘Tropical Trump’?

      The American Museum of Natural History says it is “deeply concerned” about a gala honoring Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro that is scheduled to take place at the museum next month.

    • US Military Base Threatens Biodiversity in Okinawa

      Hidden beneath the aquamarine waters off Cape Henoko in northern Okinawa, Oura Bay teems with life. Orange-spotted filefish dart among reefs of blue coral, fantastic Christmas tree worms and tiny translucent invertebrates called sea squirts nestle in colonies of porites corals and redeye gobies flit among forests of stony coral.

      Hemmed by white sand beaches, Oura Bay is a hotspot of biodiversity, home to more than 5,300 species of corals, fish, invertebrates and Okinawa’s last remaining population of dugong, an endangered manatee-like marine mammal.

      According to a Japanese Ministry of Defense Environmental Impact Assessment, more than 260 endangered species — giant sea cucumbers, snakes and slugs, crabs, sponges and other species still undescribed by science — live in Oura Bay. Surveys document a high level of endemism (species that occur only in a single location), offering the potential for new scientific discoveries.

      But Oura Bay and Henoko are also the site of a new U.S. Marine airbase being built alongside the existing Camp Schwab. For decades, Washington and Tokyo have been planning to close the controversial and dangerous Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the densely populated south of the island and relocate operations to Henoko.

      The Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko, however, has proven to be even more unpopular than the base it’s intended to replace, with a majority of Okinawans consistently rejecting the Henoko plan. Opponents cite noise, danger, and the destruction of fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems among the chief reasons they are calling for the new base to be built outside Okinawa.

    • Our Zero Emission Future

      Reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, followed by negative emissions, would likely secure the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5º Celsius relative to Earth’s pre-industrial temperature. Alarmingly, warming has already reached 1.1ºC, and the global temperature is rising around 0.2ºC each decade. That’s why the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. The shift toward clean energy would prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from air pollution, and the shift to healthy, environmentally sustainable diets could prevent around ten million deaths per year.

      A low-cost shift to clean energy is now feasible for every region of the world, owing to the plummeting costs of solar and wind power, and breakthroughs in energy storage. The total system costs of renewable energy, including transmission and storage, are now roughly on par with fossil fuels. Yet fossil fuels still get government preferences through subsidies, as a result of incessant lobbying by Big Coal and Big Oil, and the lack of planning for renewable alternatives.

      The key step is a massive increase in power generation from renewables, mainly wind and solar. Some downstream energy uses, such as automobile transport and home heating, will be directly electrified. Other downstream users – in industry, shipping, aviation, and trucking – will rely on clean fuels produced by renewable electricity. Clean (zero-emission) fuels include hydrogen, synthetic liquids, and synthetic methane. At the same time, farms should shift toward plant-based foods.

    • ‘The Time for Excuses Is Over’: Extinction Rebellion Protests Shut Down European Cities

      Activists across Europe blocked off major streets and public areas Monday as they called for immediate action from world leaders to deal with the climate crisis.

      The movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), is holding protests across the world from April 15 to 22 for an “International Rebellion” against a climate crisis that is escalating rapidly.

      Importantly, XR stresses that it “doesn’t rely on false positivity or hope.”

      A London protester bemoaned the fact that she found it unlikely she’d have children due to the climate crisis.

      “One day I want to have kids,” said the woman protester. “But I don’t think I can. I don’t see a future that’s livable at the moment.”

    • Bill McKibben: Green New Deal Is a Chance to “Remake Not Just a Broken Planet, But a Broken Society”

      President Trump signed two executive orders last week to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate such projects. The move is intended in part to clear the way for permitting on the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has stalled after New York invoked the Clean Water Act to reject the project on environmental grounds. We speak with Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and the author of the new book “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”

    • “Falter”: In New Book, Bill McKibben Asks If the Human Game Has Begun to Play Itself Out

      Thousands are taking to the streets in London today to demand radical action to combat the climate crisis. Protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion have set up encampments and roadblocks across Central London and say they’ll stay in the streets for at least a week. It’s just the beginning of a series of global actions that will unfold in the coming days, as activists around the world raise the alarm about government inaction in the face of the growing climate catastrophe. The London protests come just days after schoolchildren around the globe left school again on Friday for the weekly “strike for climate” and as the push for the Green New Deal continues to build momentum in the United States. The deal—backed by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey—seeks to transform the U.S. economy through funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. We speak with climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben, who has been on the front lines of the fight to save the planet for decades. Thirty years ago, he wrote “The End of Nature,” the first book about climate change for a general audience. He’s just published a new book titled “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”

    • China’s $18 Billion Electric Car Bubble Looks Ready to Burst

      Electric vehicles will be the stars of the show when the Auto Shanghai 2019 expo opens Tuesday. China wanted cleaner air, reduced dependence on foreign oil and to be a pacesetter in a growing high-tech industry. So, it invested more than $60 billion in electric vehicles over the last decade and plans to keep that investment going over the next decade, according to Quartz.

    • ‘This Is a Big Deal’: Warren Vows to Ban New Leases for Fossil Fuel Drilling Offshore and on Public Lands

      “It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote on Medium. “That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling—a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands.”

      “This is a really important stand to take,” 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben tweeted Monday.

      He thanked the senator her new policy proposal, which focuses on “keeping our public lands in public hands, and maintaining and preserving existing lands,” as well as “making our public lands part of the climate solution —not the problem.”

    • 100+ Arrested in London Extinction Rebellion Protests

      The protests were organized by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion, which was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.

      Metropolitan Police in London said that by early Tuesday 113 adults had been arrested.

      That number includes three men and two women who were arrested at the UK offices of energy company Royal Dutch Shell on suspicion of criminal damage. Campaigners daubed graffiti and smashed a window at the Shell Centre building.

    • A Path to Democratic Socialism Means a Path To Climate Justice

      While the question of whether we should address capitalism first or climate change first is often posed in sequential terms, it is a false choice—though a compelling one.

      One can cogently argue, as Tobita does, that the timeline to avert the worst of climate chaos is exceedingly short, much shorter than the time it would take to overthrow and replace capitalism. But one can also argue, as Ashley does, that the climate crisis is historically a symptom of capitalism, and that this has intensified since the post-war Great Acceleration of globalized production and consumption. Accordingly, the reasoning goes, we can’t deal with the climate crisis without first dismantling capitalism.

      Both of these sequential framings, however, miss an important truth: The path to democratic socialism and the path to a livable planet are one and the same.

      My argument recognizes what is correct in each of the sequential framings: We need to act as quickly as possible, and we need to target the root causes of climate change. But we can, and should, do both simultaneously.

    • Europe’s new nuclear plants hit more snags

      Two new nuclear plants, one in Finland and the other in France, which for years have been limping towards start-up, have just encountered further problems, with worrying wider implications for the nuclear industry.

      They are two almost completed prototype European Pressurised Water reactors (EPRs), already years late and massively over budget, whose new problems are causing further expensive delays.

      The so-called third generation reactors, of 1,600 megawatts each, are the most powerful in the world and are the flagship project of EDF, the French state energy company. But they are proving extremely difficult to build and far more costly than forecast.

    • Polly Higgins — Meet the Lawyer Taking on Big Oil’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

      Polly Higgins is a woman on the hunt. And you get the sense that, after decades of working towards holding powerful polluters to account, her prey may finally be in sight.

      “When you’re looking at any crime, you’re looking at who are your suspects,” she tells me in a soft Scottish accent that belies the hard truths she regularly delivers. “Within a corporate context, you’re looking at CEOs and directors. Within a state context, it is ministers and Heads of State.”

    • Hague court orders Russia to pay Ukrainian energy company $44 million for lost gas stations in Crimea

      An international arbitration court in The Hague has ordered the Russian government to pay the Ukrainian company Ukrnafta $44.4 million in compensation for seizing 16 of the company’s Crimean gas stations when the peninsula was annexed in 2014.

    • Greens launch 10 priorities to tackle climate change as Greta Thunberg visits the European Parliament

      Today, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, will address the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament from 14:00 to 15:00.

      Coinciding with this visit, the Green Party of England and Wales MEP for South-West England Molly Scott Cato has helped launch the Greens/EFA 10 priority measures to save the climateincluding measures to finance the transition to a Green economy.

  • Finance

    • He Has Driven for Uber Since 2012. He Makes About $40,000 a Year.

      The Federal Trade Commission found the claims to be false advertising, and the company agreed to a $20 million settlement.

    • Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing

      But the prospectus renewed questions about how sustainable Uber’s business actually is. The company said in the filing that it lost $1.8 billion in 2018, excluding certain transactions, on revenue of $11.3 billion. And the prospectus also showed that its rocket-ship trajectory for revenue growth was beginning to slow.

    • The Government is Hard at Work Keeping Tax Preparation Complicated and Expensive

      “Congressional Democrats and Republicans,” reports ProPublica, “are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.”

      Specifically, the House Ways and Means Committee just advanced a bill perversely called the “Taxpayers First Act.” If passed by Congress and signed into law, it would become illegal for the IRS to “compete” with private sector tax preparation services like H&R Block and Intuit (the owners of TurboTax) by allowing taxpayers to skip those middlemen.

      This is actually the status quo, not by law but by agreement between the IRS and the US tax preparation industry, which knocks down billions every year preparing and filing returns. If you want to file directly with the IRS, you have to do it on paper, by snail mail. And the industry spends lots of money lobbying to keep it that way. Hence, the effort to write the deal into law.

      On one hand, given a choice of filing through a private company whose advertised mission is to save me as much money as possible, or through a government agency whose job is to wring as much money out of me as possible, I’ll pick the private company every time.

      On the other hand, the tax preparation industry is a parasite on top of another parasite. The tax system feeds on you. The industry feeds on the tax system.

    • House Democrats Ramp Up Probe of Trump’s Finances With Deutsche Bank Subpoena

      As Common Dreams reported last year, German police raided Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters in November in connection with the Panama Papers money laundering investigation. The subpoenas issued by the House committees reportedly pertain to possible money-laundering in Russia and Eastern Europe.

      “The information that could bring down Trump,” wrote John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy In Focus, at Common Dreams last year, “may be somewhere in the Deutsche Bank files. The relevant documents would link the bank’s two most questionable financial activities—lending to Trump and washing Russian money.”

      Democrats vowed to pursue Trump’s financial records after they won control of the House in November, saying they wanted to determine whether Russia may have had leverage over the president via his loans from Deutsche Bank.

      “The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement Monday.

      The subpoenas represent the latest step in Democrats’ effort to get to the bottom of Trump’s financial ties and those of the Trump Organization—from which the president refused to divest when he took office in 2017.

      The House Ways and Means Committee also requested Trump’s personal and business tax returns from his accounting firm, leading the president to tell the company not to comply. The accounting firm, Mazars USA has said it plans “fully comply with its legal obligations” while Deutsche Bank says it is cooperating with the House Committees’ requests.

    • House Democrats subpoena Deutsche Bank as probe of Donald Trump’s finances intensifies

      The House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, which has long provided loans to Pr