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06.17.19

Weaponising Russophobia Against One’s Critics

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 1:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Putin and HRC

Summary: Response to smears and various whispering campaigns whose sole purpose is to deplete the support base for particular causes and people; these sorts of things have gotten out of control in recent years

MOMENTS ago we wrote about photo ops (the above photo is real by the way, only the text was added) and their longterm ramifications, such as guilt by association. We don’t think that the terrible management of the EPO is some kind of conspiracy to undermine the European Patent Office (EPO). This awful leadership is actually beneficial to patent trolls with low-quality patents such as software patents (which both Campinos and Battistelli support).

It’s frustrating to see just how self-harming the Administrative Council has been, perhaps in expectation of funds, such as massive amounts of ‘cooperation’ money. Why else would they be harming Europe (unless there was personal gain)? Why would they allow the injustices to persist? Why would they fail to acknowledge the collapse in patent quality and the measurable brain drain?

“It’s frustrating to see just how self-harming the Administrative Council has been, perhaps in expectation of funds, such as massive amounts of ‘cooperation’ money.”Over the years I’ve learned the patterns of smears against people who expose corruption. I used to speak with Julian Assange before he was arrested on behalf of the United States, which he ‘embarrassed’. Then, several years ago (it happened only once), I saw some anonymous fool trying to insinuate I was connected with “Daesh” or Russia. This is how nonsensical rumours start and grow feet. People with connections to Hillary Clinton manufactured lies about Assange being a pedophile — a subject rebutted here and elsewhere. A couple of years ago I saw Team UPC spreading false rumours about the UPC complainant (that someone must be secretly funding him). They didn’t say anything publicly; they had defamed him through the grapevine, so to speak (a malicious whispering campaign). This is pretty serious. They try to belittle people who raise or simply highlight serious and legitimate constitutional violations.

“My goal was always to fix the EPO, not to ruin it.”Throughout the years I’ve always supported the EPO and gave coverage to their staff protests (even going back more than a decade). I myself could probbaly be a patent examiner. My goal was always to fix the EPO, not to ruin it. If one wanted to crash the EPO, then one would put an incompetent, corrupt politician in charge.

I strongly object to the idea that those merely talking about the corruption at the EPO try to make it less stable; the target is always the irresponsible management, whom even examiners loathe. This is why they nearly went on strike — a strike ballot for later this month (it was likely just postponed).

My disclosures have always been abundantly apparent (in my personal Web site, which goes 18 years back). I’m not an ‘agent’ or a ‘shill’ or anything like that. In fact, I rarely associate with anything or anybody. I know the risk of abundant affiliations. I’m also extremely careful who I respond to online.

“My disclosures have always been abundantly apparent (in my personal Web site, which goes 18 years back).”Russian TV channels like RT and Sputnik invited me to interviews several times; not only did I decline, I didn’t even respond to their invitations. Never.

If people want to question this site’s motivations, instead of nitpicking style or typos, go for it. They won’t get far. Later this year we’ll probably publish our 26,000th blog post and longtime readers know that we rarely need to issue corrections; we stick to just a handful of topics that we understand very well. Over the past half a decade one of those topics was the EPO. This and only this is why we ‘obsess with’ or focus on it. Other sites barely cover it. It’s a blind spot.

06.06.19

Links 6/6/2019: Zorin OS 15, Krita 4.2.1, NetBSD 8.1 Released; Fedora 30 Elections

Posted in Site News at 5:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How tmux sparks joy in your Linux terminal

      Let me set the scene: One day, I was debugging a time intensive feature generator process. I had a terminal open on my Mac, and I was connected in to my remote Linux virtual machine (VM) where the process would be initiated. I checked a few things with the script, and everything looked good. But by the time I kicked off the process, it was just about time to leave the office for the day. Closing my laptop would kill my shell, which would kill the process. The process takes forever and, instead of just being able to debug the results when I got home, I’d have to start it back up and wait for it to finish. I started to come to terms with the fact that I’d have to stay late and was not happy about this turn of events.

      A coworker noticed my frustration and asked how he could help. I explained my issue, saying that there had to be a way to continue running the process even after I closed the terminal since it was on a remote VM. I was worried that it would have to be connected to my shell to not die. Then he introduced me to tmux.

    • Chuwi AeroBook review: A successful move upmarket

      If given the choice I’d actually prefer a cheaper 128GB eMMC option and to add my own SSD. Why? Because the AeroBook works beautifully with Linux. I tried both Ubuntu 19.04 and the Intel-backed Clear Linux distro on the AeroBook and they ran faultlessly.

  • Server

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 Beta now available

      We are pleased to announce that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 Beta is now available, the latest update to the stable and more secure Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 platform. RHEL 7.7 marks the final release in the Full Support Phase (formerly known as “Production Phase 1″) of the RHEL 7 lifecycle as described in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Lifecycle.

      This 10-year lifecycle is a key feature of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform. As minor releases progress within a major release lifecycle, focus is placed on maintaining infrastructure stability for production environments and enhancing the reliability of the operating system. With RHEL 7 entering the next phase of its lifecycle, future releases will emphasize production stability, rather than introducing net-new features.

    • Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4 now defaults to CRI-O as underlying container engine

      Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4 enables the mass production of container hosts at scale across cloud providers, virtualization platforms and bare metal. To create a true cloud platform, we had to tightly control the supply chain to increase the reliability of the sophisticated automation. Standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (a variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and CRI-O was an obvious choice. Here’s why…

      Since sailing is such an apropos analogy for Kubernetes and containers, let’s use Brunel’s Sailing Blocks as an example to demonstrate the business problem that CoreOS and CRI-O solve. In 1803, Marc Brunel needed to produce 100,000 sailing blocks to meet the needs of the expanding British naval fleet. Sailing blocks are a type of pulley used to tie ropes to sails. Up until the very early 1800s, they were all built by hand, but Brunel changed that by investing in automation, building the pulleys in a standardized way with machines. This level of automation meant that pulleys were nearly identical, could be replaced when broken, and manufactured at scale.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta is now available

      Brave Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) users are already moving to RHEL 8. More cautious users are sticking with RHEL 7. But with this beta for the final release of the RHEL 7 family, the end of the RHEL 7 family is in sight.

      Don’t worry, be happy. With its 10-year lifecycle, you’ll be running RHEL 7 until 2024. That said, moving ahead future RHEL 7 releases will emphasize production stability, rather than introducing new features.

      That’s actually already the case with this release. The biggest updates are support for the latest generation of enterprise hardware and remediation for the recently disclosed ZombieLoad vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, RHEL can’t do anything about the underlying Intel chip problems. That means your processors will still run slower on many jobs.

    • RHEL8: Upgraded Security and Performance

      By now most of you have heard the buzz that Red Hat released the newest version, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8). Because RHEL 8 distribution is live externally, we also made sure to include it in our Linux Academy Cloud Playground, so you can start training with it immediately. There’s not much we aren’t excited about with this release. From advanced containerization to automation in security, RHEL 8 represents a win for businesses and individuals alike.

    • The University of Maine: High-Performance Computing, Climate Change Research, and Ocean Modeling created a Whale of an appetite when it comes to data. SUSE Enterprise Storage satisfied that appetite!

      With research projects like climate change research and ocean modeling, the university’s high-performance computing center is generating data like a Whale eating Krill. And that’s a whole lot considering a Blue Whale will consume some 40 million Krill, or about 8000 pounds daily. The University of Maine is one of only 11 Land, Sea and Space grant institutions in the country. And establishing a stronger and more flexible HPC and storage infrastructure is integral to their success. It also supports the people of Maine and its businesses across a wide variety of activities.

      Their challenge was with all the current and new larger research projects it increased the demands on data storage and the amount of data collected and consumed. For example, one project at the University of Maine generates high-resolution ocean models to map climate change and requires half a petabyte of data. Another project, employing deep learning to help detect tumors, requires a single directory with over two million files. With these projects and more, the university’s storage architecture was on the brink of collapse under the strain of these diverse and demanding data workloads. The existing system was difficult to scale up and tight budgets would not support a rip-and-replace of the entire system.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 532: CryptPad

      CryptPad is a private-by-design alternative to popular office tools and cloud services. All the content stored on CryptPad is encrypted before being sent, which means nobody can access your data unless you give them the keys.

      With CryptPad, you can make quick collaborative documents for taking notes and writing down ideas together. It allows for fast & easy collaboration, with CryptPad using 100% client-side encryption to protect the content that you type from CryptPad.

    • LHS Episode #287: Fruit of Widevine

      Welcome to Episode 287 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts discuss several topics including sunspots and planetary alignment, proprietary encryption protocols in common browsers, high-altitude balloons, satellite LIDs, new malware, new WSJT-X and much more. Thank you for listening.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 812
    • GPU Passthrough | BSD Now 301

      GPU passthrough on bhyve, confusion with used/free disk space on ZFS, OmniOS Community Edition, pfSense 2.4.4 Release p3, NetBSD 8.1 RC1, FreeNAS as your Server OS, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Line Length Limits in the Kernel

      Periodically, the kernel developers debate something everyone generally takes for granted, such as the length of a line of text. Personally, I like lines of text to reach both sides of my screen—it’s just a question of not wasting space.

      Alastair D’Silva recently agreed with me. He felt that monitor sizes and screen resolution had gotten so big in recent years, that the kernel should start allowing more data onto a single line of text. It was simple pragmatism—more visible text means more opportunity to spot the bug in a data dump.

      Alastair posted a patch to allow 64-byte line lengths, instead of the existing options of 16 bytes and 32 bytes. It was met with shock and dismay from Petr Mladek, who said that 64 bytes added up to more than 256 characters per line, which he doubted any human would find easy to read. He pointed out that the resolution needed to fit such long lines on the screen would be greater than standard hi-def. He also pointed out that there were probably many people without high-definition screens who worked on kernel development.

    • Linus Torvalds Prefers Transparency, Despite Risks

      Outbursts are a common practice in any environment – whether professional or personal. Since the Linux kernel community works in open and all discussions happen publicly on LKML, Torvalds’ outburst used to be picked up by bloggers to sensationalize them.

      In this interview, we asked if Torvalds wish that there was a private mailing list for the kernel developers so that they could safely discuss critical topics without worrying about ‘tabloid’ journalists picking on internal discussions and create controversial stories around them

    • Shrinking filesystem caches for dying control groups

      In a followup to his earlier session on dying control groups, Roman Gushchin wanted to talk about problems with the shrinkers and filesystem caches in a combined filesystem and memory-management session at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). Specifically, for control groups that share the same underlying filesystem, the shrinkers are not able to reclaim memory from the VFS caches after a control group dies, at least under slight to moderate memory pressure. He wanted to discuss how to reclaim that memory without major performance impacts.

      The starting point might be to determine how to calculate the memory pressure to apply, he said. Back in October and November, there were several proposals on doing that; his patch was reverted due to performance regressions, but there were others, none of which went upstream.

    • The Linux “copy problem”

      In a filesystem session on the third day of the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Steve French wanted to talk about copy operations. Much of the development work that has gone on in the Linux filesystem world over the last few years has been related to the performance of copying files, at least indirectly, he said. There are still pain points around copy operations, however, so he would like to see those get addressed.

      The “copy problem” is something that has been discussed at LSFMM before, French said, but things have gotten better over the last year due to efforts by Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft, and others. Things are also changing for copy operations; many of them are done to and from the cloud, which has to deal with a wide variation in network latency. At the other end, NVMe is making larger storage faster at a relatively affordable price. Meanwhile virtualization is taking more CPU, at times, because operations that might have been offloaded to network hardware are being handled by the CPU.

    • A way to do atomic writes

      Finding a way for applications to do atomic writes to files, so that either the old or new data is present after a crash and not a combination of the two, was the topic of a session led by Christoph Hellwig at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). Application developers hate the fact that when they update files in place, a crash can leave them with old or new data—or sometimes a combination of both. He discussed some implementation ideas that he has for atomic writes for XFS and wanted to see what the other filesystem developers thought about it.

      Currently, when applications want to do an atomic write, they do one of two things. Either they use “weird user-space locking schemes”, as databases typically do, or they write an entirely new file, then do an “atomic rename trick” to ensure the data is in place. Unfortunately, the applications often do not use fsync() correctly, so they lose their data anyway.

    • Storage testing

      Ted Ts’o led a discussion on storage testing and, in particular, on his experience getting blktests running for his test environment, in a combined storage and filesystem session at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. He has been adding more testing to his automated test platform, including blktests, and he would like to see more people running storage tests. The idea of his session was to see what could be done to help that cause.

      There are two test areas that he has recently been working on: NFS testing and blktests. His employer, Google, is rolling out cloud kernels for customers that enable NFS, so he thought it would be “a nice touch” to actually test NFS. He said that one good outcome of his investigation into running xfstests for NFS was in discovering an NFS wiki page that described the configuration and expected failures for xfstests. He effusively thanked whoever wrote that page, which he found to be invaluable. He thinks that developers for other filesystems should do something similar if they want others to run their tests.

      He has also recently been running blktests to track down a problem that manifested itself as an ext4 regression in xfstests. It turned out to be a problem in the SCSI multiqueue (mq) code, but he thought it would be nice to be able to pinpoint whether future problems were block layer problems or in ext4. So he has been integrating blktests into his test suite. Ts’o said that he realized blktests is a relatively new package, so the problems he ran into are likely to get better before long. Some of what he would be relating are his feedback on the package and its documentation.

    • Testing and the stable tree

      The stable tree was the topic for a plenary session led by Sasha Levin at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). One of the main areas that needs attention is testing, according to Levin. He wanted to discuss how to do more and better testing as well as to address any concerns that attendees might have with regard to the stable tree.

      There are two main things that Levin is trying to address with the stable tree: that fewer regressions are released and that all of the fixes get out there for users. In order to pick up fixes not marked for stable, he is using machine learning to identify candidate patches for the stable trees. Those patches are reviewed manually by him, then put on the relevant mailing list for at least a week; if there are no objections, they will go into the stable tree, which is under review for another week, then they are released.

      There have been some concerns expressed that the stable kernel is growing too much, by adding too many patches, which makes it less stable. He strongly disagrees with that as there is no magic limit on the number of patches that, if exceeded, leads to an unstable kernel. It is more a matter of the kind of testing that is being done on the patches proposed for the stable kernels.

    • A kernel debugger in Python: drgn

      A kernel debugger that allows Python scripts to access data structures in a running kernel was the topic of Omar Sandoval’s plenary session at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). In his day job at Facebook, Sandoval does a fair amount of kernel debugging and he found the existing tools to be lacking. That led him to build drgn, which is a debugger built into a Python library.

      Sandoval began with a quick demo of drgn (which is pronounced “dragon”). He was logged into a virtual machine (VM) and invoked the debugger on the running kernel with drgn -k. With some simple Python code in the REPL (read-eval-print loop), he was able to examine the superblock of the root filesystem and loop through the inodes cached in that superblock—with their paths. Then he did “something a little fancier” by only listing the inodes for files that are larger than 1MB. It showed some larger kernel modules, libraries, systemd, and so on.

      He mostly works on Btrfs and the block layer, but he also tends to debug random kernel problems. Facebook has so many machines that there are “super rare, one-in-a-million bugs” showing up all the time. He often volunteers to take a look. In the process he got used to tools like GDB, crash, and eBPF, but found that he often wanted to be able to do arbitrarily complex analysis of kernel data structures, which is why he ended up building drgn.

    • New system calls: pidfd_open() and close_range()

      The linux-kernel mailing list has recently seen more than the usual amount of traffic proposing new system calls. LWN is endeavoring to catch up with that stream, starting with a couple of proposals for the management of file descriptors. pidfd_open() is a new way to create a “pidfd” file descriptor that refers to a process in the system, while close_range() is an efficient way to close many open descriptors with a single call.

    • New system calls for memory management

      Several new system calls have been proposed for addition to the kernel in a near-future release. A few of those, in particular, focus on memory-management tasks. Read on for a look at process_vm_mmap() (for zero-copy data transfer between processes), and two new APIs for advising the kernel about memory use in a different process.

    • Memory: the flat, the discontiguous, and the sparse

      The physical memory in a computer system is a precious resource, so a lot of effort has been put into managing it effectively. This task is made more difficult by the complexity of the memory architecture on contemporary systems. There are several layers of abstraction that deal with the details of how physical memory is laid out; one of those is simply called the “memory model”. There are three models supported in the kernel, but one of them is on its way out. As a way of understanding this change, this article will take a closer look at the evolution of the kernel’s memory models, their current state, and their possible future.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation to Host the Accord Project to Develop Open Source Framework for Smart Legal Contracts [Ed: Dan Selman, whom LF has just made co-director of the Accord Project, apparently works or worked for Microsoft (or maybe it’s another person with the same name). Zemlin PAC may be dead anyway. Stick a fork in it. This new group has nothing to do with “Linux”; Everything to do with ‘IP’ boosters Intel, IBM and Microsoft (see who’s cited in this press release).]

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the launch of the Accord Project as a Linux Foundation project. The Accord Project is a nonprofit organization that builds open source code and documentation to maintain a common and consistent legal and technical foundation for contract management. The project comprises all the software necessary to author, edit and execute smart legal contracts in a standardized way. Many of the world's largest global law firms have signed on, as well as leading industry bodies and technology companies such as DocuSign, IBM, IEEE and R3.

        Smart contracts are showing promise for simplifying complexities in supply chain management and other contract-heavy areas of technology development, but they also introduce requirements for interoperability and consistency. The Accord Project provides a globally interoperable approach for creating contracts that bind legally enforceable natural language text to executable business logic. With an increased focus on enterprise digitalization, adoption of blockchain technologies and the growth of the API economy, the usage of computable agreements is rapidly increasing. Having a common format for “computable” legal agreements is an important cornerstone for the future of commercial relationships. One of the main purposes of Accord Project is to provide a vendor-neutral “.doc” format for smart legal agreements

    • Graphics Stack

      • ATI R300 Gallium3D Driver Seeing A Big Performance Fix After Being Regressed For Years

        For those still running decade and a half old ATI Radeon graphics hardware like the Radeon Xpress 200M found in numerous notebooks back in the day, a performance regression in the R300 Gallium3D driver is being sorted out after concerned users on this vintage hardware began bisecting and testing patches for a regression to this old ATI open-source driver that appears to have been adversely affected back in 2017.

        Not only is the R600 Gallium3D driver seeing some recent attention around OpenGL 4.5 support, the R300 Gallium3D driver for the Radeon X1000 series and older has also been seeing some attention thanks to some users still relying upon this open-source OpenGL driver in old systems.

      • Linux 5.3 To Enable HDR Metadata Support For AMDGPU Driver

        When it comes to HDR display support on Linux we’ve seen a lot of infrastructure work being pursued by the developers at NVIDIA going back a few years while more recently Intel’s open-source developers have been on it too with Icelake Gen11 graphics supporting HDR. We haven’t seen much publicly on the AMD Linux front but with the upcoming 5.3 kernel cycle one of their HDR DC patches will be merged.

        Buried within the drm-misc-next pull request today being sent to DRM-Next is HDR metadata support for the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver.

      • Mesa 19.2 R600 Gallium3D Can Advertise OpenGL 4.5 With Select GPUs

        A change merged to Mesa 19.2 last month has the R600 Gallium3D driver officially advertising OpenGL 4.5 support.

        This Gallium3D driver is what provides Linux OpenGL support from the Radeon HD 2000 “R600″ through Radeon HD 6000 (pre-GCN) series. Granted, only the Radeon HD 5800 and HD 6900 series is currently able to offer OpenGL 4.x support out-of-the-box with Mesa right now until the FP64 emulation support is all in place for being able to flip on GL_ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 that otherwise blocks OpenGL 4.0 support.

      • mesa 19.1.0-rc5
        Hello, list.
        
        The fifth release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.
        
        We have extended the release candidates because there are two bugs blocking the final release:
        
        #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions
        #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration
        
        We hope to unblock them as soon as possible.
        
        
        Axel Davy (1):
              d3dadapter9: Revert to old throttling limit value
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (1):
              nir: Actually propagate progress in nir_opt_move_load_ubo.
        
        Jan Zielinski (1):
              swr/rast: fix 32-bit compilation on Linux
        
        Jason Ekstrand (4):
              iris: Don't assume UBO indices are constant
              intel/fs,vec4: Use g0 as the header for MFENCE
              intel/fs: Do a stalling MFENCE in endInvocationInterlock()
              nir/dead_cf: Call instructions aren't dead
        
        Jonathan Marek (1):
              freedreno/ir3: fix input ncomp for vertex shaders
        
        Juan A. Suarez Romero (1):
              Update version to 19.1.0-rc5
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (1):
              nir/lower_non_uniform: safely iterate over blocks
        
        Marek Olšák (2):
              u_blitter: don't fail mipmap generation for depth formats containing stencil
              ac: fix a typo in ac_build_wg_scan_bottom
        
        Pierre-Eric Pelloux-Prayer (1):
              radeonsi: init sctx->dma_copy before using it
        
        Rhys Perry (1):
              ac/nir: mark some texture intrinsics as convergent
        
        Rob Clark (2):
              freedreno/ir3: set more barrier bits
              freedreno/a6xx: fix GPU crash on small render targets
        
        Sagar Ghuge (1):
              intel/compiler: Fix assertions in brw_alu3
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (2):
              radv: allocate more space in the CS when emitting events
              radv: do not use gfx fast depth clears for layered depth/stencil images
        
        Timothy Arceri (1):
              st/glsl: make sure to propagate initialisers to driver storage
        
        Vinson Lee (1):
              freedreno: Fix GCC build error.
      • Mesa 19.1-RC5 Is Out With A Handful Of RADV & Intel/Iris Changes

        Mesa 19.1 is in overtime and today marks the fifth weekly release candidate as the developers try addressing the last two blocker bugs to get out this quarterly feature release.

        The Mesa 19.1 feature release is being held up by a Piglit EGL regression test case and an OpenGL CTS test run failure. The issues will hopefully be resolved or dropped as blockers this week which is how it’s looking. Mesa 19.1.0 is hoping to ship next week as it stands now.

      • Joining Collabora for a summer of Panfrost

        Years ago, I joined the open-source community with a passion and a mission: to enable equal access to high-quality computing via open-source software. With this mission, I co-founded Panfrost, aiming to create an open-source driver for the Mali GPU. Before Panfrost, users of Mali GPUs required a proprietary blob, restricting their ability to use their machines as they saw fit. Some users were unable to run Linux, their operating system of choice, with the display system of their choosing, simply because there were not blobs available for their particular configuration. Others wished to use an upstream kernel; yet others held a deep philosophical belief in free and open-source software. To each users’ driver problem, Panfrost seeks to provide a solution.

        Days ago, I joined Collabora with the same passion and the same mission. Collabora was founded on an “open first” model, sharing my personal open source conviction. Collabora’s long-term vision is to let open-source software blossom throughout computing, fulfilling my own dream of an open-source utopia.

        With respect to graphics, Collabora has shared my concerns. After all, we’re all on “Team Open Source” together! Collabora’s partners make awesome technology, often containing a Mali GPU, and they need equally awesome graphics drivers to power their products and empower their users. Our partners and our users asked, and Panfrost answered.

      • Alyssa Rosenzweig Joins Collabora To Work On Panfrost Graphics Stack

        The lead developer of the Panfrost open-source graphics driver stack, Alyssa Rosenzweig, has joined open-source consulting firm Collabora to continue work on this Arm Mali reverse-engineering adventure.

        Rosenweig has been working relentlessly on Panfrost that consists of the now-mainlined DRM/KMS kernel driver and Gallium3D Mesa OpenGL driver for providing a reverse-engineered, fully open driver stack for Arm’s Mali Bifrost and Midgard architectures. Panfrost targets the newer generations of Mali hardware compared to the “Lima” driver work that’s been renewed recently for 400/450 series graphics hardware.

      • AMD Sends In 2nd Round Of AMDGPU Radeon Driver Updates For Linux 5.3 – No Navi Yet

        After sending in an initial batch of AMDGPU DRM driver changes last week to DRM-Next for queuing until the Linux 5.3 merge window next month, a second batch of feature updates were sent in today.

        Today’s pull request disables the timeline synchronization object support (sent in last week) until the extension is ready, driver reload fixes, various DC display code updates, a RAS fix, and on the TTM front is an improvement when experiencing heavy memory contention.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Core i5 8400 vs. i5 9400F Meltdown/Spectre/L1TF/MDS Mitigation Impact

        With recently seeing a deal on the Intel Core i5 9400F processor, I picked it up for testing as part of our Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow / Zombieload testing since it features some hardware mitigations and is otherwise quite similar to the unmitigated Core i5 8400 that I also have in the benchmarking farm. Here are some results when benchmarking the Core i5 8400 and Core i5 9400F with and without the current Linux mitigations for these CPU vulnerabilities.

        I’ll have up my complete Linux review of the Intel Core i5 9400F over the next week or so, but given the interest in the mitigated performance especially after the last round (MDS / Zombieload), here are some metrics comparing just the Core i5 8400 and Core i5 9400F with their mitigations. The Core i5 9400 series is part of the line-up now featuring silicon-level mitigations for Meltdown and hardware/software improvements around Spectre and L1TF. Given the Core i5 8400 is quite similar but without any hardware mitigations, I figured it would be interesting for a benchmark candidate.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita 4.2.1 Released

        Hot on the heels of 4.2.0, we’re releasing Krita 4.2.1. Most importantly, this release fixes an issue where after painting for a long time, Krita would become slow because the undo stack would grow infinitely. There are other fixes, too: saving and loading .kra files containing vector layers with image names using non-latin1 characters has been fixed, too. Some fixes are by new contributor Carl Olsson, others by new contribor Dmitry Utkin, many thanks!

      • KDE Applications Website

        The new KDE Applications website is now up

        The old one was a manual task of keeping the metadata up to date while this one scans builds from build.kde.org and Git in search of appstream appdata.xml files and converts them into the required info.

        Technical info on the website wiki pages.

        If you see mistakes, go and fix them by updating the appstream files. These files are also used in distro packages and appstores and new container packages so a fix there goes a long way. Appstream in KDE guide.

        Icons come from Breeze. If you see an issue with an icon I’m sure the Breeze folks would be happy for a fix on the bug report.

      • Hello new Konsole

        Konsole has been ready for many many years, and got almost 10 years without anything really exciting being added, mostly because the software is ready, why should we modify something that works to add experimental features?

        But then the reality kicked in, konsole missed some features that are quite nice and existed in Terminator, Tilix and other new terminals, but Tilix now lacks a developer, and Terminator is also not being actively developed (with the last release being it in 26 of February of 2017)

      • Retiring ask.krita.org

        About a year ago, we created the ask.krita.org website. We wanted to have a stack-exchange like place, where people could report problems, after searching whether their problems had already been discussed, where people could help each other.

        Maybe it was the platform we were using, maybe it’s that people who are using Krita have a different mindset from people for whom stack-exchange like sites work, but we came to realize that ask.krita.org did not work out.

      • Chrome 75 Released, ask.krita.org Website Retiring, LinuxGizmos Publishes Its Spring 2019 SBC Catalog, LibreOffice 6.3 Beta 1 Is Ready for Testing and Happy 15th to Phoronix

        The ask.krita.org website, a stack-exchange-like place for people to report problems and help each other, is being retired. According to the post, the problems were “Nobody seemed to be searching whether their problems had already been discussed and maybe solved, so the same questions were being asked again and again. Nobody seemed to stay around and engage with the people who were trying to help them, and nobody seemed to stay around to help other people.” The team is looking for a replacement, but isn’t sure quite what that will be yet.

      • KDE Usability and Productivity: Are we there yet?

        There’s still more to do, of course. KIO still doesn’t mount network locations locally, though that’s being actively worked on! Touchpad scrolling behavior has improved, but is still not consistent across all KDE apps and there’s no inertial scrolling yet. Samba sharing is improving, but still rough. Okular’s annotations are becoming more full-featured, compatible, and discoverable, yet more work is still needed. More System Settings pages still need to have their user interface overhauled. But are you seeing a pattern here!? Things are happening! The trajectory is really good! It’s unbelievable how many of the rough edges have gotten smoothed out over the past two years, and I feel super upbeat about the state of KDE’s software offering!

        With this kind of ongoing work, KDE’s software moves ever closer to the day when I envision that it has become humanity’s preeminent computing platform. It will take time, but open-source software is immortal as long as people care about it. And the KDE community clearly does! So slowly but surely we continue, improving year by year as competitors stagnate, drop out, or are corrupted by the lures of money and power. It will be a KDE world.

      • KDE Has Made Much Progress On Usability/Productivity, But They’re Still Aiming For More

        Excellent KDE blogger Nate Graham has blogged about the work done over the past roughly two years be he and others on improving the usability and productivity of this Linux desktop. Long story short, a lot of progress has been made by the KDE development community but more work remains.

        Among the achievements he cited were better handling/configuring for libinput on X11/Wayland, a new notification system, UI improvements, performance improvements around Baloo, showing file creation dates on supported file-systems, better lock/log-in screens, and much more.

      • KDE Privacy Sprint, 2019 Edition

        During the sprint, we floated a lot of different ideas that sparked plenty of discussions. The notion of privacy encompasses a wide range of topics, technologies and methods, so it is often difficult to decide what to focus on. However, all the aspects we worked on are important. We ended up tackling a variety of issues, and we are confident that our contributions will improve data protection for all users of KDE software.

        Both Sandro Knauß and Volker Krause regularly work on KDE’s Kontact suite (email, calendar, contacts, etc.), but this time they took on network-related issues. One of the problems is that there are still too many http links (instead of secure https links) within our codebase. This is a threat to users’ communication, as http connections – and hence all the messages that travel over them – are unencrypted.

        To make it easier for all KDE developers, Sandro and Volker wrote an ECM-injected global unit test. The test gets added to every application and prints out warnings about http links used in your code. Another script tries to update all the links in your codebase to use https, but checks beforehand if the https links would work. For example, sourceforge.org subdomains don’t provide a certificate, so the script would ignore those.

      • Timothee Giet (Animtim): LGM 2019 is finished, preparing for 2020

        We are back from Saarbrücken where was the Libre Graphics Meeting this year. As usual it was a great event, with plenty of interesting talks and workshops, and full of awesome developers and users of Free Software graphics applications.

        I’m not going to make a detailed report as many people already did around the web. However, I must talk about something special this time: our proposal to organize next LGM in our city has been officially approved, so prepare to join us in Rennes for the Libre Graphics Meeting in 2020!

        If you want to help us or support this event, you can contact the LGM mailing list, or drop me an email directly.

      • 10 Reasons to Use KDE as Linux Desktop Environment

        KDE Plasma is a free, powerfully flexible and open source widget-based Desktop Environment primarily created for Linux systems by the KDE project. Originally, KDE was an acronym for Kool Desktop Environment until it was changed to be the “K Desktop Environment“. That notwithstanding, KDE Plasma hasn’t stopped being kool. In fact, it is among the coolest Linux desktop environments on the planet.

        You might have been looking up a list of desktop environments to switch to. Or perhaps, you want to decide which DE best matches your taste. You’re reading the right blog because below are 10 solid reasons why your choice should be KDE Plasma.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Argos Is Like BitBar For Gnome Shell: It Shows Scripts Output On The Panel (Top Bar)

        Searching for a way to show a script output on the Gnome Shell panel (top bar), I came across Argos. This Gnome Shell extension does only one thing: it adds a new item with a dropdown menu to the panel, showing the output from a script and exposing functionality.

        The extension is inspired by BitBar, a popular program to put the output from any script on the macOS menu bar, and it’s even compatible with most BitBar scripts.

  • Distributions

    • 10 Reasons to Use Arch Linux

      Arch Linux is a free and open source distribution for x86 – 64-based architectures. It is a rolling release which means that it constantly gets updates of fixes and new features and it can be installed from a CD image, USB, or via an FTP server.

      Starting from the 10 reasons why I love Ubuntu and the 12 reasons to switch over to Linux to the best reasons to use Fedora Linux, FossMint has covered several reasons why one or the other Linux distro is a good choice of a workstation to make.

      Today, it’s time for us to turn our attention to the fan favorite Arch Linux.

    • New Releases

      • Zorin OS 15 is here – Faster. Easier. More connected.

        We’re excited to launch the next major version of our operating system: Zorin OS 15. Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level. Every aspect of the user experience has been re-considered and refined in this new release, from how apps are installed, to how you get work done, to how it interacts with the devices around you. The result is a desktop experience that combines the most powerful desktop technology with the most user-friendly design.

        As our phones become powerful and versatile tools for productivity, more of our work is happening between our devices. With the goal of making Zorin OS the best platform for getting things done, we want the transitions between using our devices to be as seamless as possible.

      • Zorin OS 15 Core Run Through

        In this video, we look at Zorin OS 15 Core.

      • Also: Zorin OS 15 Linux Distro Officially Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS
      • Zorin OS 15 Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

        Zorin OS 15 is based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS. This is solid foundation underpins a number of other Ubuntu-based distros, like the recent Peppermint OS 10 release.

        Zorin OS 15 users also get access to a swathe of newer and will receive future Linux kernel updates, including Linux Kernel 5.0, via Canonical’s Hardware Enablement Stack (HWE).

        In use, it’s easy to forget that the desktop experience in Zorin OS 15 is based on GNOME Shell — the same GNOME Shell used almost everywhere these days.

        There’s a real harmony in the way this distro is put together that just sings in usage.

        You’re probably keen to learn a bit more about Zorin OS 15, so let’s dive in!

      • It’s Time To Pay Attention To Zorin OS 15, The Best Desktop Linux Distro You’ve Never Heard Of

        Zorin OS first crossed my radar a couple months ago, when co-founder and full-time developer Artyom Zorin emailed me about the new features in Zorin OS 15 (which launches today). A few things jumped out at me, like a touch interface that goes beyond merely supporting touchscreens. It maximizes space for your apps and other content, and has several multi-touch gestures similar to what Deepin recently introduced in version 15.9.

        Then there’s the addition of native Flatpak support to compliment out-of-the-box Snap support. And the slick Zorin Connect app for syncing your Android phone with your PC.

        Plus, Zorin has Linux gamers covered (more on that in a bit).

        Zorin OS 15 also brings dynamic wallpaper to the table, which changes based on the time of day. The entire theme can adapt, switching automatically to Dark Mode at night.

      • Zorin OS 15 Linux distro is ready to replace Microsoft Windows 10 on your PC

        While I’m a Linux fan and advocate, I’m not delusional. Switching from Windows to an operating system based on the Linux kernel is not for everyone. For some folks, Microsoft’s desktop operating system is more appropriate, and for others, maybe Apple’s macOS is better. Ultimately, people should pick whatever tool they enjoy. After all, a computer is a tool, not a religion.

        With all of that said, Windows 10 has many detractors. In other words, it is not an operating system that is beloved by many. Even the people that don’t necessarily hate it, probably tolerate it more than truly enjoy it. And that’s sad. Thankfully, for those that want a way out of Microsoft’s Windows, there are many alternatives. If you want to try Linux, there is a new version of a great distribution you should try — the Ubuntu-based Zorin OS 15.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The Holy Grail of PaaS on Kubernetes

        Kubernetes will solve all of our problems right? It’s the container platform that will allow our development teams to deploy their microservice applications in all their cloud native glory. We’ll all be able to deploy our web apps without needing to worry about the servers that are running them or interact with the system administrators that look after those servers. Self-service for Developers!

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Mini-DebConf Marseille 2019

        We’ve had the idea to organize a mini-DebConf in Marseille when we were in Toulouse in 2017. After participating in many DebConfs (mini or not), getting into organizing such an event seemed a good way to give back and contribute to the Debian project.

        Fast-forward to end of 2018. We’ve gathered a few motivated people and settled for a 50/70 participants event on May 25th/26th. We’ve chosen an appropriate venue in down-town Marseille. I won’t dwelve into organization details (call for speakers, sessions recording, scheduling…) since we plan to share our experience in a rather detailed “Howto organize a mini-DebConf” in the coming days/weeks.

      • Improving .deb

        Debian Linux and its family of derivatives (such as Ubuntu) are partly characterized by their use of .deb as the packaging format. Packages in this format are produced not only by the distributions themselves, but also by independent software vendors. The last major change of the format internals happened back in 1995. However, a discussion of possible changes has been brought up recently on the debian-devel mailing list by Adam Borowski.

        As documented in the deb(5) manual page, modern Debian packages are ar archives containing three members in a particular order. The first file is named debian-binary and has the format version number, currently “2.0″, as one line of text. The second archive member is control.tar.xz, containing the package metadata files and scripts that are executed before and after package installation or removal. Then comes the data.tar.xz file, the archive with the actual files installed by the package. For both the control and data archives, gzip, not xz, was used for compression historically and is still a valid option. The Debian tool for dealing with package files, dpkg, has gained support for other decompressors over time. At present, xz is the most popular one both for Debian and Ubuntu.

      • Bits from the Debian Anti-harassment team
        Bits from Debian AH (June 2019)
        
        Welcome to another edition of Bits from the Debian Anti-harassment
        team. 2019 started on a busy note for the team, but settled down over
        February and March. We had several incidents reported, and have been
        following discussions. Details below.
        
        * Added a new member (thanks Sledge!);
        * Follow up around community discussions;
        * Followed discussions on mailing lists and responded officially to
        several messages, but generally took no action;
        * Responded to one incident of inappropriate language;
        * Received several reports we have not yet closed;
        * Worked with several community members to help them proactively be
        more inclusive in their communications;
        * Handled one ongoing discussion around behavior of an individual; and
        
        We'd like to thank everyone who reported an incident, and especially
        thank those with whom we spoke, who have taken positive actions for
        the future.
        
        On the other hand, we can also report on work done on the team itself.
        
        * We have discussed, but did not settle, on a new name for our team.
        * There is going to be a sprint between AH, DAM, and the DPL later
        this month. This will hopefully help these three groups work together
        better and better define responsibilities.
        * We have been testing a web-based system to handle reports is a more
        structured and streamlined way.
        * After our last call for volunteers, we got a few submissions, and
        following a training period we now welcome Steve McIntyre to the team!
        * Laura Arjona Reina stepped down from the team, after years of hard
        work and dedication. Thank you Laura!
        
        We'd also like to let the community know a bit about how the team
        works.  We meet every two weeks on IRC and discuss issues that have
        been sent in to us.  Because of the nature of our work, these meetings
        are private.  Also, because of the sensitive nature of issues we
        handle, we prefer to get consensus within the team for responses
        before sending them.  That means in most cases, unless an issue is
        urgent, it will take until the next meeting for us to be able to
        respond to an issue.
      • Debian’s Anti-Harassment Team Continues Battling Community Issues In 2019

        The team meanwhile has been working on alternative names to the “Debian Anti-Harassment Team”, they are doing a sprint this month, they are testing a new web-based system for reporting harassment issues, and they have a few new submissions for volunteers to join their team.

      • Derivatives

        • Sparky 5.8 RC

          New live/install iso images of Sparky 5.8 RC are out. Sparky 5.8 RC is a release candidate of the next stable line and is based on upcoming Debian stable Buster.

        • SparkyLinux 5.8 RC Run Through

          In this video, we look at SparkyLinux 5.8 RC.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Outs Linux Kernel Security Updates for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            Available for Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), the new security patches are here to fix several issues affecting the Linux kernels of these releases, especially a security vulnerability (CVE-2019-11191) that only affects the i386 (32-bit) kernels of Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, as Ubuntu 19.10 and Ubuntu 19.04 are not affected.

            “Federico Manuel Bento discovered that the Linux kernel did not properly apply Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) in some situations for setuid a.out binaries. A local attacker could use this to improve the chances of exploiting an existing vulnerability in a setuid a.out binary. As a hardening measure, this update disables a.out support,” reads the security advisory.

          • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS has Officially Transitioned to Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) Support Phase

            Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) LTS begins its Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) from April 30th 2019.

            As everyone is aware that Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Long-term support) has started its Extended Maintenance Support (ESM) Journey from May 2019.

            Below information will provide some highlights on the ESM, at the verge of LTS support.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Marketing to Open Source Communities

    Two factors define open source. The most obvious is that the source is available for anyone to see, compile and extend, instead of kept secret. Hence the name, “open source.” The second, but more influential, aspect of open source is that it is developed by communities. Communities are collections of developers, testers, technical writers and project leaders who build, test and release the software together. Members of the community may be paid by companies to do the work or might be contributing their time as individuals. In any case, open source decisions and work is not dominated by any one company. They operate as collectives, brought together by shared interest.

  • Events

    • Flock Talk & Session Proposal Reminder

      It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been more than five years since we launched the “Fedora.next” initiative. At the end of Fedora’s first decade, we knew it would be important to think, plan, and adjust so the project could continue successfully in the decades to come. Now we’re halfway into the next one, and this Flock conference will be an important time for reflecting on our progress and charting our path for the next five years and beyond.

      Because Flock is focused specifically at our contributors and developers, this is a unique conference and we’re looking for talks and sessions that reflect that.

      We want to see your talk proposals on any topic relevant to Fedora contributors working to shape Fedora. What are you working on and how will you help shape the next five years of Fedora’s future?

    • UK Open Source Awards 2019 Shortlists

      The UK Open Source Awards is an event in Edinburgh next Wednesday (June 12 2019) to celebrate and recognise freedom and collaborative software. If you’ve not got your ticket book on now. Keynote speaker is Frank Karlitschek the former KDE e.V. board member, then there’s quality selection of other speakers and panelists before the award ceremony to close the day.

      I’m the head judge and together with Allison Randal and Dawn Foster we have picked a short list of 4 names for each of the awards.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • My thoughts on Firefox blocking tracking/ad cookies by default

        Firefox 67 was released earlier this week and it came with an invisible but significant change. Firefox user, or 10 % of the worldwide desktop web market share, just had their default browser settings changed to block cross-site tracking cookies by default.

        So what does this change really mean? This doesn’t mean that Firefox have started to outright block web advertising; Mozilla rejected that idea in 2018 after realizing small creators and websites were entirely dependent on ads for income.

      • CSS Grid Level 2 – subgrid is coming to Firefox

        The subgrid feature which is part of Level 2 of the CSS Grid Specification is not yet shipping in any browser, but is now available for testing in Firefox Nightly. This is a feature that, if you have used CSS Grid for a layout of any complexity, you are likely to be pretty excited about. In this article I’m going to introduce the feature and some of the use cases it solves.

        So what is subgrid exactly? In terms of syntax, it is a new keyword value for the grid-template-columns and grid-template-rows properties. These properties normally accept a track listing, a listing of sizes of the tracks you want in your grid. For example, the following CSS would create a three column track grid with a 200px column, a column sized as max-content, and a final 1fr column.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • LibreOffice

    • Open Source LibreOffice Drops Builds For 32-bit Linux Distros

      With more and more Linux distros shifting to the only 64-bit release model, it makes sense for the major Linux software makers to follow the trend. The latest major player to drop the support for 32-bit Linux desktops is none other than LibreOffice, the popular open source alternative to MS Office.

      Ahead of the upcoming LibreOffice 6.3 stable release in the mid-August 2019, The Document Foundation has released Beta 1 for the software suite. Beta 1 is also the first LibreOffice release that doesn’t ship with a binary for 32-bit Linux desktop.

    • LibreOffice 6.3 hits beta, with built-in redaction tool for sharing those █████ documents

      The Document Foundation has released the first beta of LibreOffice 6.3, with new features including a redaction tool and a Fourier Analysis spreadsheet function.

      LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice in 2010, which is when The Document Foundation was formed, including a team of OpenOffice contributors. OpenOffice has also continued and is now Apache OpenOffice. The default format of both suites is OpenDocument, an ISO standard.

      Version 6.3 is planned for full release in mid August. There are new features of which the most notable is the built-in redaction tool. Existing proprietary tools do not support open document formats, the release notes explained.

      The new tool works by converting the target document to a LibreOffice drawing. You then blank out parts of the document by placing shapes over the offending words. Finally, the redaction tool offers a “Redacted Export” option, which creates a PDF in which the document becomes a bitmap with no selectable text.

    • QA Report: May 2019
    • Month of LibreOffice, May 2019: The winners!
    • LibreOffice Will No Longer Provide 32-bit Linux Binaries

      With the announcement of LibreOffice 6.3 Beta 1, the open source office suite has stopped providing 32-bit binaries for the Linux platform although 32-bit compatibility has not yet been removed from the project’s codebase.

      “Distro vendors or anyone running a more current 32-bit Linux system can still create 32-bit versions of LibreOffice, as developers have not in any way removed 32-bit compatibility from the source code.” as The Document Foundation’s Italo Vignoli told BleepingComputer.

  • BSD

    • NetBSD 8.1 available

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 8.1, the first feature and stability maintenance release of the netbsd-8 stable branch.

      Besides the workarounds for the latest CPU specific vulnerabilities, this also includes many bug fixes and a few selected new drivers. For more details and instructions see the 8.1 announcement.

      Get NetBSD 8.1 from our CDN (provided by fastly) or one of the ftp mirrors.

    • NetBSD 8.1 Released With MDS Mitigations, Driver Improvements

      NetBSD 8.1 is out today as the latest feature update to this popular BSD operating system.

      NetBSD 8.1 brings Zombieload/MDS mitigations as well as the ability to turn off SMT/HT in the name of security. With Hyper Threading looking increasingly insecure, NetBSD is the latest OS providing an easy tunable for disabling it if so desired.

    • Smartisan becomes Iridium Donor for 2019

      The OpenBSD Foundation is excited to announce that it has received its largest ever donation. Smartisan has topped its own previous record donation with a 2019 donation of CDN$380,000.00. This makes Smartisan the first Iridium level donor of 2019.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • First NLNet Grant Approved to Fund Development

        The application for funding from NLnet and the Next Generation Internet initiative from the European Commission, from back in November of last year, has been approved. It means that we have EUR $50,000 to pay for full-time engineering work to be carried out over the next year, and to pay for bounty-style tasks. For the right people, with the right skills, there is money now available.

        More plans from our community are in the pipeline. We can apply for additional grants (also up to EUR $50,000). In the next couple of days, we will put in an application for “Formal Mathematical Proofs” of the processor design.

        There are several reasons for doing so. The primary one is down to the fact that we anticipate this (commercial, libre) product to be closely and independently examined by third parties, to verify for themselves that it does not contain spying backdoor co-processors, as well as the usual security and correctness guarantees. If there exist formal mathematical proofs that the processor and its sub-components operate correctly, that independent third-party verification task is a lot easier.

        In addition, it turns out that when writing unit tests, using formal mathematical proofs makes for complete code coverage – far better than any other “comprehensive” multiple unit test technique could ever hope to achieve – with less code and not just better accuracy but 100% provable accuracy. Additional, much simpler unit tests can then be written which are more along the lines of “HOWTOs” – examples on how to use the unit.

      • Libre RISC-V Snags $50k EUR Grant To Work On Its RISC-V 3D GPU Chip

        In case you haven’t followed the previous articles on Libre RISC-V, this is the latest open-source GPU hardware effort that is taking the approach of using a RISC-V chip running a Rust-written Vulkan software renderer (similar to what LLVMpipe is to OpenGL on CPUs) for providing libre 3D graphics. They hope to have something ready in 2020 but their goal is just 1280 x 720 25 fps, 100 Mpixels/sec, 30 Mtriangles/sec, 5-6 GFLOPs and they think they can accomplish that with just about a 2.5 Watt power draw. But less than 30 FPS for 720p content really isn’t much especially in 2020, but they are trumpeting it for its open-source/libre hardware potential.

  • Programming/Development

    • Announcing Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces 1.2

      We are pleased to introduce Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces version 1.2, which provides a cloud developer workspace server and browser-based IDE built for teams and organizations. CodeReady Workspaces includes ready-to-use developer stacks for most of the popular programming languages, frameworks, and Red Hat technologies.

    • Gthree is alive!

      A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I spent some time converting three.js into a Gtk+ library, called gthree.

      It was never really used for anything and wasn’t really product quality. However, I really like the idea of having an easy way to add some 3D effects to Gnome apps.

      Also, time has moved on and three.js got cool new features like a PBR material and a GLTF support.

    • Qt 5.13.0 RC out

      Hi everyone!

      We have released Qt 5.13.0 RC today. Delta to Beta4 attached.

      Target for official Qt 5.13.0 release is 13th June 2019.

    • Qt 5.13 Hits The Release Candidate Stage

      Qt 5.13 will hopefully be released next week while for now a release candidate is available for testing.

      On Tuesday the Qt 5.13 release candidate was outed as the hopeful final milestone before being able to release the Qt 5.13.0 tool-kit update, which is penciled in currently for 13 June barring any last minute problems.

    • Learn PyQt: Making a custom Paint app with PyQt: an introduction to QPainter bitmap graphics
    • This Week in Rust 289
    • Bzip2 To See Revival Under New Maintainership, Experimental Porting To Rust

      While Bzip2 compression is still widely used by Linux systems, it hasn’t seen an official update since 2010 and has rather stagnated as different Linux distributions have resorted to carrying their own patches and other maintenance work on this long used data compression tool. But now there is a new maintainer looking to take Bzip2 into the next decade.

      Bzip2 maintainership has been passed on from original founder Julian Seward to now being maintained by open-source developer Federico Mena-Quintero.

    • Why whiteboard interviews suck and what we’re doing about it.
    • Working with PDFs in Python: Inserting, Deleting, and Reordering Pages
    • Getting the Correct Notebook Tab Across Platforms in wxPython
    • Bzip2 repository reconstructed

      I have just done a git push –force-with-lease to bzip2′s master branch, which means that if you had a previous clone of this repository, you’ll have to re-fetch it and rebase any changes you may have on top.

      I apologize for the inconvenience!

      But I have a good excuse: Julian Seward pointed me to a repository at sourceware where Mark Wielaard reconstructed a commit history for bzip2, based on the historical tarballs starting from bzip2-0.1. Bzip2 was never maintained under revision control, so the reconstructed repository should be used mostly for historical reference (go look for bzip2.exe in the initial commit!).

    • Revamping the Titler Tool – GSoC ’19

      Hi! I’m Akhil K G and for this year’s GSoC I aim to rewrite the titler tool completely.

    • How to Implement a Python Stack

      Have you heard of stacks and wondered what they are? Do you have the general idea but are wondering how to implement a Python stack? You’ve come to the right place!

    • Episode #133: Github sponsors – The model open source has been waiting for? [Ed: Microsoft trying to control finances of its competition.]
    • PyCharm 2019.2 EAP 2

      Do you like to stay up to date with the newest PyCharm features? Then grab the fresh new PyCharm EAP build from our website.

    • PyCharm 2019.1.3

      PyCharm 2019.1.3 is now available, and fixes a couple of issues that we’ve identified in PyCharm 2019.1

    • While Loop, Break & Continue – Python Programming

      Looping is one of the most important core concepts when learning to program. I often see a lot of people get confused with looping. So let us quickly have a look at how loops work. There are various types of loops like the while, do while and for loops. However, we will only focus on the While loop in this article. We will learn about the other loops later in this series.

    • Scripting Languages to Be Removed

      This is a big deal in terms of philosophy; Apple once touted the built-in Unix tool suite as a Mac advantage. And it also means lots of practical changes; installers and AppleScripts can no longer lean on other scripting languages.

    • macOS 10.15 Catalina Deprecates UNIX Scripting Languages

      The older Python language, version 2.7, is being deprecated in macOS 10.15 Catalina and won’t be included in macOS 10.16. The same goes for other UNIX scripting languages.

    • KDE Craft Packager on macOS

      On macOS, MacDMGPackager is the packager used by Craft. The MacDylibBundleris used in MacDMGPackager to handle the dependencies.

      In this article, I’ll give a brief introduction of the two classes and the improvement which I’ve done for my GSoC project.

    • Christian Hergert: Sysprof Developments

      This week I spent a little time fixing up a number of integration points with Sysprof and our tooling.

      The libsysprof-capture-3.a static library is now licensed under the BSD 2-clause plus patent to make things easier to consume from all sorts of libraries and applications.

    • Node.js Vs Angular – An in-depth comparison

      Over the past few years, JavaScript has evolved from being just a simple client-side scripting language into an incredibly powerful programming language. In this article, we’ll compare the two most popular JavaScripts – Node.js & Angular.js – to discover the main differences between them.

    • Book Review: Practical Python and OpenCV
    • Next C++ workshop: MSTs and Graph Implementations, 6 June at 18:00 UTC

      Learn C++ features with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topic is MSTs and Graph Implementations.

    • Examples of blameless culture outside of DevOps

      A blameless culture is not a new concept in the technology industry. In fact, in 2012, John Allspaw wrote about how Etsy uses blameless postmortems to dive to the heart of problems when they arise. Other technology giants, like Google, have also worked hard to implement a blameless culture. But what is a blameless culture? Is it just a matter of postmortems? Does it take a culture change to make blameless a reality? And what about flagrant misconduct?

      [...]

      Obviously, when you find a bug, you need to understand what broke, where, and who did it. But don’t stop there. Attempt to fix the issue. The chances are high that patching the code will be a faster resolution than trying to figure out which code to back out. Too many times, I have seen people try to back out code only to find that they broke something else.

    • Why hypothesis-driven development is key to DevOps

      Before we get into hypothesis-driven development, let’s quickly review how we deliver value using waterfall, agile, deployment rings, and feature flags.

      In the days of waterfall, we had predictable and process-driven delivery. However, we only delivered value towards the end of the development lifecycle, often failing late as the solution drifted from the original requirements, or our killer features were outdated by the time we finally shipped.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Ocado plans to pack up fragile fruit and vegetables with robotic ‘soft hands’ that adapt to objects and their surroundings

      Ocado aims to eventually pick up and pack all of the 55,000 products on its shelves. It will soon launch a system that uses a suction cup to handle more durable objects, but the system will struggle to handle more sensitive and unpredictable items.

      “When it comes to classes of objects like fruit and vegetables, we could see that we were going to struggle to find anything that was an off-the-shelf solution, the reason being that with these kinds of items they’re never the same shape twice,” Dr Graham Deacon, Robotics Research Team Leader at Ocado Technology, tells Computerworld UK.

    • I was let go as substitute teacher because I corrected my students’ grammar

      Without standards, the whole system is a sham — a very expensive waste of money, cheating both kids and taxpayers.

    • White House Ends Fetal Tissue Research by Federal Scientists

      The Trump administration said Wednesday it is ending medical research by government scientists using human fetal tissue, overriding the advice of scientists that there’s no other way to tackle some health problems and handing abortion opponents a major victory.

      The Health and Human Services Department said in a statement that government-funded research by universities that involves fetal tissue can continue, subject to additional scrutiny.

      The policy changes will not affect privately funded research, officials said.

      Fetal tissue is used in research on HIV and childhood cancers, treatments that enlist the body’s immune system to battle cancer, and the hunt for a vaccine against the Zika virus, a cause of birth defects. The tissue from elective abortions would otherwise be discarded. Scientists use it to produce mice that model how the human immune system works.

    • Advancing Its War on Science, Trump Admin Blocks Fetal Tissue From Being Used in Federal Research

      In a move celebrated by anti-choicers, the Trump-Pence administration on Wednesday announced it is barring government researchers from using fetal tissue.

      Research using fetal tissue has led to major medical advances including the polio vaccine, and is used in developing vaccines for other diseases including HIV.

      But given that the tissue comes from abortions, the anti-choice movement has utilized the issue to further its attack on reproductive rights.

      In its new statement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it will not renew its contract with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) regarding research involving human fetal tissue from elective abortions. Research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion is stopped, the statement said, and NIH grant-funded research projects conducted outside NIH will be subjected to a new ethics advisory board.

      In addition, “HHS is continuing to review whether adequate alternatives exist to the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions in HHS-funded research and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated,” the statement adds.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Rick Snyder’s phone among several seized in Flint water investigation

      uthorities investigating Flint’s water crisis have used search warrants to seize from storage the state-owned mobile devices of former Gov. Rick Snyder and 65 other current or former officials, The Associated Press has learned.

      The warrants were sought two weeks ago by the attorney general’s office and signed by a Flint judge, according to documents the AP obtained through public-records requests.

    • Glyphosate to Be Banned on Fort Meyers Beach

      First Fort Meyers banned plastic straws. Now it banned Roundup, or glyphosate, the controversial herbicide recently blamed for causing cancer by several juries, the News Press reports.

      Like the plastic straw ban, the driving force behind the ban was the health of Fort Meyers’ waterways and marine resources. “This effort has all been about water quality,” Mayor Anita Cereceda said to the News Press.

    • Controversial Roundup chemical, glyphosate, to be banned as herbicide on Fort Myers Beach

      Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, will soon be forbidden in Fort Myers Beach, making the town the first Lee County municipality to ban the controversial weed-killer.

      Elsewhere in the state, Key West and Satellite Beach passed laws prohibiting it and several cities in California have as well.

      A California jury determined in March that the widely used weed killer was a substantial factor in a California man’s cancer, in a lawsuit called a bellwether for hundreds of others waiting to be tried, but many government regulators deny a link between cancer and glyphosate.

    • If We Want Antibiotics to Work, Consumers Have to Put Big Pressure on Factory Farms

      On March 1, Denny’s stopped purchasing chicken treated with medically important antibiotics for its U.S. restaurants. Many consumers might expect to see such promises at Whole Foods or their local farm-to-table restaurant, but why is a chain like Denny’s (i.e., one that is enjoyed more for its assortment of inexpensive breakfast foods than its moral standards) joining the trend to reduce antibiotics in meat?

      In fact, Denny’s joins a growing group of major fast food and fast casual chains (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Chipotle and others) that have established policies prohibiting the use of medically important antibiotics in chicken. This is not the same as “antibiotic-free” claims, to be clear (“medically important” antibiotics are those used in human medicine; there are other antibiotics only used in animals), but it is a critical change that has been rippling through the food system for the past several years to protect human health. To explain the significance of this trend, a quick history of the problem that companies are trying to address is useful.

    • The Farms of the Future

      Hou Xueying, a mother from Shanghai, was tired of food safety scares and of a city life disconnected from the land. So she moved her family to the country to learn about sustainable farming. Her parents disapproved; they had struggled to give her a comfortable life in the city—they could not understand why she would throw it away. When she got to the country, she found that the older generation of farmers could only tell her how to grow as they did, using chemical fertilizers, toxic insecticides.

      Still, she persisted, and today she runs a diversified organic farm that is, in her words, a “self-reliant ecosystem.” She raises a wide variety of animals and crops, making use of ingenious techniques—like allowing ducks into the rice paddies—to fertilize plants and eliminate pests without using chemicals. She’s also turned her farm into a place of learning, teaching children from the city where their food comes from. Through all of this, Hou Xueying has found a community that shares her values for the first time. She believes that the importance of the farming way of life extends far beyond putting good food on the table. As she explains in the short film, Farmed with Love, “Only conscious foodies can save the world.”

      Many of us have heard some version of this statistic: the average age of farmers worldwide hovers around sixty years old. In the U.S., farmers over sixty-five outnumber farmers under thirty-five by a margin of six to one. People like Hou Xueying are going against the tide which has been tugging young people from the land for a long time, leaving older people alone on farms, with no one to take their place once they’re gone (except, increasingly, robots). So truly, as this older generation of farmers retires—a generation that widely embraced large-scale industrial farming—the question grows more pressing: who will grow the food of the future and what will their farms look like?

      Every person on earth needs food every day. Every day, food is tended, harvested, transported, stored, and served up on our tables. In a very real sense, food cannot be separated from life itself. And so it has been said that changing the way we grow and eat food is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing our economies and society as a whole.

      [...]

      Though many are enamored of technological solutions, others have pointed to tech’s inescapable environmental impacts, to the way it strengthens corporate monopolies, and to the already evident, and as yet unforeseen, effects that it has on society, including on human health and happiness. When I look at the young people I know, at the issues that concern them most, four points of focus rise to the surface. These can be rather broadly categorized as: climate and the environment, diversity in its myriad forms, economic inequality, and a lack of community, loneliness. Young people don’t want to work the land if that means working long hours for low pay, using dangerous chemicals, while the fruits of their labor are borne away to profit corporate executives they will never meet. But that doesn’t mean a future in which we don’t work the land at all. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

    • Don’t Call Latest Abortion Bans ‘Heartbeat Bills,’ Doctors Say, Warning of Medically Inaccurate Right-Wing Talking Points

      As reproductive rights advocates fight a recent upswell in extremist state abortion bans, the nation’s largest association for doctors specializing in women’s health on Wednesday warned against using the misleading language deployed by the anti-choice movement.

      The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) told reporters that so-called “heartbeat bills” which have passed in Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio in recent weeks should be referred to as “six-week abortion bans.”

      Using the term “heartbeat bill,” as the mostly-Republican lawmakers who have pushed the regulations have, suggests that doctors can actually detect a fetal heartbeat at six weeks of pregnancy.

      In fact, ACOG President Dr. Ted Anderson told The Guardian, “what is interpreted as a heartbeat in these bills is actually electrically induced flickering of a portion of the fetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops.”

    • Citing Threats to Abortion Rights, Sanders Endorses Marie Newman’s Democratic Primary Challenge Against Anti-Choice Incumbent Dan Lipinski

      In a clear rebuke of Democratic Party leadership and the mounting threats to abortion rights across the United States, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday endorsed Marie Newman, who is challenging anti-choice Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski in the 2020 primary after she narrowly lost to the Blue Dog Democrat in the last cycle.

      “At a time when workers are under attack by Wall Street and women’s rights are under attack by well-funded extremist groups across the country, I am proud to support Marie Newman’s grassroots campaign for Congress,” Sanders (I-Vt.) told BuzzFeed News.

      “Marie will challenge the establishment by fighting for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, expanding workers’ rights,” Sanders said, “and she will be a powerful voice for upholding Roe v. Wade at a disturbing moment in our history when a woman’s right to control her own body and future is at stake.”

    • Milk, Brands and Duty Free: The return of lactose intolerance

      This Kat recognizes that milk is a complicated matter. The estimate is that two-thirds of humans cannot drink it in adulthood. The reason is that after the age of 4-5, lactose intolerance sets in, due to a decline in the body’s production of lactase, which is the enzyme that enables mammals to digest the lactose in milk. But there is one great exception—Europe. Around 10,000 B.C., probably in modern-day Turkey, a gene mutated, which had the effect “…jamm[ing] the lactase-production gene permanently in the “open” position” (“The Most Spectacular Mutation in Recent Human History”, here).

      The mutant gene spread throughout Europe and parts of Asia, it seems to have independently developed in parts of Africa and the Middle East. However, it never developed in North and South America, the Far East, or Australia (this is the kind of thing that Jared Diamond, of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” fame, just loves).

      The upshot is that Europe is ground zero for the ability to consume milk. But no matter how robust lactose tolerance is a matter of genetics in Europe, it seemingly cannot win out in the face of “Duty Free”.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ANU IT systems hit by massive data breach

      The Australian National University in Canberra has suffered a massive data breach with personal details of staff, students and visitors over the past 19 years exposed.

    • Quest Says Millions of Patient Records Exposed in Data [Breach]

      Quest said in a securities filing that it had been informed of the breach by American Medical Collection Agency, an Elmsford, New York-based collections firm. For eight months, an unauthorized user had access to personal information including credit card numbers and bank accounts, medical information, and personal information such as Social Security numbers.

    • Baltimore ransomware perp pinky-swears he didn’t use NSA exploit

      The account was shut down after its operator posted a profanity and racist-tinged final warning to Baltimore City Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young that he had until June 7 to pay for keys to decrypt files on city computers. “In 7 Jun 2019 that’s your dead line,” the post stated. “We’ll remove all of things we’ve had about your city and you can tell other [expletives] to help you for getting back… That’s final dead line.” The same messages have been posted to the Web “panel” associated with the Baltimore ransomware, according to Joe Stewart, independent security consultant working on behalf of the cloud security firm Armor, and Eric Sifford, security researcher with Armor’s Threat Resistance Unit (TRU).

    • NSA warns Microsoft Windows users to update systems to protect against cyber vulnerability
    • BlueKeep Bug: Even NSA Wants You To Install Windows Updates [Ed: Missing the point completely. NSA just wants people to carry on using Windows because there are back doors in there. No amount of patching will remove these.]

      The BlueKeep RDP bug (CVE-2019-0708) in Microsoft Windows is a serious issue and it has been making rounds for almost a month now. As you might know, it affects older Windows versions including Windows 7 and XP.

    • New RCE vulnerability impacts nearly half of the internet’s email servers

      A critical remote command execution (RCE) security flaw impacts over half of the Internet’s email servers, security researchers from Qualys have revealed today.

      The vulnerability affects Exim, a mail transfer agent (MTA), which is software that runs on email servers to relay emails from senders to recipients.

      According to a June 2019 survey of all mail servers visible on the Internet, 57% (507,389) of all email servers run Exim — although different reports would put the number of Exim installations at ten times that number, at 5.4 million.

    • CVE-2019-10149 Exim 4.87 to 4.91

      We received a report of a possible remote exploit. Currently there is no evidence of an active use of this exploit.

      A patch exists already, is being tested, and backported to all versions we released since (and including) 4.87.

      The severity depends on your configuration. It depends on how close to the standard configuration your Exim runtime configuration is. The closer the better.

      Exim 4.92 is not vulnerable.

    • GNU Screen MScrollV Function Denial of Service Vulnerability [CVE-2015-6806]

      A vulnerability in the MScrollV function of GNU Screen could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.

      The vulnerability exists because the MScrollV function, as defined in the ansi.c source code file of the affected software, does not properly limit recursion. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a request that submits malicious input to the targeted system. A successful exploit could trigger a stack overflow condition, resulting in a DoS condition.Proof-of-concept (PoC) code that demonstrates an exploit of this vulnerability is publicly available. GNU has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The View From Tehran: America’s Sordid History of Meddling in Iran

      No war yet! That’s the good news…for now. A few weeks have passed since unhinged National Security Advisor John Bolton – who never saw a regime he didn’t want to change – reportedly ordered the Pentagon to update plans to send 120,000 additional troops into the Persian Gulf. All this preparation and the inherent threat to strike Iran was ostensibly based on vague and unsubstantiated intelligence that Tehran had planned attacks on U.S. troops in the region. Murky and secretive intelligence, preemptive war plans, and unrepentant neocons sowing fear within the American populace. We’ve all seen this movie before, in Iraq, just sixteen years ago, and it didn’t end well. US troops are still there and may be so indefinitely.

      If the purported Iranian threats seem manufactured, its because they likely are. And all the wrongs Tehran allegedly perpetrated against the US are exaggerated and overblown. Sure, Iran is, like all countries, an imperfect actor. The Islamic Republic did hold America’s embassy staff hostage during the Carter years. Tehran has backed Hezbollah and Hamas, both of whom once specialized in suicide bombing attacks on civilians.

      Still, its worthwhile – particularly in the serious business of war and peace – to step back, slow down, and walk a proverbial mile in others’ shoes. Let me offer, then, the view from Tehran; to see the world and the US through Iranian eyes. An honest historical appraisal of the complicated U.S.-Iranian relationship demonstrates that it was often Washington and its western allies that meddled in the region and acted as the aggressors.

      Let us begin in 1941. Though Tehran declared neutrality in that war, Russia and Britain jointly invaded and occupied the country to secure control of its oil reserves. Then, in 1953, when a democratically elected prime minister – Mohammad Mossadegh – dared nationalize Iranian oil (which had been largely under foreign, Western corporate control) the CIA coordinated a coup with MI6 to overthrow the government. The dictatorial Shah was promptly put in power and ruled with an iron fist for the next 26 years. So much for America’s self-proclaimed title as the “beacon of democracy.”

      Then, in 1980, when Iraq invaded and threatened to destroy Iran, the US openly backed the Saddam Hussein’s aggressive regime. The USprovided key intelligence in the form of satellite photos to the Iraqi Army, and granted Baghdad over $1 billion in economic aid. President Reagan, in absurd twist of irony, sent a special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, to meet with Saddam. Their now infamous picture shaking hands is all over the web. Saddam regularly employed poison gas to attack Iranian formations. It is largely agreed that U.S.-supplied satellite imagery allowed Iraq to better calibrate these illegal, immoral, chemical attacks. Remember how this was viewed from Tehran: the American superpower, which had already overthrown Iranian democracy, was now backing Saddam in an aggressive war that posed an existential threat to the Islamic Republic.

    • Three former soldiers are suing Russia’s Defense Ministry for nearly killing them in a tank exercise

      Three former soldiers who were seriously injured at a training grounds outside St. Petersburg in 2017 are trying to sue Russia’s Defense Ministry for 6 million rubles ($91,925). Vadim Gabidulin, Arsen Osmanov, and Dmitry Pakhmutov seek compensation for psychological distress and medical bills, their attorney (“Zona Prava” human rights lawyer Dmitry Gerasimov) told Meduza.

      In June 2017, during a planned tank exercise, four soldiers were stationed directly in the line of fire. One of the men, Andrey Vittikh, was fatally wounded and died at the scene. The other soldiers were seriously injured.

    • ‘Outrageous’: Police Raid Home of Aussie Journalist Who Reported on Secret Domestic Spying Program

      Australian police raided the home of one of the country’s prominent journalists Tuesday, raising questions about press freedom in that country and across the western world.

      Journalist Annika Smethurst, the national politics editor at Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph, was the target of the early morning raid. Police served a warrant at her home related to materials she obtained and used in a story on April 29, 2018, about an Australian government plan to expand surveillance capabilities for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

      In response to the raid, News Corp Australia, Smethurst’s employer, decried the police actions as “a dangerous act of intimidation.”

      “What’s gone on this morning sends a clear and dangerous signals to journalists and newsrooms across Australia,” the company said in a statement. “This will chill public interest reporting.”

    • Australia: Police raid ABC headquarters over Afghanistan stories

      ABC executives said police searched the corporation’s offices in Sydney, targeting three journalists involved in the broadcaster’s two-year-old investigative report, known as The Afghan Files.

      In 2017, ABC obtained government documents showing Australian special forces had killed unarmed men and children in Afghanistan.

      The Australian Federal Police said the search was “in relation to allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914″.

      ABC Executive Editor John Lyons said the search warrant demanded access to reporters’ handwritten notes, emails, story drafts, footage and passwords, among other things.

    • Australian Federal Police Raid Journalist’s Home Over Publication Of Leaked Documents

      Her employer called it a “dangerous act of intimidation,” which is exactly what it is. The government may be claiming this is about protecting the nation, but if it has a problem with leakers, it should maybe take a look at its leakers first, rather than punish journalists for engaging in journalism. Or — and I’m just throwing this out there — maybe the government shouldn’t engage in secret domestic surveillance or other acts that would provoke public outrage if they were exposed.

      Unfortunately, Australia really doesn’t have a shield law to protect journalists, leaving them only with the dubious option of defending “unauthorized disclosures” as being made in the public interest. Even if nothing comes of this, the message has been sent: publishing leaked documents will bring the heat — the kind of heat that leaves a chill everywhere it’s been.

    • The Day After UNRWA

      UNRWA needs $60 million in June to buy relief food for one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, while Trump’s Middle East envoy is agitating for the UN to close the agency. UNRWA’s mandate does not belong to Trump. But it’s time to ask, what will happen on the day after UNRWA’s money runs out?

      In 2011-12, poor Gazan households received relief food. Then they spent up to half of their incomes to buy the rest of the food that they needed to survive. That was 2011, before the tunnels were blown up, before the 2014 bombardment all the subsequent punishment. Before all that, the poorest group of Gazans were spending half of their incomes to feed their families, including their relief food. They were already straining every kind of informal mutual assistance.

      The failure of UNRWA food relief would not be just another hardship. For the poorest Gazans, food relief is a matter of survival.

    • How Guns Literally Go to Men’s Heads

      People are asking why the shooter in Virginia Beach used a gun to settle his workplace score. The answer is probably pretty simple.

      When a man has a gun, he literally holds the power of life and death in his hand. That kind of power is extraordinarily seductive.

      With a gun in his hand, a man can look around a room, a building, or a public area and specifically identify who will instantaneously die and whom he will allow to live. It’s a power that traditionally has only been held by doctors, priests, police, and soldiers.

      The power over life and death is greater and more intoxicating than any other power; it’s one of the reasons why some men are specifically drawn to these professions and historically have tried to regulate them to be male-only.

    • Four men reportedly arrested, following murder of former Russian military intelligence officer

      Federal investigators in Russia have arrested another two suspects in a mass brawl outside Moscow that claimed the life of Military Intelligence Directorate veteran Nikita Belyankin. According to officials, one of the two men is responsible for inflicting the fatal blow.

      On June 1, in the town of Putilkovo, 24-year-old Nikita Belyankin was killed. He previously served in Russia’s GRU and fought in Syria. According to eyewitnesses, he tried to stop roughly a dozen men from attacking a few strangers. During the confrontation, someone stabbed him in the heart.

    • For Real Safety in US and Palestine, We Must Fight White Supremacy

      As a part of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, I joined a coalition of over 100 Palestinians, Israelis, and Jews from the U.S. and Canada to rehabilitate a dirt road in the South Hebron Hills that would give Palestinians in the area greater access to basic resources they need to live. When we started this project in early May, a range of Israeli police and military agencies responded with force, employing methods of crowd dispersal to arrest 17 people and injure dozens of others. As I heard the blasts of sound grenades going off and saw heavily armed police specifically target people of color in our group, the scene felt, in some ways, familiar. Back in the U.S., I had seen police responding to peaceful protests with disproportionate force and racist violence, too.

      This road and its surrounding areas in the South Hebron Hills are considered part of Area C, the sections of the West Bank that are under Israeli military rule. Palestinian communities in Area C are deliberately divided from one another by the building of settlements and the declaration of vast areas of land as firing zones for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Palestinians in these areas also face extreme levels of displacement and violence, both from the residents of settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law, and the Israeli state that protects and serves these settlers. Palestinians are deprived of the right to move freely on their own land. Their children cannot safely commute to school, and ambulances often cannot get to and from their villages when an elder becomes sick. Practically any attempts to build infrastructure, such as schools, greenhouses, libraries, or homes face the threat of demolition. Under these circumstances, mere existence is resistance to Israel’s occupation.

    • State Department Perpetuates Disinformation on Iran

      Regular State Department briefings have been few, but the public is entitled to them, to hold the Trump administration accountable, such as on its policies towards Iran, says Col. Larry Wilkerson

    • Federal Judge Dismisses Charges Against 3 White Supremacists

      A federal judge on Monday dismissed charges against three members of a white supremacist gang indicted for their roles in violent rallies across California in 2017, saying the federal statute used to prosecute them was unconstitutional.

      The three men, members of the Rise Above Movement, a violent, racist organization based in Southern California, had been charged under a federal anti-riot statute with planning and then carrying out assaults at 2017 rallies in Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley in the volatile months after President Donald Trump’s election.

      “The defendants used the Internet to coordinate combat training in preparation for the events,” federal prosecutors alleged in a criminal complaint filed late last year, “to arrange travel to the events, to coordinate attendance at the events, and to celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events.”

    • Travel to Cuba Falls Victim to John Bolton’s Wrath

      John Bolton hates the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua—calling them the “troika of tyranny” and the “three stooges of socialism”—and is determined to use his time as National Security Advisor to eliminate the vestiges of socialism in our hemisphere. He has openly stated that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine is “alive and well,” conveying that the United States will dictate the terms of governance in the Western Hemisphere, by military force if necessary. Furious that he has been unable to successfully orchestrate a coup in Venezuela, Bolton is now lashing out at Cuba, explicitly punishing the nation for its support of Venezuelan President Maduro. The travel restrictions announced on June 4 represent another page from Bolton’s “regime change” playbook.

      The new travel restrictions will severely limit the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba. The restrictions prohibit group educational trips to Cuba, known as “people-to-people” travel, as well as passenger vessels, recreational vessels, and private aircraft. These bans go to the heart of the Cuban economy, which has become increasingly dependent on tourism.

      Despite the island’s devastation from Hurricane Irma and increased restrictions from the Trump administration in 2017, Cuba had a record number of visitors in 2018—4.75 million, with the US and Canada being the largest contributors. In just the first four months of 2019, over 250,000 US visitors traveled to Cuba, an increase of 93% from the same months in 2018. Most visitors came from cruise ships, which are included under the new restrictions. Trump’s move will impact an estimated 800,000 cruise passenger bookings, cutting the island out of millions of dollars a year in docking fees and payments for on-shore excursions. It comes at a time of severe economic weakness for Cuba, which is struggling to find enough cash to import basic food and other supplies following a drop in aid from Venezuela.

    • The American Cult of Bombing and Endless War

      From Syria to Yemen in the Middle East, Libya to Somalia in Africa, Afghanistan to Pakistan in South Asia, an American aerial curtain has descended across a huge swath of the planet. Its stated purpose: combatting terrorism. Its primary method: constant surveillance and bombing — and yet more bombing. Its political benefit: minimizing the number of U.S. “boots on the ground” and so American casualties in the never-ending war on terror, as well as any public outcry about Washington’s many conflicts. Its economic benefit: plenty of high-profit business for weapons makers for whom the president can now declare a national security emergency whenever he likes and so sell their warplanes and munitions to preferred dictatorships in the Middle East (no congressional approval required). Its reality for various foreign peoples: a steady diet of “Made in USA” bombs and missiles bursting here, there, and everywhere.

      Think of all this as a cult of bombing on a global scale. America’s wars are increasingly waged from the air, not on the ground, a reality that makes the prospect of ending them ever more daunting. The question is: What’s driving this process?

      For many of America’s decision-makers, air power has clearly become something of an abstraction. After all, except for the 9/11 attacks by those four hijacked commercial airliners, Americans haven’t been the target of such strikes since World War II. On Washington’s battlefields across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa, air power is always almost literally a one-way affair. There are no enemy air forces or significant air defenses. The skies are the exclusive property of the U.S. Air Force (and allied air forces), which means that we’re no longer talking about “war” in the normal sense. No wonder Washington policymakers and military officials see it as our strong suit, our asymmetrical advantage, our way of settling scores with evildoers, real and imagined.

      Bombs away!

      In a bizarre fashion, you might even say that, in the twenty-first century, the bomb and missile count replaced the Vietnam-era body count as a metric of (false) progress. Using data supplied by the U.S. military, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries in 2016, the bulk of them in Iraq and Syria. Against Raqqa alone, ISIS’s “capital,” the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 20,000 bombs in 2017, reducing that provincial Syrian city to literal rubble. Combined with artillery fire, the bombing of Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to Amnesty International.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • A Swedish Court Injects Some Sense

      When, eight years late, the European Arrest Warrant request for Assange was finally put before a Swedish court, the court refused to issue it.

      Readers of this blog are amongst the very few people who have had the chance to learn the information that the original European Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange from Sweden was not issued by any court but by a prosecutor; that this was upheld in the UK Supreme Court despite the Court’s open acknowledgement that this was not what the UK Parliament had intended by the phrase that the warrant must come from a “judicial authority”; and that the law had been changed immediately thereafter so it could not be done again.

      Consequently in seeking a new European Arrest Warrant against Assange, Swedish prosecutors had finally, eight years on, to ask a court for the warrant. And the court looked at the case and declined, saying that the move would be disproportionate. It therefore remains the case that there is no Swedish extradition warrant for Assange. This is a desperate disappointment to the false left in the UK, the Blairites and their ilk, who desperately want Assange to be a rapist in order to avoid the moral decision about prosecuting him for publishing truths about the neo-con illegal wars which they support.

      The problem is that the evidence of sexual crimes was always extremely, extremely weak to anybody who took the trouble to examine it – which is why the same false left were desperate to convince us that it was wrong to examine the evidence as the “victim” must always be believed, a strange abandonment of the entire principle of justice.

    • Media analysis of Julian Assange’s superseding indictment
    • Corporate Media Have Second Thoughts About Exiling Julian Assange From Journalism

      After British police arrested Julian Assange on April 11, the first instinct of corporate journalists was to perform a line-drawing exercise. In so doing, corporate media dutifully laid the groundwork for the US Department of Justice’s escalating political persecution of the WikiLeaks founder, and set the stage for a renewed assault on a free and independent press by the Trump administration.

      Following the philosopher of science Karl Popper, I’ll call this the problem of journalistic demarcation. Facing his own demarcation problem in 1953, Popper set out “to distinguish between science and pseudoscience.” This philosophical exercise had an overtly political purpose: Popper hoped to draw his line in such a way as to specifically exclude Marxism from the ranks of scientific theory. Stripping Marxism of its claim to scientific status would help undermine the legitimacy of a political movement that, at the time, posed a serious challenge to the ascendancy of Western capitalist powers following World War II.

      The problem of journalistic demarcation is no less ideologically motivated and, through their effort to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks, corporate media have snugly aligned themselves with the contemporary brokers of US imperial power against a journalistic movement that, over the last decade, has presented them with their most significant challenge.

    • Chelsea Manning Has Better Grasp Of Grand Jury Than Federal Judge Who Jailed Her

      When Judge Anthony Trenga sent Chelsea Manning back to jail, he urged her to reflect on her principled opposition to testifying before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      Manning took Trenga’s admonishment seriously and wrote a letter to Trenga that outlined why she opposes the grand jury in general. She delved into its history in the United States and showed she has a better grasp of how prosecutors have perverted the grand jury than the federal judge.

      Her letter recalls its adoption by colonists, who used the grand jury to defend against the monarchy in England. She also emphasizes her opposition to the grand jury’s use against activists and the way in which it generally undermines due process.

      Manning particularly highlights the secrecy as one reason why many see the grand jury as similar to the court of the Star Chamber in 15th Century England.

    • ‘There Was a Story Being Told About Why They Were Asking for This Information’

      We frequently hear calls for transparency from government entities, complaints about a lack of openness from agencies and departments and barriers to access to documents intended by law to be public. And such calls and complaints are well-warranted.

      But sunshine on the shrouded actions of the state isn’t so much a quest for knowledge as a tool for change. In other words, we need to keep asking, “Transparency for what?”

      A new project seems to be aimed right at that question. The Center for Constitutional Rights has just launched the Open Records Project: FOIA for the Movement. The project is coordinated by Ian Head, senior legal worker at CCR, co-editor of the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and a former executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild. He joins us now by phone from here in town. Welcome to CounterSpin, Ian Head.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate change could end human civilization by 2050: report

      A harrowing new climate change report warns we may be on the way to extinction, claiming there is a “high likelihood” human civilization will come to an end by 2050 unless action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions.

      The dire paper, which predicts a biblical-like scenario of devastating floods, drought, famine and a breakdown in international order, has been endorsed by the former chief of Australia’s military.

      The analysis, published May 30 by Australian think tank the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, calls for a new approach to climate change and paints a bleak picture of the world in 30 years if nothing is done to combat greenhouse emissions.

      Assuming we stay on our current trajectory, emissions will lock in a 3 degree Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) global warming, setting off a disastrous chain off events which the report’s authors claim will lead to “a high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end.”

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Serious climate plan to cost at least $10T

      Any plan to adequately address climate change would likely cost at least $10 trillion…

    • ‘Single Most Important Stat on the Planet’: Alarm as Atmospheric CO2 Soars to ‘Legit Scary’ Record High

      In another alarming signal that the international community is failing to take the kind of ambitious action necessary to avert global climate catastrophe, NOAA released new data Tuesday showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels—which environmentalist Bill McKibben described as the “single most important stat on the planet”—reached a “record high” in the month of May.

      “The measurement is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii’s largest volcano and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2),” NOAA said in a statement on Tuesday. “The 2019 peak value was 3.5 PPM higher than the 411.2 PPM peak in May 2018 and marks the second-highest annual jump on record.”

    • How to Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers

      There’s a hunters’ nightmare in which a group of them flush some rabbits out of the brush, but rather than scampering away, the furry bunnies turn toward their stalkers. “Run!” shouts one of the hunters. “Run for your lives! The rabbits have guns!”

      Arming animals would make the sport of hunting a bit more sporting, wouldn’t it? Well, what if we did give all wildlife a fighting chance against the destructive firepower of profiteers who so carelessly ravage their habitats and kill them off? Of course, we can’t arm nature with guns, but we could recognize that other species and ecosystems are living creatures with intrinsic legal rights to exist and flourish, thus giving nature its day in court to defend its well-being.

    • Cat Declawing Ban Passed by New York State Legislature

      New York State lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban cat declawing. If the bill is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, it would make New York the first state to ban the practice that animal rights advocates say is cruel and unnecessary.

    • Extinction Risk and Rebellion: 15 Environmental Books Coming in June

      Want to learn how not to be like the Houses of Parliament? This month will see the publication of more than a dozen important new environmental books (including one by Thunberg) offering readers the opportunity to take action — and not just any action, but the best actions to protect the environment. These books offer policymakers, activists, conservationists and other environmentalists the latest information and tools to help do their jobs and make this a better planet.

      We’ve picked the best 15 environmentally themed books of June 2019, with new titles about activism, climate change, conserving rare species (everything from rhinos to butterflies), wildlife trafficking, sustainable energy and a whole lot more. Links are to publishers’ websites, but you can also find any of these titles at your favorite neighborhood bookstore. Pick your favorites, learn a few new things, and then put that information to good use.

    • Wilderness – saved today, sold tomorrow

      Nature is losing ground even where it is supposedly protected: the wilderness is under increasing pressure.

      The world’s protected areas – places of greater safety for the millions of trees, shrubs, flowers, fungi, insects, reptiles, fish, amphibians, mammals and birds that survive from millions of years of evolution – are being downgraded, reduced or developed at an increasing rate.

      New research shows that since 1892, the formally protected areas of wilderness have in effect lost 2 million square kilometres. This is an area of land and water greater than the state of Mexico, and only slightly smaller than Saudi Arabia.

      Of these losses, almost four-fifths have occurred since the year 2000, and most openly in the US and the region of Amazonia. In the United States alone, 90% of such proposed downsizing and degradation events have been proposed in the past 18 years, and 99% of these have been for industrial scale development.

      And a new study in the journal Science warns that decisions by President Trump to “downsize” two national monuments – known as Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – will reduce the protected terrain by 85% and 51% respectively.

    • Our Globally Warming Civilization

      By 1927, the human population had increased to 2B. The 1920s were economic boom years in the Industrialized World (give or take some post WWI German misery, the Russian Revolution, and Chinese civil warfare) with the liquid petroleum replacing the solid coal as the fossil fuel of choice for transportation vehicles; and the explosion in the craving for, and manufacture and use of, internal combustion engines and the automobiles powered by them.

      After 1927 the rate of population growth increased from what it had been on average during the previous 123 years (about 8 million per year, ~8M/yr) to an average rate of 29M/yr, to accumulate another 0.7B people in the 26 years up to 1953, when the population was 2.7B. Those 26 years between 1927 and 1953 spanned the crescendo of the Roaring ‘20s, the capitalist economic collapse of 1929, the Great Depression (1929-1942), World War II (1939-1945), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), and the Chinese Communist Revolution and Civil War (1946-1949).

    • Extreme Flooding Across Midwest ‘Exactly In Line’ With Scientific Warnings of Climate Crisis: Experts

      Farmers and residents across the Midwest are currently “living climate change,” according to experts and scientists who are observing catastrophic flooding from one of the rainiest springs on record.

      Since March, heavy rains in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and other states have led the Mississippi River and other waterways to overflow, with the Mississippi cresting at more than 21 feet in one Iowa city on Sunday—the second highest level since historic flooding in 1993 decimated farms, homes, and whole towns.

      At least three people have been killed as a result of the floods so far, and tens of thousands have been displaced.

      Drone footage from Sunday showed a levee on the Mississippi River breaking, forcing 250 people from their homes in the middle of the night in Winfield, Missouri.

    • American Farmers Are Reaping the Climate Denial Whirlwind

      It’s commonly thought on the right (and sometimes on the left) that the United States will not be harmed too much by climate change. With our wealth, geography, and relative isolation from the rest of the world, we will be able to fence out climate refugees and continue to drive gas-guzzling SUVs until the end of time.

      This idea is sorely mistaken. It’s true that America will not be as catastrophically harmed as Bangladesh, India, or the Maldives. But we are far from immune—just witness this season’s epic flooding across the Midwest, which has drowned farmland throughout the region. American farmers are paying for a generation of U.S. dithering and denial about climate change.

    • Trump Wants to Make Alaska’s Protected Wilderness a Hunting Ground

      A video featuring a father and son slaughtering a mother black bear and then her two screaming newborn cubs in their den has ricocheted around the world, drawing obvious comparisons to the killing of Cecil, the African lion, by a Minnesota dentist several years ago.

      Sadly, the shocking brutality the two men displayed for the world to see could soon be sanctioned by this administration. The Department of the Interior proposes to make legal these and other venal trophy-hunting practices on more federal public lands in Alaska. In 2017, Congress and the president overturned a 2016 rule governing 76 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands, and effectively prohibited the trophy hunting of hibernating black bears.

      This administration has shown a penchant for supplicating itself to trophy hunters and trappers. At a time when most Americans regard trophy hunting with revulsion, the Trump administration plans to overturn two federal rules prohibiting the most deplorable trophy hunting and trapping practices ever carried out on federal lands in Alaska.

    • ‘Existential’ Risk of Climate Crisis Could Lead to Civilizational Collapse by 2050, Warns Report

      Even by the standards of the dire predictions given in climate studies, this one’s extreme: civilization itself could be past the point of no return by 2050.

      That’s the conclusion from Australian climate think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, which released a report (pdf) May 30 claiming that unless humanity takes drastic and immediate action to stop the climate crisis, a combination of food production instability, water shortages, and extreme weather could result in a complete societal breakdown worldwide.

      “We must act collectively,” retired Australian Admiral Chris Barrie writes in the foreword to the new study. “We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.”

      Though the paper acknowledges that total civilizational collapse by 2050 is an example of a worst-case scenario, it stresses that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change.”

    • Not ‘Freedom Gas’ But ‘Failure Gas’: First-of-Its-Kind Report Details Planetary Perils of US Fracking Infrastructure Boom

      The report comes a week after top Energy Department officials, in a press release about natural gas exports, referred to fossil fuels as “molecules of U.S. freedom” and “freedom gas.” Climate campaigners characterized that widely ridiculed language as just another example of the Trump administration’s demonstrated commitment to planetary destruction.

      “The Trump administration calls it ‘freedom gas,’ but what we’re really talking about here is failure gas,” Food & Water Watch’s Seth Gladstone told Common Dreams about the report. “Continuing to invest in fracked gas would represent a failure to address plastics pollution, a failure to prioritize human health and safety, and a failure to protect future generations from climate chaos.”

      Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has raised concerns about public health in nearby communities—numerous studies have tied fracking to frequent hospitalizations for genital, skin, and urinary conditions as well as increased rates of asthma, cancer, and motor vehicle fatalities. But the concerns don’t end there.

      “These projects aren’t just associated with health and safety risks: if even a fraction of them come to fruition, they will condemn the planet to a future of climate chaos,” Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter warns in the foreward of the report.

      Reflecting on what research on fracking has revealed in recent years, Hauter writes: “Natural gas, touted as a ‘bridge fuel’ to a clean energy future, was actually helping to tip the scales of climate stability past the point of no return. Fracked gas was found to be a climate killer.”

      The group’s new report—entitled Fracking Endgame: Locked Into Plastics, Pollution, and Climate Chaos (pdf)—focuses on three key industries that are both benefiting from and helping to drive the country’s fracking boom: “the petrochemical and plastics industries that use natural gas liquids as a key feedstock for their manufacturing; gas exporters building liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to ship gas overseas; and natural gas-fired power plants.”

    • The Green New Deal – hot air or genuine sustainability?

      Is this a real attempt to create a more sustainable world? Or just a cynical attempt by the neoliberal pseudo-left to grab credibility and maybe make some bucks?

      Some of its proposals – like sustainable “family” farming seem commendable and pretty solid. Others – such as its vague requirements to reduce greenhouse emisions – “as much as technologically feasible” – seem hopelessly ambiguous, and indeed contradicted by other aspirations including “assuring affordable access to electricity.”

      Is making the US 100% dependent on renewables with zero emissions compatible with the other stated intention of rebuilding American industry and creating employment?

      Is this document a practical step forward or a Green word salad to entice the well-meaning and concerned?

    • On June 8, We Celebrate Our Oceans, Our Future

      June 8 is World Oceans Day, dedicated to celebrating our beautiful, mysterious, and life-giving oceans.

      As our oceans make up more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface, their health drives the future of our planet. Oceans give us every other breath we take, provide a critical source of protein and a way of life for billions of people, contribute trillions of dollars to the world economy, and are home to 50 percent to 80 percent of this planet’s life.

    • Britain in two-week coal-free record

      Britain has not used coal to generate electricity for two weeks – the longest period since the 1880s.
      The body which manages the way electricity is generated said coal was last used at 15:12 on 17 May.
      Fintan Slye, director of the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), said the British record for solar power had also been broken this month.
      Britain broke the record for a week of no coal earlier this month, which Mr Slye said would be a “new normal”.
      The government plans to phase out the UK’s last coal-fired plants by 2025 to reduce carbon emissions and Mr Slye said there was “still a lot of work to do”.
      But he added: “As more and more renewables come onto the system, we’re seeing things progress at an astonishing rate.”

    • Britain Just Went Nearly Three Weeks Without Coal, a New Record

      Britain just went a record 18 days without coal in the nation’s bid to eventually nix the fossil fuel, the BBC reports. It beats the previous record of one week without coal set between May 1 and May 8 in what officials told the publication would be the “new normal.”

    • The widow of a Chernobyl engineer remembers her husband and describes returning to work at the power plant after the 1986 nuclear accident

      In 1985, Anatoly Sitnikov became the deputy chief engineer charged with operating the first and second reactors at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. During the accident in April 1986, Sitnikov examined the power station’s exploded fourth reactor, receiving a lethal dose of radiation. He died several weeks later in Moscow. Sitnikov’s wife, Elvira, accompanied him to the capital, where she also cared for other ailing “liquidators.” She spoke to Meduza about her late husband, how first responders were treated after the accident, and why she ultimately went back to work at the Chernobyl power plant.

    • Warren’s New $2 Trillion Green Manufacturing Plan Welcomed as ‘Win-Win’ for Climate and Workers

      As new polling showed Tuesday that public support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign has continued to rise as she’s introduced a series of ambitious policy proposals, the Democratic candidate unveiled a $2 trillion renewable energy and green manufacturing plan welcomed by climate campaigners as a boon for both the planet and U.S. workers.

      “With this plan, Elizabeth Warren is seizing the enormous opportunity that transitioning to 100 percent clean energy represents for people across the country,” Greenpeace USA senior climate campaigner Jack Shapiro said in a statement. “The renewable energy economy is a win-win for our climate and communities, and should be at the core of any plan to create jobs and spur innovation.”

      In a Medium post published Tuesday, Warren detailed her green manufacturing plan, which she described as “part of how I’ll implement my commitment to a Green New Deal” and just the first of several proposals under her new economic patriotism agenda.

    • The US Military Won’t Lead the Fight in Combating Climate Change

      On May 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act to Congress with a plan to “green” the U.S. military. To do that, Warren is proposing something of a Green New Deal for the armed forces: adapting non-combat bases and infrastructure to reach net zero emissions by 2030 and investing billions into R&D for microgrids and energy storage abroad. “We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one,” Warren wrote in a Medium post.

      The Pentagon is the single largest source of emissions of any institution in the world, with a carbon footprint that ranks among the top 25 percent of nations. It burns through over 100 million barrels of oil a year to power close to 5,000 bases, its fleet of warplanes, drones, tanks, Humvees and all the rest of it. Recognizing this, Warren writes that we can “leverage [the military’s] huge energy footprint as part of our climate solution.”

      The plan immediately drew criticism from those on the left who say that “greening” the military, which would necessarily entail a huge amount of resources to pull off, is completely at odds with a Green New Deal, of which Warren is an original co-sponsor. In response to Warren announcing her bill, author and activist Naomi Klein tweeted, “The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.’ The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal.” Making the connection between funding a Green New Deal and drastically cutting defense spending, however, has remained something of a marginal talking point on the left; an unspoken truth at best.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders has publicly called for reining in our out-of-control military spending in favor of using that money for social programs like Medicare for All and tuition-free college, though he never named any figures. He has also spoken out against a “one-party foreign policy” in which Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences to agree on long-term policy positions, often in the form of military intervention. But it is precisely this critical node, namely defense spending, that contradicts any realistic efforts at reaching net zero by 2030 while guaranteeing the social programs proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal joint resolution.

    • A Fossil Fuel Reporter Finds Hope

      Fossil fuels have always been part of my world. As a kid, my grandfather put me on his knee and told me to learn my letters, for he had descended into the Appalachian coal mines well before high school so his children and grandchildren could have a better chance. Five or 10 miles in any direction, the power plants and steel mills of northern Ohio hummed along on a steady diet of coal. At night the blue flames from their smokestacks seemed to lick the sky. I had asthma. A lot of kids did.

      Ohio was in transition when I entered college to learn my letters. Manufacturing jobs had gone overseas; growing concern about climate change and pollution had the coal industry spooked. Reporting for a local newspaper, I covered the Obama administration’s push to build “carbon sequestration” power plants in the Ohio River Valley, a bid to keep coal country afloat and address global warming at the same time. It didn’t work, and it didn’t have to. Fracking would change everything.

      Fracking came to Texas and Pennsylvania first, and I was knee deep in the fracking beat at Truthout by the time that the oil and gas rush swept into Ohio. While many other media outlets were still debating whether fracking could be “safe,” I was following the industry’s footprints across the country, from mines in Wisconsin producing tiny silica particles for fracking fluid to the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, where offshore fracking was deployed with little oversight and toxic chemicals were dumped into the sea. Back home, fracking was dividing tight-knit rural communities as some people got rich and others got sick. Earthquakes rumbled near fracking wastewater injection wells. I reported on it all, gaining new insights about the oil and gas industry and its growing chorus of critics along the way.

      Slowly, other publications, and even some politicians, began to pay attention to the fossil fuel booms and busts occurring in small towns across the country. Try as it might, the fracking industry could not conceal its pollution. However, the United States was experiencing an energy revolution, and federal policymakers saw fracked gas as a “bridge fuel” that could help the country meet its climate objectives, all while leading the world in fossil fuel extraction. The industry increasingly channeled its wealth into politics, prodding our leaders along.

    • Biden’s “Out of Touch” Position on Anti-Choice Hyde Amendment Draws Fire From Progressives

      Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign for president confirmed Wednesday that the Delaware Democrat still supports the controversial, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, a revelation that generated intense criticism from rights groups.

      Biden’s support of the policy, 43 years after it was first signed into law, is a sign that the former vice president is out of step with his party.

      “This puts him at odds with his own party’s platform at this point,” New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister tweeted, adding that Biden’s position puts him “also at odds with a morally coherent position.”

    • Will Ohio River Get Optional Pollution Limits as New Fracking-Reliant Plastics Industry Moves in?

      Tomorrow, June 6, in Covington, Kentucky, a routine quarterly meeting of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an eight-state compact responsible for setting water pollution control standards for the 981-mile Ohio River, is expected to fall under unusual scrutiny from both industry and environmentalists.

      ORSANCO is considering a proposal to make its water pollution standards — designed to coordinate pollution rules the length of the river — voluntary amid a brewing battle over the fate of a river that’s both the source of drinking water for 5 million people and central to the petrochemical industry’s plans for a new fossil-fueled plastics manufacturing network.

    • Trump Admin Argues No Constitutional Right to a Safe Climate Two Years After Ditching Paris Accord

      Almost exactly two years after President Trump announced his plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a groundbreaking youth climate change lawsuit challenging the federal government’s promotion of fossil fuel energy was back in court for a long-awaited hearing. Before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Trump administration, which has tried numerous times to derail the suit, argued that the case is an “attack on the Constitution” and that there is no right to a stable climate system capable of sustaining human life.

    • Philippines Passes Law Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduation

      It’s no secret that trees work wonders. They trap carbon. They filter the air by trapping particulate matter. In return, they let out clean oxygen for us to breathe. That’s why the Filipino congress passed a new law requiring every student to plant 10 trees before they are allowed to graduate from elementary school, high school or college.

    • A March Through Heat, Felony Threats, and Pollution Brings Louisiana’s Cancer Alley to Governor’s Attention

      On June 3, at the end of a five-day march through stifling heat in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, activists fighting against environmental racism reached their goal of bringing attention to their area’s injustices to the state capitol.

      The Coalition Against Death Alley (CADA), a group of Louisiana-based residents and members of various local and state organizations, were met with praise on the steps of the capitol building by State Representative Randal Gaines, the head of the Louisiana Black Caucus.

    • ‘We Are Literally Sawing Off the Branch We All Live On’: Amazon Deforestation Increasing Under Bolsonaro

      Satellite images reviewed by the Brazilian government show massive deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a grim reminder of the devastation wrought by the country’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro.

      According to Reuters, 285 square miles of forest was cleared in May, the highest one month total in a decade. The information comes from Brazilian space research institute INPE’s DETER alert system.

      “If this upward curve continues, we could have a bad year for the Amazon forest,” said INPE satellite monitoring head Claudio Almeida.

      The Amazon deforestation is just part of a global problem, said youth activist Greta Thunberg.

    • A Shorter Working Week Isn’t a Luxury—It’s An Ecological Necessity

      A shorter working week has re-emerged as a prominent subject of political and economic discussion in the U.K. in recent years, with the TUC, the Green Party and Labour taking a reduction of working hours seriously as a policy that could increase workers’ well-being, boost productivity and face the challenges of automation.

      In Germany, the IG Metall, Europe’s largest industrial union, led a strike last year that mobilized 1.5 million workers and won the option to individually reduce working time from 35-hours per week to 28-hours per week, while securing the option to return to full-time employment afterwards.

      While a shorter working week is often framed as a tool to fix a broken economic model that is working for the few, rather than for the many, the increased interest in working time reductions coincides with the emergence of powerful global movements that highlight another crisis that is facing humanity today: the depletion of resources, the degradation of our natural environments and above all the rapid heating-up of our planet. Here, too, pressing issues of intra- and intergenerational justice emerge, with people in the global south and the poor more likely to suffer the fall-out of an economic system that largely favours the capital-owning class in the global north.

  • Finance

    • The Gig is Up

      Uber just filed its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company. Although it lost $1bn, investors may still do well because the losses appear to be declining.

      Uber drivers, on the other hand, aren’t doing well. According to a recent study, about half of New York’s Uber drivers are supporting families with children, yet 40% depend on Medicaid and another 18% on food stamps.

      It’s similar elsewhere in the new American economy. Last week, the New York Times reported that fewer than half of Google workers are full-time employees. Most are temps and contractors receiving a fraction of the wages and benefits of full-time Googlers, with no job security.

    • Uber loses $1 billion in quarter as costs grow for drivers, food delivery

      Revenue of $3.1 billion matched the high end of the range Uber forecast for the quarter and the loss of $1.0 billion compared with the company’s forecast of $1.0 billion to $1.11 billion.

    • Arab Uber driver kicks 2 Jewish women out of car

      An Uber driver in Los Angeles who said he was Palestinian kicked two Jewish women out of his car after learning they were coming from an Israel Independence Day celebration.

    • The Tax Break Application Had a False Answer. Now the State Has Put the Break on Hold.

      New Jersey state officials have placed a hold on a $260 million tax break for Holtec International, a nuclear company that built its new headquarters on the Camden waterfront, while investigators examine details of its application, according to two state officials with knowledge of the investigation.

      Officials took the action after a report last month from WNYC and ProPublica about an inaccuracy in a sworn certification submitted by Holtec CEO Kris Singh as part of the company’s application. In 2014, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority granted Holtec the second-largest tax break in state history to help the company bring new jobs to the city.

      The company collected its first installment, a $26 million tax credit, after moving into its new headquarters in 2017. It would have been eligible for a $26 million credit every year thereafter for nine years. The status of the 2018 credit is not clear. The decision to freeze the credits is the first corrective action by the EDA that has become public since Gov. Phil Murphy started criticizing the program in January.

      Holtec is one of a number of companies aligned with South Jersey Democratic boss George E. Norcross III, who serves on its board of directors. Companies linked to Norcross and the law firm of his brother Philip received at least $1.1 billion worth of tax breaks, according to a review by WNYC-ProPublica.

    • Elizabeth Warren Presents Unparalleled Plan to Bolster American Workers and Manufacturing

      I have been a fan of Elizabeth Warren for a long time. Her combination of deep knowledge of how American capitalism works, her capacity to narrate the lived experience of American working families and tie it to radical reforms, and her sheer integrity are unsurpassed.

      Her rollout of one brilliant policy proposal after another and her ability to connect those to a political understanding of the American situation has been just stunning. But Warren’s latest plan is in a class by itself, even for Warren. She calls it an Agenda for Economic Patriotism.

    • Interest Groups Push to Uphold Law Withholding Relief to Puerto Rico

      A bipartisan disaster relief package, passed on Monday by the House after a contentious six-month battle, would distribute needed aid to Puerto Rico nearly two years after Hurricane Maria made landfall and caused an estimated 3,000-plus deaths on the island.

      But money is not the only thing that was stalled en route to the island.

      The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, requires traded goods bound for Puerto Rico from U.S. ports to be on American-made and -run vessels, among other regulations. First instituted in the name of national security, the Jones Act, which the late-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called an “antiquated, protectionist law,” has historically delayed and inflated the price of necessary amenities for Puerto Rican residents, according to a new report.

      Several opponents said that as long as the act remains, Puerto Rican residents will continue to bear higher costs of goods and the risk of delayed aid during times of disaster.

      In March, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Open America’s Waters Act to end the Jones Act on the grounds that it hampers trade and leads to exorbitant prices of goods. But a mighty group of companies profiting from the heavily trafficked and regulated sea route between the mainland’s coast and the island see it differently.

      Other legislators, such as Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), have called for temporary waivers to transport natural gas, more oversight from the Department of Justice and limited reforms in the interest of Puerto Rican residents.

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Fuck Yer Money – Javid Music Party

      When speaking out against injustices, sometimes the most appropriate response is to say, “Fuck you.” Examples in protest music include Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name” (“Fuck you, I won’t do what you what you tell me”), N.W.A’s “Fuck tha Police” and YG’s “Fuck Donald Trump.”

      Javid Music Party, an independent Chicago and Los Angeles-based artist and activist follows a similar tact with his latest tune, “Fuck Yer Money.” The song and accompanying video are an indictment of political and corporate greed

    • Walmart: A Study in Wretched Excess

      Years ago, when I first began writing indignant and wildly emotional polemics about Walmart, Inc., attacking the mega-retailer for its virulent, unethical and borderline illegal anti-union policies, the corporation (with headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas) had roughly 8,500 stores in 15 countries, a figure that, even then, seemed not only overly ambitious but near pathological.

      It got worse. As of last month, Walmart has 11,368 stores worldwide. Spread over 27 countries, they conduct their business under 55 different names. There are more than 4,700 stores right here in the U.S., the hourly employees of which are underpaid and under-benefitted, yet terrified of seeking to improve their lot because any talk of joining a labor union is likely to get them fired.

      For the record, Walmart, Inc. is the largest private employer in the United States, the largest private employer in Mexico (as Walmex), and the third largest private employer in Canada. Indeed, the company is not only the largest private employer in the world, it is the largest private employer in the history of the world, and the largest private employer the world will ever know. No retailer will ever be bigger. We are watching history being made.

    • Sanders Hands Over His Social Media Accounts to Walmart Workers Ahead of Attending Annual Meeting to Advocate for Employees

      Sen. Bernie Sanders turned over his social media accounts to Walmart workers on Tuesday—one day before the Democratic presidential candidate is set to attend the retail giant’s annual meeting, at the invitation of some employees, to advocate for higher wages and introduce a shareholder’s proposal that aims to ensure hourly workers are represented on the company’s board.

      Sanders is a longtime supporter of expanding labor rights and critic of Walmart. During the last congressional session, Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Stop WALMART Act, which would bar major American corporations that don’t pay employees $15 an hour plus benefits from buying back their own stock.

      “What the workers want is a seat at the table,” the senator said in an introductory video posted to Twitter Tuesday. “My message to the Walton family will be: We are tired of subsidizing you, pay your workers a living wage.”

    • The Real Russian Menace Is Just Hypercapitalism

      In the years leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia spent something on the order of $50 billion to turn the sleepy Black Sea vacation town of Sochi into a glittering destination resort full of high-end amenities, luxury housing, international cuisine, palm trees and promenades. A giant ski resort bloomed across the slopes of the nearby western Caucasus mountains. Western journalists who arrived weeks before the games delighted in posting examples of incompetent (and, by implication, corrupt) building and construction, although many of these—such as a notorious photo of a bathroom stall with two toilets and a single toilet-paper dispenser—were later debunked.

      Sochi and the 2014 Olympics became a byword for Russia’s notorious public graft, its estimated costs exceeding even those of the famously elaborate and expensive 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. And Sochi itself has become, in the American press, a go-to metonym for the autocratic governing regime of Vladimir Putin.

    • Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite.

      By late 2016, many of the nation’s 25,000 chicken farmers said they had grown bitterly frustrated by the administration of President Barack Obama.

      Under Obama, top officials had promised to help farmers by tightening regulations on meat processing companies, which for decades had been growing bigger and more powerful. The industry consolidation extended to beef, dairy and pork as well as poultry, but the Obama administration was particularly concerned about the effects on farmers who raise chickens on contract for giants such as Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride.

      Farmers complained that they had been lured into the business with rosy profit projections only to discover that the processing companies — which they depend on for supplies of chicks and feed — could suddenly change their contract terms to impose additional costs or drop them for any reason.

      By the time the Obama administration finally pushed through the rules meant to address these problems in December 2016, Donald Trump, a Republican, had won the White House, backed by many farmers who said they had been let down by Obama, a Democrat.

    • Donald Trump Confuses Bluster With Strength on Trade

      For Donald Trump, America First is increasingly translating into America alone. He apparently believes that the United States is so dominant that it needs no friends. Trump prefers to act alone, often on impulse, in conflicts across the globe. He views allies as a burden, international law as an affront. He claims that America is back, more respected than ever. In fact, it is becoming more isolated than ever.

      The New York Times reports that Trump was ready to impose tariffs on Australia this week, to counter a surge of aluminum imports to the United States, to all of 6 percent of total U.S. imports. Fierce opposition from the military and State Department led the White House to reconsider.

      Trump has launched a long overdue challenge to our trading relationship with China. Our trade deficits with China have been the largest between two countries in recorded history. The Chinese have been masterful mercantilists, manipulating their currency and conditions to capture jobs, expand exports and build their industries. The U.S. — with our trade policies defined by global corporations and banks — has been willing to allow U.S. companies to ship jobs abroad to take advantage of suppressed labor and lax environmental and consumer standards, and then ship goods back to the U.S. Profit margins and CEO pay soared; workers and communities in the U.S took it on the chin. The relationship had to change.

      Yet instead of enlisting allies in challenging the Chinese practices, Trump slapped tariffs on Canada and Mexico, on Europe, Japan and South Korea. He’s on the verge of alienating Australia, which has been a staunch ally in relation to China. Instead of isolating China, he’s isolating the United States. Now the Europeans are ignoring U.S. warnings about the Chinese high-tech company Huawei’s 5G system.

      Trump trumpeted his NAFTA 2.0 agreement with Mexico and Canada as a great success. Yet last week he suddenly threatened to slap escalating tariffs on Mexican imports unless that country cracks down on the people traveling from Central America to seek asylum in the U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, warns this could torpedo any possibility of passing the treaty. Trump isn’t just isolating the U.S., he’s isolating himself.

      Trump moved to take the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord that includes virtually every country in the world. He’s repudiated the Iran Nuclear Deal, spurning the pleas of our allies to respect a treaty that ensures Iran cannot revive a nuclear weapons program. His bellicose bluster and military maneuvers against Iran have earned the rebuke of European allies warning against the threat of hostilities. Instead of removing us from the endless “stupid wars” that he campaigned against, he’s gone all in with Saudi Arabia, sustaining troops in Afghanistan, Syria, escalating tensions with Iran, and vetoing the bipartisan congressional resolution seeking an end to our shameful complicity in the Saudi assault on Yemen.

    • Manufacturing falls to lowest level of Trump presidency; tariffs take the blame

      The U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to its lowest level in April since October 2016, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The ISM survey also found that its factory employment index had fallen by 11 percent since October 2016 and factory output fell to its lowest point since August 2016, Reuters reported. A separate survey by IHS Markit also found that May was the “toughest month in nearly 10 years” for American manufacturers, IHS economist Chris Williamson told Bloomberg News, adding that the reduced production will also be a “further drag on GDP.”

      Business owners were quick to point to Trump’s trade wars with China and other countries as the leading cause for the slump in American manufacturing, which Trump claimed he would restore to its glory days.

      “Newly increased tariffs on Chinese imports pose an issue on a number of chemicals and materials that are solely produced in China,” one respondent said in the Institute for Supply Management Survey.

      “The threat of additional tariffs has forced a change in our supply chain strategy; we are shifting business from China to Mexico, which will not increase the number of U.S. jobs,” said another respondent.

    • ‘Pay Your Workers a Living Wage’: Sanders Blasts Walmart Executives to Their Faces at Annual Shareholder Meeting

      “The issue that we are dealing with today is pretty simple,” Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said during a brief speech at the gathering in Rogers, Arkansas.

      “Walmart is the largest private employer in America and is owned by the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the United States,” said Sanders. “And yet, despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages—wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing in order to survive.”

      “Frankly,” Sanders continued, “the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing the greed of some of the largest and most profitable corporations in this country.”

      To help reduce the “grotesque level of income and wealth inequality” at Walmart, Sanders urged the retailer to raise its minimum wage to a “living wage” of at least $15 an hour and pass a resolution (pdf) that would give Walmart employees representation on the company’s board.

    • Congress Scraps Provision to Restrict IRS From Competing With TurboTax

      Congressional leaders are planning to scrap a provision of an IRS reform bill making permanent the Free File deal between the government and private tax filing companies, torpedoing a long-sought goal by industry giant Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.

      The development, first reported by Politico Pro and confirmed to ProPublica by a House Republican staffer, comes two months after an outcry sparked by our story on the Free File provision in a bill called the Taxpayer First Act.

      The bill, which has bipartisan support and contains a range of provisions including restrictions on the private debt collection of unpaid taxes, passed the House in April but stalled in the Senate.

    • Republicans Clash with Trump over Proposed Tariffs of Up to 25% on All Mexican Imports

      Mexican officials are meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today in Washington, D.C., to discuss President Trump’s plan to impose a 5% tariff on all imported Mexican goods. Over time, tariffs could increase to as much as 25%. Trump announced tariffs over what he claims is Mexico’s failure to stem the flow of Central American asylum seekers and migrants into the United States. Citing potentially devastating consequences to the U.S. economy, Senate Republicans defied the president Tuesday, announcing their opposition to the tariffs. We speak with Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy.

    • ‘It Puts You Into a Process That Hugely Favors the Employer’

      Fast food workers winning a higher minimum wage. Public school teachers winning smaller class sizes. Workers have had some remarkable victories recently.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Senate passes bill to deny entry for individuals who meddle in US elections

      The bill, spearheaded by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would block individuals from being able to obtain a visa if they were attempting to or had engaged in “improper interference in U.S. elections.”

    • How Payday Lenders Spent $1 Million at a Trump Resort — and Cashed In

      In mid-March, the payday lending industry held its annual convention at the Trump National Doral hotel outside Miami. Payday lenders offer loans on the order of a few hundred dollars, typically to low-income borrowers, who have to pay them back in a matter of weeks. The industry has long been reviled by critics for charging stratospheric interest rates — typically 400% on an annual basis — that leave customers trapped in cycles of debt.

      The industry had felt under siege during the Obama administration, as the federal government moved to clamp down. A government study found that a majority of payday loans are made to people who pay more in interest and fees than they initially borrow. Google and Facebook refuse to take the industry’s ads.

      On the edge of the Doral’s grounds, as the payday convention began, a group of ministers held a protest “pray-in,” denouncing the lenders for having a “feast” while their borrowers “suffer and starve.”

      But inside the hotel, in a wood-paneled bar under golden chandeliers, the mood was celebratory. Payday lenders, many dressed in golf shirts and khakis, enjoyed an open bar and mingled over bites of steak and coconut shrimp.

      They had plenty to be elated about. A month earlier, Kathleen Kraninger, who had just finished her second month as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had delivered what the lenders consider an epochal victory: Kraninger announced a proposal to gut a crucial rule that had been passed under her Obama-era predecessor.

    • A Russian TV anchor aired corruption accusations against regional government officials. They accused him of using the segment itself to demand bribes.

      On May 31, longtime TV anchor Andrey Karaulov posted an interview with Krasnoyarsk Krai Accounts Chamber Chairperson Tatiana Davydenko on his YouTube channel. In the interview, Davydenko described large-scale illegal logging in her region. She said local government officials have dealt poorly with forest fires and simultaneously facilitated lumber theft schemes. Davydenko also asserted that the has received threats of forced resignation and criminal charges due to her interest in the issue.

    • ‘Cultural Marxism’: The Mainstreaming of a Nazi Trope

      When Norwegian right-winger Anders Breivik invoked “cultural Marxism” as the reason for his 77-person killing spree in 2011, many observers placed the notion in the same category as the killer—the fringe. But since the election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise and re-election of other far-right governments around the globe, “cultural Marxism” has become a well-known nationalist buzzword, alongside “globalism”: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denounces it, and the media empire of former White House advisor Steve Bannon revolved around fighting it.

      [...]

      What does cultural Marxism mean for the far right? In the modern iteration, in spaces like Breitbart or Infowars, it is the belief that a failure by communists to topple capitalism through worker revolt has led to a “Plan B” to destroy Western society from the inside. By tearing down the gender binary, de-centering Christianity values, championing the weak over the privileged and creating a multicultural society, revolutionaries have unanchored traditional Western order. Everything from gay rights to Muslim immigration is, in the language of the far right, part of a plot to finish the job that radical worker organizing could not.

      Suffice it to say, this is a most paranoid fantasy. Most Marxists don’t speak in these terms, and people who do advocate for immigration, multiculturalism or secularism do so out of a certain regard for human and civil rights. But the far right still obsesses that this is a historical cultural struggle.

    • The End of Anarchy and the Solidification of the Global Class

      There once was a world where state actors operated in an anarchic international environment, where maximizing their overall power was their goal, and war was their means of achieving it. That world is now dead.

      In its place we have the current spectacle of what were known as the “great powers” who are now, at least, formally if by no means fully, democratic and economically interdependent on one another and informally, if firmly, coordinated by transnational elites.

      However, lest we be confused by their seeming historical similarities, this situation is very different than the one the world found itself in during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries.

      Then, the world was both far from being even formally democratic and world capitalist elites were only beginning to form and more importantly were locked in lethal competition with older more parochial elites representing the still powerful aristocracies, militaries and agrarian concerns. For anyone who might want to learn more, Arno J Mayer’s classic The Persistence of the Old Regime is an excellent guide to this period.

      Although much has been written about the “democratic peace”, a doctrine at least as old as Thomas Paine and Immanuel Kant, we might wonder how much the current era also known as the “long peace” is a product of an increase in the total number of democratic or semi-democratic states, especially the most powerful ones or is rather the semi-surreptitious erection of an overarching system of global elites united by their global economic interests and disciplined by the military/state security apparatus of their universal pay master or locus primaria: the United States.

    • Shall Not Be Denied

      After years of asserting, in the words of Susan B. Anthony, “It was we the people, not we the white male citizens,” suffragists won their long and un-genteel fight 100 years ago when Congress passed the 19th Amendment giving (white) women the vote. The Senate vote on June 4, 1919, which sent the proposal to the states for ratification, marked the end of a decades-long campaign by women routinely dismissed and maligned as “monstrosities of nature”; in 1913, the New York Times huffed that “all the rumpus about female suffrage is made by a very few of our disoriented sisters.” In a historical piece, part of a centennial series on women and political power, The Atlantic notes that Woodrow Wilson spent years trying to ignore the protesters out in all weather at the White House. Fiery suffragists also marched, waged legal battles, staged costumed tableaux, organized church committees, published their own newspapers and often got arrested; in prison, newspapers reported some were tortured, beaten, dragged down stairs, handcuffed to cell doors and threatened with straitjackets as disturbers of the social peace.

    • The Tory Leadership Scrum

      To universal relief the Maybot has announced her resignation, with effect from 7th June.

      The relief was so heartfelt everywhere that her final meeting with the stone-hearted eurocrats in Brussels– who did her in as much as her treacherous colleagues– was so cordial that Christmas seemed to be around the corner.

      Messrs Juncker, Tusk, and Barnier were drinking toasts, real or metaphorical, to the prospect of never having to see the Maybot again– Herr Juncker, the EC President, usually gets paralytic on such occasions to the obvious delight of social media. (Two school friends of mine, recently retired after spending decades in the EU’s top echelons, tell me Juncker tends to lose it after bottle or two of Mosel, his beloved beverage of choice.)

      Any such joy at May’s departure should however be tempered by the realization that anyone who takes over from May is unlikely to be better than her.

      After all, May saw off all the main contenders in the current election when she won the party leadership in 2016. She is going to be replaced from the bunch of also-rans in that election.

      All this huffing and puffing over Brexit cannot obscure the truth that the UK has been in a long-term decline since the end of the First World War.

      The processes underlying this obscuration have been long and convoluted, but their outline is readily identifiable.

    • House Democratic Leadership Must Find the Courage to Impeach

      Have you heard? House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) will open impeachment hearings on June 10!

      No, wait, that’s not right. Chairman Nadler will open hearings about impeachment on June 10. Apologies for the confusion; all this chickenshit is affecting my sinuses.

      According to reports, Rep. Nadler’s proposed proceedings will begin with a hearing titled, “Lessons From the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.” This hearing will feature former White House counsel and central Watergate figure John Dean, who will presumably explain what we have already heard many times before: Rogue presidents are bad, obstruction of justice is bad, the rule of law is good, the Constitution is good. Also present will be former U.S. attorneys and sundry legal experts to further explain what we already know.

      Another proposed hearing topic will be “President Trump’s Most Overt Acts of Obstruction.” This, like the hearing featuring Dean, will not include testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller, because neither Nadler’s nor any other committee has subpoenaed Mueller to testify.

      One could call this an odd choice, as Mueller’s viewpoint seems essential. Yes, everything he would say during a hearing can be found in the report, but most of the country has not read the report, so Mueller explaining what is contained in the report to a battery of television cameras would be highly salutary to the process.

      It would also be nice to get a more detailed take from Mueller on Attorney General William Barr’s lie-sodden “summary” letter. Also, and not for nothing, Mueller spent just nine minutes on TV last week and sent Trump straight up a tree. A full day’s testimony, if not more, may serve to shake some further truths loose.

    • Mueller Must Be Called to Testify

      The Sphinx speaks! In one of the most surreal moments in recent Washington history, special counsel Robert Mueller, who never spoke to reporters once in two years, suddenly held a news conference last Wednesday.

      Nine minutes later, Americans knew what Mueller sounded like — we’d never heard his voice before — but we still weren’t completely sure what the hell he said. Mueller spoke in such turgid prose, legal scholars will be parsing his words long after President Trump is gone, still trying to figure out exactly why Mueller called his news conference and what he was trying to say.

      Still, through his fog of legalese, it’s clear Mueller made several important points. One, Russia engaged in a massive, systematic effort to help Donald Trump get elected in 2016 — which Trump has yet to acknowledge, let alone condemn. Two, despite Trump’s denials, members of his team engaged on many occasions with Russian officials — just not overtly enough to prove a criminal conspiracy. Three, at least 10 times Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice (which is a crime!) by interfering with or trying to block the FBI investigation — for which, Mueller all but acknowledged, he would have filed charges against Trump if a long-standing Department of Justice rule had not prevented his doing so.

      In effect, Mueller said that both Trump and Attorney General William Barr were lying when they claimed that his report concluded with the finding of “No Collusion, No Obstruction.” In fact, Mueller said he found evidence of both. And, in the “money shot” of his statement, he all but expressed regret that he was blocked by that obscure Justice Department rule from tagging Trump with a crime: “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

      At that point, however, having refused to exonerate Trump, Mueller drew the line. That was it. His final statement on the matter. I have nothing more to say, he insisted. It’s all in the report. If you want to know more, read it. I hope members of Congress won’t call me to testify. But, if they do, I won’t say anything more than I said this morning.

    • Impeachment Affirms the Will of the People

      Fifty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives have recognized their constitutional duty to support an impeachment inquiry into evidence of wrongdoing on the part of President Trump. Congressman Mark Pocan, D-town of Vermont, has been among the outspoken of their number, declaring that “Congress must now do its job.”

      It is, in fact, the job of the Congress to hold Donald Trump to account. Special counsel Robert Mueller reinforced the point last Wednesday, when he noted: “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president.”

      The alternative route is the impeachment process that is initiated by the House and completed by the U.S. Senate. Impeachment, as Mueller reminds us, is separate and apart from the criminal justice system. An impeached and convicted president is not jailed or fined. He simply goes back to the status he had before the previous election: a citizen who is not the president.

      Ah, but there’s the rub. The politicians who are responsible for initiating the impeachment process get very concerned about the prospect that they might be accused of casually undoing the result of an election. This is a commendable concern, even in so stilted a democracy as that of the United States. But, in the case of Donald Trump, the concern is less consequential than his supporters would have us believe.

      Let’s grant that the most compelling of the general arguments against impeachment is that congressional action to hold the commander in chief to account might upend the will of the people by undoing a presidential election result. Political figures of varying partisanships tend to agree on this point, which is one of the reasons we’re seeing it amplified as the debate about whether to impeach Trump heats up. “Democrats,” griped Trump campaign aide Kayleigh McEnany, have “never stopped trying to overturn the legitimate results of the 2016 election.”

    • Enough Hesitation, House: Impeach

      Like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin is one of those great Americans to whom sparkling aphorisms are attributed that may or may not be true. The Internet has only made matters worse.

      A favorite quote, which I always assumed was Franklin’s, appears not to be, at least as far as I can tell. I made a cursory and unsuccessful Google search of various editions of his famous Poor Richard’s Almanack and the later Poor Richard Improved, but even my pedantic wonkishness can only go so far. I finally gave up.

    • To Impeach, or Not to Impeach

      As the US Congress returns from a ten-day break, the question of whether the House of Representatives (controlled by the Democrats) should formally commence the process of impeaching President Donald Trump for misdeeds committed during his tenure – and perhaps before – has split the party. Theoretically, impeachment by the House would be followed by a trial in the Senate. But the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, is considered highly unlikely to convict their party’s standard-bearer, unless some stunning new revelation about his actions turns up – which cannot be ruled out.

      For all the press attention devoted to the growing number of House Democrats who favor initiating an impeachment process now, the total (now over 50) represents only about one-fifth of the party’s House membership. And Republican representatives are so loyal to Trump – or so afraid of facing a primary challenge in 2020 – that only one, Justin Amash of Michigan, a strict libertarian, supports impeachment, though other Republicans privately would be glad to see Trump gone.Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claims to oppose impeachment, at least for now, but leaves the question partly open by saying things such as, “We’re not there yet.” To impeach Trump, she says, would be bad politics for her party, because it would firm up Republican support for him and further divide the country. Launching an impeachment process now, she fears, would undermine her main goals: to avoid jeopardizing the Democrats’ hard-won control of the House and to maximize the party’s chances in the presidential election next year.

    • Why So Many Brits Can’t Stand Donald Trump

      Members of the protest crowd in London said that they feared Trump as a leader of a global wave of right wing populism, by which I think they mean racist fascism. British society is substantially to the left of the US and even most British Conservatives take stances on things like government services that would make them look like liberal Democrats in the United States.

      In an embarrassing press conference Trump seemed to want to dismantle the British National Health Service as part of any trade deal, and he said that “few people know” that Britain is America’s biggest trading partner. That is because it isn’t. It is number 7. China is the biggest trading partner of the US.

      Trump has a 21% approval rating in Britain. His predecessor Barack Obama is at 73%.

    • Democratic Divide: Ryan Grim on the New Progressives in the Party at Odds with the Establishment

      As the 2020 election heats up and calls for President Trump’s impeachment continue, we look at the deepening divide within the Democratic Party with Ryan Grim, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept. He is the author of the new book “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement.” In it, he writes, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may seem like she came from nowhere, but the movement that propelled her to office—and to global political stardom—has been building for 30 years.”

    • To Hold ‘Lawless President’ to Account, Nearly 30 Groups Urge Pelosi to Start Trump Impeachment Inquiry Now

      “Voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives because they wanted aggressive oversight of the Trump administration,” wrote CREDO, Indivisible, and 27 other groups in a letter to Pelosi.

      “Yet,” the letter states, “your leadership is resulting in dangerous inaction that enables this racist and xenophobic president.”

      The groups expressed “deep disappointment and concern” about Pelosi’s refusal to listen to the public and members of her own leadership team on the necessity of launching impeachment hearings.

      Citing ongoing efforts by the White House to block congressional oversight as well as Trump’s possible obstruction of justice, the groups wrote that waiting to take decisive action against the president “is a privilege.”

      “But it is not a privilege available to the families separated by his deportation force or his Muslim ban, the asylum seekers languishing in Mexico, the people threatened by his embrace of white supremacy, the LGBTQ people whose rights he is taking away, the women whose bodies he is trying to control or the communities threatened by his denial of the climate crisis,” the letter states.

    • Trump, Impeachment, and the Question of Democratic Legitimacy

      It would seem that Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi agree on one really important thing: Donald Trump is the legitimate President of the United States.

      Trump declares boldly and angrily that he is President because he won the election; that as President he is entitled to disparage long-standing governmental norms, break the law, declare national emergencies on a whim, assault the civil rights and liberties of immigrants, minorities, and women, and treat his critics, in the press and in the political opposition, as “enemies of the people.”

      And on this basis, he declares that supporters of oversight of his administration are “traitors” who are engaged in an attempted “coup”; and that calls for impeachment represent an assault on democracy and on the “will of the people.”

    • To Fight Establishment’s Framing of Biden as Presumptive Nominee, Warren Tells Voters, ‘Get Up Off Your Butt and Volunteer!’

      To make sure their favored candidate has a chance to beat Biden, Warren said, voters must take action by volunteering for campaigns in any way that they’re able.

      At Lansing Community College, where about 1,700 people gathered to hear Warren discuss issues including clean energy and trade, an audience member named Cruz Villareal pointed to the 2016 Democratic primary, when party insiders known as superdelegates announced their support for Hillary Clinton a day before six states including the crucial state of California were set to hold their primaries, sparking outrage among Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters who said the move effectively secured the nomination for Clinton prematurely.

      “I’m worried the Dems aren’t going to learn their lesson and just give Biden the [nomination],” Villareal said, adding that many of his friends share his worry.

    • Putin has appointed four of his bodyguards to be regional governors. Two have already quit.

      On June 5, Astrakhan Region Acting Governor Sergey Morozov resigned. He was only appointed to the post in the fall of 2018. He will be replaced by Igor Babushkin, the deputy presidential plenipotentiary for the Northern Caucasian Federal District. Morozov, like Alexey Dyumin (Tula Region), Yevgeny Zinichev (Kaliningrad Region), and Dmitry Mironov (Yaroslavl Region), worked in the Federal Protective Service prior to his appointment and was a member of Vladimir Putin’s personal security detail.

    • Why We Need to Talk About Biden’s Support of the Hyde Amendment

      Former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden has confirmed that he still supports the Hyde Amendment, a ban prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion care. Prior to the Hyde Amendment’s passage in 1976, Medicaid paid for about 300,000 abortions each year. After Hyde passed, neither people on Medicaid nor people dependent upon on the Indian Health Service for medical care could rely on that coverage to access abortion care. In 1977, Rosie Jimenez became the first known person to die as the result of an illegal abortion after the passage of the Hyde.

      Rosie Jimenez died with a $700 scholarship check in her purse. Like many pregnant people, she had plans for herself and her 5-year-old daughter that were jeopardized by an unplanned pregnancy. As a Chicana woman living in Texas, Rosie no doubt faced many systemic barriers in her life, but it was the Hyde Amendment that robbed her of access to a safe abortion — a deprivation that cost Rosie her life.

      For many, Hyde turned back the clock on reproductive rights. While people of means could still access abortion, people with little or no income were thrust back into the desperate straits that most pregnant people in need of abortion care faced prior to Roe. In this way, Hyde successfully replicated the racial and class dynamics of the pre-Roe era, when pregnant people who could afford to travel could access abortion care, while others were left to choose between back alley abortions and forced birth.

      As a senator, Biden voted against a 1977 compromise that would have allowed Medicaid to fund abortions in cases of rape and incest or when the life of a pregnant person was at risk. The compromise passed without Biden’s support. But in 1981, Biden joined a successful effort to remove those exemptions. Biden’s continued support of Hyde flies in the face of the arguments many of his supporters have leveled when his past legislative actions have been called into question. Such supporters have argued that Biden made those choices in a different time, and that his politics have evolved. Yet Biden is offering concrete evidence that he’s the same man who both voted for and spearheaded bills that have had disastrous impacts on marginalized people.

    • ‘Straight-Up Cruel’: Trump Admin Condemned for Canceling Education, Recreation, and Legal Services for Detained Migrant Children

      “It’s bad enough that the Trump administration is trying to normalize the warehousing of children. It’s unconscionable that they would so blatantly try to strip them of their rights,” Denise Bell, a researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

      “Locking up children and then denying them legal aid, education, and even playtime is all part of this administration’s cruel efforts to dehumanize people who have come to the U.S. seeking safety,” she added. “Children’s human rights must be protected by ensuring they receive proper care while in government custody and are released as soon as possible.”

      Bell’s comments came after U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber confirmed to The Washington Post that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had begun discontinuing the funding for activities deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation.”

    • America Is Missing Its Chance to Fix Our Election System Before We Vote in 2020

      As 2020’s elections edge closer, recent troubling developments are casting new light on an old question—what will it take for the results to be trusted?

      The emergence of powerful forms of online political propaganda, the absence of progress in 2019 state legislatures on improving audits and recounts, and new revelations about the extent of Russian hacking in 2016—accessing more election administration details than previously reported—all point to the same bottom line: what evidence can be presented to a polarized electorate to legitimize the results?

      To be fair, some policy experts who network with senior election officials—who have authority to order more thorough vote-verification steps without new legislation—say there is still time to act. But as 2020 gets closer, there are fewer opportunities to do so.

      The question of what additional proactive steps could be a public trust counterweight is not theoretical. There are many signs that 2020 will be very fractious, starting with the emergence of new forms of political propaganda. The latest is doctored videos, such as one recently of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—slurring her words—that drew millions of views, or another video mocking ex-Vice President Joe Biden after announcing his candidacy that President Trump tweeted. An emerging norm, where seeing is not necessarily believable, underscores the need for vote count evidence trails.

    • America Refuses to Fix Its Broken Election System

      As 2020’s elections edge closer, recent troubling developments are casting new light on an old question—what will it take for the results to be trusted?

      The emergence of powerful forms of online political propaganda, the absence of progress in 2019 state legislatures on improving audits and recounts, and new revelations about the extent of Russian hacking in 2016—accessing more election administration details than previously reported—all point to the same bottom line: what evidence can be presented to a polarized electorate to legitimize the results?

      To be fair, some policy experts who network with senior election officials—who have authority to order more thorough vote-verification steps without new legislation—say there is still time to act. But as 2020 gets closer, there are fewer opportunities to do so.

    • Danish Nationalists Suffer Their Worst Result Ever in Election

      Denmark’s nationalists had their worst drubbing ever in Wednesday’s election, resulting in a changed political landscape that will bring with it a new left-leaning government led by a 41-year-old woman.

      Mette Frederiksen, who heads the Social Democrats, won the election after her political bloc promised more welfare paid for by higher taxes that will in part target the financial industry. Though she faces protracted government talks, Frederiksen is set to be Denmark’s youngest prime minister ever and only the second woman to lead the country’s government.

      Frederiksen stands out in Social Democratic history for having agreed to somewhat tougher rules on foreign labor, though without stigmatizing Muslims in the same way the country’s nationalists have done. The move appears to have undermined the supremacy of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, whose disastrous result means that the center-right coalition of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has lost the parliamentary support it needed to stay in office.

      Rasmussen conceded defeat shortly before midnight. He told broadcaster TV2 he will hand in his resignation to Denmark’s queen on Thursday, after Frederiksen won majority backing in the parliament. The opposition leader “should have the chance to form a new government,” Rasmussen said.

    • Why the U.S. “Workshop” For Palestinians Will Fail

      Twenty-five years ago, I moderated the panel discussion on the Palestinian economy at the international economic summit in Casablanca, Morocco. I was there in my capacity as co-chair of Builders for Peace (BfP), a project created by Vice-President Al Gore to help grow the Palestinian economy in support of the still-fledgling Oslo peace process.

      I learned a great deal both at the Casablanca Summit and in my more than three years with BfP and it is from that vantage point that I want to comment on the Trump Administration’s proposal to sponsor an economic “workshop” in Bahrain.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Apple is getting sued by developers who say the App Store is a monopoly

      There’s no question that Apple has almost complete and total control over the distribution of iOS apps. With few exceptions, all apps have to go through the App Store, and they all have to comply with Apple’s rules in order to get onto Apple’s hardware platforms. The question is whether Apple maintaining this control constitutes an illegal monopoly.

    • Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders says Twitter blocks his account

      Wilders, who cannot easily appear in public due to threats against him by Islamists, relies heavily on Twitter to communicate with his supporters. He has 811,000 followers, second only to Prime Minister Mark Rutte among Dutch politicians.

      “Twitter often tolerates death threats against me, but not a factual tweet by me about a colleague. Madness!,” he said in a statement.

    • Twitter Admits It Was Hiding Some People’s Tweets by Mistake — Again

      Notably, Twitter doesn’t notify users affected by the system, and it won’t disclose its inner workings. That became a problem just weeks after its launch, when Vice reported that some prominent conservatives, including several Republican members of Congress, were not showing up in the platform’s search suggestions. Twitter quickly fixed the issue, but not before the report sparked an outcry and even Congressional hearings, in which Twitter was accused by conservatives of political bias — a charge it has repeatedly denied.

      Vice called the practice “shadow banning,” and the term has stuck among Twitter’s conservative critics, even though it’s slightly misleading: The users affected don’t become invisible; they just become harder to find.

    • Demonstrators, photographed by Spencer Tunick, bare nipples outside Facebook in censorship protest

      Robertson said she accepted that not all nudity was appropriate on social media, but said Facebook’s benchmark was “archaic.”

      “Facebook is dictating how the world views the female nude body, and they’re treating it like it’s a crime and it’s shameful. Something has to be done. They have way more power than they should.”

    • Many Chinese know little about the bloodshed in Beijing 30 years ago

      The cover-up is a headache for internet and social-media companies, which are obliged to employ armies of people to erase banned content. In order for these 20-somethings to be able to spot and delete references to Tiananmen, they must first be taught what happened there, the New York Times reported in January from one “content-reviewing factory”.

      Such ignorance was once thought impossible. In all, hundreds of people, if not thousands, were killed in Beijing and some in other cities. Tens of thousands, at a minimum, were arrested for involvement in what was declared a “counter-revolutionary riot”. Suspects were snatched from homes and workplaces, or off the streets. The protests had drawn students and workers, magistrates in court uniforms and police cadets, and journalists from state media who marched beneath banners reading “We want to print the truth”. None was safe. Many endured re-education meetings. The unlucky were jailed. A few, having suffered horrors in prison, were exiled. Millions witnessed these terrors or their aftermath.

    • Tiananmen Square Anniversary: China’s Censorship of Massacre Ensures ‘Immunity’ Against Revolutions, State Media Says

      The event is one of the most heavily censored topics in Chinese media and on the country’s social media sites. Those who discuss the events in public can be arrested and even imprisoned. Thousands of online posts have been scrubbed in the lead up to the anniversary of the massacre, which remains one of the darkest incidents in the country’s modern history.

    • Remembering Tiananmen Square Is Dangerous, Even in Hong Kong

      Such developments make clear that the legacy of Tiananmen Square is very much a present-day issue. Beijing’s refusal to acknowledge the events of June 4, 1989, has created a vacuum into which misinformation, ignorance, and revisionism have been allowed to flow. Even in Hong Kong, where information is freely available, there are those who create a false equivalency between the government’s actions in 1989 and a perceived exaggeration of the events on the part of pro-democracy groups here.

    • After Tiananmen, China Conquers History Itself

      In this state-approved narrative, there is no place for the People’s Liberation Army’s act of opening fire on its own people. And the battle over the memory of 1989 is now a global one, waged in classrooms, in print and online. Academic journals and tech companies have censored June 4-related content. Whether this happens under direct pressure from Beijing or as a pre-emptive act of self-censorship for commercial reasons hardly matters anymore. In one recent case, a Chinese online education company that employs 60,000 teachers in the United States and Canada sacked two American teachers for discussing Tiananmen and Taiwan with their students in China. And as Chinese companies acquire news media overseas, they have direct levers over sensitive issues like the Tiananmen anniversary and human rights coverage more broadly.

      In some ways, indoctrinating China’s young people with a utilitarian view of history is an even more powerful tool than censorship itself. When people accept that history must serve the interests of the state, they become closed off to the spirit of academic inquiry or even idle curiosity.

    • Jared Kushner Dismissed Killing of Saudi Dissident Jamal Khashoggi: ‘This Was a Terrorist Masquerading as a Journalist,’ Claims Book

      Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser on foreign policy, is close to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the two are known to communicate via WhatsApp.

      According to Vanity Fair, Wolff’s latest book, titled Siege, which covers the second year of the Trump administration, alleges that Kushner said of Khashoggi: “This guy was the link between certain factions in the royal family and Osama. We know that. A journalist? Come on. This was a terrorist masquerading as a journalist.”

    • Yekaterinburg journalists organize a ‘funeral for freedom,’ spray-painting graves for Russians’ rights

      The Yekaterinburg-based news outlet 66.ru teamed up with local street artist Roma Ink to protest censorship in Russia using a series of graves spray-painted onto the city’s walls. For three nights in a row, the graffiti gravestones mourning various civil liberties appeared and reappeared around the city.

      On June 3, a gravestone for freedom of assembly (1993 – 2012) appeared near the square where thousands of protesters gathered in mid-May to protest the construction of a new cathedral. The “birth date” on the graffiti marks the establishment of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which prohibits censorship and guarantees a series of freedoms for Russian citizens. The “death date” marks the passage of a series of amendments limiting the freedom to protest publicly. By midday, municipal utility employees had washed off the graffiti.

    • YouTube’s Latest Purge

      YouTube has just announced they have changed their “community standards” to combat “extremist content” on their platform. This is just the latest step in the war against free speech online.

      This move comes as no surprise – the press have been laying the groundwork for this for weeks, even months.

      Three weeks ago Buzzfeed reported that YouTube’s monetised chat was “pushing creators to more extreme content”, and just yesterday it was reported that YouTube’s recommend algorithm was “sexualising children”.

    • Facebook Censoring OffG’s Links

      Facebook won’t let him visit our site, not even from a link he himself shared.

      Facebook are claiming to “empower people to chose for themselves”, whilst actually totally removing this choice from people’s lives. Very bizarre. Quite frightening.

      Further, upon getting this news we checked out our social media set up and found that our articles no longer share to facebook. The set-up has always been that freshly published articles automatically share to Facebook – where we have thousands of followers, many of whom may only have access to OffG from that platform. That no longer happens.

      An interesting fact in this case: all the links Tom attempted to share were regarding Ukraine and/or MH17.

    • YouTube to Remove White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos

      YouTube updated its hate speech policies Wednesday to prohibit videos with white supremacy and neo-Nazi viewpoints.

      The video streaming company says it has already made it more difficult to find and promote such videos, but it’s now removing them outright. YouTube will also prohibit videos that deny certain proven events have taken place, such as the Holocaust.

      The changes come as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other online services face mounting concern that the services allow, and in some cases foster, extremism.

      YouTube’s new policies will take effect immediately. Specifically, the service is banning videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion.” The ban applies to a range of characteristics, including race, sexual orientation and veteran status.

      YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it’s removing thousands of channels that violate the new policies.

    • European Court Of Justice Suggests Maybe The Entire Internet Should Be Censored And Filtered

      The idea of an open “global” internet keeps taking a beating — and the worst offender is not, say, China or Russia, but rather the EU. We’ve already discussed things like the EU Copyright Directive and the Terrorist Content Regulation, but it seems like every day there’s something new and more ridiculous — and the latest may be coming from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), which frequently is a bulwark against overreaching laws regarding the internet, but sometimes (too frequently, unfortunately) gets things really, really wrong (saying the “Right to be Forgotten” applied to search engines was one terrible example).

      And now, the CJEU’s Advocate General has issued a recommendation in a new case that would be hugely problematic for the idea of a global open internet that isn’t weighted down with censorship filters. The Advocate General’s recommendations are just that: recommendations for the CJEU to consider before making a final ruling. However, as we’ve noted in the past, the CJEU frequently accepts the AG’s recommendations. Not always. But frequently.

      The case here involves a an attempt to get Facebook to delete critical information of a politician in Austria under Austrian law. In the US, of course, social media companies are not required to delete such information. The content itself is usually protected by the 1st Amendment, and the platforms are then protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that prevents them from being liable, even if the content in question does violate the law (though, importantly, most platforms will still remove such content if it’s been determined by a court to violate the law).

    • “The internet’s not written in pencil, it’s written in ink” … yet content removal can be done on a worldwide basis, says AG Szpunar

      When it comes to content removal in the context of an injunction, how is this to be done in order to comply with the prohibition of a general monitoring obligation, as per Article 15 of the E-commerce Directive?

      This, in a nutshell, is the issue at stake in Facebook, C-18/18, a referral for a preliminary ruling from the Austrian Supreme Court made in the context of national proceedings concerning defamatory comments published on Facebook.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Is Already Working Towards Germany’s End-to-End Encryption Backdoor Vision

      It is almost a certainty that the days of being able to securely converse through end-to-end encryption are coming to a close as companies move their censorship and data harvesting and analysis to the edge.

    • As Germany Floats The Idea Of Encryption Backdoors, Facebook May Already Be Planning To Undermine Its Own Encryption

      The German government’s desire to mandate backdoors in encrypted communications had barely been expressed when it was discovered Facebook might be willing to let them do exactly such a thing.

      The German proposal is nowhere near ready to become law but the gist of it is this: it’s too difficult to break into encrypted devices so maybe tech companies could just start storing encrypted communications in plain text… just in case these agencies ever need to access them. Sure, encryption makes things more secure but it’s just creating some sort of criminal/terrorist Wild West and we can’t have that — even when that doesn’t actually appear to be happening.

      Facebook may already be making backdoored communications a reality. This isn’t happening because it wants to be the inflection point for undermining encryption but because it really, really wants to keep accessing users’ communications for its own purposes. Kalev Leetaru of Forbes points out Facebook put its encryption-undermining plans on display earlier this year, while discussing its plans to address another request being made by multiple governments: content moderation.

    • Kushal Das: Indian news websites over Tor and HTTP vs HTTPS

      Following the idea of Secure The News, I wanted to verify if the Indian news websites have proper certificates or can they be viewed over Tor network.

      The major problem was to get the list of urls, and I managed to create that from the Wikipedia list of Indian news organizations. Next, I had to write a straightforward Python script to verify the sites over Tor.

      I have 181 site URLs and out of those, 5 are down. Among the rest 176 sites, surprisingly all but 3 sites could not be open from Tor network. The following 3 sites are blocking the users from Tor, thus, compromising the privacy and security Tor Browser provides to their readers.

    • ‘This Stuff Freaks Me Out’: Rep. Rashida Tlaib Raises Alarm Over Use of Facial Recognition as Groups Demand Federal Moratorium

      Before detailing her specific concerns about facial recognition technology during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the subject Tuesday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib expressed a sentiment broadly shared by privacy advocates and the general public.

      “This stuff freaks me out,” said Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan. “I’m a little freaked out by facial recognition.”

    • FBI database stokes worries over facial recognition tech

      Lawmakers are intensifying their calls for a temporary ban on the federal government’s use of facial recognition technology after the disclosure that the FBI has amassed a database of more than 640 million photographs.

      The revelation, made by a representative of the government’s top watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Tuesday, stunned lawmakers.

    • House Oversight Hearing On Facial Recognition Technology: FBI Still Can’t Vouch For Accuracy Of Systems

      The FBI has a unit for facial recognition services that oversees a database with more than six hundred million photos. While the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the FBI take steps to ensure the accuracy of how the agency uses facial recognition, the FBI has failed to implement such changes.

      Dr. Gretta Goodwin, the director of the homeland security and justice section of GAO, testified during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. She told representatives the FBI collects photos from 21 state partners and two federal partners outside of the agency. However, the “FBI cannot know how accurate those systems are” because they still do not conduct adequate tests.

      The hearing was the second in a series of hearings by the House Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings.

      In January, it was reported that the FBI piloted Amazon’s facial recognition software known as Rekognition. Officials confirmed “the pilot kicked off in early 2018 following a string of high-profile counterterrorism investigations that tested the limits of the FBI’s technological capabilities.”

    • How ICE and Other DHS Agencies Mine Social Media in the Name of National Security

      In June 2018, more than 400,000 people protested the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border. The following month saw a host of demonstrations in New York City on issues including racism and xenophobia, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the National Rifle Association.

      Given the ease of connecting online, it is unsurprising that many of these events got an organizing boost on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. A recent spate of articles did bring a surprise, however: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been watching online too. Congress should demand that DHS detail the full extent of social media use and commit to ensuring that the programs are effective, non-discriminatory, and protective of privacy.

    • Russia demands Tinder give user data to secret services

      Russia is requiring dating app Tinder to hand over data on its users — including messages — to the national intelligence agencies, part of the country’s widening crackdown on internet freedoms.

      The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder was included on a list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency.

    • Russian authorities are gagging for Tinder user data

      The rule will apply to Tinder data that passes across Russian servers, including things like saucy messages between users. And under the rules Russia imposes on other online companies, Tinder will likely be forced to store metadata relating to its users for at least six months, alongside messages in various formats between users.

    • Tinder faces Russian demand to share user data

      Under recent Russian laws, 175 companies have been put on a register that requires them to store data for six months on Russian servers.

      Companies that refuse, like the private messaging app Telegram, risk being blocked in Russia.

      Tinder said it had “registered to be compliant”.

    • Tinder: ‘We have not given any data to the Russian government’

      The mobile dating app Tinder has commented on its inclusion in a Russian government registry for “information-dissemination organizers.” While services listed on the registry are legally obligated to save their users’ correspondence for half a year at a time and yield that information at the request of Russian security agencies, a Tinder representative said the company does not intend to share user data with the Russian government.

    • Russian tech giant facing FSB requests for its encryption keys argues ‘law enforcement is possible without violating privacy’

      On June 3, reports surfaced that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has repeatedly requested the encryption keys that the tech company Yandex uses to protect user data. The scope of Yandex’s services is similar to that of Google’s: it provides web search, email, advertising, and machine translation tools, among others. According to the news outlet RBC, the Russian company has not yet complied with the FSB’s demands.

      In a press release sent to Meduza, Yandex representatives argued that Russian law only requires more limited forms of cooperation with law enforcement agencies. “The law speaks to the transfer of information that is ‘necessary for decoding messages.’ It does not imply a demand for transferring keys capable of decoding all traffic,” Yandex’s statement asserted. The statement nonetheless acknowledged that the information sharing law applies to all “email services, messengers, and social networks” on Russian territory.

    • Apple is taking on Facebook and Google by doubling down on privacy, but the plan could backfire in an epic way [Ed: Microsoft hidden from the list (perhaps the biggest culprit of all]

      At the very moment that Apple was preaching to its audience, a Reuters report crossed the wires with the latest developments in the federal government’s effort to stiffen regulation of powerful “Big Tech” companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Google…and Apple.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Beware of Authoritarian Christians

      Christianity and authoritarianism are commonly believed to be at opposite ends of the democratic-autocratic continuum. A commonly held belief is that Christians, guided by The Bible, are accepting and caring of each other and others, and are thus democratic. Yes, many Christians do good with-and-for others, inspired by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount’s emphasis on mercy and forgiveness and peacemaking (Matthew 5: 1-10), his teaching that doing to others as you would have then do to you is the bottom line of religion (Matthew 7L 12), and his saying that the greatest commandments are to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself. (Matthew 22: 36-40)

      However, many other Christians use The Bible to stress belief in the uniqueness of Jesus himself, not in the universal “Blessed are the peacemakers”-ethic of humanness he taught. For these Christians, first and foremost, Christianity is about right biblical belief, not just democratic behavior. Fundamental here is Jesus’ exclusivity as the only Son of God and savior of the world (John 14: 6), not the inclusivity underlying his story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37).

      For these Christians, it is not about The Golden Rule of empathy between people, but about using biblically-based beliefs to rule over people. It is about the overriding authority of particular biblical pronouncements and required obedience to them. Such authority and obedience are actually fundamental characteristics of anti-democratic tendencies. Claiming that biblical passages are revelations from God does not make them true, nor demanding obedience to them any less authoritarian.

    • Migrant Children Waiting for Reunification Were Held in Vans Up to 39 Hours

      Last July, 37 migrant children between the ages of 5 and 12 boarded vans in Harlingen, Texas, for what was supposed to be a short drive to a nearby detention center, where they would be reunited with their parents, who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, as NBC News reported Monday, they waited, spending an average of 23 hours in the vans.

      Emails obtained by NBC between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services and the nonprofit responsible for transporting the children show that the government did not have a clear plan for reunification—despite the Trump administration’s claims of the existence of a central database. As an HHS official explained in one email published by NBC, “We have a list of parent alien numbers but no way to link them to children.”

      “The children were initially taken into the facility, but were then returned to the van as the facility was still working on paperwork,” Andrew Carter, regional director of BCFS Health and Human Services, the nonprofit contractor responsible for the children, told NBC. “The children were brought back in later in the evening, but returned to the vans because it was too cold in the facility and they were still not ready to be processed in.”

      Emails and phone calls between BCFS, ICE and HHS continued all night, as those responsible attempted to figure out how to reunify the families. According to NBC, HHS sent ICE staff at the detention center two notifications that the children would be coming, and that they were expecting to be reunited with their families.

    • Chinese students and workers are uniting again, 30 years after Tiananmen Square crackdown

      “We will fight together, advance and retreat together,” concluded Qiu Zhanxuan in a video his comrades released on May 4, 2019. Qiu was the former leader of a Marxist student association at the prestigious Peking University. He had prepared the digital testament to be released in case he disappeared.

      Qiu did disappear in late April after he’d dared to call for a united front between students and workers, 30 years after the infamous Tiananmen Square crackdown. He had previously been arrested and then released in December 2018 on his way to a mark Mao Zedong’s 125th birthday.

      This came after students from Peking united with striking workers at the company Jasic Technology, whose attempts to form a union were blocked in July 2018. Students from Peking University, but also Renmin and Tsinghua universities, travelled to the south of China the following month to support the aggrieved workers. They were arrested, some released, and others, such as Qiu, have since disappeared.

    • Sudan’s Pro-Democracy Opposition Urges ‘Total Civil Disobedience’ After Soldiers Massacre 35 People at Peaceful Sit-In

      Condemning a “bloody massacre” in which at least 35 peaceful protesters were killed at a sit-in in the Sudanese capitol of Khartoum, pro-democracy leaders urged “total civil disobedience” on Monday to rise up against the military council currently running the country.

      Witnesses said the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force headed by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) which overthrew former President Omar al-Bashir in April, was behind the tear gas and live ammunition attack which killed dozens of people assembled outside a military complex. At least one child was among those killed and hundreds of people were reportedly wounded.

    • Over GOP ‘Build the Wall’ Shouts and Sabotage Efforts, House Democrats Pass ‘Historic’ Bill to Shield Dreamers From Trump Deportation Force

      After ignoring shouts of “build the wall” from a Republican congressman and defeating amendments designed to kill the legislation, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the “Dream and Promise Act” with the goal of providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of young undocumented immigrants who are facing the threat of deportation under the Trump administration.

      The bill, H.R. 6, passed by a vote of 237 to 187, with just seven Republicans voting yes.

      “We will keep fighting for permanent protection and reject any proposals to grow Trump’s deportation force and anti-immigrant agenda.”
      —United We Dream

    • “No More Silence”: Her Kidnapping, Sexual Assault and Murder Stunned a Town, and Started a Movement

      Nine months and a long Arctic winter have come and gone since the abduction, sexual assault and murder of 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr in the northwest Alaska hub community of Kotzebue.

      Signs of Ashley can be found everywhere in this town of 3,200. At the cemetery, groups of kids gather at the purple-painted wooden cross marking her grave. They leave trinkets, teddy bears, necklaces, even sports medals. People slip bouquets of artificial flowers through the chain link fence at Rainbow Park, where the fifth grader was last seen playing on a Thursday evening in September.

      Her death lingers in other ways. The crime stunned Kotzebue and the rest of Alaska, galvanizing calls for everything from more robust public safety protections to action against the state’s high rate of child sexual abuse.

    • Damning Canadian Inquiry Calls the Murder and Disappearance of Indigenous Women & Girls Genocide

      A chilling national inquiry has determined that the frequent and widespread disappearance and murder of indigenous girls and women in Canada is a genocide that the government itself is responsible for. The findings were announced by the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at a ceremony on Monday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the families of victims. Many in the audience held red flowers to commemorate the dead. The national inquiry was convened after the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine from the Sagkeeng First Nation was found in the Red River in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2014. The report follows decades of anguish and anger as indigenous communities have called for greater attention to the epidemic of dead and missing indigenous women, girls and two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people. Some 1,500 family members of victims and survivors gave testimony to the commission, painting a picture of violence, state-sanctioned neglect, and “pervasive racist and sexist stereotypes” that led nearly 1,200 indigenous women and girls to die or go missing between 1980 and 2012. Indigenous activists say this number could be a massive undercount, as many deaths go unreported and unnoticed. We speak with Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and Robyn Bourgeois, assistant professor in the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock University.

    • Judge denies House Democrats right to block transfer of appropriated funds to Trump’s border wall

      A judge has ruled against House Democrats in a federal lawsuit, which attempted to block President Donald Trump’s ability to fund his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      “While the Constitution bestows upon members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the executive branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’ legislative authority,” U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden wrote in a 24-page decision regarding the Democrats’ lawsuit to block the transfer of funds appropriated for other means to Trump’s wall. “The court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims and will deny its motion.”

      McFadden also had harsh words for the House Democrats, whom he accused of trying “to conscript the judiciary in a political turf war.”

    • Lawsuit Challenges Discriminatory Housing Policy in Chesterfield County, Virginia

      Housing discrimination takes different forms in different eras. More than fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), it’s rare to see an advertisement for housing that says “Whites Only.” But in Chesterfield County, Virginia, where a Black resident is almost three times as likely as a white resident to have a criminal record, an explicit policy barring any individual with a conviction from housing has a similar effect.

      Sterling Glen is an apartment complex in a white neighborhood in Chesterfield County. Since at least 2017, Sterling Glen has explicitly stated on its application that no person with a felony conviction, regardless of how long ago it was, can live there. It also bars applicants with many kinds of misdemeanor offenses, including drug convictions. Bans like these not only pose a barrier to those reentering the community after incarceration, but those with records who have been living and working in the community for years or even decades. A lack of access to permanent housing can also increase rates of recidivism, perpetuating cycles of criminalization and ultimately making communities less secure.

    • New Hampshire Repealed the Death Penalty

      New Hampshire’s legislature overrode the governor’s veto to end the use of capital punishment in the state.
      As of Thursday, May 30th, New Hampshire is a state without the death penalty. It took decades to be able to say that. In the end, it came down to a single vote in both the state House and Senate. Thursday’s Senate vote means that all of New England is free of the death penalty, making it the first full region of the country to reject capital punishment.

      The victory is a credit to the 279 representatives and 17 senators who voted in support of the repeal bill earlier this year, and a particular credit to the 247 representatives and 16 senators who stuck with their principles and voted their conscience in overriding Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of the bill.

      This victory follows the Washington State Supreme Court’s striking down the death penalty just last year, and it also comes amidst the robust campaigns in Wyoming and Colorado in support of repeal. It is clear that the national momentum is moving in the direction of repeal, with presidential candidates now being asked about repealing the federal death penalty.

      With an eye on the other states working towards abolishing capital punishment, our state offers two important takeaways. First and most importantly, repealing the death penalty is not about a political party or one set of ideas. Here in New Hampshire, we have seen both a Democratic and a Republican governor veto death penalty repeal bills. Every single legislative vote on repeal has seen a mix of Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the issue. Repeal has consistently proven to be overwhelmingly an issue of one’s own morality, faith, and personal experience.

    • Step up the fight against power harassment

      Employers need to realize the gravity of the power harassment problem and make steady efforts to eliminate it.

    • The GOP’s White Supremacy Now Has a Smoking Gun

      The United States Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly in the case of Department of Commerce v. New York — a critical legal battle over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census. The Trump administration and Republican Party have pushed hard on the idea of collecting citizenship information from U.S. residents, claiming the move is not intended to be harmful and that it simply represents a bid to return the census to an earlier status quo. In fact, proponents have gone as far as to claim that such information would help enforce protections for minority voters under the Voting Rights Act.

      If Republicans have their way, the 2020 census will ask, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” with four different “yes” options and a single option saying, “No, not a U.S. Citizen.” Sounds harmless enough—if there were a relationship of trust between undocumented immigrants and the U.S. government. Although there are laws prohibiting census responses from being shared with law enforcement or immigration authorities, critics have countered that asking about citizenship will lead to fear among undocumented people who may refuse to fill out the form and thus be unaccounted for in the results and underrepresented in Congress. If that was the Republicans’ intent all along, a smoking gun has now emerged confirming those fears.

      Here’s the backstory: A longtime Republican operative named Thomas Hofeller, now deceased, was hired by a major GOP donor to study the impact of drawing congressional district lines based not on the number of residents, but on the number of voting-age citizens living in those districts. Every person living in the United States currently has the constitutional right to be represented in Congress, whether or not they are eligible to vote. Hofeller’s 2015 study, which focused on the state of Texas, concluded that districts based on voting-age citizens would be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and that one way to achieve this change would be to include a citizenship question on the census.

    • What Mount Everest Climbers and Migrants Have in Common

      Perhaps you’ve seen the photos: A long, snaking line of mountain climbers, each one waiting their turn to summit Mt. Everest. The climbers’ brightly colored gear contrasts with the white of the snow and the blue of the sky. They stand there at 29,000 feet, their oxygen depleting with each passing moment, in an incredible traffic jam at the top of the world’s tallest peak. The photos tell many stories: of human tenacity and endurance, the willingness to pit one’s self against nature’s extremes in the quest for glory, to prove something to one’s self and to posterity.

      Meanwhile, thousands of miles away and thousands of feet lower in altitude, undocumented migrants struggle to cross Arizona’s Sonoran desert as they make their way north, in search of a better life. Like the Everest mountaineers, the migrants have paid extraordinary sums to an outfitter (a coyote, they are called) to guide them on their journey. Though the amounts differ —mountaineers may spend up to $130,000 to fund their Everest adventure, while an unauthorized migrant from Latin America might pay between $4,000 and $12,000—each has invested a considerable amount in their dream.

      There are some obvious differences. Unlike the mountaineers—wealthy people outfitted in the latest gear to help them survive the climatic and geographic challenges they encounter—the migrants travel with little. They are poor people, after all, with bad shoes and an old backpack containing a few meager possessions. Many of the migrants will run out of water before their journey ends. Many will be abandoned by their guides or robbed by gangs at the border or raped and murdered in the desert. Failing to complete their journey can be costly: Unlike Everest climbers, for most unauthorized migrants their journey is not a quest for glory but a matter of life and death.

    • Accused of Plagiarism, Biden Campaign Admits Lifting ‘Carbon Capture’ Section of Climate Plan From Fossil Fuel-Backed Group

      Almost immediately after releasing a climate plan Tuesday that green groups slammed as woefully inadequate in part due to its embrace of industry-backed proposals such as “carbon capture,” former Vice President Joe Biden faced accusations of plagiarizing language from a number of sources, including a coalition consisting of major fossil fuel companies.

      Josh Nelson, vice president of the progressive organization CREDO Mobile, was the first to highlight possible instances of plagiarism in Biden’s plan, noting on Twitter that the section “about carbon capture and sequestration includes language that is remarkably similar to items published previously by the Blue Green Alliance and the Carbon Capture Coalition”—two organizations backed by major fossil fuel companies and labor unions.

    • Attacks Mount Against Philippine Human Rights Advocates

      Approximately 300,000 or one-fourth of Hawaii’s population is Filipino. Hawaii’s substantial economic, personal, and family ties with the Philippines means that all of us here have a great stake in what is happening there. The government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been threatening and attacking a growing number of human rights advocates, labor, church and community organizers, and indigenous people and the poor.

      Over the past three years, an estimated 27,000 Filipinos, mostly from poor communities, have been killed without trial by police, military officers, and unknown assailants in the name of the Duterte government’s so-called “war on drugs.” The killings continue on a daily basis despite domestic and international condemnation.

      Human rights defenders who have called for an end to the killings have been harassed and detained, including Senator Leila de Lima, jailed for over two years on politically-motivated and false drug charges. News outlet Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa have been harassed by 11 government complaints, and Ressa, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, and several other journalists and human rights lawyers have been publicly accused of working to destabilize the government.

      Last November human rights attorney Ben Ramos was shot and killed; he was the Secretary-General of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers in Negros. At least 34 human rights and peoples’ lawyers have been killed since 2016 when Duterte became president. More than 60 farmers have been killed in Negros alone, including the 14 farmers massacred in Negros Oriental in April; over 205 killings of farmers have been reported nationwide over the past 3 years.

      In early 2019, peace talks consultant Randy Malayao was assassinated. Last May 1 Archad Ayao, an investigator for the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, was shot dead in Cotabato City, southern Philippines, by an unidentified gunman. On April 22, human rights worker and local official Bernardino Patigas was gunned down in Escalante City, Negros Occidental. Hours later, several of his colleagues in the Karapatan human rights organization, including Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, received threatening text messages from an unknown person warning them that they are targeted to be killed this year.

    • Blacks, Latinos at Risk of Undercount in 2020 Census

      Emily Bonilla is worried her district in metro Orlando will be undercounted during next spring’s once-in-a-decade head count of everybody in the United States because of who lives there: new arrivals, immigrants, the poor, renters and rural residents who sometimes regard government with suspicion.

      “We’re growing so fast that I know we have more people in the area than the data is stating. This area already is undercounted,” said Bonilla, a county commissioner in one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S.

      With the 2020 census count less than a year away, a new report says undercounting certain populations will be likely, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau, nonprofits and state and local officials to encourage participation.

    • Calling Solitary Confinement ‘Government Torture,’ Ocasio-Cortez Says ‘Release Everyone’

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday reiterated her stance that solitary confinement is a violation of human rights and “government torture” and called for all people—including President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, should he be subjected to it—to be spared from such an abusive detention practice.

      The comments began in morning tweet in which the New York Democrat responded to a New York Times tweet that said that Manafort, who’s currently serving a federal sentence in Pennsylvania, would soon be heading to Rikers Island, “where he is likely to face solitary confinement.” Ocasio-Cortez’s 14th congressional district contains the notorious Rikers Island.

      “A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “That’s what solitary confinement is.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Regulating the Internet through decentralization

      The copyright directive and the recent debates on “fake news” have served as an introduction to the general debate on Web regulation that will be happening next year. Today, La Quadrature du Net presents its concrete propositions.

      The French government wants the large social networks to stop encouraging the diffusion of “hateful or extremist speech”. So be it.

      The report ordered by the Prime Minister aiming to “reinforce the fight against online racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet” published last Thursday explains it really well. It denounces “a vicious correlation between hate speech and advertising impact

      : individuals making offensive comments are those who generate the most income, as one of these individuals could create fifty or a hundred more. Seen from this point of view, it is in the social networks’s best interests to host as many of them as possible.”

      In general, the report laments the “rule according to which offensive remarks will “buzz” more than an agreeable one, fueling these platforms’s economic model more reliably”. We had made this same analysis to explain why we should attack Google or Facebook in May last year, when we were preparing our collective complaints against the Big Five.

      To compensate for this “rule” that would make hatred and conflict profitable, the government wants to reinforce the obligations imposed to the giant platforms that profit from these two things, through an increase in transparency and duty of care. Why not? This could be done in ways that are more or less relevant, we will come back to this later. But this solution will never be enough on its own to counter the abuses allowed by the “profitability of conflict”. And it would be foolish to think, just as the aforementioned report does, that this issue would be lessened by assigning a judge to each and every libel or insult said on the Internet. There are far too many of those.

    • US Telcos Are Giving Up On Residential Broadband And Nobody Seems To Have Noticed

      We’ve noted for a while that US telcos have been making it very clear they no longer really want to be in the residential broadband business. While profitable, it’s not profitable enough, quickly enough for Wall Street’s liking. And since upgrading aging DSL lines in rural or less affluent urban markets is expensive, these companies have largely decided to freeze most major fiber upgrades. Not only that, many of these companies (Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink, AT&T, and Verizon) have been refusing to even repair many of the lines already in service.

      The problem is that as these companies exit and neglect these underserved markets, cable giants are being left with growing monopolies across huge swaths of the US. Limited competition means less incentive to compete on price, or fix the cable industry’s often comical customer service. And while some believe 5G will magically come in and somehow fix this problem, that’s not likely to happen for the same reason fiber isn’t universally deployed: companies don’t want to pay for to connect fiber to the nation’s rural and less affluent urban communities.

    • Trump Whines About AT&T, Ignores His FCC Has Spent Two Years Kissing The Company’s Ass

      While there are countless news outlets that justifiably criticize the President, Trump has long been particularly fixated on CNN. So fixated, in fact, that it’s believed this disdain for the network (in addition to Rupert Murdoch’s competitive desires) played a starring role in his DOJ’s bungled effort to try and block AT&T’s $86 billion merger with CNN parent company Time Warner.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hearings Continue before the Senate [Ed: Senate hearings on patents. Brought to you by bribery. Coons became a millionaire just by promising to be a mole for patent litigation predators, who paid him for this ‘service’. “Gene Patent/Drug Pricing Concerns and Unintended Consequences Dominate Second Senate Hearing on 101,” Eileen McDermott of Watchtroll writes. Even ACLU is involved. “Industry Speaks: Roster for Last Senate Hearing on 101 Released” is another Watchtroll piece. This week Manny Schecter of IBM once again reminds Red Hat employees that IBM is a strong proponent of bad patents and thus an enemy of FOSS.]

      In all, the Senate is planning to hear from 45 witnesses — most of whom are arguing in favor of statutory reform that would tighten-up the law of eligibility.

    • Software Law Bits & Bytes: GNU and MIT Licensing by Grant Harrison

      GNU Licensing: GNU licensing serves to keep software developed and maintained by open source developers free and open to the public. If an entity takes software that is licensed with a GNU and then they modify it, they must re-release the modified software back to the public.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Settlement In Tom Brady Photo Case Leaves Issue Of Copyright On Embedded Images Unsettled

        A little over a year ago, we wrote about a pretty bad ruling in NY, by Judge Katherine Forrest, arguing that merely embedding content on a site — even though it’s hosted elsewhere — could be deemed infringing. This went against what has been known as the “server test,” which says that the issue is where the content is actually hosted (which server it’s actually on), and that merely embedding the image shouldn’t lead to new claims of infringement. Considering that, technically, embedding an image is no different than linking to an image, saying that embedding an image that is hosted elsewhere is itself infringing could put much of the basic concept of how the internet works at risk.

        This particular case involved a photo of quarterback Tom Brady that had been posted originally to Snapchat. The image, taken by photographer Justin Goldman, made its way from Snapchat to Reddit to Twitter. Some news organizations embedded tweets showing the photo, using Twitter’s native embed functionality. Goldman sued a bunch of them. Judge Forrest, citing the Supreme Court’s “looks like a duck” test in the Aereo ruling said that embedding qualifies as displaying a work (even though the websites in question aren’t hosting anything other than a pointer telling user’s computers to go find that image). Even worse, Forrest explicitly rejected the server test, saying it was wrong.

      • Netflix Joins Effort to Expand Aussie Pirate Site Blocklist

        Various movie companies are continuing the crusade against pirate sites down under. The companies, which for the first time includes Netflix, submitted a new complaint at Australia’s Federal Court, requesting local Internet providers to block dozens of new websites. The targets includes various torrent sites, streaming portals as well as release blogs.

      • Netflix, Which Has Previously Touted Its Ability To Compete With Piracy, Joins Australian Antipiracy Efforts

        We have for some time been covering the rapid expansion of antipiracy and site-blocking efforts in Australia. Between the movie and music spaces, these efforts have been spearheaded by a couple of local entertainment groups, such as Village Roadshow and Music Rights Australia, and the typical suspects from the US, such as the MPAA, RIAA, and various movie and music studios. The ramping up of those efforts continues to date, with recently updated copyright laws being used by those groups to request massive site-blocking for torrent and streaming sites, with the courts generally rubber-stamping all of them.

        To date, a glaring non-combatant in all of this has been Netflix. And that hasn’t been some huge surprise, either, given that Netflix has long had a history of touting its own ability to both compete with piracy and make use of its cultural effects, and the rest of the entertainment industry painting Netflix as some kind of problem for the industry itself. And, while Netflix’s tone on piracy has certainly begun to change, that made it somewhat jarring to learn that the company was suddenly diving into the Australia anti-piracy fray with both feet.

      • Canadian Copyright Review Rejects Site-Blocking Regime, Keeps Safe Harbors

        The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has published its long-awaited review of Canada’s Copyright Act. The review, which serves as guidance for the Government, rejects a non-judicial site-blocking regime and keeps the current safe harbors intact.

06.01.19

Whistleblowing Requires Publishers Who Protect Sources

Posted in Site News at 2:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Assange and Stallman

Summary: Weeks ago we turned 12.5 and we still have a perfect source protection track record

OUR reporting on affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO) has relied on leaks. This has gone on for half a decade. This site is a month younger than Wikileaks and rarely deals with ‘pure’ politics or war. We’ve long dealt with software patents in Europe, which is nonviolent policy. We dealt with a variety of other topics, but remained in the domain of technology.

Three years ago we detected DDOS attacks coming from Lockheed Martin and had already witnessed branches of the US Army accessing Web pages excessively or simply trying to knock down the site. Techrights, we believe, was also targeted with infiltration attempts by law enforcement. Governments like to know who talks to which people and what about; it gives these governments (and sometimes corporations that work for governments) greater control or leverage over people. It’s a coercive force.

“Let’s strive to reach 20 years with a perfect source protection record.”Our site Tux Machines is turning 15 later this month and Techrights will turn 13 this autumn. We have not yet (as far as we’re aware) compromised any sources. Nobody got caught, nobody got in trouble. We intend to maintain that.

A couple dozen times in the past we explained how to send information to us, e.g. [1, 2]. Not much has changed since then. When we publish material we take great care to ensure there’s no identifying data or metadata in it; we’re technical enough to know how to do this. If ever in doubt, consult the following posts as well:

Let’s strive to reach 20 years with a perfect source protection record.

05.31.19

Index Pages for Over 25,000 Blog Posts/Articles

Posted in Site News at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cards for indexing

Summary: Ongoing work making the site easier to navigate by subject/topic/name

FOUR days ago we wrote about work (underway) to organise the site, especially making old articles easier to find (by topic/date). In recent years we published about 3,000 articles about the European Patent Office (EPO) and prior to that even more about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Many prior years were spent writing about GNU/Linux, Microsoft and Novell. We had already written about software patents in Europe more than a decade ago, i.e. well before Battistelli and Campinos were even at the Office. About US software patents we had written for almost a decade before AIA’s impact with 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The index pages added so far, in chronological order:

There are more on the way. Wiki pages for indexing may not be as useful as search or a glossary, but we’ve used these for about a decade to craft a per-topic synopsis. There’s always room for improvement and we rely on volunteers who help craft these.

05.27.19

Organising Techrights

Posted in Site News at 12:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BroomSummary: We’re tidying up the site so as to make it easier to find past material (by clustering topics programmatically)

THIS site is turning 13 in autumn. The IRC channels are over a decade old as well. We have over 5 GB of text in this site (spread across three content management systems) and it has gotten hard to find some things.

A programmer who avidly uses the site has decided to make this list of blog URLs (there are about 25,000 of them in total) and is analysing the contents of all posts using computer programs that take hours to run. The results will soon be made available in the Wiki and maybe, taking bandwidth into account, we shall also make static copies of the site available for download (e.g. for offline reading). Sometimes one needs to pause and tidy up past work. This is what’s happening at the moment (the programmability of it is limited as it’s keywords-based rather than syntactic). Updates on this and some early results will hopefully be available soon.

05.15.19

Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

Posted in Site News at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux-based OS Is Saving $430 Million In Indian State of Kerala

      Using Linux-based operating systems have tons of advantages like better security and freedom to customize the open source software. Another major advantage that attracts different organizations and schools is the cost saving that comes along the way. In the past, we have reported various European cities going the Linux way to cut down the costs and save the public’s money.

      As per a recent report published in Financial Express, schools in the Indian state of Kerala are saving about Rs 3,000 crore by moving to a Linux-based operating system. This news follows a previous report from 2017 that mentioned that Kerala is saving Rs. 300 crore each year. If the report is to be believed, it seems that the South Indian state is making great progress in making open source software available in schools.

    • New Chromebooks starting this year will be Linux-ready

      If you missed a heartbeat, that’s okay, but you read it right. Google has made an announcement that all Chromebooks launched this year onwards will be Linux-ready right out of the box.

      For those not aware, Chrome OS is built on Linux, which began as a Ubuntu spin-off and later migrated to Gentoo Linux. It then evolved using Google’s own Linux vanilla kernel.

      Installing Linux on Chromebook isn’t new. Since 2013, Linux applications can be run in Chrome OS using Crouton, a third-party set of scripts that allows access to a Linux distribution. Crouton lets you run side-by-side Chrome OS and Ubuntu, eliminating the need to boot one operating system at a time. Additionally, in 2018, Google announced that Linux desktop apps were officially coming to Chrome OS.

    • Intel rolls out Clear Linux Developer Edition

      Specifically, here’s what Intel is bringing to the open-source table.

      Clear Linux is a rolling-release Linux distribution. While keeping close to the main Linux kernel, Intel has optimized its release for performance and security on its x86 platforms. While it can be used in all of Linux’s usual roles, it’s designed for cloud and container use.

      The new installer brings Clear Linux into the 21st century. The earlier installer was, to be kind, obsolete. Clear Linux still uses the Intel-specific swupd update and package manager. This is different enough from other Linux distros that it will puzzle many users until they master it.

      In the new developer edition, besides giving developers a Linux designed to make the most of Intel hardware, its basic programmer bundles are curated to provide all the relevant developer tools with one installation command, For example, `c-basic` for developing in C, and `containers-basic` for container programmers.

    • Intel’s Clear Linux OS Gets New Developer Edition And Installer

      Intel’s primary goal with Clear Linux — which is built from scratch — is to provide a rolling release distribution optimized for security and performance. And performance is a the big hook. It’s tuned for Intel platforms with optimizations automatically switched on, and those optimizations run through the entire stack. (Take a look at any benchmark results at Phoronix and you’ll frequently see Clear Linux beating every other distribution in multiple workloads, and even edging past Windows 10 Pro).

    • Intel’s Clear Linux OS Now Offers Workflows Tailored for Linux Developers

      While Clear Linux OS isn’t as popular as Ubuntu, Debian, or Arch Linux, it always proved to be a viable and quite fast Linux-based operating system for desktop and server users, offering them the best performance possible on the Intel Architecture. Clear Linux OS follows a rolling-release model where you install once and receive updates forever.

      Clear Linux OS always wanted to be the Linux distribution for developers, but now Intel has announced new images, an updated installer, software store, and forum all dedicated to make its open-source operating system a playground for Linux developers of all sizes, genres, and ages, offering them curated content for the best development efficiency possible.

  • Server

    • Puppet Redefines Infrastructure Automation

      Automation of more than just the state of your virtual machines, containers and so on is extremely important. How do you enable more teams? It is all about service, safety and quality of delivery. This is what we are doing with Puppet to serve those exact needs. And with our latest release 2019.1, we simplify the experience in automation to meet those demands.

      We enhanced our agentless and agent-based capabilities, such as supporting the automation of network devices (for example, Cisco and Palo Alto) and giving users the ability to automate anything and anywhere quickly, efficiently, safely and at scale. But some of our most notable changes are centered around our agentless task runner, Bolt. We introduced it about a year and a half ago. Bolt is an automation tool built to automate anything in your infrastructure without the hassle. It was very well received by the Open Source community. What is new here though is we have found that more and more customers and users are starting to automate from a development perspective. Developers have a constant need to stand up an infrastructure quickly for both testing and support. Not only did we make Bolt more user-friendly for the broader community, but we also added YAML support.

    • Docker Enterprise 3.0 Now Available For Beta Trial

      Docker recently launched Docker Enterprise 3.0, which is claimed to be the first and only end-to-end container platform to help developers build and share any type of application – from legacy to cloud native – and securely run them anywhere, from hybrid cloud to the edge.

      Docker Enterprise 3.0, now open for public beta, delivers new desktop capabilities, advanced development productivity tools, a simplified and secure Kubernetes stack, and a managed service option to make Docker Enterprise 3.0 the platform for digital transformation.

    • 10 Free Proxy Servers for Anonymous Web Browsing

      Proxy Servers act as an intermediate level between you and the internet. They are used to provide different types of security, functions, and privacy. One can choose a proxy server depending on the need of the individual or the company’s policy.

      As the name suggests Proxy means substitute. When you visit any website, your IP address gets recorded. To avoid or hide the IP address, one can choose to show a substitute IP address by using a proxy server.

    • Server Market Trends 2019

      The server market in 2019 is in a state of transition as new workloads and use-cases push vendors and their technology into different directions. It’s a transition that is also leading the global server market to new growth, as both enterprises and cloud vendors continue to acquire new hardware.

      Clearly, the SSD is the dominant medium. The SSD vs. HDD debate has largely been settled; the falling price of SSD means it will certainly replace the HDD, though not overnight. Companies shopping for an SSD array have plenty of great choices.

      While x86 and Intel have long dominated the server market, that dominance is no longer a foregone conclusion, as different requirements and buying patterns are shifting the landscape. Intel’s x86 dominance is facing increasing challenges from AMD, while x86 overall is facing new pressure from ARM technology in the data center market.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Peak Red Hat | LINUX Unplugged 301

      We scale the Red Hat Summit and come back with a few stories to share.

      Plus some big community news, finding threats on the command line, and our reaction to Microsoft shipping the Linux kernel in Windows.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.16

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.16 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:

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

    • Linux 4.19.43
    • Linux 4.14.119
    • Linux 4.9.176
    • Linux 5.1.2

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.2 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade. Well, kind of, let me rephrase that…

      All users of Intel processors made since 2011 must upgrade.

      Note, this release, and the other stable releases that are all being
      released right now at the same time, just went out all contain patches
      that have only seen the “public eye” for about 5 minutes. So be
      forwarned, they might break things, they might not build, but hopefully
      they fix things. Odds are we will be fixing a number of small things in
      this area for the next few weeks as things shake out on real hardware
      and workloads. So don’t think you are done updating your kernel, you
      never are done with that :)

      As for what specifically these changes fix, I’ll let the tech news sites
      fill you in on the details. Or go read the excellently written Xen
      Security Advisory 297:

      https://xenbits.xen.org/xsa/advisory-297.html

      That should give you a good idea of what a number of people have been
      dealing with for many many many months now.

      Many thanks goes out to Thomas Gleixner for going above and beyond to do
      the backports to the 5.1, 5.0, 4.19, and 4.14 kernel trees, and to Ben
      Hutchings for doing the 4.9 work. And of course to all of the
      developers who have been working on this in secret and doing reviews of
      the many different proposals and versions of the patches.

      As I said before just over a year ago, Intel once again owes a bunch of
      people a lot of drinks for fixing their hardware bugs, in our

    • Allwinner ARM Boards With SATA See Big Speed Boost From Single Line Patch

      Right now the low-end Allwinner ARM SBC boards featuring a SATA port have been running at a measly 36~45MB/s but with changing around a single line of kernel code, that can jump to 120MB/s.

      ARM SBCs are notorious with slow I/O particularly when piggybacking off USB or just relying upon a microSD card, but for those using SATA HDD/SSD storage with Allwinner boards, that performance is about to get a whole lot better. Uenal Mutlu discovered that by changing around some bits for increasing the SATA/AHCI DMA TX/RX FIFOs, the performance can improve by multiple times for hardware relying upon the Linux kernel’s AHCI_SUNXI driver.

      [...]

      For now the patch is on the kernel mailing list but hopefully will be deemed reliable enough for making it into Linux 5.3.

    • F2FS For Linux 5.2 Sees Better SMR Drive Support, Various Fixes

      While no flashy features like EXT4′s case-insensitive option with Linux 5.2, the Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) did see a good amount of fixes and other improvements for this new kernel round.

      F2FS continues seeing more adoption particularly on Google Android devices and that has led into an uptick in fixes now that more vendors are evaluating this file-system optimized for non-rotating drives. Jaegeuk Kim sent in the F2FS changes for Linux 5.2 on Monday and it’s again heavy on the fixes.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Energy Ecosystem Gains Momentum for Open Source Innovation With New Members and Projects

        LF Energy, a Linux Foundation initiative developing and sustaining open source technology innovation in the energy and electricity sectors, is rapidly growing its community with additional founding Premier member, Faraday Grid, joining RTE. New General members include IBM, OSISoft, and Recurve; while Elering AS, Energinet, Energy Foundation, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Fraunhofer IEE, FIWARE Foundation, Iowa State University, Monash University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), North Carolina State University FREEDM Center, Project Haystack, Stanford University, TenneT, The Energy Coalition, University of Kassel, and Washington State University join European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) and Vanderbilt University as new Associate members.

    • Graphics Stack

      • xserver release process and gitlab

        I was asked off-list what tasks are involved in releasing a new X server, since eventually people are probably going to want one.

        And that’s a good question! The unfortunate answer is that the process has been informal and has varied over time. We have often used tracking bugs in bugzilla to define the set of remaining issues to address within a release, but we’re not using bugzilla anymore. So I think it’s probably a good idea to start with the processes available to us in gitlab. From what I can tell, “milestones” are the best fit for this.

      • The Process For Eventually Releasing X.Org Server 1.21

        While formally the X.Org Server aimed to put out a new feature update every six months, in recent years they have been well off that trajectory with not much feature activity going on especially now that GLAMOR / XWayland / xf86-video-modesetting have stabilized and many Linux distributions eyeing Wayland by default. But there is now at least some little bit of interest in what’s going into X.Org Server 1.21.

        It’s already been one year since the release of X.Org Server 1.20 and it doesn’t appear the 1.21 update is imminent. Adam Jackson of Red Hat who has served as the release manager the past several cycles says he was asked off-list by an unnamed person about what goes into releasing a new version of the xorg-server.

      • Dave Airlie (blogspot): Senior Job in Red Hat graphics team
      • Red Hat Is Looking To Hire Another Experienced Open-Source Graphics Driver Developer

        Red Hat is hiring for their open-source graphics driver team.

        Red Hat developers already oversee the Nouveau DRM kernel driver, manage the mainline Linux kernel’s DRM subsystem, work on the VirGL stack, working on plumbing the SPIR-V / NIR compute support for Nouveau, and the other efforts over the year by David Airlie and others… There’s a lot of upstream open-source work they do for graphics and related areas like libinput.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux Laptop Benchmark Battle: Meet The Affordable Challenger To Dell’s XPS 13

        By now it’s no secret that Dell’s XPS 13 9370 is my daily driver. It’s the laptop that carried me into my Linux journey and has remained a reliable companion since. Recently, however, an unexpected challenger has appeared on my radar. Star Labs (not to be confused with the fictional research facility which inadvertently created Metahumans), a UK-based PC company specializing in Linux laptops, recently rolled out the Star LabTop Mk III.

        It’s worth paying attention to.

        This is not to say the LabTop Mk III is an outright better laptop than the XPS 13, but it’s certainly putting up a strong fight — especially given the price.

      • GeForce GTX 650 vs. GTX 1650 Performance For Linux Gaming, Performance-Per-Watt

        The latest in our benchmarking with the new GeForce GTX 1650 is some “fun” tests seeing how its performance compares to that of the GeForce GTX 650 Kepler. Various OpenGL and Vulkan Linux gaming tests were carried out as well as some compute tests and throughout monitoring the AC power consumption to yield the performance-per-Watt metrics.

        The GeForce GTX 650 Kepler graphics card launched nearly seven years ago already with its 40nm GK107 GPU that provided 384 CUDA cores, 1058MHz core clock speed, and 1GB of GDDR5 video memory. The GTX 650 has a 64 Watt TDP but came with a 6-pin PCIe power connector. The GTX 650 / Kepler is the last generation currently supported by the mainline Linux driver and also the oldest NVIDIA hardware with Vulkan driver coverage, making this comparison particularly interesting.

        The GeForce GTX 1650 meanwhile with its 12nm TU117 GPU has 896 CUDA cores, 1485MHz base clock speed, 1665MHz boost clock speed, and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory. The GeForce GTX 1650 has a 75 Watt TDP without the need for any external PCIe power connection.

      • Intel UHD Graphics 630 With Gallium3D Yields Roughly Radeon HD 5750 Linux Performance

        For those wondering how Intel’s new Gallium3D-based OpenGL driver is performing relative to various NVIDIA and AMD discrete graphics cards, here are some quick tests of older/lower-end parts.

        Off Mesa Git with Linux 5.0 from Ubuntu 19.04, I ran some benchmarks with the Core i9 9900K when using its UHD Graphics 630. The ANV Vulkan driver and new “Iris” Gallium3D drivers were at play. Radeon cards were tested off the same Mesa 19.2-devel snapshot while NVIDIA cards were on their 430 Linux driver.

  • Applications

    • VirtualBox 6.0.8 Released to Make Shared Folders Work with Linux Kernel 3.16.35

      VirtualBox 6.0.8 is a small update, but it addresses some important problems to make your VirtualBox experience better. For starters, it fixes the saved state resume failures, as well as mouse click pass-through issues that users experienced in multi-screen virtual machines, and a crash that occurred when shutting down a virtual machine without graphics controller.

      This release also adds some important improvements for Linux platforms, such as support for shared folders on systems powered by Linux kernel 3.16.35 LTS, support for correctly handling the read-only flag of shared folders, and support for successfully building the VirtualBox kernel module in both non-default and debug build setups.

    • Nextcloud Partners with Nitrokey, Unauthorized Version of Arch Linux Available from the Microsoft Store, VirtualBox 6.0.8 Released, Help Test Plasma Theme Switching and Intel Announces Major Clear Linux Update

      VirtualBox 6.0.8 has been released. According to Softpedia News, this is a maintenance and stability release, but it does fix some important problems, such as saved state resume failures and mouse click pass-through issues. For Linux platforms, this release also adds “support for shared folders on systems powered by Linux kernel 3.16.35 LTS, support for correctly handling the read-only flag of shared folders, and support for successfully building the VirtualBox kernel module in both non-default and debug build setups.” See the full changelog for more information.

    • Portainer: Web-Based Docker GUI For Remote Or Local Use

      In my search of a Docker GUI that can be used remotely I came across Portainer Community Edition, a lightweight, free and open source web-based Docker GUI that can be used to manage containers, images, networks, and volumes.

      The tool, which is compatible with the standalone Docker engine and with Docker Swarm, is simple to both use and deploy, being available as a Docker container itself. It can be used both on the local machine as well as a remote Docker GUI.

    • Spring Clean with Stacer, a System Optimizer tool for Linux

      An all-new version of Stacer, a system cleaner and optimizer tool for Ubuntu and other Linux desktops, is available for download.

      This is the first update to the app in over a year, and brings a handful of new features to the utility.

      As mentioned, Stacer isn’t new. We’ve written about the handy tool many, many times before, praising the ease with which it lets you clear caches, cruft and other clutter which accumulates over time.

      Read on for to be (re)introduced to Stacer, learn about the latest features, and hear a couple of reasons why you might want to use this tool on your own system!

    • xsos – A Tool To Read SOSReport In Linux

      We all are already know about sosreport. It’s used to collect system information that can be used for diagnostic.

      Redhat support advise us to provide a sosreport when we raise a case with them to analyze the current system status.

      It’s collecting all kind of reports that can help user to identify the root causes of issue.

      We can easily extract and read the sosreport but it’s very difficult to read. Since it has created a separate file for everything.

    • 8 Best Free Electronic Design Automation Tools

      Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is a type of software that enables individuals to design electronic systems. These systems can be printed circuit boards (which mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways) and integrated circuits (an electronic circuit manufactured by lithography, or the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material). The EDA tools enable chip designers to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips.

      The electronic design market has witnessed rapid expansion in recent years, with the market becoming increasingly more global. With the rise of semiconductor industries in many emerging countries, such as China, good quality EDA software is in strong demand. EDA is a complicated business, involving a diverse set of software algorithms and applications that are required for the design of intricate next generation semiconductor and electronics products. EDA tools assist designers capture and verify the functional and physical characteristics of their designs before they actually manufacture them. They also allow designers to design complex products, which reduces the time to bring the electronic system to market, and keep costs within budget.

      There’s a good range of EDA tools out that are released under an open source license which let developers customize, and create their latest designs. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we’ve compiled a list of 8 high quality free Linux EDA applications. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to design electronic systems.

    • Proprietary

      • Adobe Warns Users Someone Else Might Sue Them For Using Old Versions Of Photoshop

        For years we’ve noted repeatedly how in the modern era you no longer truly own the things you buy. From game consoles that magically lose important functionality post purchase, to digital purchases that just up and disappear, we now live in an era where a quick firmware update can erode functionality and overlong EULAs can strip away all of your rights in an instant, leaving you with a hole in your pocket and a glorified paperweight.

        The latest case in point: Adobe this week began warning users of its Creative Cloud software applications that they are no longer authorized to use older versions of the company’s software platforms (Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director). In the letter, Adobe rather cryptically implied that users could risk copyright infringement claims by mysterious third parties if they continued using older versions of these platforms and refused to update them. E

      • Adobe Tells Users They Can Get Sued for Using Old Versions of Photoshop

        Adobe is warning some owners of its Creative Cloud software applications that they’re no longer allowed to use older versions of the software. It’s yet another example of how in the modern era, you increasingly don’t actually own the things you’ve spent your hard-earned money on.

        Adobe this week began sending some users of its Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director programs a letter warning them that they were no longer legally authorized to use the software they may have thought they owned.

        “We have recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications and and a result, under the terms of our agreement, you are no longer licensed to use them,” Adobe said in the email. “Please be aware that should you continue to use the discontinued version(s), you may be at risk of potential claims of infringement by third parties.”

      • Adobe warning of legal problems if subscribers keep using old versions of Creative Cloud apps [u]

        “Adobe recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications. Customers using those versions have been notified that they are no longer licensed to use them and were provided guidance on how to upgrade to the latest authorized versions,” said Adobe in a statement to AppleInsider.

        “Unfortunately, customers who continue to use or deploy older, unauthorized versions of Creative Cloud may face potential claims of infringement by third parties. We cannot comment on claims of third-party infringement, as it concerns ongoing litigation.”

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • SteamWorld Quest Flips the Switch to Linux, Mac, and PC on May 31

        SteamWorld Quest is coming to new platforms later the month.

      • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive updated again – watch live events, Danger Zone updates and more

        Valve seem to have a renewed focus on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive lately, with a lot of regular updates. This latest one has some fun new toys.

      • Don’t Starve: Hamlet expansion has officially left Early Access

        Klei Entertainment have expanded their weird and wonderful survival game with Don’t Starve: Hamlet, which has now left Early Access. Sounds like a pretty fun expansion too, as Wilson has discovered a lost town of “aristocratic Pigmen” hiding out in a foreboding tropical jungle

      • Hegemone Pass, a 2D stealth RPG that will support Linux is on Kickstarter

        I like the sound of this alert system, as if you get spotted they don’t just chase you, they will actually sound the alarm and end up calling in some reinforcements and any neighbouring enemies will jump in to help them against you. If there’s a lot of them, you might end up facing off against an additional wave of enemies.

        Actual combat is turn-based with a timeline to show when someone will be available, although you can mess with this. Some attacks will allow you to push people back which would be handy if you’re running low of health.

        They’re hoping to get €16K, with the campaign set to end of June 10th. They’ve had a bit of a slow start, looks like it might struggle a bit as they’ve not even managed to gather €400 yet.

      • Funny looking abstract puzzle adventure ‘Kindergarten’ is getting a sequel, out in June

        I totally missed the fact that Kindergarten 2 was actually announced all the way back in 2017. I still haven’t played the original but I know a lot of people enjoyed it. It’s going to be a bigger game this time too, with a promise of “new ways to get ruthlessly murdered”.

        There’s going to be plenty of new story missions, new environments, collectible cards and unlockable outfits. The description is amusing too, going over activities you can expect to do like helping the teacher get their fix—oh my.

      • The Swords of Ditto is a much better and more interesting game with Mormo’s Curse

        It’s had a bit of a rough history, especially on Linux. With the original release, it had problems with invisible walls making it basically impossible to continue. Those issues have been long solved but another problem was that before the forced permadeath made it hard to properly experience it and enjoy it. Now that’s no longer forced, you can have a much better time with it and I certainly have.

      • Beautiful action-adventure set inside the human mind, Figment, to expand with Figment: Creed Valley

        Figment: Creed Valley is an “encore” to the original beautiful action-adventure game Figment, one that will continue the story of the original game. When checking out the original Figment back in 2017, I said “Few games catch me completely by surprise with their beauty as well as their gameplay” and I totally stand by that. It’s a game I remember very well, it truly left a lasting impression. More of that is going to be awesome, especially with the unique setting deep inside the human mind.

      • While there’s no date for the Linux version of Insurgency: Sandstorm, NWI remain committed to do it

        New World Interactive held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) earlier this week for Insurgency: Sandstorm and naturally there was a question about the upcoming Linux version which they answered.

        Originally, they said they were hoping Linux version of Sandstorm would come in the first few updates. Sadly, that didn’t happen and we’ve been left waiting while they improve various aspects of the game. A common complaint seems to be performance, with lots of posts and reviews talking about it needing to be improved.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Please test improved Plasma Theme switching for Plasma 5.16

        You like Plasma Themes? You design Plasma Themes even yourself? You want to see switching Plasma Themes working correctly, especially for Plasma panels?

        Please get one of the Live images with latest code from the Plasma developers hands (or if you build manually yourself from master branches, last night’s code should be fine) and give the switching of Plasma Themes a good test, so we can be sure things will work as expected on arrival of Plasma 5.16:

        KDE neon Unstable Edition
        openSUSE Krypton

        If you find glitches, please report them here in the comments, or better on the #plasma IRC channel.

      • Hello KDE

        Hello, my name is Sharaf. My nick on IRC is sh_zam.

        My project is to port Krita to android devices. We’ve been successful in making the APK, but it only works if I build it, as it requires tweaking qt libraries, a bit. At the moment, my goal is to make the build system fully automatic and spit out the signed APKs for different architectures at the end.

        Once I do that, I’ll move on to UI, events and other fun stuff!

      • GSoC 2019

        This summer will be a little bit interesting as I joined theGoogle Summer of Code (GSoC).The software I will be working on is Krita.Krita is a painting software I have been using for more than one year.Since the (pre)release of Krita 4.0, I use it to paint all my works.

        Before using Krita, I used to use PaintToolSAI, and there are quite a lot of conceptsand functionalities in it that I find really useful; after getting involved in theKrita community I am pretty lucky to be able to introduce these little shiny starsto our community, and even implement some of them.

        My project for GSoC is onthe undo/redo system in Krita. The system currently works using an undo stack to storage individual changes to the document,and invoking these commands to perform undos and redos. This system is complex and not easyto maintain. As Dmitry suggests, a better solution wouldbe storing the states of the document as shallow copies, since it simplifies the system and make history brushes possible. It would be a rather hugeand fundamental change in the code, and he recommends me to experiment with vector layers first.

      • KDE Itinerary – Barcodes

        While discussing data extraction methods for KItinerary earlier I briefly mentioned barcodes as one source of information. It’s a subject that deserves a few more details though, as it’s generally good to know what information you are sharing when your ticket barcode gets scanned.

  • Distributions

    • 8 Promising Linux Distributions To Look Forward To In 2019

      Linux is amazing. Period. Over the years, Linux has gained tremendous traction — it built a complete ecosystem of developers and users who love working on open source. From a day-to-day use to sophisticated penetration testing, Linux has marked its presence everywhere. Also, one of the most amazing thing about Linux is that you can tweak or create your own distros. From individuals to big firms, many are creating Linux distribution and giving it to the world.

      So, if you are a Linux enthusiast and looking for some new Linux Distros to get your hands, read along as we list down some of the most promising Linux distros to look for in 2019.

    • 10 Kubernetes distributions leading the container revolution

      Kubernetes has become the project to turn to if you need container orchestration at scale. The open source container orchestration system out of Google is well-regarded, well-supported, and evolving fast.

      Kubernetes is also sprawling, complex, and difficult to set up and configure. Not only that, but much of the heavy lifting is left to the end user. The best approach, therefore, isn’t to grab the bits and try to go it alone, but to seek out a complete container solution that includes Kubernetes as a supported, maintained component.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • InfinityBook Pro 13 as an important part of the openSUSE reference tests

        From 24th to 26th of May 2019, TUXEDO Computers will be part of the openSUSE Conference 2019 in Nuremberg/Germany. There, the hardware manufacturer from Königsbrunn near Augsburg/Germany will present a selection of current devices. The laptops can be viewed and tested here. Via the TUXEDO Computers online shop, more than 20 devices can be configured according to individual requirements and equipped, for example, with the Linux distribution openSUSE. The openSUSE conference in May is the annual openSUSE community event that brings people from all over the world together. Organized lectures, workshops and BoF sessions provide a setting for more informal meetings and hack sessions.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Fetch Sponsoring Challenge for Mobile Manipulation Researchers

            The official competition robot will be a Stock Fetch Mobile Manipulator, with Ubuntu 18.04 and ROS Melodic installed. Official competition robots will be provided for teams, but they can also use their own robot as long as no major hardware modifications were used, Fetch said.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How much open source is too much when it’s in Microsoft’s clutches? Eclipse Foundation boss sounds note of alarm

    The Eclipse Foundation oversees numerous open-source projects including Jakarta EE, the open-source Java Enterprise Edition. It is also the home of the free Eclipse IDE, among the most popular IDEs for Java development.

    One of the original Eclipse designers was Erich Gamma, who in 2011 joined Microsoft where he has worked on Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s open-source and cross-platform development tool.

    Visual Studio Code has been a remarkable success. A recent Stack Overflow survey ranked it as the most popular development environment overall. Eclipse still leads for Jakarta EE development, according to its own survey (PDF), though VS Code puts in a decent showing (considering it is a relative newcomer) at 28 per cent usage (below).

  • 10 tips for managing an open source community

    Twenty years ago, I started using free and open source software. Soon after, I started asking questions on dedicated forums, learned how to use IRC to chat with developers, and contributed my first bug reports. As my contributions increased, I made a career move from industry to open source software.

    Over the past 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about using and contributing to free and open source software and working with communities and developers. Here are 10 of the key areas you’ll find in an open source project and some tips for managing them better.

  • Three Ways to Become a Computer Programmer

    LEARN BY DOING: Learning by doing is a practical way to understand all that you have read. It gives you the ability to learn new things in a more practical way. Being able to tinker with or reverse engineer computer programs can make you a better computer programmer. I briefly mentioned above that I spent a lot of time in the Open Source community. A lot of the projects I have done in my career are based on works from the Open Source community. This is one, if not the best, place to learn how to code!

    APPLY KNOWLEDGE LEARNED: The Open Source community is inarguably the ideal place for a person to become a better programmer. It provides the tools and support that are needed to be a computer programmer. It also provides software that learners can tinker with, which gives you an opportunity to apply your knowledge. So, a learner can identify a SDK (a fancy word for a tool box), and start practicing how to program.

  • Events

    • openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019 Logo Competition

      Today, we will start a logo competition for openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019, which is going to be held in Bali, Indonesia. A logo is an essential material for the successful summit. As you have seen, the former openSUSE.Asia summits have their unique logos reflecting the communities where the summit took place. Following tradition, we have logo competition to collect great logo for this year’s summit.

      The competition is open now and ends on 15 June 2019. The organizing team will send “Geeko Mystery Box” as an appreciation for the best logo designed. This year, logo will be voted by openSUSE.Asia committee.

    • Blog: Expanding our Contributor Workshops

      tl;dr – learn about the contributor community with us and land your first PR! We have spots available in Barcelona (registration closes on Wednesday May 15, so grab your spot!) and the upcoming Shanghai Summit. The Barcelona event is poised to be our biggest one yet, with more registered attendees than ever before!

      Have you always wanted to contribute to Kubernetes, but not sure where to begin? Have you seen our community’s many code bases and seen places to improve? We have a workshop for you!

    • Intel Kicks Off OSTS2019 With New Firmware Initiative, New Cloud Hypervisor, Clear Linux

      Intel is running their once internal-only Open-Source Technology Summit (OSTS) in Washington this week but for a first time they have begun inviting customers and industry stakeholders and others to this annual open-source shindig. We’re out here for the very interesting event with Imad Sousou and Raja Koduri talking today and some highly interesting technical talks ahead tomorrow. Here is the initial slew of announcements.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TLS 1.0 and 1.1 Removal Update

        As you may have read last year in the original announcement posts, Safari, Firefox, Edge and Chrome are removing support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in March of 2020. If you manage websites, this means there’s less than a year to enable TLS 1.2 (and, ideally, 1.3) on your servers, otherwise all major browsers will display error pages, rather than the content your users were expecting to find.

  • LibreOffice

    • Annual Report 2018: The Document Foundation

      Every year, The Document Foundation produces an Annual Report, detailing its activities in the projects and community. We’ll be posting parts of it here on the blog, while we prepare a final printed version…

      [...]

      In 2017, TDF launched four tenders aimed at sharing knowledge about improving LibreOffice in several strategic areas, where the tasks are beyond the capabilities of independent volunteer developers. In 2018, companies selected to implement two of the tenders reported back on their work.

      Firstly, Collabora was selected for the tender “improve image handling in LibreOffice (#201705-01)”. A new image life-cycle was developed, with simpler memory management for handling images and new swapping strategy. The results were incorporated into the LibreOffice 6.1 release – and a more detailed technical description of the work is on the blog, in order to share knowledge and experience from this project with the developer community and the general public.

      The second tender, “implement HSQLDB binary format import in LibreOffice (#201705-03)”, was also assigned to Collabora and implemented by Tamás Bunth. He developed a mechanism to import database files with high fidelity from the HSQLDB binary file format, used by many existing ODB files, by reading the Java serialization code, and writing a filter to import all data into LibreOffice Base. The objective was to remove the legacy Java/HSQLDB database and to simplify the move to Firebird. More details are provided here.

    • Importing charts from DOCX drawingML group shapes in Writer

      Years ago I posted about a large rework to where Collabora helped a customer to make Writer read the drawingML markup for DOCX shapes. You can read the various benefits of this switch in that article — but similar to other large reworks, this also broke some previously working corner-cases, where test coverage lacked.

  • Programming/Development

    • Erlang OTP 22.0 is released

      OTP 22 has just been released. It has been a long process with three release candidates before the final release. We decided this year to try to get one month more testing of the major release and I think that the extra time has paid off. We’ve received many bug reports from the community about large and small bugs that our internal tests did not find.

      This blog post will describe some highlights of what is released in OTP 22 and in OTP 21 maintenance patches.

    • Episode #130: Python.exe now shipping with Windows 10 [Ed: Embrace, extend, Python]
    • print(5 * ‘=’ * 5 == ‘=’ * 5 * 5 == 5 * 5 * ‘=’)
    • 100 ways to learn Python and R for data science

      Learners of all types are drowning in the deluge of information and learning resources available online. This barrage of information often leaves people confused about how to find the right course, tutorial, book, or other material that can help simplify their learning journey and achieve their personal objectives and needs.

      The data science community is not alien to this dilemma. To add to the confusion, the recent alleged conduct of established learning platforms led many people, including instructors, to question their patronage. These events have furthered the vacuum of trusted sources to help learners pursue their learning paths.

    • Count the vowel characters within a string with Python function
    • This Week in Rust 286
    • 2 tips to make your C++ projects compile 3 times faster

      In this article, I will demonstrate how to speed up your compilation times by distributing compilation load using a distcc server container. Specifically, I’ll show how to set up and use containers running a distcc server to distribute the compilation load over a heterogeneous cluster of nodes (development laptop, old desktop PC, and a Mac). To improve the speed of recompilation, I will use ccache.

    • 8 Secrets Of GitLab’s Remote Work Culture

      At the GitLab Contribute event, Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab shared some open secrets that make GitLab a successful ‘all remote’ company. What’s unique about GitLab is that being true to its Open Source roots, the company wants to share these ‘secrets’ with the rest of the world. It wants other companies to learn and benefit from the work it has done.

    • PHP in 2019

      Today I want to look at the bright side: let’s focus on the things that have changed and ways to write clean and maintainable PHP code. I want to ask you to set aside any prejudice for just a few minutes. Afterwards you’re free to think exactly the same about PHP as you did before. Though chances are you will be surprised by some of the improvements made to PHP in the last few years.

    • Unauthenticated Remote Code Execution on djangoci.com

      Yesterday the Django Security and Operations teams were made aware of a remote code execution vulnerability in the Django Software Foundation’s Jenkins infrastructure, used to run tests on the Django code base for GitHub pull requests and release branches. In this blog post, the teams want to outline the course of events.

    • Git magic: split repository into two
    • 12 Most Popular Python Interview Questions You Must Prepare For
    • Pycon India 2019 is coming!

      They are currently accepting proposals for talks and workshops. For more details, check out the official Pycon India 2019 website.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Flat Earthers, and the Rise of Science Denial in America

      A better way to respond is to stop talking about proof, certainty, and logic, and start talking more about scientific “values.” In my book The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science From Denial, Fraud, And Pseudosience, I defend the idea that what is most distinctive about science is not its method but its “attitude”: the idea that scientists care about evidence and are willing to change their views based on new evidence. This is what truly separates scientists from their deniers and imitators.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Threats By Text, A Mob Outside The Door: What Health Workers Face In The Ebola Zone

      As soon as a person shows symptoms, workers in hazmat suits whisk them off for testing at a “transit center” surrounded by orange netting.

      A patient who has the disease is sent to a treatment unit that’s even more isolated — while teams of foreigners in expensive cars descend on their neighborhood, seeking out anyone who might have been exposed to a patient so they can be vaccinated. And if the patient dies, the family does not get to take home the body. Yet another team of people in hazmat suits shows up to bury the deceased.

      The approach makes sense from a purely medical standpoint. But in a country with a history of oppression by authorities, it’s practically tailor-made to raise suspicion and resistance.

    • Democrats Have No Safe Options On Health Care

      Even though most of the candidates have committed to some form of universal health care, the Democratic primary is turning into a debate about the future of the country’s health care system. Presidential hopefuls have proposed policies ranging from an ambitious four-year plan to transform Medicare into a universal single-payer system, in which the government pays for everyone’s health care and private insurance plans are effectively eliminated, to a more modest scheme that would leave the existing health care system intact but create a government-administered public insurance plan people could choose to purchase. But some of the candidates have been light on policy specifics, so it’s likely that health care will be a big topic at the debates and beyond.

    • No Mercy: How A Kansas Town Is Grappling With Its Hospital’s Closure
    • Mom fails drug test after eating poppyseed bagel before giving birth

      “Anywhere from one to three bagels with poppyseeds can produce positive tests on a urine toxicology.”

      Dominguez gave birth later that day, and her baby’s tests for opiates came back negative. Still, the hospital monitored Carter for withdrawal, and because of Elizabeth’s failed drug test, hospital staff followed protocol and called Child Protective Services.

    • California jury links RoundUp to cancer, awards couple $2 billion

      But a growing number of juries disagree with the EPA’s position. Monday’s ruling marks the third case since August in which a jury found that glyphosate caused cancer. More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto or its parent company Bayer.

      Many of those suits were spurred by a 2015 World Health Organization analysis that said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans.”

      Alva and Alberta Pilliod, the plaintiffs in the California case, argued they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma following decades of using the weedkiller.

    • Deaths of despair, once an American phenomenon, now haunt Britain

      IN RECENT YEARS America has witnessed a troubling trend: a rise in what have become known as “deaths of despair”. Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, an academic couple both of Princeton University, have tracked an increase in the number of middle-aged whites dying from drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related conditions. Their work has shaped political debate in America. Now a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a British think-tank, published on May 14th, suggests that something similar is taking place on the other side of the Atlantic.

      This is one of the initial findings of a five-year review of inequality begun by the IFS, which will look at everything from income to political participation. [...]

    • Republicans have stopped pretending on abortion

      But heartbeat bills wage a more direct assault on the right to abortion, by simply making most of them illegal. They don’t pretend to be about women’s health. They don’t pretend to hold women and their rights in anything but contempt. In that sense, they’re at least a little more honest about what Republicans want to do.

    • Alabama passes bill banning abortion

      It will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she is seen as a strong opponent of abortion.

    • ‘Heartbeat’ Bills Get the Science of Fetal Heartbeats All Wrong

      From there, the issue is what that “heartbeat” actually is. “At six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems. There’s an immature neurological system, and there’s a very immature cardiovascular system,” says Jennifer Kerns, an ob-gyn at UC San Francisco and director of research in obstetrics and gynecology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The rhythm specified in the six-week abortion bans, she says, “is a group of cells with electrical activity. That’s what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system.”

    • Health Care in the US Should Be Affordable and Accessible

      I’m sharing my recent journey as a cautionary tale. And, yet, what am I warning against? That we are all somewhat powerless when sickness strikes, but that those of us who aren’t wealthy suffer so much more. The thought of being without insurance is frightening indeed, yet in our present system we pay in so many ways for the existence of those insurance companies. We pay in co-pay; we pay in not getting treatment we need if insurance deems it unnecessary (no matter what your doctor says); we pay yearly out-of-pocket fees whether we’re 20 or 80 years old. (For Medicare patients, a monthly payment comes out of Social Security.) For most American families with insurance, whether workplace-based or individually purchased, premiums go up regularly, if not annually. At present, we have no alternative to the existing health-insurance system, yet it is actually failing us all in so many ways.

    • A Growing Movement Wants To Loosen Laws Around Psilocybin, Treat Mushrooms As Medicine

      If the Denver ballot measure passes, adults 21 and older who are caught with psilocybin mushrooms, or even growing them for personal use, would become the lowest priority for local police. Plus, the city and county of Denver would be barred from spending any money to prosecute psilocybin cases.

    • Cigarettes in plain packages — it only took 25 years

      Plain packages were first proposed in 1994 as a way to protect public health by dampening sales after Ottawa lowered tobacco taxes.

      At the time, the industry argued that taxes were making cigarettes too expensive, forcing smokers onto the black market to buy cheaper cigarettes — a contraband supply which the industry itself helped create.

      (In 2008, Canada’s two largest tobacco companies paid more than $1 billion in fines and pleaded guilty to helping supply the contraband market).

      When he announced the tax cut, then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attempted to balance the public health risk with some new anti-tobacco policies, including removing the shelf-appeal of cigarettes by making the packages ugly.

      The industry immediately scrambled to fight back.

    • The job-killer that wasn’t: 9 years later, smoking ban is a clear win

      Meanwhile, experience has established conclusively that the dire economic forecasts issued by those who opposed the smoking ban were, at best, paranoiac exaggerations — not unlike the scare tactics being employed today to discourage regulations designed to protect the public from contaminants and diseases that pose real threats to our health.

      So the next time someone tells you that governmental attempts to regulate the safety of of our workplaces, public spaces or natural resources are doomed to end in expensive failure, remember Ray Basham’s marathon campaign to do the right thing.

      Then, if you happen to be in a bar or restaurant, take a breath of smoke-free air and raise a glass to Basham’s small, enduring victory for common sense.

    • Measles-stricken cruise ship quarantined, reportedly owned by Scientologists

      Though health officials in St. Lucia did not identify the ship or its owner, St. Lucia Coast Guard Sgt. Victor Theodore told NBC News that the vessel’s name is Freewinds, which is the name of a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology and based in the Caribbean. According to the Church’s website, the 440-foot vessel hosts religious retreats “ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling in the Scientology religion.”

    • Water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue

      In cities throughout the West, local business communities and chambers of commerce have added their voices to key water policy decisions. In Utah, that has meant acknowledging that water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue, and working to add the business voice to key policy decisions regarding this finite resource. This proactive approach includes pushing for greater investment in the state’s water data, advocating for aggressive conservation through tiered-pricing and helping develop a more adaptive water strategy.

    • How a U.N. Bid to Prevent Sexual Violence Turned Into a Spat Over Abortion

      The internal State Department cable, sent by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and U.S. Mission to the U.N. on Tuesday morning, made clear how the German push has angered the Trump administration. The cable told U.S. diplomats to notify the German government of the U.S. intent to vote no on its U.N. Security Council Resolution on Sexual Violence in Conflict if it didn’t change language to address U.S. concerns

    • Girl’s $143,000 bill for snakebite treatment reveals antivenin price gouging

      Though it’s a straightforward process, relatively few people end up needing an antivenin of any kind—less than 50,000 per year in the country. And that leads to steep prices.

    • Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam

      Maryland’s legislature also has approved bills to ban polystyrene, but it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will sign the legislation. Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman, the primary sponsor of the Maryland House bill, said banning foam products was the first step to curbing people’s reliance on single-use plastics.

    • Conservative Dems’ Rural Voter Project Is All About Sinking Medicare-for-All

      Two conservative former Democratic senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have launched the One Country Project, a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization that aims to attract rural voters to the Democratic Party. However, according to Maplight’s Andrew Perez, working in partnership with The Intercept, the organization is also a “dark money” group, using the two former lawmakers to push an anti-Medicare-for-all agenda.

      Perez found that “the One Country Project’s website is registered to an executive at Forbes Tate Partners, a lobbying and public relations firm founded by former Clinton administration officials.” Forbes Tate Partners is leading lobbying efforts for Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), which, according to Maplight, is a “health industry-backed nonprofit created to crush momentum for a comprehensive universal health care system.”

      Heitkamp had previous ties to Forbes Tate Partners, hiring a subsidiary called Columbia Campaign Group for polling and media campaign consulting for her 2018 Senate bid. Her former chief of staff, Tessa Gould, is now a partner there. The Heitkamp campaign, Perez reports, paid Gould $35,000 for consulting in March, part of the over $6 million the campaign had left over from a last-minute infusion of donations after Heitkamp declined to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

      Heitkamp railed against Medicare-for-all in a May op-ed for The Washington Post, writing that “polling indicates that most Americans are satisfied with the health care they receive and do not want their coverage options taken away and replaced with a one-size-fits-all government program.” Both Heitkamp and Donnelly campaigned against such a proposal in their reelection bids, and both lost to Republicans.

    • Female genital mutilation victims not availing of health services – charity

      The association offers counselling and treatment to victims suffering physical problems such as constant pain, problems passing urine, problems having sex and problems giving birth. However, cultural barriers and fear of the unknown are preventing many women and girls from using the service.

    • Persistent female genital mutilation despite its illegality: Narratives from women and men in northern Ghana

      Female Genital Mutilation continues to persist despite its illegality because of social pressure on women/girls to conform to social norms, peer acceptance, fear of criticism and religious reasons. Implementing interventions targeting border towns, religious leaders and their followers, older men and women and younger men and women will help eradicate the practice.

    • Congress fights to save historic female genital mutilation case

      Months after a federal judge in Detroit declared the law unconstitutional, the DOJ announced last month it would not appeal the decision because it concluded the 1996 FGM statute was too weak to defend.

      Several congressional leaders disagree and have intervened in the case, hoping to convince an appeals court that the law is valid and can pass constitutional muster. If successful, this would allow prosecutors in Detroit to take two doctors and six others to trial for allegedly subjecting nine minor girls to FGM, including some who cried, bled and screamed during the procedure.

    • Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030: Harnessing National and Regional Laws to Protect Women and Girls

      It is pertinent to point out that most of these laws have not been effective in curbing the practice of FGM in affected countries despite the influx of aid and decades of awareness raising and abandonment campaigns. In many African countries, FGM still is performed without legal consequences for offenders, despite laws prohibiting the practice. Where FGM is performed in private clinics without prosecution of physicians who carry out the procedure, the state provides de facto consent to the practice and is therefore accountable.

    • U.S. government backs off case of female genital mutilation

      Two months ago, the Department of Justice issued a statement on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, calling it a federal crime punishable by imprisonment or removal from the country.

    • Feds drop female genital mutilation case, say law needs rewrite

      The government recently withdrew an appeal of a decision by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in the first such federal prosecution in the country. In a letter Wednesday to Congress, Solicitor General Noel Francisco called genital mutilation an “especially heinous practice” but said the law needs to be changed to mesh with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

  • Security

    • Intel CPUs impacted by new Zombieload side-channel attack

      Academics have discovered a new class of vulnerabilities in Intel processors that can allow attackers to retrieve data being processed inside a CPU.

      The leading attack in this new vulnerability class is a security flaw named Zombieload, which is another side-channel attack in the same category as Meltdown, Spectre, and Foreshadow.

    • Intel reveals four more Spectre-like bugs in its processors

      Intel has revealed four more vulnerabilities in all its modern processors, all of which could lead to side channel attacks that use speculative execution to leak data.

    • Zombieload Intel Vulnerability Explained: Nasty Flaw In Millions Of CPUs

      Zombieload is the latest Intel CPU vulnerability to plague everything from desktop computers to enterprise level servers. However, due to the increasingly complex nature of online attacks, it is becoming harder for companies to detect and fix them.

      These fixes are usually half measured at best and cause the processors of enterprises as well as the average user to lose their performance value in the long run or so we’re told. Online attacks like Spectre and Meltdown affect almost everyone that uses a computer. It is a problem which is forcing companies to cut corners, more often than not, in areas concerning performance.

    • Intel CPU Exploit Zombieload Uses Hyperthreading To Steal Data

      he latest Intel CPU exploit termed Zombieload is a speculative execution side-channel attack. It uses Intel Hyperthreading to execute a Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) attack which targets buffers in CPU microarchitecture.

      According to a report, Intel CPUs made since 2008 are all susceptible to this attack. The latest 8th and 9th gen Intel CPUs are safe from this issue. Intel has released a security patch for this security flaw.

    • Debian Patches New Intel MDS Security Vulnerabilities in Debian Linux Stretch

      On May 14th, Intel disclosed four new security vulnerabilities affecting several of its Intel CPUs, which could allow attackers to leak sensitive information if the system remains unpatched. Intel has worked with major OS vendors and device manufactures to quickly deploy feasible solutions for mitigating these flaws, and now patches are available for users of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

      “Multiple researchers have discovered vulnerabilities in the way the Intel processor designs have implemented speculative forwarding of data filled into temporary microarchitectural structures (buffers). This flaw could allow an attacker controlling an unprivileged process to read sensitive information, including from the kernel and all other processes running on the system or cross guest/host boundaries to read host memory,” reads the security advisory.

    • How to check if your Windows or Linux system is vulnerable to Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) attacks

      Intel yesterday disclosed a new group of Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) hardware vulnerabilities that affect its CPUs.

      Rogue In-Flight Data Load (RIDL), Fallout, and ZombieLoad speculative execution attacks are related to Spectre and Meltdown which were discovered last year, and allow attackers to leak in-flight data from CPU-internal buffers (Line Fill Buffers, Load Ports, Store Buffers), including data never stored in CPU caches.

    • Buffer the Intel flayer: Chipzilla, Microsoft, Linux world, etc emit fixes for yet more data-leaking processor flaws

      Intel on Tuesday plans to release a set of processor microcode fixes, in conjunction with operating system and hypervisor patches from vendors like Microsoft and those distributing Linux and BSD code, to address a novel set of side-channel attacks that allow microarchitecture data sampling (MDS).

      These side-channel holes can be potentially exploited by malicious software or rogue users already on a vulnerable machine to extract information, such as passwords and other secrets, from memory it is not allowed to touch. Browser histories can be sniffed, virtual machines snooped on, disk encryption keys stolen, and so on.

    • Intel Discloses Four New Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) Vulnerabilities
    • More vulnerabilities affecting Intel chips revealed
    • MDS Tool: find out if you are vulnerable to Microarchitectural Data Sampling Attacks (MDS)
    • The BSDs Get Promptly Mitigated For The MDS Side-Channel Vulnerabilities

      When Spectre and Meltdown came to light, there was some frustrations in the BSD community that it took time for them to be briefed and ultimately handling the mitigations for these CPU security vulnerabilities. Fortunately, with the new Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS, also dubbed “Zombieload”) vulnerabilities, the key BSDs have seen punctual patches.

      FreeBSD on Tuesday issued a security advisory that does include patches and additional guidance. FreeBSD’s guidance is also recommending the disabling of Hyper Threading for systems with users/processors in different trust domains. FreeBSD also provides instructions on setting up the loading of the latest Intel CPU microcode files and applying patches for FreeBSD 12 and 11 series.

    • Meltdown Redux: Intel Flaw Lets Hackers Siphon Secrets from Millions of PCs

      More than a year has passed since security researchers revealed Meltdown and Spectre, a pair of flaws in the deep-seated, arcane features of millions of chip sold by Intel and AMD, putting practically every computer in the world at risk. But even as chipmakers scrambled to fix those flaws, researchers warned that they weren’t the end of the story, but the beginning—that they represented a new class of security vulnerability that would no doubt surface again and again. Now, some of those same researchers have uncovered yet another flaw in the deepest guts of Intel’s microscopic hardware. This time, it can allow attackers to eavesdrop on virtually every bit of raw data that a victim’s processor touches.

      Today Intel and a coordinated supergroup of microarchitecture security researchers are together announcing a new, serious form of hackable vulnerability in Intel’s chips. It’s four distinct attacks, in fact, though all of them use a similar technique, and all are capable of siphoning a stream of potentially sensitive data from a computer’s CPU to an attacker.

      [...]

      AMD and ARM chips don’t appear to be vulnerable to the attacks, [...]

    • RIP Hyper-Threading? ChromeOS axes key Intel CPU feature over data-leak flaws – Microsoft, Apple suggest snub

      In conjunction with Intel’s coordinated disclosure today about a family of security vulnerabilities discovered in millions of its processors, Google has turned off Hyper-Threading in Chrome OS to fully protect its users.

      Meanwhile, Apple, Microsoft, IBM’s Red Hat, QubesOS, and Xen advised customers that they may wish to take similar steps.

      The family of flaws are dubbed microarchitecture data sampling (MDS), and Chipzilla’s official advisory is here, along with the necessary microcode updates to mitigate the data-leaking vulnerabilities and list of affected products. Installing these fixes and disabling Intel’s Hyper-Threading feature is a sure fire way to kill off the bugs, though there may be a performance hit as a result.

    • Steinar H. Gunderson: Bug fest
    • Cameron Kaiser: ZombieLoad doesn’t affect Power Macs

      The latest in the continued death march of speculative execution attacks is ZombieLoad (see our previous analysis of Spectre and Meltdown on Power Macs). ZombieLoad uses the same types of observable speculation flaws to exfiltrate data but bases it on a new class of Intel-specific side-channel attacks utilizing a technique the investigators termed MDS, or microarchitectural data sampling. While Spectre and Meltdown attack at the cache level, ZombieLoad targets Intel HyperThreading (HT), the company’s implementation of symmetric multithreading, by trying to snoop on the processor’s line fill buffers (LFBs) used to load the L1 cache itself. In this case, side-channel leakages of data are possible if the malicious process triggers certain specific and ultimately invalid loads from memory — hence the nickname — that require microcode assistance from the CPU; these have side-effects on the LFBs which can be observed by methods similar to Spectre by other processes sharing the same CPU core. (Related attacks against other microarchitectural structures are analogously implemented.)

    • Canonical Releases Ubuntu Updates to Mitigate New MDS Security Vulnerabilities

      Four new security vulnerabilities affecting Intel microprocessor have been publicly disclosed earlier, and Intel already released updated microcode firmware to mitigate them, but in the case of Linux-based operating system these flaws cannot be addressed only by updating the CPU firmware, but also by installing new Linux kernel versions and QEMU patches.

      The vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130, and CVE-2019-11091) affect various Intel processors and could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information. They have an impact on all supported Ubuntu Linux releases, including Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 ESM (Trusty Tahr).

    • How Hackers Broke WhatsApp With Just a Phone Call

      All it took to compromise a smartphone was a single phone call over WhatsApp. The user didn’t even have to pick up the phone.

    • The Ultimate Bad Take: Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky Thinks A WhatsApp Vulnerability Proves End To End Encryption Is Useless

      Bloomberg has really been on a roll lately with getting security stories hellishly wrong. Last fall it was its big story claiming that there was a supply chain hack that resulted in hacked SupermMicro chips being used by Amazon and Apple. That story has been almost entirely debunked, though Bloomberg still has not retracted the original. Then, just a few weeks ago, it flubbed another story, claiming that the presence (years ago) of telnet in some Huawei equipment was a nefarious backdoor, rather than a now obsolete but previously fairly common setup for lots of equipment for remote diagnostics and access.

      The latest is an opinion piece, rather than reporting, but it’s still really bad. Following yesterday’s big revelation that a big security vulnerability was discovered in WhatsApp, opinion columnist Leonid Bersidsky declared it as evidence that end-to-end encryption is pointless.

    • Microsoft warns wormable Windows bug could lead to another WannaCry
    • WhatsApp was [cracked] and attackers installed spyware on people’s phones

      The Facebook subsidiary, which has 1.5 billion users, said an advanced cyber actor infected an unknown number of people’s devices with the malware, which it said it discovered in early May.

      The Financial Times first reported the vulnerability. It said the bad actors were able to install the surveillance technology by phoning the target through WhatsApp’s call functionality, giving them access to information including location data and private messages.

    • Cybersecurity experts fear fallout from Apple case

      The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a group of iPhone users can proceed with their class-action lawsuit against Apple, which claims that the company’s monopoly over the downloading of apps from its App Store drives up prices.

      The case will now work its way through the lower courts, but at issue is the potential that Apple could be forced to allow users to download apps from third-party groups and not just the App Store.

    • Kali Linux Basics

      Kali Linux is a Debian based distribution for Ethical Hackers, Penetration Testers, Security Researchers and Enthusiasts. It is stable, updated, enterprise ready, open source and well maintained distribution by Offensive Security. Kali Linux default desktop environment is GNOME but it also offers a variety of other desktop environments including KDE, MATE, LXDE and others. It can be installed on various type of systems including laptops, Servers, ARM devices (raspberry pi etc) and Cloud. It also has a portable version for android devices called NetHunter which can be used within android operating system and comes with pre-installed tools and scripts that offer portability while doing security auditing or penetration testing.

    • International Conference on Cyber Crime & Legal Compliance
    • Security Think Tank: Understanding tech is key to effective data segregation
    • Nitrokey and Nextcloud collaborate on securing private clouds

      Nitrokey develops fully open and auditable security USB keys for two-factor authentication, cryptographic key storage and much more. Their devices are developed and produced in Germany, primarily in Berlin. No overseas manufacturing is used to ensure quality and avoid hardware security breaches. The installed firmware can even be exported and verified, preventing attackers from inserting backdoors into products during shipping. Nitrokey has many other unique features, like hidden encrypted storage for plausible deniability at border checks. Learn about their offering on their website.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Malmö court jails man for murder: ‘It was an execution’

      Four young men were brought to trial earlier this year, accused of having plotted to lure the 24-year-old and the 29-year-old, who survived, to the park where they were later shot.

      “It was an execution,” said the district court in a judgment seen by The Local.

      The 24-year-old was shot four times in the back. The older man said he had only survived because Mezar ran out of bullets.

    • Students Walked Out of a Vigil for the STEM School Highlands Ranch Shooting After Politicians Spoke

      “As the trend is now to propagate the name of the shooter, shooters and their intents, [that] just kind of glorifies it, if anything inspires other people,” Brendan told NBC News. “So in this happenstance, the absolute legend of the events of yesterday, Kendrick Castillo, is the name I think should not go away to the sands of time.”

    • A Popular YouTuber Read the Christchurch ‘Manifesto’ to Half a Million Subscribers

      After a Motherboard investigation showed Facebook banned white supremacy while allowing white nationalism, the tech giant decided to ban support of the latter. Although this particular video of the Christchurch manifesto did violate YouTube’s policies, the company previously refused to commit to banning white nationalism in general.

      Google did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    • At Odds on Many Fronts, U.S. and Russia Hope for Better Ties

      Russia and the United States voiced hope Tuesday that badly strained relations could begin to improve despite wide differences on multiple fronts and deep mutual suspicion exacerbated by Russian meddling in American elections.

      With tensions running high over Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed vindication from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and said he thought it was time to move on. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed President Donald Trump’s interest in restoring better ties.

      In the highest-level face-to-face contact between the two countries since special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released last month, Putin told Pompeo he hoped relations with the U.S. would now improve. Still, his claim of vindication covered only allegations that Russia and the Trump campaign colluded to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Putin did not address Mueller’s conclusion that Russia actively interfered in the election.

    • Fake ‘Humanitarianism’ masks murder for profit

      Unlike a regular corporation, the corporations that manufacture and sell weapons to their government are virtually 100% dependent upon their government and its military allies, for their own success; their markets are only those governments, not individuals (such as is the case for normal corporations).

      Consequently, either their government will control them, and those firms won’t have any effective control over their own markets, or else those firms will, themselves, control their government, and thereby effectively control their markets, via the government’s foreign policies — not only via expanding its military alliances (those firms’ foreign markets), but via its designating ‘enemy’ nations that it and its ‘allies’ (those arms-producers’ foreign markets) can then use those weapons against.

      In countries such as the United States, arms-producers are benefiting and controlled by the country’s billionaires, instead of (as in Russia, for example) benefiting and controlled by the government. These totally profit-driven arms-producers need to have market-nations that are called ‘allied’ governments, but they also need to have some target-nations that are called ‘enemy’ governments, so as to ‘justify’ more arms-production by these firms, against which to use these weapons. Only in nations where arms-producers are privately instead of publicly controlled are the government’s foreign polices predominantly controlled by the country’s arms-producers. That’s the way it is in America.

      The main ‘ally’ of the U.S. is the Saud family, who own the government of Saudi Arabia. As a recent debate-brief said, “The US has been the world’s leading exporter in weapons since 1990 and the biggest customer is Saudi Arabia. The U.S. sold a total of $55.6 billion of weapons worldwide, and in 2017, cleared $18 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia alone.”

      Under Trump, those sales are set to soar, because on 20 May 2017 “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” — notwithstanding now the slaughter in Yemen and the slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi. Yet, Trump talks up his ‘humanitarian’ concerns for the people of Venezuela as ‘justification’ for his possibly invading Venezuela, and America’s military is preparing to do that.

    • Bernie Sanders Delivers Online Address: ‘We Must Not Go to War With Iran’

      Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday came out forcefully against the Trump administration angling the United States into another costly and unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East—this time against Iran—delivering an online address in which he warned that any military action without approval from Congress would be an “unconstitutional and illegal” breach of office.

      “Let me be as clear as I can be: a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster,” said Sanders in the roughly six-minute speech. “Sixteen years ago, the United States committed one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of our country by attacking Iraq. That war was sold to the American people based on a series of lies about weapons of mass destruction. We should remember that one of the leading advocates for that war was John Bolton.”

      Sanders declaration against a possible war comes amid increasing concerns, as Common Dreams has reported, that Bolton—Trump’s national security advisor—is leading the administration’s underhanded attempt to provoke or manufacture a military confrontation with Iran.

    • Amnesty International Marks Nakba Day With Palestinian Refugees’ Testimonies Detailing ‘Seven Decades of Misery’

      “The Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) saw the state of Israel established, 750,000 Palestinians forced into exile, and over 500 Palestinian villages and towns destroyed,” British Palestinian scholar-activist Yara Hawari wrote at openDemocracy last year. “Palestinian society was torn apart and Palestinians were geographically fragmented.”

      On Tuesday, Amnesty International denounced Israel’s refusal to grant Palestinian refugees their right to return as “a flagrant violation of international law.” The human rights advocacy group also published stories from refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan that demonstrate how Israel’s position has fueled “seven decades of misery.”

      “More than 70 years after the conflict that followed Israel’s creation, the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face the devastating consequences,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

      “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are trapped in a cycle of deprivation and systematic discrimination with no end in sight,” he added. “For many of them life is full of suffocating restrictions and has become a living hell.”

    • Spanish jihadi cell funded through Danish tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate

      A Spanish jihadist cell funded itself through tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate sold in Denmark, according to an investigation published Tuesday led by non-profit European newsroom Correctiv.

    • Germany: Migrants attack police probing death at refugee center

      Officers described an atmosphere of high emotion inside the facility as 40-50 asylum-seekers prevented them from recovering the woman’s body.

      At one stage police were pelted with stones and other objects, a police spokesman said.

    • Tackle white supremacy as terrorism, experts say

      Deadly attacks by white supremacists are on the rise, but in most cases their acts are not considered terrorism. Experts say that must change, even if it’s hard for some Americans.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Victory! EFF Wins National Security Letter Transparency Lawsuit

      A federal district court in San Francisco has ruled strongly in favor of our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records of how and when the FBI lifts gag orders issued with National Security Letters (NSLs). These records will provide a window into the FBI’s use of a highly secretive investigative tool that has been historically misused. They will also provide insight into the effectiveness of the USA Freedom Act, the national security reform law passed by Congress in 2015.

      NSLs are a form of administrative subpoena that allows the government to obtain basic information about customers of communications providers, banks and credit agencies, and a range of other companies. The defining feature of NSLs, however, is that the FBI can issue a blanket gag order with its information request, preventing recipients from saying anything about them, including the very fact that they have received an NSL.

      The FBI has issued over 500,000 NSLs since 2001, the vast majority of which contained such indefinite gag orders. As a result, the public has had little insight into the scope of the government’s use of NSLs, aside from internal reports that paint a picture of overreach and misuse. EFF and others have long argued that NSL gag orders violate the First Amendment, and we succeeded in having the statute ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

    • Tulsi Gabbard says she would drop charges against Julian Assange, and pardon Edward Snowden

      Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the WiliLeaks founder Julian Assange and national security whistleblower Edward Snowden should not be prosecuted for disclosing information.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘A Million Elephants’ No More: Conservationists In Laos Rush To Save An Icon

      The Laos government and conservation groups estimate there are only about 800 elephants left in the country — 400 wild elephants, 400 in captivity.

    • Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ in Australia with Just 80,000 Estimated to Remain: What You Need to Know

      The Australian Koala Foundation said it believes “there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia,” making the species “functionally extinct.”

      While this number is dramatically lower than the most recent academic estimates, there’s no doubt koala numbers in many places are in steep decline.

      It’s hard to say exactly how many koalas are still remaining in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, but they are highly vulnerable to such threats as deforestation, disease and the effects of climate change.

      Once a koala population falls below a critical point, it can no longer produce the next generation, leading to extinction.

    • Mariana Trench: Deepest-ever sub dive finds plastic bag

      Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean – the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

      He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep.

      He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

    • US man makes deepest-ever dive in Mariana Trench, discovers trash

      On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.

      Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 meters) to a point in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth. His dive went 52 feet (16 meters) lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.

    • EU Overshoot Day 2019: If EU consumption was the global norm, the Earth’s yearly budget would be exhausted on 10 May

      Human society is supported by what nature provides – food, fiber, timber, carbon absorption, and land to build infrastructure. However, if all people around the world shared the same lifestyle we enjoy in the EU, mankind would have used as much as the planet’s ecosystems can renew over the entire year by 10 May already. This means that 2.8 Earths would be needed to sustain the demand of natural resources required by such a lifestyle.

    • UN: Life on Earth is nearing a state of collapse

      The UN-backed team of experts recommend a range of actions that could slow down or even reverse species extinction rates across the planet. They include the adoption of less intrusive agricultural practices, stepped-up conservation efforts and forward-thinking polices from governments, especially in countries with biodiversity hotspots.

    • Molly Fleming: Brands should follow Selfridges’ lead on palm oil to ensure long-term loyalty

      The vast majority of consumers (88%) say they are more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, according to a 2017 study by Cone Communications, and in the two years since then conscious consumerism has grown drastically.

      Selfridges’ move to eliminate palm oil shows it’s moving in the right direction, as it will boost its environmental credentials and solidify loyalty. The brand can rest easy knowing it will be known as one of the leaders in this crusade and others should learn from its decision.

    • Malaysia minister accuses EU of palm oil ‘trade war’

      Kok said Malaysia would consult with Indonesia before looking what action could be launched at the WTO.

    • AOC Wants You to Call Your Parents About Climate Change After Study Finds Children Can Impact Adults’ Views

      “Parents of children in the treatment group expressed higher levels of climate change concern than parents in the control group,” the authors wrote, explaining that parents whose kids talked to them about climate were more worried than those who didn’t. “The effects were strongest among male parents and conservative parents, who, consistent with previous research, displayed the lowest levels of climate concern before the intervention. Daughters appeared to be especially effective in influencing parents. Our results suggest that intergenerational learning may overcome barriers to building climate concern.”

      The takeaway? Young people, and especially young women, may be the best communicators on the planet when it comes to making adults see the devastating potential of climate change — especially when it comes to conservative dads.

    • Pompeo ‘can’t rank’ climate change on list of national security threats

      The interview comes days after The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration pushed to have references to climate change removed from an international statement on Arctic policy.

      Karl pressed Pompeo on that report, asking: “What are you doing specifically to address this threat? Or do you not take it seriously?”

    • One million species threatened with extinction because of humans

      The global rate of species extinction “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN committee, whose report was written by 145 experts from 50 countries.

      Shrinking habitat, exploitation of natural resources, climate change and pollution are the main drivers of species loss and are threatening more than 40% of amphibians, 33% of coral reefs and over a third of all marine mammals with extinction, the IPBES report said.

    • Jakarta Is Sinking. Now Indonesia Has to Find a New Capital

      Jakarta is a victim of climate change, the fault of humans the world over (though mostly the fault of corporations), but it’s also a victim of its own policies. The city is sinking—a process known as land subsidence—because residents and industries have been draining aquifers, often illegally, to the point that the land is now collapsing. Think of it like a giant underground water bottle: If you empty too much of it and give it a good squeeze, it’s going to buckle. Accordingly, parts of Jakarta are sinking by as much as 10 inches a year.

    • Human influence on drought started a century ago

      Researchers have typically turned to tree rings for archives of past droughts. By compiling records from many trees, historical maps called “drought atlases” have been built for a number of regions and can cover nearly a millennium. These can provide incredible historical information, including events like the megadroughts of the Western United States between 800 and 1300 CE. But each drought atlas is only one piece of the global picture.

      A new study led by NASA’s Kate Marvel pulls all these regional drought atlases together—along with recent data and climate-model simulations—to see what they can tell us about human impacts on drought since 1900.

    • Environmental Science Is Crucial to Combat Climate Change — So Why Isn’t It a Mandatory Class?

      It was a lesson that would stick with me to this day: Every piece of trash that disappears once you throw it in a garbage bag for disposal never actually vanishes. Instead, it ends up in one of the 2,500 landfills across the nation, where some of the waste, like plastics, will most likely sit for up to a thousand years emitting harmful greenhouse gases and increasing the rate of climate change.

      Since 1960, the amount of municipal solid waste produced has nearly tripled in the United States alone, with the amount of waste generated rising from 88.1 million tons to 262.4 million tons in 2015. [...]

    • Finnish researcher calls for end to domestic air travel, citing climate concerns

      Long-haul flights have long been considered to be major factors in raising the amount of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere, but Baumeister said the environmental impact of domestic air travel is rarely discussed in the climate debate and has proposed to put an end to domestic flights altogether.

      He said domestic flights can be very easily replaced with more environmentally-friendly modes of ground transport, according to his new academic paper titled “Replacing short-haul flights with land-based transportation modes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: the case of Finland.”

    • Finland absent from EU countries’ call to fast-track climate measures

      The letter’s signatories propose that the European Union commit to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050 and direct a quarter of its next seven-year budget to combat global warming.

      The joint letter was released at a summit in Sibiu, Romania, on Wednesday. The climate stance was signed by the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Germany, the EU’s largest member state, and all of Eastern Europe are also not among the signers.

    • Microplastics in squishy creature’s poo hurt ocean’s ability to absorb CO2

      In a paper published to Environmental Science & Technology, a team including lead author Alina Wieczorek found that microplastics also impact the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by oceans. Along with trees, oceans are a vital resource in efforts to reduce and limit atmospheric CO2 as they act as carbon sinks through biological, chemical and physical processes.

      Microplastics are having an effect because they are being eaten in large quantities by salps, a jellyfish-like creature that plays an important part in transporting CO2 to the seafloor. Estimates suggest oceans have captured between one-quarter and one-half of all human-derived CO2 in the past two centuries, with salps being instrumental in this.

    • Electric bikes making increasing inroads in Danish market

      Imports of electric bikes have also been rising fast and more than tripled since 2013, where 16,000 came into the country. In 2018 this had risen to 50,000. Most of the bikes coming into Denmark in 2018 came from China, and the Chinese also accounted for 39 percent of all imported bikes.

    • Los Angeles Fire Season Is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End. A bulletin from our climate future.

      Already, the fires are different. Cal Fire used to plan for wind events that could last as long as four days; now it plans, and enlists, for 14. The infernos bellowed by those winds once reached a maximum temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, Cal Fire’s Angie Lottes says; now they reach 2,100 degrees, hot enough to turn the silica in the soil into glass. Fires have always created their own weather systems, but now they’re producing not just firestorms but fire tornadoes, in which the heat can be so intense it can pull steel shipping containers right into the furnace of the blaze. Certain systems now project embers as much as a mile forward, each seeking out more brush, more trees, new eaves on old homes, like pyromaniacal sperm seeking out combustible eggs, which lie everywhere. In at least one instance, a fire has projected lightning storms 21 miles ahead — striking in the right place, these ignite yet more fire. “California is built to burn,” the fire historian Stephen Pyne tells me. “It is built to burn explosively.”

      Some fires no longer even need much fuel, not in the traditional sense. In Paradise, where on the very same day as the Woolsey fire an entire town of 26,000 was incinerated in just 12 hours, many of the trees survived, having evolved to endure conditions like these — indeed, to thrive in them. Instead, the fire leaped from man-made structure to man-made structure, an especially horrifying sight to anyone living in a well-paved subdivision or even a bare half-acre plot in the hills of Los Angeles. Clearing brush didn’t seem to be enough anymore. The trees that died were just the collateral damage; this time, homes were the fuel.

    • Firm of Top Biden Advisor Anita Dunn Works for Fracked Gas Giant Dominion Energy

      An uproar ensued last week within Democratic party circles with the news that Heather Zichal, a former fossil fuel company board member, is serving as an advisor on climate change to presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden.

      Yet the fossil fuel connections of Biden’s burgeoning circle of advisors do not end with Zichal.

    • Bill Nye is angrily telling everyone to get their act together and fight climate change: ‘The planet’s on f—ing fire’

      On Sunday, Nye joined the talk-show host John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” to offer up a fiery public service announcement. In the segment, Oliver was discussing the Green New Deal, a proposed set of regulations and initiatives that hopes to make the US carbon-neutral in 10 years and create jobs in the process. The concept has been championed by many Democrats, notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Oliver said it has catalyzed a debate about climate legislation across the country (even though Green New Deal legislation has stagnated in Congress).

      Oliver added, however, that we’re far from out of the woods when it comes to curbing carbon emissions. Then he invited Nye to share his thoughts on the matter — and Nye got real.

    • ‘The Planet’s on F***ing Fire’: Bill Nye Explains Climate Change to Adults

      In a segment on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Sunday, the beloved science communicator riffed on the set-up of the PBS series that made him famous. Donning a lab coat and safety glasses, he proceeded to school the audience on global warming, but this time he used some very adult language.

    • The Planet Is On Fucking Fire

      With reports the beleaguered planet is now recording the highest levels of atmospheric carbon in over three million years and oblivious goons in power seeing melting Arctic ice as a great shipping opportunity, no more Mister Nice Science Guy Bill Nye is losing it. Nye put in a memorably fiery appearance on Last Week Tonight, where John Oliver presented a typically cogent, detailed, 20-minute segment on climate change, explaining the grim facts, the value of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal, the issue of carbon taxes, and the fact that “we’re going to need a lot of different policies working tandem, and we have to take action right now.” Oliver then invited the ordinarily placid science educator to “drive the urgency home” with “one of his enjoyable, lighthearted demonstrations.”

    • Trump Praises LNG Exports in Louisiana as His Trade War with China Threatens the Industry

      Today President Donald Trump appeared at Louisiana’s $10 billion Cameron Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility to promote LNG exports and American “energy independence.”

      Trump’s visit to the Cameron Parish terminal comes the day after his escalating trade war, which he called “a little squabble with China,” led China to raise tariffs on U.S. LNG from 10 to 25 percent — a major blow to the U.S. industry, which could slow America’s massive plans to expand LNG export facilities.

    • Mexico City Declares Environmental Emergency as Wildfire Smoke Chokes the Air

      Authorities in Mexico City declared an environmental emergency Tuesday as smoke from wildfires caused air pollution to reach levels well above what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe.

    • Plastic leachates impair growth and oxygen production in Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria

      Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web. To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling. Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting. We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate. Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcus community composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.

    • Plastic Pollution Harms Ocean Bacteria That Produce 10 Percent of Earth’s Oxygen

      It’s well known that ocean plastics harm marine life, but could the eight million metric tons of plastic that enters the seas each year also make it harder for us to breathe?

      That’s the troubling implication of a new study published in Communications Biology Tuesday, which found that plastic pollution can have negative impacts on the ocean bacteria that produces 10 percent of Earth’s oxygen.

    • Take Me Out to the Extinction Game

      Sports team mascots serve several important purposes for colleges, universities and professional organizations. Mascots help establish brand identity and provide a point of emotional connection for fans. They symbolize attractive qualities such as strength, power, and luck. Perhaps most importantly, mascots are believed to help teams win.

      But with the exception of mascots representing Native Americans, little analytical attention has been paid to the entities that sports team mascots represent — including animal species like tigers, bears and dolphins.

      Recognizing the lack of research about animal sports mascots, my colleague Brian McCullough and I set out to explore the relationships sports fans have with their favorite teams’ mascots. Our work was published recently in the journal Society & Animals.

      For our research, we set out to determine if there was a connection between fans’ commitment to their favorite team and their awareness of the conservation status of the species represented by that team’s mascot.

      Our research shows that, unfortunately, conversations about plight of the species represented by a mascot rarely occur.

    • Conservative? Conserving What?

      It’s hard to believe the leadership of the so-called conservative party of Canada would push the idea that EVs produce more CO2 than gas-guzzlers. Obviously, they can’t do the maths, like weighing the mass of gasoline that goes into the fuel tanks of gas-guzzlers. My last gas-guzzler eats its weight in gasoline every four years. It’s 13 years old… Some of that ends up as CO2… None of what my Solo EV will eat comes from hydrocarbons. My Solo also weighs a fraction of what my gas-guzzler weighs so the energy/carbon cost of its manufacture will be tiny.

    • U.S. Senate Threatens Sanctions Over Russian Pipeline

      Critics say the Nord Stream 2 project, which would double the amount of Russian gas piped to Germany via the Baltic Sea, makes little commercial sense and is a geopolitical power play by Moscow to exert energy leverage over Western Europe. Countries such as Poland and the Baltic states have joined the United States in opposing the pipeline. They also warn it could destabilize Ukraine as it wages war against Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country. Despite the conflict, the Ukrainian government relies heavily for revenue on transit fees for Russian gas going into Europe.

    • Car giant plumps for carbon neutrality

      Bosch, the German engineering conglomerate which is the world’s largest supplier to the car industry, says it is aiming for full carbon neutrality by next year, in order to meet the challenge posed by climate change.

      Volkmar Denner, Bosch’s chief executive, says it’s vital that companies act now in order to stop the planet from overheating and endangering global stability.

      “Climate change is not science fiction; it’s really happening”, Denner said in a statement reported by Reuters news agency.

      “If we are to take the Paris Agreement seriously, then climate action needs to be seen not just as a long-term aspiration. It needs to happen here and now.”

      Bosch says that at present it emits around 3.3 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide each year, while its annual energy consumption is equivalent to the combined total of the power used by all private households in the cities of Berlin and Munich.

      Offsetting emissions

    • 17 signs we’re in the middle of a 6th mass extinction

      Although it may not be obvious, another devastating mass extinction event is taking place today — the sixth of its kind in Earth’s history. The trend is hitting global fauna on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive animal populations to drop in unprecedented numbers.

    • World ‘not on track’ to meet Paris climate accord objectives

      “We are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris Agreement,” he said. “And the paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground; political will seems to be fading.”

      Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. In the 139 years, NOAA has maintained records, 2018 ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).

    • Their Islands Are Being Eroded. So Are Their Human Rights, They Say.

      It is also the first time that the Australian government — which has failed to meet emissions reduction targets and continues to approve embattled coal mine projects — has faced climate change litigation that asserts a human rights violation. The claimants call on the country to help fund sea walls and other infrastructure that might save the Torres Strait Islands, which have a population of about 4,500, and to meet the emissions targets set under the Paris climate agreement.

    • U.S. says it will complete Keystone XL environmental review

      Earlier this week, an executive for Calgary-based TC Energy — formerly known as TransCanada — said the delays have caused the company to miss the 2019 construction season.

    • UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

      “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

      “The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

      “The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.

    • ‘Revolutionary change’ needed to stop unprecedented global extinction crisis

      And yet, the Global Assessment has an optimistic outlook. It emphasises that if the world’s legal, institutional and economic systems are transformed then it is possible to achieve a better future for biodiversity and human well-being in the next 30 years.

      But this is only possible if reform happens immediately, as incremental change will be insufficient.

    • Highlights on UN IPBES report on species loss: Damage isn’t permanent, as long as we remedy it soon, dramatically

      The Global Assessment Report is an exhaustive, 1,800-page Summary for Policymakers. It could go a long way in ending speculation as to the extent of destruction in nature in recent years.

      “I would say that the report is likely to be interpreted as ‘Boy, we are in trouble’ but there are solutions,” Prof Sir Robert Watson, Chair of IPBES, told BBC ahead of the report’s release on Monday. “Our report will talk about to what degree are we losing biodiversity, and to what degree could we protect some of it in the future.”

    • Water restrictions loom for Sydney as drought continues to impact on dam levels

      The latest research from Sydney Water reveals levels across 11 dams in Greater Sydney are dropping faster than they have in decades.

      Since April 2017, the levels have plummeted from 96 per cent combined capacity to just over 55 per cent and continue to fall by 0.4 per cent every week.

      If levels fall below 50 per cent, it will trigger stage-one water restrictions for Sydney households — which bans hosing hard surfaces and limits watering gardens to times outside 10am to 4pm.

    • UN Warns of ‘Biological Annihilation’ as The 6th Extinction Event Unfolds on Our Planet

      The trend is hitting global fauna on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive animal populations down on an unprecedented scale.

      Now, another report is expected to back up that idea.

      On Monday, the United Nations is scheduled to release a report from its Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that assesses the state of the planet’s biodiversity.

    • Nature in worst shape in human history with 1 million species at risk of extinction, massive UN report warns

      The report said 1 million of the planet’s 8 million species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct in the near future. Scientists blame human activities that have led to loss of habitat, climate change, overfishing, pollution and invasive species.

    • Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed

      It’s often said that of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity.

      But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)

      Not so, according to a review published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology. The researchers tried to replicate the results of those 3% of papers—a common way to test scientific studies—and found biased, faulty results.

    • Rare win for Canada’s Greens in special election deals blow to Trudeau

      Green candidate Paul Manly won the constituency of Nanaimo-Ladysmith with about 38 percent of the vote.

    • The U.N. Report on Extinction vs. Mike Pompeo at the Arctic Council

      Mike Pompeo was at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland. And there, as representatives from the seven other member states and six indigenous organizations warned about the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, Pompeo, instead, exulted. “The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance,” he said. “It houses thirteen per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil, thirty per cent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare-earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore.” In fact, he said, it can’t melt fast enough. “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as twenty days.” That is to say, the fact that one of the world’s largest physical features is in chaotic flux is, in fact, good news, because we’ll soon be able to ship stuff from China three weeks faster.

      I have never met an earth scientist who isn’t profoundly frightened by what is happening in the Arctic. As the fastest warming part of the planet, it offers a terrifying preview of what’s coming. Its white ice once deflected most of the sun’s incoming rays back out to space; now the blue water that’s replaced it absorbs the incoming solar radiation, amping up global warming. Meanwhile, the melting permafrost produces clouds of methane, itself a potent greenhouse gas. The newly open Arctic Ocean alters weather patterns, catching the jet stream in a way that makes for prolonged drought or flooding at lower latitudes. The rapid melting of Greenland’s great ice sheet seems to threaten the continued operation of the great ocean currents that warm northern Europe. And on and on—of all the scary spectacles on our Earth, none tops a fast-thawing north. But not to Pompeo, who looks to the Arctic and sees oil, gas, gold, and diamonds. It’s as if Gollum were Secretary of State.

    • Arctic Council fails to agree on declaration as US holds out on climate change

      The run-up to this year’s meeting in Rovaniemi was characterised by reports of conflict among the eight Arctic Council countries – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States – with US newspaper The Washington Post reporting that US diplomats had attempted to remove any mention of climate change from the draft Rovaniemi declaration.

    • The Arctic Is Melting. Mike Pompeo Seems to Think This Is a Good Thing

      The politician made the comments during a speech about political and economic threats to the region, which several nations see as a vast store of untapped resources. China, Russia and others, he added, are investing in the frigid frontier.

      Pompeo did not use the words “climate change” once during his 2,400-word speech, according to the AP. He did say, however, that “America is the world’s leader in caring for the environment,” adding that President Donald Trump was committed “to leveraging resources in environmentally responsible ways.

    • U.S. Pressure Blocks Declaration on Climate Change at Arctic Talks

      According to diplomats involved in the negotiations, at issue was the United States’ insistence not to mention the latest science on climate change or the Paris Agreement aimed at averting its worst effects. The omission is especially notable because scientists have warned that the Arctic is heating up far faster than the world average because of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

    • ‘Climate change’ mention missing from U.S. defence of Arctic policy

      Finnish Foreign Ministry Timo Soini said Tuesday there will be no joint declaration as the summit couldn’t get the United States to agree on a text that includes language about climate change. Instead, he said there would be statements from ministers and Finland, which holds the chair of the Arctic Council.

      Bill Erasmus, chairman of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, a Canada-based group of Indigenous people, expressed disappointment that a joint declaration had not been reached.

  • Finance

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Takes On Myths About Class, Wealth, Poverty

      “When we say ‘tax the rich,’ we mean nesting-doll yacht rich. For-profit prison rich. Betsy DeVos, student-loan-shark rich. Trick-the-country-into-war rich. Subsidizing-workforce-w-food-stamps rich,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez. “Because THAT kind of rich is simply not good for society, & it’s like 10 people.”

    • Education Secretary Betsy Devos Hires Private Accounting Firm to Audit the Student Loan program: Asking For Bad News

      It took 42 years, DeVos pointed out, for the federal student-loan portfolio to reach half a trillion dollars (1965 until 2007). It took only 6 years–2007 to 2013–for the portfolio to reach $1 trillion. And in 2018–just five years later–the federal government held $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans. In fact, uncollateralized student loans now make up 30 percent of all federal assets.

      This wouldn’t be a problem if student borrowers were paying off their loans. But they’re not. As DeVos candidly admitted last November, “only 24 percent of FSA borrowers—one in four—are currently paying down both principal and interest.” One in five borrowers are in delinquency or default, and 43 percent of all loans are “in distress” (whatever that means).

    • Undercover filming shows Amazon destroying millions of brand new unsold products

      Let’s be clear about this – these products are not tat. They’re not returns. They’re not broken. They are just unsold and the waste being created is utterly horrendous.

    • ‘Disgraceful’: While Reaping $21 Billion Windfall From Trump Tax Cuts, Report Shows, AT&T Slashed 23,000 Jobs

      AT&T promised to create thousands of new jobs as President Donald Trump’s tax legislation moved through Congress in 2017—but the telecom giant has done precisely the opposite since the bill became law, while raking in over $20 billion in extra profits.

      That’s according to an analysis published Monday by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which found that AT&T has slashed 23,328 jobs since Congress passed Trump’s tax bill in 2017, including nearly 6,000 in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

      Meanwhile, according to CWA, AT&T has reaped $21 billion in tax cuts thanks to the Republican law, with $3 billion in annual savings expected in the future.

      “What AT&T is doing to hardworking people across America is disgraceful,” CWA president Chris Shelton said in a statement. “Taxpayers aren’t going to let AT&T get away with receiving over $21 billion in tax cuts and then destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.”

    • In Colombia, General Motors Workers Fight Surge In Firings Over Workplace Injuries

      For eight years, fired General Motors workers have camped outside the United States Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. They are protesting wrongful termination due to injuries at GM’s Colombia manufacturing plant.

      Colombia is the leading nation in the world in murders of labor leaders and union members.

      After their fight in the Colombia judicial system produced little to no results, fired GM workers pressured the U.S. government to hold the corporation accountable.

      “Assembling vehicles is hard work, and many U.S. auto workers will tell you that after a 30-year career they have pain that does not go away,” said Paige Shell-Spurling, an organizer with the Central America Solidarity Committee in Portland, Oregon.

      Shell-Spurling said “those injuries are being developed in periods as short as six-to-eight years in some cases” in the GM plant in Bogota.

      “It is disarming to see workers in their late 20s and early 30s walking with canes, permanently disabled, and eventually dismissed,” Shell-Spurling added.

      In 2012, protests and assistance from the U.S. Embassy helped bring GM to the negotiating table. GM was urged to improve working conditions at the plant to mitigate worker injuries even though they did not reach an agreement.

    • Blockchain 2.0 – Explaining Distributed Computing And Distributed Applications [Part 11]

      Blockchain 1.0 was about introducing the “blockchain” into the list of modern buzzwords along with the advent of bitcoin. Multiple white papers detailing bitcoin’s underlying blockchain network specified the use of the blockchain for other uses as well. Although most of the said uses was around the basic concept of using the blockchain as a decentralized medium for storage, a use that stems from this property is utilizing it for carrying out Distributed computing on top of this layer.

      DApps or Distributed Applications are computer programs that are stored and run on a distributed storage system such as the Ethereum blockchain for instance. To understand how DApps function and how they’re different from traditional applications on your desktop or phone, we’ll need to delve into what distributed computing is. This post will explore some fundamental concepts of distributed computing and the role of blockchains in executing the said objective. Furthermore, well also look at a few applications or DApps, in blockchain lingo, to get a hang of things.

    • Disney takes full control of Hulu as Comcast steps aside

      Today, Disney takes the reins at Hulu. Disney and Comcast announced a deal saying that Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately. In turn, Disney and Comcast have entered a “put/call” agreement, which means that as early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal’s 33-percent interest in Hulu. On the flip side, Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell its interest in Hulu by January 2024 for fair market value.

      Fair market value will be assessed at the time of sale, but Disney has guaranteed Comcast a minimum sale price of $27.5 billion for the remaining stake in Hulu.

    • Mapping Notre Dame’s unique sound will be a boon to reconstruction efforts

      The acoustics of the cathedral—how it sounds—are also part of its cultural heritage, and given the ephemeral nature of sound, acoustical characteristics can be far trickier to preserve or reproduce. Fortunately, a group of French acousticians made detailed measurements of Notre Dame’s “soundscape” over the last few years, along with two other cathedrals. That data will now be instrumental in helping architects factor acoustics into their reconstruction plans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Beto O’Rourke just hired a “senior advisor” who used to lobby for Keystone XL, Seaworld and private prisons

      Also: lest you fear that Berman will feel isolated in O’Rourke’s staff, consider that he’s got lots of allies around the office, like O’Rourke chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, cofounder of Precision Strategies, whose client roster includes Pfizer, Bank of America and Facebook,

    • After Front Row Seat to Obama Years, Biden Called ‘Remarkably Naive’ for Saying He Expects GOP ‘Epiphany’ After 2020

      A comment from 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden bout the Republican Party on Tuesday generated intense criticism of the former vice president and had some observers wondering if Biden fully understands the present political moment.

      The comment in question was first reported on in a tweet by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur.

      “In New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicts that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have ‘an epiphany’ and work with Democrats toward consensus,” said Kapur.

    • #LindseyGrahamResign Goes Viral After Senator Advises Don Jr. to Refuse Congressional Subpoena

      Tens of thousands of social media users joined a call for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resignation on Tuesday, after the South Carolina Republican publicly offered advice to Donald Trump Jr. about his recent congressional subpoena.

      The president’s eldest son was subpoenaed in April to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 election, after twice backing out of planned testimony before the committee.

      The subpoena prompted Graham—one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies—to tell Trump Jr. on Monday to refuse to answer the panel’s questions.

      “You just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,” Graham told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

      Graham also appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to declare Congress’s attempts to continue probing questions about Trump’s 2016 campaign, its communications with Russia, and potential obstruction of justice by the president “worthless,” and said Trump, Jr. should not respond to the subpoena.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Vox Admits It Got Section 230 Wrong, Fixes Its Mistake

      Last week we wrote about how annoying it was that major media publications were misrepresenting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and suggesting — completely without merit — that the law was designed to keep platforms “neutral” or that they were mere “pass through” vehicles, rather than actively engaged in moderation. We pointed out that online trolls and grandstanding politicians were making this incorrect claim, but it was not an accurate statement of the law, and the media should know better. In our comments, some people called me out for not suggesting that the media was being deliberately dishonest, and in response I noted that there wasn’t any evidence of deliberateness from most of them (not so much with the trolls and especially grandstanding politicians like Ted Cruz, who have been told, repeatedly, that they are misrepresenting CDA 230). I hoped that it was just a mistake that would be corrected.

    • The Facebook free speech battle, explained

      Facebook booted a hodgepodge of extremist figures recently, inflaming a faction on the right that is challenging the prevailing legal consensus on what is and isn’t protected speech on digital platforms.

      Some conservatives argue that Facebook is unfairly targeting conservative voices, or voices that seemingly abut conservative ideas, like Infowars’ Alex Jones. And a few politicians, like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, are questioning whether it’s even legal for Facebook to do this.

      Facebook says it’s not targeting the right, but rather responding to a broad public push demanding that it crack down on extremism and misinformation — and that it has specific legal protections to do so.

    • YouTube User Fights Unfair Takedown Campaign from UFC

      San Francisco – The creator of popular post-fight commentary videos on YouTube is demanding an end to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)’s unfair practice of sending takedown notices based on bogus copyright claims. The creator, John MacKay, is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

      MacKay operates the “Boxing Now” channel on YouTube, and his videos include original audio commentary and small number of still images from UFC events. While those stills are an obvious fair use—a lawful way to use copyrighted content with permission—UFC has sent five takedown notices to YouTube claiming infringement, and YouTube has complied with each takedown. MacKay has responded every time with a counter-notice, explaining the fair and non-infringing nature of his videos, and YouTube has reposted the videos after UFC failed to respond.

    • When Ireland banned “Casablanca” as unfair to Nazis

      The decision by the Irish government to ban the viciously anti-gay campaigner Steven Anderson was the correct one given his hate speech. The banning recalls some famous or infamous decisions made by Irish censors over the years.

      Ironically, the man who banned Anderson is Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, whose own father, Oliver J. Flanagan, was once a controversial politician widely known for anti-Semitism.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Canada Border Services seizes lawyer’s phone, laptop for not sharing passwords

      As more people travel with smartphones loaded with personal data, concern is mounting over Canadian border officers’ powers to search those phones — without a warrant.

      “The policy’s outrageous,” said Toronto business lawyer, Nick Wright. “I think that it’s a breach of our constitutional rights.”

      His thoughts follow a personal experience. After landing at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on April 10, he said the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) flagged him for an additional inspection — for no stated reason.

    • Canadian Border Agents Also Routinely Demanding Passwords From Travelers And Searching Their Devices

      The end result was CBSA agents confiscating Wright’s phone and laptop with the assurance they would be sent to a government lab in order to have their password protection cracked. Replacing them cost Wright $3,000.

      Wright claims this is a violation of Canada’s charter of rights. Canadian courts, like those in the US, have decided no involuntary sacrifice of rights is too great when national security is on the line. The CBSA, for its part, has greeted the tech future by pretending it’s still 1975, and that searching a phone is no different than searching a briefcase or the trunk of a car.

      For all of that, this is probably the right time to challenge this custom of customs officials. The nation’s top court has already drawn a distinction between briefcases and cellphones, saying the latter contains vast amounts of information that “touches a person’s biological core.” And at least one provincial court has declared Canadians’ rights are not null and void simply because they’re at a border crossing.

      The CBSA’s statement to CBC News says these suspicionless searches that can result in the indefinite seizure of citizens’ devices are “reasonable and necessary” to keep Canada secure. But they seem to be neither. There’s nothing “reasonable” about invasive searches completely divorced from articulable suspicion. That’s the very definition of “unreasonable.” And as for necessity, all the CBSA has to offer is that 38% of its 19,000+ device searches “uncovered evidence of customs-related offences.” This means most searches don’t recover any evidence of anything and that things like undeclared goods are somehow threatening to the country’s security.

    • San Francisco Takes a Historic Step Forward in the Fight for Privacy

      The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted today by 8-to-1 to make San Francisco the first major city in the United States to ban government use of face surveillance technology. This historic measure applies to all city departments. The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance also takes an important step toward ensuring a more informed and democratic process before the San Francisco Police Department and other city agencies may acquire other kinds of surveillance technologies.

      Face recognition technology is a particularly pernicious form of surveillance, given its disparate propensity to misidentify women, and people of color. However, even if those failures were addressed, we are at a precipice where this technology could soon be used to track people in real-time. This would place entire communities of law-abiding residents into a perpetual line-up, as they attend worship, spend time with romantic partners, attend protests, or simply go about their daily lives.

      It is encouraging to see San Francisco take this proactive step in anticipating the surveillance problems on the horizon and heading them off in advance.

      It is encouraging to see San Francisco take this proactive step in anticipating the surveillance problems on the horizon and heading them off in advance. This is far easier than trying to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle after it causes harm.

    • San Francisco may become first U.S. city to ban facial recognition

      Efforts to restrict its use are getting pushback from law enforcement groups and the tech industry, though it’s far from a united front. Microsoft, while opposed to an outright ban, has urged lawmakers to set limits on the technology, warning that leaving it unchecked could enable an oppressive dystopia reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

    • San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban facial recognition by government agencies

      The city’s Board of Supervisors voted eight to one to approve the proposal, set to take effect in a month, that would bar city agencies, including law enforcement, from using the tool. The ordinance would also require city agencies to get board approval for their use of surveillance technology, and set up audits of surveillance tech already in use. Other cities have approved similar transparency measures.

      The plan, called the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, was spearheaded by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. In a statement read ahead of the vote, Peskin said it was “an ordinance about having accountability around surveillance technology.”

    • EU Votes To Create Universal Biometric Database for Border Control Purposes

      The database will be known as the Common Identity Repository (CIR) and will unify records on over 350 million people. It will include both identity records like names, dates of birth, passport numbers, and other identification details, as well as biometrics like fingerprints and facial scans.

      “The systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS),” EU officials said last week.

    • Smart meters: Why they are driving some people mad

      Things haven’t worked out well. “My smart meter loses connection, the weather seems to affect it, and it beeps all the time and the only way to stop it is to remove the batteries.”

      She says it’s driving her round the bend.

      Government figures show that until the end of 2018, nearly 15 million smart meters had been installed. But those same figures also show that only 12.5 million were operational.

      That leaves 2.3 million smart meters that have been installed but are not functioning.

      DCC is the company tasked with the job of making those devices smart again. But they’ve not implemented the technology to make that possible yet.

    • Call that smart? New energy meters won’t work in 1 in 3 homes: The farce behind scheme designed to cut bills (but actually costs us all £11bn)

      Thick walls, blocks of flats and poor mobile signals can all cause problems

      Other homeowners are being told they are on the wrong type of energy tariff

      Some suppliers are refusing smart meters to households with solar panels

      Meters can go haywire if households use LED light bulbs or dimmer switches

    • Facebook’s FTC settlement could include 20 years of privacy oversight
    • Facebook facing 20-year consent agreement after privacy lapses: source

      Several U.S. lawmakers have criticized aspects of a potential agreement between the FTC and Facebook that would elevate oversight of privacy policies and practices to Facebook’s board of directors and require the social media company to be more aggressive in policing third-party app developers.

      In a letter to the FTC, Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, told the agency that even a $5 billion civil penalty was too little and that top officials, potentially including founder Mark Zuckerberg, should be held personally responsible.

      Facebook’s 2011 settlement with the FTC also required it report to the government agency about its privacy practices for 20 years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Activists Can Fight Back Against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

      On April 15, Senate Democrats called to restrict funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a move that would significantly disrupt the Trump administration’s plans for immigration enforcement.

      “We cannot support the appropriation of funds that would expand this administration’s unnecessarily cruel immigration enforcement policies, its inhumane immigrant detention systems, or its efforts to build the president’s vanity projects,” Democrats wrote in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The senators called for a rejection of the Trump administration’s request for additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and limits on DHS funding for immigrant detention and deportation.

      So far, 20 Democratic senators have signed the letter, including 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker.

    • Bearing Witness: My Journey Out of Mormonism
    • On Muslim Brotherhood, Trump Weighs Siding With Autocrats and Roiling Middle East

      In Washington, the renewed campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood is far from assured.

      A half-dozen current and former American officials and foreign diplomats familiar with the push discussed it on the condition of anonymity, several of whom said it faced legal and policy hurdles and could take weeks to resolve.

    • How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons Into Big Profits

      w a U.N. Bid to Prevent Sexual Violence Turned Into a Spat Over Abortion

      In recent years, corporations have privatized almost every part of the public prison system. Now, PE firms are swooping in, seeking lavish returns for investors.

    • Iran secretly executed teenage boys, human rights group says

      Iran secretly executed two teenagers last week, according to rights group Amnesty International, which criticized the country for its “utter disdain for international law and the rights of children.”

    • Iran: Two 17-year-old boys flogged and secretly executed in abhorrent violation of international law

      Iran remains the top executioner of children in the world. As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to treat anyone under the age of 18 as a child and ensure that they are never subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment.

      Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat had been held in a juvenile correction centre in Shiraz since 2017. On 24 April, they were transferred to Adelabad prison, apparently without knowing the reason. The same day, their families were granted a visit with them, but they were not told that it was in preparation for their execution.

      The next day, on 25 April, the families suddenly received a call from Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization, a state forensic institute, informing them of the executions and asking them to collect the bodies.

    • Minneapolis Jury Finds Ex-Police Officer Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Woman

      Mohamed Noor, the ex-Minneapolis officer charged in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk, was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter. He was found not guilty of intentional second-degree murder.

    • Former Minnesota Policeman Convicted in Fatal Shooting of Australian Woman

      Prosecutors called Noor’s shooting of Damond, who was unarmed, “reckless” and the prime minister of Australia at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable.”

    • Trump Pushes to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group

      The White House is pushing to issue an order that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, bringing the weight of American sanctions against a storied and influential Islamist political movement with millions of members across the Middle East, according to officials familiar with the matter.

    • On second day of anti-cathedral protests, Yekaterinburg residents toss fencing into ponds and try to avoid arrest

      A spontaneous protest against the destruction of an open square to build a new cathedral in central Yekaterinburg stretched from the evening of May 13 into the early morning. Police officers left the square around midnight without dispersing protesters. On the evening of May 14, the square’s defenders — and their opponents — went face-to-face again.

    • On the ground for night one of protests in Yekaterinburg against the construction of a new cathedral

      A fence appeared overnight on May 13 in October Square in downtown Yekaterinburg, near the regional drama theater. This is the site where the Russian Copper Company (RMK) and the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UGMK) intend to build “St. Catherine’s Cathedral” before 2023, when the city celebrates the 300th anniversary of its founding. The project has been approved, and arts patrons at the “St. Catherine’s Cathedral LLC” have leased the land. The construction has the support of the governor, City Hall, and the Russian Orthodox Church’s Yekaterinburg Diocese. Local activists and political oppositionists, however, don’t want to lose public space to the church, and past demonstrations already led to the cancellation of previous plans to build St. Catherine’s Cathedral on an artificial island created in the city pond. The new fence in October Square has provoked a full-scale confrontation, with sit-ins, sieges, and some violence. Meduza journalist Dmitry Andreev spent the night with the protesters, and witnessed the clashes firsthand.

    • Border Wall to Go Up in National Monument, Wildlife Refuge

      The U.S. government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates.

      The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      Funding will come from the Defense Department following the emergency declaration that President Donald Trump signed this year after Congress refused to approve the amount of border wall funding he requested.

      Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas in Arizona.

    • A Russian video game developer bought F-16 fighter jet manuals on eBay. He might face up to 10 years in a U.S. prison.

      Russian video game developer Oleg Tishchenko is being tried in the United States. He worked on high-precision flight simulators for 15 years and purchased documentation about various airplane models online to better understand his models. Now, Tishchenko faces criminal charges for one of those purchases. Among other crimes, he has been accused of conspiring against the United States. If convicted, he may face a sentence of more than 10 years in prison.

    • Axon Hints It May Ruin A City’s Credit Rating For Cancelling Its Contract For Body Cam Footage Storage

      Axon — formerly Taser — is betting big on police body cameras. It doesn’t care much about the hardware. That’s the just the foot in the door. The real money is subscription and storage fees. These contracts are worth far more than the hardware, which Axon is willing to give away to secure a far more profitable revenue stream.

      Axon not only charges for storage of recorded footage but also for access. It provides a front end for law enforcement agencies to search uploaded footage. It also makes defense lawyers do the same thing — putting itself (and a lot of contractual language) between accused criminals and the evidence they’re legally entitled to have.

      Emails obtained via a public records request show Axon plays hardball with municipalities who decide they’d rather use a different vendor. When a California city decided to take its business elsewhere after four years with Axon, its representatives responded by threatening to trash the city’s credit rating. Beryl Lipton has the details for public records request powerhouse MuckRock.

    • Political blame game over Alwar gangrape brushes aside Rajasthan’s abysmal record on women’s safety

      The recent gang rape of a woman in Alwar’s Thanagazi has put the spotlight once again on unending crime against women in Rajasthan. According to data available with Rajasthan Police, there is a steep rise in rape cases in the last few years. In 2017, the state police registered 3,305 cases of rape and in just one year Rajasthan recorded an increase of 1,030 cases taking the total number of registered rape cases to 4,335 in 2018.

      If this was not enough, the first four months of this year have already taken this graph even further with the state recording 1,509 rape cases till April 2019. This shows an increase of 197 cases when compared to the number of rape cases registered in the first four months of 2018.

    • Asia Bibi: Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy case

      In Pakistan, the punishment for blasphemy against Islam and its prophet is either life imprisonment, or death. But all too often the allegation is misused as a way to settle personal scores. Once someone has been accused of blasphemy, before their case has even gone to trial, they and their families come under attack.

    • Asia Bibi, Christian Cleared of Blasphemy Charges, Leaves Pakistan for Canada

      The law prescribes a death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam or the prophet Muhammad. Rights groups say the law has been used by extremists as a bludgeon against religious minorities.

      One outspoken critic of the blasphemy law was Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province at the time of Ms. Bibi’s conviction. In 2011, he was assassinated by his bodyguard, who later suggested to the police that he had killed Mr. Taseer because of his opposition to the law.

    • Asia Bibi leaves Pakistan ‘for Canada’
    • Asia Bibi free at last as she leaves Pakistan for Canada after months of limbo

      Her case highlighted Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws which carry a death sentence and are accused of being a tool to persecute religious minorities. Blasphemy is an incendiary accusation in Pakistan and many allegations result in lynchings before they ever reach a trial.

    • Asia Bibi begins new life in Canada – but her ordeal may not be over

      Bibi’s backstory is well known after international attention was focused on her case. The former farm labourer was sentenced to death on flimsy evidence in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy in a dispute with Muslim women in her village over a cup of water. Two Pakistani politicians were later killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s draconian blasphemy laws.

    • Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian Woman Acquitted Of Blasphemy, Arrives In Canada

      “Since 1990, at least 65 people have reportedly been killed in Pakistan over claims of blasphemy,” the BBC reported.

    • Pakistan Christian Asia Bibi has arrived in Canada, lawyer confirms

      “Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said.

    • Freed By ISIS, Yazidi Mothers Face Wrenching Choice: Abandon Kids Or Never Go Home

      The children are also seen as a threat to the ancient religion, in which only those born to two Yazidi parents are considered Yazidi. In an added legal complication, since the children’s fathers are Muslim, Iraqi law considers them Muslim as well. It’s an extremely controversial subject within the Yazidi leadership.

    • Statistically Correct Sexism

      The fact that men and women are “created equal” in our country does not mean that they magically become the same.

    • Bus driver closes door to woman in a short skirt

      Elise Bencheikh, who is 29 and lives in Paris, was waiting with a female friend at a bus stop in the north of the city at about 11pm last Tuesday when a bus pulled up but did not open its doors. When she asked why, she said, the driver told her: “You should dress properly.”

    • Iranian intelligence minister concerned with growth of Christianity; converts summoned

      Underground house churches continue to spring up across Iran, although they must do so in secrecy because they risk torture and imprisonment in the Islamic republic.

      Believers can be arrested for preaching the Gospel or having a copy of the Bible translated into Farsi.

    • Iran’s ‘Terror Factory’ Targeting Christians

      i”In Iran, any practice that contradicts Islam is regarded as a national security threat, punished severely by the court system.”

    • Nigeria/Netherlands: Shell ruling “a vital step towards justice”

      Shell has been accused of instigating a raft of horrifying human rights violations committed by the Nigerian government against the Ogoni people in the 1990s.

      Esther Kiobel, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula are suing Shell over what they say is its role in the unlawful arrest, detention and execution of their husbands by the Nigerian military, following a brutal crackdown on Ogoni protests against Shell’s devastating pollution of the region.

    • Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Assad Crushed Dissent

      Another detainee, Nabil Shurbaji — a journalist who, by coincidence, was the first to inspire Mr. Ghabbash to activism in 2011 and later shared his cell in Mezze — tried to write on cloth scraps with tomato paste. Too faint. Mr. Shurbaji finally used the detainees’ own blood, from their malnourished gums, mixed with rust. A detained tailor sewed the scraps into Mr. Omari’s shirt. He smuggled them out.

      The message in blood reached Western capitals; the shirt scraps were displayed at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. But Mr. Shurbaji was still inside.

    • MCMC carries out two raids over alleged insults to Islam

      The investigation against the two suspects, one using a Facebook account under the name ‘Auni Zaara’ and the other ‘Fadhillah Abdulhamid’, was carried out under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for improper use of network facilities.

    • New far-right party seen entering Danish parliament – opinion poll

      A new Danish far-right party that wants Islam banned and hundreds of thousands of Muslims deported could win seats in Denmark’s parliament in an upcoming election, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

      iThe party ‘Stram Kurs’, which means Hard Line, was founded in 2017 by lawyer Rasmus Paludan who first came to public attention by posting anti-Islam YouTube videos. His stunts have included publicly burning the Koran, sometimes wrapped in bacon, in what he calls a tribute to free speech.

    • Burqa ban debate: Countries that proscribe veils, and those who make it compulsory

      World over, people have been divided over the ban on burqa (also spelt as burkha/burka) and other face-covering veils. While opponents of the ban call it an attack on the freedom of an individual to wear a dress of her choice, its proponents cite examples of cases where women are forced to wear the dress against their choice.

    • Bill 21 hearings: Former senator links veil to excision and forced marriage

      Noting Hirsi Ali has received death threats and now requires protection 24 hour a day because of her views, Hervieux-Payette said the author’s ideas — which she shares — need to be understood by all as they debate Bill 21.

    • Sandra Bland’s Phone Video Of Her Own Arrest Surfaces, Reviving Calls For New Inquiry

      The main record of Bland’s controversial arrest had been dashcam footage captured by a state trooper’s SUV in Prairie View, Texas. But that changed Monday night with the release of Bland’s recording, which was acquired by reporter Brian Collister of the Investigative Network and broadcast on WFAA.

    • Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby.

      Many American laws protect the rights of pregnant employees — they can’t be fired, for instance. But, since professional athletes are more like independent contractors, those protections don’t apply.

    • Mayor sides with Muslims in mega-mosque battle that divides community

      That decision led to another lawsuit filed by seven residents of the neighborhood who allege the mosque is not compatible with the surrounding area due to its massive size, lack of off-street parking, and traffic issues. Residents also claim their free-speech rights were violated by the mayor, who they believe was favoring one religious group over another.

      The suit states that residents who were against the mosque were not allowed to speak and in fact some were ushered out of the city council chambers by police on the orders of the mayor.

      [...]

      Most of the Christians here fled Iraq, escaping brutal Sunni and Shia persecution after the U.S. overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein, who protected the nation’s large Christian minority. Since the U.S.-orchestrated regime change in 2003, Iraq’s Christian population has been decimated by jihadist attacks, going from more than 1.5 million strong down to an estimated 200,000 today.

    • Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics After Easter Attacks

      “Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers.”

    • Jeremy Hunt issues warning on persecution of Christians

      “I think there are various reasons for this but the report makes it very clear that there are different reasons in different parts of the world why persecution of Christians in specific happens and, combined together, they’ve crept up on us.”

    • Thousands march in Kuala Lumpur to defend ‘sovereignty of Islam’

      PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man warned that Saturday’s rally was a “warning and reminder” that Muslims will not stay silent when Islam is insulted.

    • This Woman Fought To End Minnesota’s ‘Marital Rape’ Exception, And Won

      It’s a rare spot of bipartisanship this session in Minnesota, which has the only divided legislature in the country.

      Teeson was up in the gallery with her parents for the House vote. In an unusual move, the entire chamber turned in their seats after the vote to face her, breaking into a round of applause.

      “I don’t think I’ve seen my dad cry, ever. And my mom and my dad and I looked at the board and within two seconds, three seconds, the whole board lit up green,” she says, breaking into tears. “It just solidified that what I’m doing is right and that one person’s voice can really make a difference.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Pai FCC ‘Solution’ To Nation’s Great Robocall Apocalypse? More Meetings

      Despite endless government initiatives and countless promises from the telecom sector, our national robocall hell continues. Robocalls from telemarketers continue to be the subject the FCC receives the most complaints about (200,000 complaints annually, making up 60% of all FCC complaints), and recent data from the Robocall Index indicates that the problem is only getting worse. Consumers continue to be hammered by mortgage interest rate scams, credit card scams, student loan scams, business loan scams, and IRS scams. 4.9 billion such calls were placed in April alone.

      There’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to fixing the problem. The FCC, now little more than a rubber stamp for industry under Ajit Pai, has been lax in holding carrier feet to the fire. Carriers in turn have blamed everyone but themselves for their own lax response. Similarly, many carriers have been slow to offer customers free robocall blocking tech, and even slower in adopting call authentication technology (like SHAKEN/STIR), which would go a long way toward hampering the call spoofing at the heart of the problem.

    • The Race for Global Internet Access Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

      While the initiative was popular, Arora found that its outcomes did not align with its original mission. “The kiosks had become gaming stations,” she writes. “The vans came to be known as ‘movie vans,’” and “[m]any of the café owners swore by social networking sites like Orkut, the Facebook of the day, which kept their businesses alive.” In other words, Internet access didn’t have a substantive impact on people’s material conditions, but on the range of their access to leisure activities. Given access, the world’s disconnected inhabitants—like the rest of us—tend to use it for things like online dating, playing games, watching porn, and other pursuits and hobbies that hardly impact their class status.

    • We Don’t Need Social Media

      At the moment, the only people who actually need social media are the people who created it and continue to make money from it — and even they are using it less and less.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Peter v. NantKwest: Attorney Fees for Challenging PTO Decisions

      I believe there are many situations where it makes sense to award reasonable costs and attorney fees to the prevailing party. It goes further to ensure that the injured party is ‘made whole’ and it also discourages folks to push forward with weak arguments.

      That said, I don’t like 35 U.S.C. 145. That provision awards the USPTO “all the expenses of the proceedings” regardless of whether the agency wins or loses. The provision works to discourage the filing of Civil Actions to obtain a patent. In NantKwest, the USPTO is asking that “all the expenses” be interpreted to include its personnel expenses, including attorney fees, win-or-lose.

    • IBM Corp. v. Iancu (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      In International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) v. Iancu, the Federal Circuit found that the Board’s interpretation of key claim limitations was incorrect resulting in the Board’s decisions having errors.

      IBM owns U.S. Patent No. 7,631,346, entitled “Method and System for a Runtime User Account Creation Operation Within a Single-Sign-On Process in a Federated Computing Environment.” At the behest of several private companies (who have settled and are not parties here), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, acting as delegee of the USPTO Director, instituted two related inter partes reviews (IPRs) of various claims of the ’346 patent. In the first IPR, the Board found that claims 1, 3, 12, 14, 15, and 18 are unpatentable because they are anticipated by Japanese Publication No. Tokkai 2004-302907A (Sunada). In the second IPR, the Board found that claims 1, 3, 12, 13, 15, and 18 are unpatentable because they are anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 7,680,819 (Mellmer).

      The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Sunada IPR decision as being based on an incorrect claim construction of the “federated computing environment” limitation of all claims at issue. In the Mellmer IPR decision, the same claim construction error was found to be present, but did not affect the Federal Circuit’s holding to reverse the Board’s decision.

      [...]

      Thus, the Board’s final written decision in the Sunada IPR was vacated and remanded for the Board to determine in the first instance whether, under the correct claim construction, Sunada anticipates the claims at issue in that IPR.

      With respect to the Mellmer IPR, the Federal Circuit reversed the finding of anticipation. The relevant claim limitation of the ’346 patent requires “triggering a single-sign-on operation on behalf of the user in order to obtain access to a protected resource that is hosted by the second system.” The Board construed “single-sign-on operation” to mean “a process by which a user is authenticated at a first entity and subsequently not required to perform another authentication before accessing a protected resource at a second entity.”

      It is undisputed that, under those definitions, a user performs an authentication when the user takes an action that provides credentials, or that plays a role in launching a provision of credentials on the user’s behalf, to obtain access to resources. Thus, a “single-sign-on operation” is one that does not require the user to take such action to gain access to a second entity’s resources after the user has been authenticated with a first entity.

      [...]

      The Federal Circuit therefore found that Mellmer does not teach the single-sign-on limitation of the claims at issue in the IPR. Thus, despite the incorrect claim interpretation, that interpretation did not change the finding that Mellmer does not anticipate the claims. The Board’s decision in the Mellmer IPR was therefore reversed.

    • Trademarks

      • Chicago Cubs Successfully Oppose Iowa Man’s ‘Cubnoxious’ Trademark; Court Cites Obnoxious Cubs Fans

        Since 2016, when the Chicago Cubs became magically relevant in baseball again, the team has also become relevant in intellectual property discussions. The Cubs have gone to war with the street vendors that have long set up shop near Clark and Addison, and the team has been party to an ongoing battle with roughly all the uses of the letter “W” in commerce.

        But as the team’s lawyers appear to have been invigorated by its on the field success, that isn’t to say that every single trademark dispute it initiates is one in which it’s the bad guy. For instance, one Iowa man decided to trademark the term “Cubnoxious”, but apparently didn’t have any actual plans to use it when the Cubs came calling.

        [...]

        So, yeah, this guy couldn’t bring the goods when the court asked what he planned on doing with the trademark. Now, I will say that, had this guy had an actual plan, the Cubs opposing the mark on the grounds of public confusion would seem pretty silly. What would the claim be, that the Cubs would call their own fans obnoxious? That obviously isn’t something a team is going to call its own fans.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright As Censorship: American Law Institute Uses Copyright To Stop Discussion Of Controversial Publication Prior To Vote

        Courts frequently rely on these “Restatements” to better understand the state of the law today, including how various courts have ruled on the law (so-called “common law.”) For that reason, the Restatement process can get fairly controversial (including an ongoing controversy over the Copyright Restatement, which legacy copyright insiders are falsely claiming is somehow biased against legacy copyright companies). Leaving that particular controversy aside, it does appear that the ALI itself may need a refresher course on how copyright works, because it’s currently abusing copyright law to try to prevent open discussion about another controversial Restatement.

        ALI’s proposed Restatement of the Law of Consumer Contracts has similarly been beset by vociferous criticism from a variety of different parties. There’s a vote pending on the latest draft next week, on May 21st at the ALI’s annual meeting. Georgetown law professor Adam Levitan posted a draft of the proposed Restatement on Dropbox so that his followers could read it and understand what was in it prior to the vote.

        Apparently, the ALI had other thoughts in mind and, after first threatening Levitan, it issued a DMCA takedown to Dropbox to remove the file. It did this after first emailing Levitan and demanding he take it down and then (falsely) insisting that “fair use is excerpts” and saying that it relies on its copyright “to pay the light bill.”

      • US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

        The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened.

      • Namecheap Must Identify Nofile.io Registrant Following Piracy Complaint

        File-hosting service Nofile.io suffered some downtime recently. The outage coincided with a subpoena obtained by the RIAA a few days ago, which requires Namecheap to expose the domain registrant. The reason for the RIAA’s inquiry is a recent leak of a track from rapper ‘Tyler, the Creator.’

04.21.19

A Reader’s Suggestion: Directions for Techrights

Posted in Site News at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

4 directions

Summary: Guest post by figosdev

OUR site’s growing impact has not changed its focus. We carry on irrespective of temptations and I habitually reject invitations to interviews on TV if I distrust the channels that invite me. The site’s traffic almost doubled in the past half a decade and last week I was reminded of the impact when there was another SLAPP attempt from the former CEO of Novell. I never responded to his legal representative and instead did a story on Hovsepian's crocodile tears (basically, Novell’s last CEO cannot find a job). We’ve done a lot of Novell coverage (thousands of articles, with insiders’ tips included in these). In recent years we’ve been focused on the EPO — to the point where (within only months) the EPO’s management surrendered and went into panic, sending several law firms to harass me. For over 4 years the Web site Techrights has been banned in the EPO (blocked) for merely transmitting accurate information about the EPO, based on insiders and people close to the EPO. No site covers EPO affairs more than Techrights. Censorship of this kind is a timely warning about the EU’s “filters” agenda.

Yesterday a longtime reader sent me a 6-page document he had written about the site. It wasn’t originally intended for publication/dissemination, but he has agreed to make it public as follows.


Techrights began as Boycott Novell, a website dedicated to exposing and standing against corporate corruption in software and technology. When Novell was purchased, the rebrand to Techrights found the website exploring new directions — with a focus on bad patents.

Other themes of Techrights would include censorship, "openwashing", calling out propaganda and corporate/media lies, and companies pushing people away from free software towards bad compromises like "open core."

While the Open Source Initiative spent time cozying up to monopolies, calling out free software on being "arbitrarily" different from open source — when it was the latter that split off from free software, and "arbitrarily" different meant the very attitude towards monopolies that free software was founded to stand against — OSI at least spent some time talking about the problems for open-whatever in a world where Microsoft and Apple want to retain control over the user.

Now that all pretenses of being about openness or the user are dropped, the OSI-Linux-Ubuntu-whatever foundation seems more about how to get corporations to steal the free software ecosystem. And Techrights takes the advice of OSI-cofounder Bruce Perens, who resigned OSI a year later saying "Its Time to Talk About Free Software Again".

Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation is talking about "deals with the devil", acknowledging and partially accepting for the first time in years that many users simply aren’t going to go with a fully free system — if only because hardware OEMs haven’t gone in the direction of supporting free software. Instead, manufacturers have actually gone the other way towards standards designed to shut free software out (except where blessed in an "open" way by Microsoft, Red Hat, Google, etc.).

Open source has achieved every goal — to get all the big corporations to use free software, even if they adapt it towards use by monopolies who dont want the user to be free. It has packaged and sold free software to the very foes that made the free software movement necessary in the first place. The only thing left for OSI and the Linux Foundation to do now is take people’s money and do all the things that O’Reilly dreamed of, while selling out users.

Techrights is easily the #1 voice on the Internet for calling out shills and open source hypocrites, and brings you daily the sort of news that the FSF brings you on a monthly calendar. Although it speaks to open source fans, it doesn’t stand for the corruption and hypocrisy. At worst, it is "Open Source done right." At best, it is a constant reminder of how much we have lost (or stand to lose) in the fight for user freedom.

Without misplaced loyalty to any organisation, only to the truth, Techrights does what the tech press seldom does: journalism. But in these modern times when people know about the Snowden leaks and still open their phones with facial recognition and actual fingerprints, while Mark Zuckerberg puts tape over his laptop camera, we have to ask if journalism alone is enough?

To be certain, journalism is always important. But with the FSF failing (or at least being undeniably set back) in their mission for half a decade without even mentioning it, one might ask if a "Be The Change" direction is one that Techrights wants to take on. When it comes to the tech press, Techrights is the change — when ZDNet publishes its usual corporate pablum, Techrights puts things back into perspective. This by itself is very useful — most of all to people who already care about these issues.

The corporate world is uncompromising when it wants to change something — it lobbies for public education to tell things more exclusively from its side of the story, it buys its competitors, and it uses bogus patents to steal the work of others. We don’t need to be corrupt, but we do need to be relentless in our stand against the corruption.

The biggest enemy of all is apathy and lack of awareness. Journalism can make people more aware if they listen, but it can’t help them do anything if they don’t know what to do, if there are no practical solutions (practicality in the sense the FSF would mean — not being handcuffed is extremely practical) then people will go back to ignoring what they’ve learned about these companies. "What can we do except go back to bed?"

This is where activism and education can do more than journalism. Good journalism educates — but then it stops there and lets the rest take over. What if no one is taking over? Perhaps the best possible journalism would find the people trying to fix these problems and highlight their efforts and ideas on a regular basis. If that means that the journalism does a bit of editorialising, so does Techrights– probably for the better.

It’s good for an organisation to be partly neutral, just to be sure they aren’t becoming an unquestioning mouthpiece — but no journalism is purely neutral, it always leans a bit towards a certain kind of story. Techrights has a bias towards the user, and that’s very tolerable bias.

The main public-facing function of the FSF — both in what it asks of users and what it achieves — is to raise funds and create an army of free software mouthpieces. This is the area where the FSF is most lacking — because it has certainly done a great deal (more than any other organisation) to give freedom to the user, from developing the software open source then uses to capture and sell users back to former owners like Microsoft — to funding important software projects and offering server bandwidth to users all over the world.

By no means is propaganda the main function of the FSF. But it is the main public-facing function, because free software developers are pretty much always a smaller part of the userbase than "users," so the function FSF serves to developers is by nature less public-facing — most of the public doesnt know anything about it. Likewise, the number of developers who make use of the FSF’s infrastructure (Savannah, etc.) are even smaller. By far, the most public-facing aspect of the FSF is fundraising and training people to speak for them.

Where this is failing, in spectacular fashion — and a threat more grave to the FSF than WSL and Snap packages — is that they are using the mouths of their 5,000 active users while barely making use of those 5,000 minds. The FSF is a parrot training centre: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html

This may seem like a very unfair critique, but it’s entirely relevant and if you look at the results, it is not so unfair, untrue or unrealistic. At worst it is a slight exaggeration, but the FSF takes itself a little too seriously (regardless of whether it earns the right or not, which really isn’t the point) and expects other people to as well. A counter-argument goes "it’s a bit tongue in cheek" and so far as that’s true its completely alright. It becomes a problem when the actual result is 5,000 parrots — because parrots dont think very much about what they’re saying.

By comparison, Techrights has an ideologically diverse community without the typical open source antagonism towards freedom — such as people telling you that choosing software based on the licensing is stupid or that free software is arbitrary and obtuse for the sake of it — or Simon Phipps explaining how the problem is that Stallman is autistic. Open source promoters are the "cool kids" who go to the big parties, and "freedom" (it’s really a confusing word, folks!) is a nice idea, but its not "practical."

With Open Source you can talk about everything, except how Microsoft is doing something wrong — sort of like the mainstream media can talk about anything, but it can’t show you a clip of civilians being laughed at while they’re being murdered by remote control.

Maybe the elephant in the room is — what are we actually going to do with all of this information? Because the FSF isn’t even sharing it — they’re either quiet or in denial about the direction the war against free software has taken. Of course they’ve talked about it for longer than anyone else has — and perhaps that’s why they think nothing is really new. But those of us who just got here 10 or 15 years ago, have certainly noticed new problems — if the FSF is silent about some of that, then not being silent should be the first thing that free software advocates do. They’re trying to sound the alarm, and the FSF is almost plugging their ears.

Open source development does not have any protection from "ego-driven" destruction — when some ‘coding maniac’ hijacks the development and makes the system [unnecessarily] complex ,destroying the conceptual integrity of earlier, simpler versions: http://www.softpanorama.org/Commercial_linuxes/Startup_and_shutdown/systemd.shtml

“if you write your tools in a way that is pushy and monopolistic, which causes years of problems for the ecosystem to work around– you’ve advanced redix.” (https://freemedia.neocities.org/redix-watch.html)

When you are already talking about these things all the time, and it isn’t enough to help change the world, the next item on the agenda is to stagnate, give up or move into trying to change things. There’s no amount of reporting that Techrights can do that is going to accomplish far more than it is already doing — it’s a wonderfully relentless effort. The best it could do at this point is work smarter, not harder — perhaps "smarter" would mean helping people put their information to use.

At that point, it moves from journalism and editorialising to advocacy and education — not education in terms of schools — education in terms of OER and online learning.

Nor would it move to advocacy in terms of training parrots — but advocacy in terms of providing people with information and tools to become an active part of the development of ideas to win back our freedom. The Free Software Foundation might offer you that opportunity if you write software, but that alone isn’t enough anymore.

We really need to teach people how to become more journalistic — how to become savvier users — how to care about freedom, of course — and how to think critically and innovatively, and assist each other in terms of fighting new threats.

Eric Raymond is the lesser co-founder of OSI (at least in terms of his help towards making the user free) but he has achieved with the bazaar his aims that thwart the cathedral of the FSF. Sure, this is apples and oranges because the cathedral tried to give more power to the user, and the bazaar has sold the user back to corporations. So perhaps Raymond’s book title should have read, "The Cathedral, the Bazaar and the Wealthy Landowners."

Nonetheless, we may need a bazaar of ideas to win, because the cathedral of ideas is all tapped out.

Techrights can be a giant part of that bazaar, it can be the biggest group of tables — not because its goal is to be the biggest, but because most of the energy in the free software movement right now is flailing around in the throws of the very effective attacks from Microsoft, Red Hat and the many different sellouts who have helped us get to this awful place in free software history. Techrights is showing less wear and tear than the FSF or OSI — so whether or not the goal is to be large, it is the de facto state of Techrights — a steam locomotive that has outlasted both Groklaw and any pretense of OSI to care about users.

As much as this is about what can be done with its momentum, it is about what free software can do to harness (and continue to fuel) that momentum. We are at a stage in free software where many organisations are needed, and overlap was never a problem — overlap in organisations, as with posix in distributions, is where organisations are working together towards a common goal.

Like with distributions, different organisations work best for different people — they have slightly different audiences or needs. With regards to the current state of war, the FSF is floundering or crawling at an inch-per-years pace, more like ReactOS in its progress than Debian.

But Techrights could help people learn to code, it could provide a beginner-friendly atmosphere to bring in users, and it could be a voice for everyone fighting systemd, keeping a watch of the undeniably corporate effort to destroy posix and replace it with things like systemd and Azure — "But systemd didn’t start as a corporate thing" (neither did WebKit or the Linux kernel.)

The free software movement doesn’t have a war room anymore. It needs one. Techrights can be that war room, or it can be the next best thing. Either way, we need it — every resistance needs a voice, and Techrights is arguably doing more in that regard, at this point in time, than any other organisation.

04.14.19

‘Poor’ (Multi-Millionaire) Novell CEO, Who Colluded With Steve Ballmer Against GNU/Linux, is Trying to Censor Techrights

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ron Hovsepian, Site News, Steve Ballmer at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attorneys/lawyers for millionaires, muzzling the ‘little people’

Seinberg Law

Summary: Novell’s last CEO, a former IBMer who just like IBM decided to leverage software patents against the competition (threatening loads of companies using "platoons of patent lawyers"), has decided that siccing lawyers at us would be a good idea

A FEW DAYS ago, almost on the very same day an award-winning online friend and journalist was arrested for committing the act of journalism in the UK, this letter[PDF]came out of the blue from unexpected persons. It hasn’t even been a year since I last received ludicrous SLAPP letters and here they go again, hoping to suppress the record and twist history by means of omission. Censors. They think money can buy them anything they want.

“It hasn’t even been a year since I last received ludicrous SLAPP letters and here they go again, hoping to suppress the record and twist history by means of omission.”We have lots to say to refute this letter, but why bother replying to it directly? Just look at this utterly ridiculous and legally-invalid letter. The picture in question, of Mr. Hovsepian, was posted in tandem (next to the original) to ensure people knew it was satirical, but more importantly age does not in any way invalidate the claims made, supported by a lot of media references. He is wrong. What I wrote at the time was correct. Workers were fired. They told me. So he’s basically lying about what he did. This man probably has tens of millions of dollars (salaries and bonuses), yet here he is hiring a law firm to keep pestering publishers (maybe not only me). Here’s the full text from one of his two E-mails (he kept sending it to several accounts):

Fwd: Removal Request re: Ronald Hovsepian

Dear Dr. Schestowitz:

I sent you the following correspondence earlier today at a different email address, and received an automated reply that advised sending it here for quicker response. The earlier message now follows:

I have been trying to reach you since March 7 regarding an article that you wrote about my client, Ronald Hovsepian. The article is now fairly advanced in age, but it does continue to cause difficulties for Mr. Hovsepian. With this being the case, we are requesting its removal at this time.

Please see the original letter (copied in below) that I initially tried to route to your attention via an email address that may not have been ideal for such purpose.

I look forward to your response. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and best wishes for now,

Steven Seinberg


———- Forwarded message ———
From: Steve Seinberg <steve@seinberglaw.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 4:20 PM
Subject: Removal Request re: Ronald Hovsepian

March 7, 2019

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

Techrights

Re: Request to Remove Damaging Content

Dear Techrights Editorial Staff:

My firm has been retained to represent Mr. Ronald Hovsepian to address his concerns regarding the confusion and damage to his reputation that have been caused due to the following article remaining available on your website:

http://techrights.org/2010/03/03/ron-hovsepian-and-novl-bid/

As of this writing, nine years have passed since this article was originally published. Mr. Hovsepian left Novell less than a year later. Unfortunately for him, his reputation continues to suffer due to the negative portrayal of who you perceived him to be nearly a decade ago.

The image that grafts the lower half of Steve Ballmer’s face onto Mr. Hovsepian’s head is not especially helpful, but in a more significant objection, my client also maintains that contrary to what your piece reports, no SUSE employees had been terminated at the time the article was posted online.

While Mr. Hovsepian has of course secured subsequent gainful employment, such as his tenure as President and CEO of Intralinks, your article continues to cause him difficulties in the professional arena.

Due to the possibility that potential future business associates, partners, investors, and clients will also see and become influenced by this article, we respectfully request that you remove it from your website.

Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

/s/ Steven A. Seinberg
Steven A. Seinberg, Esq.
Attorney at Law

The image in question is shown next to the original too (Steve Ballmer next to the Ballmer/Hovsepian crossover). There would no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was doctored for satirical purpose and there’s absolutely no legal basis upon which to request this removal.

“In the above example, from Steven A. Seinberg, what we have is lawyers from another continent trying to gag a site based in Europe. And on what legal basis? Nothing. Nothing at all.”Remember that it was also the French who came up with the utterly ridiculous concept of RtbF (Right to be Forgotten), which is basically saying criminals or even child abusers have a “right” to hide their past, even by forcibly censoring search engines. Will the likes of Battistelli try to leverage similar legal stunts, having already sicced several law firms at me (all based in London)? At the moment CEIPI helps him hide. People like him who leave office and lose immunity, which he once upon a time enjoyed at the European Patent Office (EPO), prefer keeping a lower profile to avert/avoid prosecution.

Let’s also remember that almost a year after António Campinos joined the EPO as President Techrights is still blocked. The EPO has blocked my site for almost five years (it’s still blocked right now). Not for being wrong. Not for being vulgar. But for being correct, for being credible and effective. Censorship in Europe is alive and well and it helps protect crooks from their critics and exposers. In the above example, from Steven A. Seinberg, what we have is lawyers from another continent trying to gag a site based in Europe. And on what legal basis? Nothing. Nothing at all.

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