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Links 1/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC3, Linux Lite 4.4 Released

GNOME bluefish



  • Computer-recycling nonprofit seeking new space
    The computers run on a customized version of Linux, an open source operating system, that is provided to users for free.

  • Desktop

    • My First 24 Hours With Purism's Librem 15 v4 Laptop And PureOS
      Purism's 15-incher starts at $1499, so it needs to look and feel premium. In my opinion it accomplishes that with its anodized black aluminum chassis, although the color becomes a magnet for fingerprints -- one complaint I've never had with my XPS 13 9370. You'll also notice a pleasing lack of branding. No logo on the lid or display. No stickers under the keyboard. It's just a sleek black slab.

      Opening up the laptop reveals a top-right power button, a full-size backlit keyboard (10-key included) and a touchpad that boasts a thin silver trim that really makes it pop. The keyboard is exponentially better than any recent MacBook as it's more tactile and has more travel, but falls just short of the newer XPS 13 or any modern ThinkPad.

      The touchpad feels just slightly sluggish compared to XPS 13 or MacBook (but this can improved by tweaking acceleration), resulting in tracking that isn't quite as smooth as its competitors out of the box. It's no deal breaker and is quite comfortable to use; it's just not the best of the bunch.

    • Linux laptops alive in South Africa
      While it may serve a small niche in South Africa, Dell has been offering laptops that run Ubuntu Linux for years.

      This is according to Chris Buchanan, client solutions director at Dell EMC in South Africa.

      Dell and Canonical recently announced the new version of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop, offering up to 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSB. Since then, a 2TB version has become available.

      Like other Developer Edition variants of the Dell XPS 13, the 2018 model comes with Ubuntu Linux rather than Windows. At the time, the latest long-term support release: Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver”.

    • The Linux Vendor Firmware Service Marks a Major Milestone
      Leveraging the LVFS (and the open-source fwupd tool), Linux distributions like Ubuntu allow users to install firmware updates alongside regular software and OS updates.

      The Software app is able to scan the service’s database to find firmware updates for compatible/attached hardware, then offer to download and install it — no manufacturer-specific flashing tools required.

    • LVFS Served Up 500k Firmware Files To Linux Users This Month
      Back in February the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) was celebrating having served more than five million firmware files over the duration of this service for providing BIOS/firmware files to Linux users for different hardware components from different vendors ranging from mice/peripheral firmware to new system/motherboard BIOS from major hardware vendors. That count is quickly shooting up these days and they are now serving 500k files per month.

      Richard Hughes, the lead developer of LVFS/Fwupd at Red Hat, shared they hit a new record of serving 0.5 million firmware files over the past month.

  • Server

    • Red Hat Reports Double-Digit Growth Ahead of IBM Deal

    • [Red Hat] Digital transformation, cultural modernization cannot be mutually exclusive
      Much has been written about the drive for IT modernization in the federal government, but what about the need for cultural modernization? After all, digital transformation isn’t just a “technology issue;” it involves transforming an organization’s cultural environment too.

      But government budgets tend to favor technological maintenance over cultural innovation. According to the Government Accountability Office, 78 percent of IT budgets go to operations and maintenance, leaving little left for systems development, modernization, and enhancement.

    • BlueCat turns to open source collaboration to help customers automate infrastructure
      Customers also want to interface with other open source networking platforms, such as Kubernetes and OpenStack. The nature of these technologies sees them deployed into environments with specific tweaks. As a result, BlueCat can’t practically create one configuration for all of its customers. So opening up the Gateway access to an open source community allows customers to accomplish things more quickly. Plus, BlueCat’s business strategy isn’t to make money by charging customers for the different integrations they need to add on. Instead, it’s providing a critical node that is flexible enough to maintain its relevance.

    • 5 Ceph storage questions answered and explained
      Ceph storage is one of the most popular object storage options available. This open source, highly scalable, unified storage comes with several advantages.

      Ceph offers features commonly found in other enterprise storage products, but it's likely to be less expensive than traditional SAN. As an open source system, Ceph doesn't have the licensing fees of proprietary systems. It also isn't dependent on expensive, specialized hardware and can be installed on commodity hardware.

      Among Ceph's other benefits are scalability and flexibility. Ceph provides multiple interfaces -- object, block and file -- for storage access, and you increase system capacity by adding more servers.

    • Open source service provider Buoyant raises $10 million
      Buoyant, a provider of open source mesh for cloud applications, recently announced that it has raised $10 million in a funding round led by GV (previously known as Google Ventures) along with the participation from existing investors Benchmark and A Capital. The San Francisco-based company stated the new investment will be used to further develop its solution’s features and business reach.

    • launches its managed Elasticsearch service
      Setting up Elasticsearch, the open-source system that many companies large and small use to power their distributed search and analytics engines, isn’t the hardest thing. What is very hard, though, is to provision the right amount of resources to run the service, especially when your users’ demand comes in spikes, without overpaying for unused capacity.’s new Elasticsearch Service does away with all of this by essentially offering Elasticsearch as a service and only charging its customers for the infrastructure they use.

    • Why MongoDB isn't worried about AWS [Ed: Many people will not know that the author worked for the company he writes about, defending them going proprietary]
      Most people don't participate in the earnings calls of public companies. Within the tech industry, while we may care about the products sold by public companies, we tend not to be too fixated on the financial numbers they report. Even so, as MongoDB's latest earnings call reveals, there's a great deal we can learn about our current technology landscape from tuning in.

    • Kubernetes: The End of the DIY Era?
      In the world of cloud technologies, working in open source generally means you have more and better choices. If your code is built on open source, you have more choices of platforms and cloud providers. If you’re a developer, open source probably means you have more choices of projects to work on, and possibly even a greater choice of employers.

      But with choice, as with anything else, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing. Case in point: Kubernetes.

      Kubernetes, which had its origins at Google, has now spread well beyond that, to the point that more than half of commits now come from outside of Google. The result is an explosion of options for Kubernetes and its surrounding ecosystem, which comprise one of the basic technology sets that any cloud-native‚ or cloud-adopting, team needs to learn.
    • Pivotal, Gravitational, and Google Water Kubernetes Expansion
      Kubernetes continues to infiltrate enterprise cloud operations as organizations look to glean greater efficiencies and consolidate management around the open source project. This was highlighted by a recent Rightscale enterprise survey that found 48 percent of enterprises use Kubernetes to manage their container deployments. That usage was nearly double the 27 percent of enterprises that were using the platform a year ago.

      Vendors are also increasing their use of Kubernetes to enhance their service offerings. With the latest iteration of the container orchestration platform set to drop this week, we thought we would catch you up on some of the more notable moves from Pivotal, Gravitational, and Google.

    • Four Macro Organizational Considerations For Enterprises Adopting Kubernetes

    • The impact of the GDPR - privacy matters
      For anyone working in the privacy space, 2018 can be summed up with four letters: GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation’s implementation date of May 25, 2018, will forever be etched in the minds of many as the date that the European Union adopted a comprehensive and far-reaching privacy law.

      On reflection, the GDPR was truly a watershed moment for global privacy law. Not only because of the rights and protections it provides to individuals in the European Union, but because — less than a year later — the GDPR has inspired other governments to consider similar legislation. New privacy laws are coming into effect in California, Brazil and possibly other U.S. states and countries, and these laws share many of the same principles of the GDPR.

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 Labs: Cloud-native app dev roadmap
      Red Hat Summit 2019 is rocking Boston, MA, May 7-9 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. This event offers everything you need to know about the current state of open source, enterprise-ready software. You’ll find customers talking about leveraging open source in their solutions, and you’ll meet the creators of open source technologies and get to experience their hands-on labs.

      The following labs can be found in the session catalog online, by searching on the session title or filtering on “instructor-led lab” and “cloud-native app dev” content. You can also learn more about the Cloud-Native App Dev track sessions in this article.

    • How Kubeflow is evolving without ksonnet
      Many software projects depend on modules that are run as separate open source projects. When one of those modules loses support (as is inevitable), the community around the main project must determine how to proceed.

      This situation is happening right now in the Kubeflow community. Kubeflow is an evolving open source platform for developing, orchestrating, deploying, and running scalable and portable machine learning workloads on Kubernetes. Recently, the primary supporter of the Kubeflow component ksonnet announced that it would no longer support the software.

      When a piece of software loses support, the decision-making process (and the outcome) differs greatly depending on whether the software is open source or closed source.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1-rc3
      Nothing particularly unusual going on here.

      The rc3 release is bigger than normal, which is obviously never anything I want to see, but at the same time it's early enough in the rc series that it's not something I really worry about. Yet.

      And while it's bigger, nothing really unusual stands out. The single biggest patch in there (by far - it's in fact about a third of the whole rc3 patch) is just removal of the mt7621-eth staging driver, which is because the regular mediatek ethernet driver now handles that hardware. In fact, due to the removal of that driver, the full rc3 patch removes more lines than it adds, which is always nice to see (honestly in advertising: looking at the whole release so far rather than just this week's rc, that is very much not true).

    • Linux 5.1-rc3 Kernel Released - Bigger Than Normal But Not Bad
      Linus Torvalds has just announced the third weekly release candidate of the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      Linus wrote of 5.1-rc3, "The rc3 release is bigger than normal, which is obviously never anything I want to see, but at the same time it's early enough in the rc series that it's not something I really worry about. Yet. And while it's bigger, nothing really unusual stands out."

      For those not aware of all the exciting new material in this next kernel release, see our Linux 5.1 feature overview.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 64
        Week 64 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative has arrived, and I think you’ll see why this week needed two posts.

      • KDE's Konsole Now Supports Splitting, Plasma Vault Integration In Dolphin
        KDE contributor Nate Graham has continued his weekly blog posts outlining some of the notable improvements made in the world of KDE. One of the notable changes this week is the Konsole terminal emulator allowing arbitrary grid-like splits of a single window. That honors a ten year old bug report about wanting to restore support for "Quadkonsole" for allowing several consoles to render within a single window. That support is finally in place for the KDE Applications 19.08 release due out this summer.

      • SDDM v0.18.1
        We are happy to release a new SDDM version.

        SDDM is a Qt based graphical login manager developed in a collaborative fashion by people from Liri, KDE and LXQt.

      • KDE Connect and Android
        As most of you know KDE Connect has recently been removed from Google Play due to a policy violation with regard to our SMS and telephony features. While the public outcry helped to get it back in with all features remaining this is just yet another example of how new Android policies make it harder for us to maintain the level of quality and features you expect from KDE Connect. Android Oreo forced us to drop support for older Android versions and imposed restrictions on background services which force us to have an annoying persistent notification. It is to be expected that Google will further restrict background services which will impose more problems for us. With each new Android versions new restrictions and problems arise which we have to work around, if possible. For example, the upcoming Android Q imposes restrictions on accessing the phone’s clipboard. It is unclear whether the clipboard sync in it’s current form is feasible on Android Q. Those are just examples of the problems with the direction Android is moving towards.

      • Krita Interview with D
        I plan to open a studio, where I will teach people to work in digital painting with Krita, as well as jointly create art projects with my students and like-minded people, to help promote this program.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Designing for Sandboxes
        One of the things I talked about in my talk at Scale 17x is that there are a number of platform features coming that are enevitable.

        One of those is application sandboxing.

        But not every component within an application is created equal or deserves equal access to user data and system configuration. Building the next big application is increasingly requiring thinking about how you segment applications into security domains.

        Given the constraints of our current operating systems, that generally means processes. Google’s Chrome was one of the first major applications to do this. The Chrome team had created a series of processes focused on different features. Each of those processes had capabilities removed (such as network, or GPU access) from the process space to reduce the damage of an attack.
      • Useful Extensions for GNOME 3.32
        Now, after you've got GNOME 3.32, its time to hunt Shell Extensions once again. Here I present you my choices of Extensions working for the 3.32 which are useful and productive. For example, you may notice that some extension such as NetSpeed didn't work yet on the 3.32, and you will find the replacement to be Simple Net Speed here. You can use Desktop Icons and Dash to Dock to have traditional working environment, use Drop Down Terminal if you often run command at any time, and a pair of Applications Menu and Places Status Indicator to make your screen behaves like GNOME2. It's still so many Extensions available out there but I hope this simplified list works for you. Enjoy GNOME 3.32!

  • Distributions

    • Linux Lite 4.4 is ready to replace Microsoft Windows on your aging PC
      One of the best things about operating systems based on the Linux kernel is they can sometimes be very lightweight. Why is this important? Well, when an OS uses very few resources, it can breathe new life into an aging PC. In other words, just because Windows 7 or Windows 10 run like molasses on your old computer, that doesn't mean you have to buy a new one. The right Linux distribution can make your older PC feel fast and new.

      One of the most popular lightweight Linux-based operating systems is Linux Lite. Heck, the name of the distribution tells you that it is designed to use few resources! Version 4.4 is now available, and as per usual, it is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS -- 18.04. The Xfce desktop environment will feel familiar to those switching from Windows. Those new to Linux will also appreciate the easy access to many popular programs, such as Skype, Steam, and Spotify. Even the excellent Microsoft Office alternative, LibreOffice, is included.

    • Linux Lite 4.4 Final Released
      Linux Lite 4.4 Final is now available for download and installation.

      This release has a number of minor changes.
    • Linux Lite 4.4 Officially Released, It’s Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS
      Linux Lite project manager Jerry Bezencon announced today the final release of the Linux Lite 4.4 operating system, which brings various enhancements and updated components.

      Based on the Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, Linux Lite 4.4 is here to add a number of minor changes to the GNU/Linux distribution beloved by so many users worldwide. The most important change is the fact that there aren’t beta releases anymore, which were replaced with RC (Release Candidate) images.

      “The RC information and Build number will only appear on the default wallpaper for that release, Login screen and the Live Boot screen. The positioning of the text is such that it allows room for desktop widgets like Conky and Lite Widget to appear uncluttered on the right,” said Jerry Bezencon.

    • Sparky news 2019/03
      The 3rd monthly report of 2019 of the Sparky project: ● Sparky Tube received a few improvements ● Advanced Installed has a new option which lets you choose autologin without password (suggested by Elton) ● Sparky 5.7 released (LXQt, MinimalGUI/Openbox, MinimalCLI) ● Sparky 5.7 Special Editions released (GameOver, Multimedia & Rescue) ● Linux kernel updated up to version 5.0.5 & 4.20.17 (EOL) & 5.1-rc2 ● Added to repos: mkusb, qCalculator, qCamera, Sway, tbsm, mako, bemenu ● Updated sddm-theme-sparky: replaced existing theme by a new one, which doesn’t need plasma as a dependency any more; added another sddm theme to a new ‘sddm-theme1-sparky’ package

    • Reviews

      • Review: Solus 4.0
        I very much enjoyed my time with Solus. The project offered an unusually polished experience and presents a breath of fresh air that is all the more impressive considering it is an independent distribution which cannot rely on a parent project to do the heavy lifting. Early on I ran into some minor issues. For instance, the installer cannot handling manual partitioning and will not launch GParted for us. When I tried using the automatic location check, I ended up with the wrong keyboard layout and measurement units.

        After these initial hurdles though, and some minor frustration dealing with the inconsistent menus in GNOME applications, I rapidly grew to appreciate the care that has gone into both Budgie and Solus. The theme is unusually consistent, the desktop both well crafted and flexible enough for people like me who want to customize their environment. The default applications are generally some of the best in their categories and worked beautifully.

        I really like the software centre and found it pleasantly easy to navigate and uncomplicated. I like that Solus has managed to make one streamlined package manager instead of shipping three different software managers to handle different situations.

        Ideally I would have preferred one settings panel instead of two. The GNOME panel offers many more options and deals with operating system configuration while the Budgie panel deals specifically with the user interface. However, there is some overlap between the two and that sometimes meant it took longer for me to find settings I wanted to tweak. That being said, the Budgie settings panel is beautiful in its explanations and simplicity; other desktops could learn from Budgie's example.

        In short, all the issues I ran into were minor, more inconveniences than problems. Meanwhile the polish, flexibility, default applications, stability and performance were all top notch. I was happy with my experiences with Solus 4.0 and think it will definitely appeal to new Linux users and more experienced users who want to install their system and just have it work.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Appears To Be Experimenting With Profile Guided Optimizations
        OpenMandriva has been toying with some performance optimizations in recent times like preferring the LLVM Clang compiler over GCC, spinning an AMD Zen "znver1" optimized version of the OS/packages, and apparently now exploring possible Profile Guided Optimizations.

        Profile Guided Optimizations (PGO) basically involve feeding the feedback of profiling data back into the compiler so it can better optimize the generated code based upon actual usage behavior of the software under test. PGO can pay off big time depending upon the code-base and how well the profile data models real-world workflows of the said software in question.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo-Based Sabayon Linux Is Still Alive, New Release Adds Full Disk Encryption
        After a few months of silence, the Gentoo-based Sabayon Linux operating system has finally received a new release with up-to-date images that bring not only updated components from the Gentoo Linux repositories, but also new features and much-needed improvements.

        Backed by a brand-new build infrastructure and powered by Linux kernel 4.20, Sabayon Linux 19.03 release is here with full disk encryption support via the Calamares graphical installer, which replaces Anaconda as default installer, support for 32-bit UEFI systems, Dracut as a replacement for genkernel-nex as initramfs generation utility, and Python 3 by default.

      • Sabayon 19.03 - New stable release
        The team behind Sabayon is excited to present you the latest stable release: Sabayon 19.03.

        Sabayon is a modern and easy to use distribution based on Gentoo, which follows a reliable rolling release model.

        Please read on or download your flavour Smile

        19.03 is a long awaited release, coming with a lot of new features and enhancements...

      • Gentoo-Based Sabayon 19.03 - Finally Supports Full Disk Encryption, Python 3 Default

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • View from 30,000ft of Some SUSECON Ceph Sessions
        First, is a session covering architecting Ceph based solutions. I’ll talk about technologies and how they impact design when taking the use cases the cluster is being used to address into account. I’ll also be briefly covering the broad list of guides we have available and what it takes to build one of these guides.

    • Fedora

      • 5 Cool New Projects to Try in Fedora Linux
        In this article, we will share five cool new projects to try in Fedora Linux distribution. Note that some of these projects may also be work on other mainstream Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and CentOS.

    • Debian Family

      • The Debian Project mourns the loss of Innocent de Marchi
        The Debian Project recently learned that it has lost a member of its community. Innocent de Marchi passed a few months ago.

        Innocent was a math teacher and a free software developer. One of his passions was tangram puzzles, which led him to write a tangram-like game that he later packaged and maintained in Debian. Soon his contributions expanded to other areas, and he also worked as a tireless translator into Catalan.

        The Debian Project honors his good work and strong dedication to Debian and Free Software. Innocent's contributions will not be forgotten, and the high standards of his work will continue to serve as an inspiration to others.

      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in March 2019
        My activities as the current Debian Project Leader are covered in my Bits from the DPL (March 2019) email to the debian-devel-announce mailing list. Attentive followers of the on-going Debian Project Leader Elections will have noted that I am not running for a consecutive third term, so this was therefore my last such update, at least for the time being…

      • Joerg Jaspert: Miscellaneous, DPL election, Archive changes, Crazyness
        As some may have noticed, I nominated myself for this years DPL election. Crazy times, indeed. Got four other candidates, one has withdrawn in the meantime, so we will have a ballot with 5 options (don’t forget famous NOTA).

        My company helpfully agreed on quite a bunch of time I can take, should I really get elected, which I think will also help the other areas I am active in.

        I won’t bore you with repeating what I said in my platform or on the Debian Vote List, if you are interested in the DPL election business, feel free to read through it all. It is certainly an interesting campaigning period until now.

        Whoever will win in the end, I am sure it will be a good DPL.

      • Jonathan Carter: Free Software Activities (2019-03)

      • Debian elections: field reduced to four after one withdrawal
        One of the five candidates in the running for the post of leader of the Debian/GNU Linux project has withdrawn from the race, leaving four to contest for the post. Simon Richter, an embedded systems expert from Germany, said he was pulling out of the race for personal reasons which he did not specify.

        "As you may have noticed, life happened to me shortly after sending that mail [the email announcing he was throwing his hat in the ring]," he wrote.

        "I'm definitely not in a position to make a serious bid anymore, so I'd like to withdraw. I still have opinions, but I guess I'll just blog about them at some point."

      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities March 2019

      • Specifying debian mirror for your docker image

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Beta Released
              In terms of new features, Ubuntu Studio 19.04 will include a new version of the Ubuntu Studio Metapackage Installer, renamed to Ubuntu Studio Installer. This package is used to add features you may have opted-out of during installation. With this release, Ubuntu Studio can now be installed on top of a default Ubuntu installation or any flavor thereof such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, or Ubuntu Kylin. Documentation on this feature is coming soon.

              Another major new feature is the addition of the upcoming Carla 2.0, originally from the KXStudio project. Carla is an audio plugin host and graphical patchbay which can be used as an audio plugin itself, and also can be used as a bridge to use VST plugins compiled for Windows using WINE. Please note that this WINE bridge is not installed by default, but is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

              With the addition of Carla, jack-rack has been removed from the default installation for obsolescence reasons, and because Carla duplicates its functionality.

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04 for Raspberry Pi Enters Beta Testing, Here's What's New
              Ubuntu MATE leader Martin Wimpress announced the release of the beta version of the Ubuntu MATE 18.04 operating system for the tiny Raspberry Pi single-board computers. Martin Wimpress and his team have been working on refreshing the Raspberry Pi edition of the Ubuntu MATE operating system for a few weeks now, finally rebasing it on a newer LTS (Long Term Support) release, namely Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver).

              After a few internal alpha images, the team is now ready to share the upcoming release with the Linux community, inviting them to try out the beta release of Ubuntu MATE 18.04 for Raspberry Pi, which brings lots of new features and improvements since the 16.04.2 release.

              "With this Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next (stable) version," said Martin Wimpress. "We have done what we can to optimize the builds for the Raspberry Pi without sacrificing the full desktop environment Ubuntu MATE provides on PC."

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM's Red Hat buy 'shows future importance of open source'
    Ahead of the company's annual conference, SUSECON, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1 to 5 April, Andy Jiang, SUSE vice-president and general manager Asia Pacific and Japan, told iTWire in response to queries that SUSE, now an independent business, was in a good position to work closely with its partners and customers to ensure that they could benefit from the "freedom and flexibility" of enterprise open source solutions.

    Asked whether SUSE had now decided to adopt a more aggressive attitude towards the competition — as exemplified in a blog post made recently by Ryan Hagen, consulting manager, Global SUSE Services, about loud infrastructure and business mobility vendor VMware — Jiang did not give a direct answer, but said...

  • Open-Source Software Raises Unique Antitrust Questions [Ed: In the European Union Microsoft lobbyists have been trying to frame open source (e.g. Android) as antitrust violation. I see this isn't ending.]

  • AT&T and Ericsson use ONAP for network slicing
    At next week’s Open Networking Summit in San Jose, California, Ericsson and AT&T will demonstrate a network slicing collaboration that will show how quality of service (QoS) can be guaranteed for “slices” of the network that are dedicated to premium users. The companies chose this use case to highlight the capabilities of the open source ONAP software.

    The demonstration will use four different remote terminals in AT&T's Atlanta labs. Two terminals, designated as regular users, will be running video streams at speeds up to 10 Mbps. Simultaneously, two other terminals, designated as premium users, will also run video streams, at speeds guaranteed at 2.5 Mbps or higher.

  • Aleph Objects Launches LulzBot TAZ Pro, its First-Ever Industrial Open Source 3D Printer
    Aleph Objects has added to its award-winning line of 3D printers by launching what it’s calling its first-ever industrial open source 3D printer, the LulzBot TAZ Pro.

    Grant Flaharty, Aleph Objects’ CEO and President, said: “The TAZ Pro is the first true multiple-material 3D printer with dual linear actuated hot ends at a prosumer price point.”

  • Clojurists Together fund a sum of $9,000 each for the open source projects, Neanderthal and Aleph
    Clojurists Together shortlisted two projects namely Neanderthal and Aleph for Q1 of 2019 (February-April) to provide funding for further development of these projects, the details of which they shared yesterday. These projects will get total funding of $9,000, which means $3,000 per month.

  • Broadband Forum launches open source USP Agent, fast-tracking connected home interoperability in the IoT age
    Created as part of Broadband Forum's Open Broadband initiative, the Open Broadband – USP Agent (OB-USP-Agent) project will provide vendors with a code base that they can either integrate into their devices or use as a reference implementation as they utilize USP. A necessary catalyst to adoption in today's software development world, OB-USP-Agent will facilitate USP deployment and result in faster time-to-market for USP-based solutions and innovation. Furthermore, as a standards-based solution, operators can have the peace of mind that they won't become locked into more costly and less flexible proprietary management solutions.

  • FINOS Community Delivers Version 1.0 Of Financial Desktop Interoperability Open Standard - Open Source Foundation promotes FDC3 Adoption Across The Industry To Build An Open Fintech Ecosystem
    The Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), a nonprofit that promotes open innovation in financial services, today announces the release of the first major version of the Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium (FDC3) standard. Founded and contributed to FINOS by OpenFin, this initiative brings universal connectivity and standards to the financial industry’s desktop applications. FDC3 is starting a new era in addressing long-standing challenges to the user experience caused by fragmentation within the financial software market.

  • Five must use open source apps for Android smartphones and tablets
    Android is an open source software, where OEMs can tweak the overall user-interface and features depending on the requirement. Usually, we download Android apps from the Google Play Store, where most of the free apps show in-app ads to generate revenue, which might irk some users.

  • Open source platforms give agency workforce a boost to modernize
    Agencies plagued by continuing IT talent shortages will find at least some relief by adopting open source enterprise platforms to help them keep pace with development and security skill gaps, say experts in a new podcast.

    Open source platforms spring from an extensive community of developers who work continuously on making applications and development tools more functional and secure, says Richard Bright, senior solutions architect supporting U.S. General Services Administration’s IT chief technology officer.

  • Why open source is useful for business, and individuals
    Open source data collaboration software is about the opportunity. The opportunity to share, to work together, and at last, to enhance.

    It’s an idea that returns route before the web, yet once in a while appears inconsistent with our online world and its requesting business objectives. In open source, nobody individual or organization claims a venture; rather, it’s affected by everybody included – that is the thing that gives it quality.

    As the truism goes, “It takes a town to bring up a youngster” – and it takes a network to make a sound open source data platform. Everybody in an open source ecosystem has the chance to shape and improve the product and help with its advancement. Some will make an extensive commitment, somewhere in the range of a moderately little one. Be that as it may, they’ll all be included and they’ll all profit. Far from these task patrons, the undertaking’s end clients would then be able to recognize the highlights they need and pass new code upstream for thought. Everybody can have any kind of effect.

  • The top 5 free and open-source hotel booking engines
    They have been in business for years. Based in Glasgow, they offer a free booking engine solution for hotels, hostels, BnBs, and cottages. Freetobook charges for collecting and storing your payment details, so it’s very useful if you just want to display your availability online and arrange to be paid later. They also charge for mobile bookings and offer additional paid features such as iCal integration and Google Hotel Ads.

  • The Sunday Quiz: This week, it's all about open-source software

  • Crypto/Blockchain

    • Ethereum Ecosystem: Open Source Sustainability Talks Pick Up Steam
      This week, Gitcoin co-founder Kevin Owocki gave a presentation at CoinFund’s monthly Rabbithole Talks on open source sustainability efforts. Therein, he surveyed a series of development funding possibilities whose profiles have surged in the Ethereum community over the last month as builders have grappled with finding the best funding paths forward.

      It’s an increasingly pertinent topic. The vast majority of the projects in the cryptoeconomy are open-source ventures or directly rely on open-source software, and Ethereum’s nook is no exception.

    • Grin Cryptocurrency to Vote on Change to Hard Fork Roadmap
      The open-source developers behind the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Grin are discussing potential changes to the project’s hard fork roadmap.

      Specifically, since plans to keep the competition for its mining reward issuance through a series of system-wide upgrades (more popularly known as “hard forks”) may not pan out quite as well as hoped, those developing the code for the project are looking to potentially adjust the upgrade schedule.

      Prominent Grin developer John Tromp, who invented the proof-of-work mining algorithm “Cuckoo Cycle,” suggested changes to what will go into the next hard fork currently set for mid-July during a bi-weekly Grin Governance meeting Tuesday. Now, developers are putting the matter to a vote in two weeks time.

    • Securitize, Others Join Hyperledger Blockchain Project
      As of March 28th 2019, Securitize— along with eight other organizations— has joined the Hyperledger blockchain consortium. Hyperledger recently announced that it would be including additional Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to develop solutions for domain-specific problems.

    • Hyperledger welcomes 9 new members to its expanding enterprise blockchain community
      Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today announced that nine organizations have.

    • New Open-Source WebLN Standard Gains Momentum for Bitcoin Lightning Network Payments
      The process of sending bitcoin lightning payments is fairly straightforward, but the new bitcoin standard, WebLN, was created with the purpose of improving lightning payments in a simpler way. The standard is an open-source system, which is presently gaining some traction as it is used by two of the more popular lightning wallets – Lightning Joule and Bluewallet. It is also used by multiple apps, including Lightning Spin, reducing the steps that users have to go through for payment.

      Considering that lightning is an experimental technology with a lot of risks for sending real money, this transition is a major step. Many users agree that this open source payment network is going to be the future of these payments, even going against the advice of developer warnings. As they have worked to process their payments, the users have found various issues.

    • Komodo integrates Dilithium to offer fully quantum-secured blockchain
      Komodo integrates the open-source Crystals-Dilithium digital signature scheme into the Crypto-Conditions framework...

    • Orbs launches enterprise-ready open-source blockchain network
      Hybrid blockchain technology provider Orbs Ltd. today announced the launch of the company’s production-ready environment for its service: an enterprise-grade blockchain developed using all new open-source code.

      “I began my blockchain journey looking for a network that would actually allow real businesses to create solutions on decentralized networks, but the product simply didn’t exist,” said Tal Kol, Orbs co-founder and technical lead.

    • Cryptocurrency Dash to open-source software repositories
      Today, the Dash community announced the open-sourcing of the Dash Platform software repositories, including the Distributed API (DAPI) and Drive.

    • Dash Core is Releasing Part of Its Software Repositories in an Effort to Open Source the Network
      Dash Core, the group behind the Dash cryptocurrency project has revealed this week that it has been releasing repositories of the Dash Evolution source code to the public in an aim to make the project more open source.

      Thus far, the group has kept the development of the Dash blockchain private both for security and competitive reasons, however, this decision may have sparked a lot of criticism from the community as most blockchain projects are publicly available in coding platforms especially GitHub available for the public to scrutinize and hunt for bugs. Due to public pressure, the Dash Core Group made promises to release the source code when it is ready for open-sourcing, a promise it is aiming to achieve now.

    • Announcement: Kadena Public Blockchain Testnet LIVE
      Kadena’s open-source Pact language is easy to learn, and is purpose-built for blockchain, capturing simple transactions and more complex business workflows; Chainweb v0 intends to be able to support Pact transactions.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR14b1 available (now with H.264 video)
        I had originally plotted three main features for this release, but getting the urgent FPR13 SPR1 set me back a few days with confidence testing and rebuilds and I have business trips and some vacation time coming up, so I jettisoned the riskiest of the three features (a set of JavaScript updates and a ugly hack to get Github and other sites working fully again) and concentrated on the other two. I'll be looking at that again for FPR15, so more on that later.

        Before we get to the marquee features, though, there are two changes which you may not immediately notice. The first is a mitigation for a long-standing issue where some malicious sites keep popping up authentication modals using HTTP Auth. Essentially you can't do anything with the window until the modal is dealt with, so the site just asks for your credentials over and over, ultimately making the browser useless (as a means to make you call their "support line" where they can then social engineer their way into your computer). The ultimate solution is to make such things tab-modal rather than window-modal, but that's involved and sort of out of scope, so we now implement a similar change to what current Firefox does where there is a cap of three Cancels. If you cancel three times, the malicious site is not allowed to issue any more requests until you reload it. No actual data is leaked, assuming you don't type anything in, but it can be a nasty denial of service and it would have succeeded in ruining your day on TenFourFox just as easily as any other Firefox derivative. That said, just avoid iffy sites, yes?

        The second change is more fundamental. For Firefox 66 Mozilla briefly experimented with setting a frame rate cap on low-end devices. Surprise, surprise: all of our systems are low-end devices! In FPR13 and prior, TenFourFox would try to push as many frames to the compositor as possible, no matter what it was trying to do, to achieve a 60fps target or better. However, probably none of our computers with the possible exception of high-end G5s were probably achieving 60fps consistently on most modern websites, and the browser would flail trying to desperately keep up. Instead, by setting a cap and enforcing it with software v-sync, frames aren't pushed as often and the browser can do more layout and rendering work per frame. Mozilla selected a 30fps cap, so that's what I selected as an arbitrary first cut. Some sites are less smooth, but many sites now render faster to first paint, particularly pages that do a lot of DOM transforms because now the resulting visual changes are batched. This might seem like an obvious change to make but the numbers had never been proven until then.

      • Sustainable smart home with the TXT
        Mozilla started venturing into IoT recently. They are trying to advocate for better privacy and user freedom by promoting interoperability. These goals are unified in a proposal for a device API that is based on web protocols called “Web of Things”. It is developed in collaboration with smart home and “industry 4.0” manufacturers. This API isn’t necessarily implemented by each device directly, some devices are too low powered to provide a web server or are using other successful local mesh networks like Z-Wave or Zigbee. In these cases a gateway that is connected to the user’s local network would provide the web thing API.

        The web thing API breaks physical devices down into three attributes: properties, actions and events. Properties as stateful values that can both be changed by the device and the user (I’ll often refer to the user as the client). A device can however declare a property as read-only or add input value restrictions. Actions let the user execute an action on the device that either isn’t stateful or affects multiple properties. Lastly, events are fired by the device to indicate a momentary effect that is not reflected in the state. Above that is a capabilities system, with which devices can indicate the semantics of their features. For example a light bulb can advertise itself as being a “Lamp”, it’s brightness property will be a “BrightnessProperty” and the power toggle will be an “OnOffProperty”. These allow clients to expose appropriate UIs and behaviors for devices. The protocol is available over HTTP(S) and optionally WebSockets for real-time communication of changes.

        Mozilla is developing both a reference gateway to control devices using this protocol and reference implementations in multiple languages to build web things with. The “WebThing gateway” also has an adapter system to bridge other smart home protocols to the web of things data model.
      • [Joke] Mozilla Thunderbird: All Thunderbird Bugs Have Been Fixed!
        We’re calling this the “Game of Bugs”, named after the popular show Game of Thrones – where we will try to “slay” all the bugs. Those who participate fully in the event will get a Thunderbird Game of Bugs t-shirt for their participation (with the design below).

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Pivotal unveils Pivotal Postgres and Greenplum 6
      Pivotal Software, Inc., a cloud-native platform provider, at Greenplum Summit announced updates to Pivotal Greenplum, a massively parallel processing analytic database based on open-source Postgres, as well as a new offering, Pivotal Postgres, Pivotal’s enterprise distribution of open source Postgres - the fastest growing database of the year for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) in terms of popularity.

    • NGINX and F5: Our Continued Commitment to Open Source [Ed: F5 is committed to Microsoft. They have an alliance with Microsoft and nginx is "open core" anyway, it was never truly "Open Source" over the past decade.]
      Last week, we announced that F5 will be acquiring NGINX. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from customers, the community, partners, employees, and throughout the industry. It’s humbling and we thank everyone for their ongoing support of NGINX.

      But we also heard loud and clear: F5 and NGINX need to continue demonstrating our joint commitment to open source.

      Let me explain what we’re doing. I’d like to hear from you if we’re not meeting expectations.

    • F5 Buys Second Largest Web Server Creator for Multi-Cloud Boost
      F5 Networks, the San Francisco-based cloud services company, has purchased web server specialist Nginx - a competitor - for $670 million.

    • The new Cloudera-Hortonworks Hadoop: 100 percent open source, 50 percent boring [Ed: [Ed: 100% in bed with the NSA, used to be 100% openwashing of mass surveillance]
      For any open source company these days, how to go about their business model and licensing is probably the most important decision to be made. As we have argued, and as fellow ZDNet contributor and Ovum analyst Tony Baer recently noted, too, open source is becoming the new default business model for enterprise software. It has proven to be a better model, for a number of reasons.

  • Apache

    • Apache Spark Turns 10: The Secret Sauce Behind One Of The World’s Most Popular Open Source Projects
      It was the changing nature of big data technology and architectural models, that wrote the story for Hadoop. The infrastructure architecture moved towards edge computing, IoT and cloud computing and especially containers where the market is seeing an increase in Kuberenetes workload. With analytical and machine learning workloads increasing, there was an increased need for a unified analytics platform. And that’s exactly how Spark outperformed Hadoop in metrics such as In memory processing vs disk, real-time streaming and batch streaming besides providing a layer for integrating machine learning as well.

      As Apache Spark turned 10 years old, let’s see the strong driver that led to Spark adoption and what keeps it going. Dubbed as the official “in-memory replacement for MapReduce”, the disk-based computational engine is at the heart of early Hadoop clusters. Why Spark took off was because it reflects the changing processing paradigm to a more memory intensive pipeline, so if your cluster has a decent memory and an API simpler than MapReduce, processing in Spark will be faster. The reason why Spark is faster is because most of the operations (including reads) decrease in processing time roughly linearly with the number of machines since it’s all distributed.

    • The Apache Software Foundation Celebrates 20 Years of Community-led Development “The Apache Way”

    • The Apache€® Software Foundation Celebrates 20 Years of Community-led Development "The Apache Way"
      World's largest Open Source foundation provides $20B+ worth of software for the public good at 100% no cost...

    • 20 milestones at the Apache Software Foundation
      Not at all a question of parts unknown, more a case of parts where some are better known than others.

      The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)’s Jim Jagielski and Sally Khudairi have detailed 20 major milestones that exist under the auspicious auspices of the ASF today.

      Without detailing every project (and the ASF holds stewardship over 350 community-led projects and initiatives) and repeating the entire story linked above… we’ll tour a handful in celebration of the fact that the ASF passed its 20th Anniversary on 26 March 2019.

      It would be tough not to mention Apache HTTP Server. This is most popular open source HTTP server on the planet — it provides a secure and extensible server that provides HTTP services observing the latest HTTP standards.

    • Pub/sub messaging: Apache Kafka vs. Apache Pulsar
      These days, massively scalable pub/sub messaging is virtually synonymous with Apache Kafka. Apache Kafka continues to be the rock-solid, open-source, go-to choice for distributed streaming applications, whether you’re adding something like Apache Storm or Apache Spark for processing or using the processing tools provided by Apache Kafka itself. But Kafka isn’t the only game in town.

      Developed by Yahoo and now an Apache Software Foundation project, Apache Pulsar is going for the crown of messaging that Apache Kafka has worn for many years. Apache Pulsar offers the potential of faster throughput and lower latency than Apache Kafka in many situations, along with a compatible API that allows developers to switch from Kafka to Pulsar with relative ease.

  • Education

    • Hoping to Spur ‘Learning Engineering,’ Carnegie Mellon Will Open-Source Its Digital-Learning Software
      In an unusual move intended to shake up how college teaching is done around the world, Carnegie Mellon University today announced that it will give away dozens of the digital-learning software tools it has built over more than a decade—and make their underlying code available for anyone to see and modify.

      Among the software slated to be released under an open-source license is the university’s pioneering adaptive-learning project, the Open Learning Initiative, as well as a learning analytics platform LearnSphere. Officials estimate that developing the software has cost more than $100 million in foundation grants and university dollars.

    • Carnegie Mellon to Open Up Its Digital Learning Tools
      Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative plans to make dozens of software tools it has developed to enable "learning engineering" freely available and open source, EdSurge reported. The report says that the initiative's leaders hope that by turning some of its tools into open-source products instead of software to be commercialized, they can "keep things rooted in the research that’s driving its effectiveness," as one put it.

  • Healthcare

    • 11 Open Source Datasets That Can Be Used For Health Science Projects
      Machine learning is now widely deployed across various health sectors because of its ability to make real-time predictions and draw insights which usually go unnoticed given the voluminous and unstructured nature of the datasets. Here are few repositories that have culminated over the years thanks to the never-ending efforts of the researchers to make crucial metadata available to the common public so that they can try them out on their own models:

    • Open-Source Solution Could Lower Cost of Optical Cardiography
      An open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity, developed by an international research team, could further researchers’ understanding of the mechanisms underlying cardiac arrhythmias. The 3D models of the mapping system components and the source code for the data analysis have been made openly available by the researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and The George Washington University (GW), to enable other research groups to benefit from the new solution.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Receives Initial FUSE Port For File-Systems In User-Space
      Tomohiro Kusumi has contributed an initial FUSE implementation to DragonFlyBSD for implementing file-systems in user-space support.

      The design is based roughly on FreeBSD code but is a cleanly written implementation for allowing user-space file-systems to work on this BSD. This initial FUSE support isn't designed to be API/ABI compatible with the FreeBSD code due to different sysctls and other factors.

    • LLVM Clang 9.0 Adds "-ftime-trace" To Produce Useful Time Trace Profiling Data
      LLVM has merged a very useful feature for the Clang 9.0 release this autumn: the -ftime-trace feature allows producing time trace profiling data in a friendly format that is useful for developers to better understand where the compiler is spending most of its time and other areas for improvement.

      Clang has already supported -ftime-report for printing time summaries for each stage of the compilation process while -ftime-trace yields much more useful data. The output of -ftime-trace is JSON-based profiling outputs that can be loaded into Chrome's chrome://tracing visualizer. This data shows how much time LLVM/Clang is spending on compiling each file, down to the function granularity.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Govt. schoolteachers get training in open source software
      “Unlike propriety software, FOSS is free and easy to use and users can customise the software based on their needs. Interactive tools which the teachers can use to make their classrooms more interactive were picked and 64 master resource persons, which included teachers from schools and District Institutes of Education and Training across the State, were trained,” said Asir Julius, assistant professor, SCERT.

      The master resource persons in turn, trained teachers in their respective districts through two-day workshops. From using the GeoGebra application to teach maths and the PhET application to teach scientific concepts through virtual simulations, teachers were introduced to several tools and applications.

      To facilitate teachers to access the software, SCERT has also set up an online portal which functions as a learning management system.

    • How the Bank of England redesigned its data hub around open source
      The Bank of England has drastically changed how it collects and analyses fast-growing data sets over the past few years, adopting enterprise versions of open source technologies to help it modernise its architecture.

      Speaking during the Dataworks Summit in Barcelona last week, Adrian Waddy, technical lead for the bank's big data platform, and Nick Vaughan, domain SME for data analytics and modelling, explained how they designed this new data platform and some key lessons learned.


      "The analysts in the bank relied very heavily on their internal network to know what data existed and where," he added. "Even when they managed to get access to it, if the data that they wanted to combine didn't fit on their laptop they had no real place to do so and increasingly there is demand for using some of the analytical techniques that are becoming more common in the industry."

      As Vaughan added: "Given London's position as a financial centre, and our role as a central bank to regulate entities within the UK, that meant that we had to collect in the region of 50 million transactions every day at a peak of 85 million a day. For us that was a step change, we needed a different data architecture."

  • Android Derivatives

    • CopperheadOS’ Android Pie update is now available for the Pixel & Pixel 2
      CopperheadOS is focused on providing users with the best security measures possible.


      Currently, CopperheadOS only supports 4 devices: Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. You can actually buy these devices on Copperhead’s website with the system already installed, or just download the image and flash it by yourself. Obviously, Pixel devices already have the official Android Pie update, but CopperheadOS’ flavor is heavily focused on security. The update adds yet another security-focused feature called Security Flags, which includes information about the statuses of SELinux, verified boot, and theft protection.

    • Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus added to Sony’s Open Devices Program
      In the early days of Android, Sony was one of the very few OEMs that worked towards fostering good relations with the developer community by releasing device trees, vendor blobs, and kernel sources for some of its most popular devices. At BABBQ 2015, we even had the opportunity to interview XDA Senior Recognized Developer jerpelea a.k.a. Mr. Alin Jerpelea, the Open Source Community Manager at Sony, where we talked about Sony’s goals and vision for the Open Devices Program. Over the years, Sony’s smartphones have faded away from popularity, but the OEM has still stuck around with the same intents. Now, Sony has added in its latest Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus mid-rangers to the Sony Open Devices Program.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-source seeds: protecting new crops from privitisation
      From the green grass of England to the tropical forests of the Amazon basin and the semi-arid plains of North Africa, when it comes to food, no one crop can suit every soil type, or withstand the challenges of climate change. It is therefore vitally important that humans seek to preserve and increase the biological diversity of crops.

      In pursuit of this goal, Dr Johannes Kotschi from the Association for AgriCulture and Ecology, along with researchers from the University of Göttingen, has developed an open-source seed (OSS) licence that can be applied to new crop varieties. The OSS licence prevents seeds and their derivatives from being privatised, patented or otherwise protected in a way that would limit their sale or further modification. In doing so, it ensures that new varieties are available to everyone. Alongside the licence, the organisation OpenSourceSeeds supports breeders and seed producers who use it.

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MIPS R6 Architecture Now Available for Open Use
        Asked if any other MIPS cores – beyond R6 – will be available in the future, Swift said additional announcements are in the offing, indicating that Thursday’s offering is only the first set of MIPS Open’s release.

        “Remember, this is a journey, not a destination,” Swift reminded.

        Other pending announcements include MIPS Open’s certification partners and MIPS Open Advisory Board. Names of individuals or companies for those initiatives are not yet public.

      • Wave Computing launches MIPS Open, provides royalty-free access to chip design data
        A few months after announcing plans to “open source its MIPS instruction set architecture,” the folks at Wave Computing are following through. Mostly.

        The company has launched the MIPS Open program and released the first components, offering developers royalty and license fee-free access to the latest versions of its 32-bit and 64-bit MIPS architecture.

        But it’s questionable whether this is truly an “open source” initiative, so much as an “open use” project designed encourage developers to work with the company’s chips.

      • RISC-V Foundation Announces Agenda for Free, Half-Day Getting Started with RISC-V Events

      • A Weather Station Fit For A PDP-11
        The Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-11/70 is a masterpiece of Cold War-era industrial design. This microcomputer was the size of one or two modern server racks depending on configuration, and the front panel, loaded up with blinkenlights, was clad in a beautiful rose and magenta color scheme. The switches — the ones you used to toggle bits in memory — were actually custom designed covers made to match the shape of the completely unnecessary bezel. The aesthetic of the 11/70 is the intersection of baroque and modernism on the design Venn diagram.

        [Oscar Vermeulen] built a miniature version of the PDP-11/70 that houses a Raspberry Pi, and [rricharz] has been hard at work bringing an original copy of BSD to this system. The first great project to come out of this effort? It’s a weather station, and it’s exactly as cool as you think it is.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open XR: A Call for Standardization
      The lion's share of media attention sometimes appears to focus solely on the slowly-improving hardware capabilities of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. Of course, getting the hardware engineering right is crucial for enthusiasts in this niche industry. Like any new computer electronics hardware device, the potential capabilities are encapsulated and presented to the public in the form of enhanced or additional features, like a wider Field-of-View (FoV), or foveated rendering. But the lack of software applications for any emerging technology, including augmented reality and virtual reality headsets, is a hapless bottleneck to a wider scale adoption by enterprise, let alone consumer markets. And software is much more difficult to create for virtual reality and augmented reality. But bottlenecks are unavoidable in product development, especially of high technology.


  • The Public Library: Antidote to Everyday American Banality
    Tickets for the annual “Literary Lions” black-tie event that takes place this year on November 4th at the 42nd Street Library in New York—the capital of capital— start at $1,500. They go up as high as $150,000. The rock-bottom tickets are already sold out. There are still $5,000 and $25,000 tickets. That’s New York, where libraries bear the names of wealthy benefactors such as Stephen Schwartzman, whose personal fortune is estimated at $12.4 billion. Only the wealthy can afford to attend the annual Literary Lions event that has, in the past, honored Margaret Atwood, Nelson Mandela, Steve Martin, Martin Scorsese, Zadie Smith, Gloria Steinem and Oprah Winfrey.

    In the U.S., libraries have long been contested territories, and especially ever since the Gilded Age in the late nineteenth-century. Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Library fame was a major player. After slashing the wages of industrial workers, plus a record of union busting with help from the Pennsylvania militia and the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the Gilded Age’s tycoon, he poured some of the millions he had made in railroads and steel into the construction of thousands of libraries. Perhaps he wanted to clear his conscience.

    If workers read, it was widely assumed, they would be less likely to join unions and go on strike. In the Gilded Age of the 21st-century, the public library does what no other institution can do: socialize, homogenize and Americanize the masses. The further away from Washington, D.C. and Wall Street, and especially in California, the more the library helps to educate the illiterate, the immigrant and the underprivileged who seek to survive in an increasingly polarized society divided along lines defined by ethnicity, gender and class. While the public library isn’t an institution by and for the working class, it certain can and does help working class families in dozens of ways. Indeed, there’s a widespread belief that libraries in California are the best social entities that government has to offer its citizens.

  • Science

    • International Relations Theory Doesn’t Understand Culture

      The real problem is that IR scholars cling stubbornly to a view of culture that anthropologists and sociologists last took seriously between the 1930s and 1950s. Indeed, when discussing culture, IR looks like a conservation zoo for concepts long dead in their natural habitats.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump administration awards $1.7 million family planning grant to anti-abortion clinics

      Planned Parenthood said in a statement Friday that the four affiliates that were “stripped of funding” served Hawaii, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia, serving more than 40,000 patients.

    • UPDATE: Reason behind abandoned water found in Flint is revealed

      The murky water now gone, but the exposure to sewage and stagnant water still an issue.

    • Water sharing in Indonesia key to smothering transboundary haze

      With 2019 expected to bring hotter and drier-than-usual El Niño weather conditions to Southeast Asia, concerns are heightened about a recurrence of the 2015 haze crisis. The episode of chronic transboundary air pollution that choked the region in a blanket of acrid smoke had severe health, economic and environmental impacts.

    • Man awarded $80 million after jury finds Monsanto's weed killer caused his cancer

      The jury found on Wednesday that Monsanto, which manufactures the widely used weed killer, caused Edwin Hardeman, 70, harm by failing to adequately warn of the potential dangers of using the glyphosate-based herbicide.

      Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015 after using Roundup for more than two decades.


      Bayer, which purchased Monsanto last year, said it would appeal Wednesday's verdict.

    • Paper: Thousands in Finland affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria

      E. coli is the most common cause of urinary tract infections, and its drug-resistant forms are on the rise.

    • Pathogenic, drug-resistant bacteria found in wastewater treatment plants

      In a study published today in Genome Research, researchers conducted a survey of 20 municipal wastewater plants in England, and isolated drug-resistant E. faecium from all sites in both untreated and treated wastewater plants except three, which use ultraviolet light disinfection. Importantly, drug-resistant E. faecium counts were significantly higher in untreated wastewater from plants that were direct recipients of hospital sewage. A genomic comparison of E. faecium isolates from wastewater and bloodstream isolates of infected patients revealed two major lineages, with ampicillin-resistant bacteria in clade A1 and A2 and vancomycin-resistant bacteria exclusive to clade A1. Further genetic analysis revealed the presence of shared antibiotic, metal, and biocide resistance genes in clade A1 isolates from bloodstream, hospital sewage, and municipal wastewater.

    • Scientists Are Fighting Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Space with Silvery Shield

      On all three materials — AgXX, silver and stainless steel — the researchers found multidrug-resistant bacteria, or strains of bacteria that are resistant to at least three different kinds of antibiotics. Among those bacteria, most were resistant to sulfamethoxazole, erythromycin and ampicillin.

    • Please Enjoy These Finnish People Politely Going After Nikki Haley for Saying They Hate Having Good Healthcare

      It’s unclear what Haley expected in response, but it was maybe not a swarm of Finnish people entering her mentions to inform her that, actually, Finland’s healthcare is ranked one of the best on the planet.

    • A Massive Petrochemical Fire In Texas Released Toxic Benzene Into the Air

      A shelter-in-place advisory was issued on Thursday for thousands of residents living in Houston suburbs after a petrochemical fire at a nearby gasoline-production facility released dangerous levels of the toxic chemical benzene.

    • More Than 90 Percent of Americans Have Pesticides or Their Byproducts in Their Bodies

      About 70 percent of US produce harbors traces of pesticides, the EWG reports in its latest shoppers’ guide to the “ dirty dozen,” those fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load. Strawberries topped the list, released this week, for the fourth year in a row, with an average of nearly eight pesticides per sample, followed by spinach and kale. Spinach had more pesticides by weight than any other crop.

      Olga Naidenko, the EWG’s senior science adviser for children’s environmental health, says she was surprised to see kale contaminated with a chemical called dacthal, which the EPA classifies as a possible human carcinogen and European regulators banned in 2009. Among the more troubling pesticides found on spinach is permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide that’s been linked to ADHD.

      Naidenko says the list is not meant to dissuade people from eating fruits and vegetables, but rather “to call attention to the fact that there are some pretty bad pesticides out there.”

    • Fentanyl deaths skyrocketed more than 1,000% over six years in the US. Here's who it's killing

      Researchers also found that while whites had the highest overall rates of fentanyl fatalities, death rates among blacks and Hispanics were growing faster. Between 2011 and 2016, blacks had fentanyl death rates increase 140.6% annually and Hispanics had an increase of 118.3% annually.

    • The VA Is Socialism in Action. We Must Defend It From Privatization.

      As result, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has become a model for progressive ideas in action. Today veterans of all socioeconomic backgrounds are provided comprehensive and high-quality care for free or at low cost. The agency negotiates fair drug prices with pharmaceutical companies; over the last five years, it has cut opioid-prescription rates by 41 percent; and the VA is a national leader in assuring the safety and health of its employees. Physicians for a National Health Program, a universal health-care advocacy group, has pointed to the VA as “ another reason for single payer.”

    • Democrats See Health Care as Winning Issue in 2020 US Election

      During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut social assistance programs. But in this year’s budget, he has proposed reducing millions of dollars in funding for both Medicare health insurance for seniors, and Medicaid that provides medical assistance to the poor and disabled.

    • When Cities Shut the Water Off
      In 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department started its most recent egregious campaign of mass water shutoffs that targeted low-income, residential customers who were behind in payments. In June of that year, rumors started to surface about poisoned public water in Flint, Michigan. Both issues marked the start of long nights of terror for blue-collar workers, a terror that has not yet ended. Concerns over water were not new to those in the American Rust Belt, but never before had their ferocity and scale reached such depths.

      Since the start of this crisis, Detroit has seen upwards of 100,000 water disconnections over a period of just a few years. We have been left with no choice but to fight for our lives as we try to envision what a different kind of world might look like – a world that won’t punish poor people because they are poor.

      To be threatened with shutoff, a household has to be two months behind in payments, or $150 in arrears. And when the city turns off the water, more neighborhood issues surface. Children can be removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Infectious diseases connected to the build-up of surface algae and other contaminants inside of water pipes are passed from household to household.

    • The battle to legalize cannabis in Spain
      Like Bill Clinton, most people have smoked the odd joint. And perhaps like Barack Obama, they’ve even inhaled. After all, cannabis has been around for more than 4,000 years and thrives all over the planet. It was not used for medicinal purposes until well into the 20th century. And in 1961, it was deemed by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to be as dangerous as heroin.

      Around 113 cannabinoids have been identified in a cannabis plant. These themselves are composed of a hundred different substances, most of which have not yet been put under the microscope. Decades of stigmatization has meant the plant has received little research, unlike opioids, which have been heavily studied and whose medicinal use in the US has led to a myriad of addictions and 60,000 deaths a year – more than the number of US casualties in the Vietnam War.

    • Nine Reasons to Oppose the Trump Administration’s Proposed SNAP Changes
      On Tuesday, April 2nd, the Trump administration closes a public comment period on proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) that could leave hundreds of thousands of unemployed and underemployed adults unable to meet their basic needs.

      As we wrote in a previous blog, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue surreptitiously announced the proposed rule via an after-hours, off-camera briefing in peak holiday season late last December. To be sure, the rule is nothing to be proud of. It would restrict states’ ability to waive time limits on SNAP benefits, meaning many adults across the country who are struggling to find work would lose their benefits after just three months.

      If the Secretary’s hope was that the announcement would fly under the radar, it failed spectacularly. The public has responded (and how).

    • Bernie Sanders Says 'Thousands of People Will Literally Die' If Trump Healthcare Agenda Succeeds
      "Trump has an idea on healthcare. His idea is to throw 32 million Americans off of their health insurance they have, doing away with insurance for kids who are 26 years of age or younger who are on their parents' plan, doing away with the protections that the ACA has for pre-existing conditions," the senator from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate said during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."

      "That means if you have cancer, if you have heart disease, you have diabetes—if Trump gets his way, the cost of health insurance for you will be so high that many people literally not be able to afford it," Sanders said. "Thousands of people will literally die. That's Trump's health insurance plan."

      Sanders went on to lay out his alternative vision for healthcare, one that is shared by a growing number of lawmakers and a majority of the U.S. public.

      "My plan's just a little bit different," said the senator, confirming that he will unveil an updated and more comprehensive version of his Medicare for All bill in the coming weeks. "I think we should join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, end the absurdity of the United States spending twice as much per capita on healthcare as any other nation while our life expectancy is actually going down and our healthcare outcomes are worse than many other countries."

    • Want to Combat the Opioid Crisis? Pass Single-Payer Health Care.
      On March 15, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced bipartisan legislation alongside Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner to combat the opioid crisis. The bill, like many others before it, is misguided and dangerous. Titled the John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act — in honor of the late senator who was the former GOP lead on the bill — the legislation, in Gillibrand’s own words, is designed to “limit prescriptions for acute pain to [seven] days.” After intense pushback via Twitter, Gillibrand posted an addendum to the bill stipulating that the seven-day limit “would not apply to the treatment of chronic pain; pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice care, or other end-of-life care; or pain treated as part of palliative care.”

      On paper, to those who have not studied the crisis, legislation of this type may seem logical and appropriate. There is no doubt that the over-prescription of opioids played a significant role in perpetuating the crisis, but pulling back in this manner often drives people reliant on these medications, which are regulated by a physician, to illicit substances. That’s when fentanyl — the synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more powerful than morphine, and is the leading cause of overdose in the United States — can be introduced. David H. Gorski, a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, called the proposed legislation, a “horrifically bad idea” on Twitter, and said that it will only succeed in making the lives of chronic pain sufferers “much worse” while making it “much harder” for their doctors to care for them. If you scroll through the Twitter responses to Gillibrand’s announcement, you’ll see thousands of concerned people who are afraid the medications they rely on to function will be taken away.

      It’s a common fear. In 2017, I was a guest on C-Span’s “The Washington Journal” to talk about a few articles I published on the opioid crisis. Most of the calls I received were from people who were terrified of having their medications taken away. When I discussed the risks associated with overreacting to the prescription boom and putting too many restrictions in place, which would, in turn, drive people to the street for relief, the phone lines lit up. People from all over the U.S. called in.

      Yes, the out-of-control pill mills littered throughout Florida, West Virginia and elsewhere needed to be shut down. And clinicians needed to be made aware of the dangers associated with these drugs, and of the deceptive way they were marketed. But limiting prescription quantities is not how we will solve this crisis.

    • Toledo, Ohio, Just Granted Lake Erie the Same Legal Rights as People

      It is unclear whether the Toledo referendum will pass legal muster in U.S. courts. The day after the referendum, the Drewes Farm Partnership filed a legal challenge against the ballot initiative for being unconstitutional and unlawful, claiming that even as a business recognized for working to improve water quality it “can never guarantee that all runoff will be prevented from entering the Lake Erie watershed,” as Tom Henry at the Toledo Blade reports. In a press release, vice president Adam Sharp, executive president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, which supports the suit, critiqued the legislation for being an “overreach” that would open up Drewes’ operation and many other farmers in northern Ohio to “frivolous” lawsuits and financial risk.

    • A U.S. City Just Granted Legal Rights to a Lake

      The group “ugly cried” after finding out the vote passed by 61 percent Tuesday, Jankowski said. These new rights granted to Lake Erie are supposed to help protect it from the nitrogen and phosphorus-rich runoff, mainly from the agriculture sector, that fuels the algae blooms.

      Lake Erie suffers from these blooms most summers, though they range in intensity. The blooms not only threaten drinking water; they hurt the economy by putting a damper on the recreational fishing industry and on tourism revenue. A bloom like the one in 2014 could result in $65 million in lost benefits to the local economy.

    • Toledo Voters Enact Lake Erie Bill of Rights

      Fifty years after the media infamously declared “Lake Erie is dead,” Toledo voters recognize that Lake Erie and its entire ecosystem is very much alive – and as such, Lake Erie has the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.

      Despite agricultural and industrial interests’ well-funded campaign opposing the ordinance, with a 61-percent yes vote on Tuesday, Toledo voters have enacted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights Charter Amendment. The law recognizes the rights of the lake and its watershed, and empowers citizens – as part of that larger ecosystem, and who have “the right to a healthy environment” – to stand up for the lake when those rights are violated.

    • An Ohio city has voted to grant Lake Erie the same rights as a person

      Linzey's organization has worked with lawmakers around the world, notching successes in Bolivia, India, New Zealand and Ecuador, which in 2008 recognized rights of nature in its Constitution, he said.

    • States across America are (still) failing to protect students from lead-laden water

      Last week, Environment America and U.S. PIRG released their national “Get The Lead Out” report, which grades states’ on their lead prevention policies. The results were deeply troubling, with more than two-thirds of graded states getting an “F.” (Not surprisingly, Michigan received one of the failing grades.)

      Lead is a potent neurotoxin that impairs how kids learn, grow and behave. It’s so toxic that a dose that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, even low levels of lead in kids have been linked to loss of IQ points, increased hyperactivity and damage to the nervous systems.

      The bottom line: There is no safe level of lead exposure for our kids.

  • Security

    • Crypto Bombshell: Stellar Swept Mammoth Inflation Bug Under the Rug

    • Report: Malware Targets Israeli Fintech Firms Working in Crypto, Forex Trading
      The report further claims that the threat research team discovered a possible correlation between Cardinal RAT and a JavaScript-based malware dubbed EVILNUM, which is used in attacks against similar organizations. When looking at files submitted by the same customer in a similar timeframe to the Cardinal RAT samples, Unit 42 reportedly also identified EVILNUM instances.

    • A multimillion-dollar criminal crypto-mining ecosystem has been uncovered
      Cryptocurrencies have become magnets for illicit activities such as theft and fraud. But one of less-reported crimes is the use of stolen processing power to mine currencies such as Bitcoin and Monero. The proceeds of this theft can then be exchanged for real currency, reaping vast rewards for malicious actors.

    • Secure open source components to bypass breaches [Ed: The same is true for proprietary software except in proprietary there are also back doors and you cannot remove them (the article does not discuss this, it helps some firms sell "services"). Over the past decade a large and ever-growing proportion of articles about FOSS dealt with dangers of FOSS licences and security angles of "components". Not too shockingly many of the firms quoted (PR) are Microsoft-connected.]
      In the beginning of an open source security upgrade, it might make sense to triage the removal of known vulnerabilities from a large code base, said Sergiy Golub, senior engineering manager at Assembla, a version control and source code management technology provider. Developers pull specific components of broad open source projects into their applications to work with the custom code they write; so, a known vulnerability might not affect an enterprise if it has no use for that questionable bit of code and removes it.

    • Critical flaw in Magento e-commerce platform exposes 300,000 e-commerce sites to SQL injection [Ed: Waiting the media to (every single month) come up with headlines like "Microsoft exposes 5 billion people to complete data compromise because crackers found another back door"]

    • Critical Magento SQL injection flaw could be targeted by hackers soon
      The Magento content management system used by thousands of online shops has received fixes for several serious vulnerabilities, including an unauthenticated SQL injection flaw that's likely to soon become a target for attackers.

    • New npm scanning tool sniffs out malicious code [Ed: And with proprietary software nothing sniffs it out; it just stays there.]
      Detecting malicious JavaScript packages in the npm ecosystem has just become easier, following the launch of a new tool at the Black Hat Asia security conference in Singapore earlier today.

      Npm is a popular open source package manager for JavaScript. More than 500 new packages are uploaded to the npm registry every day.

      Vulnerabilities are predominately identified through an in-built audit feature that detects previously reported malicious packages (such as the eight million times downloaded event-stream).

      A new tool unveiled today at Black Hat Asia, npm-scan, aims to further improve the security of the npm ecosystem through a heuristic-based analysis utility that searches for bad code.

    • Tremolo Security Simplifies Kubernetes Security with Orchestra

    • Top 7 Kubernetes security tools to harden your container stack
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 139 - Secure voting, firefox send, and toxic comments on the internet
      Josh and Kurt talk about Brexit, voting, Firefox send, and toxic comments. Is there anything we can do to slow the current trend of conversation on the Internet always seeming to spiral out of control? The answer is maybe with a lot of asterisks.

    • code integrity vs data security

      TPM can be used to implement DRM. There are plenty of people who will be more than happy to explain how evil this is, but that’s not today’s topic.

      TPM can be implemented poorly. If your secure enclave is really an insecure enclave, it’s not of much use. Keys can be extracted, misused, broken, etc. But let’s consider a good implementation, that does what we want and actually does it. What does it do for us?

    • Researchers Find Google Play Store Apps Were Actually Government Malware

      Security researchers have found a new kind of government malware that was hiding in plain sight within apps on Android’s Play Store. And they appear to have uncovered a case of lawful intercept gone wrong.

    • Linux Kernel inotify_update_existing_watch() Function Denial of Service Vulnerability [CVE-2019-9857]
      A vulnerability in the inotify_update_existing_watch() function of the Linux Kernel could allow a local attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.The vulnerability exists because the inotify_update_existing_watch() function, as defined in the fs/notify/inotify/inotify_user.c source code file of the affected software, does not call fsnotify_put_mark() with IN_MASK_CREATE after fsnotify_put_mark(). An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by accessing the system and submitting malicious system calls to the affected software. A successful exploit could cause the system to crash, resulting in a DoS condition.Proof-of-concept (PoC) code that demonstrates an exploit of this vulnerability is publicly has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Air Force Needs Almost $5 Billion To Recover Bases From Hurricane, Flood Damage

      About one-third of Offutt Air Force Base, in eastern Nebraska, was underwater earlier this month as flooding hit large swaths of the Midwest. And Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle was hit hard by Hurricane Michael in October.

    • France Interior Ministry Reveals 4 Associations Promoting Armed Jihad in Country

      According to the ministry, Centre Zahra France indoctrinated youth in favour of jihad and supported actions of groups that the European Union considered to be terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the military branch of Hezbollah.

      French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was determined to dissolve all organizations that promoted hate, discrimination and violence, the statement said.

    • London mosque warned over 'kill Ahmadis' leaflets

      Islamic missionary group Khatme Nabuwwat believes Ahmadis are apostates, commonly defined as people who have abandoned their religion.

      The leaflets said those who refuse to convert to mainstream Islam within three days should face a "capital sentence" - or death penalty.

    • All ISIS Has Left Is Money. Lots of It.

      The Islamic State’s financial strength offers a window into the broader challenge facing the United States and other governments. In its effort to squeeze the group financially, Washington has been forced to rely on a fundamentally different strategy than it employed in its military campaign: The main weapons at its disposal are not air strikes and artillery barrages, but subtler tools, such as sanctioning Islamic State–linked businesses, denying them access to the international financial system, and quietly cooperating with governments across the globe. Successes will be less visible, the campaign against the group will likely take years, and there is no guarantee of victory.

    • The F.A.A. Takes a Washington Hot Seat Over Boeing
      Aviation regulators will testify before Senate subcommittees today on the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 Jets, while Boeing meets with airline executives to update them on a fix for the software thought to be responsible for the accidents.

      The F.A.A.’s acting chief will defend the agency’s practice of delegating some plane safety checks to Boeing as “critical” to the success of the certification process. The official, Daniel Elwell, will argue that the process for the Max 8 was “detailed and thorough.”

    • North Korean Embassy Attack Suspects Fled To U.S., Spanish Court Says
      A Spanish judge said the alleged attackers offered stolen hard drives and other materials to the FBI.

    • Lawyers Worldwide Urge International Court: Investigate Israeli Crimes
      On the eve of the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” at the Gaza border, lawyers and jurists around the world called on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

      On Friday, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers presented a petition from the International Lawyers Campaign for the Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes Committed Against the Palestinian People to Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the ICC. The petition urges Bensouda to initiate a full investigation and prosecute violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by Israeli officials in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The petition has garnered the support of tens of thousands of lawyers worldwide.

      The petition condemns “the unimaginable atrocities that have been committed and continue to be committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians which deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”

      It cites the well-established legal principle that victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law “have a right to a remedy and reparation.”

      The petition denounces “the failure and refusal” of Israel to hold accountable “those suspected of committing crimes against Palestinian civilians,” which has resulted in “abandoning the rule of law and replacing it with widespread impunity for Israeli officials who have sanctioned and for Israeli individuals who have perpetrated such crimes.”

    • Afghan Veterans of Syrian War Struggle Back Home
      Too poor to even buy pens and notebooks for school, Mehdi left his home in Afghanistan soon after his 17th birthday and headed to Iran, hoping to make his way to Europe and find work.

      Instead, Mehdi ended up fighting in Syria’s civil war, a conflict he had nothing to do with, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from home. He was one of tens of thousands of Afghans recruited, paid and trained by Iran to fight in support of Tehran’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

      There, he found himself thrown into one of the war’s bloodiest front lines, surrounded by the bodies of his comrades, under fire from Islamic militants so close he could hear their shouts of “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest”) before each mortar blast.

      Iran ran an extensive drive to bring Shiites from across the region and create a network of militias to help save Assad from the uprising against his rule — not only Afghans but also Pakistanis, Iraqis and Lebanese. Now with the 8-year war in Syria winding down, the question is what will Tehran do with those well-trained, well-armed forces.

    • Vietnam Woman Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge in Kim Killing
      A Vietnamese woman who is the only suspect in custody for the killing of the North Korean leader’s brother pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a Malaysian court on Monday and her lawyer said she could be freed as early as next month.

      Doan Thi Huong had faced a murder charge, which carried the death penalty if she was convicted, in the slaying of Kim Jong Nam, who died after being accosted by two women in a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal. Huong nodded as a translator read the new charge to her: voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon, VX nerve agent.

      High Court judge Azmi Ariffin sentenced Huong to three years and four months from the day she was arrested on Feb. 15, 2017. Huong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said his client is expected to be freed by the first week of May, after a one-third reduction in her sentence for good behavior.

      “I am happy,” Huong, 30, told reporters as she left the courtroom, adding she thought it was a fair outcome.

      While handing out a jail term short of the maximum 10 years the new charge carried, the judge told Huong she was “very, very lucky” and he wished her “all the best.” Vietnamese officials in the courtroom cheered when the decision was announced.

    • China defends Tibet [genocide] policies 60 years after Dalai Lama fled

      Conditions in the region are difficult to independently ascertain because foreign travelers must get special permission to enter the region. Access is rarely given to foreign journalists, and the region is closed to foreigners entirely during sensitive anniversaries.

    • Bombing Gaza as a Campaign Slogan
      On March 25, 2019 while the major media fixated on Trump and his potential indictments in regards to Russia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing his own political opponents, an upcoming election and five potential indictments back home, stood with President Trump in Washington, DC. Trump signed an executive order that recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Once Syrian, and not internationally recognized, the Golan Heights is a section of land taken by the Israelis in the 1967 war despite being a violation of international law as spelled out in Security Council Resolution 497.

      Author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: a Primer and Institute for Policy Studies Middle East Analyst Phyllis Bennis expected Trump to sign the executive order. “Overall, we have seen a pattern of Trump giving the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu everything it wants — to make its reelection more possible. Bennis adding, “This includes moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the decision to deny that Palestinian refugees exist. All of these are things Netanyahu wanted from the Trump Administration and they are things he’s gotten,” remarked Bennis.

    • Goodbye To All That
      I’m one of the lucky ones. Leaving the madness of Army life with a modest pension and all of my limbs intact feels like a genuine escape. Both the Army and I knew it was time for me to go. I’d tired of carrying water for empire and they’d grown weary of dealing with my dissenting articles and footing the bill for my seemingly never-ending PTSD treatments. Now, I’m society’s problem, unleashed into a civilian world I’ve never gazed upon with adult eyes.

      I entered West Point in July 2001, a bygone era of (relative) peace, the moment, you might say, before the 9/11 storm broke. I leave an Army that remains remarkably engaged in global war, patrolling an increasingly militarized world.

      In a sense, I snuck out of the military at age 35, my early retirement an ignominious end to a once-promising career. Make no mistake, I wanted out. I’d relocated 11 times in 18 years, often enough to war zones, and I simply didn’t have another deployment in me. Still, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I’ll mourn the loss of my career, of the identity inherent in soldiering, of the experience of adulation from a grateful (if ill-informed) society.

      Perhaps that’s only natural, no matter how much such a hokey admission embarrasses me. I recognize, at least, that there’s a paradox at work here: the Army and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) made me who I now am, brought a new version of me to life, and gifted me (if that’s the right phrase for something so grim) with the stories, the platform, and the pain that now make my writing possible. Those military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive. My experiences there transformed an insecure, aspiring dealer-in-violence into someone who might be as near as a former military man can get to a pacifist. And what the U.S. Army helped me become is someone who, in the end, I don’t mind gazing at in the mirror each morning.

      Should I thank the Army then? Maybe so, no matter the damage that institution did to my psyche and my conscience over the years. It’s hard, though, to thank a war machine that dealt so much death to so many civilians across significant parts of the planet for making me who I am. And no matter how much I told myself I was different, the truth is that I was complicit in so much of that for so long.

      In a way, I wonder whether something resembling an apology, rather than a statement of pride in who I’ve become, is the more appropriate way of saying goodbye to all that. Nonetheless, the story is all mine, the burdensome, the beautiful, the banal, and the horrific. War, violence, and bigotry -- as I’ve written -- are America’s original sins and, looking back, it seems to me that they may be mine as well. In that context, though I’m now officially retired, I think of this as my last piece authored as an active military dissenter -- a clearing of the air -- before moving on to a life of activism, as well as an unarmed life of words.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Malaysia threatens to raise stakes in EU palm oil spat

    • Iceland’s Banned Palm Oil Ad Was the Most ‘Effective’ Commercial of 2018

      The one-minute, 32-second ad, which shows a cartoon baby orangutan being driven out of her home as a result of palm oil-driven deforestation, was originally created for Greenpeace, reports the Financial Times. But it struck a chord with Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker. “They showed us a rough cut of this campaign video they had: it brought a tear to my eyes. We thought it would be great if we could use it as our Christmas advert,” he said.

    • Confused About Palm Oil? Here’s Why It’s a Problem and What You Can Do About It

      This is where the problems lie. The demand for palm oil is destroying rainforests at a frightening rate. Greenpeace says that every 25 seconds, Indonesia cuts down a football pitch sized area of rainforest for palm oil plantation.

      This is a problem for many reasons.

    • Slow progress prompts new thinking around deforestation in palm oil supply chains

    • The Fungi Decimating Amphibians Is Worse Than We Thought

      Scientists knew the microbes were bad news—the two separate species of fungi infect an amphibian’s skin, disrupting its ability to breathe and absorb water—but they didn’t know just how bad it might be. That changes today with the publication of the most thorough quantification of the chytrid scourge yet. Previous tallies estimated that the fungi had caused the decline of 200 amphibian species, but this study puts that number at over 500—and that’s a conservative estimate—of which 90 are now presumed extinct. Which makes this the greatest loss of biodiversity from a disease that science has ever known, the authors say.

    • Changes in Ocean ‘Conveyor Belt’ Foretold Abrupt Climate Changes by Four Centuries

      A new study published in Nature Communications provides insight into how quickly these changes could take effect if the system continues weakening. Led by scientists at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with the Norwegian Research Centre, the study is the first to precisely determine the time lags between past changes to the ocean conveyor belt and major climate changes.

    • Changing ocean currents and major climate shifts in the North Atlantic

      In the Atlantic Ocean, a giant ‘conveyor belt’ carries warm waters from the tropics into the North Atlantic, where they cool and sink and then return southwards in the deep ocean.

      This circulation pattern is an important player in the global climate, regulating weather patterns in the Arctic, Europe, and around the world. Evidence increasingly suggests that this system is slowing down, and some scientists fear it could have major effects, such as causing temperatures to dive in Europe.

    • We Might Be Reaching 'Peak Indifference' on Climate Change

      Something weird is happening around climate change. Republicans are deciding it’s real. Three years ago, only 49 percent of Republicans thought so, but by last December it was 64 percent, as a Monmouth University poll found. That’s a huge jump in a short time and is all the more astonishing given that the Republican president and many of his party’s politicians pooh-pooh the global emergency. Meanwhile, other parts of the electorate are really freaking out. Last year, the percentage of those who say they’re “very worried” about global warming shot up from 21 percent to 29 percent, according to a poll by Yale’s and George Mason University’s programs on climate change communication.

    • AOC Torches the Republican Talking Point That Caring About Climate Change Is ‘Elitist’

      Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated again yesterday that she is the best political communicator in the United States when she torched congressional Republicans for climate denialism and inaction as “vast swaths of the Midwest are drowning” and children in Flint, Michigan, are suffering lifelong brain damage from polluted water.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Roasted Mitch McConnell After a Green New Deal Senate Stunt Vote

      “The Senate vote is a perfect example of that kind of superficial approach to government,” Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday, according to Vox. “What McConnell’s doing is that he’s trying to rush this bill to the floor without a hearing, without any markups, without working through committee — because he doesn’t want to save our planet. Because he thinks we can drink oil in 30 years when all our water is poisoned.”

    • Political Confessional: ‘I Think It’s Immoral To Have Children, Especially More Than One’

      I would still say we have a biological imperative to reproduce, so I don’t hold it against people that they want to have kids. I think politically in the last few years I’ve fallen more toward, like, China had a one-child policy. That’s a political view I could get behind. I understand people’s desires but I would say over the last four or five years as my friends have started having kids, I more and more think, ‘Why are you doing this?’

    • Many sharks closer to extinction than feared: Red List

      Seventeen of 58 species evaluated were classified as facing extinction, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) said late Thursday in an update of the Red List of threatened animals and plants.


      "In the Indian Ocean"—along coastlines in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal—"the tuna fishery is really a shark fishery with tuna by-catch," Dulvy said.

      In light of its new findings, the Shark Specialist Group is calling for "immediate national and international fishing limits, including complete bans on landing those species assessed as 'endangered' or 'critically endangered'," said Sonja Fordham, deputy chair of the group and an officer at The Ocean Foundation.

    • Severe water shortages could plunge England into 'jaws of death' in 25 years, warns environment agency

      Climate change and rapid population growth could leave England facing severe water shortages in the next 25 years and thrust the country into the "jaws of death," the head of the UK Environment Agency warned on Tuesday.

    • Donald Trump’s Solar and Wind Power Criticism Slammed by Scientists: ‘Trump Is A Dangerous, Evil Clown’

      Addressing Trump’s claim that solar energy was expensive, Gambhir said that almost a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that solar power was relatively pricey. The body responded by launching measures to lower the cost of solar-generated electricity, including the SunShot initiative in 2011. This aimed to bring down the cost of solar-generated electricity to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020.

      The target was achieved in 2017, making solar power comparable to coal- and gas-fired electricity generation costs. The department said it hoped to cut costs by another 50 percent by 2030, making solar electricity cheaper than coal and gas.

    • ‘Organize or Die’: Kooper Caraway Ushers in a New Labor Movement

    • South Dakota pushes bills to prosecute ‘riot-boosting’ ahead of pipeline construction

      Anti-protest laws exist in other states — bills were passed in North Dakota after the 2016 #NoDAPL demonstrations — but the South Dakota package, introduced in the legislative session’s final days, casts a much larger net over who can be legally pursued by authorities. It creates financial punishments for “riot-boosting,” a new term defining the actions both of protesters who participate in “riots” as well as anyone who “does not personally participate in any riot but directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.” The legislation would also establish a fund — with the acronym “PEACE” — to address extraordinary expenses for the state and its counties from the pipeline, including protests, with the funds collected from “riot-boosters.”

    • Penalties For Fossil Fuel Protesters Could Increase Under Proposed Bill

      Under the bill, trespassing on those facilities would be a Level 6 felony instead of a misdemeanor. That could mean up to two and a half years in prison and $10,000 fine. Damaging that property would become at least a Level 5 felony, with sentences of up to six years in prison.

    • Restoring Indonesia’s peatlands to their natural soggy glory

      Peatlands aren’t supposed to catch fire; they are soggy bogs, after all. But over the past 20 years, Indonesia’s peatlands have become tinderboxes as corporate plantation growers drained these historic swamps to grow oil palm and acacia.

      When severe drought hit in 1997, thousands of years’ worth of undecayed plant matter burst into flames. The whole country seemed to burn, releasing as much as 10 billion tons of COâ‚‚ in several months – almost twice as much as the entire United States produces in a year. Conflagrations now recur nearly every dry season.

      The fires have served as a wake-up call for the government, which in 2016 promised to dam and fill in canals across nearly 8,000 square miles of peatland by 2020. Slowly, dryland crops are giving way to swamp-faring flora such as the sago palm. Today, locals in Sumatra view the sago with reverence. “This is like villagers’ savings,” says Abdul Manan, motioning to his 12-acre stand of sago, “to pay for the children to go to school, to middle school, to university.”

    • Mystery Spill At Mosul Lake: Analyzing Potential Causes Of Pollution

      This article explores what the potential origin of the mysterious black sludge could be, using all open source information available. It’s an attempt to analyze what information can be gleaned from open source data, including both imagery and peer-reviewed papers on the subject, as well as an experiment in utilizing all available means to monitor and identify potential environmental damage. Enjoy the ride!

    • Students ‘strike for climate’ across the United States

      Students across the country walked out of school and into the streets today to demand that the adults running the government start fighting back against climate change. The strikers join a worldwide movement of young activists who are fighting for a future on a habitable Earth.

    • The Environment Is too Important to Leave to Environmentalists

      The fact that belief in climate change in the US tends to correlate with political affiliation should tell you that we are not objectively interpreting the science as much as we are following the values of our chosen peer group. Because in a world where we follow the evidence, it’s an extraordinarily unlikely outcome.

      The truth is that the science of what is happening is as settled as science ever is. That isn’t to be conflated with the challenges of predicting the future. However sophisticated the predictive models get, they are still speculative. And it isn’t to be understood as believing all the headlines written by journalists too lazy to check the original sources (no, all insects are not about to die out—at least, the research that prompted those headlines does not provide any such evidence).

    • Environmentalists Continue to Be Persecuted in Iran

      Iran is soon to try eight environmentalists, with four of them facing the death penalty and the others facing over 10 years of imprisonment. The environmentalists are members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), a prominent environmental organisation. Their crime was simply to conduct surveys of the Asiatic cheetah (also known as the Persian or Iranian cheetah) – a critically endangered species.

    • 75% of Scotland’s Electricity Now Green; & All Cars Electric by 2032
      Scotland added another 6% of green energy in 2018, so that nearly 75% of its annual gross electricity consumption came from renewables, chiefly wind, solar and hydro. Scotland’s population is 5.4 million.

      The increase in green energy came mainly from new offshore wind.

      New offshore wind also allowed the UK to get 33% of its electricity from renewables in 2018. Although the UK is far behind Scotland in the green energy transition, it is nearly 12 times more populous, at 66 million, and so for it to get fully a third of its electricity from green sources is in real numbers a much bigger deal. British carbon emissions fell 3% last year.

    • Scotland generates record power from renewables
      Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows 26,708 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity was produced north of the border in 2018 – a 6.1 per cent increase on the previous record in 2017.

      The output means nearly three quarters of the country’s annual gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources.

      Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity rose from 10 gigawatts in 2017 to 10.9 gigawatts in 2018.

      Much of the increase was due to offshore wind farms, with capacity and generation both more than doubling in the past 12 months.

      Offshore output grew from 616 gigawatt hours to 1,369 gigawatt hours, while capacity rose from 246 megawatts to 623 megawatts.

      Last year also set a record for electricity exports from Scotland, which almost doubled from 12,868 gigawatt hours to 24,379 gigawatt hours.

    • Latest agriculture emissions data show rise of factory farms
      New data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows a steady increase in agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, much of it linked to industrial systems of crop production and the rise of factory farm systems of animal production. The annually updated GHG data is designed to track U.S. emissions related to the Paris Climate Agreement and to inform national and state-level climate policy. The EPA’s Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2017 charts GHG emissions both by type and by sector using formats and methodologies established through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Total U.S. GHG emissions have increased just 1.6 percent since 1990 (with emissions decreasing slightly in recent years), at least partially due to cuts in coal production and growth in renewable energy use. Despite these modest declines, the U.S. is off track to reach its Paris climate commitments, and according to Climate Action Tracker, a series of Trump administration regulatory rollbacks threaten to slow progress further. While emissions in many sectors are declining, those from the agriculture sector have increased more than 10 percent since 1990, according to the EPA. The agency found that agriculture accounted for 8.4 percent of U.S. emissions in 2017. That percentage does not include on-farm energy and fuel use (counted in the energy section of the inventory), nor does it count emissions related to shifts in cropland (counted in the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry section), the production of ammonia fertilizer (included in the Industrial Processes section of the report), nor other elements of the food system related to transport, processing and waste.

    • From Science to Art, US Teachers Educate Students on Climate Change
      When students around the world walked out of classes in mid-March to demand government action on climate change, they noted the impact of rising sea levels, increasing air and water temperatures and ever-worsening storms on planet Earth. Many of them had learned about environmental degradation in their science classes, but increasingly, the impact of climate change is being addressed throughout school curricula: in culinary arts classes that cover sustainable agriculture; art classes that illustrate the ways climate impacts migration patterns and population pressures; and math classes that use geometry to design greenhouses and domes.

      At El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn, New York, for example, art teacher Joe Matunis began the school year by zeroing in on the migrant caravans that were moving from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border. Class research centered on Honduras, where drought had left approximately 1.3 million people in need of food and other forms of humanitarian aid. Their research also uncovered other causes of migration, including gang violence and hunger.

      In turn, Matunis and his students decided they wanted to illustrate the connections between environmental calamity, political turmoil and poverty. “We saw the movement of populations as an opportunity to create an art project that dealt with climate change in Honduras, where coffee plantations and corn crops have been decimated by drought,” Matunis told Truthout. “When crops fail, it causes farmers to move to cities, but if there are no jobs in the cities, people sometimes flee to other countries.”

      All told, Matunis and his students spent several months analyzing the link between climate change and migration, ultimately creating an art project that was inspired by the work of fiber artist Judith Scott. “We read about refugees in Syria, Greece and Mexico and thought about what it meant to leave everything behind as they moved from place to place. Most poignant were the stuffed animals left by children who had been forced from their homes under duress,” Matunis said. “We drew the connection between the conditions that are driving people toward the U.S. border and visual signifiers of things that are abandoned — by wrapping and knotting symbolic objects.”

    • Mosquito risk to health may double by 2100
      Within 80 years the health of twice as many people as today could face a serious mosquito risk − and not only in the tropics.

      One billion people are already in danger of mosquito-borne disease. As the world warms and climates become more hospitable to the insects that transmit dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika and other fearful viruses, that number could double by the end of the century.

      And as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus extend their range to the north and the south, and higher up the hill regions, tropical infections that already kill millions will spread into the temperate zones.

    • Green Party responds to Stansted 15 sentencing
      Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said:

      “It is welcome the Stansted 15 won’t face jail, but they should never have been in the dock in the first place. These activists are human rights defenders - the real criminals are the Home Office. The treatment of the Stansted 15 has been unprecedented and wrong from the start.

    • ‘People Will Wonder Why We Didn’t Do This Sooner’: New York Becomes Second State to Ban Plastic Bags
      New York State lawmakers agreed to a ban on single-use plastic bags Sunday, making the Empire State the second in the nation to do so.

      The decision was part of a $175.5 billion budget agreement that included other progressive measures including the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, three-hours-off on election day for voting and the nation's first-ever congestion pricing program in the busiest part of Manhattan. The budget was expected to be passed in a series of bills during a session Sunday that could carry into Monday, the Associated Press reported.

      "I am proud to announce that together, we got it done," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said of the budget, according to the Associated Press.

    • Judge Says Trump’s Plan to Allow Drilling in Arctic Ocean Is ‘Unlawful and Invalid’
      A federal judge in Alaska ruled on Friday that President Donald Trump "exceeded the president's authority" when he signed an executive order to allow offshore oil drilling in around 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, CNN reported.

      U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason's decision restores a ban on drilling in 98 percent of the U.S.-controlled Arctic Ocean, according to Earthjustice, which sued to stop Trump's order on behalf of several environmental groups and Alaska Native communities.

      The ruling "shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate," Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

  • Finance

    • Economic Insecurity Is Becoming the New Hallmark of Old Age

      The United States is in the early stages of a crippling retirement crisis. Nearly half of all private-sector employees in the country—some 58 million people—had no company-sponsored retirement plan in 2018. As recently as 1999, only 39 percent of retiring workers were in this predicament. The retirement situation in the United States isn’t just bad; it’s getting worse with each passing year.

    • How America’s Biggest Theater Chains Are Exploiting Their Janitors

      Alvarez cleaned theaters for two and a half years. She was paid $300 a week — or about $5 an hour.

      Filmmakers often speak of the magic that can happen only in a movie theater. As ticket sales have stagnated and Netflix has taken off, the industry has become increasingly protective of the “theatrical experience.”

      But maintaining that experience depends on workers like Alvarez, who are grossly underpaid, overworked and easily expendable.

      The major chains — AMC, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark — no longer rely on teenage ushers to keep the floors from getting sticky. Instead, they have turned to a vast immigrant workforce, often hired through layers of subcontractors. That arrangement makes it almost impossible for janitors to make a living wage.

    • Almost 20% of Finns plan to give up their cars by 2024, finds survey

      She also reminded that the potential demand for sustainable forms of mobility measured in the survey will not be realised automatically.

      “In the near future, people should have access to attractive public transport services, mobility services supporting them and a good environment for walking and bicycling either as independent forms of mobility or in conjunction with various mobility services. Companies, municipalities and the state all have work to do in this respect,” said Särkijärvi.

    • Canadian women earn 25% less in pay, bonuses and profit sharing, study says

      Women also earn nearly one-third less than men when it comes to additional compensation such as bonuses and profit sharing, with women reporting an average of $3,912 compared with men at $5,823.

    • Towards a Worker’s Bill of Rights

      The traditional understanding of civil liberties has been that citizens have individual rights that cannot be violated by the government. This approach has no doubt protected the inhabitants of the United States and other Western countries from some of the worst abuses of power. Citizens cannot be jailed for their religious or political views or punished for a crime on a mere accusation with no trial. However, as society has evolved, we have reached an age in which individual liberty is most threatened not by the government but by large corporations.

    • Staten Island man faces charges for allegedly defrauding crypto investors
      Patrick McDonnell, also known as “Jason Flack,” has been arrested for allegedly defrauding crypto investors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced. It unsealed a nine-count indictment accusing McDonnell of carrying out a fraudulent scheme.
    • A Bitcoin Lightning Web Standard, Inspired By Ethereum, Is Gaining Steam
      That’s because a new bitcoin standard for simplifying lightning payments, the open-source WebLN standard, is gaining traction, now being used by Lightning Joule and Bluewallet, two of the more popular lightning wallets, as well as apps like Lightning Spin, to slim down the number of steps a user needs to make a payment.

      This is an important step for lightning, an experimental technology that is still risky to send real money over. Developer warnings aren’t stopping eager users from trying out what they believe to be the future of bitcoin payments, and as they’ve toyed with payments, they’ve bumped into issues trying to send or receive value.
    • 'Thousands' of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) Projects Under Development: ConsenSys
      The contributors at ConsenSys, a Brooklyn, New York-based Ethereum-related development studio, have published a blog post in which they have revealed that decentralized finance (DeFi) has “grown into one of the most active sectors” of the blockchain industry in 2019.

      Included in the evolving set of core technologies that now make up the globally accessible DeFi platforms are stablecoins, decentralized crypto exchanges, or DEXs (and/or exchanges that do not hold users’ private keys), multi-currency wallets, and various payment gateways, ConsenSys’ blog post noted.
    • 'This Is Not Ok': Sears Condemned for Ending Retirees' Life Insurance After Handing Executives $25 Million in Bonuses
      The retail giant Sears came under fire Saturday following reports that the company is ending life insurance benefits for an undisclosed number of its 90,000 retirees—just months after handing executives over $25 million in bonuses.

      "It's the last benefit that retirees had," Ron Olbrysh, chair of the National Association of Retired Sears Employees (NARSE), told CBS News.
    • Sears tells retirees to pay for their own life insurance
      The unwelcome news came in a letter notifying eligible retirees that their life insurance benefit had been canceled March 15, said Ron Olbrysh, who chairs the National Association of Retired Sears Employees, or NARSE. Olbrysh said he received the notice March 20. It offered retirees the option to convert into a whole life policy all or a portion of the prior amount of their group coverage that Sears was paying for (not to exceed $10,000). Olbrysh relayed hearing from one 91-year-old retiree -- a Sears employee for 37 years -- who said he had to pay more than $3,000 a year to maintain his current coverage. The NARSE chair said that premium "would not be competitive in the marketplace."

    • Trump Accused of 'Manufacturing' Crisis By Slashing Aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador
      In a move that was immediately denounced as "cruel" and counterproductive, the Trump State Department on Saturday confirmed that it is cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

      "Cutting foreign aid to Central America is the absolute last thing the Trump administration should do right now," Vicki Gass, senior policy advisor for Central America and Mexico with Oxfam America, said in a statement. "Not only is it morally wrong, it also counters efforts to address the root causes behind migration."

    • Putting Numbers in Context: A Winnable Battle Our Side Doesn’t Want to Fight
      Polls consistently show that the public hugely overestimates the share of the budget that goes to items like SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and foreign aid. People will typically give answers in the range of 20 to 30 percent of the budget for these categories of spending. In reality, the shares are 1.5 percent for SNAP, 0.4 percent for TANF, and 0.4 percent for foreign aid.

      I would argue that this matters, since the public’s willingness to support a program depends in part on how much they think we are spending on it. This is for two reasons, the first is simply that people are only willing to pay a limited amount in taxes to help the poor here and abroad. If they already think they are spending a lot for this purpose, they will be reluctant to spend more.

      The other reason is that people will reasonably be concerned about the efficiency of the programs. If all our tax dollars are going to help poor people, and yet we still have so many people in poverty, then our anti-poverty programs must not be very efficient. If that is the case, added additional dollars probably will not do much to help the poor. Nor will modest cuts do much to harm them.

      All of this seems pretty straightforward and not really debatable, yet when it comes to educating the public on the true size of these programs, interest is very close to zero. That is hard to understand, especially when the route to a better-educated public is pretty easy to see.

      The most obvious reason that people grossly overestimate the amount of spending on these programs is that their budgets are always discussed as billions of dollars. No one knows how much billions of dollars are, except that it means lots of money.

      Discussing budget numbers in millions, billions, and trillions is incredibly irresponsible reporting. It is the job of the media to be informing their audience. Writing that food stamps cost $70 billion a year, or that TANF costs $20 billion, is not informing readers. It is just putting down numbers, equivalent to a mindless fraternity ritual, that serves no informational purpose.

      This is infuriating because it is not hard for reporters to put these numbers in a context that would be meaningful to most of their audience. If they made a point of expressing these numbers as a share of the budget, people would immediately know whether these items are a big deal or small change in terms of the whole federal budget.

      While I know that many reporters work hard and are not anxious to get an extra task assigned to them, this one is pretty simple. It just means dividing whatever number they are looking at by the total budget. There is no reason it should take more than a few seconds.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • O'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all'

      Beto O'Rourke has offered conflicting messages on 'Medicare for all,' drawing fire from progressive activists who accuse him of backing off an idea they say he once supported.

    • Beto O'Rourke on impeachment: Voting in 2020 may be the "best way for us to resolve" Trump

      Prominent 2020 candidates like Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders support eliminating private health insurance under a Medicare for All system, a plan that has provoked criticism from Republicans who have long accused Democrats of wanting to stage a government takeover of the health care system.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Tells Small Donors to Cut Off DCCC Donations, Give Directly to Candidates Instead
      Denouncing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's new policy of cutting off firms that work with primary challengers as "divisive" and "harmful," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday advised small-dollar donors to stop giving money to the DCCC and instead donate to progressive candidates directly.

      "The DCCC's new rule to blacklist + boycott anyone who does business with primary challengers is extremely divisive and harmful to the party," the New York congresswoman tweeted. "My recommendation, if you're a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC and give directly to swing candidates instead."

      Ocasio-Cortez went on to list three swing-seat House Democrats up for reelection in 2020: Reps. Katie Porter (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), and Lauren Underwood (Ill.).
    • Democrats say they will accuse Barr of a ‘coverup’ if he delivers incomplete Mueller report
    • ALEC Loses Members, Drops Spring Meeting
      The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will not hold its long-standing Spring Task Force Summit, according to an email obtained by Documented through a state public record request. The event was one of three annual ALEC events where lawmakers and corporate lobbyists gather at high-end hotels to vote as equals behind closed doors on “model” legislation.

      ALEC lost at least 366 politicians tied to the organization, including legislators who lost primaries, general elections or left office in the mid-term election year. Additionally, the organization lost several major corporations last year, including AT&T and Verizon, as first revealed by Documented and the Intercept.

      But ALEC gave a different reason for dropping the meeting.
    • Ukraine Presidential Vote Begins Under Bribe Claim Cloud
      Voters in Ukraine are casting ballots in a presidential election Sunday after a campaign that produced a comedian with no political experience as the front-runner and allegations of voter bribery.

      Opinion polls have shown Volodymyr Zelenskiy who stars in a TV sitcom about a teacher who becomes president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral, leading a field of 39 candidates. The polls also had Zelenskiy outpacing incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the other top candidates, by a broad margin.

      “Zelenskiy has shown us on the screen what a real president should be like,” voter Tatiana Zinchenko, 30, who cast her ballot for the comedian, said. “He showed what the state leader should aspire for — fight corruption by deeds, not words, help the poor, control the oligarchs.”

      If no candidate secures an absolute majority of Sunday’s vote, a runoff between the two top finishers would be held April 21.

    • Erdogan: Turkish Ruling Party Emerges as Winner
      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his ruling party has emerged the winner of Turkey’s mayoral elections “by a wide margin” and has dealt a blow to those who tried to bring Turkey to its knees.

      Erdogan spoke after preliminary results relayed by state media showed that his party had gained some 45 percent of the votes, but lost the mayoral seat of Ankara to the main opposition after 25 years. The president had cast the elections as a matter of “national survival.”
    • Biden Faces New Scrutiny From Dems Over Behavior With Women
      Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday defended his interactions with women, saying he doesn’t believe he’s ever acted inappropriately. But a Nevada politician’s assertion that Biden’s kiss on the back of her head made her feel uncomfortable prompted some Democrats to question whether the 76-year-old is too out of step with his own party to run a successful 2020 presidential campaign.

      The episode, recounted by Democrat Lucy Flores, highlighted an aspect of Biden’s persona that has been publicly known for years: the affectionate whispers, hugs and shoulder squeezes he has long doled out to women, often on camera and at high-profile public events. In a moment of national reckoning over sexual harassment and the treatment of women by powerful men, some Democrats said Biden’s actions have taken on a new light.

      “It looks different in 2019,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. Cardona said that while Biden’s behavior is not automatically disqualifying for the presidency, “it all depends on how he continues to respond to this. He has to acknowledge that his behavior made some women uncomfortable.”

      In a statement on Sunday, Biden said it was never his intention to make women feel discomfort.
    • 'Unearned Gift to Donald Trump': Democrats Under Fire for Slow Approach to Obtaining President's Tax Returns
      After taking control of the House in the 2018 midterms, Democrats vowed to get their hands on President Donald Trump's tax returns as part of their broad oversight agenda.

      But, months into 2019, critics say Democrats are moving with "incomprehensible sluggishness" that is threatening their chances of getting the documents before the 2020 elections.
    • Liberalism as a Source of Trouble
      The Mueller report did not find any evidence, either, of Russian meddling in the US election of 2016. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but the lifting of dense fog around Russia and the Ukraine, Russian meddling and far-fetched ideas (espoused by the likes of Canada’s luny Russophobe Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland) that Russia desires to restore the old Soviet Empire can be cast in the malevolent bin of truth decay. Can truth be just over the horizon? Well, maybe not yet! Most thinkers these days imagine that Armageddon will arrive before we reach the land of shining truth.

      Mearsheimer, who is a prominent US political theorist from the University of Chicago, had the guts to challenge the massive propaganda masking the US engineering of the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government. Now, in his new book, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2018), Mearsheimer displays the same moxie as he dissembles the “liberal hegemonic” futilities of US foreign policy. The title of my article, “Liberalism as a source of trouble,” is the title of chapter six in his book. The book surprised me. I didn’t think it possible that a mainstream political theorist from America could take a cold, hard look at his own county’s repugnant actions on foreign soil. So let me extract some of his provocative ideas for CP readers.

      His basic question is a fascinating one: “What happens when a country that is deeply committed to individual rights and doing social engineering to promote those rights employs that template in the wider world?” (p. 120). The answer: “That formidable state will end up embracing liberal hegemony, a highly interventionist foreign

    • Why Nobody in the Future Will Think Obama Was Wonderful
      It’s not difficult to predict how history will view Barack Obama. We have two historical examples to point to.

      1. The eight presidents who served between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln (Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan) are now almost universally considered among the worst in history.

      Harrison and Taylor (who both died in office– 3 months and 15 into their their terms) get incompletes. Polk (who served one term by choice) is considered pretty decent. Some historians credit Tyler for establishing the succession. (When Harrison dies, Tyler refused suggestions that he be considered the acting president; he insisted that the VP became president if the president died, and got to serve out his term.

      The rest are seen to have sucked rocks and spit gravel.

      If you know American History, you probably know that, What you might not know is that they were all reasonably popular, Their failings were explained away. Congress was so polarized that is was dysfunctional– it was impossible for civility and Tip’n’Ronnie to prevail.

      The issues at the time–slavery, and how it should affect territorial expansion–were HAAAARRRD. Nobody was sure what the best solution was, or how it would affect the country. And NOBODY knew how to get from where the US (a slaveholding nation) to where EVERY other civilized nation in the world was.

      As Senator Halfwit Clinton of New York said “I’m proud that we have been able to get to 90% freedom. I want to improve that percentage– not tear it up for some idea that will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN!!!!”

      After the South seceded, the Civil War occurred and the US suffered through reconstruction, the opinion of the prewar presidents immediately went into the crapper and stayed there.

      2. Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were immensely popular– until the Great Depression began. As were William McKinley and his predecessors.

      No matter how bad things get, there will always be people who say “Well it could be worse and it really isn’t so bad.” As Dr. Chait Pangloss says in Voltaire’s novel Candide, “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

      I don’t know how badly the world will suffer from climate change–when it will be able to recover, or even if it will.

    • Muellergate Maps
      I would be very grateful if someone with the ability to do internet topological node mapping could produce a couple of maps for me for “Russiagate” and “Integrity Initiative” over the past nine months. It is important that other parameters are the same for a direct comparison.

      I am writing a piece on the collapse of the Russiagate narrative. I make the point that the MSM promoted the crazed and untrue “Russiagate” conspiracy theory to an astonishing degree. At the same time, the MSM almost entirely ignored the very real government funded conspiracy to pervert public opinion which is the Integrity Initiative.

    • Only the Struggle Matters
      In the small chapel to the right at the entrance of the neoclassical Church of Saint-Sulpice is a large mural by Eugène Delacroix. The painter, at the end of his career and suffering from the tuberculous laryngitis that would soon kill him, depicted a story from Genesis. “Jacob is travelling with the flocks and other gifts he is taking to his brother Esau in the hope of appeasing his anger,” Delacroix wrote in 1861 when the painting was completed. “A stranger appears, blocking his path, and engages him in a fierce struggle – The holy books see this struggle as a symbol of the trials God sometimes sends His chosen ones.”

      Delacroix shows the stranger—an angel—and Jacob wrestling in a sunlit clearing in a thick forest. Jacob, bent with exertion, the muscles on his back tense, attempts to push back against the angel, who stands implacably upright. The mural, created with layers of paint and bold, thick brush strokes that would later inspire the Impressionists, was Delacroix’s final testament to the inherent struggle—a struggle he was acutely aware he would soon lose—with mortality.

      Delacroix asks us what constitutes victory in life. What gives life meaning? How are we to live? Why struggle against forces that we can never overcome? In the biblical story, Jacob is crippled in the long night’s fight, then blessed at dawn by the departing angel. He begs the angel’s name. But that name remains unspoken. Delacroix painted the inscription “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink,” from Psalm 69, over the entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Angels, which holds two other murals by Delacroix portraying clashes with angels. On the ceiling is the Archangel Michael driving the demons from heaven. On the wall opposite Jacob and the angel, Heliodorus is attacked by angels as he attempts to steal the treasures from the temple in Jerusalem. A large window in the church’s stone wall spills sunlight over the paintings.

      “Painting taunts and torments me in a thousand ways,” Delacroix wrote in his journal in 1861, seven months before completing his work at Saint-Sulpice. “… [T]hings that seemed to be the easiest to overcome present appalling, interminable difficulties. How is it, then, that instead of casting me down, this eternal combat lifts me up, not discouraging, but consoling me?”

    • America’s Dirty War on Immigrant Children
      President Trump is right about one thing: there is an emergency; indeed we would call it a humanitarian catastrophe at the U.S. Southern Border.[1] It is also a demographic, political and moral catastrophe However, the chaotic ‘solutions’ devised by former Attorney General Sessions and embraced by ICE and Homeland Security has brought us ever deeper into the unthinkable, Primo Levi’s ‘Grey Zone’. Nine months after a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite thousands of immigrant children taken from their parents at the border, the whereabouts of thousands of children remains unresolved. Some 15,000 migrant children are in government detention. That figure is growing by the day as the number of migrant families crossing southern border reached an 11-year high this February with “unauthorized entries nearly double what they were a year ago.”[2] The most recent Border Patrol data shows that 76,103 migrants were apprehended at the border—two thirds more than during the prior month.[3] More than 40,000 were families travelling together. Children and newborns continue to be taken from their parents even as the Administration claims to have rescinded the order to forcibly separate migrant families.[4]

      America’s littlest desaparecidos, some of them still in diapers, crying inconsolably, begging and screaming for their mothers, wetting their beds, became so traumatized that they stopped speaking to their government-supplied caretakers. These motherless children began to give up and move inside their little selves, eventually accommodating to a cruel new world, bereft of tenderness and abandoned to caretaker strangers who were not allowed to touch them, lest they be accused of physical or sexual assault. Months later we have learned that many of these missing children will never be reunited with their parents. It is possible that some of these separated children will fill the emptiness of kindly American families seeking to foster or to adopt them. States have different laws on foster care and on adoption, and the judges who will decide the outcome often due so by sealing the case.

      The chaos of parent-child separations, the missing records, missing parents, and missing children echoes other historical traumas in the history of childhood in the United States: African slavery, for one, US government Indian boarding schools for another. The underlying rationale behind these government policies is that white, wealthy and middle class parents are deemed as more able, more intelligent and more worthy than the migrant children’s parents who risked their lives to protect their children. Here lies the foundation for a dirty war against Latino migrants fleeing from violence and extreme poverty to risk their lives to save their children.

    • Bernie Holds Double-Digit Lead Over 2020 Rivals Among Young Democratic Voters: Poll
      A new national poll of young Democratic voters released Monday shows Sen. Bernie Sanders leading the crowded 2020 field with a double-digit lead over the second most popular candidate, Joe Biden.

      According to the survey by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School, the U.S. senator from Vermont is preferred by 31 percent of likely Democratic primary voters between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.

      While Biden came in second place with 20 percent and Beto O'Rourke of Texas nabbed the third spot with 10 percent, none of the other candidates garnered more than single digits in the poll.

    • 'Billionaires for President!': Howard Schultz Heckled at Democracy Reform Summit
      "Billionaires for president! Billionaires for president!"

      That was the sarcastic rallying cry former Starbucks CEO and current billionaire Howard Schultz heard from protesters during his appearance Sunday at the Unrig Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

      Schultz's appeared at the self-described "premier right-left summit to solve America's political crisis" for an interview with former Gehl Foods CEO Katherine Gehl.

      As the conversation got underway, Gehl told Schultz that his campaign could benefit from "badass grandmas"—but that advice was quickly overshadowed by the chants from a number of protesters in the crowd.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Mauritania: 2 Bloggers Held for Defamation

      Mauritanian authorities use laws on criminal defamation, spreading “false information,” terrorism, cybercrime, and blasphemy to prosecute and jail human rights defenders, activists, bloggers, and political dissidents. They also have a history of keeping government critics in limbo through long periods of pretrial detention, judicial control, and, in the case of another blogger, Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, once sentenced to death for blasphemy, extrajudicial detention.

    • There’s a New Arts Editor in Town – And Her Name is Ariana Grande

      That’s what happened here, where photographers covering Ariana Grande’s World Tour were basically told they would have to become the personal photographer for Ms. Grande if they wanted to shoot at her concerts or other events. I realize that many AAN members may not have circled the date on which Ariana Grande is coming to their town (though when I made this joke to our esteemed President Molly Willmott, it was met with “speak for yourself”) but she is a big star right now and these credentials are likely to be imitated by others if she can get away with it (in the past we’ve picked fights with, among others, Beyonce and Taylor Swift; and, of course, the Washington City Paper famously declined to cover the Foo Fighters when they played in DC in 2015). You can read more about the history of this issue and these credentials in this article in W Magazine.

    • Facebook’s dirty work in Ireland: ‘I had to watch footage of a person being beaten to death’

      The job involved moderating about 300 and 400 pieces of content – which they call “tickets” – a night, on an average night. On a busy night, their queue might have 800 to 1,000 tickets. The average handling time is 20 to 30 seconds – longer if it’s a particularly difficult decision.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 7th Circuit Punts On Border Smartphone Searches; Says Riley Decision Doesn't Affect Anything
      The "border search" exception again trumps the Constitution. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has determined [PDF] that the Supreme Court's Riley decision that implemented a warrant requirement for phone searches does not apply at our hypersensitive border areas. In this case, the border area affected is [squints at ruling] Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

      Anyway, CBP and DHS investigators had their eyes on a man returning from a suspicious trip to the Philippines. Suspecting the man was engaged in sex tourism, he was stopped by CBP officers upon his return. Lots of things didn't add up so the CBP asked for permission to search his phone. The officers made it clear this request was simply them being polite. They were going to search his devices anyway.

    • Big Government and Big Tech Versus the Internet and Everyone
      Those are just two current examples of many.

      Big Governments and Big Tech are engaged in a long-term mating dance.

      Big Governments want to regulate Big Tech because that’s what governments do, and because, as with Willie Sutton and banks, Big Tech is where the Big Tax Money is.

      Big Tech wants to be regulated by Big Governments because regulation makes it more difficult and expensive for new competitors to enter the market. Facebook doesn’t want someone else to make it the next MySpace. Google doesn’t want a fresh new face to send it the way of Yahoo.

      It’s a mating dance with multiple suitors on all sides.

      The US doesn’t like Grindr or Huawei, because FREEDUMB.

      The Chinese don’t want uncensored Google or Twitter, because ORDER.

      The EU is at least honest about being sexually indiscriminate: It freely admits that it just wants to rigorously screw everyone, everything, everywhere.

      Big Tech wants to operate in all of these markets and it’s willing to buy every potential Big Government as many drinks as it takes to them all into the sack.

      Everybody wins, I guess. Except the public.

    • Preserving privacy, anonimity: The Tor Project
      It was 2013 when Edward Snowden, a then-National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, flew to Hong Kong to meet with journalist Glenn Greenwald. Snowden disclosed information about the United States government and other countries who put their citizens and people abroad under mass surveillance.

      Snowden is also said to be among supporters of The Tor Project. “Without Tor, the streets of the internet become like the streets of a very heavily surveilled city,” Snowden said on Tor Project blog.

      Established in 2016 as a non-profit organization, The Tor Project is free, open-source software operated by servers worldwide. Believing that the network is decentralized, the software protects its users’ anonymity and privacy by relying on the servers run by volunteers in different countries, among them France, the US, Germany and Canada. The Tor Project is said to currently have around 2 million users daily.

    • Some OnePlus Devices Are Downloading GPS Data Over Insecure Servers

    • Mark Zuckerberg says the internet needs a ‘more active role’ for regulators

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Victims of fatal domestic violence double in Sweden

      Although most victims of deadly violence were male (69 percent), most people killed by a partner or ex-partner were women, with this kind of violence accounting for 67 percent of all murders of women: 22 women in total.

    • Fast-Food Industry Workers Continue to Fight for Their Right to Unionize

      The most common problems that affect fast-food workers are low wages, lackluster (or nonexistent) health care benefits, and workplace issues, such as inconsistent scheduling, which makes it difficult for workers to plan their lives outside of work. As Nakatomi says, “Any of these are important outlets for workers to get out of poverty or at least take care of themselves day-to-day while living a low-wage life.”

    • Black actor gets $13.1 million settlement after being framed by police for murder

      In April 2018, a California jury found that two police officers involved in the case, Maureen D'Amico and Michael Johnson, had deliberately fabricated evidence against Trulove and failed to disclose vital information that could have exonerated him, according to the news agency.

      Trulove’s attorneys also said police coerced a key eyewitness in the case.

    • Turkey and New Zealand row over the Christchurch massacre

      Despite protests by New Zealand and others, Mr Erdogan has continued to show footage of the massacre at election rallies attended by tens of thousands of people and broadcast around the country. During recent rallies, crowds were treated to a video that juxtaposed partially blurred scenes of the carnage in Christchurch with screenshots of a European Parliament resolution urging the suspension of Turkey’s accession talks with the EU, and footage of a leader of the Turkish opposition referring to “terrorism rooted in the Islamic world”. Facebook and YouTube have been taken to task for providing the Christchurch killer with the tools to reach millions of viewers. Mr Erdogan has allowed him to reach millions more. The perpetrator behind the attack could not have dreamed of a better platform.

      Australia—the killer’s homeland—is also incensed. At a recent campaign appearance, Mr Erdogan warned that Australians hostile to Islam would “return in coffins” if they visited Turkey. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has demanded that he withdraw the comments, and has said the country is considering its travel advice for Australians visiting Turkey.

    • Young US Citizen Detained at Border Gave 'Inconsistent Info,' CBP Says

      NBC 7 reached out to CBP, asking why officers detained a 9-year-old U.S. citizen and kept her from her mother for 36 hours. The agency said it would respond to questions when it had more details on the case.

    • Devout Catholic 'who used wrong pronoun to describe transgender girl' to be interviewed by police

      Mrs Farrow is being investigated for a possible hate crime under the malicious communication act, an offence that carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.

    • Inmates in Finland are training AI as part of prison labor

      The partnership started about three months ago and Vainu is now working with two different prisons, one in Helsinki and one in Turku. Vainu shipped 10 computers to these prisons and pays the CSA for each task the prisoners complete. The amount is comparable to how much the startup would have paid for a task done on Mechanical Turk, though the CSA is responsible for figuring out how much of that goes to the prisoners, as well as selecting the inmates who do the data classification.

    • Cesar Chavez's Legacy
      Many people thought Cesar Chavez was crazy to think he could build a union among migrant farmworkers. Since the early 1900s, unions had been trying and failing to organize California’s unskilled agricultural workers. Whether the workers were Anglos, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, or Mexican Americans, these efforts met the same fate. The organizing drives met fierce opposition and always flopped, vulnerable to growers’ violent tactics and to competition from a seemingly endless supply of other migrant workers desperate for work. So when Chavez left his job as a community organizer in San Jose in 1962 and moved to rural Delano to try, once again, to bring a union to California’s lettuce and grape fields, even his closest friends figured he was delusional.

      Within a decade, however, the United Farm Workers (UFW) union had collective bargaining agreements with most of California’s major growers. Pay, working conditions, and housing for migrant workers improved significantly. Millions of Americans boycotted lettuce and grapes to put economic pressure on the growers to sign a contract with the union. A young governor named Jerry Brown signed a bill giving California’s farmworkers the right to unionize—something they lacked (and still lack) under federal labor laws.

    • Rights for All Will Put Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Front and Center in the 2020 Presidential Race
      The ACLU will press the candidates for president to adopt bold policies that advance civil liberties in the run-up to the 2020 election. Jose Ivan Parga is a member of a multi-status, Mexican-immigrant family in Minnesota. Even though he is a citizen, every day he witnesses the fear and uncertainty that his extended family has because of their immigration status. For decades they have worked, worshiped, and raised families in the state. Yet at any moment, immigration agents could — and have — detained a member of his family without warning or cause, despite their deep roots in the community. With no clear path to citizenship, Jose Ivan’s family is forced to live in the shadows of a broken immigration system.

      Jamie Miller is a survivor of sexual assault. As a teen, she was assaulted at a party by a boy from another school who didn’t even know her name. Jamie became pregnant and decided to have an abortion. Since that time, she has fought for women in her home state of West Virginia to have that same option. She wants to make sure they have access to abortion and reproductive care, regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

      These are the people we fight hard for every day. And it’s these voices that we want to elevate in the 2020 presidential race. Today we’re launching our Rights for All campaign to ensure people like Jose and Jaime — and all the rest of us — have a say in what our next president prioritizes.

    • Rosneft allocates millions to the nonprofit foundation run by Vladimir Putin's suspected younger daughter
      According to public procurement records available online, the state-owned oil company Rosneft has allocated 28 million rubles ($427,280) to Katerina Tikhonova’s National Intellectual Development Foundation. According to reports by Bloomberg and Reuters, Tikhonova is Vladimir Putin’s younger daughter, though the Kremlin has never confirmed or denied this information.

      The money was allocated to conduct patent research in the natural and technical sciences. Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s news outlet, MBKh Media, notes that the procurement order contains no technical specifications, making it unclear what exact research Tikhonova’s foundation is supposed to carry out. The documents do say that the work must be conducted “in accordance with the priorities of the company’s innovation activity.”
    • State investigators open criminal case after protesters in Ingushetia attack police and National Guard troops
      State investigators have opened a criminal case following clashes between protesters and police in Magas on March 27. Officials say 10 members of the National Guard and local police force were violently attacked by demonstrators during an unpermitted rally against changes to Ingush referendum laws.

      Investigators are currently working to identify the protesters responsible for the attacks. If found and convicted, the perpetrators face up to 10 years in prison.
    • The head of Ingushetia's Interior Ministry resigns after clashes between protesters and police
      Lieutenant General Dmitry Kava, the head of Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, has filed his resignation letter “in view of the events in Magas,” a source told the news agency Interfax. This information has not yet been verified officially.

      Kava took a leave of absence in late March, amid reports from the newspaper Kommersant that he might resign or transfer to another position. A source confirmed these rumors to the news outlet Kavkaz.Realii.

    • Top UN Rights Body Calls for Protection of Environmental Defenders

      The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has argued that attacks against environmental defenders should be understood as what they often are: “a direct result of the exploitation of natural resources that does not take into account the legitimate demands and concerns from local communities.”

    • Pakistani Christian mother of three forced to convert to Islam by kidnapper

      Non-Muslim girls and women in Pakistan are very vulnerable to kidnap, forced conversion and marriage to Muslims, and authorities rarely intervene. A report compiled by a Pakistani NGO in 2014 estimated that every year at least 700 Christian and 300 Hindu girls and young women in Pakistan suffer this kind of abuse.

    • Joe Biden Slams Brunei Sultan’s ‘Appalling and Immoral’ Stoning Law Against LGBTQ Commuity

      This new law will be rolled out Wednesday and the penalty would be "witnessed by a group of Muslims," according to CNN. The controversial punishment is a part of a series of more strict regulations that Brunei has been enforcing since 2014. At the time, Brunei was the first country to embrace Sharia. The Sharia, also known as Islamic law, stems from words from Muhammad and the Quran, Islam’s religious text utilized by Muslims.

    • Brunei to punish gay sex and adultery with death by stoning

      A new law which comes into effect from next week will punish homosexual sex and adultery with death in the small southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei.

      Beginning on April 3, any individuals found guilty of the offenses will be stoned to death, according to a new penal code. The punishment will be "witnessed by a group of Muslims."

    • Brunei has a new law: death by stoning for gay sex

      Homosexuality was already illegal and carried a long jail sentence in Brunei. However, the country is in the process of introducing a sharia law-style system for criminal punishment.

    • ‘They Had Found Out That I Am Gay, and They Were Going to Kill Me’

      I don’t know when I first nurtured the idea that I was going to leave Nigeria.… When I was doing my master’s in nutrition, I started doing activism, because in the community I lived in there was no clean drinking water, and I suffered from typhoid fever so many times. So I became a public-health advocate. I was living in Niger state then. This is a Muslim-dominated state that practices Sharia law. So I was teaching in the only school of technology that was there, in Rijau. So while I was teaching there I started advocating for public-health policies so they can have clean drinking water to reduce typhoid. But there was also a high rate of HIV transmission from mother to child, so when I left there and moved to Abuja, I discovered that my friends who were gay were also dying from HIV. So HIV became a big part of my life, advocating for gay men to have access to treatment. That was when I started suffering attacks.

      But the thing that really made it harder, was that in 2014, the government of Nigeria passed a law that criminalizes same-sex acts by 14 years imprisonment. And criminalizes activism by gay men by 10 years in prison. Same-sex cohabitation, 10 years imprisonment. Demonstration of public affection, 10 years imprisonment. Any form, kind, or shape, that shows that you are gay, you are basically dead by the law.

    • Ugly Racist Thinking Is Now "Woke" -- And Showing Up In All Sorts Of Places Racism Was Previously Unacceptable

      "52 years after Loving vs Virginia the New York Times finds common ground with StormFront."

    • Regent's Park stabbing: knifemen 'washed faces and feet' at London mosque and mingled with worshippers to evade police after killing man in his 20s

      Witnesses said the two men ran into the mosque complex to hide moments after the fatal stabbing in Cunningham Place, near Lord’s cricket ground, at 6.15pm last night.

      The victim, in his early 20s, was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards. He is the 31st person to be murdered in London so far this year.

    • Mukhtaran Mai: 'More Pakistani women are demanding their rights now'

      In an exclusive interview with DW, Mai said she would continue her struggle for women's emancipation irrespective of the impending Supreme Court decision on March 27.

    • Activists Want Buhari to Refocus on Missing Chibok Girls

      Awa was among the 276 girls who were abducted later that day by Boko Haram, and one of the 112 still in captivity.

    • At the U.N., America Turns Back the Clock on Women’s Rights

      The U.S. delegation has proposed that government negotiators strike language from a final outcome document that “reaffirms” support the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In its place, the United States proposed the gathering simply “takes note of” the landmark agreement—a rhetorical shift that to diplomats signals the United States wants to roll back its support. Washington has also suggested that any reference to the 1995 Beijing conference mention an accompanying report that includes numerous protests or reservations registered by other member states. The U.S. push, according to observers, aims to undermine the perception that there is decades-long international agreement behind the Beijing declaration, though it was reached by consensus.

    • Pakistani lawmakers claim women's march was anti-Islam

      Provincial lawmakers in northwestern Pakistan have assailed as anti-Islamic women's marches held earlier this month across the country to mark the International Women's Day.

      Lawmakers in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa provincial parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday denouncing the marches as a "shameless and un-Islamic act."

    • Bahawalpur student stabs professor to death over 'anti-Islam' remarks

      Police sources told DawnNewsTV that Hussain was averse to the event being organised because he viewed the mingling of male and female pupils at the function as "un-Islamic".

    • Any religion can be criticised – except Islam

      As well as relativising paedophilia, the ECHR ruling in effect means that throughout Europe criticism of Muhammad may no longer be regarded as protected free speech but rather constitutes incitement to hatred. This has created, in all but name, an Islamic blasphemy law.

    • ISIS Beheads 50 Yazidi Sex Slaves as Parting Gift

      In 2014, when ISIS roared into Iraq, close to 3,000 women, teenage girls and young boys were abducted by the group. The hostages were Yazidis, Christians, Turkomen and Shabak – all minority groups in Iraq. The women and girls were turned into sex slaves and the boys were recruited as the next generation of jihadis. During the takeover operations, ISIS simply slaughtered the men and teenage boys.

    • “If you take Tramadol away, you make Boko Haram weak.”

      Tramadol is undoubtedly the drug of choice for Boko Haram with several former militants reporting its widespread usage. Nigeria’s anti-drug agency routinely intercepts hundreds of millions of tablets of the drug, much of it believed to be destined for the insurgency in the northeast. Tramadol is an opioid primarily used for pain relief, but when taken at higher doses it can produce similar effects to heroin.

      “Whenever we took Tramadol, nothing mattered to us anymore except what we were sent to do,” says Musa. “Because it made us very high and very bold, it was impossible to go on a mission without taking it.”

      The opioid is also addictive. Aid workers in the region say Tramadol dependency is usually first on the list of problems faced by people who once lived under the Islamist militants.

    • Police Officer Can't Pull Over Driver For Giving Him The Finger, Court Rules

      Officer Matthew Minard was not amused. He pulled her over again, and rewrote the ticket for speeding. Cruise-Gulyas sued, arguing she had a First Amendment right to wiggle whatever finger she wanted at the police.

    • Muslim in Pakistan Bursts into Christian’s Home Alleging He Overheard Blasphemous Comment

      “This is when Mudassir barged into our house and started beating Stephen without any reason,” he told Morning Star News. “We told Mudassir that it was not right for him to intervene in our family issue, but he took offense and raised hue and cry in the street, alleging that Stephen had committed blasphemy.”

      Soon a mob gathered outside their house, he said.

      “Mudassir and Mohammad Rafiq, another neighbor, provoked them to attack Stephen,” Masih said. “They not only beat him up mercilessly but also attacked other family members who tried to save him.”

    • Islamists misusing blasphemy law to harass Christians in Pakistan: Activists

      The protestors including women and children carried out a rally from Palais Wilson, to raise their voice against Islamic hardliners who are persecuting minorities in the name of blasphemy. They demanded that the Pakistan government must abolish the 'dangerous' law misused by the state and non-state actors to target the minorities.

    • ‘Mosque forced girl, 14, to marry “sex attacker” more than twice her age’

      Police have also executed search warrants at the mosque and at the home of one of its leaders.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Sex allegations lead to child bride investigation at Philly mosque

      In a Facebook video posted two weeks ago, one of the alleged victims describes her ordeal. She's 17 now but says she first became a child bride at 14.

    • Pastor of Underground Church in Kenya Beaten Unconscious

      Pastor Abdul said he did not know the assailants. As they approached him, he said, one of them told him, “We have been following your movements and your evil plans of changing Muslims to Christianity.”

      Leader of an underground church of 30 former Muslims, he clandestinely met with them in smaller groups on varying days for worship, prayer and Bible study, he said.

    • Fulani herders killed in central Mali's worst violence yet

      Jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years to boost recruitment and render vast swathes of territory virtually ungovernable.

      French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence into central Mali and the neighbouring countries.

    • Calgary university cancels event by ex-Muslim, citing sensitivity after New Zealand attacks

      The Atheist Society of Calgary has since said the cancellation was akin to acceding to the wishes of the New Zealand gunman.

      “(Atheist Society of Calgary) feels that to cancel this event communicates to terrorists, in general, that these tactics will accomplish their objectives,” they wrote in an online post notifying attendees of the cancellation.

    • Two Hindu girls abducted on Holi eve in Pakistan's Sindh

      Two Hindu teenaged girls in Pakistan were allegedly kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam on Holi eve in Dharki town of Sindh's Ghotki district.

    • An ISIS Couple’s Troubling Path to Terror Recruiting

      Ms. Barriga, who converted to Islam after earning an accounting degree, has been accused by the Philippine authorities of channeling Islamic State funds to local militants and aiding in a failed bombing attempt in the southern Philippine city of Davao.

    • Western Muslims More Extremism-Prone Than Migrant – Swedish Study

      One of Sweden's leading universities has attempted to debunk the common belief that the biggest terrorist threat stems from immigrated jihadists. According to Uppsala University, home-grown Muslims tend to support extremism to a greater extent.

    • 'Not Beneficial': Think Tank Puts Huge Price Tag on Iraqi, Somali Migrants

      Using government-generated statistics, Suomen Perusta calculated that an average Iraqi migrant moving to Finland between the ages of 20 to 24 is expected to cost Finland €690,000 ($783,000). A Somali migrant of the same age was estimated to be even more expensive, burdening the Finnish state with €951,000 ($1.08 million). If child-related issues are included, the costs rise to €844,000 ($957,000) and €1,343,000 ($1.5 million) respectively. For the sake of comparison, the reference mean value for native-born Finns was set at 0 Euros.

    • Saudi Arabia temporarily releases three women activists

      While Saudi Arabia has not made the charges against any of the women public, Human Rights Watch reported in mid-March that they appeared to be "almost entirely related to their human rights activities." The charges also include contact with international organizations, foreign media and other activists, the rights group said.

    • Fundamentalism and White Nationalism: the same, just wearing different clothes

      ‘People who say ‘it’s their culture, it’s a choice, it’s not our place’ think that if they don’t rock the boat, it will keep some sort of social peace. But actually, it will not. There is a battle going on. Isn’t it better that all of us, as progressives, have a stake in that fight? So that the society that comes out of it, is one where progressive people have been involved, and not just the fascists – be they either the white supremacists, or the Islamists, or the Christian right.

    • Cleric in Pakistan who solemnised marriage of 2 Hindu minor girls arrested

      The two girls, Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.

    • Mujahid: Christchurch attacks have opened New Zealanders to Islam

    • Bare-breasted mermaids get covered up in Indonesia

      While the nude statues have been on display for years at Jakarta's Ancol Dreamland, a recent policy aimed at respecting "Eastern values" has seen the mermaids get an official cover-up.

      The statues were initially just covered with gold fabric, but they've now also been moved to a more secluded area after visitors kept pulling the coverings down, park sources told AFP.

    • Husband and employees allegedly strip woman naked, beat her over refusal to dance for them

      After the news was reported, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari tweeted that she had taken notice and looked into the case. "My office was informed by station house officer of police station Kahna, Lahore: Police has registered FIR and arrested both accused and booked under sections 337(v) and 506. Medical report of the woman is awaited. One of the arrested is her husband."

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Indie Web Server: now with native 404 to 302 support for an evergreen web
      What if links never died? What if we never broke the Web? What if it didn’t involve any extra work? It’s possible. And easy. Just make your 404s into 302s.

    • Daniel Stenberg: curl up 2019 is over
      (I will update this blog post with more links to videos and PDFs to presentations as they get published, so come back later in case your favorite isn’t linked already.)

      The third curl developers conference, curl up 2019, is how history. We gathered in the lovely Charles University in central Prague where we sat down in an excellent class room. After the HTTP symposium on the Friday, we spent the weekend to dive in deeper in protocols and curl details.

      I started off the Saturday by The state of the curl project (youtube). An overview of how we’re doing right now in terms of stats, graphs and numbers from different aspects and then something about what we’ve done the last year and a quick look at what’s not do good and what we could work on going forward.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The 10 Most Bizarre Things About The FTC-Qualcomm Case
      During Patrick Moorhead's process of reviewing this FTC case and trial, he couldn't help but notice just how bizarre it is in totality.

    • Remarks on the Problem of Scope in IP
      In these remarks, given as the keynote talk at the University of Washington conference on The Art and Science of the IP Deal, I discuss the relationship between the scope of IP rights and potential IP transactions, with particular focus on the context of design. I emphasize the impact of disparate claiming methodologies used by different IP regimes and the ways our legal system struggles to determine and enforce the scope of a party’s rights.

    • An HIV Treatment Cost Taxpayers Millions. The Government Patented it. But a Pharma Giant is Making Billions.

    • Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Sigmapharm Laboratories, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019) [Ed: Long story short, CAFC agrees with lower court that said patent is bunk (i.e the usual), but asks for more detailed reasoning]
      Having been instructed once again by the Supreme Court that the Federal Circuit is not special when it comes to review of district court decisions (see, e.g., Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc.), the Federal Circuit has increased the quantum of explanation it requires from district courts (and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board even more frequently) in reviewing questions of fact for clear error (see, e.g., Tris Pharma, Inc. v. Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc.). This practice results in remand back to the district court for further explication of the lower court's reasoning (followed, in at least some cases, by another appeal to the Federal Circuit). Regardless of the strain on already-overtaxed judicial resources, this trend shows no evidence of diminishing, and the latest case having this outcome was decided earlier this month in Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Sigmapharm Laboratories, LLC.


      Thus, the case returns to the District Court to develop the factual record for its non-obviousness determination with sufficient completeness for (almost assuredly) further review, as well as reconsideration of infringement by Alembic's and Breckenridge's generic formulations. Whether the current insistence on a crystal clear record by the Federal Circuit is necessary or beneficial to its jurisprudence may be questionable, but it can be expected that district courts will quickly conform their practices (or at least how they write their opinions) to comply with the Federal Circuit's recent mandates, if only to avoid yet further backlogs in their dockets.

    • Copyrights

      • DSM Directive Series #2: Is the press publishers' right waivable?
        As reported by The IPKat, last week the European Parliament approved the latest version of the Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive) which, once approved one last time by EU Member States and published on the Official Journal, will officially come into effect and will then require transposition at the national level.

        Still last week, The IPKat launched a 'DSM Directive Series' of posts to comment on certain key aspects of this forthcoming piece of EU legislation. The first post of the series, "Do Member States have to transpose the value gap provision and does the YouTube referral matter?" is available here.

        Today, I shall be focusing on a different provision, that is what is now Article 15 of the DSM Directive (formerly, Article 11) and the new press publishers' right envisaged therein.

      • Here Comes The Splinternet: How The EU Is Helping Break Apart The Internet
        And, this is just one symptom of a broader trend. China practically has its own internet already. The EU's efforts here may create an EU-focused silo as well. India has been making noises about following China's lead, perhaps cleaving off its own internet in addition. And, of course, there's always Russia with its plan to unplug itself from the internet.

        Perhaps this kind of splintering of the global internet was inevitable. Perhaps we, as a society, simply can't handle a global network for everyone. But, from my perspective, this is still incredibly disappointing. The grand experiment of a global open internet is on its way out. And it's especially depressing that the EU is the one who decided to lead the way on this.

      • Article 13 will wreck the internet because Swedish MEPs accidentally pushed the wrong voting button
        In the EU, if a Member of the Parliament presses the wrong button on a vote, they can have the record amended to show what their true intention was, but the vote is binding.

        Today, the European Parliament voted to pass the whole Copyright Directive without a debate on Articles 11 and 13 by a margin of five votes.

        But actually, a group of Swedish MEPs have revealed that they pressed the wrong button, and have asked to have the record corrected. They have issued a statement saying they'd intended to open a debate on amendments to the Directive so they could help vote down Articles 11 and 13.

        We lost on a technicality, and there is no recourse.

      • The EU Copyright Directive: Winners, Losers, and What Happens Next…
        Three days have passed since the Copyright Directive was passed by the European Parliament, and more and more people are beginning to ask: what happens now? One thing is clear: nothing’s going to be to torn up, even though a whole new parliament is soon to be elected. It’s said that it takes as long to tear up a directive as it does to create one, and it’s taken many years to get to where we are now. Those most critical of the Directive find themselves clutching at straws, like the European Court of Justice maybe rejecting the directive. Or that the Council of Ministers, when meeting in a few weeks to formally approve the decision, will have changed their minds. It’s all a bit unrealistic. We can therefore conclude that copyright organisations have scored a massive victory, and succeeded in their lobbying work. They managed to establish a narrative that those who criticised the Directive were either reeled in by hysterical propaganda or were puppets of Google. But most of all: that this was a question of either being for or against cultural creators. The latter point became absolutely crucial. Among Swedish Social Democrats, this point was what led many to falter. Most clearly, Aleksander Gabelic spoke out sharply over the pressure he experienced from pro-copyright lobbyists. Certainly, he had received thousands of emails from citizens, but the pressure of cultural creators; the nightly conversations implying he was destroying everything for them, rattled him. Gabelic was absolutely convinced that the UN observer for freedom of speech was right in saying the directive was far too great a restriction on freedom of speech, but the pressure he was facing forced him to consider abstaining. He feared how cultural creators would interpret and spin his vote either way. Time and again during our interview, he emphasised that the Directive was not about being for or against cultural creators.

      • Display hidden results on Google Search with Google Unlocked
        Google Unlocked is a browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that displays hidden results on Google Search automatically.

        Google hides results from Google Search when it receives DMCA complaints. The company does not just remove results with DMCA complaints from Google Search but adds information to search results pages to inform users of Google Search about it.

      • Europe’s New Copyright Law Will Spook Startups
        Owen Williams is a self-employed journalist and developer building experiments in news and beyond at Charged. Previously, he was Head of Digital at VanMoof and an Editor at The Next Web.

        Earlier this week, European Parliament voted to ratify infamous copyright legislation that threatens to change the Internet as we know it. Both article 11 and 13 have wide-reaching consequences that affect Europe’s ability to compete as a destination for startups—the risks will simply be too high for even the “safest” of bets.

        Let’s recap what these pieces of new legislation actually do.

        Article 11 is a misguided attempt to help publishers better monetize their content: it requires anyone using a “snippet” of any journalistic content to purchase a license from the publisher. The law would affect anyone from Facebook or Twitter showing an excerpt of an article in your timeline, to potentially a site like Crunchbase simply quoting a headline.
      • EU lawmakers approve copyright reforms that could have a big impact on Google, Facebook
        European lawmakers have approved sweeping copyright reforms that could have far-reaching consequences for the business models of tech giants like Google and Facebook.

        The law is aimed at bringing the EU's rules on copyright into the 21st century to help artists and publishers whose works have been widely dispersed on the internet.

        A first reading of the new copyright directive was passed Tuesday in Strasbourg by lawmakers at the European Parliament. But it still needs to be ratified by ministers at the Council of Europe — this is the institution that brings together the different EU ministers according to their portfolios.
      • Europe's New Copyright Law Could Be Bad for Memes
        YOU MAY SOON see fewer memes online, especially if you live in the European Union. On Tuesday, the European Parliament passed a directive to overhaul copyright law in the European Union and put more pressure on the likes of Google, Facebook, and Instagram to keep copyrighted material like photos and videos off their platforms. Now it's up to each member country to write laws based on the directive.

        The laws will apply only in the EU, but it's possible that companies will try to comply with the directive globally, just as some companies, including Microsoft, say they are applying the EU privacy regulations outside of Europe.

        The most controversial part of the copyright directive makes platforms like Google and Facebook responsible for copyright violations in material posted by their users. Previously, users, not the platforms, were liable. A copy of the directive published by European Parliament member Julia Reda, a member of the Pirate Party Germany who opposes the legislation, says companies will need to follow "industry best practices" for preventing the upload of copyrighted materials. The directive is meant to only cover content-sharing sites. Changes to an earlier version of the proposal last year exempt smaller companies, business-to-business cloud services, open source code-hosting platforms, and not-for-profit online encyclopedias.
      • YouTube, Facebook and Google News will be 'directly affected' as Europe approves new internet copyright rules
        In the European Parliament, MEPs cast 348 votes in favour and 274 against the 'Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market', with 36 abstentions. The European Parliament said the directive aims to ensure that copyright law also applies to the internet. It added that YouTube, Facebook and Google News are some of the internet household names that will be "most directly affected" by this legislation.


        Europe argues the directive aims to help musicians, performers and script authors, as well as news publishers, to negotiate better deals for the use of their works when these feature on internet platforms. It does this by making internet platforms directly liable for content uploaded to their sites. News aggregators will only be able to use very short snippets of text or otherwise may have to pay.

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