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Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Google Brings Linux to Chromebook
      Linux based Chrombooks are not capable of natively running Linux apps and utilities. Last year Google launched project Crostini to allow Linux apps – primarily command line tools and utilities to run natively on ChromeOS using containerization.

      According to some media reports, at the Google I/O summit this year, Google announced that “all Chromebooks launched in 2019 will be Linux-ready right out of the box.” It means all new Chromebooks will have Crostini enabled by default.

      “Crostini is the umbrella term for making Linux application support easy to use and integrating well with Chrome OS. It largely focuses on getting you a Terminal with a container with easy access to install whatever developer-focused tools you might want. It’s the default first-party experience,” said the Project Crostini page.

  • Server

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.5 is now available
      Red Hat Satellite is a systems management solution that makes Red Hat infrastructure simple to deploy, scale, and manage across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Satellite enables users to control the full lifecycle of Red Hat systems and ensure that they are running efficiently, more securely, and compliant with various standards.

      By automating most tasks related to maintaining systems, Satellite helps organizations increase efficiency, reduce operational costs, and enables IT to better respond to strategic business needs.

      If you are new to Satellite please check out the Satellite product page or the free RH053 Satellite Technical Overview course.

    • Google Cloud Sandbox Environments On Demand with Playground
      We’ve been talking about it for a while now during our Weekly Updates, and we’re finally ready to reveal our Google Sandbox Environment! Like our AWS environments, our Google environments are created on demand and allow you to work in a hassle-free, and compliance-friendly environment. These Google Playground Cloud Sandbox environments are available for all of our individual and business accounts!

    • Rob Bearden To Replace Steve Singh As Docker CEO
      Steve Singh is stepping down as Docker CEO after two years at the helm. Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden will be taking over to lead the company. Bearden is said to have been working closely with Singh over the last several months as a potential candidate to join the board and as a consultant to the executive team.

      In his new role at Docker, Rob will accelerate Docker’s enterprise go-to-market strategy while continuing to fuel innovation in the technologies and products that drive digital transformation in an increasingly hybrid cloud world. Rob will also serve on Docker’s board of directors.

    • MontaVista Software Announces Commercial Support For Clear Linux OS
    • LF Edge Momentum Continues with Project EVE Seed Code, Project Demonstrations at IoT World and New Members
      LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system, today announced continued project momentum. Project Edge Virtualization Engine (EVE) receives initial seed code from LF Edge founding member ZEDEDA, as the community showcases a range of edge/IoT application demonstrations, from connected cars to wind turbines, on-site at IoT World.

      Additionally, LF Edge welcomes new Associate and Liaison member organizations Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), the LIONS Center at the Pennsylvania State University, OTAinfo, and University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL).

      “We are excited to see the LF community continue to collaborate on building unified edge solutions,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, IoT and Edge Computing, the Linux Foundation. “We appreciate ZEDEDA’s leadership in helping us advance On-Prem Edge IoT with initiatives like Project EVE, and are eager to showcase the broad capabilities of LF Edge onsite in Santa Clara while welcoming our newest members.”

    • OPNFV Hunter Delivers Test Tools, CI/CD Framework to Enable Common NFVI for Verifying VNFs
      LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open networking projects, today announced the availability of OPNFV ?Hunter,? the platform?s eighth release. Hunter advances OPNFV?s system level integration, deployment, and testing to collaboratively build a common industry Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) that will reduce Communication Service Provider (CSP) and Virtual Network Function (VNF) vendor efforts to verify VNFs against different NFVI platforms.

      Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) is a project and community that facilitates a common NFVI, continuous integration (CI) with upstream projects, stand-alone testing toolsets, and a compliance and verification program for industry-wide testing and integration to accelerate the transformation of enterprise and service provider networks.

      ?The latest OPNFV release sets the stage for a real turning point in the maturity of the platform,? said Heather Kirksey, vice president, Community & Ecosystem Development, the Linux Foundation. ?With continued evolution in areas of testing, verification, and CI/CD, OPNFV is on its way to enable a common NFVI stack that will meet the needs of operators. We are working in collaboration with both global operators as well as the GSMA, and I am incredibly excited to see the community work to provide the resources needed to accelerate network transformation across the ecosystem.?

    • Glusterfs vs. Ceph: Which Wins the Storage War?
      Storing data at scale isn?t like saving a file on your hard drive. It requires a software manager to keep track of all the bits that make up your company?s files. That?s where distributed storage management packages like Ceph and Gluster come into place.

      Ceph and Gluster are both systems used for managing distributed storage. Both are considered software-defined storage, meaning they?re largely hardware-agnostic. They organize the bits that make up your data using their own underlying infrastructure, which is what defines this choice: what underlying framework do you want supporting your data?

      That?s a decision you want to make based on the type of data you?re storing, how that data is accessed, and where that data lives. Ceph and GlusterFS are both good choices, but their ideal applications are subtly different.

    • Developing Kubernetes API Extensions And Operators - Kubebuilder Vs Operator Kit Vs Metacontroller
      As more teams adopt Kubernetes in production, specific use cases and needs have emerged that build on the core feature set of the project. Rather than attempt to fit every requirement in Kubernetes itself, the community has worked towards building an extension framework to enable developers to build support for these different scenarios. Examples of customizing Kubernetes include configuring different network or storage plugins, restricting what container images can be run inside Pods and other admission policies, or creating API extensions for automating common cluster operations. Let?s take a deeper look at the latter type of extension.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Available
      At the Red Hat Summit, 2019 the company announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.

      According to Red Hat, RHEL Linux 8 is redesigned for the hybrid cloud era and built to support the workloads and operations that stretch from enterprise datacenters to multiple public clouds.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Maintainer's / Kernel Summit 2019 planning kick-off
      The planning process for the 2019 Linux Kernel and Maintainer's Summits (Lisbon, Portugal, September 9 to 12) has begun. If you have a topic that you would like to see discussed at either event, now is the time to send in a proposal to the ksummit-discuss list; click below for the details.

    • How to securely delete files in Linux with srm
      With the Linux platform, there are a few possible tools for this process, some of which cannot be depended on for deleting such information and some which only reliably work on magnetic drives. So if your servers work with SSDs, you need to make sure to use a tool that's up for the task. One such tool is the Secure-delete Toolkit.

    • CGroup Interactions
      CGroups are under constant development, partly because they form the core of many commercial services these days. An amazing thing about this is that they remain an unfinished project. Isolating and apportioning system elements is an ongoing effort, with many pieces still to do. And because of security concerns, it never may be possible to present a virtual system as a fully independent system. There always may be compromises that have to be made.

      Recently, Andrey Ryabinin tried to fix what he felt was a problem with how CGroups dealt with low-memory situations. In the current kernel, low-memory situations would cause Linux to recuperate memory from all CGroups equally. But instead of being fair, this would penalize any CGroup that used memory efficiently and reward those CGroups that allocated more memory than they needed.

      Andrey's solution to this was to have Linux recuperate unused memory from CGroups that had it, before recuperating any from those that were in heavy use. This would seem to be even less fair than the original behavior, because only certain CGroups would be targeted and not others.

    • Intel Comet Lake Support Appears To Be In Good Shape With Linux 5.2
      Intel "Comet Lake" CPUs look like they will be well supported when running on the in-development Linux 5.2 kernel or later.

      Intel Comet Lake is the yet-to-launch successor to Coffee Lake / Whiskey Lake and, yes, yet another 14nm product and Gen 9 graphics. Comet Lake CPUs are rumored to be launched around the middle of the year and reportedly up to 10 physical cores. The most recent rumor is that Comet Lake CPUs will require a new motherboard/socket, but so far there haven't been any apparent Linux kernel commits confirming that fact.

    • Graphics Stack

      • mesa 19.1.0-rc2
        Hello, list.

        The second release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.

        Remind that right now there are two bugs blocking the final release:

        #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration

        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (1): radv: Do not use extra descriptor space for the 3rd plane.

        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (1): anv: Fix limits when VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing is used

        Dave Airlie (1): kmsro: add to two of the kmsro drivers.

        Dylan Baker (1): meson: Force the use of config-tool for llvm

        Eric Engestrom (1): travis: fix syntax, and drop unused stuff

        Gert Wollny (1): softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides

        Juan A. Suarez Romero (1): Update version to 19.1.0-rc2

        Józef Kucia (1): radv: clear vertex bindings while resetting command buffer

        Kenneth Graunke (5): i965: Fix BRW_MEMZONE_LOW_4G heap size. i965: Force VMA alignment to be a multiple of the page size. i965: leave the top 4Gb of the high heap VMA unused i965: Fix memory leaks in brw_upload_cs_work_groups_surface(). iris: Use full ways for L3 cache setup on Icelake.

        Leo Liu (1): winsys/amdgpu: add VCN JPEG to no user fence group

        Lionel Landwerlin (4): anv: rework queries writes to ensure ordering memory writes anv: fix use after free anv: Use corresponding type from the vector allocation vulkan/overlay: keep allocating draw data until it can be reused

        Marek Olšák (1): st/mesa: fix 2 crashes in st_tgsi_lower_yuv

        Rob Clark (1): freedreno/ir3: fix rasterflat/glxgears

        Samuel Pitoiset (1): radv: fix setting the number of rectangles when it's dyanmic

        Timothy Arceri (1): Revert "glx: Fix synthetic error generation in __glXSendError"

        Tomeu Vizoso (2): panfrost: Fix two uninitialized accesses in compiler panfrost: Only take the fast paths on buffers aligned to block size

        git tag: mesa-19.1.0-rc2

      • Mesa 19.1-RC2 Released For Testing With The Latest Intel & Radeon Driver Fixes
        We are coming up on the Mesa 19.1 quarterly feature release hopefully by the end of the month while out today is the second release candidate for evaluating this next big update to these OpenGL and Vulkan driver implementations.

      • NVIDIA 430.14 driver released, DiRT 4 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Steam Play) get improvements
        NVIDIA today pushed out the 430.14 stable driver, it comes with a few notable improvements but it's quite a small release overall.

        This time around they named two titles specifically seeing driver improvements. They noted that DiRT 4 with Vulkan, a more recent Linux port from Feral Interactive should see improvements with Vulkan. Additionally, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus when played in Steam Play should see performance improvements thanks to "support for presentation from queue families which only expose VK_QUEUE_COMPUTE_BIT" and it also adds support for the Quadro P2200.

      • NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver Improves Vulkan Performance For DiRT 4, Steam Play Games
        NVIDIA released the 430.14 Linux driver today as their first non-beta driver build in this 430 branch.

        This new driver builds on the earlier 430.09 beta driver like better VDPAU interoperability while now having some performance optimizations around DiRT 4 that is powered on Linux by Vulkan. There are also various other Vulkan driver improvements to help Steam Play games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.
      • Nvidia 430.14 Linux Driver Improves Performance for DiRT 4 and Wolfenstein II
        Nvidia has released today new long-lived stable graphics drivers for Linux, BSD, and Solaris systems to add a bunch of various enhancements, bug fixes, and performance improvements for some games. The Nvidia 430.14 display driver is now available for Linux-based operating system with performance improvements for the DiRT 4 video game, which was ported last month by UK-based video games publisher Feral Interactive to Linux and Mac platforms, as well as for the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus first-person shooter video game, which is available as a Steam Play title.

        The Nvidia 430.14 display driver also adds new functionality to the Nvidia VDPAU driver, including support for decoding HEVC YUV 4:4:4 streams, new per-decoder profile capability, support for accessing YUV 4:4:4 surfaces, support for creating YUV 4:4:4 video surfaces, and support for allocating VDPAU video surfaces with explicit frame or field picture structure.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 9 vs. Clang 8 C/C++ Compiler Performance On AMD Threadripper, Intel Core i9
        Since the release of the GCC 9 stable compiler suite earlier this month we have begun firing up a number of compiler benchmarks for this annual feature update to the GNU Compiler Collection. For your viewing pleasure today is looking at the performance of GCC 8 against GCC 9 compared to LLVM Clang 8 as the latest release of this friendly open-source compiler competition. This GCC 8 vs. GCC 9 vs. Clang 8 C/C++ compiler benchmarking was done on an Intel Core i9 7980XE and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX high-end desktop/workstation systems.

  • Applications

    • Audacity 2.3.2 Released
      Audacity 2.3.2 replaces all previous versions for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    • Audacity 2.3.2 Released with Improvements / Fixes (How-to Install)
      Audacity audio editor and recorder released version 2.3.2 a day ago with some improvements and various bug-fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, and higher.

    • Top 20 Best Time Tracking Software for Linux in 2019
      The competence of any corporate worker or any software engineer or any highly paid programmers depends on how good he or she can manage the working time. The professionals pay their employee based on their hourly work. So to enhance efficiency, the proper project management, the liability towards work – time management is the must. To control time expenses, numerous time tracking software will work as a panacea. Among them, Linux time tracking software will work as amelioration for the programmers or any people of other occupations.

    • Spoke, now on the Web
      Spoke, the editor that lets you create 3D scenes for use in Hubs, is now available as a fully featured web app. When we announced the beta for Spoke back in October, it was the first step towards making the process of creating social VR spaces easier for everyone. At Mozilla, we believe in the power of the web, and it was a natural decision for us to make Spoke more widely available by making the editor entirely available online - no downloads required.

      The way that we communicate is often guided by the spaces that we are in. We use our understanding of the environment to give us cues to the tone of the room, and understanding how to build environments that reflect different use cases for social collaboration is an important element of how we view the Hubs platform. With Spoke, we want everyone to have the creative control over their rooms from the ground (plane) up.

      We’re constantly impressed by the content that 3D artists and designers create and we think that Spoke is the next step in making it easier for everyone to learn how to make their own 3D environments. Spoke isn’t trying to replace the wide range of 3D modeling or animation software out there, we just want to make it easier to bring all of that awesome work into one place so that more people can build with the media all of these artists have shared so generously with the world.

    • The Wayland Itches project
      Now that GNOME3 on Wayland is the default in Fedora I've been trying to use this as my default desktop, but until recently I've kept falling back to GNOME3 on Xorg because of various small issues.

      To fix this I've switched to using GNOME3 on Wayland as day to day desktop now and I'm working on fixing any issues which this causes as I hit them, aka "The Wayland Itches project".

    • Prolific Red Hat Developer Starts Up "Wayland Itches" Project
      Longtime Red Hat developer Hans de Goede who has been responsible for many Linux desktop improvements over the years from laptop support fixes to open-source GPU driver fixes to most recently flicker-free boot has a new area of hacking: taking care of the pain points under Wayland.

      Goede has announced the "Wayland Itches" project for addressing common "itches" / paper cuts / bugs affecting the usability of Wayland compared to the X.Org Server. While Fedora Workstation has shipped with GNOME Shell on Wayland by default for several cycles now, Hans admitted he has kept finding himself switching back to the X.Org session over these little annoyances / bugs.

    • 5 Best Application Launchers for Ubuntu
      Ubuntu is one of the most used Linux distributions worldwide. It is also the reason why it has the maximum number of available programs for itself. Today we are going to talk about one category of those programs, the application launchers.

      Ubuntu’s default application launcher is decent and good enough for most users.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Proton 4.2-4 Released With Fix For RAGE 2, Updated DXVK
        Valve has just released Proton 4.2-4 as their newest downstream of Wine that is used by Steam Play for running Steam Windows games on Linux.

        Proton 4.2-4 pulls in DXVK 1.1.1 as a big update itself. Making Proton 4.2-4 more interesting is a fix for the new RAGE 2 game though for it to run you also need to be using Mesa Git.

      • SteamOS had another beta update recently, new Steam Play Proton version 4.2-4 is out
        Two bits of Valve news to cover tonight: SteamOS gains a new beta version and it looks like Steam Play Proton will be getting an update soon.

        Let's start with SteamOS, Valve's own-brand Linux distribution, mainly aimed at living-room console-style boxes for a large screen experience. It's still going and the 2.190 beta version is now out for those who've chosen to live on the edge with the brewmaster_beta. It's not a big one, with it including mainly security updates and firmware-nonfree updates. Looks like Timothee "TTimo" Besset (formely id Software, helped to port Rocket League to Linux - see my previous interview) is currently keeping it going.

      • SteamWorld Quest releasing end of May on Steam with Linux support
        SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech mixes things up, again, as this time it's a roleplaying card game and it's releasing on May 31st. Currently, they've only said it will be on Steam so far.

        SteamWorld Quest originally released first on the Nintendo Switch, where it has gone onto receiving plenty of high praise. This makes me happy, considering I also enjoyed the previous games.

        The press email was very clear on platforms too "Coming soon to Windows, macOS and Linux!", so there's no need to guess with this. Not surprising though, since Image & Form Games have supported Linux nicely with the previous SteamWorld games but it's still great to see it confirmed.

      • Jupiter Hell continues being a great combination of Doom and a roguelike, now with challenge modes
        Another Jupiter Hell update arrived recently, as ChaosForge rip and tear towards the Early Access release next month. I expect great things when this is finished, as it's already glorious.

      • Minecraft can now be downloaded from Flathub on Linux using Flatpak
        For those of you who prefer downloading things and keeping them up to date using Flatpak, you can now grab Minecraft on Flathub. A good time too, with the recent huge Village & Pillage update that was released back in April.

        Seems they had some trouble getting the Minecraft Flatpak ready, with the original request being opened back in November 2017 but it finally arrived this month.

      • You might need to bring a shovel for Stellaris: Ancient Relics, the newly announced story expansion
        It's a good day to be a space nerd, as Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive have announced Stellaris: Ancient Relics.

        This is a new Story Pack, that will allow you to sift through the rubble of ancient civilizations in Relic Worlds, to piece together exactly what happened to them and maybe come out of it with some fun new toys for your own civilization in the process. Check out the stylish teaser, which gives little away but still helps me get quite excited at the same time:

      • Fight off the vicious Shrooms in Mushroom Crusher Extreme, some thoughts now it's out
        Mushroom Crusher Extreme, a retro-styled action game that sees you fight off vicious Shrooms using various spells has left Early Access. A bit of an odd setting but certainly not the weirdest game I've played.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt on CMake Workshop Summary – May ’19
        From May 2nd to May 3rd another Qt on CMake workshop was hosted at the KDAB premises in Berlin, where interested stakeholders from both The Qt Company and KDAB gathered together to drive the CMake build system in Qt further. Many of KDAB’s customers are using CMake in their Qt projects, so we are keen to see the CMake support for Qt improve and happy to help out to make it happen. The workshop was public, for anyone interested, but we had no external visitors this time. We’d be happy to have some more CMake enthusiasts or interested people in these workshops, so be sure to sign up for the next CMake workshop (watch the qt-development mailing list for this)!

        This workshop in May was mostly intended to reassess what has happened in the wip/cmake branch of qtbase since the last workshop and to discuss any further work. We spent almost half of the first day just deciding how to approach certain things such as how the CMake build system port will affect the upcoming Qt6 work, which is currently gaining momentum as well. We had between 8 and 10 people present across the 2 day workshop, from KDAB and (mostly) The Qt Company.

      • Upcoming news in Plasma 5.16
        We already had WireGuard support in Plasma 5.15, but it existed as a VPN plugin based on a NM WireGuard plugin, which wasn’t really working very well and didn’t utilize many of already existing NM properties. With release of NetworkManager 1.16, we have a new native support of WireGuard which is much more usable. It now exists as a new connection type so it’s implemented a bit differently compared to other VPNs. This mean that we had to implement first support for this connection type and its properties into NetworkManagerQt and implement an UI on top of that. The UI part of the new WireGuard support, same as the old VPN plugin, were implemented by Bruce Anderson. We are also probably (at this moment) the only one who provides an UI for WireGuard configuration so thank you Bruce for such a big contribution.


        Remote desktop portal brings possibility to control remotely your Wayland Plasma sessions. It utilizes screensharing portal to get the screen content and adds API for mouse/keyboard/touch control. Unfortunately at this moment only mouse support is implemented, mainly because I use KWayland::FakeInput protocol and mouse support is the only one currently implemented there. At this moment there is no Qt/KDE based application using remote desktop portal (or at least released one), but I have added support into Krfb, which is currently on review and I hope to get it merged for KDE Applications 19.08. Alternatively you can use gnome-remote-desktop.

      • KDE Plasma: Control Audio/Video Playing In The Browser Using Android Or Media Player Plasmoid
        KDE Plasma Browser Integration is a cool feature added in Plasma 5.13 of which some users are probably not aware, so I thought I'd explain what this does and how to enable it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Chromecast Extension "Cast to TV" v9 Adds Subtitle Configuration, Nautilus Integration
        For the latest Cast to TV v9, the extension settings were redesigned, and there are some new options. The most important change is in my opinion, the addition of Chromecast subtitle settings - you can now change the subtitle font family, style, size, color, outline or background color.

        The new version ships with an easier way of installing the required npm modules - a button to install the modules was added to the Modules tab.

        Yet another new option allows hiding the remote label (the text shown on the top bar for the Chromecast remote when casting), a useful addition since the text was quite long and it wasn't showing any useful information.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • eCube Systems Announces NXTera 7.1 Cloud-Enabled Entera RPC Middleware Certified on Suse Linux Enterprise 12
        eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration and management solutions, announced the release of NXTeraâ„¢ 7.1 High Performance RPC Middleware for SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. NXTera 7.1 is the official Borland sanctioned replacement middleware for Entera and includes modern tools for DevOps, advanced naming services with NAT support, JDBC database access for Entera servers, Eclipse workbench for COBOL, FORTRAN, C and C# language integration; and webservice enhancements to its generation of C, C# and JAVA services interfaces and clients.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source is helping removing data silos in the enterprise [Q&A]
    Historically data has been stored in silos in order to deliver a quick solution. But in the longer term silos can slow down decision making, make modifying systems harder, and hinder compliance with regulations.

    One of the ways to break down barriers between silos is to allow data to be freely shared between them and open source has a big part to play in this. We spoke to Mandy Chessell, distinguished engineer at IBM Cognitive Applications, and recently elected leader of the Technical Steering Committee of the ODPi, to learn more.

  • Mike Hoye: The Next Part Of The Process [Ed: Mozilla is lost. Microsoft and proprietary software with NSA PRISM. Mozilla nowadays does things in violation of its own mission statement and spirit. Having hired top executives from Facebook and similar firms, it's not hard to identify the cause of issues.]
    I’ll be making an effort to ferry any useful information on Discourse back to GitHub, which unfortunately presents some barriers to some members of our community.

    While this won’t be quite the same as a typical RFC/RFP process – I expect the various vendors as well as members the Mozilla community to be involved – we’ll be taking a lot of cues from the Rust community’s hard-won knowledge about how to effectively run a public consultation process.


    As part of that process, our IT team will be standing up instances of each of the candidate stacks and putting them behind the Participation Systems team’s “Mozilla-IAM” auth system. We’ll be making them available to the Mozilla community at first, and expanding that to include Github and via-email login soon afterwards for broader community testing. Canonical links to these trial systems will be prominently displayed on the GitHub repository; as the line goes, accept no substitutes.

  • OSI Board Evolution [Ed: Now with Microsoft]
    The OSI I’m handing over to the new Board is very different to the one I first attended in 2008. It is now elected rather than selected (albeit via an indirect mechanism to make California regulation easier to manage). The electors are over 60 affiliate organisations representing the majority of the world’s core open source developers and an ever growing community of individual members. OSI now has a viable income arising largely from a diverse range of around 30 sponsors. It now has a staff, including a full-time General Manager (Patrick Masson, far right). It now has maintained systems for managing donations, lists and outreach. And there’s more been achieved – those are just stand-outs.

    All together that means OSI has a proven foundation for the new Board to build upon. Already built on that foundation there are a postgraduate curriculum, a programme to advocate open source in the world of standards, a programme to equip schools with recycled PCs, working relationships with peer organisations like FSF and FSFE and more. There are many people responsible for all this change, too many to name here, and I thank them all.

  • Molly de Blanc: advice
    Recently I was asked two very good questions about being involved in free/open source software: How do you balance your paid/volunteer activities? What sort of career advice do you have for people looking to get involved professionally?

    I liked answering these in part because I have very little to do with the software side, and also because, much like many technical volunteers, my activities between my volunteer work and my paid work have been similar-to-identical over the years.


    I was able to take on even more responsibility at the OSI.

  • Open Source Advocates express concern about Microsoft monopolizing OSS tooling [Ed: Everyone needs to delete GitHub now that dedicated Microsoft propaganda sites try to dismiss claims that Microsoft uses GitHub to sabotage the FOSS world]
    The executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, Mike Milinkovich now believes that Microsoft is heading for a complete monopoly which might endanger other companies and projects like Eclipse IDE. According to a recent survey by Stack Overflow (via The Register), Eclipse leads the market share for Jakarta EE development and is followed by IntelliJ IDEA and Visual Studio Code.

  • Events

    • Recap: FOSDEM19
      This year’s FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) has been held in in the beautiful city of Brussels (Belgium), as usual, on February 2 & 3, 2019. It was organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software..

      This was my first FOSDEM as a deputy member of the MC, and a fresh member of the Collabora team.

      I will try to give some information about my talks, and share my experience.

  • LibreOffice

    • Sophie Gautier talks about the [LibreOffice] project
      I may not remember all of them, but I guess the creation of the Native Language projects with the French speaking one as a Proof of Concept in 2001. Then the many community supported projects such as marketing, documentation, etc.

      And then of course, the birth of the LibreOffice project. Since then I?ve the impression that each year is a milestone ;-)

      There have been so many exciting things to do in each corner of the project. The community is pushing a lot of good ideas and energy. Considering the work done on QA, UX/Design and marketing for the product or the community, the new help system and the size of our infra, we have achieved more than we could even imagine ten years ago!

  • Programming/Development

    • Announcing Rust 1.34.2
      The Rust team has published a new point release of Rust, 1.34.2. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • Writing Cleaner Python Code With PyLint
      PyLint is a well-known static analysis tool for Python 2 and 3. It has a number of useful features, like checking your code for compliance with the PEP 8 Python style guide. It makes sure that your code follows the code style guide and it can also automatically identify common bugs and errors in your Python code.

      In this video series you’ll see how to install and set up the PyLint code linter tool. You’ll learn why you should use code linters like PyLint, Flake8, PyFlakes, or other static analysis tools—and how they can help you write cleaner and more Pythonic code.

      You can get this setup up and running in a few minutes and it’ll quickly help you write better and cleaner Python code.

    • LLVM Clang 9.0 Picks Up Initial C2x Language Mode
      Merged today to the mainline Clang compiler front-end is the initial C2x language mode support as what will eventually be the successor to the C18 programming language.

      C2x is still quite a ways out from release and its changes still under determination. At this stage the C2x language support for LLVM Clang is just enabling support by default for the [[attribute]] (double square brackets attribute; similar to C++) support.

    • Librem 5 App Design Tutorial – Part II
      Hello and welcome to the second of my series of blog posts on how to design your own, brand new app for the Librem 5.

      In my last post we went over the philosophy and process, goals and relevant art of building a read-it-later app; today we’ll be discussing sketches and mockups – specifically in what concerns navigation, article and article list screens, and desktops.

    • Working with PDFs in Python: Adding Images and Watermarks
      Today, a world without the Portable Document Format (PDF) seems to be unthinkable. It has become one of the most commonly used data formats ever. Up to PDF version 1.4, displaying a PDF document in an according PDF viewer works fine. Unfortunately, the features from the newer PDF revisions, such as forms, are tricky to implement, and still require further work to be fully functional in the tools. Using various Python libraries you can create your own application in an comparable easy way.

      This article is part two of a little series on PDFs with Python. In part one we already gave you an introduction into reading PDF documents using Python, and started with a summary of the various Python libraries. An introduction followed that showed how to manipulate existing PDFs, and how to read and extract the content - both the text and images. Furthermore, we showed you how to split documents into its single pages.

      In this article you will learn how add images to your PDF in the form of watermarks, stamps, and barcodes. For example this is quite helpful in order to stamp or mark documents that are intended to be read by a specific audience, only, or have a draft quality, or to simply add a barcode for identification purposes.
    • react-content-marker Released – Marking Content with React
      Last year, in a React side-project, I had to replace some content in a string with HTML markup. That is not a trivial thing to do with React, as you can't just put HTML as string in your content, unless you want to use dangerouslySetInnerHtml — which I don't. So, I hacked a little code to smartly split my string into an array of sub-strings and DOM elements.

      More recently, while working on Translate.Next — the rewrite of Pontoon's translate page to React — I stumbled upon the same problem. After looking around the Web for a tool that would solve it, and coming up short handed, I decided to write my own and make it a library.

    • PyCharm 2019.1.2
      The observant among you may have noticed that PyCharm was updated last week without an accompanying blog post. This happened as all of us on the blog team were busy with PyCon. To hopefully make up for the delay we’ve published a PyCon interview with Michael Kennedy on YouTube, and expect to see more interviews there soon!

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #368 (May 14, 2019)

  • Standards/Consortia

    • AT&T, DT, China Telecom throw support behind TM Forum's Open APIs
      The TM Forum announced that AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Salesforce and China Telecom have signed on in support of its Open APIs.

      Those companies showed their support by signing the TM Forum's Open API Manifesto, which commits them to using the TM Forum's APIs in their products and service offerings as well as in their request-for-proposal (RFP) processes.

      “Open APIs and open source software are at the heart of our network transformation, and we're thrilled at the broader ecosystem that's adopting the same approach,” said AT&T's Chris Rice, senior vice president, network cloud and infrastructure, in a statement. “TM Forum has played a critical role in nurturing this ecosystem, and we're pleased to support their Open API initiative.”

      The new members also agreed to take part in the TM Forum’s Collaboration program to continuously innovate and update the suite of Open APIs. Those APIs are in use by more than 7,000 software developers In over 1,200 companies worldwide


  • Daily News Roundup: Apple’s App Store Monopoly
    As of late, Apple has been under fire for its App Store practices. Specifically, the fact that it takes a 30% cut of all app sales, causing developers to raise prices, leaving users no other choice but to pay up.

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled iPhone owners could proceed with a suit against Apple for the practice. Since Apple only allows apps to be downloaded directly from its App Store on iOS, the claim is that it has a monopoly over app distribution. It’s an interesting angle because iOS is one of the only (or perhaps the only?) operating systems that works like this. Android, Windows, Linux, and even macOS allow users to install whatever they like outside of any official channels that exist.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why We’re Unwilling to Confront the Dirty Truth About Eating Meat
      For years, people have tried to justify the five-second rule. The “rule” suggests that if food falls on the ground, you have five seconds to pick it up before it becomes bacterially contaminated. Of course, there is no science to back this up. Instead, we come up with our own justifications like, “Don’t worry. It’s just a slice of cheese. You can wipe it off quickly,” or “It’s a jelly bean, not a gummy bear. See? Nothing stuck to it.”

      The science however, is definitive: drop your food on the ground and almost instantaneously it will have bacteria on it. So why does the myth persist? Simply, because we want it to. We can’t see the bacteria and it doesn’t appear to cause any harm, so most people (79 percent, according to one survey) will pick up and eat food that’s been dropped on the floor.

      Now, a dirty jelly bean is one thing, but when it comes to the dirty truth of our food system, are we able to confront the facts or do we do the same thing and look away because we want to?

    • Bayer's $2 Billion Roundup Damages Boost Pressure to Settle
      Bayer AG was ordered to pay more than $2 billion in damages to a California couple that claimed they got cancer as a result of using its Roundup weedkiller for about three decades, raising pressure on the company to settle thousands of similar lawsuits.

      It’s the largest jury award in the U.S. so far this year and the eighth-largest ever in a product-defect claim, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The verdict prompted some analysts to boost their estimates on the value of a settlement.

    • Third Jury Rules Roundup Caused Cancer, Orders Bayer to Pay $2 Billion
      A third jury ruled that Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller caused cancer Monday, awarding a California couple more than $2 billion in damages. Not only is it the largest award in a Roundup trial to date, it is also the largest U.S. jury award this year and the eighth-largest product-defect award ever, Bloomberg reported.

      "We really wanted to tell Monsanto, 'Cut it out, do better,' and we wanted to get their attention," juror Doug Olsen told Bloomberg of the award.

    • 'Historic' Verdict as Jury Orders Monsanto to Pay Record $2 Billion to Couple in Roundup Cancer Trial
      A California jury ruled Monday that Monsanto must pay a record $2 billion in damages to a couple that was diagnosed with cancer after using the company's weedkiller Roundup.

      "We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto's manipulation of science, the media, and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup's severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind," said Michael Miller, an attorney for Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

      The jury ruled that Monsanto—which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year—is liable for the Pilliods' non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the third such ruling in less than a year.

      "We've been fighting cancer for nine years. It was caused by Roundup. We can't do the things we used to do and we really resent Monsanto for that," Alberta Pilliod said at a press conference following the verdict.

    • KentuckyWired: Our Rural Broadband Investigation, Explained
      Kentucky wants to drape more than 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable across the state. The high-speed network is supposed to connect about 1,000 government sites to one another and to the internet. The cable, organized in six massive loops, won’t connect directly to individual homes and businesses. But the state is banking on indirectly supporting the spread of high-speed internet by selling third-party internet service providers access to the new network, which is called KentuckyWired.

    • Pesticide Lawsuits and the Threat Hiding in the Perfect Lawn
      In 2012, Dewayne Anthony Lee Johnson took a job as groundskeeper for a California county school district. “I did everything,” he said in an interview with Time magazine. “Caught skunks, mice, and raccoons, patched holes in walls, worked on irrigation issues.”

      He also treated the school grounds with Roundup weed killer, about twenty to thirty times a year and sometimes for several hours a day. On one occasion, the pesticide sprayer broke, drenching Johnson in the herbicide. Afterward, a rash broke out and skin lesions spread across his body.

      Several doctors’ visits later, Johnson learned that he had developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

      Johnson would go on to sue the pesticide’s manufacturer, Monsanto, and to win a historic judgment last fall. This has set in motion a number of new cases that could hold the company accountable for its product and educate the public on the dangers of its use, with the verdict in the most recent case topping $2 billion.

    • ACTION ALERT: WaPo Must Acknowledge CIA Role in Pakistan Polio Crisis
      If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s much easier to blame “fake news” than to look in the mirror and see how one’s own country, and their powerful institutions, may bear responsibility for a social ill. This jingoistic narcissism is on full display in a Washington Post editorial (5/10/19) that blamed a recent upsurge in polio in Pakistan on “guns, fear and fake news”—while ignoring the CIA’s central role in the crisis entirely.

      The editorial, “The World Is Close to Conquering Polio. Humans Are Holding Us Back,” started off naming the Official Oriental bad guys:

      The world’s long and ambitious quest to conquer polio has come tantalizingly close to success, only to slip away because of unforgivable behavior by thugs and exponents of ignorance.

      The “thugs” named by the Post are “hard-line Islamist forces,” fueled by nebulous “social media.” While no doubt Islamist forces and their ability to communicate amongst themselves contribute to the problem, the other party primarily responsible for the recent surge in anti-vax sentiment in Pakistan—the US Central Intelligence Agency—is notably unmentioned.

      Reading the scolding editorial, one would never imagine that anti-polio efforts in Pakistan (as well as Afghanistan), according to numerous reports—including the New York Times (4/29/19) last month—have been severely undermined by the 2011 revelation (Guardian, 7/11/11) of a secret ruse cooked up by the CIA to use a hepatitis B vaccine drive to gather DNA in an effort to track the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden (efforts, it’s worth nothing, that didn’t actually help in finding bin Laden).

    • EU adopts SPC manufacturing waiver under protest from several member states
      After the European Parliament adopted a controversial new regulation introducing an SPC manufacturing waiver for export and stockpiling in its last plenary session on 17 April 2019, as previously reported on this blog, the corresponding legislative act has now also been adopted by the Council of the European Union in its meeting today on 14 May 2019.

      While it had been widely expected that the Council would approve the European Parliament’s position and adopt the SPC manufacturing waiver legislation, this came under vehement protest from several member states.

      Thus, Denmark recorded in a written statement that it does not believe that a balanced approach has been achieved, and that the compromise now reached may generate significant damage for the innovative pharmaceutical industry. “By allowing storing of medicinal products and affecting acquired rights of the SPC holders, Denmark believes that the result is disproportionate and goes far beyond what is necessary in order to achieve with the objective of the proposal. The absence of meaningful safeguards for storing will undermine legal certainty for the generic, biosimilar and innovative industry. It will also further deteriorate market conditions for investments in research and innovation, which are, by far, higher than any benefit that the SPC waiver proposal can generate.” Czechia and Malta similarly voiced serious concerns, with Czechia denouncing the limitation of the rights of SPC holders and the weakening of intellectual property protection in Europe.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Linux vs. Zombieload
      The researchers have shown a Zombieload exploit that can look over your virtual shoulder to see the websites you're visiting in real-time. Their example showed someone spying on another someone using the privacy-protecting Tor Browser running inside a virtual machine (VM).

      Zombieload's more formal name is "Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)." It's more common name comes from the concept of a "zombie load." This is a quantity of data that a processor can't handle on its own. The chip then asks for help from its microcode to prevent a crash. Normally, applications, virtual machines (VMs), and containers can only see their own data. But the Zombieload vulnerabilities enable an attacker to spy on data across the normal boundaries on all modern Intel processors.

      Unlike the earlier Meltdown and Spectre problems, Intel was given time to ready itself for this problem. Intel has released microcode patches. These help clear the processor's buffers, thus preventing data from being read.

      To defend yourself, your processor must be updated, your operating system must be patched, and for the most protection, Hyper-Threading disabled. When Meltdown and Spectre showed up, the Linux developers were left in the dark and scrambled to patch Linux. This time, they've been kept in the loop.

    • "ZombieLoad": a new set of speculative-execution attacks
      The curtain has finally been lifted on the latest set of speculative-execution vulnerabilities. This one has the delightful name of ZombieLoad; it is also known as "microarchitetural data sampling", but what's the fun in that? Various x86 processors stash data into hidden buffers that can, in some cases, be revealed via speculative execution. Exploits appear to be relatively hard.

    • Ubuntu updates to mitigate new Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities
      Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) describes a group of vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130, and CVE-2019-11091) in various Intel microprocessors, which allow a malicious process to read various information from another process which is executing on the same CPU core. This occurs due to the use of various microarchitectural elements (buffers) within the CPU core. If one process is able to speculatively sample data from these buffers, it can infer their contents and read data belonging to another process since these buffers are not cleared when switching between processes. This includes switching between two different userspace processes, switching between kernel and userspace and switching between the host and a guest when using virtualisation.

      In the case of a single process being scheduled to a single CPU thread, it is relatively simple to mitigate this vulnerability by clearing these buffers when scheduling a new process onto the CPU thread. To achieve this, Intel have released an updated microcode which combined with changes to the Linux kernel ensure these buffers are appropriately cleared.

      Updated versions of the intel-microcode, qemu and linux kernel packages are being published as part of the standard Ubuntu security maintenance of Ubuntu releases 16.04 LTS, 18.04 LTS, 18.10, 19.04 and as part of the extended security maintenance for Ubuntu 14.04 ESM users. As these vulnerabilities affect such a large range of Intel processors (across laptop, desktop and server machines), a large percentage of Ubuntu users are expected to be impacted – users are encouraged to install these updated packages as soon as they become available.

    • A Slew Of Stable Kernel Updates Issued For Addressing MBS / Zombieload Vulnerabilities
      Following today's disclosure of the new MDS vulnerabilities affecting Intel CPUs, a slew of new Linux kernel stable releases have been issued.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has issued Linux 5.1.2, 5.0.16, 4.19.43, 4.14.119, and 4.9.176 with these now public mitigation patches that pair with Intel's CPU microcode for mitigating this latest set of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities.

    • Understanding the MDS vulnerability: What it is, why it works and how to mitigate it
      MDS vulnerabilities explained in ~three minutes

    • A deeper look at the MDS vulnerability
      In our last post, Jon Masters offered an overview of the MDS vulnerability. In this video, Jon provides a ddeper technical explanation of the vulnerability.

    • SUSE addresses Microarchitectural Data Sampling Vulnerabilities
      Researchers have identified new CPU side channel information leak attacks against various microarchitectural buffers used in Intel CPUs. These attacks allows local attackers to execute code to read out portions of recently read or written data by using speculative execution. Local attackers can be on the same OS or running code on the same thread of a CPU core, which could happen for other VMs on the same physical host. Intel, together with hardware and operating system vendors, have worked over recent months to prepare mitigations for these vulnerabilities, also known as RIDL, Fallout and ZombieLoadAttack.

    • MDS: The Newest Speculative Execution Side-Channel Vulnerability [Ed: Faked performance means no security and since there are no rules associated with this, there will be no multi-billion-dollar fines, no mass recalls etc. What an awful industry.]
      Intel just disclosed a new speculative execution side-channel vulnerability in its processors similar to the existing Spectre/L1TF vulnerabilities. This new disclosure is called the Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS).

      The Microarchitectural Data Sampling vulnerability was discovered by Intel researchers and independently reported as well by external researchers and is said to be similar to existing speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities. Fortunately, some current-generation CPUs are not vulnerable and Intel says all new processors moving forward will be mitigated. For those processors affected, microcode/software updates are said to be coming.

    • The second Meltdown: New Intel CPU attacks leak secrets
      Over a year ago, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks took the computer industry by storm and showed that the memory isolation between the operating system kernel and unprivileged applications or between different virtual machines running on the same server were not as impervious as previously thought. Those attacks took advantage of a performance enhancing feature of modern CPUs called speculative execution to steal secrets by analyzing how data was being accessed inside CPU caches.

      Since then, the research community found additional "side channel" techniques that could allow attackers to reconstruct secrets without having direct access to them, by analyzing how data passes through the CPU's microarchitectural components during speculative execution.

    • Linux Kernel Flaw Allows Remote Code-Execution
      The bug is remotely exploitable without authentication or user interaction.

      Millions of Linux systems could be vulnerable to a high-impact race condition flaw in the Linux kernel.

      Kernel versions prior to 5.0.8 are affected by the vulnerability (CVE-2019-11815), which exists in the rds_tcp_kill_sock in net/rds/tcp.c. “There is a race condition leading to a use-after-free [UAF],” according to the CVE description.

    • Update WhatsApp now to avoid spyware installation from a single missed call

    • Update WhatsApp Now, Adobe Warning Creative Cloud Users with Older Apps, Kernels Older than 5.0.8 Are Vulnerable to Remote Code Execution, Schools in Kerala Choose Linux and MakeOpenStuff Is Launching the HestiaPi Touch Smart Thermostat
      A vulnerability in WhatsApp allows spyware to be installed from a single unanswered phone call. The Verge reports that the "spyware, developed by Israel's secretive NSO group, can be installed without trace and without the target answering the call, according to security researchers and confirmed by WhatsApp. Once installed, the spyware can turn on a phone's camera and mic, scan emails and messages, and collect the user's location data. WhatsApp is urging its 1.5 billion global users to update the app immediately to close the security hole."

    • How WhatsApp exposed its users to a spyware attack
      Facebook-owned firm confirms that a vulnerability in WhatsApp opened doors for a spyware attack that installs a malicious code on victim's smartphone...

    • On WhatsApp, it may be hackers calling

    • Why it might be time to ditch WhatsApp for Signal or Telegram
      By now you’ve heard the news: WhatsApp is currently rolling out an urgent update to all app users to close a major vulnerability that leaves unpatched phones at risk of being targeted by hackers. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and if you plan to stick with the platform, don’t wait for an update notification: access your phone’s app store now to force install the update.

      Except maybe now is the time to go one step further: perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to switch to a different messaging platform. One that’s not owned by one of the major tech companies, is equally -- if not more -- secure, and which works on more than just your phone. Enter stage left, Telegram, and stage right, Signal.
    • Modern IT security: Sometimes caring is NOT sharing
      The last decade of technological advances has seen a race to reduce costs. Migration to virtualized systems quickly eclipsed traditional bare-metal deployments. At some point, virtualization will be out-paced by containerization. While the physical footprint of an organization’s compute resources may have been reduced, the complexity of managing those environments certainly has not.

      Back in the Stone Age of IT operations and information security, everyone’s attention was focused on the corporate datacenter and the physical machines that lived there. It was simpler to understand where security controls needed to be applied. You had one giant cable coming into the building from "the internet," so you’d throw firewalls, Information Data Leak Prevention/Detection (IDP/IDS), proxies, load balancers and other tools in-line before that channel was split to the larger corporate network. This Castle-and-Moat model of protection worked fairly well (ignoring the insider threat) for decades.


      Virtualization evolved into "the cloud". TL/DR for everyone out there: the cloud is just someone else’s computer. You used to run it on your server in your datacenter. Move it "to the cloud" and it now runs on Frank’s Discount Cloud and actually sits in his basement in Peoria, Illinois. Cloud-enabled individuals and businesses to have a low-cost means to quickly deploy systems and applications. It offered benefits around high availability and other features you’d typically see deployed in Enterprise-class organizations. Instead of ordering physical boxes from your favourite retailer or OEM and having that take weeks to be delivered and weeks more to be configured and deployed, now you call up Frank (say "Hi!" to his mom while she’s down in the server room doing Frank’s laundry) and Frank can have you up and running with computing and storage resources in minutes. Cloud lets you "outsource" a lot of technology and skills you might not have in-house (or have any interest in managing yourself).

    • A Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications
      THE CISCO 1001-X series router doesn't look much like the one you have in your home. It's bigger and much more expensive, responsible for reliable connectivity at stock exchanges, corporate offices, your local mall, and so on. The devices play a pivotal role at institutions, in other words, including some that deal with hypersensitive information. Now, researchers are disclosing a remote attack that would potentially allow a hacker to take over any 1001-X router and compromise all the data and commands that flow through it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Leaked Report: Douma “Chemical Attack” Likely Staged
      An apparent classified internal report from OPCW suggests that the Douma chemical attack – which allegedly took place in April 2018 – was in fact staged.

      The report, signed by Ian Henderson (an investigative team leader for the OPCW), is an analysis of the two key locations which were used as evidence of the Syrian government launching a chemical attack using chlorine gas in Douma, last year.

    • Iran says Trump playing 'very dangerous game,' risking 'devastating war'
      The United States is playing a "very dangerous game" as it attempts to "drag Iran into an unnecessary war," a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.

      Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the Trump administration made a "serious miscalculation" in deploying an aircraft carrier strike group, B-52 bombers and other military personnel and equipment to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, unspecified Iranian threats.
    • NIAC Statement on Bolton's Latest Military Plans for Iran
      “John Bolton is methodically setting the stage for war with Iran–forcing Iran into a corner and then readying war plans for when Iran takes the bait. There are two ways Bolton can be stopped: either Trump can fire him or Congress can pass legislation to block a war before it starts. It’s time for our leaders to stop sleepwalking and the public to speak out as an unrestrained Iraq war architect repeats the playbook from that generational catastrophe with Iran.”

    • National security officials detail plan to deploy up to 120,000 troops to Iran: report
      President Donald Trump's administration is weighing military options against Iran that could even include war, according to a new report.

      Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan detailed a plan last week at a gathering of national security officials, which includes deploying up to 120,000 armed forces to the Middle East, according to the New York Times. The hypothetical plan would reportedly be implemented if Tehran speeds up its nuclear weapons program — or in the event American troops are attacked by Iran. It is mainly a revision of previous plans, with updates allegedly called for by administration hawks led by Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton.

      In possibly related news, four oil tankers in the Middle East — two owned by Saudi Arabia, one owned by the United Arab Emirates and one owned by Norway — were recently damaged by what Saudi and U.S. officials described as "sabotage" attacks, according to CBS News. On Monday, U.S. officials told CBS News their preliminary assessment was either that Iran or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives to damage the vessels.
    • Warnings of 'Gulf of Tonkin 2.0' as Trump Officials Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks
      That question has become increasingly common and urgent among anti-war commentators and activists in recent days as U.S. intelligence officials—without citing any concrete evidence—blamed Iran for reported attacks on Saudi and UAE oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

      Commentators quickly likened the accusations to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, referring to the "fabricated" event that President Lyndon Johnson used to massively escalate America's war in Vietnam.
    • Will John Bolton’s Dream to Bomb Iran Come True? Ex-Iranian Ambassador Warns About U.S. Escalation
      The Pentagon has reportedly drawn up a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if President Trump decides to take military action against Iran. The New York Times reports the Pentagon presented the proposal on Thursday after National Security Advisor John Bolton requested a revision to an earlier plan. Bolton has long advocated for attacking Iran. According to the Pentagon, far more than 120,000 troops would be needed if a ground invasion was ordered. This comes as tension continues to escalate between the United States and Iran. The United States recently deployed the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the region claiming there was a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.” Iran has announced it will stop complying with parts of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and resume high-level enrichment of uranium in 60 days if other signatories of the deal do not take action to shield Iran’s oil and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions. The U.S. has attempted to cut Iran off from the global economy, even though Iran has remained in compliance with the nuclear deal. We speak with Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He served as spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the European Union from 2003 to 2005.

    • Arundhati Roy: A U.S. Attack on Iran Would Be “Biggest Mistake It Has Ever Made”
      On Sunday night Arundhati Roy delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture at the Apollo Theater in Harlem as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. She reads an excerpt of the lecture. “Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged, and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the U.S. Government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state,” Roy said. “And now, resorting to the same old scare tactics, the same tired falsehoods and the same old fake news about nuclear weapons, it is gearing up to bomb Iran. That will be the biggest mistake it has ever made.”

    • 'Disturbing': Trump Reportedly Reviewed Bolton Plan to Threaten Iran by Sending 120,000 Troops to Middle East
      According to the New York Times, the military plan was crafted by national security adviser John Bolton—who has repeatedly expressed support for bombing Iran, including in the pages of the Times—and presented to the president last Thursday by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who Trump nominated last week to serve as permanent Pentagon chief.

      "The size of the force involved has shocked some who have been briefed on [the plan]," the Times reported, citing more than a half-dozen anonymous national security officials. "The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003."

      "The high-level review of the Pentagon's plans was presented during a meeting about broader Iran policy," according to the Times. "It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces."

      The Times report on Bolton's plan, which one critic described as "disturbing," comes just over a week after the national security adviser used the routine deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with military action.

    • Putin plans to examine a missile system immediately before meeting the U.S. Secretary of State. Coincidence?
      Vladimir Putin has begun a series of military visits. On May 13, the president visited the Kazan Aviation Factory, where he examined Tu-160, Tu-95MC, and Tu-22 airplanes as well as a Mi-38T helicopter. On Tuesday, he will visit a Defense Ministry flight test facility in Akhtubinsk, where he will tour, among other things, a Kinzhal hypersonic missile system. Afterward, the Russian president will travel to Sochi for negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    • Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective Defies Unlawful “No Trespass” Order
      An extraordinary set of events has been unfolding at the Venezuela Embassy in Washington DC, ever since the Embassy Protection Collective began living at the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela on April 10 to protect it from an illegal takeover by Venezuela’s opposition. The actions of the police on the evening of May 13 added a new level of drama.

      Since the cutting off of electricity, food and water inside the embassy has not been enough to force the collective to leave, late Tuesday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police handed out a trespassing notice that was printed without letterhead or signature from any U.S. government official.

      The notice said that the Trump administration recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido as the head of the government of Venezuela and that the Guaido-appointed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, and his appointed ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Gustavo Tarre, were to determine who is allowed into the Embassy. Those not authorized by the ambassadors were to be considered trespassers. Those inside the building were “requested” to depart the building.

      The notice appeared to have been written by the Guaido faction, but was posted and read by the DC police as if it were a document from the U.S. government.

    • The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela Is Decades in the Making
      Hugo Chávez knew that Venezuela was very vulnerable. Its oil revenues account for 98 percent of its export earnings. Chávez was familiar with the thinking of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuela’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons in the early 1960s and one of the architects of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In 1976, Pérez Alfonzo wrote, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin.” He called Venezuela’s oil the “devil’s excrement.” If oil prices remained high, as they were when Chávez came to power in 1999, then oil revenue could be used to finance a project for the landless workers. If oil prices collapsed, then the country—laden with debt—would face severe challenges.

      Venezuela’s economy had not been diversified by the oligarchy that ruled the country before Chávez took office. By 1929, it had become apparent to the oligarchy that the flood of oil revenues had damaged the agricultural sector—which shrank in the decades to come. There was neither an attempt to enhance agricultural production (and make Venezuela food sovereign) nor was there any attempt to use oil profits for a wider industrialization program. Occasionally, presidents—such as Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 1970s—would pledge to use the influx of oil revenues to diversify the economy, but when oil prices would fall—as they did periodically—Venezuela went into punishing debt.

      It would have taken Chávez a generation to pivot the economy away from its reliance upon oil revenues. But Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the time. In the 2000s, when oil prices remained high, the revenues were used to enhance the social lives of the landless workers, most of whom suffered high rates of malnutrition and illiteracy. Gripped by the need to deal with the social blight amongst the landless workers, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the capacity to tackle reliance upon imports of food and of most consumer goods.

    • The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia
      The Western conquest and colonization of what is now Latin America and the Caribbean is a story of blood. It is a story of genocide. It is a story of the colonizers’ attempt to completely destroy and enslave a continent of people and to crush cultures that were thousands of years old. After Columbus famously “discovered” the Americas, Hernán Cortés defeated the rulers of the Aztec empire in 1521. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured Incan emperor Atahualpa in 1532, brutally massacring his followers and looting Incan gold. At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Incan empire—and its Quechua language—spanned the Andes, and the Aztec capital had a larger population than Madrid.

      The Spanish conquest was a turning point for the region. In the Andes, the Incan empire was destroyed, and the ayllus – centuries-old forms of community organization in the Andes – were broken up into smaller, centralized communities to facilitate the extraction of taxes, land, and labor. Thousands were sent to the mines in Potosí (in modern-day Bolivia) for the silver that empowered the Spanish empire. Though indigenous resistance continued, the great civilizations of the Aztec, Maya, Inca, and countless other indigenous communities spanning the hemisphere were all but vanquished under the boot and plunder of colonization; the Americas would never be the same.


      Over time, the colonized rose up against colonial powers, overthrew them in revolutions, and built independent and sovereign nations. This global political process of recovering sovereignty following colonial rule has been called “decolonization.” As a political process, decolonization has generally involved forming an independent nation-state, constitution, flag, set of laws, and political system based on the dreams and beliefs of that nation’s local people. The global road toward decolonization has been anything but simple. Indeed, it has been one of the most dramatic and consequential processes in modern history.

      One of the first waves of decolonization took place between the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century in the Americas. During this time, the British were forced out of what is today the United States, and revolutionaries ousted the French from Haiti and abolished slavery in that new nation. In the early 1800s, independence wars against Spain raged throughout Latin America. Those conflicts led to the birth of new, independent nations, from Venezuela and Colombia to Argentina and Bolivia. The second wave of decolonization took place in Europe between 1917 and the 1920s, after the collapse of the Russian and Habsburg empires. Following World War II and into the late 1970s, freedom from European colonial rule was won among colonies throughout Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

      “Let us leave this Europe which never stops talking of man yet massacres him at every one of its street corners, at every corner of the world,” the great decolonial thinker Frantz Fanon wrote. For many, decolonization was a process of self-determination, of leaving Europe behind rather than trying to build a society in its image. As Fanon wrote, “The Third World is today facing Europe as one colossal mass whose project must be to try and solve the problems this Europe was incapable of finding the answers to.”

    • Oracle claims that Amazon tried to woo Pentagon officials with 'undisclosed employment and bonus offers' to win a $10 billion cloud contract, but Amazon says it's a 'desperate attempt to smear the company'

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Whistleblower’s Arrest Shows Even “Secure” Platforms Are Vulnerable
      The recent indictment of former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale offers a cautionary tale to future whistleblowers. In the process of leaking dozens of classified documents to the press, Hale followed the same canned advice that’s been repeated by Edward Snowden and countless other privacy advocates: it’s all about onion routing and strong encryption. For example, Hale used a bootable thumb drive loaded with the ostensibly secure Tails operating system. To communicate with reporters, he employed an encrypted messaging platform.

      But his security measures were to no avail. Hale has been arrested and charged under the Espionage Act. He is the third such whistleblower, behind Terry Albury and Reality Winner, to have been snared by the authorities after leaking documents to The Intercept. These cases are a potent reminder that while reporters may be shielded by First Amendment protections, their sources are not.

      Future whistleblowers should recognize that disclosing official secrets is a veritable minefield. Using an app which is branded as “secure” to communicate with high-profile reporters will make the corresponding network traffic stand out like a glow stick to security services. Hale, in particular, also made the flagrant mistake of printing out documents that were unrelated to his job function. There’s a whole market segment of insider threat tools that are specifically designed to detect this sort of activity.

      Clandestine operations officers have had years of formal training. They pass through selection processes and gain experience stationed overseas in hostile environments. Put bluntly, they’re essentially skilled criminals who successfully break laws in other countries over sustained periods. That’s what clandestine ops are all about. It’s unclear if it’s realistic to expect someone to be able to duplicate the required level of operational expertise with a random collection of digital security platforms (e.g. Tails, Tor, PGP and Signal).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Indigenous Australians challenge government over climate at UN
      A group of indigenous Australians plans to submit a complaint to the UN on Monday that accuses Australia of failing to act on climate change. The group resides in the low-lying Torres Strait Islands in the country's north. It argues that Australia's lack of climate change policies is putting their culture and ancestral homeland at risk. "Tides are rising every year, flooding homes, lands and important cultural sites. Rising sea temperatures are blighting the health of the marine environments around the islands, by bleaching the coral and acidifying the ocean," a statement from the indigenous group said. "We are seeing this effect on our land and on the social and emotional well-being of our communities who practice culture and traditions," said Kabay Tamu, one of the petitioners.

    • Mercedes Maker Says All Cars Will Be Carbon-Neutral by 2039
      Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler AG will make its entire passenger car fleet carbon neutral by 2039, the company announced Monday.

    • Mercedes Maker Sets A New Standard For Auto Industry Climate Targets, Yet Still Falls Short
      Yet the automaker gave few details. And while its new voluntary targets are unprecedented, the timeline remains far slower than what scientists say is needed to keep planetary warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set by the Paris agreement.

    • Mercedes-Benz says all its vehicles will be carbon-neutral by 2039
      German automaker Mercedes-Benz said Monday all its vehicles will be carbon-neutral within 20 years -- part of a plan to reduce its carbon footprint.

    • Mercedes-Benz's aggressive climate pledge: All cars will be carbon-neutral by 2039
      Still, the Mercedes pledge is the latest shift away by auto makers away from traditional engines.

    • Daimler commits to carbon neutrality
      Daimler AG announced today that its entire passenger fleet will be carbon neutral by the end of 2039.

    • Record-Breaking Diver Finds Plastic Bag in Deepest Part of Ocean
      An America man completed the deepest-ever solo underwater dive May 1. But when he reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, he found that another representative of the human world had gotten their first: plastic.

    • Deepest ever dive finds 'plastic bag' at bottom of Mariana Trench
      An American undersea explorer has completed what is claimed to be the deepest manned sea dive ever recorded -- returning to the surface with the depressing news that there appears to be plastic trash down there. Victor Vescovo journeyed 10,927 meters (35,853 feet) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep , the southern end of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, as part of a mission to chart the world's deepest underwater places.

    • North East Green Party lead candidate says coal claims 'blown away' by study
      Rachel Featherstone, Green Party lead candidate for the North East, is tonight to visit the site of the proposed Dewley Hill open cast coal mine in Northumberland.

      She will be marking the release of figures today showing that existing coal stockpiles in the UK are more than double the level needed required until 2025, when the government is committed to completely ending coal-fired electricity generation.

      Rachel said: “The issue of coal mining is of great concern in the North East, where not only Dewley Hill buts also our treasured Druridge Bay is threatened by a proposed new open cut coal mine, despite strong local opposition.

    • Warren Buffett, Fear, and Greed in Fracked Oil Fields
      Warren Buffett, CEO of investment holding company Berkshire Hathaway, is considered one of the top investors in history and can back up that track record with a personal wealth of around $90 billion. Buffett is known for advising investors to be “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

      In the U.S. fracked oil industry, this month can be read like a textbook version of Buffett’s fear and greed adage. The shale industry showed plenty of signs of fear while Buffett made a massive “greedy” bet on the future of the Permian Shale in Texas and New Mexico, assuming it will produce oil profitably and investing $10 billion in Occidental’s purchase of shale producer Anadarko.

    • Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble With Latin American Lives
      The right of foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals is one of the most extreme examples of excessive power granted to corporations through free trade agreements and investment treaties.

      For decades now, corporations have used this power to demand massive compensation for public interest regulations and other government actions that may reduce the value of their investments. Widespread outrage over this “investor-state dispute settlement” system is among the key issues in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

      But this public outrage hasn’t stopped companies from continuing to file such lawsuits. In January 2019, for example, U.S.-based Legacy Vulcan LLC registered a case against Mexico over an environmental dispute concerning limestone quarrying near the well-known vacation destination Playa de Carmen. The company cited ecological land use regulations in the municipality of Solidaridad preventing the company from expanding mining operations on two properties. Using NAFTA investment rules, the company is reportedly planning to demand approximately $500 million in compensation.

    • Entrepreneur arrested in major oil contamination case complains that prosecutors are looking for ‘enemies of the people’
      After organochloride contamination in the Druzhba oil pipeline left millions of dollars in Russian exports unusable, the leaders of a company called Nefteperevalka who were connected to the node where the contamination took place are facing criminal charges. Roman Trushev, one of the defendants, relayed his opinion of the charges to Kommersant: “The premier gave an order to find the guilty parties in a week, and there we go, they found their enemies of the people.”

    • In the Shadow of Warships and the Climate Emergency: On Getting Arrested at Bath Iron Works
      A couple of weeks ago I chose to get arrested at a demonstration at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine. The day was cold, windy, and wet. A huge new battleship, the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson, was being launched. BIW is one of two shipyards in the US capable of building these mammoth, deadly ships. Maine’s Congresspeople and Senators were there along with the top executives of BIW and General Dynamics, the parent company of BIW—as well as hundreds of other guests—to extol our military might.

      These launchings are a big deal. Such ships take years to build and are high tech marvels of stealth, surveillance, and... destruction. This one cost around $7 billion. Bath is a modest coastal Maine community dominated by the enormous shipyard, Maine’s biggest employer.

    • ‘Chernobyl’: Yegor Moskvitin reviews HBO’s poignant depiction of a Soviet disaster
      A coproduction of HBO, the British network Sky, and the Russian media company Amediateka, the five-part miniseries Chernobyl premiered in the United States and the United Kingdom this month. After the first episode’s release on May 6th (episode two premiered on May 13th), the series garnered a higher critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes than Game of Thrones. Although much of what is depicted in the series will be familiar to Russian viewers, Chernobyl is not a purely documentary work. Critic Yegor Moskvitin discusses the 1986 disaster and its Anglo-American dramatization.

    • "Middle-of-the-Road" Climate Plans From Centrist Democrats Won't Save Us, Warns AOC at Green New Deal Rally
      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a rebuke on Monday to longtime members of Congress and presidential candidates who claim incremental measures will solve the climate crisis and vowed not to allow Republicans or centrist Democrats to hamstring the push for a Green New Deal.

      At a Washington, D.C. rally closing out a nationwide Green New Deal advocacy tour by the Sunrise Movement, Ocasio-Cortez told attendees she plans to fight against "middle ground" approaches favored by politicians like 2020 candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

      The New York Democrat noted that many of the Green New Deal's critics were in office decades ago and held on to their seats as carbon emissions skyrocketed and NASA scientists began warning that the climate was changing as a result.

      "I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try and come back today and say we need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives," Ocasio-Cortez said.

    • This Ocean Farmer Is Growing Food That Cleans up Pollution
      Catherine Puckett needs to be close to the ocean. “I just can’t be away from it,” she said. “It means everything to me.” She has to see it and smell it and hear the bells that ring from buoys offshore when a heavy sea rolls in from the east. When she is waist-deep in water, ankle-deep in mud, salt marsh on one side and water on the other, there’s only one way she can describe it. “It’s magical,” she said. She even wades in during the coldest days of winter, often breaking through ice to get there. “I think to myself: ‘why doesn’t everybody do this?’” she said.

      Puckett, 36, known locally as “Oyster Wench,” a single mother with two young children, lives on Block Island, about a dozen miles off the Rhode Island coast. She represents a new generation of ocean farmers, one whose singular connection to the water is coupled with a passion for the environment. She grows shellfish and kelp on her farm, located in the waters of the Great Salt Pond, using sustainable fishing methods that both preserve the ocean’s ecosystems and fight climate change.

      “What we are trying to do is grow food from the ocean that doesn’t hurt the environment or the climate and, in fact, is working toward restoring both,” she said.

  • Finance

    • Molly Scott-Cato focuses on tax justice with 10-point plan
      Molly Scott-Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, and lead candidate in next week's European election, today launched a "10-step Plan for Tax Justice" before an audience of small business owners in Bournemouth.

      She said: "Greens are proud to have led on cracking down on corporate tax avoidance in this parliament. But there's still a lot more to done to make sure national government stop blocking European co-operation on this issue.

    • 65 years after Brown v. Board of Education, We Risk Going Backward
      This week marks the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the unanimous Supreme Court decision that outlawed apartheid in America, declaring segregated schools “inherently unequal” and unconstitutional.

      Today, the common sense of the Brown decision is under attack. For nearly three decades, our schools have been re-segregating, reversing the progress made under Brown, reflecting the deep racial and economic segregation of our communities. Worse, several of Donald Trump’s nominees to the federal courts refuse even to endorse Brown as unassailable law.

      As the United States grows more diverse, we run the risk of becoming more separate and more unequal.

      The decision in Brown was and is compelling. Racially segregated schools were and are inherently separate and unequal. They also were and are unequal in resources. In affluent, largely white suburbs, public schools are new and modern, with advanced facilities and courses and good teachers. In low-income, minority neighborhoods, schools tend to be old and dilapidated, with less experienced teachers, fewer resources and fewer advanced courses.

      Research shows that integration works. Segregation injures the chances for achievement, college success, long-term employment and income of students of color. Integration raises those chances with no detriment to white students. Indeed, the experience of going to a diverse school better prepares students of all races for the world they will enter.

      With neighborhoods largely segregated—a legacy of racially restrictive laws and covenants, of bank and real estate red lining and more—integration of public schools inevitably required busing. Busing, of course, is routine across America, a service to parents. But opponents of integration used “forced busing” to rouse fears and hatred. The question was never about busing, it was about where the bus delivered the students.

      When the federal courts, packed by judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, retreated from desegregation orders, the schools began to re-segregate. Now, as Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor concludes: “After four decades without federal support for desegregation, we are right back where we started,” with schools that are increasingly separate and unequal.
    • Did You Pay to Use TurboTax? Help Us Hold the Tax Prep Industry Accountable.
      We’ve heard from hundreds of people who said they paid to file their taxes even when they were eligible to file for free. These reader tips have been incredibly helpful in getting the truth out about how Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, manipulates users into using a paid product and lies to customers who then ask for refunds. Many of these stories came from Americans who really needed the money.

      We’re nowhere near finished with this reporting. To that end, we’ve created this brief questionnaire to collect as many of your stories as possible. If you used TurboTax, we’re interested in hearing about your experience. If you’ve asked for a refund, you can let us know what happened or upload audio of the call below. At the moment, we would particularly like to hear from active-duty service members and military families who used TurboTax. If that’s you or anyone in your community, we’d love it if you would pass this along. Anyone who is an active-duty service member should be able to use TurboTax for free if they made under $66,000.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Barr to Investigate Origins of Mueller Probe
      Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” according to a person familiar with the issue.

      Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry, the person said. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

      With the appointment, Barr is addressing a rallying cry of President Donald Trump and his supporters, who have accused the Justice Department and FBI of unlawfully spying on his campaign.

      Democrats have accused Trump of using the allegations to divert attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that Russia aided Trump’s 2016 campaign and that he could not exonerate the president on the question of whether he tried to impede Mueller’s investigation. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin.

    • Redacting Democracy
      The Nobel Prize-winning Czech author Milan Kundera began his 1979 novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by describing two photographs. In the first, two men are standing side by side, a Czech nationalist later executed for his views and the country’s Communist ruler. In the second, the dissenter is gone, airbrushed out. Just the dictator remains. Today, if Kundera hadn’t written that opening to his book, only someone with a long memory or a penchant for research would know that the two men had ever shared a podium or that, on that long-gone day, the dissident had placed his fur hat on the dictator’s cold head. Today, in the world of Donald Trump and Robert Mueller, we might say that the dissident was redacted from the photo. For Kundera, embarking on a novel about memory and forgetting, that erasure in the historical record was tantamount to a crime against both the country and time itself.

      In the Soviet Union, such photographic airbrushing became a political art form. Today, however, when it comes to repeated acts meant to erase reality’s record and memory, it wouldn’t be Eastern Europe or Russia that came to mind but the United States. With the release of the Mueller report, the word “redaction” is once again in the news, though for those of us who follow such things, it seems but an echo of so many other redactions, airbrushings, and disappearances from history that have become a way of life in Washington since the onset of the Global War on Terror.

      In the 448 pages of the Mueller report, there are nearly 1,000 redactions. They appear on 40% of its pages, some adding up to only a few words (or possibly names), others blacking out whole pages. Attorney General William Barr warned House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler about the need to classify parts of the report and when Barr released it, the Wall Street Journal suggested that the thousand unreadable passages included “few major redactions.” On the other hand, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey was typical of congressional Democrats in suggesting that the speed -- less than 48 hours -- of Barr’s initial review of the document was “more suspicious than impressive.” Still, on the whole, while there was some fierce criticism of the redacted nature of the report, it proved less than might have been anticipated, perhaps because in this century Americans have grown used to living in an age of redactions.

      Such complacency should be cause for concern. For while redactions can be necessary and classification is undoubtedly a part of modern government life, the aura of secrecy that invariably accompanies such acts inevitably redacts democracy as well.

    • New Warren, Jayapal Report Details Corporate Crime Free-for-All Under Trump Administration
      That's the message delivered by a new report (pdf) out Tuesday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

      The report, "Rigged Justice 2.0," explains how President Donald Trump's government is allowing corporations to do whatever they want.

      "Our justice system's soft touch with huge corporations and billionaires is not a new phenomenon," reads the report. "But under President Trump, it is far worse than it has ever been."

      The report is the second in a series. The first edition, "Rigged Justice," was released by Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, in January 2016. The report detailed the weakness of the Obama administration on corporate crime—but, as Warren's office pointed out in a statement announcing "Rigged Justice 2.0," those were the good old days.

      "This new analysis reveals a catastrophic decline in corporate accountability under President Trump," said Warren's office, "illustrating the impact of corporate malfeasance on the American public through a dozen case studies in which the government failed to hold companies and white collar criminals accountable for ripping off the American people, hurting workers, or damaging the environment."

      Among the highlights of the new report are a 20-year low in corporate crime enforcement and an abdication of governmental responsibility for workers, consumers, and the environment. The lack of action to hold corporations accountable, the report argues, is because of an unprecedented takeover of the federal government by corporations.

    • Brazil’s Bolsonaro: ‘Exterminator of the Future’
      Eight former Brazilian Ministers of Environment issued a warning last week that the government of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is in the process of systematically destroying Brazil's environmental protection policies. They say the environmental ministry's powers are being stripped, and that deforestation of the Amazon is on the rise again. Marina Silva, who was the environmental minister under President Lula da Silva, called Bolsonaro an “exterminator of the future.”

    • Denouncing Fox News as a 'Hate-for-Profit Racket,' Warren Turns Down Town Hall Invite
      "It's designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that's rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class," said the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate.

      However, she continued, "hate-for-profit works only if there's profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it's a reputable news outlet."

      Noting that Fox News is "struggling" to retain advertisers—an apparent reference to a recent advertising "exodus" triggered by hosts Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro—Warren suggested that holding a town hall featuring a Democratic presidential candidate enables the network's sales team to reassure advertisers they can buy ads without harming their reputations.

      "I won't ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates—especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers," she said.

      Warren pointed out that she has done more than 70 other town halls this year across 17 states and Puerto Rico, and highlighted her other media interviews.

      "Fox News is welcome to come to my events just like any other outlet," she added. "But a Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass."

    • How to Move Toward Impeachment, Now
      The Trump administration continues to defy Congress and to demonstrate its contempt for constitutional democracy, refusing to share an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report with House committees, citing “executive privilege,” and refusing to comply with a number of lawful subpoenas for information, about counterintelligence, obstruction of justice, and tax returns. At the same time that it refuses all requests for information or testimony, Trump, along with his henchman Guliani, continues to rail against Mueller and his team, calling them “crooks” and “haters” and implying that they are corrupt; and also continues to escalate the demand for investigations of the investigators and of Democratic political opponents.

      Trump continues to act like he is above the law and accountable to no one but his credulous and angry base. And as he does so, virtually every Republican leader has fallen in line, as they have for the past two years (one notable exception is Richard Burr, the Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had the temerity to join with committee Democrats to issue a subpoena requiring Don, Jr. to testify before the committee, thereby earning the hostility of his fellow Republicans, Trumpists all).

      And so Nancy Pelosi, institutionalist and tactician par excellence, has finally been moved to declare that we are now in the midst of a “constitutional crisis.” Indeed, Pelosi, who only weeks ago seemed to maintain that impeachment was “off the table,” is now sounding like she is leaning toward impeachment, as is Adam Schiff and other leading House Democrats. And yet the jury, so to speak, is still out. And while House Democratic leaders have escalated the rhetorical conflict with Trump, they remain reluctant to take a more emphatic public stance, and directly confront Trump himself for his affronts to the Constitution.

    • While Americans 'Have Been Waiting Two Years For Congress to Do Its Job,' Arrests End Impeach Trump Sit-In Within Two Minutes
      At least 20 people were arrested in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building on Tuesday as they participated in a sit-in to demand that President Donald Trump be impeached.

      Dozens of protesters from across the country came to Washington for the action. The grassroots groups behind the sit-in, By the People, tweeted from the scene that Capitol Police began making arrests just two minutes into the demonstration.

      Meanwhile, the group wrote, many Americans "have been waiting over two years for Congress to do its job and impeach."

      "It's been two years of Trump's corruption, abuse of power, violation of our Constitution, and attacks on our democracy. It took two minutes to arrest protesters, so why two years for this?" said By the People.

    • Chris Hughes Helped Get Obama Elected, But Now That Facebook Helped Elect Trump, He Wants To Break It Up?
      Last week we wrote about Facebook co-founder Chris Huges' long, but remarkably uncompelling argument for why Facebook should be broken up. The post itself was quite long, but could be summed up in that Hughes listed out a variety of problems he attributed to Facebook, and then suggested breaking the company up and regulating speech on the internet in response. However, some of the problems he attributed to Facebook are not, in fact, because of Facebook, and he made no effort to show how his proposed solutions would actually solve any of those problems (indeed, there are arguments it might make some of them worse).


      It's not quite the same thing, obviously. However, it does seem notable that Hughes used social media effectively to help elect one President, and now seems to be quite disturbed and upset by the fact that it helped elect a different President. You can, perhaps reasonably, argue that the tactics, the scale, and the overall context are quite different today (organizing excited Millennials is pretty different than Russian trolls sowing discord), but it certainly does seem like valuable context in thinking about this.

      Social media is -- like many technologies -- a tool. It can be used for things people like, and for things they dislike. We should be wary of assuming all the good comes solely from the technology at the same time we should be wary of assuming all the bad does as well.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Courts to Government Officials: Stop Censoring on Social Media.
      The Internet, and social media in particular, is uniquely designed to promote free expression, so much so that the Supreme Court has recognized social media as the “most important places” for speech and sharing viewpoints. Like most of us. government agencies and officials have created social media profiles and use them to connect directly with people at a scale previously unheard of. But some public officials, by silencing critics, are using these pages as a tool of censorship rather than a tool of governance.

      Thankfully, courts are stepping in to make sure that long-established protections for speech in physical spaces apply to speech on the Internet. In the most notorious case, the district court in New York found that when President Trump blocks people on Twitter, he violates the First Amendment because he is discriminating against certain viewpoints (mostly critics) and preventing them from participating in debate on his Twitter page. The case has been appealed, and in the time since two federal Courts of Appeals have ruled in separate cases that viewpoint discrimination on government social media pages is illegal.

      In January, the Fourth Circuit, became the first federal appellate court to decide that government officials cannot pick and choose what views can appear on government social media pages. That court found in Davison v. Randall that a county official created a public forum, a legal category defined by the First Amendment, when she made an official Facebook page for her office, and that she engaged in unlawful discrimination in that forum when she deleted the comment of a local critic. The First Amendment sharply limits content discrimination and essentially bars viewpoint discrimination in public forums.

    • Yaroslavl resident who photographed and shared anti-Putin graffiti gets hit with 30,000-ruble fine
      A Yaroslavl court fined Kirill Poputnikov 30,000 rubles ($461.55) under a 2019 law that bans insulting the government online, reported. Poputnikov posted a photograph on Facebook that showed graffiti whose message can be translated as “Putin is a fag” on the façade of the local Internal Affairs Ministry building. Poputnikov said that his intent in photographing the graffiti was to attract attention to an act of vandalism.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Cisco Making its MindMeld Conversational AI Platform Open Source [Ed: Cisco openwashing of mass surveillance listening devices]

    • Another Day, Another Company Scraping Photos To Train Facial Recognition AI
      If your face can be found online, chances are it's now part of a facial recognition database. These aren't the ones being utilized by law enforcement, although those are bad enough. The ones used by law enforcement are littered with millions of noncriminals, all part of a system that works worse than advertised 100% of the time.

      The faces aren't in those databases (yet!), but they're being used to train facial recognition AI with an eye on selling it to law enforcement and other government agencies. Another photo storage company has been caught using users' photos to fine tune facial recognition software… all without obtaining consent from those whose faces became fodder for the tech mill.

    • Public bins removed from the GPO over GDPR concerns
      All public bins have been removed from the GPO due to potential privacy breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Customers and visitors to the historic building will no longer be able to dispose their litter within the premises.

      An Post says under the new privacy laws, even rubbish containing personal details is considered their responsibility.

      For this reason, a decision was taken to remove every bin from the post office’s main hall.

    • GDPR Concerns Temporarily Result In The Removal Of Trash Cans From Ireland Post Office
      The regulatory nightmare known as GDPR continues to wreak havoc. The data privacy law enacted by the European Union has possibly helped protect the data of Europeans, but the thick cloud of smoke rising from the collateral damage makes it impossible to say for sure.

      Regulating the internet isn't as simple as the EU Parliament thought it would be. The first reaction many US sites had to the new law was to block every user appearing to originate from a covered country. The EU Parliament couldn't even comply with GDPR properly. Its own website didn't anonymize incoming users correctly, allowing the Parliament's site to hoover up IP addresses to send through to Google Analytics. The EU Commission responded to this gaffe by exempting itself from the law.

      Meanwhile, European citizens were experiencing the downsides of mandated data export. The law requires all user data collected by tech companies to be available on demand to European internet users. In theory, a wonderful idea. In practice, it means if someone hacks one of your accounts, they can start requesting your data as well. Even without being hacked, your personal data can be sent to someone else because tech companies are just as prone to clerical errors as anyone else.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • AT&T, Verizon Employees Caught Up In DOJ SIM Hijacking Bust
      Wireless carriers are coming under increasing fire for failing to protect their users from the practice of SIM hijacking (aka a port scam). The practice involves posing as a wireless customer, then fooling a wireless carrier to port the victim's cell phone number right out from underneath them, letting the attacker then pose as the customer to potentially devastating effect. Last year, a customer sued T-Mobile for failing to protect his account after a hacker pretending to be him ported out his phone number then stole thousands of dollars worth of cryptocoins.

      Subsequent reports have shown how identity thieves use SIM hijacking to do everything from cleaning out bank accounts, to stealing valuable Instagram usernames and selling them for Bitcoin. Reports often showed how these scams were being helped with the willful help of some cellular carrier employees, something wireless carriers haven't (understandably) been particularly keen on talking about.
    • Sverdlovsk Oblast governor proposes negotiations after hundreds clash over cathedral construction in Yekaterinburg
      Sverdlovsk Oblast governor Yevgeny Kuivashev offered to hold negotiations in his residence between residents of the region who clashed Monday night over the planned construction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Yekaterinburg.

      “Now, my primary task as a governor is to create peace, calm, and understanding. Street fights are not a way to solve problems,” he wrote on Instagram.

    • Church officials in Yekaterinburg postpone prayer meeting after local government refuses to approve initial plans
      The Ministry of Public Safety in Sverdlovsk Oblast declined to approve plans for a May 14 prayer meeting in support of the proposed construction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Yekaterinburg, reported.

      In Russia, public prayer meetings are considered ‘mass actions’ much like protests and therefore fall under the same legal requirements.

    • The US Is Making Immigrants Pay for Its Red Tape With Asylum Application Fees
      The Trump administration wants to make people fleeing persecution in their home countries pay for something they’ve long gotten for free: the right to apply for asylum in the United States.

      As an immigration attorney and a law professor who has represented people seeking asylum for over a decade, I believe this change, which could go into effect as soon as the summer of 2019, would be not just cruel but also unusual. At present, only Australia and Fiji charge fees to would-be asylum-seekers.

      But making immigrants escaping harm and persecution shoulder the cost of processing their paperwork is in line with other trends in U.S. immigration law over the last several decades. Fees for everything from green cards to naturalization are not only common, but increasingly costly and mandatory.

      “You must submit the correct fees or we will reject your form,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that oversees these applications, warns on its website. It relies primarily on revenue from these fees to cover its entire budget.

    • We Need to Reclaim State Courts From Big Money and Hateful Agendas
      President Trump’s threats against the judiciary — and his manipulation of the branch altogether — are happening at breakneck speeds. Amid the president’s fear-mongering, however, the public is missing drastic changes that are taking place right under our noses.

      There is a quieter, less publicized danger threatening the third branch of government: Our state courts are under attack. As with recent nominees to the federal courts, this attack on state courts means harm for our most vulnerable neighbors, family and friends.

    • The Country That Exiled McKinsey
      In 2010, amid a historic commodities boom fueled by the explosion of China’s economy, international companies began turning their attention to Mongolia as it opened its vast deposits of coal and copper to commercial exploitation. Mongolia, which is located on China’s northern border, stood to make prodigious sums of money if it could sell that copper and coal to its resource-hungry neighbor.

      To make that happen, Mongolia concluded that it needed to lay thousands of miles of railroad tracks. Such a project would cost billions of dollars and throw off hefty fees for construction companies, banks, law firms and consultants of various stripes. The consulting contracts alone could be worth tens of millions over a decade. And if the railroad expansion worked out, there’d be even more opportunities after that.

    • Objections by Nielsen and Others to Trump Plan for Mass Arrests Were 'Logistical and Technical,' Report Shows, Not Moral or Ethical
      In the weeks before they were fired, top officials in the Trump administration reportedly raised concerns about a White House plan to deport whole families in a proposed show of force against migrants in the country—not for ethical reasons, but because such a plan could raise logistical and technical difficulties.

      Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello both found the administration's plan unworkable and stopped the plan due to what reporting from The Washington Post described as a "lack of preparation" and "the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border."

      That cold approach and the lack of a moral problem with the proposal led writer John R. Stanton to comment that the real issue was that the backlash to the plan might hurt DHS and ICE plans for future attacks on migrants.

      "Please get beyond the headline to the part where it says none of the DHS officials had any ethical concerns with this," said Stanton. "Nielsen et al were just worried it would hurt their other ghoulish plans for immigrants."

    • Trump’s Election Has Boosted Israeli Settlement Construction
      Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.

      Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction.

      While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across the West Bank.

      Hagit Ofran, a researcher with the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said it appears that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government.

      “They are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Nokia privateer Conversant can't enforce SEP against standards-compliant Apple products due to Nokia's late disclosure: inequitable conduct
      Conversant, previously known under other names such as Core Wireless, may very well be the wireless SEP privateer with the highest failure rate in litigation. And it's probably because Nokia sold them weak patents, more so than I would attribute this lack of success to the work performed by Conversant's litigators.

      Last month Conversant lost a French appeal, and it became known that LG had offered Conversant less than 1% of what it wanted. Conversant has also been grossly unsuccessful against Apple in the U.S., with dozens of patent assertions having failed. They're now increasingly looking to the UK as a last resort, attempting to leverage the England & Wales High Court's and UK Court of Appeal's decisions in favor of global portfolio rate-setting--but Huawei and ZTE may get that precedent overturned as the UK Supreme Court granted their petitions to appeal (the UK equivalent of a cert petition) last month.


      Conversant can appeal this order, but since the Federal Circuit had already taken some pretty clear positions in its decision to remand the case to San Jose, it's not likely that the order granting Apple's motion would be reversed.

      This will hopefully serve to discourage companies participating in standard-setting from similar misconduct. It's absolutely key that those sitting at the standard-development make timely disclosures of any intellectual property rights they hold that might read on certain techniques before those are formally adopted.

    • Plausibility to be debated by AIPPI at London meeting in September 2019
      As readers will be aware, the debate around plausibility initially arose at the European Patent Office in the mid-1990s (T 939/92, AgrEvo) at a time when applications with extremely broad claims were in vogue, particularly in the field of biotechnology. The term “plausibility”, as such, was used for the first time in T 1329/04 (John Hopkins).

    • If you want it, Claim it
      This is a consolidated appeal from four different district court cases and five different inter partes review cases. All the cases focus on BTG’s U.S. Patent No. 8,822,438 (hormone based chemotherapy). For once, the PTAB and District Court decisions meshed – all finding the claims invalid as obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit focused on one of the PTAB decisions and affirmed — with result of mooting the remaining appeals.


      What this means is that the prior art’s use of prednisone as a steroid (for palliative care) directly reads on the claims.

      To be fair to the patentee, the patent focuses substantially on the reality that prednisone was found by the patentee to have anti-cancer effects itself. On appeal, the court effectively says – ‘if you wanted to claim that prednisone as an anti-cancer treatment, write it in the claims.’

    • Copyrights

      • No knowledge in secondary copyright infringement of Eminem's first album
        Rap star Eminem (Marshal Bruce Mathers III) became famous after his second album in 1999. His lesser-known first album, 'Infinite', recorded in 1996 was less successful, but was the subject of this recent dispute before Judge Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.

        Funky Bass Team Productions (FBT), a record company based in Detroit brought an action of copyright infringement against the defendants; Let Them Eat Vinyl Distribution (LTEV) a record company and Plastic Head Music Distribution (PHM) [related companies operating from the same address], after LTEV made vinyl copies of the Infinite album and supplied them to PHM who sold them, together with CD copies supplied by David Temkin (Boogie Up Productions).

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