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

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

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

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

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

  • Server

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

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

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

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

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta is now available
      Brave Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) users are already moving to RHEL 8. More cautious users are sticking with RHEL 7. But with this beta for the final release of the RHEL 7 family, the end of the RHEL 7 family is in sight.

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

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

    • RHEL8: Upgraded Security and Performance
      By now most of you have heard the buzz that Red Hat released the newest version, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8). Because RHEL 8 distribution is live externally, we also made sure to include it in our Linux Academy Cloud Playground, so you can start training with it immediately. There’s not much we aren’t excited about with this release. From advanced containerization to automation in security, RHEL 8 represents a win for businesses and individuals alike.

    • The University of Maine: High-Performance Computing, Climate Change Research, and Ocean Modeling created a Whale of an appetite when it comes to data. SUSE Enterprise Storage satisfied that appetite!
      With research projects like climate change research and ocean modeling, the university’s high-performance computing center is generating data like a Whale eating Krill. And that’s a whole lot considering a Blue Whale will consume some 40 million Krill, or about 8000 pounds daily. The University of Maine is one of only 11 Land, Sea and Space grant institutions in the country. And establishing a stronger and more flexible HPC and storage infrastructure is integral to their success. It also supports the people of Maine and its businesses across a wide variety of activities.

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

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 532: CryptPad
      CryptPad is a private-by-design alternative to popular office tools and cloud services. All the content stored on CryptPad is encrypted before being sent, which means nobody can access your data unless you give them the keys.

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

    • LHS Episode #287: Fruit of Widevine
      Welcome to Episode 287 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts discuss several topics including sunspots and planetary alignment, proprietary encryption protocols in common browsers, high-altitude balloons, satellite LIDs, new malware, new WSJT-X and much more. Thank you for listening.
    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 812

    • GPU Passthrough | BSD Now 301
      GPU passthrough on bhyve, confusion with used/free disk space on ZFS, OmniOS Community Edition, pfSense 2.4.4 Release p3, NetBSD 8.1 RC1, FreeNAS as your Server OS, and more.

  • Kernel Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The starting point might be to determine how to calculate the memory pressure to apply, he said. Back in October and November, there were several proposals on doing that; his patch was reverted due to performance regressions, but there were others, none of which went upstream.
    • The Linux "copy problem"
      In a filesystem session on the third day of the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Steve French wanted to talk about copy operations. Much of the development work that has gone on in the Linux filesystem world over the last few years has been related to the performance of copying files, at least indirectly, he said. There are still pain points around copy operations, however, so he would like to see those get addressed.

      The "copy problem" is something that has been discussed at LSFMM before, French said, but things have gotten better over the last year due to efforts by Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft, and others. Things are also changing for copy operations; many of them are done to and from the cloud, which has to deal with a wide variation in network latency. At the other end, NVMe is making larger storage faster at a relatively affordable price. Meanwhile virtualization is taking more CPU, at times, because operations that might have been offloaded to network hardware are being handled by the CPU.
    • A way to do atomic writes
      Finding a way for applications to do atomic writes to files, so that either the old or new data is present after a crash and not a combination of the two, was the topic of a session led by Christoph Hellwig at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). Application developers hate the fact that when they update files in place, a crash can leave them with old or new data—or sometimes a combination of both. He discussed some implementation ideas that he has for atomic writes for XFS and wanted to see what the other filesystem developers thought about it.

      Currently, when applications want to do an atomic write, they do one of two things. Either they use "weird user-space locking schemes", as databases typically do, or they write an entirely new file, then do an "atomic rename trick" to ensure the data is in place. Unfortunately, the applications often do not use fsync() correctly, so they lose their data anyway.
    • Storage testing
      Ted Ts'o led a discussion on storage testing and, in particular, on his experience getting blktests running for his test environment, in a combined storage and filesystem session at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. He has been adding more testing to his automated test platform, including blktests, and he would like to see more people running storage tests. The idea of his session was to see what could be done to help that cause.

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

      He has also recently been running blktests to track down a problem that manifested itself as an ext4 regression in xfstests. It turned out to be a problem in the SCSI multiqueue (mq) code, but he thought it would be nice to be able to pinpoint whether future problems were block layer problems or in ext4. So he has been integrating blktests into his test suite. Ts'o said that he realized blktests is a relatively new package, so the problems he ran into are likely to get better before long. Some of what he would be relating are his feedback on the package and its documentation.
    • Testing and the stable tree
      The stable tree was the topic for a plenary session led by Sasha Levin at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). One of the main areas that needs attention is testing, according to Levin. He wanted to discuss how to do more and better testing as well as to address any concerns that attendees might have with regard to the stable tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation to Host the Accord Project to Develop Open Source Framework for Smart Legal Contracts [Ed: Dan Selman, whom LF has just made co-director of the Accord Project, apparently works or worked for Microsoft (or maybe it's another person with the same name). Zemlin PAC may be dead anyway. Stick a fork in it. This new group has nothing to do with “Linux"; Everything to do with 'IP' boosters Intel, IBM and Microsoft (see who’s cited in this press release).]
        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the launch of the Accord Project as a Linux Foundation project. The Accord Project is a nonprofit organization that builds open source code and documentation to maintain a common and consistent legal and technical foundation for contract management. The project comprises all the software necessary to author, edit and execute smart legal contracts in a standardized way. Many of the world's largest global law firms have signed on, as well as leading industry bodies and technology companies such as DocuSign, IBM, IEEE and R3.

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

    • Graphics Stack

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

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

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

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

      • Mesa 19.2 R600 Gallium3D Can Advertise OpenGL 4.5 With Select GPUs
        A change merged to Mesa 19.2 last month has the R600 Gallium3D driver officially advertising OpenGL 4.5 support.

        This Gallium3D driver is what provides Linux OpenGL support from the Radeon HD 2000 "R600" through Radeon HD 6000 (pre-GCN) series. Granted, only the Radeon HD 5800 and HD 6900 series is currently able to offer OpenGL 4.x support out-of-the-box with Mesa right now until the FP64 emulation support is all in place for being able to flip on GL_ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 that otherwise blocks OpenGL 4.0 support.
      • mesa 19.1.0-rc5
        Hello, list.

        The fifth release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.

        We have extended the release candidates because there are two bugs blocking the final release:

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

        We hope to unblock them as soon as possible.

        Axel Davy (1): d3dadapter9: Revert to old throttling limit value

        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (1): nir: Actually propagate progress in nir_opt_move_load_ubo.

        Jan Zielinski (1): swr/rast: fix 32-bit compilation on Linux

        Jason Ekstrand (4): iris: Don't assume UBO indices are constant intel/fs,vec4: Use g0 as the header for MFENCE intel/fs: Do a stalling MFENCE in endInvocationInterlock() nir/dead_cf: Call instructions aren't dead

        Jonathan Marek (1): freedreno/ir3: fix input ncomp for vertex shaders

        Juan A. Suarez Romero (1): Update version to 19.1.0-rc5

        Lionel Landwerlin (1): nir/lower_non_uniform: safely iterate over blocks

        Marek Olšák (2): u_blitter: don't fail mipmap generation for depth formats containing stencil ac: fix a typo in ac_build_wg_scan_bottom

        Pierre-Eric Pelloux-Prayer (1): radeonsi: init sctx->dma_copy before using it

        Rhys Perry (1): ac/nir: mark some texture intrinsics as convergent

        Rob Clark (2): freedreno/ir3: set more barrier bits freedreno/a6xx: fix GPU crash on small render targets

        Sagar Ghuge (1): intel/compiler: Fix assertions in brw_alu3

        Samuel Pitoiset (2): radv: allocate more space in the CS when emitting events radv: do not use gfx fast depth clears for layered depth/stencil images

        Timothy Arceri (1): st/glsl: make sure to propagate initialisers to driver storage

        Vinson Lee (1): freedreno: Fix GCC build error.

      • Mesa 19.1-RC5 Is Out With A Handful Of RADV & Intel/Iris Changes
        Mesa 19.1 is in overtime and today marks the fifth weekly release candidate as the developers try addressing the last two blocker bugs to get out this quarterly feature release.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • AMD Sends In 2nd Round Of AMDGPU Radeon Driver Updates For Linux 5.3 - No Navi Yet
        After sending in an initial batch of AMDGPU DRM driver changes last week to DRM-Next for queuing until the Linux 5.3 merge window next month, a second batch of feature updates were sent in today.

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

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Core i5 8400 vs. i5 9400F Meltdown/Spectre/L1TF/MDS Mitigation Impact
        With recently seeing a deal on the Intel Core i5 9400F processor, I picked it up for testing as part of our Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow / Zombieload testing since it features some hardware mitigations and is otherwise quite similar to the unmitigated Core i5 8400 that I also have in the benchmarking farm. Here are some results when benchmarking the Core i5 8400 and Core i5 9400F with and without the current Linux mitigations for these CPU vulnerabilities.

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

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

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

      • KDE Applications Website
        The new KDE Applications website is now up

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

        Technical info on the website wiki pages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Chrome 75 Released, Website Retiring, LinuxGizmos Publishes Its Spring 2019 SBC Catalog, LibreOffice 6.3 Beta 1 Is Ready for Testing and Happy 15th to Phoronix
        The website, a stack-exchange-like place for people to report problems and help each other, is being retired. According to the post, the problems were "Nobody seemed to be searching whether their problems had already been discussed and maybe solved, so the same questions were being asked again and again. Nobody seemed to stay around and engage with the people who were trying to help them, and nobody seemed to stay around to help other people." The team is looking for a replacement, but isn't sure quite what that will be yet.

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

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

      • KDE Has Made Much Progress On Usability/Productivity, But They're Still Aiming For More
        Excellent KDE blogger Nate Graham has blogged about the work done over the past roughly two years be he and others on improving the usability and productivity of this Linux desktop. Long story short, a lot of progress has been made by the KDE development community but more work remains.

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

      • KDE Privacy Sprint, 2019 Edition
        During the sprint, we floated a lot of different ideas that sparked plenty of discussions. The notion of privacy encompasses a wide range of topics, technologies and methods, so it is often difficult to decide what to focus on. However, all the aspects we worked on are important. We ended up tackling a variety of issues, and we are confident that our contributions will improve data protection for all users of KDE software.

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

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

      • Timothee Giet (Animtim): LGM 2019 is finished, preparing for 2020
        We are back from Saarbrücken where was the Libre Graphics Meeting this year. As usual it was a great event, with plenty of interesting talks and workshops, and full of awesome developers and users of Free Software graphics applications.

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

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

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

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

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Argos Is Like BitBar For Gnome Shell: It Shows Scripts Output On The Panel (Top Bar)
        Searching for a way to show a script output on the Gnome Shell panel (top bar), I came across Argos. This Gnome Shell extension does only one thing: it adds a new item with a dropdown menu to the panel, showing the output from a script and exposing functionality.

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

  • Distributions

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

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

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

    • New Releases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • It's Time To Pay Attention To Zorin OS 15, The Best Desktop Linux Distro You've Never Heard Of
        Zorin OS first crossed my radar a couple months ago, when co-founder and full-time developer Artyom Zorin emailed me about the new features in Zorin OS 15 (which launches today). A few things jumped out at me, like a touch interface that goes beyond merely supporting touchscreens. It maximizes space for your apps and other content, and has several multi-touch gestures similar to what Deepin recently introduced in version 15.9.

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

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

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

      • Zorin OS 15 Linux distro is ready to replace Microsoft Windows 10 on your PC
        While I’m a Linux fan and advocate, I'm not delusional. Switching from Windows to an operating system based on the Linux kernel is not for everyone. For some folks, Microsoft's desktop operating system is more appropriate, and for others, maybe Apple's macOS is better. Ultimately, people should pick whatever tool they enjoy. After all, a computer is a tool, not a religion.

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

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

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

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Mini-DebConf Marseille 2019
        We’ve had the idea to organize a mini-DebConf in Marseille when we were in Toulouse in 2017. After participating in many DebConfs (mini or not), getting into organizing such an event seemed a good way to give back and contribute to the Debian project.

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

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

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

      • Bits from the Debian Anti-harassment team
        Bits from Debian AH (June 2019)

        Welcome to another edition of Bits from the Debian Anti-harassment team. 2019 started on a busy note for the team, but settled down over February and March. We had several incidents reported, and have been following discussions. Details below.

        * Added a new member (thanks Sledge!); * Follow up around community discussions; * Followed discussions on mailing lists and responded officially to several messages, but generally took no action; * Responded to one incident of inappropriate language; * Received several reports we have not yet closed; * Worked with several community members to help them proactively be more inclusive in their communications; * Handled one ongoing discussion around behavior of an individual; and

        We'd like to thank everyone who reported an incident, and especially thank those with whom we spoke, who have taken positive actions for the future.

        On the other hand, we can also report on work done on the team itself.

        * We have discussed, but did not settle, on a new name for our team. * There is going to be a sprint between AH, DAM, and the DPL later this month. This will hopefully help these three groups work together better and better define responsibilities. * We have been testing a web-based system to handle reports is a more structured and streamlined way. * After our last call for volunteers, we got a few submissions, and following a training period we now welcome Steve McIntyre to the team! * Laura Arjona Reina stepped down from the team, after years of hard work and dedication. Thank you Laura!

        We'd also like to let the community know a bit about how the team works. We meet every two weeks on IRC and discuss issues that have been sent in to us. Because of the nature of our work, these meetings are private. Also, because of the sensitive nature of issues we handle, we prefer to get consensus within the team for responses before sending them. That means in most cases, unless an issue is urgent, it will take until the next meeting for us to be able to respond to an issue.

      • Debian's Anti-Harassment Team Continues Battling Community Issues In 2019
        The team meanwhile has been working on alternative names to the "Debian Anti-Harassment Team", they are doing a sprint this month, they are testing a new web-based system for reporting harassment issues, and they have a few new submissions for volunteers to join their team.

      • Derivatives

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

        • SparkyLinux 5.8 RC Run Through
          In this video, we look at SparkyLinux 5.8 RC.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

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

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

          • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS has Officially Transitioned to Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) Support Phase
            Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) LTS begins its Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) from April 30th 2019.

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

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

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Marketing to Open Source Communities

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

  • Events

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

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

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

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

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

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

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

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

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

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

  • SaaS/Back End

  • LibreOffice

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

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

    • LibreOffice 6.3 hits beta, with built-in redaction tool for sharing those ⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆ documents
      The Document Foundation has released the first beta of LibreOffice 6.3, with new features including a redaction tool and a Fourier Analysis spreadsheet function.

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

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

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

    • QA Report: May 2019
    • Month of LibreOffice, May 2019: The winners!

    • LibreOffice Will No Longer Provide 32-bit Linux Binaries
      With the announcement of LibreOffice 6.3 Beta 1, the open source office suite has stopped providing 32-bit binaries for the Linux platform although 32-bit compatibility has not yet been removed from the project's codebase.

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

  • BSD

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

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

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

    • NetBSD 8.1 Released With MDS Mitigations, Driver Improvements
      NetBSD 8.1 is out today as the latest feature update to this popular BSD operating system.

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

    • Smartisan becomes Iridium Donor for 2019

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

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

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

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

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

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

      • Libre RISC-V Snags $50k EUR Grant To Work On Its RISC-V 3D GPU Chip
        In case you haven't followed the previous articles on Libre RISC-V, this is the latest open-source GPU hardware effort that is taking the approach of using a RISC-V chip running a Rust-written Vulkan software renderer (similar to what LLVMpipe is to OpenGL on CPUs) for providing libre 3D graphics. They hope to have something ready in 2020 but their goal is just 1280 x 720 25 fps, 100 Mpixels/sec, 30 Mtriangles/sec, 5-6 GFLOPs and they think they can accomplish that with just about a 2.5 Watt power draw. But less than 30 FPS for 720p content really isn't much especially in 2020, but they are trumpeting it for its open-source/libre hardware potential.

  • Programming/Development

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

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

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

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

    • Qt 5.13.0 RC out
      Hi everyone!

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

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

    • Qt 5.13 Hits The Release Candidate Stage
      Qt 5.13 will hopefully be released next week while for now a release candidate is available for testing.

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

    • Learn PyQt: Making a custom Paint app with PyQt: an introduction to QPainter bitmap graphics

    • This Week in Rust 289

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

      Bzip2 maintainership has been passed on from original founder Julian Seward to now being maintained by open-source developer Federico Mena-Quintero.
    • Why whiteboard interviews suck and what we’re doing about it.

    • Working with PDFs in Python: Inserting, Deleting, and Reordering Pages

    • Getting the Correct Notebook Tab Across Platforms in wxPython

    • Bzip2 repository reconstructed
      I have just done a git push --force-with-lease to bzip2's master branch, which means that if you had a previous clone of this repository, you'll have to re-fetch it and rebase any changes you may have on top.

      I apologize for the inconvenience!

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

    • Revamping the Titler Tool – GSoC ’19
      Hi! I’m Akhil K G and for this year’s GSoC I aim to rewrite the titler tool completely.

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

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

    • PyCharm 2019.2 EAP 2
      Do you like to stay up to date with the newest PyCharm features? Then grab the fresh new PyCharm EAP build from our website.

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

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

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

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

    • KDE Craft Packager on macOS

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

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

    • Christian Hergert: Sysprof Developments
      This week I spent a little time fixing up a number of integration points with Sysprof and our tooling.

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

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

    • Book Review: Practical Python and OpenCV

    • Next C++ workshop: MSTs and Graph Implementations, 6 June at 18:00 UTC
      Learn C++ features with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topic is MSTs and Graph Implementations.

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


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

    • Why hypothesis-driven development is key to DevOps
      Before we get into hypothesis-driven development, let's quickly review how we deliver value using waterfall, agile, deployment rings, and feature flags.

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


  • Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Advancing Its War on Science, Trump Admin Blocks Fetal Tissue From Being Used in Federal Research
      In a move celebrated by anti-choicers, the Trump-Pence administration on Wednesday announced it is barring government researchers from using fetal tissue.

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

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

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

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

  • Health/Nutrition

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

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

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

    • Glyphosate to Be Banned on Fort Meyers Beach
      First Fort Meyers banned plastic straws. Now it banned Roundup, or glyphosate, the controversial herbicide recently blamed for causing cancer by several juries, the News Press reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    • Don't Call Latest Abortion Bans 'Heartbeat Bills,' Doctors Say, Warning of Medically Inaccurate Right-Wing Talking Points
      As reproductive rights advocates fight a recent upswell in extremist state abortion bans, the nation's largest association for doctors specializing in women's health on Wednesday warned against using the misleading language deployed by the anti-choice movement.

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

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

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

    • Citing Threats to Abortion Rights, Sanders Endorses Marie Newman's Democratic Primary Challenge Against Anti-Choice Incumbent Dan Lipinski
      In a clear rebuke of Democratic Party leadership and the mounting threats to abortion rights across the United States, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday endorsed Marie Newman, who is challenging anti-choice Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski in the 2020 primary after she narrowly lost to the Blue Dog Democrat in the last cycle.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday

    • ANU IT systems hit by massive data breach

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

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

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

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

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

    • NSA warns Microsoft Windows users to update systems to protect against cyber vulnerability

    • BlueKeep Bug: Even NSA Wants You To Install Windows Updates [Ed: Missing the point completely. NSA just wants people to carry on using Windows because there are back doors in there. No amount of patching will remove these.]
      The BlueKeep RDP bug (CVE-2019-0708) in Microsoft Windows is a serious issue and it has been making rounds for almost a month now. As you might know, it affects older Windows versions including Windows 7 and XP.

    • New RCE vulnerability impacts nearly half of the internet's email servers
      A critical remote command execution (RCE) security flaw impacts over half of the Internet's email servers, security researchers from Qualys have revealed today.

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

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

    • CVE-2019-10149 Exim 4.87 to 4.91
      We received a report of a possible remote exploit. Currently there is no evidence of an active use of this exploit.

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

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

      Exim 4.92 is not vulnerable.

    • GNU Screen MScrollV Function Denial of Service Vulnerability [CVE-2015-6806]
      A vulnerability in the MScrollV function of GNU Screen could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.

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

  • Defence/Aggression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 'Outrageous': Police Raid Home of Aussie Journalist Who Reported on Secret Domestic Spying Program
      Australian police raided the home of one of the country's prominent journalists Tuesday, raising questions about press freedom in that country and across the western world.

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

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

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

    • Australia: Police raid ABC headquarters over Afghanistan stories
      ABC executives said police searched the corporation's offices in Sydney, targeting three journalists involved in the broadcaster's two-year-old investigative report, known as The Afghan Files.

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

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

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

    • Australian Federal Police Raid Journalist's Home Over Publication Of Leaked Documents
      Her employer called it a "dangerous act of intimidation," which is exactly what it is. The government may be claiming this is about protecting the nation, but if it has a problem with leakers, it should maybe take a look at its leakers first, rather than punish journalists for engaging in journalism. Or -- and I'm just throwing this out there -- maybe the government shouldn't engage in secret domestic surveillance or other acts that would provoke public outrage if they were exposed.

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

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

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

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

    • How Guns Literally Go to Men's Heads
      People are asking why the shooter in Virginia Beach used a gun to settle his workplace score. The answer is probably pretty simple.

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

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

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

    • Four men reportedly arrested, following murder of former Russian military intelligence officer
      Federal investigators in Russia have arrested another two suspects in a mass brawl outside Moscow that claimed the life of Military Intelligence Directorate veteran Nikita Belyankin. According to officials, one of the two men is responsible for inflicting the fatal blow.

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

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

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

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

    • Federal Judge Dismisses Charges Against 3 White Supremacists
      A federal judge on Monday dismissed charges against three members of a white supremacist gang indicted for their roles in violent rallies across California in 2017, saying the federal statute used to prosecute them was unconstitutional.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Bombs away!

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

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

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

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

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

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

    • Media analysis of Julian Assange’s superseding indictment

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

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

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

    • Chelsea Manning Has Better Grasp Of Grand Jury Than Federal Judge Who Jailed Her
      When Judge Anthony Trenga sent Chelsea Manning back to jail, he urged her to reflect on her principled opposition to testifying before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

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

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

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

    • ‘There Was a Story Being Told About Why They Were Asking for This Information’
      We frequently hear calls for transparency from government entities, complaints about a lack of openness from agencies and departments and barriers to access to documents intended by law to be public. And such calls and complaints are well-warranted.

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

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

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

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

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

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

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

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Serious climate plan to cost at least $10T
      Any plan to adequately address climate change would likely cost at least $10 trillion...

    • 'Single Most Important Stat on the Planet': Alarm as Atmospheric CO2 Soars to 'Legit Scary' Record High
      In another alarming signal that the international community is failing to take the kind of ambitious action necessary to avert global climate catastrophe, NOAA released new data Tuesday showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels—which environmentalist Bill McKibben described as the "single most important stat on the planet"—reached a "record high" in the month of May.

      "The measurement is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii's largest volcano and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2)," NOAA said in a statement on Tuesday. "The 2019 peak value was 3.5 PPM higher than the 411.2 PPM peak in May 2018 and marks the second-highest annual jump on record."
    • How to Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers
      There's a hunters' nightmare in which a group of them flush some rabbits out of the brush, but rather than scampering away, the furry bunnies turn toward their stalkers. "Run!" shouts one of the hunters. "Run for your lives! The rabbits have guns!"

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

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

    • Extinction Risk and Rebellion: 15 Environmental Books Coming in June
      Want to learn how not to be like the Houses of Parliament? This month will see the publication of more than a dozen important new environmental books (including one by Thunberg) offering readers the opportunity to take action — and not just any action, but the best actions to protect the environment. These books offer policymakers, activists, conservationists and other environmentalists the latest information and tools to help do their jobs and make this a better planet.

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

    • Wilderness – saved today, sold tomorrow
      Nature is losing ground even where it is supposedly protected: the wilderness is under increasing pressure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Extreme Flooding Across Midwest 'Exactly In Line' With Scientific Warnings of Climate Crisis: Experts
      Farmers and residents across the Midwest are currently "living climate change," according to experts and scientists who are observing catastrophic flooding from one of the rainiest springs on record.

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

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

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

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

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

    • Trump Wants to Make Alaska’s Protected Wilderness a Hunting Ground
      A video featuring a father and son slaughtering a mother black bear and then her two screaming newborn cubs in their den has ricocheted around the world, drawing obvious comparisons to the killing of Cecil, the African lion, by a Minnesota dentist several years ago.

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

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

    • 'Existential' Risk of Climate Crisis Could Lead to Civilizational Collapse by 2050, Warns Report
      Even by the standards of the dire predictions given in climate studies, this one's extreme: civilization itself could be past the point of no return by 2050.

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

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

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

    • Not 'Freedom Gas' But 'Failure Gas': First-of-Its-Kind Report Details Planetary Perils of US Fracking Infrastructure Boom
      The report comes a week after top Energy Department officials, in a press release about natural gas exports, referred to fossil fuels as "molecules of U.S. freedom" and "freedom gas." Climate campaigners characterized that widely ridiculed language as just another example of the Trump administration's demonstrated commitment to planetary destruction.

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

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

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

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

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

    • The Green New Deal – hot air or genuine sustainability?
      Is this a real attempt to create a more sustainable world? Or just a cynical attempt by the neoliberal pseudo-left to grab credibility and maybe make some bucks?

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

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

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

    • On June 8, We Celebrate Our Oceans, Our Future
      June 8 is World Oceans Day, dedicated to celebrating our beautiful, mysterious, and life-giving oceans.

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

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

    • Britain Just Went Nearly Three Weeks Without Coal, a New Record
      Britain just went a record 18 days without coal in the nation's bid to eventually nix the fossil fuel, the BBC reports. It beats the previous record of one week without coal set between May 1 and May 8 in what officials told the publication would be the "new normal."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Biden's "Out of Touch" Position on Anti-Choice Hyde Amendment Draws Fire From Progressives
      Former vice president Joe Biden's campaign for president confirmed Wednesday that the Delaware Democrat still supports the controversial, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, a revelation that generated intense criticism from rights groups.

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

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

    • Will Ohio River Get Optional Pollution Limits as New Fracking-Reliant Plastics Industry Moves in?
      Tomorrow, June 6, in Covington, Kentucky, a routine quarterly meeting of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an eight-state compact responsible for setting water pollution control standards for the 981-mile Ohio River, is expected to fall under unusual scrutiny from both industry and environmentalists.

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

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

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

    • A March Through Heat, Felony Threats, and Pollution Brings Louisiana’s Cancer Alley to Governor’s Attention
      On June 3, at the end of a five-day march through stifling heat in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, activists fighting against environmental racism reached their goal of bringing attention to their area’s injustices to the state capitol.

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

    • 'We Are Literally Sawing Off the Branch We All Live On': Amazon Deforestation Increasing Under Bolsonaro
      Satellite images reviewed by the Brazilian government show massive deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a grim reminder of the devastation wrought by the country's new president, Jair Bolsonaro.

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

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

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

    • A Shorter Working Week Isn't a Luxury—It's An Ecological Necessity
      A shorter working week has re-emerged as a prominent subject of political and economic discussion in the U.K. in recent years, with the TUC, the Green Party and Labour taking a reduction of working hours seriously as a policy that could increase workers' well-being, boost productivity and face the challenges of automation.

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

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

  • Finance

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

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

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

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

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

    • Arab Uber driver kicks 2 Jewish women out of car

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

    • The Tax Break Application Had a False Answer. Now the State Has Put the Break on Hold.
      New Jersey state officials have placed a hold on a $260 million tax break for Holtec International, a nuclear company that built its new headquarters on the Camden waterfront, while investigators examine details of its application, according to two state officials with knowledge of the investigation.

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

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

      Holtec is one of a number of companies aligned with South Jersey Democratic boss George E. Norcross III, who serves on its board of directors. Companies linked to Norcross and the law firm of his brother Philip received at least $1.1 billion worth of tax breaks, according to a review by WNYC-ProPublica.
    • Elizabeth Warren Presents Unparalleled Plan to Bolster American Workers and Manufacturing
      I have been a fan of Elizabeth Warren for a long time. Her combination of deep knowledge of how American capitalism works, her capacity to narrate the lived experience of American working families and tie it to radical reforms, and her sheer integrity are unsurpassed.

      Her rollout of one brilliant policy proposal after another and her ability to connect those to a political understanding of the American situation has been just stunning. But Warren’s latest plan is in a class by itself, even for Warren. She calls it an Agenda for Economic Patriotism.
    • Interest Groups Push to Uphold Law Withholding Relief to Puerto Rico
      A bipartisan disaster relief package, passed on Monday by the House after a contentious six-month battle, would distribute needed aid to Puerto Rico nearly two years after Hurricane Maria made landfall and caused an estimated 3,000-plus deaths on the island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Sanders Hands Over His Social Media Accounts to Walmart Workers Ahead of Attending Annual Meeting to Advocate for Employees
      Sen. Bernie Sanders turned over his social media accounts to Walmart workers on Tuesday—one day before the Democratic presidential candidate is set to attend the retail giant's annual meeting, at the invitation of some employees, to advocate for higher wages and introduce a shareholder's proposal that aims to ensure hourly workers are represented on the company's board.

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

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

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

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

    • Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite.
      By late 2016, many of the nation’s 25,000 chicken farmers said they had grown bitterly frustrated by the administration of President Barack Obama.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 'Pay Your Workers a Living Wage': Sanders Blasts Walmart Executives to Their Faces at Annual Shareholder Meeting
      "The issue that we are dealing with today is pretty simple," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said during a brief speech at the gathering in Rogers, Arkansas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • ‘It Puts You Into a Process That Hugely Favors the Employer’
      Fast food workers winning a higher minimum wage. Public school teachers winning smaller class sizes. Workers have had some remarkable victories recently.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

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

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

    • How Payday Lenders Spent $1 Million at a Trump Resort — and Cashed In
      In mid-March, the payday lending industry held its annual convention at the Trump National Doral hotel outside Miami. Payday lenders offer loans on the order of a few hundred dollars, typically to low-income borrowers, who have to pay them back in a matter of weeks. The industry has long been reviled by critics for charging stratospheric interest rates — typically 400% on an annual basis — that leave customers trapped in cycles of debt.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    • The End of Anarchy and the Solidification of the Global Class
      There once was a world where state actors operated in an anarchic international environment, where maximizing their overall power was their goal, and war was their means of achieving it. That world is now dead.

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

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

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

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

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

    • The Tory Leadership Scrum
      To universal relief the Maybot has announced her resignation, with effect from 7th June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • House Democratic Leadership Must Find the Courage to Impeach
      Have you heard? House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) will open impeachment hearings on June 10!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Why So Many Brits Can’t Stand Donald Trump
      Members of the protest crowd in London said that they feared Trump as a leader of a global wave of right wing populism, by which I think they mean racist fascism. British society is substantially to the left of the US and even most British Conservatives take stances on things like government services that would make them look like liberal Democrats in the United States.

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

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

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

    • To Hold 'Lawless President' to Account, Nearly 30 Groups Urge Pelosi to Start Trump Impeachment Inquiry Now
      "Voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives because they wanted aggressive oversight of the Trump administration," wrote CREDO, Indivisible, and 27 other groups in a letter to Pelosi.

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

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

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

      "But it is not a privilege available to the families separated by his deportation force or his Muslim ban, the asylum seekers languishing in Mexico, the people threatened by his embrace of white supremacy, the LGBTQ people whose rights he is taking away, the women whose bodies he is trying to control or the communities threatened by his denial of the climate crisis," the letter states.
    • Trump, Impeachment, and the Question of Democratic Legitimacy
      It would seem that Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi agree on one really important thing: Donald Trump is the legitimate President of the United States.

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

      And on this basis, he declares that supporters of oversight of his administration are “traitors” who are engaged in an attempted “coup”; and that calls for impeachment represent an assault on democracy and on the “will of the people.”
    • To Fight Establishment's Framing of Biden as Presumptive Nominee, Warren Tells Voters, 'Get Up Off Your Butt and Volunteer!'
      To make sure their favored candidate has a chance to beat Biden, Warren said, voters must take action by volunteering for campaigns in any way that they're able.

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

      "I'm worried the Dems aren't going to learn their lesson and just give Biden the [nomination]," Villareal said, adding that many of his friends share his worry.
    • Putin has appointed four of his bodyguards to be regional governors. Two have already quit.
      On June 5, Astrakhan Region Acting Governor Sergey Morozov resigned. He was only appointed to the post in the fall of 2018. He will be replaced by Igor Babushkin, the deputy presidential plenipotentiary for the Northern Caucasian Federal District. Morozov, like Alexey Dyumin (Tula Region), Yevgeny Zinichev (Kaliningrad Region), and Dmitry Mironov (Yaroslavl Region), worked in the Federal Protective Service prior to his appointment and was a member of Vladimir Putin’s personal security detail.

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

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

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

      As a senator, Biden voted against a 1977 compromise that would have allowed Medicaid to fund abortions in cases of rape and incest or when the life of a pregnant person was at risk. The compromise passed without Biden’s support. But in 1981, Biden joined a successful effort to remove those exemptions. Biden’s continued support of Hyde flies in the face of the arguments many of his supporters have leveled when his past legislative actions have been called into question. Such supporters have argued that Biden made those choices in a different time, and that his politics have evolved. Yet Biden is offering concrete evidence that he’s the same man who both voted for and spearheaded bills that have had disastrous impacts on marginalized people.
    • 'Straight-Up Cruel': Trump Admin Condemned for Canceling Education, Recreation, and Legal Services for Detained Migrant Children
      "It's bad enough that the Trump administration is trying to normalize the warehousing of children. It's unconscionable that they would so blatantly try to strip them of their rights," Denise Bell, a researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

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

      Bell's comments came after U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber confirmed to The Washington Post that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had begun discontinuing the funding for activities deemed "not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation."
    • America Is Missing Its Chance to Fix Our Election System Before We Vote in 2020
      As 2020’s elections edge closer, recent troubling developments are casting new light on an old question—what will it take for the results to be trusted?

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

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

      The question of what additional proactive steps could be a public trust counterweight is not theoretical. There are many signs that 2020 will be very fractious, starting with the emergence of new forms of political propaganda. The latest is doctored videos, such as one recently of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—slurring her words—that drew millions of views, or another video mocking ex-Vice President Joe Biden after announcing his candidacy that President Trump tweeted. An emerging norm, where seeing is not necessarily believable, underscores the need for vote count evidence trails.
    • America Refuses to Fix Its Broken Election System
      As 2020’s elections edge closer, recent troubling developments are casting new light on an old question—what will it take for the results to be trusted?

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

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

    • Danish Nationalists Suffer Their Worst Result Ever in Election
      Denmark’s nationalists had their worst drubbing ever in Wednesday’s election, resulting in a changed political landscape that will bring with it a new left-leaning government led by a 41-year-old woman.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Censorship/Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Remembering Tiananmen Square Is Dangerous, Even in Hong Kong

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

    • After Tiananmen, China Conquers History Itself

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

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

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

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

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

    • Yekaterinburg journalists organize a ‘funeral for freedom,’ spray-painting graves for Russians' rights
      The Yekaterinburg-based news outlet teamed up with local street artist Roma Ink to protest censorship in Russia using a series of graves spray-painted onto the city’s walls. For three nights in a row, the graffiti gravestones mourning various civil liberties appeared and reappeared around the city.

      On June 3, a gravestone for freedom of assembly (1993 – 2012) appeared near the square where thousands of protesters gathered in mid-May to protest the construction of a new cathedral. The “birth date” on the graffiti marks the establishment of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which prohibits censorship and guarantees a series of freedoms for Russian citizens. The “death date” marks the passage of a series of amendments limiting the freedom to protest publicly. By midday, municipal utility employees had washed off the graffiti.
    • YouTube’s Latest Purge
      YouTube has just announced they have changed their “community standards” to combat “extremist content” on their platform. This is just the latest step in the war against free speech online.

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

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

    • Facebook Censoring OffG’s Links
      Facebook won’t let him visit our site, not even from a link he himself shared.

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

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

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

    • YouTube to Remove White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos
      YouTube updated its hate speech policies Wednesday to prohibit videos with white supremacy and neo-Nazi viewpoints.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The case here involves a an attempt to get Facebook to delete critical information of a politician in Austria under Austrian law. In the US, of course, social media companies are not required to delete such information. The content itself is usually protected by the 1st Amendment, and the platforms are then protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that prevents them from being liable, even if the content in question does violate the law (though, importantly, most platforms will still remove such content if it's been determined by a court to violate the law).
    • “The internet’s not written in pencil, it’s written in ink” … yet content removal can be done on a worldwide basis, says AG Szpunar
      When it comes to content removal in the context of an injunction, how is this to be done in order to comply with the prohibition of a general monitoring obligation, as per Article 15 of the E-commerce Directive?

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

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Is Already Working Towards Germany's End-to-End Encryption Backdoor Vision
      It is almost a certainty that the days of being able to securely converse through end-to-end encryption are coming to a close as companies move their censorship and data harvesting and analysis to the edge.

    • As Germany Floats The Idea Of Encryption Backdoors, Facebook May Already Be Planning To Undermine Its Own Encryption
      The German government's desire to mandate backdoors in encrypted communications had barely been expressed when it was discovered Facebook might be willing to let them do exactly such a thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 'This Stuff Freaks Me Out': Rep. Rashida Tlaib Raises Alarm Over Use of Facial Recognition as Groups Demand Federal Moratorium
      Before detailing her specific concerns about facial recognition technology during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the subject Tuesday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib expressed a sentiment broadly shared by privacy advocates and the general public.

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

    • FBI database stokes worries over facial recognition tech

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

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

    • House Oversight Hearing On Facial Recognition Technology: FBI Still Can’t Vouch For Accuracy Of Systems
      The FBI has a unit for facial recognition services that oversees a database with more than six hundred million photos. While the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the FBI take steps to ensure the accuracy of how the agency uses facial recognition, the FBI has failed to implement such changes.

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

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

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

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

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

    • Russia demands Tinder give user data to secret services

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

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

    • Russian authorities are gagging for Tinder user data

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

    • Tinder faces Russian demand to share user data

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

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

      Tinder said it had "registered to be compliant".

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

    • Russian tech giant facing FSB requests for its encryption keys argues ‘law enforcement is possible without violating privacy’
      On June 3, reports surfaced that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has repeatedly requested the encryption keys that the tech company Yandex uses to protect user data. The scope of Yandex’s services is similar to that of Google’s: it provides web search, email, advertising, and machine translation tools, among others. According to the news outlet RBC, the Russian company has not yet complied with the FSB’s demands.

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

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

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

  • Civil Rights/Policing

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

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

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

    • Migrant Children Waiting for Reunification Were Held in Vans Up to 39 Hours
      Last July, 37 migrant children between the ages of 5 and 12 boarded vans in Harlingen, Texas, for what was supposed to be a short drive to a nearby detention center, where they would be reunited with their parents, who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, as NBC News reported Monday, they waited, spending an average of 23 hours in the vans.

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

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

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

    • Chinese students and workers are uniting again, 30 years after Tiananmen Square crackdown
      “We will fight together, advance and retreat together,” concluded Qiu Zhanxuan in a video his comrades released on May 4, 2019. Qiu was the former leader of a Marxist student association at the prestigious Peking University. He had prepared the digital testament to be released in case he disappeared.

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

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

    • Sudan's Pro-Democracy Opposition Urges 'Total Civil Disobedience' After Soldiers Massacre 35 People at Peaceful Sit-In
      Condemning a "bloody massacre" in which at least 35 peaceful protesters were killed at a sit-in in the Sudanese capitol of Khartoum, pro-democracy leaders urged "total civil disobedience" on Monday to rise up against the military council currently running the country.

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

    • Over GOP 'Build the Wall' Shouts and Sabotage Efforts, House Democrats Pass 'Historic' Bill to Shield Dreamers From Trump Deportation Force
      After ignoring shouts of "build the wall" from a Republican congressman and defeating amendments designed to kill the legislation, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the "Dream and Promise Act" with the goal of providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of young undocumented immigrants who are facing the threat of deportation under the Trump administration.

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

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

    • “No More Silence”: Her Kidnapping, Sexual Assault and Murder Stunned a Town, and Started a Movement
      Nine months and a long Arctic winter have come and gone since the abduction, sexual assault and murder of 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr in the northwest Alaska hub community of Kotzebue.

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

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

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

    • Judge denies House Democrats right to block transfer of appropriated funds to Trump's border wall
      A judge has ruled against House Democrats in a federal lawsuit, which attempted to block President Donald Trump's ability to fund his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Step up the fight against power harassment
      Employers need to realize the gravity of the power harassment problem and make steady efforts to eliminate it.
    • The GOP's White Supremacy Now Has a Smoking Gun
      The United States Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly in the case of Department of Commerce v. New York — a critical legal battle over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census. The Trump administration and Republican Party have pushed hard on the idea of collecting citizenship information from U.S. residents, claiming the move is not intended to be harmful and that it simply represents a bid to return the census to an earlier status quo. In fact, proponents have gone as far as to claim that such information would help enforce protections for minority voters under the Voting Rights Act.

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

      Here’s the backstory: A longtime Republican operative named Thomas Hofeller, now deceased, was hired by a major GOP donor to study the impact of drawing congressional district lines based not on the number of residents, but on the number of voting-age citizens living in those districts. Every person living in the United States currently has the constitutional right to be represented in Congress, whether or not they are eligible to vote. Hofeller’s 2015 study, which focused on the state of Texas, concluded that districts based on voting-age citizens would be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and that one way to achieve this change would be to include a citizenship question on the census.
    • What Mount Everest Climbers and Migrants Have in Common
      Perhaps you’ve seen the photos: A long, snaking line of mountain climbers, each one waiting their turn to summit Mt. Everest. The climbers’ brightly colored gear contrasts with the white of the snow and the blue of the sky. They stand there at 29,000 feet, their oxygen depleting with each passing moment, in an incredible traffic jam at the top of the world’s tallest peak. The photos tell many stories: of human tenacity and endurance, the willingness to pit one’s self against nature’s extremes in the quest for glory, to prove something to one’s self and to posterity.

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

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

    • Accused of Plagiarism, Biden Campaign Admits Lifting 'Carbon Capture' Section of Climate Plan From Fossil Fuel-Backed Group
      Almost immediately after releasing a climate plan Tuesday that green groups slammed as woefully inadequate in part due to its embrace of industry-backed proposals such as "carbon capture," former Vice President Joe Biden faced accusations of plagiarizing language from a number of sources, including a coalition consisting of major fossil fuel companies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Blacks, Latinos at Risk of Undercount in 2020 Census
      Emily Bonilla is worried her district in metro Orlando will be undercounted during next spring’s once-in-a-decade head count of everybody in the United States because of who lives there: new arrivals, immigrants, the poor, renters and rural residents who sometimes regard government with suspicion.

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

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

    • Calling Solitary Confinement 'Government Torture,' Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Release Everyone'
      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday reiterated her stance that solitary confinement is a violation of human rights and "government torture" and called for all people—including President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, should he be subjected to it—to be spared from such an abusive detention practice.

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

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

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • US Telcos Are Giving Up On Residential Broadband And Nobody Seems To Have Noticed
      We've noted for a while that US telcos have been making it very clear they no longer really want to be in the residential broadband business. While profitable, it's not profitable enough, quickly enough for Wall Street's liking. And since upgrading aging DSL lines in rural or less affluent urban markets is expensive, these companies have largely decided to freeze most major fiber upgrades. Not only that, many of these companies (Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink, AT&T, and Verizon) have been refusing to even repair many of the lines already in service.

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

    • Trump Whines About AT&T, Ignores His FCC Has Spent Two Years Kissing The Company's Ass
      While there are countless news outlets that justifiably criticize the President, Trump has long been particularly fixated on CNN. So fixated, in fact, that it's believed this disdain for the network (in addition to Rupert Murdoch's competitive desires) played a starring role in his DOJ's bungled effort to try and block AT&T's $86 billion merger with CNN parent company Time Warner.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hearings Continue before the Senate [Ed: Senate hearings on patents. Brought to you by bribery. Coons became a millionaire just by promising to be a mole for patent litigation predators, who paid him for this 'service'. "Gene Patent/Drug Pricing Concerns and Unintended Consequences Dominate Second Senate Hearing on 101," Eileen McDermott of Watchtroll writes. Even ACLU is involved. "Industry Speaks: Roster for Last Senate Hearing on 101 Released" is another Watchtroll piece. This week Manny Schecter of IBM once again reminds Red Hat employees that IBM is a strong proponent of bad patents and thus an enemy of FOSS.]
      In all, the Senate is planning to hear from 45 witnesses — most of whom are arguing in favor of statutory reform that would tighten-up the law of eligibility.

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

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Settlement In Tom Brady Photo Case Leaves Issue Of Copyright On Embedded Images Unsettled
        A little over a year ago, we wrote about a pretty bad ruling in NY, by Judge Katherine Forrest, arguing that merely embedding content on a site -- even though it's hosted elsewhere -- could be deemed infringing. This went against what has been known as the "server test," which says that the issue is where the content is actually hosted (which server it's actually on), and that merely embedding the image shouldn't lead to new claims of infringement. Considering that, technically, embedding an image is no different than linking to an image, saying that embedding an image that is hosted elsewhere is itself infringing could put much of the basic concept of how the internet works at risk.

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

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

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

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

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

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