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Links 12/6/2019: Mesa 19.1.0, KDE neon 5.16, Endless OS 3.6.0 and BackBox Linux 6

GNOME bluefish



  • I Finally Have a Dedicated Linux Laptop Again (But You Won’t Be Jealous)
    Prior to now I’d been making do with a co-opted Acer Chromebook R11 as my go-to Linux portable. While that machine is perfect for travelling (and boasts a great screen) let’s just say the modern Ubuntu desktop isn’t a comfortable fit with just 2GB RAM!

    And prior to that it was a succession of low-power, low-end netbooks — that’s how long it’s been!

    Now, not being rich (a recurring theme) my budget for a new Linux laptop was a modest €£400 max. That put the sort of Linux laptops I regularly write about — Slimbook, Entroware, StationX, Dell, et al — out of my reach.


    But thankfully all the major laptop makers offer a range of mid-level Windows 10 notebooks that were in my grasp.

    Budget aside, my main requirements were thus: it had to be new; 12-14-inch screen; a minimum of 8GB RAM; and a processor that, ideally, wasn’t a Celeron.

  • Bug Report Update: Linux Apps Working In Dev Channel Again
    Just over a week ago, we reported that Linux apps in the Dev Channel simply stopped working. We’ve never been made aware of what the issue was, but in general in the Dev Channel you could get Linux to install, but then the entire container would simply stop responding at all.

    On June 6th an update rolled in with support for Virtual Desks in tow and as it would seem, a fix for Linux apps on Chrome OS has come along for the ride. I just installed a fresh Linux container and ran a few games with no issues whatsoever. Don’t forget, you can actually get 3D games running decently as well since GPU acceleration is still here and live in the Dev Channel.

  • Chrome OS 75 for enterprise brings Linux container VPN, PIN code for printing and more
    While consumers await Chrome OS 75 to drop this week, enterprises got an early look as the platform has already been updated. There aren’t a large number of enterprise-centric features or improvements, but the ones that did make the cut are useful for work environments, such as expanded VPN support.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 Beta Now Available
      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta is now available. The beta release was announced in a Red Hat blog post by Chris Baker.

      The latest update to the stable and more secure Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 platform 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,” wrote Baker. “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.”

    • MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4 Now Available, Pulumi Announces Pulumi Crosswalk for AWS, KDE Launches Plasma 5.16, IBM Announces Its List of Women Pioneers for AI in Business and Microway Provides Clemson University with an NVIDIA DGX-2 Supercomputer
      MariaDB today announces the release of MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4, "code-named 'Restful Nights' for the peace of mind it brings enterprise customers". The press release notes that this version "is a new, hardened and secured Server (different from MariaDB Community Server aka MariaDB Server) and has never been available before. MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4 includes features not available in the community version that are focused on solving enterprise customer needs, providing them with greater reliability, stability and long-term support in production environments."

    • MariaDB opens up on locked down Enterprise Server
      MariaDB finally took the wraps off its Enterprise Server product today, which it said was aimed at massive deployments where scale and security are more important than rushing out new features for developers.

      The product was first flagged up back in February, and scheduled to appear in “spring”. We’ll leave it to you to check your calendar and decide whether it hit its deadline.

      “It’s one thing to experiment with open source, to evaluate it,” said MariaDB’s senior director of product marketing Shane Johsnon. “But once you move to the stage where you’re migrating mission critical applications to it, or you’re deploying it at massive scale you encounter new types of challenges, not necessarily functional challenges.”

      So, security in MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4 has been boosted, with end-to-end encryption for multi-master clusters. At the same time, the company has clamped down on plugins, with only those deemed tested and production-ready permitted.


      MariaDB ES will be GPL, said Johnson, “It’s the community version that gets GA’d with additional QA and additional plugins. The result of that is Enterprise Server.”

    • Server Buying Cools, But It's Cool – Don't Panic
      When a market is comprised of hundreds of thousands of customers, things tend to level out and are a lot more predictable than when there are relatively few customers. Before the public clouds took off a decade ago and before the hyperscalers created such large infrastructures to support billions of users running their applications, server buying was a lot smaller and it was also more predictable. Things tended to grow slowly, methodically and they also took time to slow down because not everyone felt an economic decline or a transition to a new system architecture at the same time.

      That is no longer so with the modern server business. Enterprises are offloading some of their compute needs to the public clouds, and in other cases they are employing services provided by the hyperscalers – email, collaboration, and so on – instead of hosting them in their own datacenters. The hyperscalers and cloud builders are at the front of the line ahead of any new server chip generation, and they tend to buy aggressively ahead of the formal launches by Intel and AMD, and if the most recent quarter is any test, they are slowing down server purchases as they await the right time to invest in future chips from those two companies.

    • IBM i Roadmap Promises A Long Ride, Few Bumps
      It would be hard to find a group of enterprise IT shops that are more conservative – meaning averse to risk – than the IBM midrange. Arguably, IBM System z mainframe shops are even more risk averse, but perhaps it is a matter more of scale than degree. In the average IBM i shop, one person – or maybe a handful of people – is keeping risk at bay, while in a mainframe shop there could be dozens or hundreds that are trying to steer the ship without rocking the boat.

      Every now and then, Big Blue publishes an IBM i Strategy And Roadmap document to trying to calm the fears of the IBM i faithful while at the same time trying to fire them up a little. It is a delicate balance, and such documents are generally not full of information. But there are always some things to consider and that can be used to make the ongoing case that the IBM i platform deserves to be preserved in the enterprise and to have continuing investment. So it is with the 2019 edition of the IBM i Strategy And Roadmap, which you can get at this link.

    • NGD ships 8TB M.2 SSD with in-situ data processing
      In this case the processor is an ARM Cortex-A53 core running a 64-bit operating system, a version of Ubuntu Linux. This should enable the development of applications that run on the embedded core with minimal changes from code running on an X86 Linux system.

    • Sisense Brings Power to the Builders With New Cloud-Native Linux Platform, Insights to Everyone With Predictive AI Technology
      Sisense, the world's leading modern platform for analytics builders, kicked off its second annual customer conference, Sisense Eureka!, with a series of product innovations designed to help developers, data scientists and business analysts simplify complex data and provide insights to everyone across a business.

    • Future Kubernetes Will Mimic What Facebook Already Does

      And just to be clear, Chunqiang Tang, an engineering manager at Facebook who works on Tupperware and who was previously in charge of cloud automation research at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center, tells The Next Platform that Facebook has no plans to take its learnings from Tupperware and then apply them and converge onto Kubernetes, as Google might someday do if it can. (Already, there are lots of Google services that run atop Kubernetes on Google Cloud Platform instead of on Borg/Omega on bare metal.)

      While Facebook has no current plans to open source the Delos low-latency, pluggable API data store that is being used with Tupperware, Jason Flinn, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan who worked on the Delos project with Facebook, hinted that this project started only a year ago and has only been used in production for about four months, so it is early in the cycle to be opening it up, even if it is a possibility in the long term.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Resilience Is Futile | LINUX Unplugged 305
      Is Resilient Linux truly an indestructible distro? Or is this our toughest distro challenge yet?

      Plus why openSUSE is looking at a renaming, and if we’d pay for Firefox Premium.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.9
      I'm announcing the release of the 5.1.9 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.1.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-5.1.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:
    • Linux 4.19.50
    • Linux 4.14.125
    • Linux 4.9.181
    • Linux 4.4.181

    • Bcachefs Completes Core Feature Work, Could Merge Soon If Review Goes Well
      Kent Overstreet who has been developing the Bcachefs out of the BCache code has announced core feature work has wrapped up, he's very happy with how the work has panned out, and potentially could be merging the code into the Linux kernel soon if the review is pleasant.

      Overstreet shared in a status update yesterday that he's run out of things to polish and "excuses to keep tinkering" with core feature work being done and known bugs getting much less. There still are some additions to make and optimizations to be had, but he's feeling like the code is in a state where it could be mainlined.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon ROCm 2.6 To Support Intel Vega M Chips
        The Radeon Open Compute (ROCm) stack will begin to support the Intel Kabylake-G chips with the "Vega M" graphics.

        A simple kernel patch adding the VEGA M ID to the device probe function was the last bit needed to allow ROCm to work on Vega M for this open-source compute stack with OpenCL.

      • NVIDIA Releases 430.26 Linux Driver With New Quadro Support
        NVIDIA just released a new stable Linux driver in the 430 long-lived series.

        The NVIDIA 430.26 is out to but being another stable point release isn't the most exciting update. There is just one fix mentioned and then just formally supporting a handful of new graphics cards.

        The fix in this driver build is audio DisplayPort being broken for some configurations since the NVIDIA 415 series.
      • mesa 19.1.0
        Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.

        This release consists of approximately 3700 commits from 158 developers.

        Huge thanks to all the developers, testers and users for their ongoing work and support shaping up the 19.1.0 release.

        The top highlights include:

        - GL_ARB_parallel_shader_compile for all drivers. - GL_EXT_gpu_shader4 on all GL 3.1 drivers. - GL_EXT_shader_image_load_formatted on radeonsi. - GL_EXT_texture_buffer_object on all GL 3.1 drivers. - GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc_srgb on Gallium and i965 drivers (ES extension). - GL_NV_compute_shader_derivatives on Iris and i965 drivers. - GL_KHR_parallel_shader_compile on all drivers. - GL_INTEL_conservative_rasterization on Iris.

        Additional features:

        ANV - VK_EXT_buffer_device_address - VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable - VK_KHR_ycbcr_image_arrays - VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block - VK_EXT_external_memory_host - VK_EXT_host_query_reset - VK_KHR_surface_protected_capabilities - VK_EXT_pipeline_creation_feedback - VK_NV_compute_shader_derivatives - VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8 - VK_KHR_shader_atomic_int64 - VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing - VK_EXT_memory_budget

        RADV - VK_EXT_buffer_device_address - VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable - VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block - VK_EXT_host_query_reset - VK_KHR_surface_protected_capabilities - VK_EXT_pipeline_creation_feedback - VK_KHR_8bit_storage - VK_AMD_gpu_shader_int16 - VK_AMD_gpu_shader_half_float - VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8

        For the full log see: git log 19.0-branchpoint..mesa-19.1.0

        Changes since rc5:

        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (1): radv: Prevent out of bound shift on 32-bit builds.

        Charmaine Lee (1): svga: Remove unnecessary check for the pre flush bit for setting vertex buffers

        Deepak Rawat (2): winsys/drm: Fix out of scope variable usage winsys/svga/drm: Fix 32-bit RPCI send message

        Emil Velikov (3): egl/dri: flesh out and use dri2_create_drawable() mapi: add static_date offset to MaxShaderCompilerThreadsKHR mapi: correctly handle the full offset table

        Eric Engestrom (1): util/os_file: actually return the error read() gave us

        Jason Ekstrand (1): nir/propagate_invariant: Don't add NULL vars to the hash table

        Juan A. Suarez Romero (2): Update version to 19.1.0 docs: Add release notes for 19.1.0

        Kenneth Graunke (1): egl/x11: calloc dri2_surf so it's properly zeroed

        Lionel Landwerlin (2): intel/perf: fix EuThreadsCount value in performance equations intel/perf: improve dynamic loading config detection

        Nanley Chery (1): anv/cmd_buffer: Initalize the clear color struct for CNL+

        Nataraj Deshpande (1): anv: Fix check for isl_fmt in assert

        Rob Clark (2): freedreno/a6xx: fix issues with gallium HUD freedreno/a6xx: fix hangs with newer sqe fw

        Samuel Pitoiset (2): radv: fix alpha-to-coverage when there is unused color attachments radv: fix setting CB_SHADER_MASK for dual source blending

      • Mesa 19.1.0 Release Notes / June 11, 2019
        Mesa 19.1.0 is a new development release. People who are concerned with stability and reliability should stick with a previous release or wait for Mesa 19.1.1.

        Mesa 19.1.0 implements the OpenGL 4.5 API, but the version reported by glGetString(GL_VERSION) or glGetIntegerv(GL_MAJOR_VERSION) / glGetIntegerv(GL_MINOR_VERSION) depends on the particular driver being used. Some drivers don't support all the features required in OpenGL 4.5. OpenGL 4.5 is only available if requested at context creation. Compatibility contexts may report a lower version depending on each driver.

      • Mesa 19.1 Released With Experimental Intel Gallium3D, Other New GL/VLK Drivers Too
        After being delayed by a few weeks due to a few blocker bugs, Mesa 19.1 as the quarterly feature update to this open-source multi-vendor graphics driver stack has been released! Mesa 19.1 is a huge update with several new drivers, performance optimizations, more mature support for existing Vulkan drivers, and other changes.

      • Mesa 19.1 is officially out plus NVIDIA 430.26 is available now
        Two sets of driver releases for you recently, with Mesa 19.1 now officially out as quite a big upgrade and a minor NVIDIA driver change.

        First up, NVIDIA 430.26 is out as an update to their stable long-lived driver series. It adds support for various Quadro GPUs, as well as fixing a bug in 415.13, that caused audio over DisplayPort to not work in some configurations.

        The bigger one is for AMD/Intel with Mesa 19.1 being officially released today. As usual, the Mesa team note that since it's brand new you might want to wait for Mesa 19.1.1 to have a fully stable experience.

      • Google's New Graphics Driver Developer Flips On UBWC For Freedreno
        Rob Clark, the longtime leader of the Freedreno driver initiative providing open-source 3D graphics for Qualcomm Adreno hardware and who just recently jumped to Google to continue driver work, is using his new email address for flipping on UBWC in this driver.

        UBWC is the Universal Bandwidth Compression feature of the Adreno hardware. Fritz Koenig of Google back in March contributed the initial code for this feature to reduce memory bandwidth via internal buffer compression. This helps in potential DDR memory power savings and also possible performance implications.

      • More AMDGPU Radeon Graphics Code Is Getting Ready For Linux 5.3
        While eagerly looking out for the Navi/RDNA enablement for the upcoming Radeon RX 5700 / RX 5700XT graphics cards, which should be out soon, in the mean time some other work-in-progress code has been queued as additional material that will make it for the Linux 5.3 cycle.

        AMDGPU DRM maintainer Alex Deucher of AMD today pushed the latest batch of changes to their 5.3 work-in-progress area, which is on top of the earlier rounds of changes.

  • Applications

    • Open Source Music Creation Tool ‘LMMS’ Scores Its First Update in 4 Years
      Once pitched as a free Fruityloops (now FL Studio) clone, LMMS has matured into a brilliant beat maker (okay, digital audio workstation) in its own right.

      The app boasts an easy-to-use interface, lots of tools, and plenty of advanced features, including support for VST instruments.
    • Deluge BitTorrent Client 2.0 Released With Sequential Downloads, Now Uses Python3 And Gtk3
      Deluge BitTorrent client has reached version 2.0 stable recently, after more than 2 years since the previous stable release. The new stable Deluge version comes with major changes, including code ported to Python 3, Gtk UI ported to Gtk 2, sequential downloads support, a new logo, and much more.

      Deluge is a free and open source BitTorrent client that runs on Linux, Windows, macOS and *BSD. It's written in Python, and it includes a text console, a web interface, and a graphical desktop interface that uses Gtk.

    • Deluge 2.0.0 Major version is Released after continuous development of 2 Years and 5 Months
      The Deluge development team is proudly announced the new major version release of Deluge 2.0.0 on 06 June, 2019.

      In the following days (Deluge 2.0.1 on 07 June, 2019 & Deluge 2.0.2 on 08 June, 2019), they had been released the minor version of Deluge in the same branch to fix some of the issue, which have reported by users.

    • Welcome to the Deluge BitTorrent Project
      Latest Deluge release 2.0.2 available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

    • Luminance HDR: An Open Source Software for LDR/HDR Imaging in Ubuntu
      Luminance HDR is an open source application based on Qt5 toolkit for LDR/HDR image processing. It’s a complete workflow for high-quality imaging including HDR and LDR formats. Luminance HDR offers a simple to use and intuitive graphical user interface. It’s a cross-platform application which supports Windows OS, Mac OS, and Linux system.

      As I mentioned above that this software supports a wide range of HDR and LDR formats out of the box. Worth mentioning HDR formats are radiance RGBE, tiff formats, openEXR, PFS native format, raw image formats, etc. JPEG, PNG, PPM, PBM, TIFF, FITS all those are mentionable LDR formats, it does supports.

    • Graviton: A Minimalist Open Source Code Editor
      Graviton is a free and open source, cross-platform code editor in development. The sixteen years old developer, Marc Espin, emphasizes that it is a ‘minimalist’ code editor. I am not sure about that but it does have a clean user interface like other modern code editors like Atom.

      The developer also calls it a lightweight code editor despite the fact that Graviton is based on Electron.

      Graviton comes with features you expect in any standard code editors like syntax highlighting, auto-completion etc. Since Graviton is still in the beta phase of development, more features will be added to it in the future releases.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Staging 4.10 Adds EXT4 Case Insensitive Support
        Following Monday's release of Wine 4.10, Wine-Staging 4.10 is now available as the latest work on this bleeding-edge / testing version of Wine for running Windows applications and games on Linux and other platforms.

        Wine-Staging 4.10 is still riding with more than eight-hundred patches re-based to the latest upstream Wine code, but at least over the past two weeks some BCrypt patches made their way upstream. Wine-Staging 4.10 is also riding a bit smaller with dropping the patch that allowed DirectX 10 support for the legacy NVIDIA Linux driver, instead users wanting DX10 on the legacy driver are suggested to switch over to the Nouveau open-source driver.

    • Games

      • Bite the Bullet looks like an absolutely insane 2D action-RPG shooter coming to Linux
        Shown off during The MIX at E3 this week, Bite the Bullet is what the developer calls a "roguelite RPG shooter" and it looks pretty intense.

        I am a serious sucker for anything with lots of over the top action, explosions everywhere and a little character customization. Bite the Bullet seems to have all of that and then some! It's coming to Linux too, it even mentions it in the feature list on the Steam store page.

      • The massive Terraria 1.4 update "Journey's End" was shown at E3 and looks like a lot of fun
        Touching on practically all parts of the game, the Terraria 1.4 "Journey's End" update was properly announced and shown off during E3 this week. This ridiculously huge update will be free to existing owners, just like all previous updates have been.

        Hold on, what happened to 1.3.6? Well, it seems it's gotten so massive that it's no longer just another point-release it's a full-blown major upgrade to the game.

        Okay, so what does it include? Re-Logic said it will have over 800 new items to find or craft, plenty of new foes to defeat, a full revamp of the world generation with new mini-biomes, an in-game Bestiary to look over and learn about all the weird creatures you find, Golf (yes really), a new higher difficulty mode, enhanced weather effects and a lot more they're not telling us about just yet. You can see more spoilers here though.

      • Valve's Proton 4.2-7 Fixes Performance & Sound Regressions
        Proton 4.2-7 is out as the latest version of Valve's downstream of Wine that powers Steam Play for running Windows games on Linux.

        With Proton 4.2-7 there is just a single change mentioned but it's an important one:

        Fix for performance and sound regression that affected some games, like Wolfenstein: The New Order.
      • Steam to get a public beta for the Library overhaul in "weeks"
        Valve announced on Steam today, that the Steam Library overhaul is to get a public beta and it's only "weeks" away.

        Posting on the Steamworks Development Steam Group, Valve is getting developers to come and update their store assets to match the new sizes of icons and more that will be available in the refresh. In this post, they said "We are weeks away from the public beta of this new feature set".

      • Opera GX: Opera Introduces The First-Ever Gaming Browser
        Popular web browser Opera has announced the World’s first gaming browser, known as Opera GX for all the ‘1.2 billion’ PC gamers out there. The new gaming browser, which is meant for Windows, has gaming themes and designs and allows users to personalize the browser as per his or her choice.

      • The Ataris VCS Lives! Pre-Order the Linux-Powered Console from $249
        Atari VCS, the retro-inspired, Linux-powered gaming console, is finally inching towards general release — in America, at least.

        Engadget report that the system is on general “pre-order” from today from the Atari VCS web store as well as at retail partners GameStop and Walmart.

        Pre-order today, get your console March 2020.


        But hey, seems the Atari VCS team get the last laugh as, finally, their much-hyped console is nearing reality, or more specifically store shelves.

        The Atari VCS website has even been given a major revamp. It now shows a neat promotional overview of what the console is, does, and costs.

        Finally, if you’ve wondered why I’ve spent so much time talking about a games console on a site that’s about Ubuntu it’s because — tangential link incoming — the Atari VCS runs on a custom Linux OS referred to as “Atari World”.

        The VCS will also lets owners boot and/or install other Linux distros (like Ubuntu) and operating systems from a USB — which is handy if you get bored with what comes in the box!

      • Atari VCS to start shipping in March 2020 (backers get it in December), with a new website and store partners
        The Atari VCS, the Linux-powered gaming box seems to be progressing on some more with some new store partners with exclusive models announced.

        As a reminder, it's using a customised version of Linux they're calling "Atari Custom Linux OS". However, they are sticking to what they originally said and allowing it to boot any other operating system too. So, you could boot up Ubuntu on it if you wished which makes it quite an interesting unit.

        They've announced that they're partnering with GameStop and Walmart in the USA, so you can order from there if you prefer. Both stores are getting "exclusive" models, with slightly different colouring on the panel (and it seems that's all that's completely different). They also re-launched their official website where you can also pre-order, although that seems USA only too right now.

      • Video recording and livestreaming software OBS Studio has released 23.2.0
        OBS Studio, the free and open source one-stop shop for Linux livestreaming has a brand new release available today, following on from the Release Candidate nearly a month ago.

        For new features, OBS Studio now lets you preview transitions in the properties of a transition, an estimate to remaining available recording time according to available disk space (seems that's Windows only - doesn't show on Linux), a new luma key video effect filter, the ability to set the exact desired dB volume value of sources in the advanced audio properties, replacing the percentage value, a new hotkey to toggle the preview, they added the ability to copy and paste filters to/from scenes in addition to sources and more.

      • The E3 2019 Linux gaming round-up
        Since there was actually more from E3 2019 for Linux than I expected, here's a little round-up of things so you don't get lost in a sea of articles.

      • Steam is Getting a Major Redesign and This is What it Looks Like
        A massive redesign of the desktop Steam client is on the way — and newly leaked screenshots give us an early glimpse of how it’ll look.

        The SteamDB Twitter account reports: “A work in progress version of the new Steam client interface leaked through an update to the Chinese CSGO launcher.”

        March brought word that Valve was prepping a fresh coat of paint for its hugely Steam desktop client. Now, a few months on, we can take closer look at the planned changes thanks to a recent leak.

        Naturally SteamDB couldn’t resist sharing some screenshots of the Steam redesign as it currently stands.

      • Police Stories has some good-looking top-down tactical action, releasing September
        Even more news out of E3 as Police Stories, a top-down shooter with an emphasis on tactics and not just firing-first is going to release on September 19th with a new trailer. It's confirmed to be coming to Linux, it has Linux system requirements up and ready and the publishers website also very clearly lists it!

        Their slightly different take on the top-down shooter genre has me quite excited, with you being able to fire-off warning shots and get criminals to surrender which looks pretty great. They say your actions are scored in real-time, so being overly aggressive might result in you not getting a good enough score for the next mission so they really do want you to be a little more careful.

      • Commandos 2 HD Remaster announced, Kalypso Media bringing it to Linux
        Here's an exciting one for you, Kalypso Media have today announced the Commandos 2 HD Remaster and it's coming to Linux. After acquiring the rights to Pyro Studios’ franchises in 2018, Kalypso Media is starting their E3 with a bit of a bang.

        The Commandos 2 HD Remaster is being developed by Yippee Entertainment, with Kalypso Media publishing and they've confirmed right away it will support Linux! They also announced a Praetorians HD Remaster although that will not have Linux support, which is being done by a different developer.

      • Rocket League's Radical Summer event and limited-time Ghost Hunt mode is live, here's a look at it
        Psyonix have put up their latest in-game event for Rocket League, with the Radical Summer event now live. They also have a new limited-time Ghost Hunt mode and a Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Car Pack DLC. Let's take a look at it all!

        As a reminder, the Radical Summer event will be lasting a whole nine weeks, with this first Blockbusters phase that lasts until July 1st. During the event, you will be able to earn Cassettes which you then redeem for special items. Through each three-week phase of the event, the items you can redeem will change. However, all the items will appear together at the end of the event to allow you to get as many as you want with your Cassettes.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop Is Now Available for Kubuntu and Ubuntu 19.04 Users
        KDE Plasma 5.16 launched earlier today as the latest and most advanced version of the acclaimed graphical desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems, adding several new features and enhancements like a totally revamped notifications system, improved System Settings pages, and revamped login, logout, and lock screens.

        The KDE Plasma 5.16 release also brings better support for Wayland when using the Nvidia proprietary graphics drivers, improved networking, a much easier to use Plasma Discover graphical software manager, and a much-improved overall desktop experience with lots of polishing for themes, color schemes, widgets, and the panel.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Released With A Lot Of Polishing, File Manager Improvements
        KDE Plasma 5.16 is out today as the latest major update to the modern KDE desktop.

        KDE Plasma 5.16.0 brings with it a rewritten notification system, KWin fixes, DPI scaling fixes, NVIDIA EGLStreams support, a NVIDIA CPU usage fix, restoring the option to reboot into the UEFI settings, WireGuard support, Dolphin file manager improvements, and much more.

      • Plasma 5.16 for Disco 19.04 available in Backports PPA
        We are pleased to announce that Plasma 5.16, is now available in our backports PPA for Disco 19.04.

        The release announcement detailing the new features and improvements in Plasma 5.16 can be found here

        Released along with this new version of Plasma is an update to KDE Frameworks 5.58. (5.59 will soon be in testing for Eoan 19.10 and may follow in the next few weeks.)

      • KDE neon 5.16 Out
        KDE neon 5.16 is out featuring Plasma 5.16. Download the ISO now or upgrade your installs.

        With Diversity in mind this edition features an Ice Cold themed wallpaper to make those in the southern hemisphere feel included.

      • KDE Neon 5.16 Now Available to Download
        So, naturally, the freshly spun ISO comes toting the brand-new, feature-packed KDE Plasma 5.16 release at its core.

        Plasma 5.16 offers a wealth of changes and improvements, including a new notification system, new login/lock screens, revamped theme system and more.

      • How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop 5.16 in (K)Ubuntu 19.04
      • How To Upgrade To KDE Plasma 5.16 In Kubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo)
      • Release Announcements: Plasma 5.16.0
        Today KDE launches the latest version of its desktop environment, Plasma 5.16.

        For this release, KDE developers have worked hard to polish Plasma to a high gloss. The results of their efforts provide a more consistent experience and bring new features to all Plasma users.

        One of the most obvious changes is the completely rewritten notification system that comes with a Do Not Disturb mode, a more intelligent history which groups notifications together, and critical notifications in fullscreen apps. Besides many other things, it features better notifications for file transfer jobs, and a much more usable System Settings page to configure all notification-related things.

      • Plasma 5.16 is now available for Disco 19.04 from Backports PPA
        Plasma 5.16 is now available for Disco 19.04 from Backports PPA

        KDE community have launched the latest version of its desktop environment, Plasma 5.16 on 11 June, 2019.

        At the same time kubuntu developers has announced the Plasma 5.16 is now available from their backports PPA for Disco 19.04.

        Released along with this new version of Plasma is an update to KDE Frameworks 5.58.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Released – And It’s a Big One!
        So what’s new? Well, what isn’t!? Plasma 5.16 is chock-full of changes, improvements and little flourishes that, together, create an impressive whole.

        KDE devs say they “…worked hard to polish Plasma to a high gloss. The results […] provide a more consistent experience and bring new features to all Plasma users.”

        And based on the surfeit of screenshots they’ve provided, i’d dare say they succeeded!

        Chances are you want to learn more, so let’s dive in!

  • Distributions

    • 8 Best Linux Gaming Distros You Need To Use In 2019
      One of the most widely used operating systems, Linux is known for it is lightweight and secure in nature. There are various distributions of Linux where gaming is also a part of it. In this article, we list down 8 best Linux distros for gaming in 2019.

    • Linux Desktop Spotlight: Meet The Distro With An Awesome Xfce Experience Right Out Of the Box
      So what makes it special, aside from the feeling you get when you see these screenshots or watch the distro in action? It's the fact that Enso OS incorporates Plank, elementary's Gala window manager and the Panther launcher -- itself a fork of elementary's Slingshot launcher and catered toward Xfce use.

      The Enso OS team also forked elementary's stylish AppCenter, which they call Apphive. I did notice it's quite slow to load initially, but I can let that slide for now since this is an early beta release. On the plus side, Apphive does feature native Snap support.

    • Enso OS is a Quirky Linux Distro Mixing Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Xfce, and elementaryOS
      Have you heard of a Linux distribution called Enso OS? I’ll admit that I hadn’t, not until someone pointed it out to me on Twitter.

      But from what I’ve seen, Enso OS is a unique Linux distro amidst its peers in that it’s mix of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Xfce, and elementary OS.

      This unique, quirky combination gives the OS a clear, clean, and distinct identity; this is not your regular me-too Ubuntu derivative — far from it!

    • New Releases

      • Endless OS 3.6.0 Released To Deliver A User-friendly Linux Experience
        Endless Computers, which made waves a couple of years ago with the launch of Endless Mini, is also known for its Debian derivative Endless OS distribution. Featuring a highly-customized GNOME desktop, Endless OS makes use of lots of open source technologies to create a user-friendly operating system.

        Endless OS is also known to let you download a “full” ISO image that comes loaded with more than 100 apps, making it useful without the need for connecting your computer to the web. The latest Endless OS 3.6.0 release further improves the experience by updating the packages to the latest version and adding new features. The updated packages are the latest versions from the Debian ‘Buster,’ which is the upcoming stable release.

      • BackBox Linux 6 released!
        The BackBox Team is happy to announce the new major release of BackBox Linux, the version 6.

        As usual, this major release includes many updates. These include new kernel, updated tools and some structural changes with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

      • Release Notes for CRUX 3.5
        This page discusses the relevant changes introduced in CRUX 3.5. Everybody upgrading from the previous release is advised to carefully read the following notes.

      • CRUX
        CRUX 3.5 has been released! Please check out the Release Notes, the ChangeLog and the Handbook, and download CRUX 3.5 right here.

    • Fedora

      • Speed Up Gnome Shell On Fedora 30 Using This Copr Repository
        There's a Copr repository for Fedora 30 that presumably speeds up Gnome Shell and Mutter by adding some patches. The repository also has builds for Fedora 29, and while they are no longer maintained, they should still work.

        Gnome already worked fine on my laptop running Fedora 30, so I can't say from personal experience how big of an impact it makes. You can give it a try, and if you don't notice any improvements, or if it makes things worse, you can easily remove it.

      • Fedora Gooey Karma Week 2 report GSoC

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 10.0 "Buster" Lining Up To Release In Early July
        We now have a tentative release date for the big Debian 10 "Buster" release.

        If no show-stoppers come up in the next few weeks, Debian 10.0 will be making its official debut on Saturday, 6 July. This comes following Debian developers working through around 150 release critical bugs as of a few months ago but everything is now getting ironed out and they are onto the home stretch ahead of this major update succeeding the Debian 9 "Stretch" series.

      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in May 2019
        Welcome to Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • DebConf19 welcomes its sponsors!
        DebConf19 is taking place in Curitiba, Brazil, from 21 July to 28 July 2019. It is the 20th edition of the Debian conference and organisers are working hard to create another interesting and fruitful event for attendees.

        We would like to warmly welcome the first 29 sponsors of DebConf19, and introduce you to them.

        So far we have three Platinum sponsors.

        Our first Platinum sponsor is Infomaniak. Infomaniak is Switzerland's largest web-hosting company, also offering backup and storage services, solutions for event organizers, live-streaming and video on demand services. It wholly owns its datacenters and all elements critical to the functioning of the services and products provided by the company (both software and hardware).

        Next, as a Platinum sponsor, is Google. Google is one of the largest technology companies in the world, providing a wide range of Internet-related services and products as online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google has been supporting Debian by sponsoring DebConf since more than ten years, and is also a Debian partner.

      • More sales number for my Free Culture paper editions (2019-edition)
        The first book I published, Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig, is still selling a few copies. Not a lot, but enough to have contributed slightly over $500 to the Creative Commons Corporation so far. All the profit is sent there. Most books are still sold via Amazon (83 copies), with Ingram second (49) and Lulu (12) and Machette (7) as minor channels. Bying directly from Lulu bring the largest cut to Creative Commons. The English Edition sold 80 copies so far, the French 59 copies, and Norwegian only 8 copies. Nothing impressive, but nice to see the work we put down is still being appreciated. The ebook edition is available for free from Github.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How to Enable Fractional Scaling in Ubuntu 19.04
            In this short guide I show you how to unlock experimental fractional scaling on Ubuntu 19.04 for both Wayland and Xorg sessions.

            Why is this a big deal, though?

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Zorin OS 15 Released
              Artyom Zorin, Chief Executive Officer of Zorin OS has announced the release of Zorin OS 15, the latest version of the Linux-based distribution.

              Zorin OS 15 is based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS with Hardware Enablement (HWE) stack. The LTS base enables Zorin OS developers to focus on making incremental improvements to the distro without having to chase the always moving target, since regular releases of Ubuntu are released every 6 months.

              According to a Zorin blog, speed has been a top focus in Zorin OS 15, so the desktop runs dramatically smoother on a wide range of hardware, old and new. “With the introduction of Gnome Shell 3.30 and the Linux kernel 4.18, performance optimizations have been made at every level of the operating system,” said the blog post.

              Zorin OS also packs Nvidia drivers in the ISO itself so users don’t need internet in order to install such drivers, which also means better out of the box support.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • EFF to U.N.: Ola Bini's Case Highlights The Dangers of Vague Cybercrime Law
    For decades, journalists, activists and lawyers who work on human rights issues around the world have been harassed, and even detained, by repressive and authoritarian regimes seeking to halt any assistance they provide to human rights defenders. Digital communication technology and privacy-protective tools like end-to-end encryption have made this work safer, in part by making it harder for governments to target those doing the work. But that has led to technologists building those tools being increasingly targeted for the same harassment and arrest, most commonly under overbroad cybercrime laws that cast suspicion on even the most innocent online activities.

    Right now, that combination of misplaced suspicion, and arbitrary detention under cyber-security regulations, is being played out in Ecuador. Ola Bini, a Swedish security researcher, is being detained in that country under unsubstantiated accusations, based on an overbroad reading of the country’s cybercrime law. This week, we submitted comments to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for their upcoming 2019 joint report on the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas. Our comments focus on how Ola Bini’s detainment is a flagship case of the targeting of technologists, and dangers of cyber-crime laws.

    While the pattern of demonizing benign uses of technology is global, EFF has noted its rise in the Americas in particular. Our 2018 report, “Protecting Security Researchers' Rights in the Americas,” was created in part to push back against ill-defined, broadly interpreted cybercrime laws. It also promotes standards that lawmakers, judges, and most particularly the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights might use to protect the fundamental rights of security researchers, and ensure the safe and secure development of the Internet and digital technology in the Americas and across the world.

  • Android 8 forces FOSS apps to use Firebase for push notifications or label them as “using too much battery”
    Recently, Google imposed background limitations on the Android 8.0 (API level 26) for what apps can do while running in the background. Per this new update, Android 8 forces developers to use Firebase for their push notifications, or otherwise tell the user that the app has misbehaved. Push notifications are needed by all messaging apps such as Telegram-FOSS,, and other FOSS apps The problem here is that the Firebase Android client library is not open source. FOSS apps now cannot keep push notification features in Android 8 while also remaining 100% open source and not being stigmatized as misbehaved..

    Google official reason for putting this limitation is to improve the user experience. They state that when many Android apps and services are run simultaneously, it places a load on the system. Further if additional apps or services, run in the background, it places an additional load on the system, which could result in a poor user experience. For example, when a user is playing a game in one window while browsing the web in another window, and using a third app to play music, this could result in abrupt shut down of one of the apps, due to immense load on the system.

  • Introducing Matrix 1.0 and the Foundation
    Now, before you get too excited, it’s critical to understand that Matrix 1.0 is all about providing a stable, self-consistent, self-contained and secure version of the standard which anyone should be able to use to independently implement production-grade Matrix clients, servers, bots and bridges etc. It does not mean that all planned or possible features in Matrix are now specified and implemented, but that the most important core of the protocol is a well-defined stable platform for everyone to build on. On the Synapse side, our focus has been exclusively on ensuring that Synapse correctly implements Matrix 1.0, to provide a stable and secure basis for participating in Matrix without risk of room corruption or other nastinesses.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium-Based Browsers Will Ignore Google’s Ad-Blocking Ban
        Brave Opera and Vivaldi will not implement Google’s changes that will cripple ad-blockers.

        Commercial web browsers including Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi won’t be disabling ad blocker extensions as desired by Google. These browsers are based on the the same open source codebase that is used with Google Chrome. Google maintains an open source project called Chromium as the base of its Chrome browsers.

        According to ZDnet, “At the end of May, Google made a new announcement in which it said that the old technology that ad blockers were relying on would only be available for Chrome enterprise users, but not for regular users.”

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Premium Coming Later This Year – Will You Pay for It?
        Mozilla CEO, Chris Beard, revealed the (rather unexpected) plans in conversation with German media outlet T3N, though stressed that the ‘free’ version of Firefox will remain just that: free.

        Wondering what a paid-for version of a hugely popular free web browser might include? Us too. But based on Beard’s interview we have a clue. It sounds Mozilla will make privacy and security features key to its ‘service’ offering.

        Mozilla already partner with a VPN company so an extension of that deal, integrated into the browser directly, wouldn’t be a shock move.

        Beard provides an example scenario (paraphrased by me):

        “You can imagine we’ll offer a solution that gives [everyone] a certain amount of free VPN bandwidth and then offer a premium level [for] a monthly subscription,” he says.

        Interesting stuff.

      • This Free software ain't free to make, pal, it's expensive: Mozilla to bankroll Firefox with paid-for premium extras
        Mozilla is planning to launch a suite of paid-for subscription services to complement its free and open-source Firefox browser in October.

        CEO Chris Beard elaborated on the plan, mentioned in the company's bug reporting system eleven months ago, to German technology site T3N last week. In an interview, he said Mozilla's premium service plan will include VPN bandwidth above what's available from Mozilla's ProtonMail VPN partnership.

        He suggested the arrangement will augment a free VPN tier. That would be a change from the current $10 per month ProtonMail VPN arrangement, one that resembles the free VPN offering from the competing Opera browser. He also suggested the service bundle will include an allotment of secure cloud storage, though it isn't yet clear how much storage will be included or whether "secure" means user-held encryption keys.

      • Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday, June 14th
        We are happy to let you know that Friday, June 14th we are organizing Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Sync & Firefox Account and Browser notifications & prompts.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

      • Mozilla Unveils New Logos for Firefox, the Brand
        If it feels like only yesterday that Firefox got a new logo it’s because, comparatively speaking, it pretty much was — it was only last year.

        But before any of us have had time to get used to that new logo, Mozilla has only gone and unveiled another new logo for its famed browser.

        Yes, say hello to Firefox — this time with family in tow.

      • Mozilla Open Design Blog: Firefox: The Evolution Of A Brand
        Consider the fox. It’s known for being quick, clever, and untamed — attributes easily applied to its mythical cousin, the “Firefox” of browser fame. Well, Firefox has another trait not found in earthly foxes: stretchiness. (Just look how it circumnavigates the globe.) That fabled flexibility now enables Firefox to adapt once again to a changing environment.

        The “Firefox” you’ve always known as a browser is stretching to cover a family of products and services united by putting you and your privacy first. Firefox is a browser AND an encrypted service to send huge files. It’s an easy way to protect your passwords on every device AND an early warning if your email has been part of a data breach. Safe, private, eye-opening. That’s just the beginning of the new Firefox family.

        Now Firefox has a new look to support its evolving product line. Today we’re introducing the Firefox parent brand — an icon representing the entire family of products. When you see it, it’s your invitation to join Firefox and gain access to everything we have to offer. That includes the famous Firefox Browser icon for desktop and mobile, and even that icon is getting an update to be rolled out this fall.

      • Mozilla Firefox 67.0.2 Released with Various Improvements and Bug Fixes
        Mozilla released today the second maintenance update to the latest Firefox 67 "Quantum" web browser for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. Firefox 67.0.2 is now available, a bugfix and stability release that addresses several issues reported by users lately, including a crash with Apple's upcoming macOS Catalina 10.15 operating system, the ability to start two simultaneous downloads via< a download >, and a performance regression for Eclipse Remote Application Platform (RAP) apps.

        On Linux systems, users are now able to easily install and use additional language packs using the built-in Preferences UI. On both Linux or macOS systems, Firefox users can now start the web browser in safe mode without it believing that the user profile is too recent on the subsequent launch to be used with the current version of Firefox.

      • Mozilla to launch Firefox Premium

        Firefox Premium is set to launch in October 2019 and there will also be a free version of the platform available, although restrictions on cloud storage space and VPN bandwidth will be imposed on free users.

  • BSD

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Why does macOS Catalina use Zsh instead of Bash? Licensing [iophk: "s/patents/software patents/g; :("]

      So, it’s no surprise that Apple’s moving its users away from Bash. I’m also not surprised to see Apple favor Zsh. For starters, it’s licensed under the MIT License, and therefore doesn’t contain the controversial language surrounding patents and Tivoization.

    • The Redmi S2, aka Y2, gets its Android Pie update
      That may not be a huge deal to some users, however. Xiaomi is also obliged to release the S2/Y2's kernel sources in order to remain compliant with GNU's general public licence.

    • Money laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt open-source ecosystem – activists
      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and UK Open Rights Group have responded to an HM Treasury consultation on money laundering legislation, in particular to the suggestion that publishing open-source software should be subject to customer due diligence requirements.

      The Transposition of the Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) was published (PDF) for consultation in April. 5MLD is an EU directive which the UK is obliged to put into law by January 2020 – presuming that the UK is either still in the EU or in transitional arrangements.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Smarten Up Your Air Conditioning with the ESP8266
        If you’re looking for “smart” home appliances, there’s no shortage of options on the market. Even relatively low-end gadgets are jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon these days (for better or for worse). But what if you’re not looking to purchase a brand new major appliance right now? In that case, you might be interested in seeing how [Giulio Pons] added some high-tech features to his existing air conditioner on the cheap.

        Since his AC unit had an infrared remote control, the first thing [Giulio] needed to do was come up with a way to emulate it. An easy enough project using the ESP8266 and an IR LED, especially when he found that somebody had already written a IR communications library for his particular brand of AC. From there, he could start tacking on sensors and functionality.

      • HestiaPi: A Stylish Open Hardware Thermostat
        Of course, the hardware is only half the equation. To get the HestiaPi Touch talking to all the other smart gadgets in your life, it leverages the wildly popular OpenHAB platform. As demonstrated in the video after the break, this allows you to use the HestiaPi and its mobile companion application to not only control your home’s heating and air conditioning systems, but pretty much anything else you can think of.

      • Simple Arduino Universal Remote Control
        The infrared remote control might not hold the seat of honor in the average home theater setup that it once enjoyed, but it’s not quite out to pasture yet. After all, what are you going to use to stop Netflix once the Chromecast invariably disconnects from your phone? As long as there are devices out there that will respond to commands blasted their way via an IR LED, hackers will be looking to get in on the action.

  • Programming/Development

    • Firmware Reverse-Engineering Using NSA Software Continues
      Earlier this month we reported on a new Google Summer of Code project making use of NSA software to help with firmware reverse engineering. So far that effort seems to be paying off of using Ghidra.

      Ghidra is the US National Security Agency's open-source project designed to assist in reverse engineering. Ghidra is similar to IDA Pro and other decompilers/disassemblers. The focus of the GSoC 2019 project has been integrating the support to make it suitable as a tool to help with firmware reverse-engineering.

    • Application lifecycle management for container-native development
      Ultimately, developers are expensive, but they are the domain experts in what they build. With development teams often being treated as product teams (who own the entire lifecycle and support of their applications), it becomes imperative that they control the end-to-end process on which they rely to deliver their applications into production. This means decentralizing both the ALM process and the tooling that supports that process. In this article, we’ll explore this approach and look at a couple of implementation scenarios.

    • Teaching algorithmic ethics requires an open approach
      his trend could have profoundly positive impacts on humanity. Consider, for example, the ways in which AI applications have already proven revolutionary in medical diagnosis. But with and alongside the benefits these systems promise are also serious risks, for the growing unchecked use of algorithms in this fashion risks dangerously amplifying inequality and concentrating power in the hands of the few. Other related problems may accompany this, such as the increased commodification of personal information absent consumer protections, or the buildout of digital surveillance infrastructures that are more often than not turned against already marginalized or oppressed populations.

      One of the most promising mechanisms for combating the dangerous encroachment of individual agency and power through algorithms is open education. Policymakers and advisors educated on these ethical technology issues can make informed regulatory decisions, technologists can increase their awareness of the impacts of their designs, and citizens and consumers can adequately understand how algorithmic systems are impacting their everyday lives. Where knowledge is power, education can provide that knowledge.

    • OOP Method Types in Python: @classmethod vs @staticmethod vs Instance Methods

    • Multiple Linear Regression with Python

    • Testing Complex Systems with Maintainable Test Suites

    • Kubernetes Operators Best Practices
      Kubernetes Operators are processes connecting to the master API and watching for events, typically on a limited number of resource types.

      When a relevant event occurs, the operator reacts and performs a specific action. This may be limited to interacting with the master API only, but will often involve performing some action on some other systems (this could be either in cluster or off cluster resources).

    • Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.8 Released With LLVM 9 & GCC 9 Fixes
      The open-source folks maintaining the LLVM-based Intel Graphics Compiler for use by their NEO compute stack for Linux released this week another update.

      Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.8 is this latest update, which is primarily focused on offering up the remaining fixes for being built by the GCC 9.1 stable compiler and for interfacing with the in-development LLVM Clang 9.0 compiler stack. IGC continues to make use of the LLVM infrastructure to help with the heavy lifting around this graphics compiler. IGC 1.0.8 is currently passing "99.87%" of the certification tests when using LLVM/Clang 9.

    • Bzip2 in Rust: porting the randomization table
      Bzip2's compression starts by running a Burrows-Wheeler Transform on a block of data to compress, which is a wonderful algorithm that I'm trying to fully understand. Part of the BWT involves sorting all the string rotations of the block in question.

      Per the comment I cited, really old versions of bzip2 used a randomization helper to make sorting perform well in extreme cases, but not-so-old versions fixed this.

      This explains why the decompression struct DState has a blockRandomised bit, but the compression struct EState doesn't need one. The fields that the original macro was pasting into EState were just a vestige from 1999, which is when Bzip2 0.9.5 was released.

    • [Older] react-content-marker Released – Marking Content with React
      Last year, in a React side-project, I had to replace some content in a string with HTML markup. That is not a trivial thing to do with React, as you can't just put HTML as string in your content, unless you want to use dangerouslySetInnerHtml — which I don't. So, I hacked a little code to smartly split my string into an array of sub-strings and DOM elements.

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

    • 10 YAML tips for people who hate YAML
      There are lots of formats for configuration files: a list of values, key and value pairs, INI files, YAML, JSON, XML, and many more. Of these, YAML sometimes gets cited as a particularly difficult one to handle for a few different reasons. While its ability to reflect hierarchical values is significant and its minimalism can be refreshing to some, its Python-like reliance upon syntactic whitespace can be frustrating.

      However, the open source world is diverse and flexible enough that no one has to suffer through abrasive technology, so if you hate YAML, here are 10 things you can (and should!) do to make it tolerable. Starting with zero, as any sensible index should.

    • Creating a Django App on Ubuntu Server
      Django is a common platform for developing websites, web applications and web APIs. There are many advantages to using the Django framework for your project as your tool and if you’re not sure it’s the right fit, you need only to look to the many big name brands using Django in their stack. Deploying Django to a production environment for the first time can be a daunting task. Often, developers will launch a Linux instance on the cloud for their production environment.

      In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to launch Django in production, using a fresh Ubuntu instance.

    • Recognizing a face using JavaScript
      When you look around for ways to identify faces, you come up with a host of solutions. Many are generic, some are interfaces to existing frameworks. For JavaScript, you have a few popular ones to choose from. You may even be confused by the array of solutions. Even for face recognition you have several options. Many, most actually, are for Python but you can also find a few in JavaScript. Frameworks that are aimed specifically at face recognition are face,js and face-recognition.js. The latter is considered obsolete though. The smallest, in terms of code, is pico.js With about 200 lines of code it can detect your own face using your webcam. The Pico code comes with a trained set already, which means that it will not improve while you are using it. For the curious, the pre-trained classification cascades are available on their GitHub repository. If you do want to train it yourself, there is a learn function you can use. This is a C program available on GitHub. This is a long process to complete making it an interesting exercise rather than something useful. One of the more interesting API’s is face-api.js, this one uses TensorFlow.js for the machine learning part.

    • Call for Speakers - Montréal-Python 75: Funky Urgency
      Montreal-Python will be hosting its last event before the summer break. This is also a special moment because it's our 75th event!

    • High quality automated docker hub push using Github, TravisCI and pyup for Python tool distributions
      Let's say you want to distribute a Python tool with docker using known good dependency versions ready to be used by end users... In this article you will see how to continuously keeping up to date a Docker Hub container with minimal managing effort (because I'm a lazy guy) using github, TravisCI and pyup.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #372 (June 11, 2019)

    • Our Favorite PyCon 2019 Presentations

    • How to write a loop in Bash
      A common reason people want to learn the Unix shell is to unlock the power of batch processing. If you want to perform some set of actions on many files, one of the ways to do that is by constructing a command that iterates over those files. In programming terminology, this is called execution control, and one of the most common examples of it is the for loop.

    • Why use GraphQL?
      GraphQL, as I wrote previously, is a next-generation API technology that is transforming both how client applications communicate with backend systems and how backend systems are designed.

      As a result of the support that began with the organization that founded it, Facebook, and continues with the backing of other technology giants such as Github, Twitter, and AirBnB, GraphQL's place as a linchpin technology for application systems seems secure; both now and long into the future.

    • Things I Learnt The Hard Way (in 30 Years of Software Development)

      This is a cynical, clinical collection of things I learnt in 30 years working with software development.

      Again, some things are really cynical, others are long observations on different jobs.

    • History of Programming languages
      Behind everything, we do on the computer and on their cell phones stands the code. The code is a specific dictionary of terms and instructions that ultimately leads to what we see users on their computers, such as a website, to a mobile game. There is a multitude of programming languages, but each one is unique. Each of them has a unique set of keywords and specific syntax.


  • Vintage TV Test Patterns

    It’s hard to believe now, but television didn’t used to be a 24/7/365 affair. TV stations stopped broadcasting late at night and when they were off the air, they would commonly display a test pattern until programming resumed in the morning.

  • Science

    • CSIR orders probe into journals

      On June 3, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) began an investigation into the large-scale manipulation and/or duplication of images within the same paper or in different papers by scientists at the Lucknow-based Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR).

      At last count, 130 papers published in peer-reviewed journals by scientists from the institution have problems with the images. A chief scientist at the institute Dr. Yogeshwer Shukla alone has published 40 such papers.

    • Research Institute Investigates Possible Image Manipulation in Papers

      India’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research is investigating potential image-manipulation problems flagged by PubPeer commenters in 130 papers from its Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, The Hindu reported last week (June 4). The publication has separately reported PubPeer comments pointing out apparent image manipulation for 31 papers from the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB), and 35 from the CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI).

    • Meet the Deepfake Zuck, Same as the Flesh Zuck

      The Zuckerberg deepfake is part of an exhibition called Spectre that ran in the UK’s Sheffield Doc Fest, according to Motherboard, and that has featured similar deepfakes of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump bragging about their involvement with the fictional evil organization. Canny’s founders Omer Ben-Ami and Jonathan Heimann previously told FXGuide their work builds on prior research done by University of Washington researchers who helped director Jordan Peele create a deepfaked Barack Obama video warning of “fucked up dystopia.” They also told Motherboard they learned from Stanford’s Face2Face project.

    • This Deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg Tests Facebook’s Fake Video Policies

      Canny's founders, Omer Ben-Ami and Jonathan Heimann, told special effects blog FXGuide that their work comes after algorithms developed by University of Washington researchers, which turned audio clips of people speaking into realistic videos of people made to look like they're speaking those words. The UW researchers demonstrated this, at the time, using Barack Obama's face. They said they're also inspired by Stanford's Face2Face program, which enabled real-time facial reenactment.

      Ben-Ami told Motherboard that to create the fake videos, Canny used a proprietary AI algorithm, trained on 20 to 45 second scenes of the target face for between 12-24 hours. That doesn't seem like much, but we've already seen deepfakes made from as little as one image of a face.

    • Sorry, But Just Having Better Schools Won’t Fix America
      Long ago, I was captivated by a seductively intuitive idea, one many of my wealthy friends still subscribe to: that both poverty and rising inequality are largely consequences of America’s failing education system. Fix that, I believed, and we could cure much of what ails America.

      This belief system, which I have come to think of as “educationism,” is grounded in a familiar story about cause and effect: Once upon a time, America created a public-education system that was the envy of the modern world. No nation produced more or better-educated high-school and college graduates, and thus the great American middle class was built. But then, sometime around the 1970s, America lost its way. We allowed our schools to crumble, and our test scores and graduation rates to fall. School systems that once churned out well-paid factory workers failed to keep pace with the rising educational demands of the new knowledge economy. As America’s public-school systems foundered, so did the earning power of the American middle class. And as inequality increased, so did political polarization, cynicism, and anger, threatening to undermine American democracy itself.

      Taken with this story line, I embraced education as both a philanthropic cause and a civic mission. I co-founded the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education. I joined Bill Gates, Alice Walton, and Paul Allen in giving more than $1 million each to an effort to pass a ballot measure that established Washington State’s first charter schools. All told, I have devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools—if we modernized our curricula and our teaching methods, substantially increased school funding, rooted out bad teachers, and opened enough charter schools—American children, especially those in low-income and working-class communities, would start learning again. Graduation rates and wages would increase, poverty and inequality would decrease, and public commitment to democracy would be restored.

      But after decades of organizing and giving, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I was wrong. And I hate being wrong.

      What I’ve realized, decades late, is that educationism is tragically misguided. American workers are struggling in large part because they are underpaid—and they are underpaid because 40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me. Americans are more highly educated than ever before, but despite that, and despite nearly record-low unemployment, most American workers—at all levels of educational attainment—have seen little if any wage growth since 2000.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Americans are too poor to survive whether or not they're working

      A new study from the United Way claims that 43% of American households are in a status called "asset limited, income constrained, employed" (ALICE), which denotes employed people who can't afford housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and a cellphone -- the basics of modern living.

      Umair Haque (previously) connects this to the idea of America as the world's first poor rich country, a country that is awash in wealth, yet so unequal that nearly half its residents sink deeper into debt every month -- and most Americans die in debt.

      As Haque says, if you work hard all your life and die with no assets, no savings, and debt, that's not employment, it's serfdom. [...]

    • Vaping ads on social media must disclose nicotine risk

      The FTC and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent warning letters to companies posting ads about flavoured e-liquid products or vape on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter without the warning that the products contain highly addictive chemical, nicotine, the official release said.

    • The current and future global distribution and population at risk of dengue
      Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that has spread throughout the tropical world over the past 60 years and now affects over half the world’s population. The geographical range of dengue is expected to further expand due to ongoing global phenomena including climate change and urbanization. We applied statistical mapping techniques to the most extensive database of case locations to date to predict global environmental suitability for the virus as of 2015. We then made use of climate, population and socioeconomic projections for the years 2020, 2050 and 2080 to project future changes in virus suitability and human population at risk. This study is the first to consider the spread of Aedes mosquito vectors to project dengue suitability. Our projections provide a key missing piece of evidence for the changing global threat of vector-borne disease and will help decision-makers worldwide to better prepare for and respond to future changes in dengue risk.

    • How Dengue, a Deadly Mosquito-Borne Disease, Could Spread in a Warming World
      Climate change is poised to increase the spread of dengue fever, which is common in parts of the world with warmer climates like Brazil and India, a new study warns.

      Worldwide each year, there are 100 million cases of dengue infections severe enough to cause symptoms, which may include fever, debilitating joint pain and internal bleeding. There are an estimated 10,000 deaths from dengue — also nicknamed breakbone fever — which is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that also spread Zika and chikungunya.

    • Climate Crisis Could Spread Dengue Fever Through Most of Southeast U.S.
      If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise until 2080, dengue fever could spread through much of the southeastern U.S. by 2050.

    • Urbanisation will make 'break-bone' fever one of the most common diseases of the century, say experts
      One of the world's most debilitating mosquito-borne diseases is set to spread to parts of Asia, Europe, North America and Australia that are currently free of the life-threatening condition, say researchers.

      Dengue virus – also known as "break-bone fever" because of the joint pain it causes – will threaten 60 per cent of the world's population or six billion people by 2080, a new study predicts.

      The greatest increase is expected to be in Africa but much of the south eastern United States is predicted to see a rise in the disease, as is Australia and many larger cities in southern China and Japan.

    • Patients’ Needs, Not Personal Beliefs, Come First in Health Care
      Since taking office, the Trump administration has launched a systematic attack on laws that exist to protect all of us from discrimination when we seek basic health care. Today, we’re taking them back to court over it.

    • Prime Minister of Poland Signs Global Appeal to Stop 5G
      In what is surely an unprecedented and groundbreaking action, the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, has personally backed an International Appeal to stop the controversial roll-out of 5G electro magnetic microwave telecommunication transmissions.

      5G, a new millimetre band frequency range being introduced by the telecommunications industry worldwide, has been identified by over 2,000 scientists and 1,400 medical doctors from all over the World, as presenting a direct threat to human health, as well as to animal, insect and plant life.

      There have been no safety tests carried out to ensure its safety, in spite of the fact that 5G operates at between 10 and 100 times higher frequencies than current 3 and 4G cell phone tower transmitters.

      The roll-out of 5G will involve the placement of millions of transmitter boxes at distances of no more than 10 to 12 houses apart in urban areas. Scientists have established that this will subject citizens living in urban areas to an unavoidable barrage of electromagnetic pollution.

      A 2017 report by more than 230 scientists and doctors from 41 countries express serious concerns about steadily expanding exposure to Electro Magnet Frequencies (EMF) . They state that even before the roll-out of 5G “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most national and international guidelines.” *

    • What Life Is Like When Abortion Is Banned
      As Republicans in states around the country pass sweeping abortion bans, I think about what life could be like for women and girls if these laws take effect. I don’t have to use my imagination.

      Women and girls across Latin America are already living in places where abortion is heavily restricted or completely banned. In the past year, I’ve done research for Human Rights Watch in two countries that ban abortion completely, without any exceptions, even if the woman’s life is in danger.

      In the Dominican Republic, I spoke with Rosa Hernández, whose daughter Rosaura Almonte Hernández, known as “Esperancita,” was diagnosed with leukemia. Doctors initially denied her chemotherapy because she was pregnant, and then refused to end the pregnancy because to do so would have been against the law. She died in 2012 at age 16. “They let my daughter die,” her mother told me.

      I met a health educator in the Dominican Republic who fought back tears as she told me how, a few weeks prior, she counseled a pregnant 11-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather. “She’s just a little girl. She doesn’t know what’s going on in her life or in her body,” she said. But because abortion is illegal even for pregnancies from rape or incest, the educator had no options other than to refer the girl for prenatal care.

    • Medicare for All Is Coming... Because Even the "Insured" Are Not Safe in This For-Profit System
      As the House Ways and Means Committee prepares to hold an influential hearing Wednesday on HR 1384, the Medicare for All bill authored by Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell, with 112 House co-sponsors, news reports every day remind us of why the bill is so necessary.

      Just ask Caitlin and Corey Gaffer of Minneapolis who, with their first child on the way, unexpectedly learned that their health insurance had been cancelled for “non-payment” for a series of bureaucratic snafus even though they had paid their premium.

      The problem was eventually resolved, but not before they were slammed with an unexpected additional $30,000 in medical bills and had “racked up lots of stress” while Caitlin was navigating a complicated pregnancy, as Kaiser Health News reported.

      The Affordable Care Act, many believed, prevented insurance companies from kicking people off their insurance. But still, KHN noted, “tens of thousands of Americans each year—exact counts aren’t available—are dropped by their insurers over payment issues, sometimes with little or no prior warning from their insurers.”

      Then there’s Andrew Heymann, the Hackensack, NJ accountant who suffered a deeply gashed ankle while helping a neighbor move a large glass table. He went to the emergency room where they quickly stitched him up.

    • Canvassing the 55 Percent of Rural Voters Wanting Medicare for All
      If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Sen. Chuck Schumer had been leading a Democratic Congress in the 1960s, their health care positions in recent years indicate they would have used every tactic available to prevent a floor vote on Medicare. It never would have become law on July 30, 1965. Considering the complexities of starting any new or major federal program, it amazed the public and staggered proponents — and opponents — that Medicare was up and running a year later.

      Today, congressional opponents have intimidated most of an obedient and self-interested flock into doing the same thing to a joint Medicare for All (M4A) bill: Sen. Bernie Sanders’s S. 1129 and Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s H.R. 1384. They will do almost anything to make sure neither bill gets to floor votes.

      In its fight to survive and retain the status quo, the health care industry has formed a coalition lobby, Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), whose sole purpose is to kill M4A. Every public relations tool and ad-buy carries that message, from ads on social media to the mainstream media, Congress and voters of all political stripes.

      The members of the PAHCF coalition spent a combined $143 million on candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. In the first two months of this year alone, they’ve spent $434,500.

      However, the 2018 midterm elections triggered a high tide of voters furious about the nation’s poor health care situation, bringing in 37 pro-M4A Democratic newbies, as The Atlantic noted. They have proven to be defiant and outspoken in tangling with Pelosi’s “no-M4A” policy.

    • Finally, Some Good News for Abortion Rights
      Decades after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the U.S., the ability to access that right looks dangerously fragile. Missouri’s sole abortion clinic is struggling to stay open. Eight states have tried to ban abortion after “cardiac activity” is detected, which is usually around the sixth week of pregnancy — when the embryo is about the size of a pomegranate seed and well before most women know they are pregnant. Alabama Republicans recently passed a bill designed to nullify Roe altogether, though its chances of success don’t seem high. But as grim as the news tends to be, there are still reasons for optimism. Some states have actually expanded abortion access this year, and on Monday, Maine became one of them.

      The state’s newly elected Democratic governor, Janet Mills, signed a bill that will allow nurse practitioners, osteopathic physicians, and physicians assistants to perform abortion procedures. “States across the country, including Vermont and New Hampshire, have already eliminated this outdated restriction on abortion care,” state House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat, said in a press release praising the new law. Maine’s new law also resembles elements of New York’s recently passed Reproductive Health Act, which allows some medical professionals who aren’t doctors to perform abortions. In Maine, as in New York, the expansion will significantly increase abortion availability at a time when other, more conservative states are determined to shrink that right into nonexistence.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday

    • Hack Brief: [Attackers] [Copied] a Border Agency Database of Traveler Photos [iophk: "Microsoft TCO"]

      In its rush to gather biometric data from travelers in the US, Customs and Border Protection has apparently neglected basic safeguards to protect it. One of its subcontractors was recently breached, leaving photos of travelers and license plates in the hands of [attackers].

      The Washington Post first reported the incident, whose full scope remains unclear. But the [attack] has raised sharp questions about the agency’s already controversial push for biometrics. Facial recognition scans have become more routine at airports; CBP wants it in the top 20 US airports by 2021.

    • Consistent PKCS #11 support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
      In recent years, there have been a number of security issues taking advantage of flaws in applications and even computer processors. These opened new attack vectors or made some others more viable and exploitable than before. We can talk about timing differences, cache access patterns and other side-channel attacks that can be exploited either locally, from the same machine or even over the network to read or reconstruct our secrets.

      Keeping secret information storage isolated from other unrelated applications on a single system is a long-standing data protection technique. Storage isolation is usually implemented in software by isolating processes, applications, containers or virtual machines running on the same physical machine. Hardware tokens are taking this principle to another level, providing the physical isolation of the secret information, which has the potential to improve security significantly. Working with external hardware for storing secrets in an operating system historically has been difficult for system administrators and end users, and this is what we are improving in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.

    • A [Windows] virus has thrown Philadelphia’s court system into chaos

      Since May 21st, a virus has shut down Philadelphia’s online court system, bringing network access to a standstill. The problems started unexpectedly: suddenly, no one could seem to access the system to file documents. “It wasn’t working,” says Rachel Gallegos, a senior staff attorney with the civil legal aid organization Community Legal Services. “I thought it was my computer.”

    • Linux Command-Line Editors Vulnerable to High-Severity Bug

      Vim and Neovim have both released patches for the bug (CVE-2019-12735) that the National Institute of Standards and Technology warns, “allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands via the :source! command in a modeline.”

      “Beyond patching, it’s recommended to disable modelines in the vimrc (set nomodeline), to use the securemodelinesplugin, or to disable modelineexpr (since patch 8.1.1366, Vim-only) to disallow expressions in modelines,” the researcher said.

    • Beware Linux users! Vulnerability in Vim or Neovim Editor could compromise your Linux

    • The bits and bytes of PKI
      In two previous articles—An introduction to cryptography and public key infrastructure and How do private keys work in PKI and cryptography?—I discussed cryptography and public key infrastructure (PKI) in a general way. I talked about how digital bundles called certificates store public keys and identifying information. These bundles contain a lot of complexity, and it's useful to have a basic understanding of the format for when you need to look under the hood.

    • Update Uncertainty | TechSNAP 405
      We explore the risky world of exposed RDP, from the brute force GoldBrute botnet to the dangerously worm-able BlueKeep vulnerability.

      Plus the importance of automatic updates, and Jim’s new backup box.

    • Microsoft's June 2019 Patch Tuesday fixes many of SandboxEscaper's zero-days
      Microsoft has published today its monthly roll-up of security updates, known as Patch Tuesday. This month, the OS maker has patched 88 vulnerabilities, among which 21 received a rating of "Critical," the company's highest severity ranking.

      Furthermore, the May 2019 Patch Tuesday also included fixes for four of the five zero-days that a security researcher and exploit seller by the name of SandboxEscaper published online over the course of the last month.

    • Researchers use Rowhammer bit flips to steal 2048-bit crypto key [Ed: Mass slanderer and FUDmeister from Ars Technica (he got sued for his style) recalls Rowhammer (which is more theoretical a risk then a real one)]

    • RAMBleed Attack Can Steal Sensitive Data From Computer Memory[Ed: Rowhammer was mentioned by another site of FUDmeisters (one of whom CBS hired for clickbait)]

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Peace Is a Word That the West Has Taken From the Afghans
      It’s difficult to explain the nature of the Afghanistan peace talks. There is no single table with the combatants arrayed on either side. Talks are not even taking place in the same city, since there are at least two sets of discussions ongoing. One location for the peace talks is Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban is meeting with the U.S. government. The other location is Moscow, Russia, where the Taliban has been holding meetings with Afghan opposition leaders—including the former president Hamid Karzai. Absent from both meetings is the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his government. The Taliban sees them as illegitimate and irrelevant. Everyone—except President Ghani—says that the talks have made “progress.” But seasoned diplomats say that this “progress” is far too slow for a war that has now lasted 18 years.

    • Imperialism and the Stupid Show
      There is a political consequence to injecting a pessimistic world view (as David Harvey put it) into a hierarchically structured capitalist system, one based on racial and class lines and in which it is a given that the goal is a preservation of capitalism. That consequence is, as yet, unclear. What is clear that the proprietor class, the owners of Western capital, are terrified by the spectre of environmental instability — but they also view it in that way that they view everything, as a business opportunity.

      There is also today a crisis in education. And it is intimately related to the environmental crises. Informally I have spoken to educators in Norway, where I live, and they are both frightened and appalled at the loss of cognitive skills, the erosion in writing and even speech, in students at the high school and college level. Students, they say, cannot understand even simple verbal instructions. They cannot concentrate for very long and are easily distracted. And they can barely read.


      The western affluent class is faced with the reality that they consume the most. And to change that would mean changing a system of narcissistic individualism and privilege. A system of private property. Planned obsolescence is the logic of capitalism. Designed to fail the day after the warranty expires. Crary argues, and I think he is mostly right, that social upheavals of the sixties were followed by thirty some years of counter revolutionary practice enforced by the ruling class. As Crary writes..“Beginning in the 1980s and continuing since, these events of the 1960s and their participants have been ferociously converted into hollow caricatures, into objects of ridicule, demonization, and trivialization.But the extensiveness and malevolence of the historical falsifications are an index of the danger levels the culture of the 1960s posed, even in its afterlife. ”

      Today this ideological revanchism is clothed in green pseudo science and prey to capital’s marketing arm. I have read elaborate mathematical analysis of climatic warming and populations and consumption of petroleum, without a single word about class. Suddenly it’s all just generic *people*, as if Kazakh sheep herders were the same as Hong Kong bankers and hedge fund managers or European aristocracy. Where Berber nomads are lumped together with jet setting millionaires and their private jets. I expect this level of stupid from the Wall Street Journal but not from alternative media.

    • Legal Expert Says 'Congress Must Repeal the AUMF' After Supreme Court Rejects Yemeni Man's Appeal for Release From Gitmo
      The Supreme Court's decision Monday to not hear a Yemeni Guantanamo prisoner's appeal for release prompted Justice Stephen Breyer to call for a serious examination of the constitutional questions raised by detention of so-called "enemy combatants" in an age of endless war, and led one legal expert to argue it is time for Congress to tackle the problem at its root.

      In a detailed examination of the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the petition of Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, lawyer and Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern welcomed Breyer's belated concerns about perpetual detention but said nothing will change until Congress rolls back the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

    • Press Freedom Under Attack: Australian Police Raid Network for Exposing War Crimes in Afghanistan
      Press freedom groups are sounding the alarm over a pair of police raids on journalists. On Wednesday, Australian Federal Police swept into the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, reviewing thousands of documents for information about a 2017 report that found Australian special forces soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The raid came one day after police in Melbourne raided the home of Annika Smethurst, a reporter with the Herald Sun newspaper. We speak to Australian professor Joseph Fernandez and Peter Greste, founding director of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom. Greste was imprisoned for 400 days in 2013 to 2014 while covering the political crisis in Egypt.

    • Ottawa and the Worst of the Venezuelan Opposition
      Canada has not only financed and supported opposition parties in Venezuela, but has also openly allied itself with some of that country’s most undemocratic and extremist elements. The Canadian liberal government has openly supported the Voluntad Popular (VP) party’s offer to seize power by force since January 2019, although Ottawa has actually given its support for years to this electorally marginal party in the US nation.

      The VP party that sponsors Juan Guaidó has an unfortunate history for Venezuelans. Shortly after Henrique Capriles, the presidential candidate of the opposition coalition Mesa Redonda de Unidad Democrática recognized his defeat in January 2014, its leader, Leopoldo López, launched the “La Salida” movement in an attempt to overthrow Nicolás Maduro, VP activists formed shock troops for the 2014 guarimbas protests that left 43 Venezuelans dead, 800 wounded and a large amount of property damage. Dozens more died in a new wave of VP-backed protests in 2017.

      While VP has been effective in fuelling the violence, it has not, however, managed to win many votes. It occupied 8% of the seats in the 2015 elections, in which the opposition won control of the National Assembly. With 14 of the 167 deputies in the Assembly, VP won the majority of the four seats in the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition. In the December 2012 regional elections, its vice president was only the sixth most successful party and performed somewhat better in the next year’s municipal elections.

    • Bring Troops Home and Send More Kids to College
      There may be fancier words to describe President Donald Trump’s latest lunacy—but just plain"nuts” is most accurate.

      The president decided, overnight, that he wanted the United States to go" back to the Moon, then Mars.”

      To help pay for it, he called on Congress to cut an additional $1.9 billion out of the funds for Pell Grants—the grants that help students from low-income families pay for college. For those children, for the country, for our future, this is simply nuts.

      Pell Grants provide students from families making under $50,000 a year, a small grant—up to $ 5,775 maximum—to help pay for college. Most of it goes to families making far less than that—$20,000 or less. It aids the ambitious children of low-income families in rural and urban areas to lift themselves above their circumstances.

      With the cost of college rising far faster than incomes, the grant levels are far too small.

      When first created, a Pell Grant could cover up 92 percent of state college costs, now it covers only 29 percent. Students from families that are not wealthy are forced to take on greater and greater debt to pay for the education that everyone agrees they need.

      Student debt—now at about $1.6 trillion—is greater than the amount owed to credit cards or in auto loans. One result is that a smaller percentage of children from low-income families are going to college, and more and more of those that do go find that they simply can’t afford to finish.

      America, which led the world in education, now finds itself falling behind, not because the kids are lazy or stupid, but because the so-called adults are making advanced education affordable only for the affluent.

    • Supreme Court Rejects Prisoner’s Case, Won’t Address Perpetual Detention At Guantanamo
      The United States Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought by a Guantanamo Bay captive against his perpetual detention, even though the war in which he was captured has shifted dramatically and still has no end in sight.

      Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi was detained in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo about 17 years ago. He is a Yemeni national.

      According to his attorney, Ramzi Kassem, courts found al-Alwi never “used arms against the United States or its coalition partners or that he had anything to do with 9/11 or other attacks against the United States.”

      There are forty individuals at Guantanamo, who are effectively “forever prisoners,” because President Donald Trump’s administration maintains an “expansive view” that they have detention authority.

      Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion that reflected his viewpoint on the decision to reject the case.

      “Al-Alwi faces the real prospect that he will spend the rest of his life in detention based on his status as an enemy combatant a generation ago, even though today’s conflict may differ substantially from the one Congress anticipated when it passed the [Authorization for Use of Military Force], as well as those ‘conflicts that informed the development of the law of war,’” Breyer stated.


      Reprieve represents Towfiq Bihani and Abdullatif Nasser. They have represented them to challenge perpetual detention, hoping the Supreme Court would take their cases and resolve this critical issue.

      “Keeping these men behind bars forever, when the government’s own investigators have determined that they committed no crime and pose no threat, is a shocking violation of the USA’s founding principles,” declared Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, a legal counsel for Reprieve. “Guantánamo Bay is a global symbol of injustice.”

    • Jon Stewart Lashes Out at Congress Over 9/11 Victims Fund
      Comedian Jon Stewart scolded Congress on Tuesday for failing to ensure that a victims’ compensation fund set up after the 9/11 attacks never runs out of money.

      Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, angrily called out lawmakers for failing to attend a hearing on a bill to ensure the fund can pay benefits for the next 70 years. Pointing to rows of empty seats at a House Judiciary Committee hearing room, Stewart said “sick and dying” first responders and their families came to Washington for the hearing, only to face a nearly deserted dais.

      The sparse attendance by lawmakers was “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution,” Stewart said, adding that the “disrespect” shown to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses “is utterly unacceptable.”

      Lawmakers from both parties said they support the bill and were monitoring the hearing amid other congressional business.


      More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks. More than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.

      Stewart and other speakers lamented the fact that nearly 18 years after the attacks, first responders and their families still have no assurance the fund will not run out of money. The Justice Department said in February that the fund is being depleted and that benefit payments are being cut by up to 70 percent.

    • WATCH: The Plot Against Harold Wilson
      In 2006, to mark the 30th anniversary of Harold Wilson’s retirement, the BBC release the above documentary: The Plot Against Harold Wilson. It details how, throughout Wilson leadership, MI5 and the CIA were engaged in plans to undermine Wilson – even to the extent of having plans in place for a full-blown military coup should the need arise.

      The tactics included attacking Wilson’s staff and key allies, accusing him of being compromised by the Kremlin, and labelling him as “soft on the IRA”.

      These probably sound very familiar to anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to British politics.

    • More US Dictatorship Against Cuba
      Lamenting dictatorship in Cuba, the U.S. government has decided to tighten restrictions on the freedom of Americans to travel to Cuba. Never mind that the restrictions were not enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. When it comes to fighting totalitarian dictatorship, the reasoning goes, it’s necessary to adopt dictatorial policies here at home.

      Freedom of travel has long been considered a fundamental, natural, God-given right with which no government, not even the U.S. government, can legitimately infringe. Recall the Declaration of Independence, which Americans will be celebrating on the Fourth of July. It holds that liberty is among the rights with which all people have been endowed by their Creator. When God endows people with certain rights, including the right of freedom of travel, it goes without saying that Caesar behaves illegitimately when he infringes on such rights.

      The U.S. national-security establishment, which has long been the driving force behind the U.S. government’s forever war against Cuba, would no doubt point to the fact that Cuba is still headed by a communist regime. That of course was the mindset of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA throughout the Cold War, when, U.S. officials maintained, the communists from Russia, China, and elsewhere were coming to get us and take over our nation as part of a supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. Cuba, they steadfastly maintained, was part of that worldwide communist conspiracy — a communist dagger pointed at America’s neck from only 90 miles away.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Threat to reporters’ sources from second Australian police raid in 24 hours

      After the latest Australian federal police raid targeting the media, this time the Sydney headquarters of the national public broadcaster ABC, Reporters Without Borders warns the Australian government about the grave threat it is now posing to investigative journalism and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.

      In a scene that might be expected in an authoritarian country but not in a democracy, six federal officers entered the ABC building this morning and began examining computers, email accounts and data storage devices under a warrant authorizing them to “add, copy, delete or alter” any content they find.

    • TV cameraman attacked while filming outside mosque in northern France

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the violent attack that a member of a mosque in northern France’s Normandy region carried out against a France 3 TV cameraman to prevent him from shooting background footage outside for a report about the mosque’s imam, who was on trial.

    • Opinion: Even Journalists With Soft Spot For BJP Aren't Safe, Let Alone Independent Writers, Artists

      The manner of his arrest, especially at the beginning of the weekend which precludes his appearing in court until Monday, is shocking and cannot but be seen as a show of the heavy hand that might come down on journalists who mock those in power. Kanojia’s wife said she was not even shown an arrest warrant.

      Such high-handed police action aimed at intimidating and terrorising journalists, artists and writers and suppressing freedom of speech is not confined to any one party or state.

    • A Soldier’s Defense of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange
      It’s a matter of principles over personalities. Whether one loves or hates Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is besides the point. The First Amendment freedom of the press is at stake now. In this case the government’s tool for oppression is the Espionage Act, an archaic relic from America’s repressive World War I-era legislation. Chelsea Manning already served seven years of a 35-year sentence, one of the longest ever meted out to a whistleblower, and was recently jailed again after she refused to testify about WikiLeaks.

      That was harsh and disturbing enough for those of us who value transparency regarding our national security state. Now the Trump administration has gone a step further and threatens, for the first time ever, to imprison an actual publisher – in this case Julian Assange. Charged on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act, Assange – currently jailed in Britain – faces extradition and a lengthy sentence in the United States.

      I’ve been called a whistleblower, myself, for my decision to write a book and articles critical of the American warfare state and the military to which I dedicated my entire adult life from the age of seventeen. But the truth is I’ve got nothing on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Manning broke the law, risked it all, went to prison for her principles. Assange is headed for the same fate. And as a soldier I’m glad they did what they did!

      Manning’s leak exposed serious war crimes, including U.S. Army helicopters shooting and killing Reuters journalists. Now, at first glance one would think soldiers should abhor the airing of their institution’s dirty laundry. But dig a bit deeper and my position makes more sense. See, such atrocities as Manning leaked and Assange published ultimately put US service members in grave danger. Abu Ghraib, the Blackwater massacre, and other atrocities feed terrorist and insurgent recruitment, increasing the likelihood that American soldiers will be killed. Thus, such war crimes must be exposed, grappled with transparently, and punished so as to discourage future counterproductive barbarism.

    • How the Police State Muzzles Our Right to Speak Truth to Power
      What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

      What the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

      For those who refuse to meekly accept the heavy-handed tyranny of the police state, the danger is all too real.

      We live in an age in which “we the people” are at the mercy of militarized, weaponized, immunized cops who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

      As such, those who seek to exercise their First Amendment rights during encounters with the police are increasingly finding that there is no such thing as freedom of speech.

    • U.S. Submits Extradition Request for Julian Assange
      The United States government has formally submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

      Assange faces an 18-count indictment that accuses him of soliciting and publishing classified information and of conspiring with former Army private Chelsea Manning to crack a Defense Department computer password. That indictment, which includes Espionage Act charges, was issued by the Justice Department last month and is pending in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

      The extradition request had been expected ever since U.S. authorities first announced a criminal case against Assange.

      The 47-year-old Assange was evicted on April 11 from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 after Ecuador granted him political asylum. He was arrested by British police and is currently serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail. Sweden also seeks him for questioning about an alleged rape, which Assange has denied.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Renewables gain ground in Guyana amid oil push
      Although overshadowed by development of the country’s upstream sector, renewables in Guyana continue to make strides as part of a government push to balance the energy matrix.

      The South American country recently released its green roadmap, Vision 2040, which calls for renewables to account for almost 100% of power generation.

      The bulk of Guyana’s installed capacity comes from heavy fuel oil and the balance from small biomass, solar and wind systems.

    • A Green Global Party?
      Following the lead of the late Ulrich Beck in works such as Risk Society and Power in the Modern Age the time has now come to ask ourselves whether or not the Green party is already or is about to become a global political party.

      First a little background in theory. Beck was, of course, famous for introducing the idea of a “risk society” and “second modernity”. What he meant by these phrases was that the modern world had left behind earlier forms (First Modernity) of national community and entered a phase where the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world led to the creation of a “global risk society”. In other words, a global technical modern society creates problems that only a global political response can effectively solve.

      Related to these ideas, Beck also thought that traditional notions, practices, and institutions of the nation state would not be up to the job of meeting complex global challenges whether in the environment, finance, or the political sphere.
    • Dragon Quest: Australia Kicks Off Search for Possibly Extinct Lizard
      Got good eyesight and some time on your hands? Australia needs you.

      Zoos Victoria has issued a public appeal to help find a lizard species that hasn’t been credibly observed in 50 years. The Victorian grasslands earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) was last seen in 1969 and could possibly be mainland Australia’s first reptile extinction — if it isn’t just hiding.

      And hiding is something this dragon is good at. In addition to being small, elusive and camouflaged, the species also managed to hide its very existence from scientists until this year.

      Its cover was blown last month when researchers announced that what had previously appeared to be one lizard species — the grassland earless dragon — was actually four different species with minor morphological differences and unique genetic makeups.

      The previous taxonomic name, T. pinguicolla, has been assigned to the lizards once found, but now long unseen, in the Victoria region. The three new species, all found in different locations, have been named T. lineata in the Canberra region; T. osbornei in Cooma; and T. mccartneyi near Bathurst.

    • Near-Record 'Dead Zone' Predicted in Gulf of Mexico
      Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting a near-record Gulf of Mexico "dead zone," an area where the water holds too little oxygen to sustain marine life. "A major factor contributing to the large dead zone this year is the abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release Monday. That led to record amounts of water carrying large amounts of fertilizer and other nutrients downriver, it said.

    • The Gulf could see one of the largest dead zones in history this year

      A "dead zone" is known in scientific literature as hypoxia, which means low oxygen. This water, with its low concentration of dissolved oxygen, can no longer support the life that calls that part of the ocean home. For decades, researchers have tracked exactly how big the annually recurring dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will be.

    • Near Record ‘Dead Zone’ Predicted for Gulf of Mexico
      Every year the Gulf of Mexico hosts a human caused "dead zone." This year, it will approach record levels scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — or NOAA — estimate, in a statement released Monday.

      The researchers predict the hypoxic zone — an area with little to no oxygen that can kill marine life — to be nearly 8,000 square miles or roughly the size of Massachusetts.

    • NOAA forecasts very large ‘dead zone’ for Gulf of Mexico
      NOAA scientists are forecasting this summer’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone or ‘dead zone’ – an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life – to be approximately 7,829 square miles, or roughly the size of Massachusetts. The annual prediction is based on U.S. Geological Survey river flow and nutrient data.

    • Plant Extinction Is Happening 500x Faster Than Before the Industrial Revolution
      Researchers have found that nearly 600 plant extinctions have taken place over the last two and a half centuries, according to a new paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    • Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery
      Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name a recently extinct plant. We present a comprehensive, global analysis of modern extinction in plants. Almost 600 species have become extinct, at a higher rate than background extinction, but almost as many have been erroneously declared extinct and then been rediscovered. Reports of extinction on islands, in the tropics and of shrubs, trees or species with narrow ranges are least likely to be refuted by rediscovery. Plant extinctions endanger other organisms, ecosystems and human well-being, and must be understood for effective conservation planning.

    • Amazon Refuses to Act on Climate Change. So We Employees Are Speaking Out
      My parents moved to the United States from Bangladesh to try to have a better life and eventually settled in New York, where I was born and raised. During my childhood, I saw myself as just another American. Over time, however, I now see that being the child of Bangladeshi immigrants changes my perspective.

      That is especially true on matters surrounding the climate crisis.

      I see clearly the inequities of its causes and effects. Despite emitting greenhouse gases at lower rates than richer countries, poorer countries like Bangladesh will bear its worst consequences. Yet, the U.N. now estimates 1 in 3 children in Bangladesh is at risk from cyclones, flooding, or other climate change-related disasters. Millions of people have already had to flee their homes in the countryside as flooding, rising sea levels, and storms have destroyed their villages or taken away their means of survival. They have to uproot their rural lives and travel to cities such as Dhaka, taking whatever jobs they can get to survive. With 20 million people, Dhaka is overpopulated and underresourced. It lacks the ability to build the public transportation, housing, and other infrastructure that climate refugees will need.

    • Tyson recalls 95 tons of chicken fritters after schools found plastic parts
      Tyson Foods is recalling nearly 191,000 pounds of chicken fritters sold across the U.S. after getting complaints from schools about pieces of hard plastic in the ready-to-eat products. The move comes a month after the food company expanded a separate recall to include about 11.8 million pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strips over concerns the products may contain pieces of metal.

    • Tyson Foods Recalls Almost 200,000 Pounds of Chicken Fritters After Schools Find Plastic Parts
      Tyson Foods is recalling nearly 200,000 pounds of chicken fritters after three schools complained of plastic in the items, CNN reported Monday.

      The Fully Cooked, Whole Grain Golden Crispy Chicken Chunk Fritters were not sent to retail stores, but were shipped nationwide to institutions including school cafeterias. They were not included in food distributed as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, the agency said in its recall notice Friday.

    • Climate Change Is So Much More Than a 'Single Issue'
      Our climate movement also encompasses international issues as well. Our climate crisis will have a devastating effects on trade, cause massive famine in countries such as Sudan due to flooding of farmland, and overall causes global instability.

      We need to know whether or not the next leader of the United States understands the potential that lies within our climate movement to solve many of the pressuring issues facing our world today.

    • Tyson Foods recalls more than 190,000 pounds of chicken fritters shipped nationwide
      Tyson Foods, Inc., has recalled more than 190,000 pounds of Tyson Fully Cooked, Whole Grain Golden Crispy Chicken Chunk Fritters that may be contaminated with hard plastic, the company said in a statement.

      The product is not sold in retail grocery stores, and the voluntary recall is limited to food service customers, including schools nationwide, the Pennsylvania-based company said.

    • In the Fight Against Climate Change, Humans and Wildlife Are Allies
      One million species could soon face extinction. Climate change is accelerating at a breakneck pace, already affecting about half of all threatened mammal species and a quarter of threatened birds. And according to a study published in Science last year, if nothing is done to curb our carbon emissions, nearly 50 percent of the planet’s insects, which make up the foundation of food webs all over the globe, could disappear by the end of the century.

      Until now, the crises of climate change and biodiversity loss have mostly been framed as separate issues. A 2018 study, for instance, found that climate change receives eight times more media coverage than biodiversity, despite the fact that scientists publish new studies on both subjects at about the same rate. (And to put that into broader perspective, climate change doesn’t receive nearly as much press as it should.)

    • Scientists Warn Summer 'Dead Zone' in Gulf of Mexico Could Span 'Roughly the Size of Massachusetts'
      U.S. scientists on Monday warned that because of runoff from human activities—such as urbanization and agriculture—this summer's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is forecast to be one of the worst on record.

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated the dead zone will span 7,829 square miles while Nancy Rabalais, a marine ecologist at Louisiana State University, predicted it will cover 8,717 square miles.

    • Oil, Population, Temperature, What Causes What?
      In statistics, correlation is not proof of causation. Causation between coincidences has to be established by deeper investigation. Three trends that are tightly coincident, between the years 1960 to 2025, are: the increase in global population above its 1953 total of 2.7 billion (2.7B), the accumulated petroleum production since 1900 (in giga-barrels, Gb), and the increase in average global temperature, T, above a baseline of 14.7 degrees Centigrade (T – 14.7C).

      No one, except lying hypocritical ideologues, denies that causal links exist between these three trends, but what are they? Let’s explore the possibilities.

      P1: Increases in oil production could cause increasing population and global warming.

      P2: Increases in population could cause more oil production and global warming.

      P3: Increases in global warming could cause increases in population and more oil production.

      Possible causal links in P1 are: fossil fuel energy made available through continuing oil production could support human reproductive activity and the increase of existing families, and it could support and expand existing industrial activity that emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) gases.

    • Fire and Flood

      This sense of the human place in the fabric of nature -- that there may be a deep connection between inner and outer weather -- is starting to seem a thing of the past.

      Can we still have inner weather when the outer weather changes so regularly and drastically? When 500 tornadoes rip through the country from Kansas to Pennsylvania in a matter of weeks? Or when 875,000 California acres burn down in the course of a summer? Rather than hear the message, we look into our smartphones or at our computer screens whose backgrounds may include breathtakingly lovely pictures of the planet -- photos that show how beautiful a place it has been. As if we could have this Earth forever in reach, as if we could preserve it with a password or, by logging off, exchange it for another as lovely.

      What Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have said about the American Republic is now true of the planet as well: we have a world, if we can keep it. But so much of our interest is directed elsewhere -- to the work of “renaming,” for example. There are scholars who think that by christening our age the Anthropocene, they are putting the fires and floods under a microscope. But does this human-centered word do much more than carve a new channel for pride? (“Just look around! It’s all us!”) The world, it seems, has become but one more link in the cyber-human chain by which we exit our natural bodies and turn into something rich and strange.

      Greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change, climate disruption. Think of the succession of words we’ve used to describe the gradual onset of catastrophe and you see at once how inadequate words can be. In our time, corporate lingo has even rendered “disruptive” an admiring adjective for tech innovations on a par with “transformative.” Think back to the way “creative destruction” was used in an age of trickle-down economics -- the message was that the economic damage to so many people signaled a corporate creativity that would make the crooked places straight. Never mind the “destruction” part -- the victims would find their recompense at a higher level.

      The destruction always seems to be happening elsewhere. Of course we know better. The issue that should dwarf everything in sight today is planetary climate destruction. It’s happening in plain sight and all around us, and most of us clearly can't bear to think about it. Why not? Because we are creatures of habit and immediacy, because the imagination can’t fix for long on a distant and unbearable future. Habit disposes us to normalize the abnormal. It’s a human propensity as natural as the protective mechanism that helps us not get stopped in our tracks by the painful things we did or suffered.

    • In Just One Decade, Corporations Destroyed 50 Million Hectares of Forest—An Area the Size of Spain
      That estimate—the environmental advocacy group noted in a statement announcing its Countdown to Extinction report (pdf) Tuesday—is comparable to the size of Spain.

      It is also "a conservative estimate," the group said, based on a combination of data on deforestation, tree cover loss, and forecasting through 2019. Given recent increases in tree loss cover, "the actual figure could be much higher."

      Companies named in the report include General Mills, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, L'Oréal, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.

    • Instead of Bending to Hacker Ransom, Radiohead Donates Proceeds From Stolen Recordings to Extinction Rebellion
      In a show of what campaigners called "unprecedented support" for the global climate action movement, British rock band Radiohead turned a ransom demand by hackers into an opportunity to support the growing Extinction Rebellion movement.

      After an unnamed hacker stole 18 previously-unreleased recordings from files owned by lead singer Thom Yorke, the band announced that it would not pay the $150,000 the hacker was demanding for ransom.

      Instead of allowing the hacker to release the material, Radiohead released the recordings itself on the music platform Bandcamp, allowing listeners to buy the songs for €£18 ($23), with all proceeds going to the global grassroots organization Extinction Rebellion.

      "Instead of complaining—much—or ignoring it, we're releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion," Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood wrote on social media.

    • Gov. Jay Inslee Slams DNC for Refusing to Hold Climate Debate
      The Democratic National Committee is facing criticism after rejecting calls to host a debate solely focused on the climate crisis and for threatening to blacklist any candidate who takes part in a non-DNC debate on the issue. DNC Chair Tom Perez recently told climate activists that it is not practical to hold debates on specific issues. We speak with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for a climate-focused debate. He’s accusing the DNC of attempting to silence the voices of those who want to debate climate solutions. “This is our last chance to defeat climate change,” Inslee said. “We will not have another chance after the next administration. We will either act now, or it will be cataclysm.”

    • According to NYT, ‘Relentless Flooding’ in Midwest Just Happens
      One could be forgiven for coming away from the New York Times report that “relentless floods” just happen as isolated occurrences, and that there’s just not that much we can do about it.

      The Times mentioned that the 2019 deluge is “reviving painful memories of the Great Flood,” and that the “consequences of the decisions made in the aftermath of 1993” have “suddenly come back,” but when it explained those decisions, it mostly confined them to the local level, without setting them in the context of other important decisions made at the state and federal level.

      The Times treated Valmeyer as an exemplar on how to respond to disasters, as “experts in flood management” hailed Valmeyer as a “case study,” and cited Mayor Howard Heavner claiming that Valmeyer is proof that “you can do everything right and the community can still be in danger.”

    • 'Bad News for All Species': New Study Shows Nearly 600 Plants Wiped Out Over the Past 250 Years
      At least 571 plant species, from the Chile sandalwood to the St. Helena olive, have gone extinct in the wild over the past 250 years, according to a new study that has biodiversity experts worried about what the findings suggest for the future of life on Earth.

    • Forgiving Debt to Promote Environmental Healing
      This explosion in personal debt is not normal or healthy and is hobbling an increasing number of people. A state of de facto peonage is emerging. The levels of inequality in the US today are literally medieval (though peasants had it better when it came to days off: “Altogether there were about 80 days of complete rest with over 70 partial holidays, that is, about three months of rest spread over the year” [source]).

      More and more people are struggling financially. According to National Payroll Week’s 2018 “Getting Paid in America” survey, 38% of respondents would find it “very difficult” to “meet [their] current financial obligations if [their] next paycheck were delayed for a week” and 31% would find it “somewhat difficult.” Those who answered “not very” or “not at all” difficult totaled 28 1/2% together. If this situation is not yet “dire,” it sure is headed in that direction.

      When securing necessities becomes so arduous, then stress, anger and depression result, and from these, conflict, violence and self-harm.

      Just at a time when we need to come together and work collectively for change, more and more of us are distracted by mere survival and, failing at even that, are sliding into addiction, disease and dysfunction. At some point, society reaches a breaking point, and under such circumstances is unlikely to instantly evolve into, say, an enlightened socialist utopia. Not without first passing through a brutal period of ramped-up state authoritarianism, anyway, and I, for one, ain’t gonna wish for that.

      The pressure needs to be released. Space must be made for something new. One thing we have to do is to forgive all the debts.

  • Finance

    • 5 Billion-Dollar Industries That Treat Workers Like Garbage

      Many teams classify cheerleaders as part-time workers, meaning that they don't get most (if any) standard benefits, or indeed, a decent paycheck at the end of the season. Despite this, however, a lot of teams have rules governing how cheerleaders have to conduct themselves in their everyday lives. When using social media, for instance, many can't post pictures of themselves, disclose who they work for, or follow players of the team that employs them. If a player follows them, the cheerleader has to block them immediately or risk being fired.

    • US drops the charade over Huawei ban claiming it could form part of a trade deal

      White House officials have pretty much killed any illusion that its fight with embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei is anything other than personal.

    • China working on system to protect its technology, says daily

      “China ... will never allow certain countries to use China’s technology to contain China’s development and suppress Chinese enterprises,” the main paper of the ruling Communist Party said, without directly referring to the United States.

      No details have been released about what China is calling a national technological security management list. The plan was announced on Saturday evening in a brief three-paragraph dispatch by the official Xinhua news agency.

    • Mnuchin says Trump could ease up on Huawei if trade talks advance

      It has also accused the Chinese telecommunications giant of espionage and stealing intellectual property [sic], allegations that Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a leading provider of next-generation 5G technology, denies.

    • Task Force on Tickets and Debt Suggests Reforms but Needs Chicago’s Mayor and City Council to Finish the Work
      After six months of meetings, a task force examining Chicago’s ticketing and debt collection practices on Tuesday suggested an array of reforms that include possible changes to one of the city’s costliest vehicle citations, a targeted debt forgiveness program and an overhaul of the city’s onerous payment plans.

      The 25-page report from the Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative falls short of calling for immediate reforms or specific changes to some of most controversial practices, including license suspensions over unpaid tickets, late penalties and ticketing disparities. Instead, it lays out a broad road map for Chicago’s City Council if it chooses to introduce legislation to reform the city’s ticketing policies.

      “Things of this magnitude took eons to get to this hot mess, so we can’t be unrealistic and change things tomorrow,” said Rosazlia Grillier, a parent leader from the nonprofit Community Organizing and Family Issues who sits on the task force. “The city of Chicago, unfortunately, is complicated. … That’s just the reality. Some of the things we thought we could just do, unfortunately, need a bit more case study and research.”
    • Getting poorer while working harder: The ‘cliff effect’
      Forty percent of all working-age Americans sometimes struggle to pay their monthly bills.

      There is no place in the country where a family supported by one minimum-wage worker with a full-time job can live and afford a 2-bedroom apartment at the average fair-market rent.

      Given the pressure to earn enough to make ends meet, you would think that low-paid workers would be clamoring for raises. But this is not always the case.

      Because so many American jobs don’t earn enough to pay for food, housing and other basic needs, many low-wage workers rely on public benefits that are only available to people in need, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid, to pay their bills.

      Earning a little more money may not automatically increase their standard of living if it boosts their income to the point where they lose access to some or all of those benefits. That’s because the value of those lost benefits may outweigh their income gains.

    • Exclusive: India Proposes 10-Year Jail For Cryptocurrency Use, May Introduce Its Own Digital Currency
      India has proposed a jail term of one to 10 years for those who mine, hold or sell cryptocurrencies, a move that will double down on restrictions already placed by the Reserve Bank of India on digi...
    • Government departments discuss draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies
      The government has kicked off inter-ministerial consultations on a draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies and regulate official digital currencies.

      The “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019" draft has been circulated to relevant government departments, a government officials aware of details told ET.

      The government had formed a panel under finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg to draft regulations for cryptocurrencies last year.
    • India Plans 10-Year Prison For Anyone Using Cryptocurrency
      A new bill is being drafted by the government of India that could leave people who deal with cryptocurrency in jail for 10 years.

      The draft, titled “Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019” was first reported by the Economic Times in April. Later, a Bloomberg Quint report (paywall) last week hinted at a proposed prison sentence.

    • Why Boeing May Never Recover From Its 737 Debacle
      Most of us are familiar with the acronym “FUBAR.” A recent New York Times article on the Boeing 737 fiasco provides a perfect illustration of the concept. We’re now learning that the company “built deadly assumptions” into its newly designed 737 Max aircraft and, specifically, its computer software system—the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Even worse, the New York Times account concludes that the recent air crashes that have resulted in a worldwide grounding of the Boeing Max plane “might have been avoided, if employees and regulators had a better understanding of MCAS” and if the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) itself was not operating with outdated data on the software changes (which Boeing failed to provide).

      The analysis is excellent as far as it goes. But the most damning fact only briefly hinted at in the article is that the problems were evident as early as 2012, some five years before the newest 737 version was marketed and sold across the globe. At its core, this was a hardware problem, not a software issue. Even when Boeing was using a relatively “safer” version of the early MCAS software (that was later changed to a more dangerous version), the new 737 still had an engine too large to be accommodated in its traditional spot on the plane, which ultimately distorted “the relationship between the engine’s ‘thrust’ and its center of gravity,” as I’ve written before. The resultant aerodynamic problems could not be solved with a software “solution,” no matter how “safe” the original MCAS version (that was ultimately changed to an even more dangerous version) was purported to be.

      Just don’t expect any blowback from Washington. The whole episode provides yet another sick illustration of how our entire system of governance has degenerated into a fully-fledged “predator state.” About the only good thing that might emerge from this whole fiasco is that Boeing will provide future MBA students with a textbook example of how not to manage a crisis. Likewise, future historians and political scientists will marvel in incredulity at the magnitude of corruption that enveloped the country during this very dark time in the life of the republic. Assuming, of course, that there still anything left worth studying by that point.

    • Revealed: Americans Care More About Social Needs Than Deficits
      The debate around modern monetary theory (“MMT”) is picking up steam – with its partisans pushing the model further into the public sphere than one might expect, and the old guard of establishment economics, together with some more interesting critical voices, pushing back.

      The questions at stake can make the average person’s head spin: can a government with sovereign control over its currency create money at will to meet social needs, or would this create out of control inflationary spirals? Does tax income precede government spending, or does spending create the money that’s then taxed back to tweak the distribution of incomes and rein in inflation?

      To most Americans, this is all probably a bit opaque and abstract – the inner workings of our money supply and its deep connections to the banking sector are, after all, as Bill Greider memorably put it, “the secrets of the temple.” But when we look at the core issue, we find that more Americans than not agree with the basic political judgement that MMT tries to justify theoretically – namely, that deficits shouldn’t matter if social needs are not being met.

      At the Democracy Collaborative, a poll we commissioned with YouGov shows this preference clearly. 50% of respondents thought “the government should worry more about basic social needs like healthcare and housing, even if it means more deficit spending” compared to just 32% who felt that “the government needs to relieve our tax burden by cutting the deficit, even if it means scaling back basic social programs for healthcare and housing.” So while most Americans probably don’t have an opinion on the intricacies of heterodox monetary theory, by a significant margin, more of them agree with MMT’s political conclusions about spending.

    • The Irish Language and Marxist Materialism
      The above, written by renowned Kenyan thinker NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o, sums up much that is at the heart of Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin’s persuasive book here under review. Language From Below: the Irish language, ideology and power in 20th century Ireland examines the relationship between material forces and the ideology surrounding the Irish language during the past century or more.

      Little treatment has been given to this subject, especially in book length. Hence, the reasons for the varying attitudes that exist towards the Irish language – some of them positive, others hostile, many apathetic – are not well understood. Often, in the face of opposition, instead of turning to class or economics as explanatory factors, proponents of the language frame hostility to An Ghaeilge in simplistic “anti-Irish” terms.

      Ó Croidheáin admits that Irish occupies a strange place in the national consciousness; “it is true that not many Irish people speak the Irish language, yet many Irish people still define their identity in terms of the Irish language”. He thus seeks not only to address common misinterpretations, but to offer solutions that may remedy the current decline the Irish language is facing in its western communal heartlands, and the pressures it faces in other spheres.

      By getting to the economic “root” of language decline, as it were, he sets out his stall for a reversal of fortunes in explicit Connollyite terms.


      However, the Civil War of 1922-23, where British-backed Free State forces, allied with the Catholic Church, strong farmers, and big business, suppressed the radical republican forces, heralded a new dawn for the Irish language. As Ó Croidheáin explains, “the desire for genuine social change behind the revolutionary movement was diverted into cultural change in the form of Gaelicisation policies”. The language was essentially wielded as a tool of counter-revolution.

      These policies, moreover, were largely confined to the education system, and there was a lack of fundamental change in the social structure that might allow the language to thrive once more. Thus, any gains made through schooling in the 1920s “were constantly being undermined by the reality of unemployment and education”.

      In the 1930s, Éamon De Valera, Taoiseach (Prime Minister), and leader of the populist nationalist Fianna Fáil party, placed Catholicism centre-stage as a marker of Irish identity – particularly during the Eucharistic Congress of 1932.


      Yet, certain sections of the Irish left adhere to a minimalistic rights-oriented discourse when it comes to the Irish language. There is a refusal to seriously engage with this dormant potential for fear of being branded “nationalist” and “reactionary”.

      The recent local and European elections – in which the radical and broad left took a hammering – have demonstrated once again that another layer of activism, above and beyond mere economism, is required to keep people engaged, especially in times of limited political mobilization.

      It is not enough to complain that there was no fervently active social movement on housing to galvanize workers into turning out and voting, like there was around the issue of water in 2014. The same groupings, despite the fact they count many Irish speakers among their ranks and in prominent positions, have never run an Irish language class for the benefit of the public in the entirety of their existence.

      Identity is important to people. Additionally, as Freire remarked, “without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle”. Unlike transient moods surrounding politics and the economy, identity tends to remain fixed. Crucially, the Irish language, as a signifier of identity, transcends ethnic divisions and is no longer rigidly associated with “white ethnic Irish Catholicity” – if it ever really was.

    • The Corporate Debt Stories Show People Still Don’t Understand the Great Recession
      The Washington Post had another column telling us about the run-up in corporate debt and how this is going to be 2008 all over again. This is a popular one with the media. William Cohan has a regular feature in the New York Times telling us how a collapse of the debt bubble is imminent, giving us another financial crisis.

      While excessive corporate debt can pose problems, nothing we see now, or will plausibly see in the near future, looks anything like 2008. The fact that ostensibly knowledgeable people can say this shows that they not only missed the housing bubble as it was growing, ten years after it burst, they still don’t have a clue as to what happened.

      So let’s try our Econ 101 lesson once again.

      The reason the economy collapsed in 2008 was that the housing bubble that had been driving the economy collapsed. The financial crisis was lots of fun (always good to see billionaire types sweating), but it was very much secondary. The issue was that the housing bubble created a massive amount of demand in the economy, which disappeared when the bubble collapsed.

      Most economists probably didn’t recognize the impact of the bubble because you would need access to GDP data, as in the data that is readily available on the Commerce Department’s website any time anyone cares to look. Those who did think that GDP data are useful in understanding the economy would see that residential construction, which had averaged a bit more than 4.0 percent of GDP in the 1980s and 1990s, soared to a peak of 6.7 percent of GDP in 2005.

      This surge in construction spending was not associated with any developments in the fundamentals of the housing market. After all, the baby boomers, the largest demographic group, were seeing their children move away from home and downsizing. Rents were not sharing in the upswing in house prices, moving more or less in line with inflation. And, vacancy rates were hitting record highs.

      All of this should have suggested that the surge in residential construction was transitory and likely to end when house prices came back down to earth. In fact, construction was likely to over-correct since the construction boom meant there was a lot of overbuilding. Construction ultimately bottomed out at 2.4 percent of GDP in 2010 and 2011. (It is 3.8 percent in the most recent data.)

      In addition to the construction boom, surging house prices also led to a consumption boom. This is based on an economic concept that is probably at least a hundred years old, known as the “housing wealth effect.” The idea is that when people see the price of their house double from $200,000 to $400,000, as many did in the bubble years, they will look to spend more based on the $200,000 in additional equity.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Leading voting-machine vendor vows to ditch paperless voting

      That bill would have also taken other steps to shore up election security, including mandating routine post-election audits of election results. The legislation would mandate the use of modern statistical techniques to determine how intensively to audit the results—the closer an election is, the more ballots would be recounted after the fact.

      But the Lankford-Klobuchar bill's momentum stalled in the face of opposition from the Trump administration and Senate Republicans. At this point, any election reform legislation looks unlikely to pass before the 2020 election.

    • Biden Tells Donors and Lobbyists at Fundraiser That GOP Will 'Know Better' After Trump and Wall Street Bankers 'Are All Positive'
      Providing more evidence of the fundamental political differences between himself and progressives vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden told lobbyists and donors at a fundraiser Monday night that Republicans in Congress "know better" than to align with President Donald Trump and declared that Wall Street bankers "can be positive influences in the country."

      "Wall Street and significant bankers and people, they're all positive, they can be positive influences in the country," Biden told the audience gathered in Washington, D.C. "But they didn't build the country. The middle class built the country."

    • Is Trump a Fascist? Well, He’s Not Hitler or Mussolini Yet, But He’s Getting Closer
      Is Donald Trump a fascist? The question is usually posed as an insult rather than as a serious inquiry. A common response is that “he is not as bad as Hitler”, but this rather dodges the issue. Hitler was one hideous exponent of fascism, which comes in different flavours but he was by no means the only one.

      The answer is that fascist leaders and fascism in the 1920s and 1930s were similar in many respects to Trump and Trumpism. But they had additional toxic characteristics, born out of a different era and a historic experience different from the United States.

      What are the most important features of fascism? They include ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism; the demonisation and persecution of minorities; a cult of the leader; a demagogic appeal to the “ignored” masses and against a “treacherous” establishment; contempt for parliamentary institutions; disregard for the law while standing on a law and order platform; control of the media and the crushing of criticism; slogans promising everything to everybody; a promotion of force as a means to an end leading to violence, militarism and war.

      The list could go on to include less significant traits such as a liking for public displays of strength and popularity at rallies and parades; a liking also for gigantic building projects as the physical embodiment of power.

      Hitler and Mussolini ticked all these boxes and Trump ticks most of them, though with some important exceptions. German and Italian fascism was characterised above all else by aggressive and ultimately disastrous wars. Trump, on the contrary, is a genuine “isolationist” who has not started a single war in the two-and-a-half years he has been in the White House.

    • As First 2020 Debate Looms, Most Democrats Are Still Persuadable
      Ahead of the first 2020 debates beginning in two weeks, a majority of Democratic voters are undecided or are open to changing their first choice. Twenty Democratic candidates will argue their case, with ten candidates each spread out over two nights in Miami June 26-27. Interest in the contest remains remarkably high while certainty around its outcome remains much lower than sometimes acknowledged.

      There is the reality of currently undecided voters. Beyond that, the vast majority who have settled on a first choice candidate have indicated, when asked, that their support for that first choice is soft. They continue to consider other candidates, often multiple other candidates, or state that they may change their mind. The most recent SSRS/CNN pollputs the number of voters who may change their mind at 55%. A May 18-21 poll by YouGov noted that nearly 3 in 4 likely Democratic primary voters either have not settled on a first choice or are considering more than one candidate. A state poll in North Carolina released by Emerson has 62% indicating that they may change their mind. Emerson removes undecideds from their poll numbers before reporting. This means that closer to three-quarters undecided or willing to change their mind is realistic. 80% of likely Democratic caucus attenders in this weekend’s Selzer poll in Iowa named a second choice candidate when asked.

      Until last week, YouGov, often in combination with Polling Editor Ariel Edwards-Levy of Huffington Post, has generally eschewed publishing “horse race” numbers in favor of a weekly series of intriguing dives into candidates favorability and how likely primary voters are weighing their options. This includes asking which range of candidates respondents are “considering,” whether they are satisfied with the Democratic field, and for which candidates, if any, they would be “disappointed if” they became the nominee.
    • 'We Have to Fight Back': Progressives Call for Mobilization as Koch Brothers Open Their Pockets to Protect Corporate Democrats
      GQ contributor Luke Darby wrote in a column on Monday that the "Kochs and other libertarian billionaires have probably realized by now that centrist Democrats—self-described liberals who support tax cuts, deregulating industries, and privatizing public services—are more reliable allies than ambitious and popular progressives with a concrete political agenda."

      The details of the Americans for Prosperity's 2020 push remain vague, but Politico reported that the Koch network is "adding four new policy-focused PACs that will operate separately from Americans for Prosperity: Uniting for Economic Opportunity, which will focus on issues like the budget and curbing government over-regulation; Uniting for Free Expression, which focuses on free speech issues; and trade- and immigration-focused PACs called Uniting for Free Trade and Uniting for Immigration Reform."

      Marie Newman, who is mounting a progressive primary challenge against anti-choice Rep. Dan Lipinksi (D-Ill.), said in a fundraising email Tuesday that "it looks like the Koch brothers are flying in to help save" her opponent.

    • Koch brothers float possibility of backing congressional Democrats in 2020 primaries
      Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch brothers-backed political organization that has spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Republican candidates in the last several election cycles, says it is open to supporting candidates of any political party, according to an internal memo from AFP CEO Emily Seidel obtained by CNBC. Since its founding in 2004, AFP has been known as one of the most influential conservative organizations in the U.S. During the 2018 midterm cycle, the group — and its super PAC, AFP Action — spent a combined $15.3 million on independent expenditures aiding Republican candidates. AFP also engages in other forms of advocacy, including significant local organizing and issue ads, which do not have to be disclosed to the FEC.

      Over the last two decades, the Koch network’s major groups — AFP and Freedom Partners — have cumulatively spent about $120 million in independent expenditures supporting Republican candidates or opposing Democratic candidates, according to OpenSecrets data. They have not spent a single dollar supporting Democratic candidates during that time.

    • “We’re Going to Ibiza!” Austria’s Coalition Government Falls
      I was in Austria for several days last week, attending a conference at the university in the Alpine town of Klagenfurt.

      Austria is probably one of the last places on earth one would expect to have a major political scandal, but the repercussions of one occurred during the time I was there.

      I was able to watch the swearing-in of Austria’s first ever woman leader on the evening news. Brigitte Bierlein will be the interim chancellor until a snap election is held by the end of September. A former chief prosecutor, Bierlein will lead a government of politically unaffiliated technocrats.

      The snap election was called after Bierlein’s predecessor was ousted over a video sting scandal.

      Sebastian Kurz, who was only 6 months into his term as chancellor, lost a confidence vote two weeks ago after his far-right coalition partner was caught on video promising lucrative contracts in return for political favours.

      The so-called “Ibiza Affair” ensued when a German newspaper published a video of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader and the then vice-chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, meeting with a woman claiming to be a Russian billionaire at a holiday home on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

    • Forget Russiagate, Now it’s US-gate! US Election Meddling Extends to Britain
      So now we have pompous Mike Pompeo, America’s current Secretary of State, on a visit to the UK, assuring a group of British Jewish leaders in a closed-door meeting that the US would work to prevent Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister if his party were to win enough votes in the next national parliamentary election to get the opportunity to try and form a new British government.

      In a recording leaked to the Washington Post, Pompeo assured a group of Jewish leaders in Britain yesterday that the US government would “push back” against Corbyn becoming prime minister in such a case, working behind the scenes to prevent a victorious Labour party from voting in Corbyn as Prime Minister.

      In the British parliamentary system, the party with the most votes after an election, if it wins an outright majority, or, as the Conservatives did in the last election, a plurality of votes and then is able to successfully cobble together a majority by bringing in other parties, then can use that majority to elect a new prime minister. Normally the new PM is the leader of the party that won the most votes, but that need not be the case.

      A questioner on the tape is heard asking Pompeo, “Would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” — an obvious reference to a rabid ongoing campaign in the largely conservative UK media and among zionist groups in the UK to tar Corbyn as an anti-semite because of his outspoken defense of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

      Pompeo, obviously not aware he is being taped, appears to suggest in his answer on the leaked recording that the US would seek to prevent Corbyn from becoming PM. “It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,” he says. “It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things [presumably making life ‘difficult for the Jews in the UK’] to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

    • We Don’t Need 23 Presidential Candidates. There’s Another Important Role to Fill
      Dear Democratic presidential candidates: I know all 23 of you want to run against President Trump, but only one will get that opportunity. If you truly believe your own righteous rhetoric, some of you ought to be spending your time and energy in another vital pursuit — winning control of the Senate.

      I’m talking to you, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who would have a good chance of beating incumbent Republican Cory Gardner. I’m talking to you, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, who could knock off GOP incumbent Steve Daines. I’m even talking to you, Beto O’Rourke, who would have a better chance than any other Texas Democrat against veteran Republican John Cornyn.

      And I’m talking to you, too, Stacey Abrams of Georgia, even though you haven’t jumped in. You came within a whisker of being elected governor, and you have a national profile that would bring in a tsunami of campaign funds. You could beat Republican David Perdue — and acquire real power to translate your stirring eloquence into concrete action.

    • Democratic Leadership Shoots Own Feet, Reloads, Shoots Own Feet Again
      The hearing held on Monday by the House Judiciary Committee was titled, “Lessons From the Mueller Report.” It should have been titled, “Yet Another Example of Democrats Making Fools of Themselves While Wasting Valuable Time.” It was a comprehensive disaster. Some of us saw this televised fail coming a mile away, and Donald Trump’s defenders had themselves a field day.

      The entire hours-long endeavor served no purpose whatsoever in the search for knowledge regarding the Trump administration, but provided a splendid platform for right-wing grandstanding that will linger far longer than any of the proffered testimony. This kind of Democratic self-immolation has been going on for days now, and if it keeps up, Trump will win re-election next year by 4,000 points without ever having to leave the building.

      “Here we sit today in a hearing with the ghost of Christmas past,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) of the hearing’s “star witness,” Watergate figure John Dean, “because the chairman of the committee has gone to the speaker of the House and sought permission to open an impeachment inquiry and she said no.”

      Hard to argue with that statement, which captured the spinning-wheels nature of the entire event. Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) has been pushing hard to open a formal impeachment inquiry, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) continues to resist. In the absence of a genuine inquiry, Rep. Nadler was left to preside over Monday’s toothless farce.

    • 'Not a Popular Position,' But a Consistent One: To Fight Corruption on Capitol Hill, Ocasio-Cortez Backs Pay Raise for Congress
      Calling for cost-of-living increases for all workers including those who serve in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday decried House Democratic leaders' decision to table a spending bill that would include a small pay raise for senators and representatives.

      Keeping elected officials' pay stagnant year after year is an invitation for representatives to enrich themselves through "loopholes and other forms of self-dealing," the progressive New York Democrat tweeted.

    • Mitch McConnell is Making the 2020 Election Open Season for [Attackers]

      But with the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, making it clear that he will not advance any election-security legislation, the pave Act, and also other election-security bills, many of which have bipartisan support, will languish. McConnell has made 2020 open season for hackers aiming to undermine our election system. The E.A.C. has made this easier, by displaying not only intransigence and institutional weaknesses but also a willful disregard of the threats facing our elections.


      As Lawrence Norden, the deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, testified in Congress recently, “There are more federal regulations for ballpoint pens and magic markers than there are for voting systems and other parts of our federal election infrastructure.”

    • Mitch McConnell Has a Vested Interest in Blocking Election Security Efforts
      Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing his team’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “stopped short of accusing [President Trump] of criminal wrongdoing,” as Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman write in The New York Times, leaving Congress to decide whether to investigate further any potential obstruction of justice and conspiracy. However, Mueller’s report did conclude Russia breached voting systems in Illinois and Florida in 2016, and testimony from national security officials to the Senate in April also revealed Russia targeted voting systems in a total of 21 states during the 2016 election.

      Worried about future elections, Republicans and Democrats alike created legislation to improve election security, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. These bills, as Donald Shaw reports in Sludge, have another aspect in common: they have all been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

      McConnell, Shaw writes, “reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.” According to Wyden, “The only logical conclusion is that Sen. McConnell wants American elections to be vulnerable to hackers and foreign interference,” Wyden told Sludge.

      Wyden added, “If Congress doesn’t act, it’s only a matter of time before hackers successfully interfere again.”

      In The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos echoes Shaw, calling McConnell “the Senate’s leading ideological opponent to federal regulation of elections,” adding he “has long been an implacable foe of legislation that mandates disclosure or limits on political donors.”


      McConnell and his office did not respond to Sludge’s request for comment.

      On previous occasions, McConnell has said existing efforts to protect election systems are enough. Fandos points out that in the same May speech in which he announced “case closed” in reference to the Russia investigation, McConnell also said, “We just had the 2018 midterm elections. Thanks to this administration’s leadership, all 50 states and more than 1,400 local election jurisdictions focused on election security like never before,” adding, “Thanks to efforts across the federal government, in 2018, we were ready.”

      Advocates for election security and government transparency remain unconvinced. Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, told Sludge, “Mitch McConnell’s conflicts of interest in blocking any and all election security legislation is not only shameful, it is placing our democracy at risk.”

    • The Danish Elections: Social Democracy with an Inhumane Face
      The great centrist European tradition of social democracy has been receiving a rattle for the last few decades. The European Parliament elections were a reminder how much their appeal has diminished. In Denmark, by way of contrast, they have established something of a bridgehead, defeating the centre-right coalition led by the Venstre party’s Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Wednesday’s election. The Left parties won some 52.1% of the vote with 41% netted by right wing opponents. Extreme parties such as Stram Kurs were kept out.

      But the analysis from outside the country is typically skewed, seeing such a victory as a return to worn social democratic clothing with a grand spring clean. The votes, seen in raw terms, do show a return to form for the left. This ignores the actual change of political attire. Danish voters did not return to any temple of the left and renew progressive vows. The left, more to the point, has edged, in some cases leaped, to the right.

    • Snubs, Bumps and Donald Trump in Britain
      He may not be popular in Britain, but he still has shavings of appeal. For a country that has time for Nigel Farage, pro-Brexit enthusiast and full-time hypocrite (he is a member of the European Parliament, the very same institution he detests), President Donald Trump will garner a gaggle of fans.

      One of them was not the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, trenchant in his belief that the US president should never have been granted a state visit. “It’s quite clear that Theresa May was premature in making this invitation, and it’s backfired on her.” But Trump’s tendency to unhinge his critics is not so much levelling as lowering: Khan’s coarse remarks a day before Trump arrived were timed to create a Twitter scene.

      Trump, he wrote spitefully in The Guardian, was leading a push from the right “threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years.” The UK had to stop “appeasing” (that Munich analogy again) dictatorial tendencies. (Oblivious, is Khan, to the illustrious record Britain has in providing receptions and banquets for the blood thirsty and authoritarian.)

      This semi-literate historical overview had the desired result. Just prior to landing in London, Trump tweeted that Khan “who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘hasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom.” For good measure, Trump insisted that the mayor was “a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me…”

    • Politicians Should be Doing the Jobs They Have, Not Campaigning for the Jobs They Want
      The 2020 elections are almost a year and half away, yet Montana’s politicians elected to statewide positions are now concentrating not on the jobs they were elected and paid well to do, but on campaigning for their next job. Montanans are fully justified in asking why, since they all stressed how much they wanted to do these jobs in “service” to the state, but are basically putting those jobs on hold – or delegating the work – so they can travel around the state and nation trolling for future votes. If they tried to pull this stunt in a normal job, where you’re expected to show up and put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, they’d all be fired.

      Leading the pack in absentee officeholders is none other than Governor Steve Bullock, who has been distracted by his presidential ambitions well before this year’s legislative session started and continues to think his job is to go to Iowa and New Hampshire to beat his chest about being the only Democratic presidential wannabe who “won a Trump state.”

      Why anyone would think a middle of the road coal and fossil fuel advocate is what Democrats need right now to energize voters is a mystery to many — so many that Bullock continues to hang near the bottom of the two dozen Demo presidential hopefuls. That he may well be excluded from the first Demo primary debates because his support is so low elicited a high-pitched whine from his campaign late last week.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube is deleting videos on Nazi history as part of its hate speech crackdown

      It’s also a reminder of just how much power big tech companies have as gatekeepers of the material we consume online.

    • 'We aren't quite where we want to be': Google's CEO admits to failings on harmful content after YouTube’s week from hell

      Although the video was aired on Sunday, it was filmed before another story erupted about YouTube's policies on abuse and harassment — namely YouTube's approach to Steven Crowder, a right-wing YouTuber whose consistent homophobic mockery of Vox journalist Carlos Maza was pushed into the spotlight.

    • Money for nothing: Google made US$4.7b off US news in 2018 [Ed: Blaming Google for linking to actual news sites... corporate media look for culprits other than its own incompetence]

      Search behemoth Google scooped US$4.7 billion in revenue from news content in 2018 for which it did not pay a single cent, according to a study by the News Media Alliance, a group that counts about 2000 American publishers in its ranks.

      The amount of news in Google searches was found to range from 16% to 40% and the revenue came from crawling and scraping that content. The US$4.7 billion figure was a conservative estimate, the Alliance said, adding that it excluded Google's advertising revenue from publisher properties and data collected from news content.

    • Facebook bans health and conspiracy site Natural News [Updated]

      In an email to Ars, a spokesperson for Facebook confirmed the removal and said only that it was over "violating our policies against spam." Under those policies, Facebook "do[es] not allow people to use misleading or inaccurate information to collect likes, followers, or shares." More specifically, it prohibits sites that "encourage likes, shares, or clicks under false pretenses," and those that "artificially increase distribution for financial gain," among other things.

      Facebook’s decision comes just a day after The Daily Beast published a report into the wild, far-right conspiracy theories that have become staples on Natural News.

    • Appeals Court Issues Strong CDA 230 Ruling, But It Will Be Misleadingly Quoted By Those Misrepresenting CDA 230
      Last Friday, the DC circuit appeals court issued a mostly good and mostly straightforward ruling applying Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) in a perfectly expected way. However, the case is notable on a few grounds, partly because it clarifies a few key aspects of CDA 230 (which is good), and partly because of some sloppy language that is almost certainly going to be misquoted and misrepresented by those who (incorrectly) keep insisting that CDA 230 requires "neutrality" by the platform in order to retain the protections of the law.

      Let's just start by highlighting that there is no "neutrality" rule in CDA 230 -- and (importantly) the opposite is actually true. Not only does the law not require neutrality, it explicitly states that it's goal is for there to be more content moderation.

    • Ivan Golunov arrest: Russian reporter is freed after public outcry

      Mr Golunov, 36, is a freelance journalist who had been working for the Latvia-based news website Meduza, among others. The news site was established by Russian journalists from, who formed their own outlet abroad after a takeover by a new pro-Kremlin owner.

      Mr Golunov's reporting included coverage of the loan shark business, the earnings of the family of Moscow's deputy mayor, the unusually high cost of public works in the Russian capital, and the alleged censorship of journalists.

    • How state TV channels covered the end of Ivan Golunov's case at the top of the hour
      On June 11, drug possession and attempted sale charges against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov were dropped for lack of evidence. The persecution of Golunov, which began when he was arrested on June 6, sparked a historic level of public support, especially among Russian journalists. Early in the case’s proceedings, state media coverage was sparse: Golunov’s arrest was barely mentioned on TV news programs, and even the popular compiler Yandex News somehow failed to bring stories about Golunov to the top of its page. Following an announcement from Russia’s Internal Affairs Minister that Ivan Golunov will be freed, however, even state-owned television programs are airing segments with the news at the top of the hour. Here’s what that flood of coverage looked like.
    • A message from ‘Meduza’ CEO Galina Timchenko, ‘Meduza’ Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov, former ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, ‘The Bell’ founder Elizaveta Osetinskaya, and attorney Sergey Badamshin
      The case against Ivan Golunov is closed. This is the result of an unprecedented international solidarity campaign among both journalists and their allies. Together, we made the unbelievable happen: we stopped the criminal prosecution of an innocent man. Thank you!

      We are glad that the government has listened to the people. That’s how it should be when injustice occurs.

      The freeing of Ivan is an excellent cause for celebration. We want that celebration to bring all of us together. Negotiations with City Hall on the question of organizing a public action tomorrow have reached a dead end. We suggest going out tomorrow and having a bit to drink — and, in the meantime, fighting to receive approval for an action in central Moscow in the coming days. We are certain they will be unable to refuse us.

    • Ivan Golunov is cleared of all charges
      Russian Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev has announced that the criminal case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov will be shut down due to a lack of evidence that he participated in the crime at hand. Kolokoltsev also said he will fire two high-ranked municipal police officers whose subordinates participated in the case, including the official in charge of narcotics control in Moscow. The law enforcement officials who arrested, examined, and questioned Golunov will not be fired, but those who arrested him will be forced to take a temporary leave of absence while their action are investigated. That investigation will be transferred from the Internal Affairs Ministry’s internal investigative division to Russia’s Investigative Committee.


      “I have made the decision to petition the President of the Russian Federation to release from their duties the head of the Moscow Internal Affairs Division of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry’s Moscow City Branch, Police Major General Andrey Puchkov, and the head of the Division for Control of the Narcotics Trade within the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry Moscow City Branch, Yury Devyatkin.

      “I believe that, regardless of their professional affiliation, the rights of any citizen should always be protected.”
    • Moscow City Hall approves June 16 demonstration to support Ivan Golunov
      Moscow City Hall has granted its approval for a demonstration in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, who was accused of attempted drug sales before being cleared of all charges on Tuesday. The event is scheduled to take place on Sakharov Prospect in central Moscow between 1:00 and 3:00 PM on June 16.


      A march for Ivan Golunov’s freedom was initially set for midday on June 12. Its organizers made clear that they did not intend to request approval for the event from the Moscow municipal government, leading City Hall to submit a complaint to local prosecutors. The Libertarian Party and the Union of Journalists had previously submitted a request for approval to hold a demonstration on June 23. The organizers of the various events have not yet commented on the various marches now scheduled for the coming days.

    • The Censorship of Social Media: A Facebook Experience
      quick Google search of “social media fake news” brought up thousands of hits, and, as I expected, they seemed to be dated from 2016 to today. I recalled that the propaganda blitz started around the 2016 election, and my search confirmed that recollection.

      Ironically, a Google search with those words will likely not be censored by Google, since the ruling Establishment is solidly behind the project to convince people that they should distrust and abandon social media, and return to the comforting fold of the legacy media, now self-proclaimed the “legitimate media”.

      More aptly named the imperial media, it beams the message of the ruling elites vertically, top down, into each house or car. The citizens receive the message passively, and have no way to catch errors, or share their skepticism or opinions with others.

      90% of the “legitimate media”, TV, radio, magazines, web news and newspapers are owned by 5 mega-corporations, so you know they must be trustworthy, right?
    • As Ivan Golunov receives notice of dropped charges, Moscow drug enforcement chief deflects questions
      A source within Russia’s law enforcement agencies told TASS that Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov has been officially notified of the order to drop the charges against him and release him from house arrest. “Golunov has been familiarized with the order to close the case due to a lack of evidence of his participation in a crime,” the source said.

    • Drug Charges Dropped in Alleged Setup of Russian Journalist
      In a surprising turnaround, Russia’s interior ministry dropped drug-dealing charges against a prominent investigative reporter Tuesday and promised to go after police officers who allegedly tried to frame him.

      Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev stunned the nation when he announced that all charges against Ivan Golunov were dropped after police found “no proof of his part in a crime.” Golunov was arrested Thursday.

      Kolokoltsev said he would ask the Russian president to dismiss two senior police officials and suspend the officers who detained the journalist Thursday. Among those who are likely to be dismissed is the anti-drugs chief of the Moscow police.

      “I believe that the rights of any citizen, whatever his professional affiliation, ought to be protected,” the minister said.

      Golunov, who works for the independent website Meduza, had been facing drug-related charges that could have put him in prison for up to 20 years.

      Prominent journalists and politicians welcomed the decision to abandon the case.

    • Five historic days in the case of Ivan Golunov

    • Ivan Golunov goes free
      On June 11, 2019, at approximately 8:54 local time, Ivan Golunov was released from police custody in Moscow. Russian penitentiary services said his electronic bracelet had been removed. Outside, crowds chanted “Vanya! Vanya!” and cheered. Golunov was arrested on June 6 and accused of drug possession with intent to distribute. After an unprecedented solidarity campaign and a brief period of house arrest, the charges against him were dropped on June 11.

    • A Far-Reaching System of Government Censorship

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • If You Think The Reason Internet Companies Snarf Up Your Data Is Because Their Services Are Free, Allow Me To Introduce You To The Telcos
      Of course, it seems rather easy to point out why that's wrong with two examples. First we pay for other services such as our broadband and mobile data providers and they are so much worse on the privacy front, it's not even remotely comparable. It's not as if magically paying for the service has stopped AT&T or Verizon from being horrific on the privacy front. The snarfing up of data doesn't go away if you pay for services.

      Second, there are businesses that have been built on giving away free tools without having to snarf up your data. Indeed, that's actually how Google succeeded for much of its early history. It didn't need to know everything about you. It just needed to know what you were searching for. And that was massively successful. It's true that, over time, Google has moved away from that, but others (like DuckDuckGo) have stepped into that space as well. DuckDuckGo is free, and I don't see Christopher Mims concerned that they are magically "compelled to suck up our personal data."

      As the saying goes, correlation is not causation. Just because Google and Facebook offer both free services and collect a lot of data, does not in any way mean that one automatically leads to the other (or that removing the "free" part lessens the data sucking).

    • Amazon, Law Enforcement Joining Forces To Turn Your Front Door Into An Integral Part Of The Surveillance State
      Amazon wants you to be part of its dish network. Yes, it's a play on words (and not a good one!). This network springs from Amazon's Ring doorbell -- the doorbell with a camera inside and a cozy relationship with law enforcement! What are your neighbors and strangers up to? Give the dirt to law enforcement and trust their better judgment!

      Good times await those who find themselves looking dark or suspicious (but also suspicious because they're dark) in front of a Ring doorbell. Have you ever wanted to be an internet celebrity, with or without your permission? Ring has you covered.

    • Obtained Records Show ICE Is Using ALPR Databases To Reconstruct Targets' Lives
      ICE has full-blown access to license plate databases around the nation, as well as its own direct hookup to the largest ALPR database itself -- the one compiled by ALPR manufacturer Vigilant. It places almost no restrictions on searches of these databases. Anything that somehow isn't compliant can be farmed out to state and local agencies to perform searches by proxy.

      The ACLU has obtained records showing just how much access ICE has, and how often it performs searches. The numbers are staggering, considering ICE is an immigration and customs enforcement agency with a more limited scope than the FBI and other investigative agencies.

    • What is the dark web? How safe is it and how to access it ? Your questions answered
      The dark web sounds foreboding. Why else would the police in Brazil, Germany, and the United States need to raid dark web eshops like the the “Wall Street Market” (WSM), charging the operators with a long grocery list of crimes ranging stolen data, drugs, and malware? These events do occur on the dark web, but they are just part of the story.

      The internet is a huge and sometimes disorganized place, almost like a huge flea market or bazaar. With billions of sites and addresses, it is amazing that we can search – and find – anything.

      There are three basic levels within this complex thing we call the World Wide Web – open, deep, and dark. Each have their place – and their drawbacks.

    • Spying on Children Won’t Keep Them Safe

      Well meaning as they may be, the members of a small-town, volunteer school board are not the right people to evaluate and manage a system of such untested powers of surveillance. When I raised these issues as a concerned parent at a school board meeting, district officials and Mr. Olivo waved away the risks with a joke about the likelihood that North Korea might hack the high school’s computers.

      Thanks to the efforts of the New York Civil Liberties Union, state officials have finally begun to ask the kinds of questions they should have asked before the project was approved. On Wednesday, the New York Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would put a moratorium on the use of facial recognition in schools for a year to allow for further study of the issue. Nonetheless, the school district is forging ahead with its testing and its plans to make the cameras fully operational when school starts up again in the fall.

    • Canada's military spies can collect, share info on Canadians, directive says

      Under the directive, information about Canadians, including material collected inadvertently, can be retained to support authorized intelligence operations, or shared with other Canadian departments and agencies if the law allows.

      Tim McSorley, national co-ordinator for the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, finds that troubling given the vast amount of information that swirls daily through the digital sphere.

    • US border hack sees 100,000 records of faces and license plates pinched

      That leads us to one of three conclusions - either the CBP is lying, the dumped data is fake, or there have actually been two [attacks] with the other one yet to be even acknowledged. Whichever one it is, it's a fairly substantial cock up and leaves a lot of questions are unanswered.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sunday school teacher says she was strip-searched at Vancouver airport after angry guard failed to find drugs

      The agent confiscated her phone and demanded her password.

      Finding nothing incriminating on her phone or in her luggage, the agent called in a drug-sniffing dog, which also didn't detect anything.


      CBC received over 1,700 pages of documents, most of the material heavily censored, after submitting a request under the Access to Information Act to find out how many other travellers have filed complaints about their treatment at the hands of the CBSA.

    • 5 Arrests By UP Police Over Posts On Yogi Adityanath. Top Court To Hear Prashant Kanojia Case Tomorrow

      The wife of Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested on Saturday evening for allegedly maligning the image of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has moved the Supreme Court for his release.

      A total of five people have been arrested over two days on charges of posting allegedly objectionable content about the Chief Minister.

    • The Human Rights Film Festival, 2019
      Now in its tenth year, the week-long New York Human Rights Film festival that opens on Thursday, June 13th is the most important venue for leading-edge politically and socially aware films, both narrative and documentary. It is a project of Human Rights Watch that some on the left write off as little different from the US State Department. Having covered the festival on and off ever since it began, I have found no evidence of liberal, mainstream advocacy of the sort that can be found in a NY Times Op-Ed written by Nicholas Kristof. Perhaps the most telling indication of its political independence is giving a voice to pro-Palestinian filmmakers starting in 2009 when three such films were featured—including “Ford Transit” that the Electronic Intifada described as conveying “the feeling of a generation of refugees who live under the thumb of Israeli occupation.” Although I would have looked forward to seeing every film, time only permitted me to see the four below that will give you a flavor of the kind of film being featured.


      We hear Duterte at the beginning of the film during a state visit to Israel, where he is the guest of another gangster.

    • As New Pipeline Battle Looms, Texas Moves Toward Criminalizing Pipeline Protest
      For many environmentalists and landowners in Texas’s iconic Hill Country, Kinder Morgan’s 42-inch Permian Highway Pipeline is aptly named.

      The company’s planned 430-mile southeasterly route from West Texas to the Gulf would irrevocably scar this ecologically sensitive region, long defined by its porous hills of limestone that has, until now, managed to largely avoid oil and gas development in a state so defined by it.

      The $2 billion pipeline project is part of the industry’s Trump-backed race to build oil and gas pipelines from the nation’s most active oil patch in West Texas’s Permian Basin to refineries near Houston and Corpus Christi — and eventually to the Gulf so that the Trump administration’s “molecules of U.S. freedom” can be “exported to the world.”

      But for those who live along the proposed route, the fracked gas pipeline is yet another symbol of the fossil fuel industry’s race to accelerate the climate emergency and the Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction — a highway to the next Permian extinction event literally fueled by the last one.

      Several landowners along the route told me the same story when I visited them on their land: Kinder Morgan is bullying them into signing away their property at prices well below what it’s worth, and the pipeline’s impacts would be incalculable.

      These landowners, alongside environmentalists and other concerned residents, recently packed a courtroom in downtown Austin this month as a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by Hays County, the city of Kyle and three landowners over the state’s flimsy eminent domain process. That process allows oil and gas companies to condemn private property by merely checking a box claiming “common carrier” status on a one-page form.

      Kinder Morgan and the state’s oil and gas regulatory body, the Texas Railroad Commission, are trying to dismiss the lawsuit, which asks for a temporary injunction to stop any condemnations in Texas’s Gillespie, Blanco and Hays Counties until a trial can be held.

    • Solitary Confinement Can Lead to a Life Sentence in Prison
      Anthony Gay entered prison at age 19 with a sentence of seven years. The punishment seemed harsh enough for a weaponless robbery of a hat and a single dollar. But for Gay, the seven years would turn into 97, based entirely on his behavior in prison — despite the fact that the behavior in question was a result of Gay’s psychiatric disabilities, exacerbated by the isolation of solitary confinement.

      In the past decade, the myriad harms caused by solitary confinement have received increasing recognition. Yet one of its most devastating consequences still receives relatively little attention: For individuals with mental health issues, landing in solitary not only produces behavior that yields more time in solitary; it can also extend prison sentences, sometimes dramatically. For these already vulnerable people, solitary confinement generates a cycle of punishment that for some can literally be endless.

      Terry Kupers, a California-based psychiatrist and a nationally recognized expert on the psychological impacts of solitary confinement, explained just how pervasive this cycle is. “Most people go to prison with a relatively short term. [They] are led to punishable acts by the conditions [of their confinement] themselves,” he said in an interview.

      In his new book, Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It, Kupers explains how in many prison systems in the United States, the de facto penalty for even minor prison rules violations, including those obviously caused by psychological distress or disability, has become solitary confinement. The isolation of solitary almost inevitably causes a measurable deterioration in mental health, which in turn leads to more behavioral issues, punished with more solitary confinement.

    • ‘It’s Seen by Indigenous Activists as a Template for Similar Confrontations Around the Globe’
      The story was brief but compelling: The indigenous Waorani in Ecuador were fighting to keep the government from auctioning off their land, and with it their lives and culture, to oil companies, and were actually being heard in court. A Waorani leader is cited, saying: “Our fight is not just a fight about oil. This is a fight about different ways of living, one that protects life and one that destroys life.”

      Why didn’t I see what looks like a Reuters wire piece picked up in a major daily?, you might wonder. Then you see the tag at the bottom that explains that the article is from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, described as the “charitable arm” of Thomson Reuters, that covers “humanitarian news.” In other words, the fight over whether extractive industry is permitted to erase and endanger communities, as part of the despoiling of the region known as the lungs of the planet, is news—but not news news.

    • 'Wake-Up Call' Report Shows Black Drivers in Missouri 91 Percent More Likely to Be Pulled Over by Police
      Black drivers in Missouri are nearly twice as likely to be pulled over than white drivers, according to a new report by the state's attorney general.

      The report, released Monday by the office of Attorney General Eric Schmitt, found that black drivers had a 91 percent higher chance of being pulled over than their white counterparts. That was one of a number of disturbing statistics that add to the perception of Missouri as one of the most dangerous places in the U.S. for black people.

      The trend reflected in this year's report, while troubling, is nothing new. In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for black people driving in Missouri based in part on data from the 2016 attorney general's report.Black drivers in the state are 91 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than white drivers, a report from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office found.

      This year, Schmitt's office found that when the data was isolated to certain cities and neighborhoods, the racial disparity of traffic stops jumped even higher.

    • ICE Is Cramming Immigrants Into Filthy, Overcrowded Facilities
      The border surge is upon us. Apparently. Since the 2016 election, actually, if we're honest about it. Trump wasn't a single-issue candidate but has sort of morphed into one since taking office. The swamp remains undrained. Hillary Clinton remains unjailed. But BUILD THE WALL has become the calling card of Donald Trump as he seeks to rid the nation of pesky brown people. Good times. To be fair, ICE and CBP have always sucked. But their moment in the spotlight has only increased the intensity of their sucking.

      The problem with declaring the border a national security threat/war zone/flashpoint for a trade war/whatever is that you have to be ready to deal with the problem you're causing. If you think America's greatness is measured by the number of people we capture and detain, you have to have a plan in place to deal with this influx of eventual deportees.

      We do not have a plan in place. ICE may be enjoying the extremely rare experience of being a presidential administration's favorite agency, but it definitely had no idea what it was in for. For months, ICE scrambled around knocking heads and fudging numbers to back Trump's claim that the United States was swimming with dangerous undocumented immigrants.

    • ‘The US Has No Real Moral Authority to Talk About Freedoms’
      The Trump administration announced a ban on people-to-people group travel to Cuba, a sanction merited, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained, because of Cuba’s “destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region, and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes.”

    • Facebook Bikeshare Workers Organize Against Anti-Union Campaign
      At Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, workers for a bikeshare company, Bikes Make Life Better, face an anti-union campaign from their employers as they try to form a union with the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

      “We have serious concerns about how a union such as the TWU could affect the work environment we have all worked hard to build and are continuing to build with your help,” declared a company flyer sent to workers.

      The flyer addressed a direct relationship with management over a union and suggested workers would have to pay union dues throughout negotiations.

      In interviews with Bikes Make Life Better employees, they said management has conducted captive audience meetings with the nearly 50 mechanics, bike ambassadors, and rebalancers who work for the contractor at Facebook. (These are meetings during union campaigns that employers typically require workers to attend so management can share their views on unionization.)

      All workers who were interviewed for the purpose of this report were granted anonymity to help them avoid workplace retaliation.

      According to the workers, around 90 percent of the contractor’s business is the Facebook headquarters contract. A California law enacted in 2015 established shared liability between labor contractors and employers for certain state labor law violations.

    • 'Sea Rescues Have Been Criminalized' as German Boat Captain Faces 20 Years in Prison For Saving Refugees
      Along with helping refugees, Klemp works with ocean conservation group Sea Watch.

      The Italian charges against Klemp come as part of an anti-immigration crackdown by far-right Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who ran on imposing harsh penalties on refugees.

      "Italy's fascists are using this case as a showcase to deter others from aiding migrants," journalist Rula Jebreal said on Twitter. "They would prefer to let people drown in the Mediterranean."

      Klemp is banned from sailing along the Italian coast due to her activism in favor of refugees. In her comments to Basler Zeitung, Klemp addressed the notion that sea rescues like the ones she did are in any way motivating for refugees to come to Europe.

      "People come because unfortunately there are so many reasons for flight," said Klemp. "And they come over the Mediterranean, because there are no legal entry routes."

      Commentators on social media noted that Klemp's actions in the Mediterranean were in keeping with the U.N.'s policies on rescues at sea and the humanitarian duties of a ship captain.

    • On Superstition
      The Greeks accused the Christians of deisidaimonia, superstition, because of their fear of the gods. Yet, in the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion.

      Once in power, Christianity revealed its true colors. It set aside its public relations message of “love” and went straight for the jugular. It declared war against all non-Christian “pagans” and, especially, Greeks. With the support of the Roman government, it made the worship of the gods a crime punishable by death.

      Destabilizing and destroying millennial traditions was the most revolutionary project in human history. It lasted for several centuries.

    • State Duma may consider softening punishments for some nonviolent drug offenses, workgroup head says
      A proposal to decrease sentences for drug possession unrelated to attempted sales may be introduced into Russia’s State Duma before the end of the body’s spring session.

      Nikolai Brykin, who leads the Duma’s working group to combat illegal drug trafficking, told the independent television station Dozhd that the initiative has received support from law enforcement agencies. The first hearing during which the proposal may be entered for consideration will take place on June 20.

    • Doublespeak in Israel as the United States Targets “the Left” as Traitorous
      In spite of a seemingly convincing victory in Israel’s recent elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a right-wing coalition, which would secure him the premiership for an additional four years.

      The reason: hard-right Member of Knesset (MK), former Israeli Security Minister, and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman – a settler in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ex-nightclub bouncer and convicted child beater – refused to budge on a draft bill for ultra-orthodox Jews. In response to Lieberman’s opportunistic move, a disheveled-looking Netanyahu spoke to reporters claiming: “Lieberman is now part of the left”.

      Yet Lieberman is as far from left wing politics as can be. In fact, his signature fascistic opinions are no secret – e.g. he has openly endorsed expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and spearheaded attempts to legalize execution and even beheading of Palestinian prisoners, whom he collectively refers to as “terrorists”.

      Across the pond in the United States, President Donald Trump has adopted the term “radical left” to describe his opponents in the media and the Democratic Party. With the ramping up of the 2020 election fever, Trump will likely soon drop the “radical” and simply scapegoat the “left”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast Gets $9 Million Fine For Tricking Customers With 'Worthless' Protection Plans
      In August of 2016, Washington State sued Comcast, claiming the cable giant had long been offering consumers a "service protection plan" that was barely worth the paper it was printed on. According to the Washington State AG, the plan promised consumers "comprehensive" protection for all repairs, service calls, maintenance of inside wiring and customer-owned equipment, and "on-site education about Comcast products" for $5 more per month.

      But the AG investigation found Comcast repeatedly misled consumers about the scope of the plan, and routinely charging consumers for repairs and service that should have been included under the plan's umbrella. Comcast misled more than 500,000 Washington state consumers in this fashion, and the AG's original lawsuit (pdf) noted that Comcast had even created a clear "service code" for techs to use when they wanted to incur charges for service that should have been covered under the plan.

    • Democrats press Mitch McConnell to take up net neutrality bill

      Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) took to the floor of the Senate in an attempt to force a vote on a bill to reinstate net neutrality on the one-year anniversary of its reversal. “Under Sen. McConnell’s leadership, the Republicans are trying to bury this bill in a legislative graveyard,” Markey said, referring to the Save the Internet Act passed by the House in April.

      Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) blocked the vote, arguing that much of what Democrats warned would happen following the repeal has yet to take place.

    • On One-Year Anniversary of Net Neutrality Repeal, Over 100 Groups Demand McConnell Immediately Allow Vote on Save the Internet Act
      Marking the one-year anniversary of the official implementation of FCC chair Ajit Pai's deeply unpopular net neutrality repeal plan, a diverse coalition of more than 100 progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stop thwarting the will of the public and immediately allow a vote on the Save the Internet Act.

      "Americans want and deserve enforceable protections that preserve net neutrality, ensure stronger broadband competition, and improve access," the coalition wrote in a letter (pdf) dated Tuesday. "They don't want big cable and phone companies controlling what they see, say, and do online. They want more choices and more affordable internet access service."


      As Common Dreams reported in March, Fight for the Future successfully used livestreams of key committee hearings to prevent House members from weakening the Save the Internet Act with telecom-friendly amendments.

      Now the group is turning its attention to the Senate, where just one member of the Democratic caucus—Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—has yet to sign on to the Save the Internet Act.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • SPC manufacturing waiver enters into force in July 2019
      The legislative procedure introducing an SPC manufacturing waiver in the European Union has been completed today on 11 June 2019 with the publication of the corresponding new Regulation (EU) 2019/933 of 20 May 2019 (PDF) in the Official Journal of the EU. The manufacturing waiver provisions will enter into force on the 20th day after publication, i.e. on 1 July 2019.

      In consequence, SPCs that are applied for in the EU member states on or after 1 July 2019 will no longer confer protection against the manufacture of active ingredients and corresponding medicinal products for the purpose of export to third countries outside of the EU, nor against the manufacturing and stockpiling for day-1 entry to the EU market immediately after SPC expiry. The export exemption will apply throughout the entire SPC term while stockpiling will only be allowed during the last 6 months before SPC expiry.

    • Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service (2019)
      The AIA created three types of post-grant proceedings to allow "a person who is not the owner of a patent" to petition the Patent and Trademark Office for the cancellation of issued patent claims. First, IPRs allow such a person to seek to cancel claims for invalidity under ۤ 102 or ۤ 103 "on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications." 35 U.S.C. ۤ 311. Second, PGRs allow such a person to seek to cancel claims on any statutory grounds for invalidity. 35 U.S.C. ۤ 321. Third, a "person" who "has been sued for infringement of [a] patent or has been charged with infringement under [the] patent" -- or is related to a party that has been sued or threatened -- may bring a CBM review to invalidate claims of the asserted patent on any statutory grounds. AIA ۤ 18(a)(1). These three proceedings have proven to be powerful alternatives to litigation, allowing potential infringers to invalidate patents and avoid infringement liability based on a preponderance of the evidence before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), rather than the clear and convincing evidence needed in litigation.

      In this case, Return Mail obtained a patent on methods of handling undeliverable mail, then offered a license to the U.S. Postal Service. When negotiations broke down, the Postal Service petitioned for ex parte reexamination, which led to the cancellation of the initially issued claims but the issuance of new claims that the Patent Office deemed valid over the prior art. Return Mail then sued the Postal Service in the Court of Federal Claims; in addition to asserting invalidity as a defense, the Postal Service petitioned for CBM review. After the PTAB cancelled all of Return Mail's claims in the CBM review, Return Mail appealed based on the Postal Service not being a "person" eligible to petition for CBM review.

    • Easy Ineligibility Decisions for the Court
      The Federal Circuit released two non-precedential decisions today affirming lower court holdings of ineligibility.


      On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the USPTO that Greenstein’s claims are directed to ineligible subject matter.

    • Trademarks

      • EUIPO gives brand owners “room to manoeuvre”
        Brand owners using trademarks that differ from their original registrations have been handed “room to manoeuvre” after EUIPO guidance was published that clarifies what could be deemed acceptable use, say private practice lawyers.

      • Tom Brady Attempts To Trademark The Nickname He Doesn't Even Want, That's Already Used By A Famous NY Met With Dementia
        We've talked for some time about the increasing trend in professional sports for athletes to seek trademarks on anything and everything that might possibly be branded. This trend has actually spilled over into some professional sports teams themselves attempting to get trademarks for the athletes that play for the team. It is all frankly very irritating and smells purely of the kind of money-grab that was absolutely not the point of trademark law to begin with, but at least we can say for most of these cases that the slogans and nicknames for which trademarks are sought are fairly unique.

        This is most certainly not the case for Tom Brady, who's company, TEB Capital, has applied for a trademark on one of his nicknames, "Tom Terrific", for trading cards, sports merch, and clothing. There's only one problem: Tom Terrific is indeed a well-known nickname... of former NY Met Tom Seaver.

    • Copyrights

      • Progress Soars on Official Translations of 4.0 and CC0!
        Creative Commons welcomes progress on official language translations of both 4.0 and CC0 due to our dedicated network of volunteers and a commitment by the European Commission (EC) to ensure the legal code for each is available in all official languages of the European Union. We expect a significant increase in the number of official translations to 36 languages total and the number of users who can read them to more than 3 billion in the next 3-5 months. With the European Commission’s decision to adopt CC BY 4.0 International and CC0 for all content and data it produces comes a firm commitment to collaborate with Creative Commons and its community to complete the remaining official translations of 4.0 and CC0 so that all 24 official languages of the EU are completed.

        As of 2019, CC’s community has produced official translations of 4.0 in 23 languages (including English), and as of June 2019 has published CC0 in 13 languages (also including English). These numbers on their own own reflect an impressive and sizeable effort by our community, thanks also in part to travel grants from the Ford Foundation to bring together volunteer translators, and funding by others. As of June 2019, the total number of users able to access and understand the 4.0 licenses and CC0 in their first language totaled approximately 2.25 billion.

      • Kim Dotcom faces make-or-break extradition case in NZ Supreme Court

        The group's legal team will tell the NZ Supreme Court that the charges, which also include money laundering, wire fraud and racketeering do not constitute extraditable offences.

        If they fail, the group will be sent to the US where Megaupload is viewed as a criminal conspiracy. US lawmakers claim that the men have personally benefitted to the tune of $175m (€£138m). If found guilty, they could go away for the majority of their remaining time on the planet.

      • Kim Dotcom makes final extradition appeal in NZ to avoid US Megaupload trial

        The Megaupload founder and his three co-accused - Mathias Ortmann, Bran van der Kolk and Finn Botato - were arrested in 2012 in a large-scale Auckland police raid and charged with a series of offences on behalf of US authorities over their roles in running the file-sharing website.


        If the Supreme Court does not halt the extraditions, a final call will be made by New Zealand's minister of justice - who has declined to comment while the case is ongoing.

      • Kim Dotcom Begins Final Supreme Court Battle to Avoid US Extradition

        More than seven years after the dramatic arrest of Kim Dotcom and several of his former Megaupload colleagues, the quartet are making a final plea to New Zealand's Supreme Court. The hearing, expected to last five days, will determine whether an earlier decision to extradite the men to the United States should be upheld. For them, the stakes could not be higher.

      • What Aladdin—And Napoleon—Teach Us About Copyright

        Eventually Italian states lengthened copyright periods to the duration of a composer's life plus 30 years. Giorcelli and Moser find that extending copyright to life plus 30 years produces, on average, one more opera a year in each state. But there might be a turning point if copyright is too long: they find that going further to life plus 40 years may actually decrease the number of new operas produced. This suggests American copyright lengths could be too long.

      • Pirate Site Blocking Efforts Expand to Ecuador

        Ecuador's National Intellectual Property Service has ordered local Internet providers to block access to five Rojadirecta domain names. The blocking order was requested by Fox Latin America and Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional. Interestingly, the original Rojadirecta site is not targeted and remains freely available.

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