Patent Quality Continues to Slip in Europe and We Know Who Will Profit From That (and Distract From It)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “big litigation” lobby

Red hat on a girl

Summary: The corporate media and large companies don’t speak about it (like Red Hat did before entering a relationship with IBM), but Europe is being littered and saturated with a lot of bogus software patents — abstract patents that European courts would almost certainly throw out; this utter failure of the media to do journalism gets exploited by the “big litigation” lobby and EPO management that’s granting loads of invalid European Patents (whose invalidation goes underreported or unreported in the media)

THE MEDIA coverage about patents is deeply depressing because the publication houses that cover the subject are either owned by law firms or have law firms as subscribers/sponsors. This means that rarely do we witness dissent/objection to the status quo, especially in the corporate media. It also censors comments.

Law Gazette and Managing IP's role in UPC promotion and patent maximlism was noted here previously and IAM is even worse than these; right now it’s glorifying Roche patents that are likely responsible for the deaths of many poor people. Yesterday we discovered that Max Walters now works for patent maximalists (Managing IP) rather than that law firm-owned ‘news’ site (Law Gazette); speaking only to lawyers, as usual, instead of for lawyers. “Germany’s top court has refused a request for a compulsory licence, a decision that reaffirms the high bar that must be met, according to German and UK lawyers,” says the summary. And according to everybody else, what is it? One of their writers recently confronted me about this, insisting that because their target audience is only lawyers then it’s OK to just ignore everybody’s views that don’t agree with lawyers’.

“We duly take note of the fact that Bristows continues its silent ‘takeover’ or exploitation of IP Kat in order to promote patent trolls’ agenda, including the UPC, usually through Annsley Merelle Ward.”Sadly, the same has happened to IP Kat for a number of years; they have less objectivity or fewer scholars and more lawyers as their writers. They’re now publishing lies for 4iP Council (via Bristows). It’s “courtesy of Axel Ferrazzini (Managing Director of 4iP Council)” says an article titled “The Higher District Court of Düsseldorf in [patent troll] Unwired Planet puts some further constraints on SEP owners” [sic] (the article is full of misnomers and euphemisms, just like the title).

We duly take note of the fact that Bristows continues its silent ‘takeover’ or exploitation of IP Kat in order to promote patent trolls’ agenda, including the UPC, usually through Annsley Merelle Ward. It’s very, very sad as IP Kat did some good work covering European Patents/EPO issues (years ago when it was composed by very different people). It routinely brought up patent quality as well. What is it now if not a parrot of the status quo? Over the past few months we saw only one comment about EPO scandals in there (it was posted a few days ago).

Remember Heise covering EPO scandals? Yes, they did that routinely. A German-speaking person brought this new article to my attention last night (it’s dated yesterday and has plenty of comments):

#NotNice #AI (sic!) as a #swpat #Backdoor ! cc: @schestowitz

Headline: more US pat’s on GER/EU

Künstliche Intelligenz: Deutschland weit hinter USA

US-Unternehmen reichten 2018 doppelt so viele KI-Patente in Deutschland ein wie einheimische Firmen, die in Fahrzeugtechnik und Erkennungssystemen führend sind.


Yes, “AI” again. Hey hi, hey hi, hey hi!

On Friday the EPO tweeted: “The Advanced Driver Assistance System developed by this Israeli computer scientist & his team at @Mobileye uses a single-lens camera & cutting-edge AI to spot & avoid traffic hazards in real time.”

“Those patents aren’t even valid (courts would reject them).”By “cutting-edge AI” they mean yet more software patents in Europe and nowadays they want to give awards for fake patents on software (not valid). It’s not just this tweet; there have been lots more like it over the past week or two (a bit repetitive even), wherein the EPO was glorifying such patents and offering special awards for these. Those patents aren’t even valid (courts would reject them). Will Battistelli think differently from courts? We shall find out soon.

European Inventor judges
EPO President António Campinos (or his ‘brilliant’ team) made Battistelli a judge (see image at the top, with the notorious politician suitably dressed for his cold heart)

Last night we caught Sara Moran’s summary of a decision from the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (Civil Division), we assume regarding a British patent (UK-IPO grants these) or more fake European Patents (typically rejected by courts only after lots of money had been wasted on predatory lawyers who love such litigation mess). Outside the paywall it uses language similar to what we often hear/read at the EPO (e.g. “added matter” and “inventive step”): “The Court of Appeal dismissed Synthon’s appeal against the Patent Court’s finding that the patent in suit did involve an inventive step over the prior art, and Teva’s appeal against the Court’s finding that certain claims of the patent were invalid for added matter.”

“Such outcomes don’t suit the agenda of patent maximalists, so they usually just look the other way, hoping that their clients won’t notice (as it would harm their confidence in such patents and lawsuits).”Every week we find at least one case of European Patents perishing in courts (at great expense to the defendant). But the media almost never covers that; we need to rely on press releases, sporadic blog posts and so on. Such outcomes don’t suit the agenda of patent maximalists, so they usually just look the other way, hoping that their clients won’t notice (as it would harm their confidence in such patents and lawsuits).

Corporate Front Groups Like OIN and the Linux Foundation Need to Combat Software Patents If They Really Care About Linux

Posted in EFF, GNU/Linux, Kernel, OIN, Patents at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EFF does more for Linux than groups that drape themselves in Tux logos and even put “Linux” in their name

Alex Moss, EFF

Summary: The absurdity of having groups that claim to defend Linux but in practice defend software patents, if not actively then passively (by refusing to comment on this matter)

A NEW week is about to commence. No more bogus ‘hearings’, which are stacked and stuffed with lobbyists and think tanks like IBM’s David Kappos (his handlers now include Microsoft as well because it’s funding his front group). We don’t expect the law to change, but they had their little show for a few days. The audience of patent extremists loved it! They had even paid for it [1, 2].

Where are the supposed “Linux” groups? They never even submit a single brief! Never! Even ACLU got involved in this patent debate (well outside the ACLU’s scope of operations), not to mention CCIA.

Any comments from the “Linux” groups? No, nothing. Absolutely nada.

OIN is probably in favour of software patents (same side as Microsoft and IBM), so it prefers to just keep its mouth shut. Its leadership now includes patent trolls. It’s just farcical considering their Linux- and Tux-themed initiatives, which in the past they claimed would help Linux (looking for ways to induce Linux coexistence with software patents).

“Any comments from the “Linux” groups? No, nothing.”People need to seriously ask themselves why the Linux Foundation and OIN never do even as much as issue a statement on this subject (takes a lot less effort than preparing briefs or preparing for hearings in Senate). Their silence merely enables if not empowers those who pose the greatest threat to Linux, GNU and Free software in general.

Suffice to say, last week’s hearings were all just a farce; our latest response to it mentioned Benjamin Henrion's (FFII) remarks as well as the EFF's (which posted the above photo in Twitter). Henrion is rightly upset. “EFF and others are just decoration,” he argued, “senators @ChrisCoons and @senthomtillis have no intention to seek for the right barriers to protect software developers from patents. Those hearings are just a joke! No software developer was even invited!”

They just try to give an appearance (or perception) of balance; or to shallowly lend legitimacy to these hearings. We saw similar hearings in past years and these had just about nobody (zero people) with ‘dissenting’ views; obviously nobody did anything technical, it was a consistent, monotonic parade of lawyers/attorneys.

“We saw similar hearings in past years and these had just about nobody (zero people) with ‘dissenting’ views; obviously nobody did anything technical, it was a consistent, monotonic parade of lawyers/attorneys.”As I told Henrion this morning: “Where was the Linux Foundation in these hearings? Did IBM (Manny) keep Zemlin in his little pocket? Software patents are a threat to Linux too.”

“I think that 99% people did not look past the organization’s name and got a rude shock last fall when LT [Linus Torvalds] was temporarily kicked out and then brought back in under reduced authority,” one reader told us about the “Linux” Foundation (another reader of ours calls it “the Linux-destroying Foundation” for about 5 years now).

Henrion is still the President of the FFII, but it’s underfunded and barely active. This means that operations like the “Linux” Foundation, which has an annual income of about $100,000,000, basically suck up all the capital (and voices) to do just about nothing for Linux (in this domain). Even the EFF doesn’t have anywhere near this kind of budget and yet it does something on the matter. Why?

“Why is the OSI quiet? What about OIN and the Linux Foundation? They’re worthless. Bloody worthless as we say here… and worse — they’ve morphed into organisations that arguable undermine people’s freedom.”The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sent some nontechnical people to speak (obviously only in support of the bill), but the supposed ‘defenders’ of Linux, groups like OIN and the Linux Foundation, could not bother in any way whatsoever? Not even a short statement? Check out the Boards and the management, not to mention key members; they don’t actually oppose software patents, not even when momentum to squash these for good is already there. At the moment, software patents face unprecedented legal uncertainty in the United States’ courts, owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS); by asserting such patents against a suspected (merely accused) party not only are you at risk of losing these patents; in some cases you’re forced to then pay all the legal expenses of the accused. So litigation is rarely a good option with these. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) made it easier to squash litigation and the Federal Circuit very rarely accepts software patents as valid (there were rare exceptions in recent years).

Why is the OSI quiet? What about OIN and the Linux Foundation? They’re worthless. Bloody worthless as we say here… and worse — they’ve morphed into organisations that arguable undermine people’s freedom.

Links 9/6/2019: Arrest of Microsoft Peter, Linux 5.2 RC4, Ubuntu Touch Update

Posted in News Roundup at 7:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Chinese Military Wants to Develop Custom OS

    It’s unclear exactly how custom this new OS will be. It could be a Linux variant, like North Korea’s Red Star OS. Or it could be something completely new. Normally, I would be highly skeptical of a country being able to write and field its own custom operating system, but China is one of the few that is large enough to actually be able to do it. So I’m just moderately skeptical.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • After Years In The BSDs, TTY Keyboard Status Request Feature Being Proposed For Linux

      For years most BSDs have supported a “TTY keyboard status request” to display status information at the terminal about the current foreground process and its CPU time consumed among other possible metrics. After being talked about in the past as a possible feature candidate, this functionality is now available in patch form to debate.

      The SIGINFO capability on the BSDs is often exposed via the ^t combination and can be used for printing a one-line status message of the current process to the terminal. Different applications can end up exposing this in different manners. Those unfamiliar with the handling on the BSDs can see this message back from 2014 when the functionality was previously suggested.

    • Linux 5.2-rc4
      No, I'm not confused, and I haven't lost track of what day it is, I do
      actually know that it's still Saturday here, not Sunday, and I'm just
      doing rc4 a bit early because I'll be on an airplane during my normal
      release time. And while I've done releases on airports and airplanes
      before, I looked at my empty queue of pull requests and went "let's
      just do it now".
      We've had a fairly calm release so far, and on the whole that seems to
      hold. rc4 isn't smaller than rc3 was (it's a bit bigger), but rc3 was
      fairly small, so the size increase isn't all that worrisome. I do hope
      that we'll start actually shrinking now, though.
      The SPDX conversions do continue to stand out, and make the diffstat a
      bit noisy. They don't affect actual code, so it's not like we should
      have any issues with them, but it makes the patch statistics look a
      bit odd. There's just a lot more files changed than is normal in the
      rc phase, and 90+% of that changed file list comes from the SPDX
      changes. Of course, the SPDX changes also account for 95+% percent of
      the removed lines in rc4, which is why I'm not complaining. It does
      make the copyright boilerplates be a lot more legible to humans too,
      not just for scripting.
      But it does make the diff almost impossible to read, because so much
      of it is due to just the SPDX notice work. You can use interdiff to
      skip the SPDX stuff if you really want to, and if you do, you'll see
      the usual arch updates (arm64, mips, parisc, nds32) various random
      drivers updates (gpu stands out, some rdma), networking fixes,
      filesystems (ceph, ovlfs, xfs). And misc other stuff.
      But the appended shortlog is probably even more informative. None of
      it really looks all that gnarly.
    • Linux 5.2-rc4 Released After A Shortened Calm Week

      Linus Torvalds released Linux 5.2-rc4 about twenty-four hours early due to travel plans. But even with the shortened week, Linux 5.4-rc4 is coming in light.

      There were some concerns following the calm Linux 5.2-rc3 milestone that RC4 could come in heavier, but that hasn’t turned out.

    • Western Digital Continues Working On SMR / Zoned Device Support For Btrfs

      In addition to SUSE continuing to advance the Btrfs file-system, Western Digital has also been working on a big patch series around providing native support for zoned block devices.

      The zoned block device support is for supporting newer shingled magnetic recording (SMR) drives with the ZBC/ZAC commands. These are newer hard drives offering much higher storage capacities (10TB+) than were previously achievable due to the recording technique. There have been device-managed zoned support for file-systems not natively supporting these newer standards as well as a dm-zoned target in the Device Mapper code to help out in those scenarios as well.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Panfrost Making Use Of The Gallium3D I/O Vectorization For Better Performance

        At the end of May I wrote about Intel’s Iris Gallium3D driver achieving performance optimizations with new NIR I/O vectorization functionality. The open-source Arm Mali “Panfrost” Gallium3D driver has now wired into this code too for better performance.

        The Intel Iris gains with this I/O vectorization were 1~9% with Skylake GT4e graphics. Thanks to this code being implemented in the Mesa NIR state tracker, it’s just left up to the Gallium3D drivers to do a bit more for this vectorization pass after other optimizations are complete.

      • Mesa 19.2′s Virgl Sees Huge Performance Win Around Buffer Copy Transfers

        For those using Virgl to enjoy Gallium3D-based OpenGL acceleration to guest virtual machines on Linux, the Mesa 19.2 release paired with the latest Virgl renderer library should provide a very significant speed-up.

        The virglrenderer code picked up support for copy transfers last month so the guest can avoid waiting if it needs to write to a busy resource. Alexandros Frantzis of Collabora who landed the Virglrenderer work has now seen his Mesa-side Virgl code merged to Mesa 19.2 Git.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.59.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.59.0.

        KDE Frameworks are over 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the KDE Frameworks web page.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.59 Brings More Fixes

        Another month brings another update to the KDE Frameworks that complement the functionality provided by the Qt5 tool-kit.

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 74

        Now that Plasma 5.16 is frozen and almost out the door, we’ve started turning our attentions to Plasma 5.17. One of the big features I’m pushing on is a visual evolution of the Breeze theme. The first component just landed: KWin-generated window borders are now off by default for the Breeze theme! Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to aim for a single pixel to to resize windows; there are virtual resize areas just the same size as the old window borders so the behavior is unchanged. It also has no effect on other themes, many of which have big, beautiful borders that stand out as part of the theme’s design. But Breeze is a minimalistic theme, and this is the first step towards modernizing the look and feel of KDE apps. We think you’re really going to love the final result!

      • Announcing Our Google Summer of Code 2019 Students

        These students will be working with our development teams throughout the summer, and many of them will join us this September at Akademy, our annual community meeting.

        Krita will have four students this year: Alberto Flores will work with the SVG pipe/animated brush, Kuntal M. is porting the magnetic lasso, Sharaf Zaman will port Krita to Android, and Tusooa Windy will bring a better undo/redo for Krita.

        digiKam will mentor three students this year. Thanh Trung Dinh will bring AI Face Recognition with the OpenCV DNN module to digiKam, Igor Antropov will improve the Faces Management workflow, and Ahmed Fathy will make a zoomable and resizable brush for Healing Clone Tool.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • Condres OS Introduces new Control Center, which will be shipped in the future release

        Condres is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on the independently developed Arch operating system.

        It’s supporting almost all the popular desktop environments like Gnome, KDE, Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce, server edition, minimal edition (CLI).

        The developers of Condres has introduced a new graphical control center.

        It’s still in beta stage. I hope, it will be shipped in the future release.

        The new control center, which now completely replaces the Condres Settings Manager and Octopi.

        There are many features added in control center, which has been revised and has now reached beta 2.

        Finally the system tray finds updates in real time using pacman-helper.

    • Debian Family

      • CVE-2018-15587 : Debian has Released Security Update for evolution

        Debian has released security update for evolution package.

        This release fixes vulnerability against evolution package.

      • CVE-2019-10149 : Debian has Released Critical Security Update for Exim

        Debian has released security update for exim4 package.

        This release fixes vulnerability against exim4 package.

      • Debian has Released Critical Security Update for qemu

        Debian has released security update for qemu package.

        This release fixes 12 vulnerabilities against qemu package.

      • Debian has Released Security Updates for openjdk 7 and openjdk 8

        Debian has released security update for openjdk-7 and openjdk-8 packages.

        This release fixes three vulnerabilities against openjdk-7 and openjdk-8 packages.

      • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in May 2019

        Nothing changed compared to last month, so this was again a quiet month. I only accepted 126 packages and rejected 15 uploads. The overall number of packages that got accepted was 156.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch Nearing Updated Unity 8 + Mir, But Not Yet Full Wayland

            Those at UBports continuing to independently advance Ubuntu Touch have put out a fresh status update on their work, including the long-awaited Unity 8 and Mir upgrade.

            An updated Unity 8 and Mir are inching closer to Ubuntu Touch users, including a Unity 8 that can work together with XWayland. These long-awaited updates are finally moving closer and the version of Mir they are targeting is the latest Mir 1.2 upstream release. They are also switching out their Xmir code for XWayland for the handling of running legacy applications.

            While progress is being made on running Wayland applications, there won’t be a near-term or immediate switchover to a complete Wayland experience. By the time they are done with the prep work and other changes for the full Wayland integration on Unity 8, they are likely looking at “some time next year”.

          • Ubuntu Touch Q&A 51

            Alan Griffiths – who by the way is the project lead for Mir – replied to another question, concerning Unity8 and Mir, in their new versions. We get lots of questions about all of that and we have never really explained it properly or said why it is so important.

            This is a good time to explain how some of these things fit together. A new Mir version; a new version of Unity 8 which will work together with Xwayland (which will replace Xmir); enabling apps with a toolkit that supports Wayland; migrating existing apps to Wayland; migrating compositor components to Wayland. This is by no means a complete list of all the things that need to be done but those are the core things.

            Marius explained that these things have to be done in in a set order and Alan has very helpfully listed them in that order.

            Marius is actually using Unity 8 on his daily driver device, which is a pain still but nevertheless does work. It is already fairly stable (not as in stable release!) and it is fast. The keyboard crashes though and memory is messed up.

            Unity 8 has to be developed in tandem with Mir. They are dependent on each other and have evolved together. Canonical did some work with the new version of Unity, so of course they did work on Mir to match that. Together, they bring performance improvements, such as with events. They also bring stability improvements.

            Having said all that, the new Unity 8 was being developed mostly for desktop, early on. So it is actually more stable on desktop than on phone at the moment because that is where it started. Rotation issues are an example of issues that really only affect phones.

            The development work then was around the time of 16.04 and 17.04.

            Canonical’s main focus was to deliver new things. Our focus is different because for us, stability is absolutely central. We need to make it usable for everyday users, not just on the desktop but of course most importantly on phones.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • BSD

    • Stable release: HardenedBSD-stable 12-STABLE v1200059

      MFC r348167, r348168, r348359, r348361: Add posixshmcontrol(1) utility. (a6d485ce245aa9798f9e402c446010f26ab974ba)
      MFC 347033: Increase the VirtIO segment count to support modern Windows guests. (8fb552d38dcee4f17df31d13ac823568a76c5988)
      MFC r348052: NDFREE(): Fix unlocking for LOCKPARENT|LOCKLEAF and ndp->ni_dvp == ndp->ni_vp. (7b981e827b29bdf244f703e789cb02e6a37729b9)

    • The DragonFly BSD Team is Working in Reducing of ISO Image Size

      Usually an operating system’s installation media grows from one release to the next release as they add more features.

      The DragonFly BSD team is working in reducing of ISO image size by reducing the size of packages on the operating system’s media.

      The next release of DragonFly BSD ISO image size should be smaller.

      They have removed enough packages on the installer image to drop the package disk usage 50%.

      How it can be done?

    • Reduce the size of /usr/local on the IMG/ISO considerably.
  • Programming/Development

    • Haiku monthly activity report, May 2019

      korli changed how runtime_loader handles weak symbols to be more in line with the behavior of other operating systems.

      waddlesplash tweaked “strace” to print syscall names plainly, i.e. without the prefixed “kern”.

      mmu_man committed changes to allow loading the BControlLook from an add-on, and added a setting to the Appearance preferences for it. This allows developers to create their own control theming, as all controls are drawn using this class.

      A few older changes from oortwijn correcting some corner-cases in USB tablet logic were (finally) committed.

      Haiku’s malloc implementation, previously based on the (now-ancient, sbrk-based) hoard2, was replaced with rpmalloc, a high-perforance mmap-based allocator. This enables applications on 64-bit Haiku to use more than 1.5GB of RAM, and also provides an across-the-board 10-15% performance improvement, with some use-cases seeing even larger ones. Thanks go to mmlr, PulkoMandy, and waddlesplash for the Haiku-side work on this, and mjansson, the creator of rpmalloc, for being so responsive to feedback!

    • Haiku Continues Seeing A Lot Of Driver Fixes, New Malloc & Now Built By GCC 8

      The Haiku operating system that is the open-source inspiration from BeOS continues with a busy 2019 following their R1 beta towards the end of last year.

      Over the course of May there has been Haiku work on a new malloc implementation based on the high-performance rpmalloc mmap-based allocator, which is yielding around 10~15% performance improvements and some times even greater gains.

    • LLVM Adding Support For IBM MASS Library For POWER Vectorization

      A new addition to the LLVM code-base this week is initial support for IBM’s MASS vectorization library.

      IBM Mathematical Acceleration Subsystem (MASS) are a set of libraries with optimized versions of frequently-used mathematical functions and vectorized to make use of POWER hardware’s high core/thread counts. IBM MASS is of similar nature to say Intel’s Math Kernel Library (MKL). Those wanting to learn more about the MASS libraries can do so on IBM.com.

      The LLVM code provides initial support for vectorization using the MASS vector library routines when using the -vector-library=MASSV for the LLVM compiler stack.

    • Export/import issues with GitLab CE

      GitLab CE (the free/open source version of GitLab) has an import issues feature but doesn’t have an export issues feature (because, not enterprise, apparently).

      So if you fork a project and want to transfer the issues also, you’re out of luck. Unless you use the API, that is.

      So I ducked around and found that a kind soul by the name of Joseph Heenan had created a Perl script to export your GitLab issues in CSV format. Spoiler: do not run this as-is and import the resulting CSV into GitLab CE as you will get corrupted issues. Because apparently GitLab CE has its own, incompatible CSV format compared to GitLab EE (because, not enterprise, apparently). So keep reading…

    • Python 3.7.3 : Testing the PyX python module.
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxxi) stackoverflow python report


  • Health/Nutrition

    • From Glyphosate to Front Groups: Fraud, Deception and Toxic Tactics

      Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the Editor-in-Chief of the British Medical Journal and the British Medical Association Council Chairman, Chaand Nagpaul.

      Her purpose is to not only draw attention to the impact of biocides, not least that of glyphosate, on health and the environment but also to bring attention to the corruption that allows this to continue.

      Along with her letter, she enclosed a 13-page document. Readers can access the fully referenced document here: European Chemicals Agency classifies glyphosate as a substance that causes serious eye damage. It is worth reading in full to appreciate the conflicts of interest and the corruption that has led to the rise in certain illnesses and the destruction of the natural environment.

      By way of a brief summary, the key points raised by Dr Mason and her claims include the following.

    • My Abortion

      Her face is like an image in a photograph, as clear today as it was years ago when I first saw her. The little girl, named Amber, was among my best friend J’s social work, foster care caseload. And I wanted to adopt her.

      I had a son, longed for another child, and hoped to have a daughter. When I was two months pregnant, I knew something was wrong. This was based on nothing but a feeling, one I never expressed. Not even to my husband. Although I was healthy, had no reason to be apprehensive, I remember walking downstairs to the laundry room, touching my abdomen, and thinking, this child won’t be born.

      A little over three months pregnant, I was at the hospital, waiting to have amniocentesis. During the scan to locate the fetus, my obstetrician saw what he gently would tell me once my husband arrived. The longer I waited, the more anxious I became. I had asked why we just didn’t proceed with the amnio only to hear that he wanted to wait until Charles came. When he did, the doctor took us to a small room where we learned that the fetus was severely deformed with spina bifida and hydrocephaly. I said no when asked if I needed time to consider my options. That I was there for a procedure to detect abnormalities meant my decision was made. The next morning, I was admitted for induction abortion: hours of contractions, labor pains that ended with the delivery of a dead fetus. I asked the gender. A girl.

      Amber’s mother wouldn’t allow an adoption and once she could care for her daughter, they were reunited. I hope with all my heart they did well. I did. Within a year of the abortion, I was pregnant again. And pregnant with a feeling that this time everything was right. It was.

      As clearly as I recall Amber’s face, I’m foggy on the sequence of what I’ve just told you. Did I meet Amber soon after I had the abortion? Or later, after I’d had my second child, another boy?

    • Under Guise of “Choice”: Trump Launches Assault on Veterans’ Care

      On June 6th, the Trump Administration launched what it calls a “revolution” in veterans’ health care.

      If that date rings a bell, it’s because, on June 6, 1944, American soldiers and their allies stormed ashore in Normandy, establishing a critical beach-head in the campaign to defeat Adolph Hitler and Nazism.

      In the aftermath of that and other World War II battles, tens of thousands of injured veterans were treated, back home, in a nationwide network of hospitals and clinics run by the federal government. Most patients of what’s now called the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) appreciated the specialized, high-quality care they received from our nation’s best working model of socialized medicine.

      But, on this D-Day anniversary, Donald Trump is rolling out a program, favored by his right-wing backers, that directly attacks public provision of veterans’ healthcare. On June 6, the VHA’s salaried care-givers will be required, by law, to refer many more of their nine million patients to private doctors and for-profit hospitals, even when the VHA could serve them better and at lower cost.

      This expanded out-sourcing creates a beach-head for the health care industry, which hopes to expand its market share to 40 percent or more of all VHA patients. Trump’s “counter-revolution” in veterans’ care will divert billions of dollars from a national healthcare system uniquely equipped to serve the poor and working-class veterans who qualify for VHA coverage.

    • Demanding End to ‘Rotten’ Opposition to Medicare for All, Doctors and Nurses to March on American Medical Association’s Annual Meeting

      The AMA is America’s largest association of physicians, one of the largest lobbying organizations in the U.S., and a founding member of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a coalition formed by insurance and pharmaceutical interests to combat Medicare for All.

      On Saturday, medical professionals dressed in their scrubs and white coats intend to rally at the AMA’s gathering at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago to make clear that the organization’s anti-Medicare for All stance does not represent the view of all—or even most—physicians and nurses.

      “America’s doctors see the harm that our profit-oriented, fragmented healthcare system imposes on patients—and how it impedes our work as physicians,” tweeted Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which helped organize Saturday’s march alongside National Nurses United (NNU), Students for a National Health Program, and other groups.

      “So tomorrow,” Gaffney said, “we’re calling on the AMA to join us in the fight for a better, more just healthcare system for everyone.”

      In an op-ed for The Guardian on Thursday, a group of medical students and organizers planning to take part in Saturday’s march wrote that while the “AMA claims to represent the interests and values of our nation’s doctors… it has long been the public relations face of America’s private health insurance system, which treats healthcare as a commodity.”

      “Medical students and professionals have had enough,” the group added. “This Saturday’s protest is only one example.”

      In a 2017 survey, physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins found that 56 percent of doctors either strongly or somewhat support a single-payer system.

    • The AMA Stops Us From Getting Health Care

      The American Medical Association needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Because we smell something bad, and it’s you: The way you keep Americans from getting health care is rotten to the core.

      AMA, you can’t fool me, and the millions like me who now know who you really are, and what you actually stand for. We demand you step out of the way of Medicare For All, which is the health care we want and need.

      You’d think the nation’s largest association of doctors—whose stated goal is “the betterment of public health”—would want patients to get care. But the AMA has opposed every major effort to expand health access since 1917. That includes the national health insurance proposed in 1945 by President Harry Truman—who you accused of following the “Moscow party line”- and Medicare, which once again you denounced as “socialized medicine” in 1965. You did want to keep hospitals segregated, and refused to admit African-American doctors to your association until 1968.

      The Red Menace is long gone, but the AMA still fights tooth and nail to restrict access to health care. Most recently, the AMA joined private insurers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical makers to create the “Partnership For America’s Health Care Future.” This new lobby has one explicit goal: to kill the growing momentum towards Medicare For All.

    • America’s Dental Health Crisis: Modern Life Causes More Tooth Decay, and Care Is Increasingly Unaffordable

      The light of a Friday morning in autumn gently touched the little town: the Farmers and Miners Bank, the grocery store with the hand-lettered signboard advertising sugar on sale, the squat yellow brick courthouse. It was Jonesville, the county seat of Lee County, by many measures the poorest county in Virginia, and the farthest flung, here, in Appalachia. On this day, all attention was focused upon the outskirts, where at the small airport, preparations were under way for a free health clinic, to be held over the weekend.

      In a few hours, the first of the patients would start arriving. They would come from the roads and the highways, the nearby towns and the more distant hollows, from southwestern Virginia and Kentucky and farther away. Some barely had the gas money to get to Jonesville. One woman was driving from Tennessee holding her broken glasses to her eyes. The truck with the chest x-ray machine was already parked at one end of the runway. And when the sky cleared a little more, an old airplane would be flying over the mountains, bringing in folding dental chairs and medical equipment and crates of surgical gauze and gloves from Knoxville.

    • We Must Address a Terrible Truth About Toxic Masculinity

      Dallas Goldtooth, campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network and outspoken critic of toxic masculinity, describes a terrible truth under which many women must live in their working lives.

      “Women’s safety and health is dependent on them knowing men better than men know themselves,” he said. “They have to know how men think, what motivates them and determine if certain men pose dangers to their well-being. Most men aren’t required to do this; they only have to know themselves.”

      The process of colonization and forced acculturation has stripped men of color of agency and power over their own lives, according to Goldtooth.

      “As unhealthy as it is, they seek to regain that control through the domination of women,” he said.

      Toxic masculinity victimizes both men and women, according to Goldtooth.

      “Toxic masculinity is defined by men’s inability to process anger, rage and fear. In this worldview, the only response is dysfunction and self-destruction,” he said.

    • Racism is a Public Health Crisis

      Racism is often viewed as an action performed by individuals. But even if we got rid of all America’s prejudiced individuals, racism would still exist in the systems they built.

      Systemic racism, writer Jenee Desmond-Harris explains, refers to how racial disparities operate “in major parts of U.S. society: the economy, politics, education, and more.”

      Racism, in other words, isn’t just someone using a racial slur. It’s also the poor schooling in predominantly black and brown neighborhoods, the racial wealth gap, housing discrimination, mass incarceration, police killings of unarmed black and brown people, higher infant mortality rates for people of color, and unequal access to health care.

      As governments struggle to address (or even acknowledge) these racial inequalities, officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin decided to take a unique approach by declaring racism a public health crisis.

      Milwaukee is one of the most racially unequal cities in the country, coming in at No. 2 last year on a list of “The Worst Cities for Black Americans” by 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news site. The report blamed Milwaukee’s discriminatory housing policies throughout the 20th century for the city’s current inequality.

      Citing research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it noted that “16 of the 18 suburbs of Milwaukee County enacted restrictive housing covenants in the 1940s, many of which remained in effect into the 1960s and 1970s.” This segregation contributed to deep income and wealth inequality today.

    • 40+ State and Local Prosecutors Say They Won’t Enforce ‘Unconscionable’ Abortion Bans

      Calling a series of recent anti-choice laws in a number of states “unconscionable” and unconstitutional, more than three dozen state attorneys general and local prosecutors said Friday that they would not enforce the new legislation.

      In a statement by the law enforcement coalition Fair and Just Prosecution, 42 elected prosecutors said enforcing “deeply concerning” laws recently passed in Georgia, Alabama, and other states would erode their communities’ trust in the justice system and traumatize patients who would be unable to access medical care that has been legal in the United States for more than 40 years.

      “As elected prosecutors, we took an oath to uphold both the U.S. Constitution and the Constitutions of our individual states,” wrote the officials. “As some elected prosecutors have noted, the broad restrictions in the laws passed by these states appear to be unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Many of us share those legal views, but our commitment to not prosecute women who obtain abortions and health care professionals who provide treatment is not predicated on these concerns alone.”

  • Security

    • Millions of machines affected by command execution flaw in Exim mail server

      The flaw, which dates back to version 4.87 released in April 2016, is trivially exploitable by local users with a low-privileged account on a vulnerable system running with default settings. All that’s required is for the person to send an email to “${run{…}}@localhost,” where “localhost” is an existing local domain on a vulnerable Exim installation. With that, attackers can execute commands of their choice that run with root privileges.

    • Fortune 500 firm Tech Data leaks 264Gb of data online

      Security researchers from virtual private network firm vpnMentor have found an unsecured server belonging to American multinational tech vendor Data Tech online, containing 264GB of data about its client servers, invoices, SAP integrations and plaintext passwords.

    • Android malware once found a way onto phones before they even shipped

      Today, Google posted what amounts to a case study of some very persistent and clever hackers who kept trying to get malware on Android phones. It’s about the “Triada family” of apps designed to put spam and ads on a device. After a brief history of how it started in 2016 and an overview of how early versions worked, Google got to the surprising turn in the story: Triada devised a method to get malware on Android phones virtually at the factory, before customers had even opened the box or even installed a single app.

    • Google details Triada malware – three years after it was reported!

      Three years after it was first reported by Russian security firm Kaspersky ((formerly Kaspersky Lab), Google has suddenly decided to confirm a report that the firmware updates of some Android devices were compromised through their supply chain so that they could be infected with malware.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Warnings of More Deadly Attacks on Yemen as Trump Permits Raytheon to Manufacture ‘High-Tech Bomb Parts’ Inside Saudi Arabia

      In a move critics warned could empower the Saudis to manufacture their own high-tech weaponry for use in their assault on Yemen, the Trump administration reportedly wants to allow the American arms giant Raytheon to work with the kingdom to construct bomb and missile parts inside Saudi Arabia.

      As The New York Times reported Friday, President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration last month greenlighting billions of dollars in U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval contained a provision that permits Raytheon to “team up with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia.”

      The provision, according to the Times, immediately “raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs—weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago.”

      “The move grants Raytheon and the Saudis sweeping permission to begin assembling the control systems, guidance electronics, and circuit cards that are essential to the company’s Paveway smart bombs,” the Times reported. “The United States has closely guarded such technology for national security reasons.”

    • Getting China Wrong, Again

      The influential Council on Foreign Relations has released a remarkable special report by long-time diplomat Robert Blackwill entitled “Trump’s Foreign Policies are Better Than They Seem.” The report singles out Trump for praise because he identified China as a threat to the United States in economic, military, and cultural terms and criticized previous presidents for suggesting there was a need for strategic cooperation with China. The implication of the report is that the Obama and Bush administrations betrayed national interests by not taking a hard line on China.

      The Council on Foreign Relations has a preeminent position in U.S. foreign policy, and this special report captures the Washington consensus on China at this moment. Politicians across the spectrum, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are increasingly speaking of China as a serious threat to American security and competitiveness.

    • Under Tariff Pressure From the US, Mexico Detains Migrant Activists

      Mexico City–Mexican authorities arrested two migrant activists Wednesday on suspicion of human smuggling in connection with the pair’s efforts to provide support for Central American migrants traveling to the United States. However, supporters believe the arrests are due to the ongoing dispute between Mexico and the United States over the potential imposition of tariffs on all Mexican goods entering the U.S.

      President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods, rising steadily to 25 percent, unless Mexico takes measures to stop migration from Central America through the country. The threat prompted a strongly worded letter from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who dispatched a delegation that included Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to meet with U.S. officials. On Wednesday, Trump stated on Twitter that progress had been made but that it was “not nearly enough.”

      Supporters of the two detained migrant rights activists gathered in front of the office of the Attorney General of Mexico (FGR) on Thursday to demand the immediate release of Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez, and told media outlets they intend to file an official complaint with the FGR over the arrests.

      Mujica and Sánchez are longtime migrant rights activists, with the former serving as the director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group that has worked to accompany migrants and provide support for the migrant caravans that pass through Mexico. The organization has drawn wide support from grassroots activists. It has also attracted the ire of many politicians on both sides of the border and has faced accusations by senior Mexican officials of not merely accompanying migrant caravans, but rather organizing them.

    • As Trump Signals Support for Israel’s Proposed West Bank Annexation, Lawmakers and Rights Advocates Condemn Plan to Commit ‘War Crime’

      A top Trump administration official signaled Saturday that the U.S. would welcome Israel’s reported plan to break international law by annexing parts of the West Bank, angering advocates for Palestinian rights.

      U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the New York Times that Israel is “entitled to retain some portion” of the Palestinian territory where Israel has built settlements over the past two decades.

      Saeb Erakat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, wrote that the Trump administration’s blessing of Israeli’s plan to commit a “war crime” represents “the road to an endless conflict.”

    • Santrich Goes Free While Peace in Colombia Still Held Hostage

      Former FARC guerrilla commander Jesús Santrich, imprisoned on April 9, 2018, went free on May 30. Colombian authorities had held him pending extradition to the United Sates. Their plan violated the peace agreement signed in November 2016 between FARC guerrillas and Colombia’s government.

      Santrich, born Seuxis Hernández Solarte, personifies turmoil in Colombia stemming from the precarious peace process there. A specialist in communications and propaganda for the FARC (Revolutionary Forces of Colombia), Santrich was a lead FARC negotiator and spokesperson during four years of peace talks in Havana. A poet, artist, musician, and recognizable in photos with his Palestinian keffiyeh (scarf), Santrich is blind.

      But for his arrest, Santrich would have occupied one of ten seats in Colombian’s congress assigned to the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, the FARC’s new peacetime political party

      Having charged him with conspiracy to export cocaine to the United States, a New York court requested Santrich’s extradition. Consequently, Colombian authorities arrested him, thus prompting his 41 day hunger strike. Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), in Colombia without apparent authorization, had generated the supposed evidence against him.

    • Congress Can End the Yemen War This Summer, Despite Trump

      On April 16, President Trump vetoed one of the most historically significant pieces of legislation to emerge from Congress during his presidency: S.J.Res.7, the Yemen War Powers Resolution. This bill would end U.S. military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) disastrous war on Yemen. A veto override vote in the Senate a few weeks later passed with a simple majority of 53-45, but did not achieve the 67-vote supermajority needed to overturn the veto. Though the effort failed, we learned something important in the process: We now know in unequivocal terms that a bipartisan majority in Congress wants to end the U.S. military role in a war that has already claimed the lives of 85,000 children under the age of five due to hunger and disease.

      Congress has another chance to end the war this summer during consideration of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and defense appropriations bills. These annual military spending bills offer Congress one of the quickest and most straightforward ways to defund the war and condemn this military campaign.

      Through the NDAA and defense appropriations, Congress can prohibit intelligence-sharing and logistics support activities for the war in Yemen; suspend direct commercial sales licenses for the maintenance and sustainment of fighter aircraft used in Saudi-UAE offensive operations in Yemen; and even stop domestic training of Saudi and UAE fighter jet mechanics. Importantly, these bills could suspend the transfer and sale of weapons ― something many experts believe could be the best chance for creating the leverage needed for lasting peace in Yemen.

      “The people of Yemen and the parties to the conflict are watching closely and the messages US leaders send have the power to save lives,” Scott Paul, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy lead, stated. “Congress must act to keep up the pressure, and not let President Trump’s cynical, transactional and heartless brand of politics define America’s role in the world. Now Congress must act to end arms sales to all parties fighting in this brutal conflict.”

    • Five Years Gone: What Bowe Bergdahl’s Odyssey Tells Us About the United States’s Endless War in Afghanistan

      In Book IX of Homer’s “Odyssey,” the reader finds Odysseus recounting the early days of what will become his 10-year voyage home from the Trojan War. Trapped in the Cyclops’ cave, the Greek warrior devises an audacious plan to escape. He blinds the Cyclops and sneaks out of confinement with his crew. As they row out to sea, the sailors hear the rage-fueled cries of the blinded Cyclops as the creature demands to know the author of his fate.

      Unable to resist, Odysseus taunts him: “[I]f any man on the face of the earth should ask you / who blinded you, who shamed you so—say Odysseus.” And he does, raising a curse to Poseidon, “god of the sea-blue mane who rocks the earth,” asking that Odysseus “find a world of pain at home.” Odysseus’ life thereafter is complicated by this act of hubris, the reckless decision to reveal his identity to the Cyclops.

      While returning home from modern war is considerably faster, it can feel Odyssean. For American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, the journey can take weeks. First, a trip from a small outpost to a larger one, where a unit consolidates and soldiers wait for a helicopter to take them to Bagram, the largest American air base in the country. More waiting at Bagram, this time for a flight to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. From there a bus to another camp in Kuwait. More waiting. Then a bus back to Ali Al Salem. More waiting. Finally, the flight home. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go, but nothing ever seems to move so smoothly. At the start of the surge in Iraq, to note a notorious example, some units waiting for flights home from Kuwait were ordered back to Iraq for more months of combat, only to begin the whole return process anew.

      But for Bowe Bergdahl, the Cyclops’ curse—calling for Odysseus to “come home late […] alone in a stranger’s ship”—became all too real. Bergdahl, the longest-held American POW in the United States’s longest war, has been the subject of renewed public interest, owing in part to the popularity of the Serial podcast series, which devoted its second season to Bergdahl’s ordeal. Much of the attention in the popular press, however, has focused on one central question—why did this young soldier walk off his post and disappear into the Afghan night 10 years ago this June? Matt Farwell and Michael Ames, in their new book “American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan,” broaden the story beyond this decision. Bergdahl’s odyssey, in Farwell and Ames’s account, is far more complex than his solitary journey may suggest. The young soldier’s ordeal, the authors contend, offers a glimpse into the dysfunctional and unending prosecution of the United States’s longest war.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: Carter’s Cage of Crisis

      There would never have been a Democratic president in 1977, certainly not a President Jimmy Carter, were it not for Watergate, Richard Nixon’s disgrace and the public backlash against Tricky Dick’s Republican Party. Indeed, after the fall of Lyndon B. Johnson, a new era of Republican ascendancy had begun, with the GOP holding the presidency for 20 of the 24 years following Nixon’s 1968 election. Often remembered as one of America’s most feckless and uninspiring presidents, Carter in reality was neither as successful as his supporters had hoped nor as ineffective as his opponents later claimed. He was, ultimately, a transitional figure and a product of the 1970s, which were increasingly politically conservative although heavily colored by cultural liberalism, especially among the young. Though later portrayed by the right as a hopelessly left-wing liberal, Carter was actually quiet pragmatic and became the first of the three Democratic presidents who served between 1977 and 2017 to tack toward the right. In that sense, one could argue that Carter reflected and affected the prevailing conservative winds and started the country down the road toward the “Reagan Revolution” and a long-term rightward trend in American politics.

      A Georgia peanut farmer, Naval Academy graduate and evangelical Christian, Carter was a complicated, multifaceted figure and supposedly a figurehead of the “new”—post-civil rights—South. He was an intelligent, inherently decent man, but given the inflation and unemployment of the era—much of which was beyond his control—he seemed doomed to be a one-term president. He could not stem the tide of economic stagnation as the U.S. emerged from its anomalous postwar affluence. Indeed, in retrospect, the American economic expansion that followed the Second World War could not have continued without interruption. However, telling the truth about this inevitable phenomenon was not popular among a populace that had grown spoiled and expected unlimited perpetual growth. Carter tried to rein in that impossible expectation and for his trouble was voted out of office.

      If not quite a tragic figure, Carter was, to some extent, treated unfairly by the voters, punished for crises and downturns not wholly of his doing. Then again, few remember that it was Carter who first shifted toward economic austerity and increased military spending and deployments in the Middle East. It is odd that the legacy of a man who seemed so committed to peace should be the onset of what would become a 40-year, ongoing crusade for American dominance of the Greater Middle East. It is more ironic, still, that a president later remembered as too liberal should be the first in many decades to call for a balanced budget and initiate monetary policies that emphasized austerity in more traditionally conservative ways. Though their personalities could not have been more different, Carter and his successor as president, Ronald Reagan, pursued policies not totally dissimilar to one another. Indeed, one could argue that Carter was the first in a line of three centrist Democratic presidents who would abandon the social program spending boom that had defined liberalism ever since Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 inauguration. It could be said, then, that Carter was the first conservative president of a Republican-dominated era.

    • Iran Denounces Trump’s ‘Hollow’ Offer of Negotiations After US Imposes Latest Sanctions

      Accusing the Trump administration of “economic terrorism,” Iran’s foreign ministry said Saturday that the latest sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump demonstrate that the U.S. is not serious about pursuing negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear power.

      Trump announced the newest round of sanctions on Friday to punish Iran’s largest petrochemical company for its indirect support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Trump administration labeled the IRGC as a terrorist group in April.

    • Footnoting History for the Sake of History and for the Sake of Peace

      Recently, I was reminded of the short story by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, titled: “The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero” (“El Tema del Traidor y el Héroe”) (1962) in which a fictional historian is compelled “not” to change the biographical history of an Irish hero because of nationalist interests. It seems my own recent writing has inspired such liberal editing for the benefits of nationalism.

      Such historical musings are curious but nothing new to me. In my past academic writing, I have examined how different historical interpretations of a Basque commemorative parade inspired quite differing viewpoints about the past and were dependent upon notions of feminism or traditionalism with very different political implications.

      In Borges’ story, the hero is named Fergus Kilpatrick, an Irishman living around 1824. While the story feels more like the murderous and traitorous times of the Republican independence movement, or the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, Ireland against Great Britain. The narrator in the story, named Ryan, is the great-grandson of the Irish hero, Kilpatrick. As the protagonist, Ryan, remarks: “That history should have copied history was already sufficiently astonishing; that history should copy literature was inconceivable…”

      Indeed, the whole idea of history meandering between irony and truth may be expected and likewise its similarities with history more ironic still. We find some histories paralleling literature, whether they be the literary plots of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesaror Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as Borges aptly points out. Yet, when so-called nationalists alter so-called small facts for their own political gains and purposes to change history, often they do so as a means of normalizing their political discourse. While such editorial renderings of opinions about conflicts may not be the intent of the original author, or historian, or no doubt, in some cases, peace activist and peace writer, altering facts and editing out content for political purposes may be somewhat dangerous. Because nationalism presupposes a particular perspective, a religiosity for the nation as an ideal above all else.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Australia’s raids on journalists signal an authoritarian turning point

      But the journalists are just a canary in the Australian authoritarian coal mine. The attacks on journalists are part of a wider assault on migrants, dissidents, environmentla campaigners and others who threaten the wealth and privilege of an aging minority of climate-denying white supremacists.

    • Why the raids on Australian media present a clear threat to democracy

      The New York Times quoted News Corp’s description of the Smethurst raid as “a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths”. The Prime Minister was quick to distance his government from the AFP’s actions, while opposition leader Anthony Albanese condemned the raids.

      But to those familiar with the ever-expanding field of Australian national security law, these developments were unlikely to surprise. In particular, enhanced data surveillance powers and a new suite of secrecy offences introduced in late 2018 had sparked widespread concern over the future of public interest journalism in Australia.

      The crackdown of the past few days reveals that at least two of the core fears expressed by lawyers and the media industry were well-founded: first, the demise of source confidentiality and, secondly, a chilling effect on public interest journalism.

    • Australian Police Raids Target News Media Over Leaked Documents

      The raid of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s offices came a day after the same agency searched the home, computer and cellphone of a journalist who reported on secret correspondence between government ministries over a plan to expand intelligence agencies’ surveillance powers. The police said the two raids were not related.

    • Warring Against Sources: The Australian National Security State, Journalism and the Public Interest

      These are dark times for journalists and publishers. It did not seem coincidental that Annika Smethurst, a News Corp journalist and political affairs editor, would be a target of an Australian Federal Police warrant. Chelsea Manning, courtesy of a ruling by Judge Anthony Trenga, remains in federal custody in the United States. Julian Assange is facing decline in the maximum security abode that is Belmarsh prison in the United Kingdom.

      The story supposedly linked to the AFP warrant had been published by Smethurst on April 29, 2018. More than a year had elapsed, with little in the way of public murmurings. Australians have, for the most part, fallen under the anaesthetist’s spell regarding intrusive, unnecessary and dangerous national security laws. Another set of them would hardly matter.

      But since the story, titled “Let Us Spy on Aussies” broke last year, the security wallahs have been attempting to root out the source, mobilising the AFP in the process. The account detailed information on discussions between the Home Affairs and Defence departments on the possibility of granting the Australian Signals Directorate powers to monitor the emails, bank records and text messages of Australian citizens. Letters between Secretary of Home Affairs Mike Pezzullo and Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty featured.

      When the archaic official secrets provisions of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) were repealed in June 29 2018, leaving way for new regulations dealing with national security information, those dealing with publishing such material felt slight relief. A public interest defence, lodged in the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign) Interference Act 2018, had been introduced, protecting those “engaged in the business of reporting news, presenting current affairs or expressing editorial or other content in news media”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 5 Podcasts to Inspire You on Climate

      Most days, the news on climate can be tough. Carbon dioxide levels reaching new heights. Glaciers melting even faster than we thought. White House officials celebrating the prospect of an ice-free Arctic. Not a whole lot of good ways to spin these.

      But here’s the good news. There are a lot of smart and committed people working to solve this. And if you need a bit of hope, a bit of inspiration, we’ve got five podcasts with conversations and stories that’ll light a fire inside, change how you think about the crisis, and get you ready to fight again.

      Because the truth is, sometimes we all need it. Enjoy.

    • How Mining Corporations Plunder the Global South

      These predatory practices carried out by MNCs deprive developing countries from being able to benefit equitably from their own natural resource supply and ultimately undermine their pursuit of emancipatory economic development policies.

      How do systematic underdevelopment and exploitation of developing countries and their peoples occur? Two common strategies of corporate plunder through global extractive industries are rent-seeking and wage exploitation.


      The highly capital-intensive nature of the extractive industry requires expensive upfront costs as well as ongoing investment to replace, modernize, and expand equipment and facilities, which forces communities and governments of poor countries to rely on foreign firms for financial assistance.

      As a result, such countries are prevented from being able to fully absorb the financial returns generated from their national resource endowments.

      The continent of Africa in particular has historically accounted for a significant portion of global extractive production and supply, serving as a catalyst for the economic development of the Global North through low-wage labor and corporate ownership of the region’s natural resources.

      Who Controls the Global Extractive and Mining Industries?

      Over the past several decades, multinational corporations have emerged as the primary actors in facilitating global trade and natural resource extraction, yielding tremendous profits.

    • California’s Biggest Secret? How Big Oil Dominates Public Discourse to Manipulate and Deceive

      This article is based on an Earth Day week presentation that I made at the Events Center at Chabot College in Hayward on April 25 at the invitation of physics professor Nick Alexander.

      On Earth Day 2019, fifteen activists from the Extinction Rebellion carrying brightly colored signs and banners gathered at 12th and L Streets in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento and then marched at 10:30 a.m. to the looming offices of the powerful Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), located at 14th & L Streets.

      For over an hour, they protested against the oil industry’s grip on California and U.S. politics both in front and back of the building, including blocking the back door of the offices of WSPA, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California and the West.

      Imani Davis of Sacramento, who held a sign stating, “No More Oil” in front of the office, said, “I believe in legislation and I believe in the Green New Deal, but to push this to actually happen, we have to put our bodies on the line.”

      The Extinction Rebellion has three demands: 1. #TellTheTruth- Declare a climate and ecological emergency; 2. #ActNow- Halt biodiversity loss and go net #ZeroCarbon2025; and 3. #BeyondPolitics- Convene a #CitizensAssemblyfor climate and ecological justice. The action was held as part of an international series of actions in at least 80 cities and 33 countries.

    • Our Dying World

      It’s hard to believe that our stupendous human enterprise, with all its blood and bombs, its megacities and spectacular technology, is ending. Yet the scientists – the true scientists, not the shills for oil companies – imply that this is so. We’ve done ourselves in, are destroying ourselves with our own, fatal success. True, we have a bit over a decade to soften the blow, reduce the lethality of the megatons of carbon and methane we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. The question is: will the men with power, the heads of state, even listen? So far, the outlook is poor. World leaders evidently do not care what happens to the next generation – they do not even appear to care what happens in the next fifteen years, just so long as business continues as usual, profits keep rolling in, and capitalism’s thirst for endless, cancerous growth is regularly slaked.

    • AOC Holds ‘Impromptu Session’ for Constituents on Solar Panels at Rikers After Town Hall Event Overflows

      In April, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to shut down Rikers in 2026, a year earlier than previously projected. The Queens community is debating the right next steps for the land, and Thursday’s event was part of that ongoing discussion.

      While Ocasio-Cortez was the main draw at the center, she wasn’t the only prominent Democrat at the event. New York City council member Costa Constantinides, whose Climate Mobilization Act, described as the “largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward,” passed in April, was on hand as well to promote converting at least part of the island to renewable energy production.

      In comments two weeks before the event, Constantinides described closing Rikers as a “moral imperative” for communities that see loved ones languish in the facility. Constantinides also said that shutting the prison down “presents a unique opportunity to also get power plants out of those same communities, correcting another historic injustice.”

      On Thursday, Constantinides told the crowd that reclaiming Rikers was a priority—and that the community should be looking to the future for the use of the island.

    • ‘Class of 0000′ Campaign Denounces ‘Cowardly’ Censorship of Student Call for Climate Action

      More than 350 students across the U.S. have signed up to use their graduation speeches as a call to action directed at lawmakers and older generations, demanding their elders do everything in their power to solve the climate crisis and protect the planet—but many students are facing censorship as they try to get their message out.

      Students who joined the Class of 0000 movement planned to give one unified commencement speech at high schools and colleges across the country, demanding that all 2020 political candidates must “have a plan to get to zero emissions, or get zero of our votes.”

    • Halting Holtec – A Challenge for Nuclear Safety Advocates

      The loading of 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel has been indefinitely halted at the San Onofre independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), operated by Southern California Edison and designed by Holtec International.

      Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fined Southern California Edison an unprecedented $116,000 for failing to report the near drop of an 54 ton canister of radioactive waste, and is delaying giving the go-ahead to further loading operations until serious questions raised by the incident have been resolved.

      Critics have long been pointing out that locating a dump for tons of waste, lethal for millions of years, in a densely populated area, adjacent to I-5 and the LA-to-San Diego rail corridor, just above a popular surfing beach, in an earthquake and tsunami zone, inches above the water table, and yards from the rising sea doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense from a public safety standpoint.

      The near drop incident last August, revealed by a whistleblower, has drawn further attention to the many defects in the Holtec-designed and manufactured facility. It has been discovered that the stainless steel canisters, only five-eights inches thick, are being damaged as they are lowered into the site’s concrete silos. Experts have warned that the scratching or gouging that is occurring makes the thin-walled canisters even more susceptible to corrosion-induced cracking in the salty sea air, risking release of their deadly contents into the environment and even of hydrogen explosions.

    • As Study Shows Methane Emissions ‘Vastly Underestimated,’ Warnings That US Fracked Gas Export Bonanza Imperils Planetary Stability

      Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is primarily composed of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Methane emissions, by some estimates, are responsible for about a quarter of human-caused global warming.

      “Science confirms that gas is a climate killer,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the U.S. advocacy group Food & Water Watch, said in a statement Friday, citing methane’s planet-warming potential.

      Hauter’s statement came in response to an International Energy Agency (IEA) annual report, released Friday, that featured the new projection about U.S. LNG exports. The IEA report states that global demand for natural gas grew last year at the fastest rate in nearly a decade and is expected to keep growing, “driven by strong consumption in fast-growing Asian economies and supported by the continued development of the international gas trade.”

      The IEA’s new release came just two days after Food & Water Watch published a report which, as Hauter put it, “shows that the power, petrochemical, and LNG export industries are propping up the fracked gas industry by manufacturing bloated demand for its dirty product, all with the help of government subsidies and intervention.”

    • For ‘Challenging Us All to Confront the Realities of the Climate Crisis,’ Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement Win Amnesty’s Top Human Rights Award

      For their role in sparking a global wave of marches, civil disobedience, and weekly school strikes aimed at pressuring the world’s political leaders to act on the climate crisis, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and the youth-led movement she inspired were honored Friday with Amnesty International’s top human rights award.

      “It is a huge honor to receive Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award on behalf of Fridays for Future,” Thunberg said in a statement. “This is not my award, this is everyone’s award. It is amazing to see the recognition we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact.”

    • Might Humboldt Bay Fish Farm Be a Raw Deal?

      Nordic Aquafarms was also well received by officials in Belfast, Maine in late 2017, but Nordic’s Belfast project has become increasingly controversial, and critics say Nordic is not as green as it claims.

      A year and a half into Belfast, Nordic is well behind schedule and the Belfast project itself is in considerable doubt.

      Nordic must establish right, title and interest (RTI) for its intake and discharge pipes to cross intertidal areas to get from its land-based operation to open marine water. Nordic claims it has RTI, but opposition group Upstream Watch says Nordic knowingly filed false RTI information with state regulators. In a move that surprised project opponents and local media, Nordic confessed on Facebook to submitting the faulty information, saying it had done so to protect landowners’ privacy and feelings.

      The RTI application was submitted under penalty of perjury, and Nordic quickly took down the post, but not before Upstream Watch screenshot it and sent it to state regulators. Without RTI, the Belfast project can’t move forward.

      Opposition to the Maine project broke wide open at an April 17, 2018 Belfast City Council meeting, when the council voted 5-0 for a zoning change needed for Nordic’s plans to proceed. At the meeting scores of Belfast residents urged the council to slow down, and emails from Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum to Nordic CEO Erik Heim obtained under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) show the city received more than 130 written comments urging a project slowdown – none supported Nordic.

      In the emails, Heim said Nordic didn’t want to go where it wasn’t wanted by the citizenry, but Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum repeatedly assured Heim the overwhelming majority of Belfast would support the company’s project and opposition would be limited to a few people who oppose everything.


      Fish escapes are important because escaped farm fish can wreak havoc with wild fish populations. They breed with wild fish and produce offspring that are ill equipped for the rigors of open-water life; they compete with and destroy wild-fish spawning grounds; and they decimate wild-fish populations with diseases to which wild fish have never been exposed.

      The jocular Professor Nyland guffawed at Nordic’s online-video portrayal of fish in its land-based operations swimming freely with ample room and said the fish would have to be stacked like cordwood to turn a profit.

      In Fredrikstad, Norway, home to Nordic Aquafarms headquarters, I asked Nordic CEO Erik Heim whether Nordic had built its Maximus smolt facility in Denmark. Heim said Nordic had bought the operation from a Danish engineer and entrepreneur named Bent Urup, and Heim seemed to immediately regret having given me Urup’s name. Heim said it might be hard to find Urup, who might be somewhere in Asia.

      With little trouble, I found Urup online and several days later I interviewed him in his Denmark office,. Urup is perhaps the world’s foremost expert in land-based aquaculture – and he painted an unflattering picture of Nordic Aquafarms.

      Urup spoke of fish disease at Nordic’s Denmark smolt facility, Nordic’s overblown or outright false claims of having built its Denmark facilities from scratch, and of Nordic personnel incapable of running a land-based fish farm.

  • Finance

    • Facebook’s new cryptocurrency may launch this month, a report says

      The move aligns with Facebook’s push into e-commerce. At F8, Facebook’s developer conference, the company announced some upcoming shopping features: letting Instagram users buy straight from their favorite influencers; letting businesses put their product catalogues on WhatsApp and letting Facebook Marketplace sellers ship products through the Facebook app, within the contintental US, to make buying and selling easier. The company also announced a checkout feature for Instagram in March.

    • Let’s Break Down Some Numbers in Illinois’ New Gambling Expansion Bill

      “An 816-page bill introduced and passed by the General Assembly over the weekend will, if fully realized, transform Illinois into the gambling capital of the Midwest,” writes my colleague, ProPublica Illinois reporter Jason Grotto, in a story we published this week that dissects the massive gambling expansion bill.

      But in this newsletter, let’s just dissect the word “massive” for a minute. Ready for some numbers?

    • Anatomy of the Gambling Bill

      On Sunday, June 2, 2019, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 690, an 816-page measure that could make Illinois the gambling capital of the Midwest.

      Among many other actions, the legislation legalizes sports gambling; sanctions six new casinos, including one in Chicago; increases the number of video gambling machines as well as the maximum bet; and transforms horse racing tracks into “racinos” by permitting casino operations at the state’s three existing tracks while allowing two more to open. The main purpose of the bill is to fund Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45 billion building program, called Rebuild Illinois.

    • Britain in Crisis and Going Further Downhill

      No, Britain’s crisis isn’t the result of Trump’s recent and highly unpopular visit to that haywire country (with Newsweek reporting that “only 21 percent of U.K. residents had a positive opinion of Trump, compared to Obama, who had a staggering 72 percent favorable rating”). The crisis was avoidable and entirely self-made. It involves the feverish desire of many Britons to leave the 28-nation European Union and go it alone.

      The movement is generally known as Brexit and the rallying cry of its leaders is the slogan “Let’s Take Back Control” — meaning, in the words of The Atlantic magazine, they claim that by quitting Europe “they would be returning power from Brussels back to lawmakers in Westminster and, by extension, to the British people themselves.” The ‘Vote Leave’ group declared “We’ve lost control of trade, human rights, and migration” and there was an intensive and most misleading campaign waged to encourage the British people to believe that they had endured decades of unproductive cringing subservience to the EU.

      A leading Brexiteer (and likely next prime minister), Boris Johnson, declared in 2017 that “The independence of this country is being seriously compromised. It is this fundamental democratic problem – this erosion of democracy – that brings me into this fight.” The notion that British democracy is threatened by the European Union is ludicrous — but it continues to play well with voters.

      Another front-running contender to be prime minister is Michael Gove, a curiously repellent individual, who declared in February 2016 that “your government is not, ultimately, in control in hundreds of areas that matter. But by leaving the EU we can take control.”

    • Why the Trade War with China is So Dangerous

      The trade war with China that Trump so confidently predicted would result in a great new deal now threatens to become a permanent feature of US-China relations. Why that is likely may have less to do with the specific trade issues in dispute than with the vastly different negotiating styles and operating principles of the two countries’ leaderships.

      Let’s recall that this dispute has gone through several stages of escalating US demands and Chinese counterattacks. Trump owns this trade war: He has decried China’s unfair trade practices and consequent huge trade surplus for many years, and his view of China as the main enemy goes back to 2011 (in an interview with CNN). Trump said long ago that if he were president, he would be able to force China to back down because it needs us more than we need it.

      Barring some dramatic change in thinking in Washington or Beijing, Trump will carry through on his threat to impose 25-percent tariffs across the board on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports. That move will come on top of blacklisting Huawei, the telecommunications giant, hoping to starve its reliance on US-made components and force European customers to reject Huawei’s 5G network. Sanctioning Hikvision, the dominant maker of video surveillance products, may be next—though not because of legitimate human rights concerns.

    • [Older] U.S. Senator Introduces Bill To Ban Loot Boxes And Pay-To-Win Microtransactions

      Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) today announced a bill that would ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in “games played by minors,” a broad label that the senator says will include both games designed for kids under 18 and games “whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions.”

    • Poor Neighborhoods Need More Than “Investment”

      Where some of us see distressed neighborhoods — where families endure poverty and homes fall into disrepair — others see dollar signs. In fact, the Trump administration now brands them “opportunity zones,” offering tax breaks to investors who invest capital there.

      What remains unclear is this: Opportunity for whom? Big investors may stand to cash in, but many communities are saying they’re not getting the benefits they were promised.

      This story goes back to the 1980s, when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government introduced 11 “enterprise zones” throughout the United Kingdom. Inspired, conservatives in the U.S. under President Ronald Reagan promoted the creation of these zones in 40 states.

      Even many Democrats warmed to these zones as a viable pro-market approach to urban renewal. The idea resurfaced as “empowerment zones” under the Clinton administration in 1994.

      Whatever you call them, they’re spaces where businesses can delay, reduce, or even eliminate taxes altogether on the money they invest.

      The Trump administration has certified an estimated 8,700 census tracts as opportunity zones; the official list is 186 pages long. There are nearly 900 such zones in California, more than 600 in Texas, 500 in New York, and 300 in Ohio. The designated tracts in Puerto Rico account for nearly the entire island.

    • Free Traders No More? GOP Warms Up to Trump’s Use of Tariffs

      With President Donald Trump threatening to slap tariffs on goods from Mexico, his transformation of Republican Party trade policy is nearly complete.

      Republican lawmakers usually don’t like tariffs. They’re viewed as a tax on consumers and unwanted government intervention in free trade. But many Republicans, unwilling to buck Trump, are prepared to follow the president’s lead and support 5% tariffs on Mexico in his dispute over illegal immigration.

      It’s a crossroads for the GOP as the White House is taking the party in a confrontational new direction. The tariffs may, or may not, solve the border crisis. But as with Trump’s tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum and goods from China, the threat alone sending ripple effects into a jittery economy.

    • U.S. Hiring Slows Amid Trade Rifts and Weaker Global Economy

      U.S. hiring stumbled in May as employers added just 75,000 jobs, a sign that businesses have become more cautious in the face of weaker global growth, widening trade conflicts and perhaps some difficulty finding enough workers.

      Last month’s modest job gain followed a much healthier increase of 224,000 in April. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate remained at a nearly 50-year low of 3.6%.

      The tepid job growth, along with rising pressures on the economy, makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will cut rates in the coming months. Bond yields fell after the jobs data was released, signaling expectations for lower Fed rates. Stock investors, too, signaled their approval, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up nearly 300 points in late-day trading.

    • Workers With Disabilities Are Making Cents Per Hour — and It’s Legal

      Imagine making cents on the dollar to toil in a warehouse, separated from the broader society, while repeatedly piecing together widgets or engaging in manual labor for some multinational corporation with which you’ve never interacted. For many Americans, the concept of making nickels and dimes for your labor in the richest nation in human history is incomprehensible. But for the tens of thousands of Americans making far less than minimum wage due to their disabilities, it is an all too familiar reality.

      In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a monumental piece of legislation, was ratified and signed into law. Earning scorn from the business community and elitist politicians alike, the law created the right to a minimum wage, required overtime pay for some workers, and curtailed child labor. Yet, despite the law’s worker-conscious stipulations, it contains an antiquated provision that is being used by business executives today to pay subminimum wages to workers with disabilities.

      Section 214(c) of the FLSA, which is known in disability policy circles as 14(c), allows employers that hire people with disabilities to pay their workers a subminimum wage. Section 214(c) of the FLSA states that workers “whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by age, physical or mental deficiency, or injury” can be paid based on their “productivity” or on the “quality and quantity” of their labor. The underlying assumption is that workers with disabilities are less valuable than workers without disabilities and should thus be paid based on their productivity to incentivize employers to hire them.

      Originally, 14(c) was intended to reduce the barriers to employment for people with disabilities, but over time employers have taken advantage of this provision. It certainly has not yielded equality for people with disabilities. Although some advocates say 14(c) advances employment outcomes, people with disabilities are disproportionately underemployed, unemployed or forced to live in poverty compared to the rates of the general population.

    • The Curious Case of Elizabeth Warren and the “Charter School Lobbyist” Who Wasn’t

      The Internet is a costume party in which everyone comes dressed in an opinion, or rather dozens of them or an endless array, one right after another. An opinion is, traditionally or at least ideally, a conclusion reached after weighing the evidence, but that takes time and so people are dashing about in sloppy, ill-formed opinions or rather snap judgments which are to well-formed opinions what trash bags are to evening gowns. If opinions were like clothes, this would just be awkward, but opinions are also like votes. They shape the discourse and eventually the reality of the world we live in. Journalists used to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, but opinions are supposed to be based on facts and when the facts are wrong or distorted or weaponized, trouble sets in.

      There was actually a nice victory over distortion and insinuation a couple of weeks ago. The Washington Post put out a story on May 23 that was titled “While teaching, Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters, charging as much as $675 an hour.” (If you look it up now, the title has been changed to not shout about the money any more.) It was kind of a nonstory: one of the nation’s leading bankruptcy lawyers, while teaching at one of the nation’s most distinguished law schools, did some work on the side, as law professors apparently often do.

    • Trump’s Threatened Tariffs on Hold After Deal With Mexico

      President Donald Trump has put on hold his plan to begin imposing tariffs on Mexico on Monday, saying the U.S. ally will take “strong measures” to reduce the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

      But the deal he announced Friday night, after returning from a trip to Europe, falls short of some of the dramatic overhauls pushed for by his administration.

      A joint declaration released by the State Department said the U.S. “will immediately expand” a program that returns asylum-seekers, while their claims are under review, to Mexico after they have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, according to the agreement.

    • Job and Wage Growth Slow Sharply in May

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added just 75,000 jobs in May. In addition, the prior two months growth numbers were revised down by 75,000, leaving the three month average at 151,000. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent, and the employment-to-population rate (EPOP) was also unchanged at 60.6 percent. The EPOP for prime age workers (ages 25 to 54) was also unchanged at 79.7 percent.

      While the slower job growth reported for May is discouraging, probably the most disconcerting aspect of the report is the evidence that wage growth is actually slowing in spite of the 3.6 percent unemployment rate. The year-over-year rate of increase in the average hourly wage was 3.1 percent, down from a peak of 3.4 percent earlier this year. The annualized rate of wage growth when comparing the last three months (March, April, and May) with the prior three months (December, January, and February) was just 2.7 percent.

      The slower job growth hit pretty much every sector in May. Construction added just 4,000 jobs in May, while manufacturing added 3,000. This compares to an average monthly growth over the last year of 17,900 and 15,300, respectively. Manufacturing has been looking especially weak in recent months, as average hours have been dropping. The index of aggregate hours worked in manufacturing is at the same level as it was last August. Wage growth has also been exceptionally weak in manufacturing, with the average hourly wage up just 2.2 percent over the last year.

    • [Old] It took a century to create the weekend—and only a decade to undo it

      We made up the weekend the same way we made up the week. The earth actually does rotate around the sun once a year, taking about 365.25 days. The sun truly rises and sets over twenty-four hours. But the week is man-made, arbitrary, a substance not found in nature. That seven-day cycle in which we mark our meetings, mind birthdays, and overstuff our iCals—buffered on both ends by those promise-filled 48 hours of freedom—only holds us in place because we invented it.

      We abuse time, make it our enemy. We try to contain and control it, or, at the very least, outrun it. Your new-model, even faster phone; your finger on the “Close” button in the elevator; your same-day delivery. We shave minutes down to nano-seconds, mechanizing and digitizing our hours and days, paring them toward efficiency, that buzzword of corporate America.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook has known since 2018 it was being used to incite hate

      Chan also said that working with Canadian experts, the company removed “six hate figures and hate organizations, including Faith Goldy, Kevin Goudreau, the Canadian Nationalist Front, the Aryan Strikeforce, the Wolves of Odin and the Soldiers of Odin from Facebook and Instagram.

    • Media got Dutch teen’s ‘euthanasia’ death wrong

      Misinformation about Pothoven spread quickly.

      According to the story on her death published Sunday in the Dutch publication de Gelderlander, Pothoven had asked the clinic about the possibility of euthanasia. In a Twitter thread, Politico Europe correspondent Naomi O’Leary said she spoke with Paul Bolwerk, the reporter who has been covering the story for de Gelderlander, who said Pothoven’s request for euthanasia was refused, a fact he reported in the publication in 2018.

    • #ImpeachTrump Day of Action Announced Because “It Is Clear That Congress Won’t Act Unless We Demand It”

      Because “the moral clarion call to pursue impeachment is clear,” progressive advocacy groups announced on Friday a national day of action to push Congress to hold President Donald Trump accountable.

      With events across the country set for June 15—over 100 are already mapped out—lead organizers MoveOn and By the People say they intend to show and grow public support for the House starting an impeachment inquiry.

      “Donald Trump has broken the law, violated the constitution, and put the safety and future of the American people at risk,” said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, a spokesperson with By the People. “But by now, it is clear that Congress won’t act unless we demand it.”

      “We need to take to the streets in every neighborhood in America to defend democracy,” she continued. “Join us on June 15 across the country—from the biggest cities to the smallest towns—as we make the urgent call for Congress to act and begin an impeachment inquiry now.”

    • Episode 31: RussiaGate: An Abject Failure of Journalism

      On this episode of Along the Line, Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III, Dr. Nolan Higdon, and Janice Domingo analyze the news coverage of RussiaGate. ATL’s Creative Director is Jorge Ayala. Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster. Listen to all of our previous content at ProjectCensored.org/atl Contact us on Twitter at @Nolan_Higdon @DOCTORDredlocks @j_nice44

    • Songs of State

      Other than the basic press blurbs, I could find no detailed reports of the music performed at this week’s state banquet held in the Buckingham Palace ballroom. The largest space in the palace, the ballroom is presided over by a substantial and rather gaudily decorated organ originally built for another even more decadent royal folly, the Brighton Pavilion on England’s south coast. The King of Instruments looked down from his balcony at the Trumps and Windsors and their hangers-on in mute disapproval of the state of the human monarchy and the visitors it claims to be forced to welcome.

      In a previous century the organ would have resounded over the convocation. Prince Albert was keen to have the instrument set up in his London residence; it was duly installed in renovated and expanded form in the ballroom in the 1850s. The Royal Consort was himself a talented amateur organist and man of culture.

      Just down the west block of Buckingham Palace from the ballroom, Queen Victoria’s Erard piano stretches out grandly in the White Drawing Room. The instrument is lavishly decorated in the French style of an era that was then already bygone: the case is painted with monkeys and cherubs, bouquets and garlands that emit a visual scent of perfumed sensuality. Victoria and Albert loved to play through the orchestral favorites of the day—Beethoven symphonies, Mendelssohn overtures and the like—in versions for piano four-hands. Music was then a necessary accomplishment of royals as it now no longer is. But like her princess forbears in the Hanoverian line, among whose keyboard tutors can be counted no less a figure than Handel, the current Queen had piano lessons as a girl. Elizabeth is rumored to be able to bash out some boogie-woogie, though the vintage Erard is hardly the model of choice for such sport.

      One of our piano-playing presidents—Harry Truman or Dick Nixon—might have been pleased to sit down on the piano bench with the Queen during a palace walk-about for a duet on the gilded grand—a bit of Elgarian pomp or Souza circumstance. Not so Donald T, whose main talent is for cheating at golf and taxes, though the first of these skills could have been demonstrated along the Buckingham enfilade with its sumptuous fairways of rich carpeting, and high ceilings perfect for an indoor pitch-and-put round.

    • Trump’s Meetup With the Royals Reminds Us He Wants to Be a King

      Donald Trump’s Europe trip has come and gone. While we can all be grateful he did not announce the creation of a new Fourth Reich right there on Normandy Beach – admit it, you thought it was possible, didn’t you – he reminded us that even in this rapidly declining age, the president of the United States can always be counted on to go lower.

      “Trump navigated two reasonably focused and restrained days in London,” reported CNN after the British leg of the journey concluded and Trump was wheels-up for France. “The President, who usually indulges his disruptive and norm-shattering personality, has been a picture of decorum.”

      “Picture of decorum” is what makes that art, as does “reasonably.” Possibly even as those words were being typed, Trump was calling beloved actress and all-around badass Bette Midler a “washed-up psycho” on Twitter. This was after he called the mayor of London a “stone-cold loser.” Memo to Trump: Anyone who wears a tux like that on any night other than Halloween probably shouldn’t be throwing stones.

      Midler, to her eternal credit, invited Trump to go slam his “dick in a door.” If you don’t love Bette Midler, please love Bette Midler. That being said, wow, CNN. Trump did not comprehensively decompensate in public like he does most other days of the year, and you’ve got him “focused and restrained.” Way to take the bait.

    • The Jacobin Vision of Social Democracy Won’t Save Us

      The title of Bhaskar Sunkara’s new book is both bold and smart, from a marketing perspective at least. It’s eye-catching in its reference to The Communist Manifesto. I’m actually a little surprised that apparently no previous book has had that title, since it seems so obvious. The reason may be that other writers have been more humble than Sunkara, and less willing to elicit inevitable comparisons between their work and Marx’s. For no writer, and certainly not Sunkara, will fare well under such a comparison.

      But I don’t want to be too harsh on the founder of Jacobin, whose magazine has (whatever one thinks of its particular political line) performed useful services for the American left. Sunkara is not a deep or original thinker, but he’s an effective popularizer—and in an age of mass ignorance, there’s much to be said for popularizations. The book is written for the uninitiated, and if it succeeds in piquing young readers’ interest in socialism then it has served its purpose.

    • If Congress has no Mojo to Govern, let’s make it a Part Time Job

      If the American public needs any further evidence that the US Congress is unable to function as an operating legislative branch of the Federal government in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ or to ‘promote the general welfare,’ look no further than Congress’s most recent public disapproval rating of 69%.

      This is of course nothing new as Congress has been in ill repute with the American public for decades – and no one seems to know what to do about it.

      To be fair to the lackluster, do-nothing group of flunkies who rake in the benjamins and perks that most Americans can only dream about, Congress actually hit its highest ever disapproval rating of 84% in September, 2011 and earned an 85% disapproval in November, 2013, during Barack Obama’s Hope and Change years which produced neither hope nor change.

      During that time period, the Dems controlled the Senate while the Repub’s controlled the House, so voters might conclude that a partisan split is not favorable for the People Programs.

    • Where is a “Tank Man” for 2019?

      On June 4th, 30 years on, I ruminated to myself about the “tank man” from Tiananmen Square. I often reflect on the sacrifices that are made in pursuit of peace and justice. I have wondered if I could stay committed to the Poor People’s Movement, like Martin Luther King Jr. did, in the face of death threats. King’s words were prophetic, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land,” before he was killed the next day. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was also undeterred by threats from extremists; ultimately he was assassinated, but he never backed down from his stance for nonviolence and justice. We have many examples of those we know by name who refuse to step aside. “Tank man,” however, remains a mystery.

      His courage was likely fueled by grief and anger. It was, after all, the day after a massacre that shocked the world—live ammunition was used on the protestors. The anonymous figure is a symbol for freedom and peace everywhere, courage in the face of injustice and brutal violence. I wonder where is a tank man for 2019?

      It is probably a mistake to look for the hero; none of these heroes wanted the recognition, it detracts from the purpose. But heroes are out there.

      Malala Yousafzai, was 17 years old when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, for her part in the “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” In 2019 she is not resting on her laurels, she amplifies the voices of refugee girls with her work in “We Are Displaced.” She has refused to quit, and though the Taliban told her not to return to Pakistan, she persists.

      Greta Thunberg, age 16, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of her environmental activism. The Norwegian lawmakers who nominated her said, “We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict.” Her movement—Friday for Future—is reflected in more than 100 countries now. Her tenacity in speaking truth to power, “We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people,” is a source of hope and inspiration.

    • What’s So Funny, Joe?

      But even if the woman didn’t mind it, Biden’s joke matters. Since Nevada politician Lucy Flores first wrote here, in the Cut, that Biden had kissed the top of her head in a way that made her feel uncomfortable, the leading Democratic candidate for president has routinely made light of sexual harassment. “I just want you to know I had permission,” he said in April, after hugging the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He made the same joke moments later, at the same event, when he went to hug a child. After Flores published her account, Biden said he’d have to change the way he campaigned. Instead, he’s turned her story into a punch line.

      Though Biden isn’t the only Democratic candidate haunted by an account of inappropriate touching, he is the only one who seems to think he can laugh his problems away. And so far, his strategy seems to be working: He currently has a significant lead over his competitors, although that may change as voters interact with him more often.

    • This Outlaw Power

      On June 4th the Chinese government issued a travel alert for Chinese tourists thinking of visiting the United States, a day after it issued a similar advisory to Chinese students thinking of studying in the US over concerns for their safety and security.

      Chinese in the US are reporting harassment and interrogations by US immigration authorities and many now have the impression they are not welcome in the US.


      A few days ago Mike Pompeo stated, with feigned innocence, that the US was willing to talk to Iran “without preconditions” when the real conditions Iran faces include an almost total embargo of its trade and threats of immediate attack by US forces, including nuclear attack. The Iranians quickly rejected this hypocrisy.

      In the Balkans the US and its NATO war machine have again stirred up problems in Serbia where, in the NATO occupied province of Kosovo-Metohija, Serbs and Russians were detained and beaten up by Albanian security forces designed to put further pressure on Serbia to fall into the NATO camp so that the NATO machine will have complete control of the Balkans to complete the encirclement of Russia.

      The war goes on in Syria, goes on in Ukraine, goes on in Afghanistan. The terrible situation of the Palestinians becomes even worse as the US plans the final solution for them-their disappearance as a people to be absorbed as citizens of other states, while Israel continues its aggressive expansion and acts as agent of the US bully in the region; the threats against Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea continue.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Ivan Golunov transferred from hospital to courtroom; defense attorneys given 15 minutes to examine all case materials as hearing begins

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov has been released from Moscow’s City Hospital No. 71 and transferred to the Nikulinsky District Court for a hearing to determine under what conditions he will await trial for drug charges. Investigators have requested that Golunov be jailed as his case proceeds.

      The hospital’s lead doctor, Alexander Myasnikov, told Interfax that Golunov had a hematoma on his left cheekbone but that no head injury was confirmed. Multiple doctors who examined Golunov before his hospitalization gave Golunov preliminary diagnoses of a concussion, possible broken ribs, and hematomas. Myasnikov runs a program on a prominent state-owned Russian television station. Pavel Chikov, who leads the international human rights group Agora, argued that the doctor is also close with prominent Russian state journalist Vladimir Solovyov and that the choice to bring Golunov to Hospital No. 71 was likely a deliberate one.

    • Moscow court orders house arrest for Ivan Golunov; investigators asked for two months in jail

      Moscow’s Nikulinsky District Court has ordered Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov to remain under house arrest for two months. The court also prohibited the journalist from using communication technologies or communicating with other defendants in his case. Investigators and prosecutors had petitioned for Golunov to remain in a pretrial detention center for two months. Golunov’s attorneys requested house arrest.

    • We’ve released all of Ivan Golunov’s writing for ‘Meduza’ under a Creative Commons license

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was arrested on June 6, 2019, in central Moscow. He was charged with attempting to sell narcotic substances. Meduza’s editorial board as well as representatives of the Russian and international journalism communities believe that Ivan is being persecuted due to his investigative work. The pieces Ivan researched and wrote for Meduza contain information that is highly significant for contemporary Russian society, and the individuals he wrote about may have been involved in his persecution. Therefore, we are opening access to Ivan’s work under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license. This means you may reprint the stories below in your own publication, your own website, your own blog, or any other platform without requesting our permission. Just indicate that they were written by Ivan Golunov, a correspondent for Meduza’s Department of Investigative Reporting, and include the names of their translators and co-authors.

    • Meduza will work with other outlets to finish the piece that may have sparked Ivan Golunov’s persecution. A message from ‘Meduza’ Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov

      Thanks to all of you for your support. We believe that Ivan Golunov is under house arrest (and not in jail) thanks to an unprecedented campaign of journalistic solidarity. Under today’s standards, what happened here was incredible — a victory, without a doubt.

      Thank you!!!

      All of us at Meduza are 100 percent certain that the persecution of Ivan Golunov is related to his journalistic work. The more time has passed since his arrest, the better we have come to understand who exactly may have organized the security operation conducted against him. For at least the last 13 months, Ivan Golunov has received threats from the subjects of an investigation he had not yet published. A couple of hours before his arrest, Ivan submitted that piece to his editor, Alexey Kovalev. See what lucky people they both are?

    • Ivan Golunov transported to police station for further investigation, then returned home more than 60 hours after arrest

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov has been taken from the courthouse where he received a two-month house arrest order directly to Moscow’s Ramenki police station, not to his apartment. The decision not to take Golunov home, where his parents previously told Meduza CEO Galina Timchenko they were waiting with dinner prepared, was made following a petition made by the journalist’s own attorneys.

    • ‘He doesn’t understand what’s going on’ Ivan Golunov’s attorney says his condition is poor, but investigators have refused to believe ambulance crews

      Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov was arrested on the afternoon of June 6. The Russian journalism community believes that the charges against him are a form of persecution for his investigative work. Golunov’s attorneys have pointed to a number of legal violations during the journalist’s arrest and in the early stages of the investigation against him. On June 8, after three different ambulance crews were called to examine Golunov, he was admitted to City Hospital No. 71 in southwest Moscow due to multiple health problems: doctors believe he has a concussion and potentially broken ribs. Dmitry Dzhulai, one of Golunov’s attorneys, described the journalist’s condition and explained how his defense team managed to get him to a hospital against investigators’ wishes.

    • Ivan Golunov admitted to Moscow hospital

      First responders have taken Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov to be examined at a hospital, Moscow police announced. Multiple ambulances were called to enable doctors to examine Golunov after he said he felt poorly while in police custody.

      Police press services did not specify to which hospital he was transported. Ekho Moskvy Editor-in-Chief Alexey Venediktov wrote that Golunov had been taken to Moscow’s City Hospital No. 71.

    • How journalists and activists get prison time for drug charges. ‘Meduza’ summarizes eight of Russia’s most impactful Article 228 cases

      Article 228 of the Russian Criminal Codex (illegal acquisition, possession, transportation, production, or processing of narcotic drugs) became a powerful tool in the government’s fight against opposition and human rights activists well before Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was arrested under the statute on June 6. In the past few years, there have been no fewer than eight cases in which that same article was applied to journalists, human rights defenders, and Russian citizens who simply took an active role in civil society.

    • Hundreds spend eight hours rallying for arrested journalist Ivan Golunov outside Moscow’s Police Headquarters

      On June 6, police officers in Moscow arrested Meduza special correspondent and investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. He is accused of possessing controlled substances with the intent to distribute, and officers say they found packets containing illegal drugs in his backpack, and later at his apartment. Golunov says the drugs were planted. After police arrested him, they beat him up, refused to let him speak to a lawyer for several hours, and withheld food for more than a day. Meduza is confident that the charges against our reporter are false. At 4:00 p.m. on June 7 (Golunov’s arrest was only made public the next day), people in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm, and other cities across the country staged demonstrations in support of Ivan Golunov. At 38 Petrovka Street, outside Moscow’s Police Headquarters, several hundred people lined up for more than eight hours to join a series of one-person pickets (the only type of public demonstration allowed in Russia without an advance permit). Meduza special correspondent Kristina Safonova was in the capital to witness the event.

    • A public monitor commission member describes the conditions of Ivan Golunov’s first two days in jail

      On Saturday, June 8, around eight in the morning, public monitoring commission member and Dozhd journalist Kogershyn Sagieva visited the temporary detention facility where Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov is currently being held on felony drug charges. Sagieva told Meduza about the conditions at the jail, what Golunov says about what’s happened, and why he isn’t eating.

    • Moscow police claim they found more than five grams of cocaine at journalist Ivan Golunov’s home

      Moscow police now say they found more than five grams of cocaine when searching Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov’s home. In a press release, the city’s police department also blamed one of its officers for an earlier public statement about Golunov’s arrest that featured photographs not taken at his home.

      “In reality, one of the photos was taken at the suspect’s apartment. The others were taken at other addresses in the course of investigative actions against groups involved in selling drugs in the Moscow area, the suspect’s connections to which are being investigated,” police explained.

    • ‘Meduza’ investigative journalist Ivan Golunov arrested in Moscow

      According to official records, Golunov was arrested and searched around 2:40 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. During the search, officers say they found a package inside his bag containing an “unidentified substance,” which they later identified as mephedrone (a synthetic amphetamine).

      Golunov denies having ever seen the package before. He is being charged with possession of a controlled substance, as well as its attempted illegal sale.

    • ‘Meduza’ correspondent Ivan Golunov arrested in Moscow A statement from CEO Galina Timchenko and editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov

      Our colleague and friend, Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, has been arrested in Moscow. Police supposedly found illegal drugs on his person and in his home, and detectives have claimed there was an “intent to distribute.” Golunov managed to say through friends that the officers planted two packages containing some unknown substance. He also stated that he wasn’t allowed to use a telephone and call a lawyer. Detectives only notified Golunov’s friend, BBC Russian Service correspondent Svetlana Reiter, approximately 14 hours later, in the middle of the night.

      When he’d finally been granted access to an attorney, Ivan asked the police to take samples from his hands and fingernails for forensic analysis that could determine if he was ever in contact with the drugs police say they found. Ivan’s request was denied. Ivan was beaten during his arrest and while in custody, before he was allowed to see a lawyer. When a lawyer saw his injuries, he tried to summon paramedics to record evidence of the mistreatment. The police denied this request, as well.

    • What we know, so far, about the arrest of ‘Meduza’ correspondent Ivan Golunov

      On June 6, around 2:40 pm.m, police arrested Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow. At the time, Golunov was headed to a work meeting with other journalists. When he was questioned by police, Golunov said two men dressed in civilian clothes ran up behind him and told him that he was under arrest. When he asked the men to identify themselves, he says they answered, “What, you haven’t guessed? Criminal investigators!” The two men pinned his arms behind his back, handcuffed him, and then placed him in the back seat of a patrol car. The men only identified themselves (the arresting officers were Roman Filimonov and Dmitry Kozhanov, and an officer named Akbar was behind the wheel) after Golunov demanded a lawyer. The officers then removed Golunov’s mobile phone from the pocket of his jeans and ordered him to unlock it. He refused.


      Police didn’t file a formal report until 3:50 a.m. on June 7, by which time a felony investigation was formally opened. Golunov is charged with intent to distribute a large amount of a controlled substance, which puts him at risk of between 10 and 20 years in prison. According to Golunov’s case file, at an unspecified time, at an unspecified place, from an unidentified person, he purchased five packets of illegal drugs, which he intended to resell. “However, he was unable to complete the crime, due to circumstances beyond his control, because he was arrested,” the police claim.

    • Protesters supporting arrested ‘Meduza’ correspondent Ivan Golunov released from police custody

      Police officers have released protesters who had set up individual pickets on June 7 to demand the release of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov. The police did not file reports against the protesters, wrote Grigory Tumanov, a journalst who was among those arrested.

      A total of 12 people were arrested near the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry. Most of them were journalists.

      The picket in support of Golunov is ongoing. So far, police have not continued to arrest protesters, but they have issued calls to disperse. Because any public demonstration involving more than one person must be approved by the government in advance to have legal status in Russia, the picketers are standing in line to take turns holding up their signs by the building.

    • Russian investigative journalists on the drug charges against Meduza’s Ivan Golunov

      This is frightening and bad for all of us. Our work is already difficult. When these kinds of situations happen, it feels like the simplest thing to do would be to switch careers and leave — but, of course, nobody’s actually going to do that.

      Vanya Golunov has been a very close friend of mine for many years, from the moment we wrote an article together for RBC. And you couldn’t imagine a person who is further from every forbidden pleasure. He doesn’t even drink — everybody knows that— he even stopped drinking non-alcoholic beer. He talked about drugs with a tone of extreme wariness. On top of that, Vanya is a very professional investigative journalist. In the Russian reality, an investigative journalist takes great care even when they’re just crossing the street. They never jaywalk so that nobody at all could ever find fault with them, and they always pay all of their taxes and their rent. So that there would be no reason for anyone to find fault with them. The idea that an investigative journalist who works on such difficult and dangerous topics could be anywhere near his right mind and sell drugs is one I just cannot accept. I’m saying this on my honor.

      I know that he published a very harsh piece about predatory home equity creditors, and I think somebody wasn’t happy about it. Three weeks ago, Vanya said he was taking a walk with a friend, and a stranger followed them around for a long time — one and the same person over a long period of time.

    • Police begin arresting protesters demanding ‘Meduza’ journalist Ivan Golunov’s release

      Moscow police have begun arresting those who initiated individual pickets outside the central Moscow branch of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry to demand the release of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov. The YouTube channel “Moscow’s Megaphone” is livestreaming the arrests.

    • Police resume arresting protesters during picket in support of ‘Meduza’ correspondent Ivan Golunov

      Meduza’s correspondent outside the Moscow branch of Russia’s Internal Affairs ministry has reported that arrests outside the building have resumed. Municipal legislator Viktor Kotov has been taken away in a police van.

      Earlier today, police arrested a dozen picketers, most of them journalists, but released them without filing any reports.

    • Moscow mayor asks city police chief to take personal control of Ivan Golunov case

      Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has asked Oleg Baranov, the chief of the Moscow Ministry of Internal Affairs, to take the criminal case concerning Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov under personal control and consider it “as objectively as possible,” Sobyanin’s press secretary Gulnara Penkova told The Bell.

      Golunov was detained on the afternoon of June 6 on suspicion of attempted large-scale drug trafficking. Golunov denies the charges and says that the drugs were planted.

    • Russian police admit they published photos with no connection to Ivan Golunov while accusing him of dealing drugs

      The Russian Interior Ministry admitted that only one of a series of photos released by the agency in connection with the arrest of Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov was taken in his apartment.

      The rest of the photos were taken “in the course of operational activities and investigative actions” in a crackdown on the activities of a group of drug dealers “in connection with which the detainee is being questioned,” the Interior Ministry reported.

    • Photo: Moscow residents line up to picket for Ivan Golunov

      On the evening of June 7, protesters began to gather outside the headquarters of Moscow’s Interior Ministry branch to demand the release of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov. Because any public demonstration involving more than one person must receive advance government approval to have legal status in Russia, the picketers have formed a long line to take turns holding up signs by the building. Police officers arrested several of the picketers but later released them without charges. Ivan Golunov was arrested on accusations of large-scale attempted drug dealing. He argues that police planted packets of narcotics in his backpack and his home.

    • Pickets begin across Russia in support of arrested ‘Meduza’ journalist Ivan Golunov

      Individual pickets have begun outside the Moscow division of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, who has been arrested and accused of attempting to sell drugs.

      RTVi Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tikhon Dziadko published a photograph on Twitter that depicted fellow journalist Ilya Azar holding a poster demanding Golunov’s release.

    • Advocates and attorneys: Ivan Golunov has abrasions, has not eaten or slept for more than 24 hours

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov has neither eaten nor slept for more than 24 hours, his attorney Dmitry Dzhulai said told journalists. “He is having a hard time following what’s going on. He’s in very bad shape,” Dzhulai said. He added that Golunov would soon be transported to Moscow’s Krylatskoye police station for the night.

      Members of Moscow’s Social Monitoring Commission (ONK) later examined Golunov and found no remaining signs of beatings apart from abrasions on his back. The organization’s lead secretary, Ivan Melnikov, relayed the Meduza correspondent’s version of events to Interfax: Golunov said he was given a medical inspection after his arrest and asked to remain in the hospital because “he felt safer” there. He then held onto a bench and fell to the floor as police attempted to “pull him” away.

    • How police broke Russian law during Ivan Golunov’s arrest

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was arrested in Moscow on June 6 and charged with attempting to sell drugs. Golunov’s attorneys reported that police had provoked Golunov during the arrest proceedings and violated numerous aspects of Russian law. Meduza has collected the arresting officers’ most representative violations of the rights guaranteed in Russia’s “On Police” statutes.

    • Teach Your Children Well: Valedictorian Silenced For Naming Trayvon and Tamir

      Speaking Truth To Power 101: Presenting her own compelling, impromptu morality play, Dallas high school valedictorian and Iranian refugee Rooha Haghar insisted on giving the graduation speech she’d written decrying the murders of innocent black people even though her principal had earlier told her it was “too political” and didn’t fall within “school guidelines.” Haghar chose to defy him: In her speech last week at Emmett J. Conrad High School, she both celebrated the occasion and sought to honor the “many students robbed of this opportunity,” addressing “Trayvon, Tamir and all the other children who became victims of injustice.” At that point, Principal Temesghen Asmerom gestured to cut off her mic to silence her, a moment – oh irony – that swiftly went viral.

      Haghar – her full name was Hagharmehdiabadi – and her family left Iran four years ago when she was 12; as Bahá’í, they suffered daily persecution, and she was prohibited from going to college. The family moved to Dallas’ diverse, refugee-rich area of Vickery Meadow, where Rooha became a top student; she is also an activist, immigration rights advocate with the International Rescue Committee, and accomplished photographer, journalist and graphic designer whose work includes t-shirts reading “Immigrant” and “#EducationIsNotACrime.” Much of her work incorporates Farsi text; soon after her arrival in Texas, missing home and being told to adjust, she stenciled a Farsi poem on the back of a denim jacket: “Tell the waves of the ocean to crash into each other slower.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • California Privacy Law: Too Good to be True?

      While European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has just marked its first anniversary, the United States and, in particular California, have yet to follow in its footsteps. Sort of, that is. In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal last year, California enacted the Consumer Privacy Act (CPA), which will take effect in January 2020. The new law seeks to protect privacy and personal information protection by creating new rights for consumers and imposing restrictions on businesses as to how data may be collected, used, shared and sold.

    • Why Google Would Drop $2.6 Billion on an Analytics Company

      Despite rumors of a pending Department of Justice antitrust investigation, Google continues to expand. Today the company’s cloud computing division announced that it will pay $2.6 billion for the business intelligence/analytics company Looker. It’s the first big purchase made by new Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who joined the company from Oracle in November.

    • Finnish police, customs now able to use facial ID tech, but infrastructure not in place

      The use of facial ID tech, enabled in Finland by a surveillance law approved earlier this year, allows authorities to compare people’s faces captured by surveillance cameras to images of individuals stored in official databases.

    • The data retention zombie is back

      The justice ministers of the European Union are undertaking a new attempt for EU-wide communications data retention. At today’s Council of Justice Ministers, EU ministers of justice want to instruct the European Commission to prepare a study on the reintroduction of blanket data retention. Data retention means collecting information on the electronic contacts, movements and Internet use of 500 million Europeans.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Four Ways to Expand the U.S. Supreme Court

      In the same way that countries like Libya are “failed states,” the U.S. Supreme Court is a failed institution. Always partisan, either mainly or partly, its authority—meaning the people’s acceptance of the validity of its rulings—rests on a kind of momentum, a belief that despite its long history of missteps (Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson, to name just two) the Court can be trusted, in time, to self-correct.

      That the Supreme Court was failing its constitutional role had been clear to close observers since the 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which ruled that election spending was “speech.” Yet despite the numerous bad decisions that followed, the momentum of belief—and the illusion that Anthony Kennedy represented a “swing vote” on an otherwise ideologically balanced bench—has kept most Americans, if not blind, then unnoticing of the modern Court’s deadly defects.

      The first real crack in the dam of faith occurred with the Bush v. Gore decision, in which a nakedly partisan majority installed a losing presidential candidate in the Oval Office simply because it could, using only its authority, and not the law, as justification. Later decisions like Citizens United put proof to many people’s suspicions that the Court was an operative in a war for political control and no longer a place where law, even bad law, had a place.

      The recent, manipulated addition of the clearly unfit Brett Kavanaugh, a partisan right-wing warrior, to the bench confirmed those suspicions in spades. He even appeared to threaten revenge when he reached the Court for the way he and his confirmation were treated.

    • Virginia Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s Wife, Is Launching Nonprofit to Protect Trump

      Conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas plans to launch a new PAC and 501(c)(4) nonprofit, according to a report published in The Intercept this week. Dubbed “American D-Day,” the groups will be part of a broader project called Crowdsourcers, with the goal of protecting President Donald Trump.

      If Thomas’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been on the bench for nearly three decades. But Ginni Thomas has long carved out her own place in conservative politics — sometimes to the chagrin of those who say her involvement poses a conflict of interest due to her husband’s role.

      American D-Day isn’t Thomas’s first venture into the world of political campaigns. She served as a legislative staffer in the early 1980s before joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 1991, the same year her husband was nominated to the Supreme Court, she returned to work for the federal government, serving as the deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the Department of Labor. She eventually moved to the Heritage Foundation, where she was the White House liaison during the George W. Bush administration.

      In 2009, Thomas founded the group Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) created to “promote education and civil discourse focused on protecting the core founding principles of the United States,” according to its website at the time. The group received nearly $1.5 million in its first two years from undisclosed donors. As a so-called “dark money” issue-advocacy group, it was not required to reveal the source of its donations.

      Liberty Central’s officers included several prominent conservatives, including current president of the Federalist Society Leonard Leo, current chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp, and former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, who gained fame for writing a book critical of the Clinton administration’s security protocols.

    • Tariffs Are a Bad Response to an Imaginary Border Crisis

      Donald Trump won the presidency–despite losing the popular vote by 2.8 million—with a campaign that careened wildly from one distraction to another. He has clung to this as a Twitter and governing strategy ever since. As there are 190 countries in the world, and the United States trades with most of them, trade wars so far have provided a shovel-ready supply of such diversions. So, here we are: Last Thursday, just in time to distract from the more potentially violent foreign ventures that are not going very well (Iran, Venezuela), Trump announced plans for a new set of tariffs against Mexico.

      This trade war is different from other trade wars: It’s not about trade. It’s not even about “trade” in the expanded, grossly misleading but commonly used definition that includes the intellectual property and investors’ “rights” that Trump is fighting for against China. It’s just Trump telling Mexico that they must stop the flow of migrants across our southern border or he will impose a 5 percent tariff beginning June 10 and increasing to 25 percent by October.

      Unsurprisingly, this strategy has met with an unusual level of resistance from Republicans in Congress, as well as from other allies with deep pockets and money to lose if the war escalates, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable. Late Tuesday, after the president told Republicans that they would be “foolish” to try to stop him, The New York Times reported that Republican senators have warned the White House they could “muster an overwhelming majority to beat back the tariffs.” So it’s not clear yet whether this plan will actually take effect.

      Still, it’s worth looking at the underlying reality of the “border crisis” that Trump has labelled a “national emergency” and which the tariffs purport to address—as well as how tariffs would actually affect that reality.

    • Trump’s Mexico Tariffs Are About White Nationalism, Not Trade

      Donald Trump has once again torpedoed the U.S. relationship with Mexico—its third-largest trade partner, closest neighbor and, actually, an ally—by announcing his decision to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods if Mexico doesn’t stop Central American migrants and refugees from reaching the United States.

      Trump, ever the alpha macho, has thrown down the gauntlet to Mexico. His rant written on White House stationary concludes with a direct threat to the Mexican president: “Mexico cannot allow hundreds of thousands of people to pour over its land and into our country—violating the sovereign territory of the United States. If Mexico does not take decisive measures, it will come at a significant price.”

      The move once again exploits the plight of thousands of families to galvanize a racist electoral base. The tariff measure against Mexico, like the wall, will fire up his supporters— but he may have gone too far this time. Trump has gotten pushback from Republicans, business, and for the first time, from south of the border.

      Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador fired off a letter retorting that “social problems are not solved with taxes or coercive measures.” He reiterated his commitment to addressing the root causes of displacement and cited FDR’s defense of the rights of freedom from want and freedom from fear. He ended politely but pointedly: “Please remember that I do not lack courage, that I am not a cowardly nor timid, but rather I act on principles.”

      After six months of enduring Trump’s bluster, the tariff threat seems to have finally cracked the appeasement strategy of the new Mexican government. After months of capitulation—including flowery letters of praise that bewildered Mexicans who, if they agree on anything, agree on being vehemently against Trump—AMLO’s sharp defense of Mexican sovereignty signals a shift in more than tone. The Mexican president said he does not want confrontation and much less to resort to retaliatory tariffs, but his letter makes it clear it’s No More Mr. Nice Guy either.

    • Aung San Suu Kyi in Hungary: A Chilling Sign of Global Islamophobia

      For many years, Aung San Suu Kyi was a hero in the West. Through a long period of house arrest, her lonely battle for freedom and democracy in Myanmar made her almost as great an icon as Nelson Mandela. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize outright; Mandela shared it two years later.

      But times have changed. Since becoming the state counsellor of Myanmar, she has become the most visible political apologist for the ethnic cleansing – I would say genocide – of an estimated 25,000 Rohingya Muslims in the violence that swept across the country in 2017.

      A further 700,000 were driven from their homes. Security forces have been accused by human rights groups of the systematic rape of Rohingya women and girls.

    • GOP paid millions to operative who pushed census question aimed to help “whites”

      The gerrymandering expert who was revealed to be behind the push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census — on the premise that it would help Republicans and “non-Hispanic whites” — was paid millions by the Republican National Committee until his death last year.

      After Thomas Hofeller passed away last summer, his daughter discovered files on his hard drive revealing that he authored a study showing that a census citizenship question would help Republican gerrymandering. He pushed the Trump administration to add the question to the 2020 census. After Hofeller’s previously unreported role in the census issue was revealed, Mother Jones found Federal Election Commission filings showing that the Republican Party had paid him more than $2 million for his work.

      Hofeller, who wrote that adding the question would “clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” was on the RNC payroll from June 2009 until his death last August. He had previously worked as a redistricting consultant for the RNC between the 1980s and early 2000s.

      According to the filings, the RNC continued to pay him for “legal and compliance” work after he left his official position and right up until his death. He earned $422,000 after Trump’s inauguration, receiving regular monthly payments of $22,247.

    • Predicting Even More Horrifying Conditions, Historical Journalist Describes Parallels Between Trump Migrant Detention and Concentration Camps

      Don’t expect the camps housing migrants on the border to close anytime soon—if anything, expect conditions to get worse.

      That was the message from journalist Andrea Pitzer during an appearance with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday night. Pitzer, whose book “One Long Night” is an exhaustive history of the uses of concentration camps over the last century, said that the lessons of the past indicate that President Donald Trump’s war on migrants isn’t anywhere close to being over.

      “My research showed pretty conclusively that these camps don’t just close themselves,” said Pitzer, who stressed that the usefulness of the camps for governments targeting marginalized groups for abuse is one of the main reasons for their staying power.

      “They’re going to get bigger and conditions inside them are going to get worse,” Pitzer said.

    • Trump’s Tariff Deal Will Be ‘Disaster’ for Thousands of Immigrants Deported to Mexico, Rights Groups Say

      Immigrant rights groups decried the deal reached Friday night by President Donald Trump and Mexican officials, in which Trump called off his plan to impose tariffs on all imports from Mexico in exchange for an expansion of his policy deporting asylum-seekers to the country.

      Trump announced late Friday that the five percent tariffs scheduled to be implemented on Monday had been “indefinitely suspended” after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration agreed to help with Trump’s crackdown on immigration, apprehending more immigrants traveling through the country to the southern U.S. border and sharing more intelligence with the United States.

      The Mexican government deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to its southeastern border ahead of the announcement and had two organizers arrested for arranging for groups of migrants to travel together.

      “The Mexican government has detained them to present them as trophies before the United States government,” the immigrant rights organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras said in a statement after the arrests. “Despite assurances from the Mexican government that tells us that Mexico makes its own migration policy, this series of events makes it clear that’s not the case.”

    • Reopen Linda Fairstein’s Cases and Hold New York’s Criminal Justice System Accountable

      Like many of you, I was greatly impacted by Ava Duvernay’s essential documentary When They See Us, which premiered on Netflix this week. Ava’s film excavates the truth surrounding how five Black and Latino men were wrongly convicted for an attack on a jogger in 1989, resulting in prison sentences that lasted as long as thirteen years. It has sparked a much-needed conversation, popping up in people’s everyday lives, in a doctor’s office, at the hair salon, around the dinner table.

      The significance of this particular case is much broader than the miscarriage of justice that was inflicted on these five men: Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam. We need to know their names, and understand what was done to them, to understand what happens and has happened to millions of black and brown people in America.

    • The Misadventures of ‘Tariff Man’

      Trump has two tools at his disposal as president. The first is his mouth: the insults and threats that he issues verbally or by Twitter.

      The second is the tariff. Trump has imposed trade restrictions left and right, on allies and adversaries, for economic and political reasons, as part of a long-term offensive and out of short-term pique.

      If Trump could use tariffs even more indiscriminately, no doubt he would. He would delight in slapping trade penalties on the Democratic Party, on Robert Mueller, on the mainstream media, on all the women who have accused him of harassment, even on the First Lady for slapping away his hand at the airport in Tel Aviv.

      Trump the man favored the legal suit as his attack of first resort; Trump the president has discovered the tariff.

      With his penchant for naming names, Trump calls himself “Tariff Man,” as if boasting of a new superhero power. It’s all-too-reminiscent of the cult film Mystery Men where the superpowers are either invisible or risible (Ben Stiller’s character, Mr. Furious, for instance, gets really really angry).

      Trump uses tariffs like a bad cook uses salt. It covers up his lack of preparation, the poor quality of his ingredients, the blandness of his imagination. It’s the only spice in his spice rack.

      The latest over-salted dish to come out of the White House kitchen is the president’s threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods on June 10. The threat has nothing to do with what Mexico has done economically (that’s a different set of threatened tariffs). Rather, it’s all about immigration. This time, Trump will keep inflating the cost of Mexican goods “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” The tariffs will, supposedly, rise 5 percent every month until they reach 25 percent in October.

    • For Immigrants at the Border, It’s About the Children

      Contradiction is the name of the game in current U.S. immigration policy. As states pass increasingly restrictive abortion laws, ostensibly to protect children, the fifth migrant child — and the sixth overall — has died in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol since December. The irony is not lost on any of us. How can the U.S. argue that its policies are meant to protect children? These actions are not about young people and they are not about families. But for immigrant parents and families, their sacrifice to leave children behind and migrate, or bring children with them to the border to request asylum is precisely all about children and trying to keep their families together.

    • NYPD, Apology for Stonewall Not Accepted

      What the NYPD did in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969 was not an exceptional event. There was nothing new about cops busting up a queer bar, beating people up and putting them in police cars. In 1969, that was commonplace. Every queer person knew what the red flashing lights meant: arrest, getting beaten or perhaps raped. What was unique on June 28, 1969 was that queer people stood up and fought back, not only for that day but for four days afterwards, in what became known as the Stonewall Riots. This uprising and the plethora of organizations that emerged afterwards were the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

      50 years later, Pride parades have become a corporate rainbow extravaganza, including Bank of America, Verizon and Target contingents. In a complete denial of Stonewall’s history, police hypocritically march in the parade. This radical history has become so sanitized that the police finally feel comfortable apologizing for their role in the oppression that led to the riot.

      In a public statement on Thursday, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill apologized for the police brutality at Stonewall. “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong — plain and simple. The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize,” he said. So, 50 years later, the New York City Police Department finally admits (vaguely) some wrongdoing in arresting and beating people who were just dancing at a bar.

      I have one thing to say to that: NYPD, your apology is not accepted.

    • Decades After False Convictions, ‘When They See Us’ Highlights Media Failure

      When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s harrowing retelling for Netflix of the false conviction of the five New York youths who became nationally known as the Central Park Five, has reignited discussions about race, stereotypes and how America’s penal system has historically brutalized black people under the banner of “criminal justice.”

      Yet this conversation would be incomplete without a serious reckoning with corporate media’s role in fanning the flames of racist hysteria and misinformation, which condemned these innocent youth—Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise—as guilty in the court of public opinion long before the official verdict was handed down. “The press response to this, and the press failure around this case, is something really important to interrogate,” DuVernay told The Root (5/28/19).

      While the highly publicized antics of Donald Trump and the coldhearted manipulation of lead investigator Linda Fairstein have received a great deal of condemnation, less attention has been paid to how prominent media outlets, like the New York Times and the New York Daily News, fell in lockstep with the myth of five deranged black youths randomly attacking white cyclists and joggers in Central Park.

      Take, for example, a Times article written by David E. Pitt (4/25/89). Under the headline “Gang Attack: Unusual for Its Viciousness,” Pitt indulged all of the now disproven cliches that accompanied the public vilification of the five young men, including the media buzzword of “wilding” and the reference to the brutal rape of Trisha Meilia—in a phrase borrowed from New York prosecutor Peter Reinharz—as a “wolf-pack attack.”

    • Interview With Rob Kall On His Book, ‘The Bottom-Up Revolution’

      Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof.com, interviewed Rob Kall, OpEdNews.com founder and host of the “Bottom-Up” talk radio show.

      Kall launched OpEdNews in the 1990s and enlisted a group of volunteer editors to help publish submissions to the website. It was at the forefront of a shift in news that challenged the massive top-down centralization of the media.

      As he describes, Kall grew interested in how this transformation manifesting itself in culture, politics, and technology was affecting and altering people’s way of thinking and why some generations were more open to changes than others. He went on a journey that developed into a project, which led to his book, “The Bottom-Up Revolution: Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity.”

      “People born after 1980 have different brains. Their brains work differently. I’ve checked this out with many neuroscientists, and they all agree,” Kall contends. “They are open to a different world of interacting, and they expect things to be done in a different way.

      For those born before 1980, Kall adds, “It’s a challenge for people born before 1980. They have to learn to adapt to it.” They have these top-down minds, and the vast majority “want to be told what to do.”

      “I really think that a bottom-up mind is a kind of intelligence. It’s a way of being able to connect with other people,” according to Kall.

      He drew a lot of inspiration from the cultures of indigenous people. “We have so much to learn from them.” They have such a “different way of relating to each other in the world.”

    • Ginsburg Warns of More 5-4 Supreme Court Decisions Ahead

      Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested Friday that there will be sharp divisions among her colleagues as they finish their term, with decisions in high-profile cases about the census and the drawing of electoral maps expected before the end of the month.

      The justice was speaking at a conference for judges in New York. According to prepared remarks made available by the Supreme Court, the justice noted that of the 43 cases the justices have announced decisions in since hearing arguments beginning in October, just over a quarter were decided by a 5-4 or 5-3 vote. Those are rulings that tend to split the court’s five more conservative justices from its four liberal members including Ginsburg.

      “Given the number of most watched cases still unannounced, I cannot predict that the relatively low sharp divisions ratio will hold,” said Ginsburg, who knows the votes in the some two dozen cases remaining at this point, though the public does not. The court’s term runs from October through June.

      In her remarks, Ginsburg drew a parallel between two cases involving the Trump administration: this year’s case involving the census and a case last year in which the court’s conservatives upheld President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries over the dissent of their liberal colleagues.

    • Free the Seattle 7! A Persecution From the Past

      The radical antiracist and antiwar movements of the 1960s were often the object of severe repression. Besides the attacks on protesters and the attempts to destroy their media outlets by the state and vigilantes who worked for the state, there were the prosecutions of the movement’s luminaries and leaders. Some of those prosecutions are well-documented: the trial of Dr. Benjamin Spock for encouraging draft resistance, the numerous trials of different Black Panthers, the prosecution of Muhammad Ali for refusing the draft, the trial of the Chicago 8, and the trial of Angela Davis rank among the better known. Others, like the trial of the Silver Spring 3 for destroying draft files and the trial of the Seattle 7 on charges of conspiracy to intend to riot are less known. However, their importance is equal to those better known.

      The Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) was an ambitious attempt by young radicals to create a united front of revolutionary groups and individuals in Seattle, Washington. The effort began in the fall of 1969 and was generated by a group of local Seattleites and a few newcomers from New York state. Instead of organizing along traditional coalition lines, the individuals formed collectives. These collectives came together more or less organically and resembled affinity groups—an organizing model which became quite popular in the 1970s antinuclear movement and was revived during the anti-capitalist globalization protests of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    • Georgia Probe Highlights Political Problems With State Ethics Commissions

      The new head of Georgia’s ethics commission has filed subpoenas demanding extensive financial, bank, and payroll records from the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and several left-leaning groups that registered and turned out voters — particularly minority voters.

      The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently obtained the subpoenas, which were filed on April 26. That they were filed comes as no surprise: Four days after he started the job back in March, commission director David Emadi said he planned to seek records from Abrams’ campaign. For its part, the Abrams’ campaign criticized the approach, calling it a “political vendetta” and saying it would have taken immediate action to rectify any problems found in the normal post-election audits.

      The actions by Emadi — a Republican who formerly served as a Douglas County prosecutor, and who contributed $600 to the 2018 campaign of Abrams’ Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, now governor — have sparked questions about inappropriate partisanship at the agency, whose formal name is the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. For his part, Emadi has denied charges of partisanship and has said every 2018 gubernatorial candidate is “under active audit and investigation as is policy.”

      This is not the first time Georgia’s ethics commission has faced criticism over partisanship.

      Emadi replaced former director Stefan Ritter, a Republican appointee who quit after staff members filed complaints claiming he watched pornography at work and failed to pursue complaints when they alerted him to potential problems with campaigns, including Abrams’. Instead, they said, he told them to let the candidates correct the errors.

    • FAA’s Boeing-Biased Officials: Recuse Yourselves or Resign

      The Boeing-driven FAA is rushing to unground the notorious prone-to-stall Boeing 737 MAX (that killed 346 innocents in two crashes) before several official investigations are completed. Troubling revelations might keep these planes grounded worldwide.

      The FAA has a clearly established pro-Boeing bias and will likely allow Boeing to unground the 737 MAX. We must demand that the two top FAA officials resign or recuse themselves from taking any more steps that might endanger the flying public. The two Boeing-indentured men are Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate FAA Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.

      Immediately after the crashes, Elwell resisted grounding and echoed Boeing claims that the Boeing 737 MAX was a safe plane despite the deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

      Ali Bahrami is known for aggressively pushing the FAA through 2018 to further abdicate its regulatory duties by delegating more safety inspections to Boeing. Bahrami’s actions benefit Boeing and are supported by the company’s toadies in the Congress. Elwell and Bahrami have both acquired much experience by going through the well-known revolving door between the industry and the FAA. They are likely to leave the FAA once again for lucrative positions in the aerospace lobbying or business world. With such prospects, they do not have much ‘skin in the game’ for their pending decision.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Taking on the FCC: Unraveling a $500 Billion Rip-Off

      On May 20th, a group known as the Irregulators submitted legal briefs to the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, seeking standing to appeal a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision that, in effect, has facilitated one of the largest accounting scandals in American history. The petitioners are accusing the FCC of allowing the nation’s telecommunications companies – the telecom trust – to engage in a bookkeeping slight-of-hand scam that cost telecom users, states and tax payers across the country an estimated $50-$60 billion a year over the last decade.

      The FCC declined to challenge the Irregulators’ standing and, on June 6th, the Court is expected to formally rule that the Irregulators have “standing” and the case against the FCC can proceed. Standing is a requirement under Article III of the Constitution, the capacity of a party to bring suit in court. To bring suit signifies the ability of a party to demonstrate that s/he had sufficient connection to — and was harmed by — an action being challenged.

      The Irregulators’ case is not unlike the case, Apple Inc. v. Pepper, in which Robert Pepper and three other iPhone users accused Apple of causing harm to them and other Apple users by requiring them to buy apps from the Apple App Store. The case was originally brought in 2011 and on May 13, 2019, the Supreme Court voted to allow the antitrust case against Apple to proceed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A Functionally Claimed One-Step Method

      To be clear, the district court analysis here asks whether this fits under 112(6), not whether it comports with Halliburton. That case states that a claim which “describes [its] most crucial element … in terms of what it will do, rather than in terms of its own physical characteristics … is invalid as a violation of Rev.Stat. § 4888 [indefiniteness].” In General Elec. Co. v. Wabash Appliance Corp., 304 U.S. 364 (1938), the court similarly wrote invalidated claims where the inventor “uses conveniently functional language at the exact point of novelty.”

      There are several ways that these cases could be applied here. Example: (A) Since PDE V inhibitors were already known, their existence was not the point of novelty. Rather, the point of novelty is administering those known drugs in order to treat a particular condition — and that “administering” portion of the claim was not described functionally. (B) Another way of thinking here is that the novelty of the claim is administering a particular drug — but we don’t know the details of that particular drug is because it is described functionally.

    • Farmer-controlled Seeds

      35 U.S.C. 161. Like utility patents, plant patents last for 20 years from the filing date. Plant patents are examined under the same provisions as utility patents: patentable subject matter, utility, novelty, obviousness, and disclosure (35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112) with a bit of leeway definiteness (like design patents, the claims are generally directed to the plant as “shown and described”).

      It is a bit tricky here to understand how self-injury prior art works with plant patents. Most new varieties take several years to cultivate to ensure that the the variety is distinct through successive generations of asexual propagation. Growing of the crops (and presumably selling the fruit) would have the look of prior art on sale and public use activity (as well as being “otherwise available to the public).

      Take PP30,551, covering a new apple variety that issued this past week. The patent states that the new variety was first observed in 2009 as a “spontaneous limb mutation” in an commercial orchard and then cultivated (by grafting) from 2011 until the application Australian priority filing date in 2016.

    • Save Our Food. Free the Seed.

      Not long ago I was sitting in a combine tractor on a 24,000-acre farm in Dazey, N.D. The expanse of the landscape — endless rows of corn and soybeans as precise as a Soviet military parade — was difficult to ignore. So were the skyscraper-tall storage silos and the phalanx of 18-wheeled trucks ready to transport the grain. And yet what held my attention were the couple of dozen seeds in my palm — the same seeds cultivated all around me.

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Targets 14 New Sites in Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers & Piracy

        The RIAA appears to be stepping up its campaign against sites offering features to rip content from YouTube. The music industry group has obtained permission from the court to force Cloudflare to unmask the operators of at least 14 new platforms, a handful of which appear to be straightforward pirate sites.

Chapter 8: A Foot in the Door — How to Train Sympathetic Developers and Infiltrate Other Projects

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Table of Contents

Introduction: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

Chapter 1: Know your enemies– Act like a friend [PDF]

Chapter 2: Work with the system– Use OEMs and your legal team [PDF]

Chapter 3: Playing the victim– Show the world that too much freedom hurts development [PDF]

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for– Getting skeptics to work for you [PDF]

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo– How to bribe the moderates to your side [PDF]

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise– Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything [PDF]

Chapter 7: Patent War– Use low-quality patents to prove that all software rips off your company [PDF]

You are here ☞ Chapter 8: A foot in the door– how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects [PDF]

Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding– Change the names, and change the world

Chapter 10: Moving forward– Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly

Summary: How to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but there are all sorts of edits that you aren’t allowed to make. Free software projects let you copy, fork, change directions, and create entirely new software. It wouldn’t be free software otherwise.

“Open Source stresses that the project isn’t really “open” until there is an entire social pathway for making the contributions allowed by the license.”Open source has a slightly different focus– a lot of it is about the organizational culture of development. This is an obvious “in” for people with experience in organizations and the corporate world.

Free software was formerly allowed to focus on software development– creating organizational overhead only if and when necessary (the majority of free software projects have only a single active developer, or a small handful of contributors.) Open Source stresses that the project isn’t really “open” until there is an entire social pathway for making the contributions allowed by the license.

Free software development Open Source development
Developers 1 or more 1 or more
Website Optional Basically required
Source Repo Ideal Required
Way to Join / Contribute Not always– just fork or send a patch Basically Required
Organizational Management Optional / As needed / To be co-opted Basically Required / Corporate / Strict

These are not always spelled out and pretty much constitute different attitudes towards software development. Being closer to corporations, Open Source has more corporate culture in its processes.

“Being closer to corporations, Open Source has more corporate culture in its processes.”While the “Open source way” may look better for letting everyone be a contributor, it carries with it extra requirements and additional reasons to exclude projects from consideration or people from projects.

There is a difference between implicit exclusion and explicit exclusion. While free software may implicitly exclude contributors, it (like Open Source) allows anyone to fork. Open Source does more to fight implicit exclusion, but adds more vague rules for explicitly forcing people out of the opportunity to contribute based on organizational priorities, even if that person requires (and has) little or no contact with other developers.

“If someone had a contribution, they could typically contact the lead (or sole) developer and offer a patch or offer to join the project.”Just as an example, free software used to have more focus on the needs of a single developer writing their own project. If someone had a contribution, they could typically contact the lead (or sole) developer and offer a patch or offer to join the project. They would always be free to create their own version of the software without permission (as permission is already granted by the free software license) but this is usually more effort than simply offering to help.

The lead developer is free to do basically whatever they want– keeping a project true to its roots. If their personality is not to the liking of other developers, it doesn’t necessarily matter– they don’t have to join and the lead developer doesn’t have to invite anybody. This works for many projects of small to medium size.

Open Source brings organizational overhead and corporate culture into every project– you can be the leader of your own project and do what you want to with it, but now you shouldn’t– every project should have a community, a code of conduct (which will be applied unevenly between contributors and leaders, though it may ultimately threaten the structure of the leadership in the distant future) and a dedicated website. With free software, these “requirements” only draw resources when they are justified and considered necessary.

“The lead developer is free to do basically whatever they want– keeping a project true to its roots.”Open Source kind of hates on lone developers.

Fortunately, Open Source brings all this overhead to a project in a way that makes it easier to steer or influence (or purchase) the direction of a project. And since for 20 years, companies like Microsoft have sought to buy, charge royalties for, influence or eliminate the work done by competitors, Open Source gives us (and even fights for) the foot in the door that we need to do so.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” With the very corporate culture of Open Source, big companies are the pig. Open Source is always wrestling with monopolies like Microsoft, and it is of decreasing concern how dirty everyone gets, or how much the pig likes it– in fact, Microsoft has come out to say they don’t merely enjoy wrestling with “Linux”– they love it.

“They love being able to purchase entire networks of developers, from Linked-In to Github– which probably contain more valuable data about free/open Source developers than Facebook has access to.”And why not? They love royalties from Android devices. They love royalties from USB drives. They love being able to purchase entire networks of developers, from Linked-In to Github– which probably contain more valuable data about free/open source developers than Facebook has access to.

The amount of influence Microsoft has over all projects on Github, all projects that use .NET or Azure Cloud, many projects that use Python, and all software distributions that run on Intel-based hardware is only increasing. And Open Source continues to pave the way forward for monopolies to own and direct free software– which was originally created to be independent of control by monopolies.

Free software developers seem to care very little about this, because they have their stripped free software versions of everything open source. So what if we make things less modular, more brittle, more bloated, and more poorly designed? They only use projects with a license allows them to clean up after us, so they’re content no matter what we sabotage. We can overwhelm them and send them to clean up mess after mess, with the remaining effect of steering key projects to work more the way we want, and them accepting our changes.

“We can overwhelm them and send them to clean up mess after mess, with the remaining effect of steering key projects to work more the way we want, and them accepting our changes.”Free software and Open Source used to have smaller differences between them, and yet for two decades our sponsorships and initiatives (and purchases) have put us directly in the middle of Open Source development.

Since this is fine according to the culture of Open Source, they can’t really point to a reason why we shouldn’t– they adopt our rules, we play by our rules, they can’t complain. It’s too late to change to the rules to exclude us, and we aren’t doing anything they didn’t welcome in the past.

In exchange for software with more churn, more bloat, less choice and less user control and reliability– they get “cooler” software tools, larger sponsorships, bigger marketing and events that feature their software– everything they would enjoy if we took over their world and did things our way. And we still get royalties and the chance to steer development away from things that help our competitors more than they help us.

The plan has never actually changed, but our way of framing it has changed entirely. We de-commoditize protocols. We add features we want and deprecate ones that people rely on, and we tell them to get with the program. We create the same kind of lock-in (in practice) by decreasing the compatibility with trusted development tools and utilities, so we can move more quickly (and drag users along) from one industry fad to another.

“And just as the icing on the cake, we make more money from the development of these projects than the developers sometimes do– it’s as if we hired them ourselves, but all we did was participate and influence.”We say this leads to more compatibility– but it’s more compatibility with the things we care about, and less compatibility among the free software ecosystem they created for themselves. Essentially we drag them out of their world, and back into ours. It’s a reunion we have already monetized, already seized projects with, already used to purchase things that supposedly belong to everyone.

The shift in these projects demonstrate that they belong a little more to us, than they do to anybody else. And just as the icing on the cake, we make more money from the development of these projects than the developers sometimes do– it’s as if we hired them ourselves, but all we did was participate and influence. Recently, a company used Wikipedia servers as a blank canvas for their own corporate advertising and message. They were called “bastards” and “vandals” and their changes were reverted.

“It takes all the professionalism in the world not to quote what Mark Zuckerberg said when he realized how many people trusted him with their personal lives and information.”It’s quite different in the world of Free and Open Source software. We can behave exactly like The North Face, do just as much to vandalize and be bastardly, we can even stake claim to their work (and have them agree it is our own!) and become wealthier and gain a heroic reputation in the process.

It takes all the professionalism in the world not to quote what Mark Zuckerberg said when he realized how many people trusted him with their personal lives and information.

Instead, we will just sum up the majority response to our infiltration and increasing control of free software development, no matter how aggressively we buy up and steer projects the way we did before free software entered the mainstream:


Relevant quotes from the Halloween documents:

“it provides us with a very valuable look past Microsoft’s dismissive marketing spin about Open Source at what the company is actually thinking”

“If publication of this document does nothing else, I hope it will alert everyone to the stifling of competition, the erosion of consumer choice, the higher costs, and the monopoly lock-in that this tactic implies.”

“The parallel with Microsoft’s attempted hijacking of Java, and its attempts to spoil the ‘write once, run anywhere’ potential of this technology, should be obvious.”

“’De-commoditizing’ protocols means reducing choice, raising prices, and suppressing competition.”

“for Microsoft to win, the customer must lose.”

“other OSS process weaknesses provide an avenue for Microsoft to garner advantage in key feature areas such as architectural improvements (e.g. storage+), integration (e.g. schemas), ease-of-use, and organizational support.”

“To us, open-source licensing and the rights it grants to users and third parties are primary, and specific development practice varies ad-hoc in a way not especially coupled to our license variations. In this Microsoft taxonomy, on the other hand, the central distinction is who has write access”

“Open source software has roots in the hobbyist and the scientific community and was typified by ad hoc exchange of source code by developers/users.”

“to understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process rather than a company.”

“Coordination of an OSS team is extremely dependent on Internet-native forms of collaboration. Typical methods employed run the full gamut of the Internet’s collaborative technologies”

“OSS projects the size of Linux and Apache are only viable if a large enough community of highly skilled developers can be amassed to attack a problem.”

“This summarizes one of the core motivations of developers in the OSS process — solving an immediate problem at hand faced by an individual developer — this has allowed OSS to evolve complex projects without constant feedback from a marketing / support organization.”

“Because the developers are typically hobbyists, the ability to `fund’ multiple, competing efforts is not an issue and the OSS process benefits from the ability to pick the best potential implementation out of the many produced.”

“Note, that this is very dependent on:

• A large group of individuals willing to submit code
• A strong, implicit componentization framework (which, in the case of Linux was inherited from UNIX architecture).”

“although debugging requires debuggers to communicate with some coordinating developer, it doesn’t require significant coordination between debuggers. Thus it doesn’t fall prey to the same quadratic complexity and management costs that make adding developers problematic.”

“Some very large projects discard the `benevolent dictator’ model entirely. One way to do this is turn the co-developers into a voting committee (as with Apache).”

“The GPL and its aversion to code forking reassures customers that they aren’t riding an evolutionary `dead-end’ by subscribing to a particular commercial version of Linux.”

“In particular, larger, more savvy, organizations who rely on OSS for business operations (e.g. ISPs) are comforted by the fact that they can potentially fix a work-stopping bug independent of a commercial provider’s schedule”

“Strongly componentized OSS projects are able to release subcomponents as soon as the developer has finished his code.”

“Up till now, Linux has greatly benefited from the integration / componentization model pushed by previous UNIX’s. Additionally, the organization of Apache was simplified by the relatively simple, fault tolerant specifications of the HTTP protocol and UNIX server application design.”

“One of the exponential qualities of OSS — successful OSS projects swallow less successful ones in their space — implies a pre-emption business model where by investing directly in OSS today, they can pre-empt / eliminate competitive projects later — especially if the project requires API evangelization.”

“Linux can win as long as services / protocols are commodities”

“The `folding extended functionality’ here is a euphemism for introducing nonstandard extensions (or entire alternative protocols) which are then saturation-marketed as standards, even though they’re closed, undocumented or just specified enough to create an illusion of openness. The objective is to make the new protocols a checklist item for gullible corporate buyers, while simultaneously making the writing of third-party symbiotes for Microsoft programs next to impossible. (And anyone who succeeds gets bought out.)”

“(This standards-pollution strategy is perfectly in line with Microsoft’s efforts to corrupt Java and break the Java brand.)”

Monitor OSS news groups. Learn new ideas and hire the best/brightest individuals.”

“Linux and other OSS projects make it easy for developers to experiment with small components in the system without introducing regressions in other components”

“OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market.”

“DAV is complex and the protocol spec provides an infinite level of implementation complexity for various applications (e.g. the design for Exchange over DAV is good but certainly not the single obvious design). Apache will be hard pressed to pick and choose the correct first areas of DAV to implement.”

“Systems management functionality potentially touches all aspects of a product / platform. Consequently, it is not something which is easily grafted onto an existing codebase in a componentized manner. It must be designed from the start or be the result of a conscious re-evaluation of all components in a given project.”

Ease of Use. Like management, this often must be designed from the ground up and consequently incurs large development management cost. OSS projects will consistently have problems matching this feature area”

“How can we leverage the client base to provide similar integration requirements on our servers? For example, MSMQ, as a piece of middleware, requires closely synchronized client and server codebases.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween1.html

“These tools are the ‘old standbys’ of the UNIX development world and are widely used across all Unix platforms. This mass commoditization of development/debug tools is a key contributor to the common skillset efficiencies realized by the Linux process.”

“Additionally, due directly to GPL + having the full development environment in front of me, I was in a position where I could write up my changes and email them out within a couple of hours (in contrast to how things like this would get done in NT). Engaging in that process would have prepared me for a larger, more ambitious Linux project in the future.”

“The endless customizability of Linux for specific tasks – ranging from GFLOP clustered workstations to 500K RAM installations to dedicated, in-the-closet 486-based DNS servers – makes Linux a very natural choice for “isolated, single-task” servers such as DNS, File, Mail, Web, etc. Strict application and OS componentization coupled with readily exposed internals make Linux ideal.“

“There are hundreds of stories on the web of Linux installations that have been in continuous production for over a year. Stability more than almost any other feature is the #1 goal of the Linux development community (and the #1 cited weakness of Windows)”

“Linux developers are generally wary of Sun’s Java. Most of the skepticism towards Java stems directly from Sun’s tight control over the language – and lack of OSS.”

GNOME — Next generation UI initiative for Linux loosely based on X-windows+CORBA . More info at http://www.gnome.org. Many of the key developers for Gnome work for RedHat.”

“A lot more thought and work needs to go into formulating Microsoft’s response to Linux. Some initial thoughts on how to compete with Linux in particular are contained below. One “blue sky” avenue that should be investigated is if there is any way to turn Linux into an opportunity for Microsoft.”

“A more generalized assessment of how to beat the Open Source Software process… is contained in the ‘Open Source Software’ document.”

“Relative to other UNIX’s Linux is considered more customizable. Addressing this functionality involves more than just the embedded Windows NT project. Greater componentatization & general dependency reduction within NT will improve not only it’s stability but also the ability of highly skilled users/admins to deploy task-specific NT installations.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween2.html

“Linux is a philosophy as much as technical phenomena. On the positive, and Microsoft is interested in better understanding and finding ways to accommodate this dynamic, it provides for extensive peer review, and for a lot of independent parallel work on a variety of features.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween3.html

“We should line up some small acquisitions here to jump start this if we do it. We should also do this ASAP. Microsoft also indicated there was
a lot more money out there and they would clearly rather use Baystar “like” entities to help us get signifigantly more money if we want to grow further or do acquisitions”

“The will help us a lot and if we execute we could exit and Unix componients we have build potentially back to Microsoft or MCS.”

“There you have it. At least a third of SCO’s entire market capitalization, and their entire current cash reserves, is payoffs funnelled from Microsoft. Their 10Qs reveal that every other line of cash inflow is statistical noise by comparison. The brave new SCOsource business model is now clear: sue your customers, shill for Microsoft, kite your stock, and pray you stay out of jail.”

“Five days after this memo was written, SCO’s PR chief Blake Stowell responded to widespread speculation that Microsoft was behind the Bystar deal by vehemently denying it.”

“We think the kindest interpretation we can put on these events is that Blake Stowell isn’t lying through his teeth, but was kept out of the loop so he could honestly deny all knowledge of Microsoft’s involvement. If so, we wonder what else SCO’s director of PR doesn’t know…”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween10.html

“(Writing code that doesn’t suck always has to be our base-level and most important response, but the propaganda war matters too. If it’s not already obvious to you why, keep reading.)”

“Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the stakes. For Microsoft (or at least its present business model) to survive, open source must die. It’s a lot like the Cold War was; peaceful coexistence could be a stable solution for us, but it can never be for them, because they can’t tolerate the corrosive effect on their customer relationships of comparisons with a more open system.”

“Because coexistence is not a stable solution for them, it cannot be for us either. We have to assume that Microsoft’s long-term aim is to crush our culture”

“They seem to have abandoned using the “open source is intellectual-property cancer” argument directly. This follows the advice their own survey group gave them two years ago that this tactic was backfiring badly. Instead they’re pushing this line through bought proxies at SCO and elsewhere.”

“Like the dog that didn’t bark in the night-time, these omissions are significant, because Microsoft marketing is thorough and ruthlessly opportunistic. You can bet money that the reason they’re not making these arguments is because they tried them on smaller focus groups, or individually with key customers, and they didn’t fly.”

“Microsoft’s underlying problem is that it employs about 22,000 programmers; the open-source community can easily muster ten times that number. That means the capability gap that has opened up between the open-source codebase and Windows is only going to get worse from Microsoft’s point of view, not better. Time, technology, and market forces are not on their side — so, to survive, they’re going to have to change the game so that market forces and the opensource advantage in technology become irrelevant.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween11.html

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