The Linux Foundation’s Business Model

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation's plan

Summary: The Linux Foundation’s plan, illustrated

Links 18/6/2019: i386 Abandoned by Canonical and a New osquery ‘Community’

Posted in News Roundup at 6:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Are DevOps certifications valuable? 10 pros and cons
    • Kubernetes 1.15: Enabling the Workloads

      The last mile for any enterprise IT system is the application. In order to enable those applications to function properly, an entire ecosystem of services, APIs, databases and edge servers must exist. As Carl Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

      To create that IT universe, however, we must have control over its elements. In the Kubernetes universe, the individual solar systems and planets are now Operators, and the fundamental laws of that universe have solidified to the point where civilizations can grow and take root.

      Discarding the metaphor, we can see this in the introduction of Object Count Quota Support For Custom Resources. In English, this enables administrators to count and limit the number of Kubernetes resources across the broader ecosystem in a given cluster. This means services like Knative, Istio, and even Operators like the CrunchyData PostgreSQL Operator, the MongoDB Operator or the Redis Operator can be controlled via quota using the same mechanisms that standard Kubernetes resources have enjoyed for many releases.

      That’s great for developers, who can now be limited by certain expectations. It would not benefit the cluster for a bad bit of code to create 30 new PostgreSQL clusters because someone forgot to add a “;” at the end of a line. Call them “guardrails” that protect against unbounded object growth in your etcd database.

    • Red Hat named HPE’s Partner of the Year at HPE Discover 2019

      For more than 19 years, Red Hat has collaborated with HPE to develop, deliver and support trusted solutions that can create value and fuel transformation for customers. Our work together has grown over these nearly two decades and our solutions now include Linux, containers and telecommunications technologies, to name just a few. As a testament to our collaboration, HPE has named Red Hat the Technology Partner of the Year 2019 for Hybrid Cloud Solutions.

    • Demystifying Containers – Part II: Container Runtimes

      This series of blog posts and corresponding talks aims to provide you with a pragmatic view on containers from a historic perspective. Together we will discover modern cloud architectures layer by layer, which means we will start at the Linux Kernel level and end up at writing our own secure cloud native applications.
      Simple examples paired with the historic background will guide you from the beginning with a minimal Linux environment up to crafting secure containers, which fit perfectly into todays’ and futures’ orchestration world. In the end it should be much easier to understand how features within the Linux kernel, container tools, runtimes, software defined networks and orchestration software like Kubernetes are designed and how they work under the hood.

    • Edge > Core > Cloud: Transform the Way You Want

      For more than 25 years, SUSE has been very successful in delivering enterprise-grade Linux to our customers. And as IT infrastructure has shifted and evolved, so have we. For instance, we enabled and supported the move to software-defined data centers as virtualization and containerization technologies became more prevalent and data growth demanded a new approach.

    • SUSE OpenStack Cloud Technology Preview Takes Flight

      We are pleased to announce that as of today we are making a technology preview of a containerized version of SUSE OpenStack Cloud available that will demonstrate a future direction for our product. The lifecycle management for this technology preview is based on an upstream OpenStack project called Airship, which SUSE has been using and contributing to for some time. This follows our open / open policy of upstream first and community involvement.

    • All Linux, all the time: Supercomputers Top 500

      Starting at the top, two IBM-built supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, respectively to the bottom — a Lenovo Xeon-powered box in China — all of them run Linux.

      Linux supports more hardware architectures than any other operating system. In supercomputers, it supports both clusters, such as Summit and Sierra, the most common architecture, and Massively Parallel Processing (MPP), which is used by the number three computer Sunway TaihuLight.

      When it comes to high-performance computing (HPC), Intel dominates the TOP500 by providing processing power to 95.6% of all systems included on the list. That said, IBM’s POWER powers the fastest supercomputers. One supercomputer works its high-speed magic with Arm processors: Sandia Labs’ Astra, an HPE design, which uses over 130-thousand Cavium ThunderX2 cores.

      And, what do all these processors run? Linux, of course.
      133 systems of the Top 500 supercomputers are using either accelerator or co-processor setups. Of these most are using Nvidia GPUs. And, once more, it’s Linux conducting the hardware in a symphony of speed.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Announces Intent to Form New Foundation to Support osquery Community

        Facebook and the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced plans to create a new foundation for the osquery project, which will be dedicated to growing and sustaining a neutral osquery ecosystem. Engineers and developers from Dactiv, Facebook, Google, Kolide, Trail of Bits, Uptycs, and other companies who are using osquery have committed to supporting the project under the new Foundation.

        osquery is an open source tool developed by Facebook in 2014 that makes it easier to collect low level system information and detect potential security issues. It works by exposing an operating system as a high-performance relational database. This design makes it possible to easily and efficiently write SQL-based queries to detect and investigate anomalies.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces Intent to Form New Foundation to Support osquery Community
      • Open Source Osquery Project To Get Its Own Foundation [Ed: Some surveillance capitalism giants want to masquerade as a nonprofit]

        Linux Foundation, along with engineers from companies like Facebook and Google is planning to create a new foundation for the osquery project to support the growth and sustainability of the project.

        “We believe the creation of the osquery Foundation is the best next step to support the community’s ongoing development and priorities,” said Teddy Reed, an engineering manager at Facebook and longtime osquery contributor.

        The osquery Foundation will have an open governance model that encourages participation and technical contribution and will provide a framework for long-term stewardship by an ecosystem invested in osquery’s success.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDVLK Still Hasn’t Yet Adopted FreeSync Support

        While the AMDGPU kernel driver has shipped with the long-awaited FreeSync support since the Linux 5.0 release earlier this year and was quickly wired up for the RadeonSI Gallium3D OpenGL driver in Mesa 19.0 while the recent Mesa 19.1 update brought FreeSync for the RADV Vulkan driver, AMDVLK as AMD’s official open-source Vulkan driver isn’t yet supporting this variable rate refresh technology.

        It’s a bit ironic that the AMDVLK Vulkan driver still hasn’t done its bit of hooking into the AMDGPU FreeSync support even though the code-base is partially shared with their Windows driver and the unofficial Mesa-based “RADV” Vulkan driver is already shipping with this feature in place. When looking through the latest AMDVLK code, the FreeSync functionality remains absent.

      • VKHR – An AMD-Backed Open-Source Hair Renderer In Vulkan

        VKHR is an open-source, real-time hybrid hair renderer written in Vulkan and developed under the support of AMD/RTG.

        AMD previously worked on some great hair rendering tech with TressFX but now it’s being taken to a whole new level with VKHR. VKHR is being led by Erik Jansson of AMD as a real-time hybrid hair renderer “written 100% from scratch in Vulkan” and using C++17 code. VKHR has a built-in ray-tracer based on Intel’s Embree technology. And there’s even a built-in benchmark for comparing the project’s hair rendering performance.

      • Panfrost Gallium3D Driver Continues Speeding Ahead For Open-Source Mali Graphics

        Panfrost only made its initial debut as part of the recent Mesa 19.1 release for providing open-source Arm Mali Bifrost/Midgard graphics driver support on Linux independent of Arm and their official binary driver. While the resources are limited, so far Panfrost is making stellar progress.

        Panfrost continues making terrific progress for providing open-source Arm Mali graphics support. In part, this is made by possible by lead developer Alyssa Rosenzweig currently interning for the summer at Collabora where she appears to be primarily working on this currently OpenGL ES 2.0 class driver and continuing to strive for competitive performance with Arm’s official Linux GLES driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE’s Konsole Seeing Improvements For Wayland

        The initial work by Tomaz is focused on enabling drag-and-drop of Konsole tabs to work correctly under Wayland. Special handling of drag-and-drop under Wayland is needed due to the tightened security as part of Wayland’s design not allowing the scoping out of other widgets on the desktop.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 GNOME and display server changes

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 contains some important changes regarding the GNOME graphical interface and the default display server. If you are using a graphical desktop in RHEL 8, the most visible change will be that, by default, the GNOME Shell interface is used. This interface has a different appearance and operation compared to GNOME Classic, the default graphical interface in RHEL 7.

        Here, we will cover an overview of the GNOME Shell interface in RHEL 8, and also how to switch to the GNOME Classic interface that is similar to the default interface on RHEL 7. We will also cover the new default display server, Wayland, and how to switch the display server to X.org X11 if needed. Another notable change in RHEL 8 is that the KDE Plasma interface has been removed.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Linux 4.0 Operating System Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        The OpenMandriva community announced the general availability of the OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 operating system, a major release that brings numerous new features, updated components, and lots of improvements.

        After almost two years in development, the OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 operating system is finally here and comes with numerous goodies for fans of the popular Linux bistro that continues the sprit of the now deprecated Mandriva and Mandrake Linux operating systems.

        Compiled with LLVM/Clang instead of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection), OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 aims to be a cutting-edge Linux-based operating system that offers some of the highest levels of optimization by enabling LTO in certain packages to make it fast, stable, and reliable at all times.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Your first robotic arm with Ubuntu Core, coming from Niryo

            Niryo has built a fantastic 6-axis robotic arm called ‘Niryo One’. It is a 3D-printed, affordable robotic arm focused mainly on educational purposes. Additionally, it is fully open source and based on ROS. On the hardware side, it is powered by a Raspberry Pi 3 and NiryoStepper motors, based on Arduino microcontrollers. When we found out all this, guess what we thought? This is a perfect target for Ubuntu Core and snaps!

            When the robotic arm came to my hands, the first thing I did was play with Niryo Studio; a tool from Niryo that lets you move the robotic arm, teach sequences to it and store them, and many more things. You can programme the robotic arm with Python or with a graphical editor based on Google’s Blocky. Niryo Studio is a great tool that makes starting on robotics easy and pleasant.

          • How to install the latest version of NGINX on Ubuntu Server 18.04

            NGINX is one of the most popular web servers on the planet. It’s reliable, scalable, and easy to use. But did you know, if you install NGINX from the default Ubuntu Server 18.04 repositories, the version you get is out of date? You don’t want that. In fact, you probably want the most up-to-date stable release of the software.

          • Pick – A Color Picker for Ubuntu with History Support

            For Ubuntu 18.04 and higher, you can easily install the tool from Ubuntu Software as it has been made as snap package.

          • Canonical Will Drop Support for 32-bit Architectures in Future Ubuntu Releases

            Canonical announced today that it finally decided to completely drop support for 32-bit (i386) hardware architectures in future releases of its popular Ubuntu Linux operating system.
            Last year, during the development cycle of the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, Canonical announced that they won’t offer 32-bit installation images (ISOs), a trend that was shortly followed by all official Ubuntu Linux flavors with the Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) release. However, Ubuntu’s 32-bit repositories were still available.

            As Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) will be supported for the next five years, Canonical disabled upgrades from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to Ubuntu 18.10 for 32-bit systems to avoid leaving users on a short-lived release, and now, they announced that starting with the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) release, support for 32-bit system will no longer be provided.

          • Ubuntu Confirms It’s Dropping All 32-bit Support Going Forward

            Ubuntu has confirmed plans to drop all support for 32-bit (i386) systems going forward, beginning with the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 release.

            The decision will mean that the distro no longer builds, packages or distributes any 32-bit software, libraries or tools on newer versions of Ubuntu.

            Users of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 32-bit are not affected by today’s announcement and will (should?) continue to work as normal, with access to the existing 32-bit archive.

            But the move will mean they are unable to upgrade to a newer Ubuntu release — nope, not even the next LTS!

            Will such a major sounding change have much of an impact?

            Eh, no, not really.

            Ubuntu says it’s stranding a mere 1% of its current user base on 32-bit version Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (which isn’t terrible place to stay, as it is supported until 2023).

          • i386 architecture will be dropped starting with eoan (Ubuntu 19.10)
            Last year, the Ubuntu developer community considered the question of whether
            to continue carrying forward the i386 architecture in the Ubuntu archive for
            future releases.[1]  The discussion at the time was inconclusive, but in
            light of the strong possibility that we might not include i386 as a release
            architecture in 20.04 LTS, we took the proactive step to disable upgrades
            from 18.04 to 18.10 for i386 systems[2], to avoid accidentally stranding
            users on an interim release with 9 months of support instead of letting them
            continue to run Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with its 5 years of standard support.
            In February of this year, I also posted to communicate the timeline in which
            we would take a final decision about i386 support in 20.04 LTS[3], namely,
            that we would decide in the middle of 2019.
            The middle of 2019 has now arrived.   The Ubuntu engineering team has
            reviewed the facts before us and concluded that we should not continue to
            carry i386 forward as an architecture.   Consequently, i386 will not be
            included as an architecture for the 19.10 release, and we will shortly begin
            the process of disabling it for the eoan series across Ubuntu
            While this means we will not provide 32-bit builds of new upstream versions
            of libraries, there are a number of ways that 32-bit applications can
            continue to be made available to users of later Ubuntu releases, as detailed
            in [4].   We will be working to polish the 32-bit support story over the
            course of the 19.10 development cycle.  To follow the evolution of this
            support, you can participate in the discourse thread at [5].
          • Ubuntu 19.10 To Drop 32-bit x86 Packages

            Ubuntu and their downstream flavors all stopped shipping x86 32-bit images and now for the 19.10 cycle they have decided to stop their i386 support entirely. Beginning with Ubuntu 19.10, the archive/packages will not be built for x86 32-bit.

            Longtime Ubuntu developer Steve Langasek announced their decision today that the i386 architecture will be dropped starting with Ubuntu 19.10, affecting all Ubuntu-based platforms / those relying upon the official Ubuntu Eoan archives.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Zorin OS 15, An Overview for First Time Users

              This is my first review for Zorin GNU/Linux operating system ever and this is version 15 released at 5 June 2019. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based distro with modified GNOME 3 user interface available in 4 different editions: Ultimate, Core, Lite, and Education. This short overview focuses on the Core Edition: it features very friendly and fast desktop, familiar taskbar, complete desktop applications including LibreOffice and GIMP, and Flatpak and Snap supports built-in. It maintains own repositories and PPAs. Zorin OS is suitable to everybody begins trying GNU/Linux. I hope this short article helps everybody to begin Zorin OS.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • CSS Scroll Snap Updated in Firefox 68

        When Firefox 68 goes to general release next month, it will ship with an updated CSS Scroll Snap specification. This means that Firefox will support the same version of the specification as Chrome and Safari. Scroll snapping will work in the same way across all browsers that implement it.

        In this post, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what scroll snapping is. I will also explain why we had a situation where browsers had different versions of the specification for a time.

      • Stand by for FPR14 SPR1 chemspill

        Mozilla has shipped a fix for MFSA2019-18 in Firefox 67.0.3 and 60.7.1. This exploit has been detected in the wild, and while my analysis indicates it would require a PowerPC-specific attack to be exploitable in official TenFourFox builds (the Intel versions may be directly exploited, however), it could probably cause drive-by crashes and we should therefore ship an urgent fix as well. The chemspill is currently undergoing confidence tests and I’m shooting to release builds before the weekend. For builders, the only change in FPR14 SPR1 is the patch for bug 1544386, which I will be pushing to the repo just as soon as I have confirmed the fix causes no regressions.


    • Free and open source software is being sold commercially in the Microsoft Store

      Ever since Microsoft, one of the original and squarely proprietary tech giants, pivoted from software to services some years back, its relationship with free and open source software seems to have improved.

      For one thing, Microsoft replies on such things as open source flagship Linux for its cloud infrastructure. And the company also made a series of moves indicating it was now a better, gentler version of its old self, seeking not only to use open source software but also contribute back to it.

    • The Best Free Photoshop Alternatives

      GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is more than just a photo editor. It also has sophisticated image manipulation tools, which will appeal to pros as well as regular uers.

      GIMP has the expected assortment of basic features, including cropping and straightening to adjusting brightness, contrast, and color balance to name a few. Plus it has more advanced tools, like layers, content rescaling, and animation, plus the ability to add blur, noise, and distortion, among other effects.

      In fact GIMP offers most of the features that Photoshop has, even if it is missing things like other color modes besides RGB and the capability for non-destructive editing. Even better, GIMP’s interface is very customizable, and its features are expandable. Since it is open source, GIMP community members can create plugins, and they often do, sharing them to the rest of the community for free.

  • Programming/Development

    • The New libhandy 0.0.10

      Libhandy 0.0.10 just got released, and you can get this new version here.

    • anytime 0.3.4

      A new minor release of the anytime package is arriving on CRAN. This is the fifteenth release, and first since the 0.3.3 release in November.

    • Survey Shows Most Mobile Development Still Done with Native Tools

      Despite the popularity of cross-platform development solutions, a new survey from JetBrains shows native tools still rule in the mobile space.

    • Alert visually until any key is pressed
    • Loop Better: a deeper look at iteration in Python
    • Deliverable 1 : [✓]

      Seems okay, far better than the initial results. Although I should say, I deviated from what I thought I would need to write. First I assumed that I don’t have to write another boost::graph wrapper for KisPaintDevice, but I had to. That was one heck of an experience. In one of the last few posts, I ranted on Dmitry’s interpretation of the Graph, turns out we were on the same page but I understood his explanation the wrong way. I should put more attention to details from now on I guess.

      All the pixels are connected to each other, but they only have an edge between them if they are adjacent. If in center, the out degree would be 8, if in corners, 3 and if in edges, 5. There are some other cases too, but I will leave them for the moment.

      While writing the wrapper, I also got to know some of the cool features and techniques of C++, which I will be writing posts on as soon as I get some time, concepts, traits, avoiding virtual functions and what not. It is commendable that how boost approaches boost::astar_search, there is not a single virtual function, you don’t have to inherit anything (you can though for safety), just templates and traits, you are done.

    • Go Creeping In

      I’ve seen the inside of the Google and Amazon tech stacks. There are common threads that run through them and also, I bet, through most BigTechCos. Here and there down the stack is a lot of C++ and vestigial remnants from earlier days, Perl or PHP or whatever. Out in front of humans, of course, JS. But in between, there are oceans and oceans of Java; to a remarkable degree, it runs the Internet. Except for, here and there, you find a small but steadily increasing proportion of Go.

    • PyPI Now Supports Two-Factor Login via WebAuthn
    • Understanding Python assignment
    • How to Publish Your Own Python Package to PyPI
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #373 (June 18, 2019)
    • EuroPython 2019: Community Discounts
    • EuroPython 2019: Inviting European Python Conference Organizers


  • Science

    • Sorry Truckers, Volvo’s Autonomous Vehicles Can Handle it From Here

      Volvo is ready to put its first autonomous, fully electric truck to the test. With the assistance of shipping company DFDS, the vehicle, known as Vera, will ferry goods from a logistics center to a port in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    • Marx and Walking Zen

      He begins by complaining facetiously that he had been “banished, by my medical adviser, to this seaside place, which, at this time of the year, is quite solitary.” He noted that, while at other times of year, he’d have been “exposed to the danger of falling in with a stray traveler,” he was now pleasantly left to himself.

      “As it is,” he wrote, “I care for nobody, and nobody cares for me. But the air is wonderfully pure and reinvigorating, and you have here at the same time sea air and mountain air. I have become myself a sort of walking stick, running up and down the whole day, and keeping my mind in that state of nothingness which Buddhism considers the climax of human bliss.”

      It’s tempting to say that Marx didn’t know much about Buddhism. But he was a keen scholar of world affairs, and would have known more on the topic than 99 out of 100 Europeans at the time. We sometimes forget that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were among the most amazing minds of the nineteenth century, whose contemporary detractors are mental midgets in comparison.

      The word “Buddhism,” or some variant thereof, had only become current from the 1820s; the first English-language book to deal in any detail with the subject was Edward Upham’s The History and Doctrine of Budhism, published in 1844. Marx was probably aware of it. In the 1830s the great philosopher Georg W. F. Hegel had published lectures depicting Buddhism as a thoroughly negative belief system, which made “nothingness the principle, goal and end of everything.” Marx was probably aware of this too.

    • When the Atari ST Was the Future of Computing

      The Atari 520ST was Atari’s first 16-bit salvo in the personal computer wars of the 1980s. A

  • Hardware

    • Nvidia and ARM join forces to eighty-six x86 supercomputers

      Team Green, which has a thing for making lunchbox-sized supercomputers, will be making its CUDA-X AI and high-performance computing (HPC) software work nicely with the ARM ecosystem, which means a load of processors based on CPUs and architectures coming out of the Cambridge chip designer.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Ragú Sauces Recalled Over Potential Plastic Contamination

      Spaghetti with plastic sauce? That’s what you might be eating if you pour one of three flavors of Ragú sauce over your pasta.

      Mizkan America, the food company that owns Ragú, announced Saturday that it was voluntarily recalling some Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, Old World Style Traditional and Old World Style Meat sauces because they might be contaminated with plastic fragments, The Today Show reported.

    • Ragu recalls pasta sauces that may be contaminated with plastic fragments

      Some jarring news: Three Ragu sauces were voluntarily recalled Saturday because they may contain plastic fragments.

      Food company Mizkan America said in a press release that it has not received any consumer complaints or reports of injuries and are recalling the products “out of an abundance of caution.” The affected blends were distributed nationwide, and Mizkan has notified retailers that received shipments so they can remove the jars from the shelves.


      June has been a busy month for recalls. King Arthur Flour Inc. issued a recall for over 14,000 cases of its 5-pound unbleached all-purpose flour after wheat used to make the product was linked to an ongoing E. coli outbreak. Meanwhile, Perdue Foods recalled nearly 31,703 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products that may have been contaminated.

    • The uphill battle for communities that ban pesticides

      On a recent moonlit evening, with spring peepers in chorus, a dozen Wellfleet residents gathered inside their town’s grey-shingled library for a public information session on the controversial herbicide, glyphosate.

      A bucolic, seaside town with less than 3,000 year-round residents, Wellfleet is famed for its picturesque harbor and sweet, briny oysters.

      Its residents, like the rest of Cape Cod, rely on a sole source of drinking water, a shallow underground aquifer, and protecting that aquifer from pollutants such as pesticides and septic wastes from household wastewater is a huge concern.

      Semi-rural, with 1,000 ponds, extensive wetlands and pristine beaches, Cape Cod is like a giant sandbar. Anything spilled on its sandy soils can seep quickly into the groundwater and pollute its well water and interconnected system of surface waters.

      And so, as organic landscaper and founder of the advocacy organization Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer (POCCA), Laura Kelley spoke about the dangers of glyphosate, she told Wellfleet residents, “[state pesticide] regulations don’t match our ecology.”

      She was referring to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) allowed use of glyphosate to control weeds on rights of way under power lines on Cape Cod. Kelley, and other residents, are concerned that the weedkiller isn’t as safe as regulators say it is, with emerging science suggesting harmful impacts from cancer to birth defects to disruption of hormones and other biological functions that can linger for generations.

      Studies showing glyphosate can persist in groundwater worry them, as do recent high-profile jury awards for people claiming their cancer was caused by the herbicide.

    • How the Passive Voice Allowed Flint’s Water Crisis to Persist

      Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

      This statement has become a rallying cry, from city streets to social media. Yet it’s bothered me ever since I first heard it. Yes, it’s true that Flint’s water remains tainted and unsafe after five years. But the fact that we use the passive tense to talk about this travesty is the real outrage. Flint’s lack of safe, potable water isn’t the result of faulty infrastructure or a catastrophic accident at the water treatment plant. Government officials knowingly allowed poisons into the city’s water supply to cut costs. Active, evocative language that gets right to the ugly heart of things is necessary to tell the story and sound the clarion call.

    • America’s Suicide Epidemic

      We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That’s odd given the magnitude of the problem.

      In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

      A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes. What’s more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually — the suicide rate — has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides, even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

      In other words, we’re talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

    • Waking the Sleeping Giant: After Some States Pass Abortion Bans, Other States Pass New Protections

      After seeing states like Alabama and Georgia pass one extreme abortion ban after another, other states are starting to push back. Last week, governors in Illinois, Maine, and Vermont signed historic bills to protect abortion rights or expand access to abortion care in their states. This follows action last month in Nevada; other states, including California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, may not be far behind.

      Illinois’ and Vermont’s bills both recognize abortion and other reproductive rights as “fundamental,” ensuring that they will remain protected in those states, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, the embattled Supreme Court decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion. We haven’t seen such robust protections in a generation, when a similar set of state bills passed in the early 90s in response to the last existential threat to Roe.

      This move is especially important in Illinois, which is surrounded by states that are hostile to abortion rights and already serves as a refuge for those who cannot obtain care in places like neighboring Missouri, where the last abortion clinic hangs by a thread.

      In the meantime, Maine has enacted two new laws. The first allows qualified health care professionals like nurse practitioners to provide safe abortion care, increasing the number of publicly-accessible health centers where someone can get an in-clinic abortion procedure from 3 up to 18. The second guarantees that abortion will be covered in public and private health care plans.

      This isn’t a coincidence. Activists have worked for years to lay the foundation for these wins, but the political will to push these bills over the finish line was prompted by the overreach of abortion opponents and by a desire to set up a “firewall…to protect access to reproductive healthcare for everyone,” as one bill sponsor put it.

      The bigger picture is that the extreme abortion bans enacted in recent months in the Midwest and South – seven at the last count – are actually the culmination of a sustained and concerted effort to outlaw abortion throughout the country.

      Over the past decade, anti-abortion lawmakers have quietly passed 479 medically-unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions on abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health. But in reality, such measures are designed to shame patients, shut down clinics, and push abortion care out of reach.

    • Even If All US Drilling and Fracking Halts Today, Warns New Report, ‘Flood of Toxic Waste Streams’ Will Grow for Decades

      “Even if we stop all new drilling and fracking immediately, the flood of toxic waste streams will continue to grow for decades,” Melissa Troutman, the report’s lead author, said in a statement Tuesday. “In spite of industry claims of innovation, the risks from oil and gas waste are getting worse, not better.”

      Building on a 2015 Earthworks analysis, Still Wasting Away (pdf) details congressional and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions as well as industry lobbying related to the federal rules for liquid and solid waste from fossil fuel development.

      “Despite over 30 years of research about the toxic impacts of the industry’s waste, it is far from being handled properly,” the report says. “There is little consistency in tracking, testing, and monitoring requirements for oil and gas waste in the United States.”

      “At all stages of the oil and gas waste management process,” the report explains, “toxins can enter the environment accidentally (spills, leaks, waste truck rollovers, and illegal dumping) or legally under current state and federal law (road spreading, discharge to rivers, landfill leaching).”

      Demonstrating the scope of the threat that such waste poses to human health, the report notes that “an estimated 17.6 million Americans live within a mile of oil and gas development, including half of the population in West Virginia and almost a quarter of the population in Ohio.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane

      Blaine Gibson was new to social media when he started his search, and he was in for a surprise. As he recalls, the trolls emerged as soon as he found his first piece—the one labeled no step—and they multiplied afterward, particularly as the beaches of Madagascar began to bear fruit. The internet provokes emotion even in response to unremarkable events. A catastrophe taps into something toxic. Gibson was accused of exploiting the families and of being a fraud, a publicity hound, a drug addict, a Russian agent, an American agent, and at the very least a dupe. He began receiving death threats—messages on social media and phone calls to friends predicting his demise. One message said that either he would stop looking for debris or he would leave Madagascar in a coffin. Another warned that he would die of polonium poisoning. There were more. He was not prepared for this, and was incapable of shrugging it off. During the days I spent with him in Kuala Lumpur, he kept abreast of the latest attacks with the assistance of a friend in London. He said, “I once made the mistake of going on Twitter. Basically, these people are cyberterrorists. And it works. It’s effective.” He has been traumatized.

    • New Zealand man jailed for 21 months for sharing Christchurch shooting video

      Philip Arps sent the video to 30 people and to a friend, asking for it to be modified to include a “kill count”.

    • Have You Heard of the CIA’s Iran Mission Center?

      U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was adamant—just hours after it happened—that the explosions on two Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers were the responsibility of Iran. Iran did this, he said, and Iran would have to pay the price. The United States government offered no evidence for this claim, apart from a grainy video that showed little that seemed conclusive. Pompeo took no questions.

      It is important to know that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran at that time. Abe, who has been trying to maintain the Iran nuclear deal, made no belligerent comments, nor did he storm out of the country. The head of the Japanese shipping company said that there was no evidence that this event had been conducted by Iran. In fact, he disputed the claim that a limpet mine had been attached to his ship. He said that “flying objects” had struck the ship.

      The Norwegian shipping company did not make any kind of statement about the events either, certainly not anything that blamed Iran for the incident. The Norwegian government remained silent as well—no threats of any kind from Oslo. The shipping company said an investigation would be conducted in due course.

      The crew from both the vessels had been rescued by U.S. and Iranian boats and taken to safety.

      Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said that his military will not try to close the Strait of Hormuz by deceit. If they want to close the strait, he said, it will be an open military operation. He fully denies that Iran hit those two tankers.

      No U.S. ship was assaulted. These incidents took place in international waters—in the Strait of Hormuz, off the coasts of Iran and Oman. Not on U.S. territory, nor on a U.S. military base or on U.S. government property. Yet, it was the U.S. government that made the claims and made the threats. This has become an ugly habit.

    • A Call to Put Down Arms

      It’s become so absolutely apparent that even the most dedicated and resolute militarist has to concede the fact we have enormous climate crisis-related changes on the near horizon and America’s persistent and insistent militarism is the major culprit.

      It is not hyperbole to argue as does Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, that the U.S. military, “as the largest consumer of fossil fuels and greatest producer of greenhouse gases, places the entire globe with all its inhabitants in the most imminent danger of extinction.”

      Irony abounds. The greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from the one agency ostensibly in business to protect us (and our “allies”) from our enemies—the U.S. Armed Forces. And, it is painfully ironic that the Defense Department acknowledges that global warming may make the world politically unstable due to rising seas, powerful storms, famine and consequent migration which “validates” the need for a stronger, bigger, more costly military—the single entity most responsible for climate crisis in the first place.

      The truth of militarism as the major contributor to the climate crisis facing humanity has spawned the “Climate Crisis Demands Conversion” campaign where I live in Maine, organized by climate activists and organizations throughout the state. We are calling on Bath Iron Works to shift its industrial power from the production of warships to sustainable energy systems that might stem climate disruption rather than contribute to it. Supporters will gather at a news conference for the Conversion Campaign at 11am, Friday June 21st, at the public library in downtown Portland.

    • Be Skeptical of Alleged Naval Provocations

      Maybe they did; maybe they didn’t. That’s not the point. Even if Iran did attack a couple tankers in the Gulf of Oman – as the Trump team assures us it did – there’s no reason for a war. As I’ve written repeatedly, war with the Islamic Republic would be ill-advised, illegal, and immoral. It simply isn’t necessary. Wars of choice should be avoided at all costs. Besides, the U.S. has a nasty habit of pointing to alleged naval provocations as a justification for aggressive wars. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard not to assume the worst and mistrust the official story from Washington.

      Remember the Maine! On February 15, 1898, the US battleship exploded in Havana harbor while showing the flag in Spanish-held Cuba. The press and the government immediately blamed Spain and the result was war. The problem is that most experts now agree that the explosion was likely an accident and Spain had nothing to do with it. Nonetheless, the US embarked on an imperial “splendid, little war” that spanned the globe from Cuba to the Philippines. And, while the US quickly triumphed in the rather lopsided contest, it eventually bogged down in a decade long repressive counterinsurgency in the Philippine Islands. Thousands of American soldiers died along with hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.

      Then there was the Gulf of Tonkin affair. In August of 1964, the USS Maddox was allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. President Lyndon Johnson used the provocation to escalate US military involvement in South Vietnam. The result was 58,000 dead American soldiers and a few million Vietnamese deaths in an ultimately futile war of choice. The problem is that at least the second reported incident appears to never have happened at all. What’s more, American military and intelligence services had long been waging an illegal campaign of raids on radar stations, bridges, and other coastal targets in North Vietnam. In that sense, the initial North Vietnamese attack on the Maddox can be understood as defensive rather than aggressive. Nonetheless, LBJ simplified the rather complex events and used them to push through Congress a blank check for war in Vietnam. Only two senators opposed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The rest is history.

    • Mohamed Morsi: Six Years After Coup, Egypt’s First Democratically Elected President Dies in Court

      Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, 67, died Monday after collapsing while in a glass cage inside a Cairo courtroom. The Muslim Brotherhood leader was elected in 2012 in Egypt’s first, and still only, democratic election. He was overthrown a year later in a military coup led by Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Morsi’s death comes as el-Sisi continues to jail tens of thousands of people in what the Associated Press has described as the heaviest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history. In his final comments, Morsi insisted he was still Egypt’s legitimate president. Morsi spent the last six years of his life in jail, including extended periods in solitary confinement. His family and global human rights groups often denounced the poor conditions and Morsi’s treatment in jail, arguing he had been deprived of much-needed healthcare. Morsi was buried in Cairo earlier today. We speak with Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! correspondent and a reporter with Mada Masr, an independent media outlet in Cairo.

    • U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective

      While the mystery of who is responsible for sabotaging the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman remains unsolved, it is clear that the Trump administration has been sabotaging Iranian oil shipments since May 2, when it announced its intention to “bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.” The move was aimed at China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all nations that purchase Iranian oil and now face U.S. threats if they continue to do so. The U.S. military might not have physically blown up tankers carrying Iranian crude, but its actions have the same effect and should be considered acts of economic terrorists.

      The Trump administration is also committing a massive oil heist by seizing $7 billion in Venezuela’s oil assets–keeping the Maduro government from getting access to its own money. According to John Bolton, the sanctions on Venezuela will affect $11 billion worth of oil exports in 2019. The Trump administration also threatens shipping companies that carry Venezuelan oil. Two companies–one based in Liberia and the other in Greece–have already been slapped with penalties for shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba. No gaping holes in their ships, but economic sabotage nonetheless.

      Whether in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea or one of the 20 countries under the boot of U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration is using its economic weight to try to exact regime change or major policy changes in countries around the globe.

    • ‘If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized’: UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning ‘Massive’ Bombing Campaign in Iran

      As the Trump administration prepares to deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East in a move critics warned will heighten the possibility of all-out war with Iran, United Nations officials reportedly believe the U.S. is also planning a major “aerial bombardment” of an Iranian nuclear facility.

      United Nations officials are “assessing the United States’ plans to carry out a tactical assault on Iran,” the Jerusalem Post reported Monday, citing anonymous diplomatic sources at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

      “According to the officials, since Friday, the White House has been holding incessant discussions involving senior military commanders, Pentagon representatives, and advisers to President Donald Trump,” the Post reported. “The military action under consideration would be an aerial bombardment of an Iranian facility linked to its nuclear program.”

      One “Western diplomat” told the Post that the bombing campaign would be “massive” but “limited to a specific target.”

      The reported plans come after the Trump administration blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, citing video and photographic evidence that has been characterized as inconclusive at best and completely false at worst.

    • Wilkerson: US Further Isolates Itself From Its Allies Over Iran Policy

      Iran announced on Monday that it would violate the 2015 nuclear agreement that it signed with the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for Iran’s atomic energy organization, said that within days Iran will have stockpiled more enriched uranium from its nuclear power plants than is allowed under the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

      Kamalvandi also said that Iran will not violate the treaty if Britain, France, Germany, and the full European Union follow through on promises to find ways for Iran to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions against Iran last year, arguing that the JCPOA should be renegotiated and made much tougher on Iran even though all parties agree that Iran has not violated the terms of the agreement. Sanctions against Iran are having a serious effect on Iran’s economy, especially on its ability to export oil and to import lifesaving medicines.

    • With Bolton, Pompeo and Trump in the Picture, All Bets Are Off on Iran

      If you’re worried about the U.S. initiating a shooting war with Iran, you should be, though not really, but definitely maybe, or not. As with everything else involving Donald Trump and the intentions of his administration, attempting to figure out exactly what they are up to is a lot like trying to stare into the bottom of a mud puddle.

      Last week’s attacks on two Japanese-owned oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were a lit match beside a large barrel of kerosene. The Trump administration had already pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal despite the fact that Iran was in compliance with its strictures. The tensions rose further when it was announced that a U.S. carrier strike group would be steaming into the Gulf. The administration then announced troop buildups in the region and ordered most non-essential U.S. personnel out of Iraq, a move that is generally viewed as a precursor to war.

      When the tankers were attacked, the Trump administration leaped to blame Iran, using murky video footage as proof along with other “intelligence” that officials refused to share. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran trying to mediate between Iran and the U.S. amid deteriorating relations when the attacks took place. It makes little sense for Iran to attack Japanese vessels while that nation’s prime minister is in the country.

      People directly involved with the attacked tankers have cast deep doubt on the Trump administration’s “evidence” of Iranian complicity in the attack. The U.S. has claimed the ships were attacked with torpedoes or limpet mines, but the captain of one of the ships claims his crew saw his ship attacked by “flying objects.” Yutaka Katada, president of the company that owns one of the tankers, said, “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • In Praise of I.F. “Izzy” Stone

      In this era of Donald Trump—with its widespread corruption and abuse of power—the world of journalism could use the voice of I.F. Stone, one of America’s greatest muckraking reporters, who died 30 years ago today at 81 on June 18, 1989. From the 1930s through the early 1970s, Stone was an indefatigable researcher and an uncompromising critic of political oligarchy, crony capitalism, racism, and American militarism. He challenged mainstream journalism’s conservative “he said/she said” approach to reporting and, in doing so, inspired several generations of investigative journalists to follow his example.

      He was born Isidor Feinstein in 1907. His father, who ran a dry goods store, had immigrated to Philadelphia to escape anti-Semitic persecution in Russia. But the family found that racism and bigotry was deeply ingrained in the United States, too. One of his most formative experiences was witnessing a group of African Americans picketing the local movie theater at the 1915 opening of D. W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

      He began his journalism career began at age fourteen, when he published his own neighborhood newspaper, Progress. Though a lackluster high school student in Haddonfield, New Jersey—graduating forty-ninth out of a class of fifty-two, and more interested in his budding reporting career than his class work—he was an avid reader and became radicalized as a teenager.

    • Julian Assange Indictment “Criminalizes the News Gathering Process,” Says Pentagon Papers Lawyer

      A London judge has ordered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to appear before a court in February 2020 to face a full extradition hearing. Prosecutors in the U.S. have indicted Assange on 18 counts, including 17 violations of the Espionage Act. This is the first-ever case of a journalist or publisher being indicted under the World War I-era law. Assange said that his life was “effectively at stake” if the U.K. honors a U.S. request for his extradition. Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in London’s Belmarsh Prison for skipping bail in 2012. We speak with James Goodale, former general counsel of The New York Times. In 1971, he urged the paper to publish the Pentagon Papers, which had been leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Remorseless Working of Things: A Political Tragedy in Three Parts

      Imagine a world heading—remorselessly, inexorably—towards tragedy. A world in which a clear alternative to tragedy was available, cheap, and simple, but was being undercut, if not ignored. That’s our world. That’s today. And of all Trump’s offenses against reason, reality, decency and honesty, it is his insistence that we continue on this tragic path toward a climate crisis that is his worst transgression.

      And the chances are, the climate crisis and the tragedy it will create is likely far worse than you’ve been led to believe, for two reasons.

      First, most of the climate-related estimates you hear in the news and from the IPCC have built in assumptions that we humans will take necessary actions to mitigate the worst of the climate crisis.

      There’s no evidence that making such assumptions is a prudent thing to do. We’ve known about this unfolding tragedy for three decades now, yet we’ve been steadily increasing the amount of greenhouse gasses we release. In fact, in 2018 we set a record for the most CO2 ever emitted, and for the single largest increase in emissions year-to-year. Meanwhile, in May of this year, atmospheric CO2 levels reached 415 parts per million, a level higher than it’s been for more than 3 million years – literally before the dawn of human existence.

      The second reason the climate crisis is likely far more dire than most people have been led to believe is that the IPCC, most of the scientific community, and the media present mid-range scenarios for temperature increases, not worst-case forecasts, and usually they don’t include potentially dangerous feedbacks.

    • Can Saving Jaguars Sustain Local Economies?

      Biologist Ron Pulliam is used to being at the center of America’s most pressing wildlife and public lands issues. He led the U.S. Biological Survey (now part of the U.S. Geological Survey) and served as science advisor for Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt under President Bill Clinton. But despite his high-powered positions, he says, “I never felt like I was making a difference.”

      Retired now, Pulliam is still trying to make a difference — this time in the Sky Islands of southern Arizona rather than the halls of Washington, D.C. As controversy mounts over President Trump’s border wall, Pulliam finds himself knee deep in saving one of the Southwest’s most iconic species: the endangered jaguar.

      But he’s not doing it through traditional conservation measures. Instead he’s launched a for-profit company that’s working to prove that saving jaguars and other wildlife has economic benefits for the community.

    • Supreme Court Upholds Virginia’s Ban on Uranium Mining

      In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

      The Trump administration had backed a lawsuit brought by Virginia Uranium Inc. and other companies who own the nation’s largest-known uranium deposit, valued at $6 billion. But that deposit is on private land in Virginia, and the state has banned all mining of the radioactive metal since 1982.

    • Virginia ban on uranium mining upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

      The largest-known U.S. uranium deposit will remain firmly under ground after the Supreme Court on Monday upheld Virginia’s ban on mining the radioactive metal, rebuffing a challenge backed by President Donald Trump’s administration to the 1982 moratorium.

    • NOAA report: Growth in U.S. Ocean Economic Sectors Continues to Outpace Overall Economy

      The latest economic figures in NOAA’s report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy indicates that tourism and recreation was the top employer in the ocean economy in 2016. This sector contributed $124 billion in gross domestic product, the highest of all the ocean and Great Lakes economy sectors. Image credit: pexels.com

      The nation’s ocean and Great Lakes continue to fuel economic growth across the nation. The latest economic figures in NOAA’s report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy show employment from the ocean economy grew 2.7% in 2016, compared to the national average employment growth of 1.7%.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Summer 2019

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth.There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between June and August 2019.

    • Greens welcome climate talks in UK, but government will have to change radically to avoid embarrassment

      Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, has welcomed the news that the UK now looks set to host the 2020 global climate talks.

      He said: “Having this crucial global gathering on our climate emergency in the UK will be a great opportunity for us to learn from the top experts and campaigners, and galvanise the struggle for climate action in our country.

    • The Scary New Math of Factory Farm Waste

      It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

      A lesser-known impact of the devastating hurricane was revealed through satellite photos released after the storm. Excessive rainfall flooded concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in low-lying areas, carrying riverbed sediment and animal waste previously stored in open-air lagoons into nearby waterways and then into the Atlantic. The difference between the photos, taken just five months apart before and after the storm, is striking.

    • We asked people to do climate change maths. Their answers depended on their politics

      In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn’t happen often.

      People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity – and have probably always done so.

      However, in an environment of fake news, filter bubbles and echo chambers, it seems harder than ever to get people to agree about simple facts.

      In research published today in Environmental Communication, my colleague Matthew Nurse and I report that even some of the smartest among us will simply refuse to acknowledge facts about climate change when we don’t like them.


      For example, when the report showed CO₂ emissions would go down significantly, only 27% of One Nation supporters got the right answer.

      When the report showed CO₂ emissions would not significantly go down, only 37% of Greens voters got it right.

      So it seems our participants were less likely to answer a question correctly when it went against their political ideology.

    • ‘This Should Scare the Hell Out of You’: Photo of Greenland Sled Dog Teams Walking on Melted Water Goes Viral

      In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world’s natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland—one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water—has gone viral.

      The photo, taken by researcher Steffen Olsen from the Centre for Ocean and Ice at the Danish Meteorological Institute just last week, showed two teams of dogs pulling sleds designed for ice and snow through ankle-deep water atop a melted ice sheet in the country’s Inglefield Bredning fjord.

    • Arctic warming & climate change “should be the number one urgent conversation right now”

      The news coming out of the Arctic over the last few days is further evidence of our rapidly evolving climate emergency, which has ramifications for all of us.
      Arctic scientists are speaking out with increasing alarm at what they are seeing, and as they keep repeating “what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”

      Indeed, what happens in the Arctic will affect you and I. And what is happening in the Arctic is not good. And its getting worse. By the day.
      As I write, there is a “record challenging” melt occurring in Greenland, where soaring temperatures were recorded last week which were 40 degrees above normal. The result is that the extent of sea ice is at its lowest ever level recorded for mid-June.

    • Trudeau Approval of Tar Sands Pipeline, Say Critics, Would Make ‘Absolute Mockery’ of Climate Emergency Declaration Approved Less Than 24 Hours Ago

      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday is reportedly expected to approve a $5.5 billion expansion of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, a move environmentalists warned would make an “absolute mockery” of the House of Commons’ vote to declare a climate emergency just hours earlier.

      The vote Monday night made Canada the third nation to declare a national climate emergency, but critics said purely rhetorical acknowledgements of the planetary crisis are meaningless without concrete action.

      “It’s great that more countries and regions are doing this,” tweeted 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg after the vote. “But remember: The fossil fuels must stay in the ground. Forget ‘climate neutral’ and clever accounting. Our emissions must start their way to zero. Now.”

    • Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Create Bee Friendly Lawns

      Minnesota’s state budget celebrated pollinators last month by crowning the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee the state bee. And, to protect the plump pollinator, the state earmarked $900,000 dollars for bee-friendly spaces, according to Atlas Obscura.

      From that money, the state government will pay the gardening bill for residents who are willing to turn their lawn into bee-friendly spaces, by planting flowers known to attract bees, like creeping thyme, self-heal and dutch white clover.

    • Minnesota Wants to Pay You to Care About Bees

      THE RUSTY PATCHED BUMBLEBEE IS in a pickle. Over the past few decades, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the population of the chunky, fuzzy species has fallen by nearly 90 percent. Bombus affinis once buzzed around 28 states, plus D.C. and two provinces of Canada, but by 2017, the FWS reported that there were only “small, scattered populations” in 13 states and a single province. Some of these clusters are fairly sizable—including ones around Minnesota’s Twin Cities, in particular—but the agency noted that other populations “are so small that it is unclear whether they still exist.” The FWS attributed the bee’s unsteady state to a combination of dwindling grassland habitats, disease, and pesticides, and that same year, B. affinis became the first bumblebee listed under the Endangered Species Act.

      Things are starting to look a little less doomy and gloomy for the rust-colored insect. In the Midwest, at least, last year’s observations “were encouraging,” says Tamara Smith, a biologist at the FWS’s Twin Cities field office. The bee was spotted in larger groups than in recent years, and sometimes seen in places where it hadn’t been noticed before. Now, as of May 2019, Minnesota is doing more to boost its ranks.

      Officials recently crowned the little creature with the warm-and-fuzzy title of “state bee,” and put financial muscle behind efforts to buoy it. The state budget bills freshly signed by Governor Tim Walz include $900,000 earmarked for bee-friendly spaces. From that coffer, the government will foot the bill for some residents who are game to sow a meadow of plants handpicked to enchant bees.

    • DNC Chair Tom Perez Tries to Justify Failure to Prioritize Climate Crisis

      Last week, during his national tour, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez stopped in Albuquerque to speak at a Democratic Party gathering. But he hastily left without taking questions. Luckily, I was able to approach Perez before his talk and handed him the RootsAction.org petition urging a presidential debate focused on climate change; more than 4,500 people had signed it the day before.

      Perez cut me off before I could ask a question, but he did assert that there would be a “robust discussion of climate” during the debate season. Perez was referring to his reformulated response to the call for a climate-change debate – now saying that he is urging TV networks to have their panelists focus serious questioning on the topic.

      Perez is passing responsibility for addressing climate change to the same corporate media which largely failed to ask any such questions in 2015 and 2016. This is no more logical than Perez’ prior justification for denying a debate on the biggest existential threat in the history of humankind – that the DNC would then have to allow every other candidate’s issue-specific debate ideas.

    • Economics 101 and Ecological Collapse

      Today’s economics, especially Economics 101, is a major source of humankind’s denial of the possibility of the calamity of all calamities, which our economy is engineering. Annually, millions of students around the world are forced to study textbooks that indoctrinate them into thinking that there is no significant causal connection between our economy and the ecosphere. Once upon a time there wasn’t. Although from the first forest-clearing onwards, the economy has caused environmental damage and at an increasing rate, it was only in the 19th century – when the economy began the big switch away from muscle energy – that it began to acquire the means to cause lethal damage to the ecosphere.

      It has now been over half a century since the natural sciences began to discover that the economy was causing fundamental and irreversible changes to the ecosphere by which we and the economy exist. Given that economics is the study of the economy, a more radical change in a science’s empirical realm is unimaginable.

      In 50 years, what has economics done about it? Virtually nothing. Brilliant and intellectually brave economists have created “ecological economics.” But that work remains ignored by over 90 per cent of the profession and in nearly 100 per cent of its classrooms. In today’s teaching of economics, 19th Century theory continues to hold sway. Students are given a picture of the economy that blocks from view the fundamental facts about it that natural science has discovered. Let’s take a look at how this censorship is achieved.

      N. Gregory Mankiw’s Principles of Economics is said to be the world’s most used economics textbook and is the prototype of nearly all the others. It is a huge book. The index to its fourth edition is 18 pages long with over 2,500 entries. This index illustrates how comprehensive the censorship is.

    • Greenland Temps Soar 40 Degrees Above Normal, Record Melting of Ice Sheet

      The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

      Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, there is open water in areas north of Alaska where it is rarely, if ever, seen, the Washington Post reported.

      The accelerated ice melt in Greenland was caused by an usual weather pattern, where high-pressure air lingered, bringing warm air up from the south, which pushed the mercury 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal temperatures. Add to that continuously cloudless skies and snowfall that is well below normal, and the conditions were ripe for melting across most of the ice sheet.

    • Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting
    • Soaring Temperatures Speed Up Spring Thaw on Greenland’s Ice Sheet

      The Arctic spring thaw has begun with a bang, with extensive melting of the Greenland ice sheet and sea ice loss that is already several weeks ahead of normal, scientists said.

      A stagnant zone of high-pressure air over Greenland last week brought warm air from the south, raising temperatures as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. That, coupled with cloudless conditions, led to a pulse of melting across much of the ice sheet surface.

      Melting last Wednesday was the most extensive, at 275,000 square miles, or about 45 percent of the surface, said Marco Tedesco, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which is part of Columbia University.

      That represents a record early date for such extensive melting, which has been measured by satellites since 1979. In 2012, an exceptionally warm year in the Arctic, there was slightly greater melting a few days later in June.

      The early melt is in keeping with the overall trend in the Arctic, where the warming effects of climate change are amplified. Overall, the region is warming about twice as fast as the global average.

    • EU issues ‘green’ investment guide to help combat climate change

      The European Commission sought to boost the flow of private money to tackle climate change on Tuesday by publishing guidelines on what qualifies as environmentally friendly investment, in a move welcomed by the financial industry.

    • Backing Just Transition for Workers, International Union Leader Says, ‘No Jobs on a Dead Planet’

      The head of the world’s largest trade union confederation has told workers in Australia—even as many mining members clamor for job security in the country’s polluting coal mining industry—that it is time for workers around the world to ban together in order to demand a renewable energy transition that puts labor rights at the forefront while acknowledging the dire scientific warnings about the rapidly warming planet.

      “There are no jobs on a dead planet,” said Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), during an interview with Australian newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

      “Our motto is you can’t deny that climate change is real—I’m shocked to see that some of our people in Australian parliament still do,” Burrow said.

  • Finance

    • The Ambitious Plan Behind Facebook’s Cryptocurrency, Libra

      Of course, Facebook has plenty to gain if this works out. Ceding control of its invention makes Libra worth more to Facebook than keeping it close: The currency may be more widely circulated and more trusted. The notion of a borderless payment system fits perfectly with Zuckerberg’s focus on messaging; even before the Libra rulebook is fixed, Facebook developed a digital wallet that will integrate with Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook also will be offloading a lot of the regulatory and security concerns to a new bureaucratic organization. Nonetheless, it’s Facebook’s vision, and Libra’s greatest hurdle may well be overcoming the tarnished reputation of its creator. Marcus knows this, and thinks that the key is making sure that Libra is not synonymous with Facebook.

      “Some of the articles out there have described this as Zuck-bucks and Face-coin,” says Marcus. “If it’s that, it’s dead in the water.”

    • Finland’s Tieto to snap up Norwegian IT rival Evry for €1.3B

      The deal is still subject to approval by both companies’ shareholders and competition authorities. The companies said that shareholder meetings are expected to take place in September at the latest.

    • More Instances of Fraud and Mismanagement Over New Jersey Tax Incentives Surface in New Report

      A task force investigating New Jersey’s controversial tax break program released a report Monday concluding that fraud and mismanagement tainted the $11 billion effort to bring new jobs and businesses to the state.

      The report included new evidence of the influence of Democratic Party boss George E. Norcross III in steering tax breaks to favored businesses and nonprofits located along the Camden waterfront. The task force was formed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in January to investigate the program.

      It said that a Camden hospital system for which Norcross served as board chairman sought to mislead the state in its application for $39.9 million in tax breaks.


      The report was released just minutes after Mercer County Judge Mary Jacobson rebuffed an effort by Norcross to block its release. Norcross and some of his business partners contend in a lawsuit that the task force is a political tool created by Murphy to gain leverage inside the state’s fractious Democratic Party.

      In an hourlong oration from the bench, the judge cited audits, going back to 2017 that found the tax break program was mismanaged and susceptible to fraud.

      “The public interest is that the task force be allowed to report,’’ Jacobson concluded.

      Dan Fee, a spokesman for Norcross, said in a statement: “Today’s decision by Judge Jacobson is disappointing but does not represent the end of this process. We will continue this litigation in an aggressive manner to protect our rights.”

      In its report, the task force found that special interests helped craft the 2013 tax break law to benefit a select group of companies, and that the state was ill-equipped to vet and monitor tax break applicants.

    • The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control

      We know that because of the way it presented the results of a study of the impact of rent control in New York City. The article showed the average savings on rent-controlled units by borough, by income quartiles, and by race and ethnic group. It showed that the average savings were by far the largest on rent-controlled units in Manhattan, renters in the top quartile had the largest average savings, and that white beneficiaries of rent control saved far more on average than black, Hispanic, or Asian beneficiaries. It also showed that older tenants had higher average savings than younger ones.

      While this makes rent control in New York City look like a bonanza for rich renters, and a nothing for everyone else, we actually cannot conclude this from the data the WSJ presented. The big problem is that it doesn’t tell us the numbers in each group.

    • New Federal Bill Would Make It Easier to Join a Union

      A record number of workers in the United States decided to go on strike in 2018. Now congressional Democrats are trying to harness that momentum to pass a massive labor reform bill that would make it easier for workers to join unions and collectively bargain.

      The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was introduced on May 2 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia). The bill would usher in a multitude of protections for workers and give them more bargaining power.

      Some of its features include penalties for businesses that illegally fire employees, sped-up union elections that prevent employers from holding anti-union meetings with their staff, and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections for many independent contractors who aren’t currently classified as employees.

      The bill also specifically offers new safeguards for workers that go on strike. Employers would be prohibited from permanently replacing striking workers with scab labor. Plus, the bill would repeal a longtime ban on boycotting “secondary” companies. The current ban makes it illegal for a given union to boycott a separate corporation in solidarity with a strike.

    • Time for a Raise for New York Car Wash Workers

      After years of organizing, downstate New York’s car wash workers — also known as carwasheros — have reached a landmark in their battle to receive the full minimum wage from their employers. The state’s senate and assembly both passed bills earlier this month to end the subminimum tipped wage for carwasheros, a move that could simplify a confusing pay system that has allowed employers to exploit a largely immigrant population for years.

      Under the current law, car washes may use the tip credit, which allows employers to pay a subminimum wage to tipped employees, with tips making up the rest of their pay. But if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill into law, employers will be required to pay at least a full minimum wage to carwasheros in New York City, and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.

      In addition to leaving worker pay subject to the whims of customers, the complicated tip credit system makes car wash workers particularly vulnerable to wage theft. Technically employers must ensure workers make a full minimum wage, but enforcement is lax, if it’s even there at all. Some car wash workers received justice in court, winning millions in stolen backpay from their employers through lawsuits and organizing that spanned years. But the law could bring structural changes to an industry that practically bakes wage theft into its business model.

      “For far too long car wash workers in New York have earned poverty wages under the tip credit law. Today, the New York State Assembly made clear that our legislature recognizes that this abhorrent loophole has left immigrant workers susceptible to wage theft,” Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement.

      “As a result of the work of both chambers passing this legislation, over 5,000 workers will now have a chance to earn fair wages for their work. Governor Cuomo has long been a supporter of justice for car wash workers and we look forward to him signing this bill into law.”

    • The Collaboration Of Zcash Foundation And Parity Presents To You ‘Zebra’ The First Zcash Client

      On 17th June, Zebra was released by Parity. Zebra is an open source and is licensed under GPL v 3.0.

    • Whether It’s the New NAFTA or the Old NAFTA, It Serves the 1 Percent

      Mick Mulvaney, a millionaire who is President Trump’s acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, awarded himself another job last week: spokesman for labor.

      Referring to the proposed new NAFTA, he told the Wall Street Journal, “We know that labor supports it.”

      That, right there, is the problem with NAFTA, old and new. One percenters like Mulvaney, self-dealing corporate honchos and fancy-pants corporate lobbyists negotiated the deals. Those fat cats claimed they spoke for labor. But when they opened their mouths, only the word profit emerged.

      They didn’t give a damn about jobs or wages or workers’ welfare. The ravages NAFTA inflicted on the non-rich prove that. The proposed new NAFTA is barely different. Mulvaney, though he tried to usurp labor’s voice, is far from labor’s mouthpiece. Labor speaks for itself. And it is railing against NAFTA, old and new.

      The United Steelworkers (USW) union opposed NAFTA from the outset and even filed suit in an attempt to prevent it from taking effect. Like 1992 independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, the union knew NAFTA was a giant vacuum that would suck American and Canadian factories and jobs south of the Mexican border, where wages were, and remain, untenably low and environmental laws unenforced.

    • How The Super-Rich Avoid Paying Their Share

      America’s wealthiest, this new study details, almost certainly hold substantially greater personal fortunes than our standard analyses of the nation’s distribution of wealth indicate.

      What are these conventional analyses not taking into account? A simple reality of our deeply unequal age: Extravagantly wealthy people cheat on their taxes. Regularly. Extravagantly, too. Our super rich are stashing vast chunks of their personal fortunes in offshore tax havens, generating billions annually in new income that — to their governments — goes unseen and untaxed.

      Just how enormous has this tax evasion by the super rich become? University of California-Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman and his Scandinavian colleagues Annette Alstadsæter and Niels Johannesen calculate — in a just-published American Economic Review paper — that offshore tax havens are enabling our world’s richest 0.01 percent to evade 25 percent of the income taxes they ought to be paying.

      The holdings of this wealthiest one-hundredth of 1 percent, the three researchers relate, make up about 50 percent of the overall assets parked in tax havens. The super rich are using these havens, add Zucman and his colleagues, to conceal about 40 percent of their total personal fortunes.

      The most recent Federal Reserve Board figures on U.S. inequality, released this past March, put the top 1 percent’s share of American personal wealth at 32 percent, up from 23 percent in 1989. Other estimates place the top 1 percent share closer to 40 percent. But with the new calculations from Zucman and his colleagues, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s Matthew Gardner reflects, even this 40 percent estimate could well be a distinctly “low-ball number.”

      But can we trust the numbers from the Zucman team? After all, how could a mere trio of researchers unearth hidden fortunes that the super rich spend big bucks to keep hidden? These three particular researchers had some unconventional assistance.

      Over recent years, whistleblowers at some of the private banks and legal firms that cater to wealthy tax evaders — remember the “Panama Papers”? — have exposed vast stores of financial records that document the daily nitty-gritty of tax-evading transactions. The Zucman team tapped these records.

      Additional tax-evasion records have come from the “tax amnesties” that a number of governments extended to tax cheats during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. To qualify for the amnesties, evaders had to fess up to the tax-time games they were playing.

    • Can Donald Trump Hold Off an Economic Crash Until the Election?

      If he times it right, Donald Trump might set back the Democratic Party for a generation or more; if he misses, he’ll go down in history along with Herbert Hoover as the guy who brought the nation an economic disaster.

      Back in 2007 and early 2008, many of us were convinced that an economic crash was coming, and that George W. Bush and his Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, and Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, knew it.

      And we also thought that they were doing everything they could to hold it off so it would happen after the 2008 election, so if a Democrat was elected they could say the crash was because people were “worried about the incoming Democrats,” and if McCain won it would be his problem, not Bush’s.

    • Bernie Sanders Calls Fact That Minimum Wage Worker Cannot Afford 2-Bedroom Apartment in Any U.S. State ‘A National Disgrace’

      For a decade, U.S. lawmakers have kept the federal minimum wage at a level which increasingly leaves workers unable to afford housing.

      That’s according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). The group’s 30th annual study of housing affordability found that a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25—which is unchanged since 2009—cannot afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment in any state, metropolitan area, or county in the United States.

      The report, entitled “Out of Reach,” details how a worker would need to maintain three full-time jobs involving 127 hours of work per week to afford such a housing situation, without spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing.

      “Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years,” wrote Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC, noting that housing assistance reaches fewer Americans than in 1989, when the group first compiled housing data. “Wage inequality has worsened between black and white workers at all wage levels, exacerbating the racial housing inequities that have long plagued the nation. Affordable rental housing for low-income people is significantly further out of reach now than in 1989, despite a massive increase in wealth for higher-income households.”

    • At Vox Media, Workers Win a Voice Beyond Wages

      The collective bargaining agreement between Vox Media and the Writers Guild of America East puts an end to one of the more contentious unionization battles that have gone on in US digital media. Vox management took longer to voluntarily recognize the union than other outlets, and workers recently staged a walk-out to protest Vox’s intransigence in bargaining.

      The agreement that was finally ratified on June 14 covers 350 workers; Vox Media publishes Eater, Curbed, Polygon, SB Nation, The Verge and Recode, in addition to its namesake political news and explainer site, Vox.

      In the end, it broke the workers’ way. Economically, the union won generous wage floors, 16 weeks of paid parental leave, 10 days of bereavement leave, other leave provisions, cost-of-living increases and, perhaps most interestingly, a provision granting workers a cut of the profits on media they produce that Vox later sells to third parties. There are even new protections against the laying off of staffers in order to replace them with freelance labor—a common and well-grounded fear in the media industry.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Over 60 percent of voters think Facebook has too much power: poll

      Sixty-one percent of voters polled by Fox News said they believe Facebook has “too much power.” Forty-eight percent said the same of Google, followed by Amazon at 45 percent and Apple at 43 percent.

    • Many in Hong Kong, fearful of China’s grasp, flee to Taiwan

      For Hong Kong resident Yung Xiu Kwan, 67, a proposed extradition law that would allow people in the former British colony to be sent to mainland China for trial was the final straw.


      “Without freedom and democracy, it’s like being put in jail, like living in a concentration camp … without freedom, (I) would rather die,” said Yung, as she waved a Taiwan flag at a massive protest in Hong Kong on Sunday.

      “Taiwan can offer that because Taiwan has democratic elections and a constitution that safeguards democracy.”

      Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997, allowing it certain freedoms, including an independent judiciary. Courts in mainland China are controlled by the Communist Party.

      Yung is joining thousands of people who have left for Taiwan in recent years, citing fears of Chinese erosion of one country, two systems, a concept Beijing hopes it can introduce one day in Taiwan.

      Beijing has never renounced the use of force to take over neighboring, self-ruled Taiwan, which it regards as a recalcitrant, breakaway province.

    • Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game

      In a June 12 interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, President Donald Trump freely admitted that he would listen to foreigners offering him “dirt” on his political opponents: “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening …. Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?”

      Unsurprisingly, critics from both major parties pounced on Trump’s statement, condemning it on grounds of morality, patriotism, and law. Equally unsurprisingly, those critics are wrong in (at least) their first two reasons. Some are also hypocrites who should stop clutching their pearls for long enough to wash the “dirt” off them.

      A quick timeline:

      In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon, a (then anti-Trump) Republican newspaper, hired a company called Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on several Republican presidential primary candidates, including Trump. Once it became clear that Trump would be the GOP’s nominee, that project ended.

      In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee used a cut-out (law firm Perkins Coie) to hire — again — Fusion GPS, which in turn hired a foreigner, former British Spy Christopher Steele, to work foreign sources (especially Russian sources) for opposition research on Trump. Steele’s output was a still-controversial “dossier” full of alleged “dirt.”

    • Michael Wolff on why Mueller didn’t indict: Trump was ready to “blow up everything”

      It is not an easy task to discern the truth when confronting a president and his allies who have created their own reality, one in which truth and lies have no absolute meaning and are, for them, ultimately interchangeable.

      Donald Trump does this on a personal level: he has lied at least 10,000 times while president.

      During his recent interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Donald Trump continued to lie in public, asserting that he did not try to fire special sounsel Robert Mueller. As multiple sources and witnesses agree, this is not true. Trump also asserted that he can do anything that he wants, according to the Constitution: He apparently believes he is a king or emperor. This too is a lie. The Constitution grants the president no such powers, and was drafted by the framers to stop demagogues and would-be tyrants such as Donald Trump.

      Trump has told his followers not to believe their eyes and ears or the news media, but only to trust him. In Trump’s political cult he is the ultimate arbiter of reality and facts. This represents Orwell’s warnings about totalitarianism in “1984″ made real in the age of Trump. In all, Trumpism is both a form of collective narcissism and mass delusion for its leader and followers.

      How does one craft a biography or other factual narrative about a person like Donald Trump, his presidency and the people embedded in it? Despite his obvious criminal and dangerous behavior, how is Trump always able to escape? Why did Robert Mueller decline to indict Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, or even to state his conclusions clearly? If Trump is forced from the White House, either by defeat at the polls in 2020 or impeachment and conviction, will he leave peacefully?

    • Russia’s Constitutional Court says protest permits can’t be refused because of bad security planning

      Russia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that poorly prescribed security measures are insufficient grounds for state officials to refuse to review a permit request for a public assembly.

      The ruling was handed down in a case brought by Irkutsk activist Valery Teterin, whose permit requests local officials rejected repeatedly on the pretense that he failed to specify “the forms and methods of ensuring public order and organizing medical aid.” Teterin argued that uncertainties in Russian legislation on public assemblies have allowed the authorities to evaluate permit requests arbitrarily, in violation of the Constitution.

    • Pandas and Sanctions: Diplomacy vs Extortion

      While the United States has been intimidating dozens of countries all over the world, two cuddly Chinese giant pandas – a three-year-old male called Ru Yi, and a female one year younger, named Ding Ding – were settling down in their new home, inside the legendary Moscow Zoo.

      Chewing bamboo shoots, and obviously enjoying the unprecedented attention, two specimens of iconic Chinese bears, were ‘just there’, in a good mood, making the entire world around them kinder and more secure.

    • The Global Movement Against Gentrification

      Four years ago, Barcelona voters made international news when they chose Ada Colau, a young feminist and housing rights activist, to be mayor of Spain’s second largest city. Colau was backed by Barcelona En Comu, a social movement coalition opposed to gentrification, eviction of tenants, privatization of city services, and growing inequality between neighborhoods.

      Last month, Colau lost her re-election fight by just a few thousand votes to a candidate backed by Catalan separatists. But En Comu held onto its ten city council seats and will remain a force in local politics. And, thanks to the recent publication of Fearless Cities: A Guide to the Global Municipalist Movement (New Internationalist Publications, 2019) the organizational model and radical platform of En Comu will continue to be a source of cross-border inspiration.

      Compiled by Colau, En Comu and Debbie Bookchin, the Guide describes municipal reform campaigns in fifty cities and 19 countries. Its contributors include activists and elected officials in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, England, Chile, Argentina, Serbia, Germany, Kurdish-controlled northern Syria, Canada, and the U.S. It contains a series of “organizing tool-kits,” which offer practical advice about rooting out political corruption, reducing pollution, protecting tenants and immigrants and creating opportunities for citizen engagement like “participatory budgeting.”

      In their contribution to the Guide, researcher Manuela Zechner, Kate Shea Baird from En Comu, and Claudio Delso, a leader of Marea Atlantica in the Spanish city of A Coruna, stress the importance of using a “transparent, horizontal, and democratic process” when “building municipalist platforms.” By that, they mean that organizers should develop a political program, responsive to local needs and aspirations, before recruiting candidates and doing electoral campaigning that will inevitably end up focusing on individual personalities.

      “The best way to engage people,” they argue,” particularly, those with no previous interest in electoral politics, is to go and ask them what they think about their neighborhood, about how they would change it. Focusing on shared goals, rather than potentially divisive negotiations over who should stand as a candidate, is also a good way to bring people from diverse backgrounds and from different organizations together and to create a sense of common purpose.”

    • Phone and Online Voting for Democrats in the 2020 Caucuses? DNC Is at a Major Crossroads

      The Democratic National Committee may reverse course on its plans to increase participation in 2020 presidential caucus states by offering off-site voting options—starting with telephone voting in Iowa and possibly online voting in other states.

      That prospect of a reversal, at least in the early nominating caucuses, stems from growing concerns in top party circles about protecting the “integrity of the process” in a post-2016 climate, said James Roosevelt III, co-chair of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.

      “It is entirely possible,” said Roosevelt. “The committee is going to be looking to be convinced that it will work. I think the committee is subject to competing pressures. One is to honor Iowa’s commitment to participatory democracy. And the other is to a heightened sensitivity that did not exist four or certainly eight years ago to the integrity of the process.”

      While only a handful of states will use caucuses to nominate presidential candidates, the Democrats’ first contest and third contests are poised to offer an unprecedented remote voting option; by telephone in Iowa, or possibly an online platform in Nevada. Because these are party-run events, government election officials who have been hardening their systems since 2016 against potential hacking—by foreign agents or domestic partisans—will barely be involved. (These officials oversee primary elections, not party caucuses.)

    • Straight to Wall Street Fundraiser After Leaving Poor People’s Forum, Biden Tells Fat Cat Donors: ‘You Guys Are Great’

      Just hours after appearing at Monday’s Poor Peoples Campaign event in Washington, D.C. and promising to work for the less fortunate, 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden went straight to a Wall Street fundraiser in New York City where he solicited donations from, among others, a pro-Trump billionaire.

      The fundraiser was held at the Manhattan penthouse apartment of investor Jim Chanos. According to CNBC reporting, Biden told wealthy attendees “you guys are great” and “you guys are incredibly important” before singing the praises of working class Americans.

      Biden also “suggested” to the crowd that he had raised nearly $20 million already for his campaign, citing 360,000 donors that have contributed an average of $55, approximately $19.2 million.

      At one point during the evening, CNBC reported, the former vice president asked supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis for help, but the plea didn’t result in any benefit for the Democratic frontrunner. Catsimatidis told Biden he was set on Trump and, on Tuesday, tweeted that he and his family—major figures in New York Republican circles—were all in for the president.

      Biden’s appearance at Chanos’s apartment came on the same day the former vice president took the stage in Washington to wax on his strategies to end poverty. But the former vice president’s remarks concentrated mainly on his relationship with former president Barack Obama, The Washington Post reported, and his desire to work with the GOP—at one point leaning over moderator Joy Ann Reid to tell her that it was possible to “shame” Republicans into working with Democrats.

    • Previewing the Democratic Debates: Every Flavor of NBC, Trusting Corporate Media on Climate

      The Democratic National Committee has announced the lineups for its first two presidential primary debates, which will be hosted by NBC on June 26 and 27. For many voters, it will be their first real chance to learn about and evaluate the candidates. But despite new nods to diversity, there is little evidence so far to suggest that the debates will be any less circumscribed and shallow than those in the past.

      In response to pressure from Democratic and environmental activists, DNC chair Tom Perez rejected the idea of holding a climate debate, because it “would be putting our thumb on the scale”—presumably not in favor of the planet, but on behalf of Jay Inslee, the candidate who requested the debate. It’s true that the scandal over the DNC’s scale-tipping for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries should make it sensitive to such concerns. The trouble is, the DNC builds the scale itself, and it’s hardly neutral to begin with.

    • WATCH: Rep. Katie Porter Explains to Swing District Constituents Why Her Conscience Demands Support for Trump Impeachment Inquiry

      Congresswoman Katie Porter, in a video posted on social media Monday night, shared with residents of her purple California district why she is joining dozens of other Democrats who support launching an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

      “I didn’t come to Congress to impeach the president,” said the first-term representative. “But when faced with a crisis of this magnitude, I cannot with a clean conscience ignore my duty to defend the Constitution. I can’t claim to be committed to rooting out corruption and putting people over politics and then not apply those same principles and standards in all of the work I do.”

    • Russia’s Supreme Court dissolves seven inactive political parties

      Justice Ministry officials previously announced that it planned to review half the registered political parties in Russia for compliance with the country’s election laws. According to the law, parties can be dissolved by the Supreme Court, if they fail to participate in elections for seven years in a row. There are currently 61 political associations registered with the Russian government as political parties.

    • Aiming to Oust Another Pro-Corporate Democrat, Educator Jamaal Bowman Launches Progressive Challenge to Rep. Eliot Engel

      Representing what supporters call “a new generation” for the U.S. Congress, middle school principal Jamaal Bowman announced his primary challenge to moderate Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel on Tuesday, calling on constituents to reject the 16-term congressman’s record of aligning himself with corporate interests.

      Bowman is the second progressive candidate to challenge Engel in the 2020 election and the first to win the endorsement of Justice Democrats, the national group which helped launch Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign last year. As Common Dreams reported, teacher Andom Ghebreghiorgis announced his run last week.

    • Shanahan Steps Down Amid Reports of Violent Domestic Incidents

      After months of unexplained delays, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down Tuesday before his formal nomination ever went to the Senate, citing a “painful” family situation that would hurt his children and reopen “wounds we have worked years to heal.”

      President Donald Trump announced Shanahan’s departure in a tweet, and said Army Secretary Mark Esper would be the new acting Pentagon chief.

      “I believe my continuing in the confirmation process would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal,” Shanahan said in a statement. “Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority.”

      The acting defense secretary did not provide specifics about the family situation. But The Washington Post published an interview with Shanahan on Tuesday, shortly before Trump tweeted that his nomination would not go forward. In the interview, Shanahan spoke about the circumstances surrounding his 2011 divorce and said he didn’t want to drag his children through the experience again.

      Court records show that his ex-wife, Kimberly, was arrested several times on charges that included burglary, property damage and assault. The assault charge was a misdemeanor for domestic violence in August 2010 when, according to police records, she hit Shanahan a number of times, giving him a bloody nose and black eye. The police report said she was not injured, and he was not charged.

      “Bad things can happen to good families … and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan told the Post.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Supreme Court Signals Loud And Clear That Social Media Sites Are Not Public Forums That Have To Allow All Speech

      Last fall I wrote about the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a case that some argued would allow the Supreme Court to declare that social media sites were public forums thereby limiting their ability to block or ban certain users. A key argument brought forth by many who have been kicked off of various social media platforms is that under a strained reading of both the Pruneyard case (a very narrowly ruled case, establishing malls as public forums) and the Packingham case (which said states cannot create laws that ban people from the internet), is that social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are some sort of quasi-public forums, and therefore the 1st Amendment applies to them as state actors… and therefore they can’t ban anyone or block content. This has never made much sense, and required a pretty twisted reading of those other cases — but there was some thought that this new case might allow the Supreme Court to weigh in on the subject.

      The details of the case are a bit involved — and you can read the original post for more details — but the short version is that two producers were fired from a public access channel, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, for criticizing MNN. The two fired producers, DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez, argued that this violated the 1st Amendment, because MNN was set up by New York City’s government, as required by New York State. Thus, there was a strong argument that MNN was a public forum, given the state’s role in creating it. The 2nd Circuit agreed that it was a public forum and MNN appealed to the Supreme Court, raising the specter that if the ruling were allowed to stand, it could end up being applied to the various social media platforms as well, creating quite a mess.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Certbot’s Website Gets a Refresh

      Certbot has a brand new website! Today we’ve launched a major update that will help Certbot’s users get started even more quickly and easily.

      Certbot is a free, open source software tool for enabling HTTPS on manually-administered websites, by automatically deploying Let’s Encrypt certificates. Since we introduced it in 2016, Certbot has helped over a million users enable encryption on their sites, and we think this update will better meet the needs of the next million, and beyond.

      Certbot is part of EFF’s larger effort to encrypt the entire Internet. Websites need to use HTTPS to secure the web. Along with our browser add-on, HTTPS Everywhere, Certbot aims to build a network that is more structurally private, safe, and protected against censorship.

    • The Lofgren-Amash Amendment Would Check Warrantless Surveillance

      The NSA has used Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to justify collecting and storing millions of Americans’ online communications. Now, the House of Representatives has a chance to pull the plug on funding for Section 702 unless the government agrees to limit the reach of that program.

      The House of Representatives must vote yes in order to make this important corrective. Amendment #24 offered by Representatives Lofgren (CA) and Amash (MI) would make sure that no money in next year’s budget would fund the warrantless surveillance of people residing in the United States. Specifically, their amendment would withhold money [PDF] intended to fund Section 702 unless the government commits not to knowingly collect the data of people communicating from within the U.S. to other U.S. residents, and who are not specifically communicating with a foreign surveillance target.

      Section 702 allows the government to collect and store the communications of foreign intelligence targets outside of the U.S if a significant purpose is to collect “foreign intelligence” information. Although the law contains some protections—for example, a prohibition on knowingly collecting communications between two U.S. citizens on U.S. soil—we have learned that the program actually does sweep up billions of communications involving people not explicitly targeted, including Americans. For example, a 2014 report by the Washington Post that reviewed of a “large cache of intercepted conversations” provided by Edward Snowden revealed that 9 out of 10 account holders “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • San Ysidro High valedictorian calls out adults who didn’t help her succeed

      According to Manuel Rubio, a spokesperson for Sweetwater Union High School District, Buhr’s speech did not follow the pre-approved version she submitted to the school prior to graduation.

    • Color Revolution In Hong Kong: Usa Vs. China

      Once again, the local government has “knelt down” before the forces of darkness. Mustering mass, violent protests, Hong Kong anti-Communists and their backers in the Anglo-American Empire have shown that they can grab the final say on crucial matters in China’s premier Special Administrative Region (SAR). They have forced local authorities to shelve an important, Beijing-backed crime-fighting bill enabling extradition among Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.

      The dramatic about-face underlines a number of realities:

      + The Empire, with its “pro-democracy” allies on the ground, wields a veto over HKSAR developments they don’t like. This unholy alliance has repeatedly thwarted important policy initiatives by local authorities. Most notable had been landmark battles in 2003 and 2012. In ’03, the “democracy” alliance led a mass March that spiked national-security legislation required by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, or mini-constitution. In ’12 a similar drive rolled back a bid to introduce national education.

      The first initiative would have helped check the alliance’s subversive activities in HK, directed against China. The second would have made young Hong Kongers more knowledgeable about their motherland, impeding the anti-Communists’ relentless efforts to turn them into zombified haters of their own country … and shocktroops for anti-Beijing protests.

    • Journalist in Dagestan is jailed on terrorism charges

      A district court in Makhachkala has jailed journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev on charges of financing terrorism and participating in a terrorist organization, according to the Telegram channel Chernovik (Rough Draft), where Gadzhiyev works. Police arrested him on June 14. Gadzhiyev’s family says he’s being framed, and Chernovik’s editors have publicly asked President Putin to take charge of the case.

    • The False Prophets Cometh

      A church was burned in Massachusetts; historically black churches were burned to the ground in Louisiana; a church in Georgia was the scene of a horrific mass shooting; worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh were gunned down; a gunman attacked worshippers at a synagogue near San Diego. Readers aren’t being catapulted back in some sort of time machine to the U.S. of the 1950s or 1960s when four girls lost their lives while at a morning religious service in Birmingham, Alabama, and three civil rights workers were tortured and murdered in rural Mississippi during Freedom Summer when they returned from investigating a church burning in a nearby Mississippi town. No, this is the contemporary U.S. with the melding of hate, violence, religious fundamentalism, and political populism. Recall that the nefarious Ku Klux Klan wears and wore white robes and hoods reminiscent of a medieval and extremist religious order.

      Religious fundamentalism has been on the rise since the 1970s, even though church affiliation in the U.S. has steadily declined during the same period. Fundamentalists found a home within the Great Communicator’s (Reagan’s) America and they have never left. As the U.S. is battered by the effects of economic globalism and social displacement, many have turned to religious populism as a safe haven in a world of uncertainty. Who, other than Donald Trump and his acolytes, could be further from religious ethical values with his payoffs to sexual liaisons, his violent rhetoric toward opponents, his dyed-in-the-wool misogyny; his tax giveaway to the extremely wealthy, his anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions, his modernization of doomsday weapons and abrogation of nuclear weapons’ treaties, and his push to close off the U.S. economically in a global market with tariffs and economic sanctions against opponents such as those in place in Iran and Venezuela?

      The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a populist as “a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people.” And some of those common people are waking up to the fact that Trump, et al., are treating them in the same way he treated many workers and contractors who were shortchanged in the construction of his real estate empire. Environmental destruction and the use of economic sanctions are a practical tutorial for those in the farming industry who thought Trump was in their corner. If Trump has his way, his followers won’t even be able to afford those plentiful, cheap consumer goods from Asia and then where will they turn for solace?

    • Legal Victory Strengthens LGBT Activists as Threat From Bolsonaro Looms

      On Thursday, June 13, after months of postponement, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court officially made homophobia and transphobia –– locally known as “LGBTphobia” –– a crime and outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In an eight to three ruling, the remaining judges of the Supreme Federal Court voted to criminalize LGBTphobia under existing anti-discrimination laws that prohibit intolerance and bias based on race, religious intolerance and xenophobia.

      Six of the 11 members of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court had already voted in favor of outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Brazil on May 24. At that time, one of the six members who voted in favor of LGBT protections, Supreme Federal Court Vice-President Luiz Fux described homophobic crimes as “alarming” and noted the “epidemic levels of homophobic violence,” according to a BBC report. Two other justices added their votes on Thursday, formalizing the final tally of eight to three.

      This landmark decision comes at a critical time in Brazil when concerns over the trajectory of human rights for the LGBT community and other marginalized groups are at an all-time high. Brazilian activist and professor Nilton O. do Vale notes that while he is elated to be a part of such a historic moment in Brazilian history, the country still has a long way to go in terms of equity for the LGBT community.

      “It is very interesting how much the country has evolved. Now, [the LGBT community] has the right to get married. We can adopt children. We can include the names of our spouses on health insurance,” he said. “But at the same time, there are some groups [in this country] who are trying their best to stop everything we have conquered. This Supreme Federal Court decision is a victory but we cannot stop advocating for our rights. From now on, we have to fight even more otherwise we will lose the rights we have.”

      “We are people. We have needs. We have feelings. We pay taxes and we go to work and school. We are normal. Our sexual orientation is just different from others. Why should that matter in terms of our rights?” he continued.

    • Outrage and Warnings of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ as Trump Threatens Mass Raids Against Millions of People in the US

      “If they really do this,” tweeted Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith, “it’ll be unimaginably horrific.”

      The plan, reportedly developed by Trump and advisor Stephen Miller, the administration’s most enthusiastic anti-immigration voice, has been in the works for months. The plan was so controversial that it is believed to have played a role in the departure of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen from the administration in April, though, as Common Dreams reported at the time, Nielsen’s issue with the policy seemed purely based on effectiveness, not morality.

      Azadeh Shahshahani, a Georgia-based immigration rights attorney, told Common Dreams Tuesday that immigration advocates would have to be prepared to do what was necessary to resist the planned assault on undocumented people and immigrant communities.

      “Trump’s outrageous threats are meant to instill fear in immigrant communities and must be forcefully condemned,” said Shahshahani. “As Americans strongly protested heartless family separations last summer, we must continue to stand up to the white supremacist dictates of this administration and provide sanctuary to migrants fleeing persecution.”

      In a statement provided to Common Dreams, ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok framed the president’s directive as part of the agency’s mission.

      “The border crisis doesn’t start and stop at the border, which is why ICE will continue to conduct interior enforcement without exemption for those who are in violation of federal immigration law,” said Rusnok. “This includes routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders, and worksite enforcement. This is about addressing the border crisis by upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of the immigration system, as created by Congress.”

      The planned raids may be hamstrung by both a lack of capacity in the agency to fulfill the president’s directive and what The Atlantic writer Adam Serwer described on Tuesday as a lack of competence on the part of the administration.

      “Which doesn’t mean they have not, or will not, do immeasurable damage,” said Serwer.

    • Trump Says U.S. Will Begin Deporting Millions

      President Donald Trump is threatening to deport millions of people living in the United States illegally, heralding a plan that could help energize his supporters just ahead of formally announcing his reelection bid.

      The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement next week will “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump said in a pair of tweets Monday night.

      “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

      An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the U.S. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

    • A Russian town unleashes its rage against the Roma community, following a deadly brawl

      On June 13, there was mass violence in the town of Chemodanovka, outside Penza. Allegations that members of the local Roma community raped a woman led to a brawl between more than 150 people. One man died, and another five were hospitalized with stab wounds, leaving a victim in intensive care. The next evening, hundreds of people in town blocked the M5 Ural Highway, demanding that state officials respond to the situation. Penza Governor Ivan Belozertsev came and addressed the “people’s gathering,” as police officers detained 170 demonstrators and later arrested 15 suspects in the brawl. Meduza correspondent Ekaterina Drankina traveled to Chemodanovka to learn more about what happened.

    • Man Temporarily Nukes Five News Websites, Walks Away With Less Prison Time Than Matthew Keys, Who Attacked ZERO Websites

      So, if someone can be sentenced to two years in prison for 40 minutes of newspaper website defacement performed by a party other than himself, it stands to reason someone who took down five websites would be looking at a minimum of ten years in jail.

      Welcome to the hilarious and tragic world of CFAA-related sentencing. Matthew Keys was hit with a two-year sentence for sharing his login password, an act that resulted in someone else subjecting the L.A. Times website to a 40-minute inconvenience. The momentary vandalism of the site’s landing page suggested Congressional representatives were being pressured to elect CHIPPY 1337. No. Seriously. That was the extent of the “damage.”

      Once the DOJ decided this was worth pursuing under the CFAA, internal L.A. Times’ emails regarding the “hack” suddenly cost $225/each to create. The feds wanted five years but settled for two. And while Matthew Keys served his sentence, no one in the federal government made any effort to locate the person who actually performed the website defacement.

      A more serious hacking — one that resulted in five news websites being completely unreachable for a short period of time — has netted the “hacker” involved with a very lenient sentence.

    • Black Boys Aren’t “Wolf Packs” and Abusive Prosecutors Aren’t “Lone Wolves”

      Ava Duvernay’s new miniseries, When They See Us, retells the harrowing story of the five Black and Latinx boys wrongfully imprisoned for the rape and near murder of a young woman in New York’s Central Park in 1989. In this telling, she tackles racist practices that echo to the past, but are very much present in the current era of mass incarceration.

      The story is as complex as it is damning. Duvernay chronicles how police, prosecutors, judges, jailers, and the media worked in concert to destroy these innocent children and their families. Dehumanized by the press, the boys were convicted after the NYPD and Manhattan DA brutally extracted false confessions from them. But the press merely augmented the voice of the systems of oppression at work. Yes, the law eventually, after many failures, afforded them some semblance of justice, including through a 2002 exoneration based in part on DNA evidence. But this only forces us to ruefully scrutinize how this miscarriage of justice it began and proceeded, and to consider the roots of structural oppression and institutional racism that drove the injustice in the first place.

    • An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border

      Surely, the United States of America could not operate concentration camps. In the American consciousness, the term is synonymous with the Nazi death machines across the European continent that the Allies began the process of dismantling 75 years ago this month. But while the world-historical horrors of the Holocaust are unmatched, they are only the most extreme and inhuman manifestation of a concentration-camp system—which, according to Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, has a more global definition. There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and—with Japanese internment—the United States. In fact, she contends we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border.

      “We have what I would call a concentration camp system,” Pitzer says, “and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial.”

      Historians use a broader definition of concentration camps, as well.

      “What’s required is a little bit of demystification of it,” says Waitman Wade Beorn, a Holocaust and genocide studies historian and a lecturer at the University of Virginia. “Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed—at the most basic level—to separate one group of people from another group. Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way.”

    • Ocasio-Cortez Hits Back at Liz Cheney: ‘What Do You Call Building Mass Camps of People Being Detained Without Trial?’

      After Rep. Liz Cheney expressed outrage at her statement that President Donald Trump’s administration is “running concentration camps on the southern border,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday asked the Wyoming Republican what term she would use to describe “mass camps of people being detained without trail.”

      “How would you dress up DHS’s mass separation of thousands children at the border from their parents?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after Cheney suggested it is inappropriate and offensive to call U.S. immigrant detention facilities “concentration camps.”

    • Women’s Rights Advocates Call On Democratic Candidates to Address Healthcare and Equity Issues Affecting Women in 2020 Debates

      A month after helping to pressure the Democratic National Committee to include female moderators at every Democratic primary debate, the national women’s advocacy group UltraViolet called on candidates to address a number of issues affecting women.

      The group surveyed its roughly one million members in recent days, asking them what questions they would ask the 23 Democratic hopefuls if they were running the debates, which are scheduled to begin June 26.

      Nearly a third of UltraViolet members said candidates should state whether they would repeal the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 provision which cuts of access to abortion care for many low-income women by prohibiting the use of federal funds like Medicaid to pay for the procedure. Many of the candidates have called for the law’s repeal, with eight backing legislation in the Senate and House to do away with it. Joe Biden was forced to announce that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment earlier this month, after pressure from women’s rights advocates. Forty-five percent of Democratic voters oppose the law, while 38 percent support it.

    • Conservatives Play the Victim as Harvard Pulls Parkland Student’s Acceptance

      Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the 2017 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., announced on Twitter on Monday that Harvard rescinded his acceptance because of racist comments written on a shared Google doc and in text messages when he was 16. The decision enraged many prominent conservative pundits, who saw the decision as yet more evidence their viewpoints are under attack.

      Last month, a video that included screenshots of the comments, including racial slurs, was posted by Ariana Ali, a former classmate. Kashuv, as The New York Times points out, used “a racial slur for African Americans more than a dozen times. … In a different screenshot of a text message, Mr. Kashuv also used the slur to refer to black student athletes.” The video led Harvard to rescind the acceptance.

      Ben Shapiro, editor in chief of the Daily Wire, emphasized the private nature of the comments in his commentary: “Is the new standard that if you said something on a private message board when you were 16 years old that we should deny you the possibility of a degree at a top college, so long as those who join you on that message board decide to out you?”

      In Reason, Robby Soave called Harvard’s decision a “major victory for the online mobs of cancel culture.”

      Kashuv’s political views are often at odds with his fellow Parkland survivors. After the horrific Parkland shooting, many of the surviving students, including David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, became activists. They organized the March for Our Lives in support of gun control and often spoke out against the policies of the Trump administration. Kashuv was an outlier among his classmates, a conservative defender of the Second Amendment who met with President Trump and favored arming school staff instead of limiting access to guns.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • None Of The Claimed Benefits Of Killing Net Neutrality Ever Arrived

      So just over a year ago the FCC quickly rushed to kill net neutrality at telecom lobbyists’ behest. As we noted last week, the repeal did far more than just kill net neutrality protections; it effectively freed uncompetitive telecom providers from most meaningful oversight. With a few notable exceptions, most ISPs have tried to remain on their best behavior for two reasons: one, they’re worried about the ongoing lawsuit from 23 State AGs that could potentially restore the rules any day now. And two, they don’t want to run afoul of the nearly two dozen states that passed their own net neutrality rules in the wake of the repeal.

      Of course this all occurred because of the Ajit Pai FCC claim that killing the rules would result in amazing broadband growth, competition, and investment. But as people keep digging into the numbers, they’ve (surprise!) increasingly realized that absolutely none of those promises ever materialized (and aren’t likely to without more competition).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Open Invention Network Demonstrates its Leadership as History’s Largest Patent Non-Aggression Community by Exceeding 3,000 Licensees

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that more than 3,000 organizations have joined its community and granted the OIN license to fellow members. To put this milestone into perspective, in only two years, OIN has increased the size of its community by 50 percent. This indicates the growing importance of open source software (OSS) and is an acknowledgment that patent non-aggression is a vital tenet of the open source community.

    • Copyrights

      • Dumbest ‘Gotcha’ Story Of The Week: Google, Genius And The Copying Of Licensed Lyrics

        You may have seen this story in various forms over the weekend, starting with a big Wall Street Journal article (paywall likely) claiming that Genius caught Google “red handed” in copying lyrics from its site. Lots of other articles on the story use the term “red handed” in the title, and you’ll understand why in a moment. However, there’s a lot of background to go over here — and while many Google haters are making a big deal out of this news, after going through the details, it seems like (mostly) a completely over-hyped, ridiculous story.

        First, a little background: for pretty much the entire existence of this site, we’ve written about legal disputes concerning lyrics sites — going all the way back to a story in 2000 about LyricFind (remember that name?) preemptively shutting itself down to try to work out “licensing” deals for the copyright on lyrics. Over the years, publishers have routinely freaked out and demanded money from lyrics sites. As we’ve pointed out over and over again, it was never clear how this made any sense at all — especially on crowd sourced lyrics sites. It’s not as though lyrics sites are taking away from the sales of the music — if anything, they’re the kinds of thing that connects people more deeply to the music and would help improve other aspects of the music business ecosystem.

      • Genius Claims Google Stole Lyrics Embedded With Secret Morse Code

        While Google posting song lyrics themselves is not a crime, Genius claims that Google has been lifting the song lyrics directly from Genius without permission and reposting them on the search result page. The evidence: Two forms of apostrophes embedded in Genius-housed lyrics.

        Starting in 2016, Genius positioned both “straight” and “curly” apostrophes in their lyrics which, when converted into dots and dashes like Morse code, spelled out the words “Red Handed.” Genius added that, using these apostrophes, they found over 100 instances of Google using Genius’ own lyrics in the Google search results.

      • Judge throws the book at Minneapolis lawyer who ran a porn trolling scheme

        U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen complimented Hansmeier for being “smarter than all get-out,” then blasted him for taking advantage of the courts in his scheme to seed the [Internet] with pornography so that he could cajole the many hundreds of people who downloaded it into paying legal settlements to avoid facing costly and embarrassing lawsuits.

Indifference or Even Hostility Towards Patent Quality Results in Grave Injustice

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European Digital SME AllianceSummary: The patent extravaganza in Europe harms small businesses the most (they complain about it), but administrative staff at patent offices only cares about the views of prolific applicants rather than the interests of citizens in respective countries

THE Battistelli/Campinos-run EPO is a blatant, shameless promoter of software patents in Europe, as we last noted earlier today. Similarly, the new USPTO Director is hostile towards 35 U.S.C. § 101 because he has long been an advocate of software patents. He made money from litigation, just like Michael Borella who earlier today promoted the rigged 'panels' that merely discredited the US Senate. What makes these people so sure that 'dissing' courts/judges is a good idea? It only aggravates them.

“They’re an illusion of value (like Ponzi schemes) or simply fake ‘assets’ that are just a piece of paper courts would spit at.”Earlier today Ben Wodecki (IPPro Magazine) wrote about “HEY HI!” (AI) patents — whatever they actually are; they’re usually just bogus, abstract patents. They’re an illusion of value (like Ponzi schemes) or simply fake ‘assets’ that are just a piece of paper courts would spit at.

It certainly seems like UK-IPO is trying to attract dubious applications; it wants patent applications of low quality and drops a big number (£630 billion) because of “AI patents”, which Wodecki was happy to pass on as though it was factual. To quote:

The number of UK patents in artificial intelligence (AI) has grown exponentially and is expected to add £630 billion to the UK’s economy by 2035, according to a report from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
The report, which gives an overview of AI patents and patenting by the UK AI sector, showed that the UK’s patent activity related to AI technologies has more than doubled in the last decade.

However, according to UKIPO figures, around 88 percent of AI-related patents first filed in the UK are also protected elsewhere.

The US still dominates globally in the number of AI-related patents, with double the number of patents compared to the UK. The UK sits in a respectable fourth place, behind two multinational offices, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

What good are these patents though? Here’s another way to put it; as a reminder, the UK Supreme Court is no friend of patent extremists [1, 2]. It throws out patents like these and the higher the court is, the more likely it is to do so because at the higher levels corruption and mischief are harder to get away with; so the law is adhered to/respected more often, ratio-wise. Also among the contributing factors: more eyes (scrutiny) due to importance by precedent.

“It certainly seems like UK-IPO is trying to attract dubious applications…”As it turns out, or as patent maximalists put it today, UK Supreme Court judge Lord Justice David Kitchin slaps down this whole “HEY HI!” (AI) hype that’s used to justify bogus patents in places that are run by clueless and greedy bureaucrats (like at the EPO). To quote the outline:

UK Supreme Court judge Lord Justice David Kitchin says he is not convinced AI-created works warrant the same IP protection as human creations

The EPO does not seem to care what European judges are saying; instead, the EPO hopes to just replace them all with judges more closely/directly controlled by the EPO. “French ratification of the UPC was pushed through the Senate by rapporteur M. Ronan Le Gleut, who was examiner at the EPO,” Benjamin Henrion noted some time ago (we wrote about him before) and another EPO alumnus, Christian Archambeau, moved from the EPO to EUIPO, where both institutions are still ‘googlebombing’ the term “SMEs”. They just try to distract from the harm they cause to these, expediting work that concerns large foreign companies; the UPC would of course cause further harm to SMEs. Over the past month or so, several times per week in fact, the EPO and EUIPO have promoted the same bogus ‘study’, which they paid for (it invalidates the argument of neutrality or motivation being benign). Earlier today the EPO once again tweeted: “Our joint study with the @EU_IPO shows that the likelihood of experiencing a high-growth period is 17% higher for SMEs that have filed for at east one European IPR.”

“The EPO does not seem to care what European judges are saying; instead, the EPO hopes to just replace them all with judges more closely/directly controlled by the EPO.”That’s based on bad science, just like prior ‘studies’ they did on SMEs, which are harmed the most. Watch them bragging (warning: epo.org link), even in Twitter this morning, about that stupid “award” of theirs; they reward software patents from foreign giants like Qualcomm and want us to believe that those patents exist for a positive purpose.

“Munich fake injunction [with EP2724461] published,” wrote Florian Müller in his blog only a few hours ago, demonstrating that patent quality is a disaster and this results in highly expensive injustice. This is what Qualcomm did:

This is a long-overdue follow-up to a post of two months back on an order by the Oberlandesgericht München (Munich Higher Regional Court) granting a motion by Apple to stay the enforcement of Qualcomm’s illegitimate (for multiple reasons) Germany-wide injunction over EP2724461 on a “low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker”–a patent that an opposition panel of the European Patent Office revoked last month because it shouldn’t have been granted in the first place, not even in a narrower form (Qualcomm can and likely will appeal that decision). And Judge Lucy H. Koh’s landmark FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust ruling came down that same week.

Of all the cases I’ve watched since I started this blog nearly a decade ago, what went wrong in this Munich case makes it the worst non-standard-essential patent case by a wide margin, just like the district court’s Oracle v. Google rulings were the worst in any software copyright case and the Mannheim Regional Court, in 2012, set a negative example for how to handle a standard-essential patent (SEP) case when it totally failed to recognize Motorola Mobility’s blatant antitrust violation by seeking to enforce SEPs after initially making bad-faith out-of-this-world royalty demands (a royalty on computers that was effectively more than a 100% royalty rate since Microsoft would have had to pay Motorola more than it typically earned per copy of Windows sold to an OEM). Apart from that, I’ve certainly seen–and keep seeing–very bad stuff coming out of the Eastern District of Texas on various occasions, but those weren’t cases I followed closely.

The regional government of the state of Bavaria published the December 2018 fake injunction ruling, but I still haven’t been able to find a public redacted version of the appeals court’s order that tears the fake injunction into pieces, so I’m going to publish it here and now (this post continues below the document):

It’s not hard to see that an SME would not be able to endure because it’s just too expensive. Yet patent extremists from CIPA and Team UPC not only promote the UPC but also software patents. IP Kat (Jonathan Pratt) has just advertised an event in which patent extremists from CIPA promote patents on life and nature. To quote:

CIPA’s annual Life Science Conference is taking place on 11 and 12 November 2019 in Brighton. The conference is an educational and networking event for patent and IP professionals active in the pharma, medical technology and biotechnology sectors. There will be a pre-dinner speech by Lord Kitchin. More information can be found here.

“Intellectual Property Magazine is recruiting a Reporter in its Business Intelligence division,” he adds. Some of their writers left. We’ve noticed. In fact, staff turnover in these think tanks (disguised as “news”) seems very high. Many quit and just vanish without notice. Same in MIP and IAM. The patent maximalists in general experience calamity these days.

“One has to wonder if they even care about science at all. They don’t.”Just over an hour ago IP Kat (Cecilia Sbrolli) wrote some more fluff about “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a vague marketing term that the EPO likes to use when it talks about software patents (knowing it cannot use the term “software patents”). To quote the introduction: “A few weeks ago this Kat was pleased to participate in the event “Institutions And Regulation For The Fourth Industrial Revolution” jointly organised by the Liège Innovation and Innovation Institute (LCII), Hoover IP2 (Stanford University), and the Center for Intellectual Property of the University of Gothenburg.”

Yeah, so-called ‘Intellectual Property’ [sic]. One has to wonder if they even care about science at all. They don’t.

Links 18/6/2019: CentOS 8 Coming Soon, DragonFly BSD 5.6 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Slimbook’s New All-in-One Linux PC Looks a Little Bit Familiar…

      Spanish Linux computer company Slimbook has unveiled its brand new all-in-one “Apollo” Linux PC — and it looks… Well, it looks familiar.

      The Apollo AIO swaps the curved screen of its immediate predecessor for a 23.6-inch IPS LED display running at a decent 1920×1080 resolution. The screen is apparently a “crystal coated panel” that improves the appearance of colours.

      Internally, the AIO is configurable according to needs. There’s a choice of Intel i5-8500 and Intel i7-8700 processor, up to 32GB RAM, integrated Intel UHD 630 4K graphics, and a veritable smorgasbord of storage options.

  • Server

    • Why Chefs Collaborate in the Kitchen

      In a large commercial kitchen, for example hotels or cafeterias, chefs collaborate to create the recipes and meals. Sure, there is more than enough work for one person, and tasks are divided into chopping, mixing, cleaning, garnishing; but the recipe is collaboratively created.

      Suppose one chef broke away and created his or her own recipe? How would the kitchen maintain standards, tastes and reputation? Developing software using open source principles follows a similar theory.


      Red Hat is the second largest corporate contributor to the Linux kernel. This means Red Hat engineers and support staff are well versed and able to resolve customer issues involving the Linux kernel. Every application container includes part of the Linux distribution and relies on the Linux kernel, which is the center of the Linux Operating System.

    • CentOS 8 Status 17-June-2019

      Since the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (on 07-May) we’ve been looking into the tools that we use to build CentOS Linux. We’ve chosen to use the Koji buildsystem for RPMs, paired with the Module Build Service for modules, delivered through a distribution called Mbox.

      Mbox allows us to run the Koji Hub (the central job orchestrator), and the Module Build Service in an instance of OKD that we maintain specifically for our buildsystem work. We have 2 instances of mbox; one for the primary architectures (x86_64, ppc64le, and aarch64), and one for the secondary architecture (armhfp). OKD lets us run those instances on the same hardware but in separate namespaces. The builder machines are separate from the OKD cluster, and connect back to the individual buildsystems that they’re assigned to.

    • CentOS 8.0 Is Looking Like It’s Still Some Weeks Out

      For those eager to see CentOS 8.0 as the community open-source rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, progress is being made but it looks like the release is still some weeks out.

      There’s been the Wiki page detailing the state of affairs for CentOS 8.0. New today is a blog post summing up the current status. Progress is being made both on building the traditional RHEL8 RPM packages as well as the newer modules/streams. Koji is being used to build the RPMs while the Module Build Service with Mbox is handling the modules.

    • NVIDIA Brings CUDA to Arm, Enabling New Path to Exascale Supercomputing

      International Supercomputing Conference — NVIDIA today announced its support for Arm CPUs, providing the high performance computing industry a new path to build extremely energy-efficient, AI-enabled exascale supercomputers.

    • NVIDIA Delivering CUDA To Linux On Arm For HPC/Servers

      NVIDIA announced this morning for ISC 2019 that they are bringing CUDA to Arm beyond their work already for supporting GPU computing with lower-power Tegra SoCs.

    • Nvidia pushes ARM supercomputing

      Graphics chip maker Nvidia is best known for consumer computing, vying with AMD’s Radeon line for framerates and eye candy. But the venerable giant hasn’t ignored the rise of GPU-powered applications that have little or nothing to do with gaming. In the early 2000s, UNC researcher Mark Harris began work popularizing the term “GPGPU,” referencing the use of Graphics Processing Units for non-graphics-related tasks. But most of us didn’t really become aware of the non-graphics-related possibilities until GPU-powered bitcoin-mining code was released in 2010, and shortly thereafter, strange boxes packed nearly solid with high-end gaming cards started popping up everywhere.

    • At ISC: DDN Launches EXA5 for AI, Big Data, HPC Workloads
    • IBM Makes Takes Another Big Step To Hybrid Computing

      Today, IBM announced the ability to leverage its unique turnkey operating environment, IBM i, and its AIX UNIX operating systems on IBM Cloud. Both OSs debuted in the 1980s and have a long history with many IBM customers. In addition, IBM i remains one of the most automated, fully integrated, and low-maintenance operating environments. Extending both OSs to IBM Cloud will allow customers to expand their resources on-demand, to migrate to the cloud, to leverage the latest Power9 servers, and to leverage IBM’s extensive resources. IBM is rolling out the service first in North America for customers using IBM i or AIX on Power servers. In conjunction with the extension of the hybrid cloud platform, IBM also announced a program to validate business partners with Power Systems expertise.

    • Red Hat welcomes Oracle to the oVirt community

      On behalf of the oVirt community, its contributors and Red Hat, we welcome Oracle to the oVirt community. oVirt is the open source component that enables management of the Linux Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM), the hypervisor for virtualized environments running on the Linux kernel.

      At Red Hat, we believe that upstream collaboration drives innovation, even among competitors. To this end, Red Hat has a 10+ year tenure of thought leadership, contributions and collaboration in the oVirt and KVM communities. Our development and release processes are designed to ensure that Red Hat contributions to these communities are pushed upstream so the benefits gained from our efforts are available to the community at large and available for any and all to draw from.

    • IBM-Powered Supercomputers Lead Semi-Annual Rankings
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.11

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.11 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.1.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.1.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:


    • Linux 4.19.52
    • Linux 4.14.127
    • Linux 4.9.182
    • Linux 4.4.182
    • AMD Posts 459 Linux Kernel Patches Providing Navi Support – 412k+ Lines Of Code

      As we’ve been expecting, AMD’s open-source developers today posted their set of patches enabling Navi (10) support within their AMDGPU DRM kernel driver. Bringing up the Navi support in kernel-space are 459 patches amounting to more than four-hundred thousand lines of code, not counting the work done to LLVM as part of their shader compiler back-end or the yet-to-be-published OpenGL/Vulkan driver patches.

      This big code addition is necessary given all the changes to Navi10/RDNA but, yes, a lot of the changes are automated register headers. This initial open-source Navi GPU support includes the core driver enablement, display support using their new DCN2 “Display Core Next 2″, GFX10 graphics and compute, SDMA5 system DMA, VCN2 “Video Core Next 2″ multimedia encode/decode, and power management.

    • Linux Plumbers Conference: Toolchains Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Toolchains Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! The Linux kernel may
      be one of the most powerful systems around, but it takes a powerful toolchain to make that happen. The kernel takes advantage of any feature
      that the toolchains provide, and collaboration between the kernel and toolchain developers will make that much more seamless.

    • A beginner’s guide to Linux permissions

      One of the main benefits of Linux systems is that they are known to be less prone to security vulnerabilities and exploits than other systems. Linux definitely gives users more flexibility and granular controls over its file systems’ security permissions. This may imply that it’s critical for Linux users to understand security permissions. That isn’t necessarily true, but it’s still wise for beginning users to understand the basics of Linux permissions.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Samuel Iglesias: My last VK-GL-CTS contributions

        Even if you are not a gamer, odds are that you already heard about Vulkan graphics and compute API that provides high-efficency, cross-platform access to modern GPUs. This API is designed by the Khronos Group and it is supported by a new set of drivers specifically designed to implement the different functions and features defined by the spec (at the time of writing this post, it is version 1.1).

      • Radeon Software for Linux 19.20 Brings RHEL 8.0 Support

        Quietly released last week was Radeon Software for Linux 19.20, the latest quarterly update to AMD’s packaged Linux driver that consists of their AMDGPU-PRO binary driver option as well as the AMDGPU-Open packaged components using a snapshot of Mesa.

        Radeon Software for Linux 19.20 only has a sole change listed: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 support and any other binary compatible downstream like the yet-to-be-released CentOS 8.0. That’s it in terms of the official changes but should be also pulling in a newer snapshot of Mesa and their binary OpenGL/Vulkan drivers, newer DRM kernel driver code, etc.

  • Applications

    • How to use MapTool to build an interactive dungeon RPG

      In my previous article on MapTool, I explained how to download, install, and configure your own private, open source virtual tabletop so you and your friends can play a role-playing game (RPG) together. MapTool is a complex application with lots of features, and this article demonstrates how a game master (GM) can make the most of it.

    • Stratos: A rich web based UI for managing and monitoring multi-cloud PaaS

      Stratos allows administrators and developers to monitor and manage SUSE Cloud Application Platform and the applications deployed to it. It supports management of multiple deployments of SUSE Cloud Application Platform and Cloud Foundry across different private and public cloud providers. It includes Prometheus for monitoring of both Cloud Foundry applications and the underlying Kubernetes environment on which SUSE Cloud Application Platform is deployed. Neil showcased the extensions to Stratos that take it beyond just a UI for Cloud Foundry to allow it to present metrics and data from Kubernetes.

    • Use Xournal++ to Take Handwritten Notes or Annotate PDFs on Linux

      Xournal++ (which goes by the package name xournalpp) is a free, open-source and fully featured note taking tool for Windows, macOS and Linux desktops.

      The app makes it easy to create new handwritten notes, draw diagrams and doodles, and sketch out thoughts. A variety of different paper types are available, including regular lined, squared/graph, and blank.

      As Xournal++ is designed for note-taking and sketching it’s best used with a graphics tablet or stylus, but you can use a regular keyboard and mouse too.

      Keen to learn more?

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Project Zero Deaths, a new free to play online platform shooter has Linux support

        A free game to start the day with, as the multiplayer platform shooter Project Zero Deaths recently entered Early Access and it includes Linux support.

      • The peaceful building RPG ‘Littlewood’ is now available in Early Access with Linux same-day support

        Littlewood from developer Sean Young arrived on Steam in Early Access today and it looks like a very promising and peaceful RPG. Funded thanks to the help of nearly four thousand people on Kickstarter, Littlewood is set after the world has been saved and you’re the hero tasked with rebuilding a town.

      • Ravenfield, the fun single-player FPS now has a built-in map editor and destructible object support

        The amount of content being added into Ravenfield is quite impressive and now anyone can easily make their own maps for it, without the need of Unity.

        Early Access Build 16 went live recently, with a custom-made map editor that works on Linux and it’s surprisingly easy to use. You no longer need the Ravenfield mod tools for Unity, making it far more accessible. It comes with all of the official Ravenfield props, meaning you can place down all sorts of things. When ready, it also has Steam Workshop support built in for you to publish it.

      • Science Fiction point-and-click Encodya has a demo released, will go to Kickstarter

        The background story of the upcoming science fiction point and click game Encodya is the Kickstarter campaign for the animation short movie Robot Will Protect You. Getting over 23.000€ from an initial target of 8.750€, it reached several stretch goals, the last one being “We’ll start developing a game!”. And so they did…

        The game, named “ENCODYA”, grabbed my attention in a Facebook group about point and click adventures. Drawn by the art, I asked if a Linux version would be possible. Indeed it was, and I was asked if I could test it. As it’s using Unity, I expected it to a) fail on trying to play a video, b) show graphical problems or c) just run like the Windows version. First a) it was. But the author was eager to make the Linux version and a fix was attempted. After struggling with finding the right output options for the studio’s intro video, we found that everything seems to be working just like on Windows. So Hooray for the game engines supporting the OS of our choice!

      • Overcooked! 2 – Night of the Hangry Horde extends one of the best co-op games even further

        Overcooked! 2, an absolutely brilliant game to play in co-op just recently got even bigger with the Night of the Hangry Horde DLC now available. You can either buy it directly or if you have the Season Pass, it’s another that’s included.

        Sounds like quite an amusing DLC, as it comes with a new Horde Mode which actually looks pretty good. More than just a silly name, it introduces some new game mechanics as you try to repel waves of undead ingredients across eight levels. On top of that there’s twelve additional levels, nine new kitchens, and four new chefs to pick from.

      • The Stimulating Simulator Sale at the Humble Store is live, some good Linux games are in

        Here’s a sale to start your week with! The Stimulating Simulator Sale is now live on the Humble Store until June 21st.

        As expected, there’s a rather varied selection as what makes a “Simulator” seems to have a pretty broad definition and some are pushing it a bit.

      • PyGamer open source handheld gaming starter kit $59.95

        Expanding their PyGamer offerings, Adafruit has now made available the PyGamer Starter Kit priced at $59.95 providing everything you need to create your very own fully functional open source pocket handheld games console that can run CircuitPython, MakeCode Arcade or Arduino games you write yourself. Equipped with a 1.8″ 160×128 color TFT display with dimmable backlight, dual-potentiometer analog stick and buttons.

        On the rear of the device Adafruit have also thoughtfully included a full Feather-compatible header socket set, enabling those interested to plug-in any FeatherWing to expand the capabilities of the PyGamer. There are also 3 STEMMA connectors – two 3-pin with ADC/PWM capability and one 4-pin that connects to I2C which can also be used for Grove sensors. Checkout the PyGamer Starter Kit in the video below.

      • Atari VCS Linux-powered gaming console now available for pre-order for $249

        At the E3 Expo, the largest video game trade event in the world, which took place recently in Los Angeles, US, Atari made a big announcement concerning advances of the Atari VCS. For those new to Atari VCS, it is a home gaming and entertainment system.

        Gamers can enjoy Atari’s world of all-new and classic games, including Atari games, streaming multimedia and personal apps; or can easily make their own.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Konsole and Wayland

        Wayland needs a different mindset when you are programming, you cannot just assume things works the same way as in as X11. One of my first patches to konsole was the rewrite of the Tab Bar, and a different way to deal with Drag & Drop of the tabs. In my mind – and how wrong I was – I could assume that I was dragging to a konsole main window by querying the widget below the mouse. Nope, this will not work. As Wayland has security by default, it will not give you anything global. What if I was a spy app trying to record another one to send to NSA? Security in Wayland is much stricter, and because of that I had to redo my drag & drop patch.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Stable Release is out now and Check what’s new

        OpenMandriva team proudly announced the new release of OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 on 16 June, 2019.

        It is identical to OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, which was released a month ago (12th May, 2019). It’s Code name is Nitrogen.

        OpenMandriva Lx is a Linux distribution forked from Mandriva Linux. OpenMandriva Lx is a cutting edge, desktop-oriented Linux distribution, which is featuring with KDE Plasma as the default desktop environment.

      • PCLinuxOS 2019.06 latest Stable Release is ready for Download

        PCLinuxOS team proudly announced the new release of PCLinuxOS 2019.06 on 16 June, 2019.

        It’s a free and beginner-friendly, desktop-oriented Linux distribution featuring with latest KDE Plasma 5.16 and MATE 1.22.1.

    • Fedora

      • Why it’s useful to use a deskop on ppc64le

        I want provide a short example what I’ve met in the past weeks when dog-fooding a ppc64le Fedora desktop environment on my OpenPOWER based Talos II. We have experienced segfaults coming from a smashed stack in some desktop components, although no one using the mainstream arches noticed them. The toolchain guys will be able to explain why eg. x86_64 is immune (or just lucky), but the problems were real issues in the projects’ source code. The common denominator was an incorrect callback signature for GTK+ based apps, the callbacks expected different parameters than were passed by their callers. And this kind of inconsistency can’t be found during compile time. IMHO it opens possibilities for some static analysis before producing the binaries by looking at the signal definitions in GTK+ and what functions/callbacks are then attached to them in the projects. Or for some AI that will analyze the crashes and look for the common pattern and recommend a solution. And what’s the conclusion – as usually, heterogenity helps to improve quality :-)

      • Stories from the amazing world of release-monitoring.org #6

        In the dungeons bellow the-new-hotness island was impenetrable darkness. It looks like somebody tried to destroy every source of light. Only my own levitating fireball was shedding some light around. Damage was still visible on walls and furniture, but most of it is now repaired to function properly. I’m glad that you are here with me, otherwise it will be a scary experience. But you probably want to hear what happened.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • DJI spices up Matrice drones with 2nd Gen Manifold computer running Ubuntu with snaps

            Canonical announced Ubuntu snaps support for DJI’s second-gen Manifold companion computer for its Matrice drones. The Manifold 2 offers a choice of Jetson TX2 or Intel Coffee Lake-U chips.

            DJI’s industry leading drones such as its Phantom and Matrice models are directed by flight controllers that run a proprietary operating system. Yet, in 2015, the company announced a Manifold development computer for its Matrice 100 drone that runs Ubuntu on an Nvidia Tegra K1. A few weeks ago, DJI unveiled a more powerful Manifold 2 computer with a choice of Nvidia Jetson TX2 and Intel Core i7-8550U processors (see farther below). Canonical has followed up by announcing that not only will Ubuntu 16.04 return as the pre-installed OS for the device, but that it will include support for Ubuntu snaps application packages.

          • The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 583
          • Debian’s Apt 1.9 Moves To Experimental, Coming To Ubuntu 19.10

            Debian’s Apt packaging system was tagged today as 1.9.0 experimental and is already in the process of being added to Ubuntu 19.10. Apt 1.9 is working towards the eventual Apt 2.0 release.

            The Apt 1.9 packaging system is a big update that does include API/ABI breakage, including necessary changes to the Python and Perl interfaces. Apt 1.9 is working towards an eventual Apt 2.0 release, but for now Apt 1.9 is what’s being targeted by Ubuntu 19.10 and will be available via Debian experimental.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Cloudflare’s new open-source project helps anyone obtain truly random numbers

    Randomness sits at the heart of everything we do online

  • Algorand, a Proof-of-Stake Blockchain Company, Goes Open Source

    Algorand, a permission-less, proof-of-stake blockchain and technology company, announced that their node repository is now open source.

    Part of Algorand’s ongoing mission to develop and promote a decentralized blockchain, the company has made several of its projects open source over the past year, including a Verifiable Random Function and their Developer SDKs.

  • Embracing open source could be a big competitive advantage for businesses

    As companies chase the transformational technologies that will deliver exponential returns, they should turn their attention from the “what” to the “how.” One type of software underpins many of the most exciting, cutting-edge innovations today, including AI, cloud, blockchain, and quantum computing: open source.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFly BSD 5.6

      DragonFly version 5.6 brings an improved virtual memory system, updates to radeon and ttm, and performance improvements for HAMMER2.

      The details of all commits between the 5.4 and 5.6 branches are available in the associated commit messages for 5.6.0rc1 and 5.6.0.

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.6 Released With VM System, HAMMER2 In Good Shape

      DragonFlyBSD 5.6 is now available as the latest major update to this popular BSD operating system.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.6 brings the HAMMER2 file-system by default following numerous improvements this cycle to HAMMER2 to put it now in comparable/better standing than HAMMER1. HAMMER1 though remains available for those interested. I’ll have out some new HAMMER2 DragonFlyBSD benchmarks shortly.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • You Wouldn’t Download A Nuclear Reactor, But Could You?

        Scratching an exceptionally surprising entry off that list is Transatomic, who late last year uploaded the design for their TAP-520 nuclear reactor to GitHub. That’s right, now anyone with git, some uranium, and a few billion dollars of seed money can have their very own Molten Salt Reactor (MSR). Well, that was the idea at least.

        So six months after Transatomic dumped a little under 100 MB worth of reactor documentation on GitHub, is the world any closer to forkable nuclear power?

  • Programming/Development

    • Zato 3.1 Released – Open-Source Python-based API Integrations and Backend Application Server

      The newest version of Zato, the open-source Python-based enterprise API integrations platform and backend application server, is out with a lot of interesting features, changes and additions.

    • Extending Wing with Python (Part Two)

      To debug extension scripts written for Wing, you will need to set up a new project that is configured so that Wing can debug itself. The manual steps for doing this are documented in Debugging Extension Scripts. However, let’s use an extension script to do this automatically.

    • Robbie Harwood: Receiving Code Review

      From a maintainer’s perspective, that’s the primary role of code review: to ensure project quality and continued maintainability. But there’s an important secondary purpose as well: to help contributors (and potential contributors) learn and grow. In other words, receiving code review is a learning and growth opportunity, and should be approached as such.

      And so, first and foremost: code review is not a judgement on you. It’s a second set of eyes, and both of you are trying to make sure the changes are good. If they didn’t want the change in the project, they’d say so! Subtlety isn’t what’s happening here. And besides, if anyone were perfect, we would do code review.

      Which leads into: everyone needs code review. No change is too small for it, and no one is perfect. I’ve broken builds by changing only documentation, and flagged potential security issues from developers who have been coding almost as long as I’ve been alive. (And they’ve done the same to me!) That’s normal. That’s life. That’s code review.

      And it’s fine, because we don’t need it to be perfect on the first try. Contributing to open source isn’t a school exam where we get a single attempt and it’s most of the grade. We’re concerned only with improving our software, and if there’s grading at all, it’s externally imposed (e.g., by an employer).

    • Best Free Books to Learn about CoffeeScript

      CoffeeScript is a very succinct programming language that transcompiles into JavaScript, so there is no interpretation at runtime. The syntax is inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell, and implements many features from these three languages.

      CoffeeScript is closely related to JavaScript without having its eccentricities. However, CoffeeScript offers more than fixing many of the oddities of JavaScript, as it has some useful features including array comprehensions, prototype aliases and classes. It allows developers to write less code to get more done.

    • 10 PRINT Memorial in New Hampshire marks the birthplace of BASIC

      After just over 55 years, the birthplace of BASIC has been honoured with a memorial marker in New Hampshire, USA.

      Thanks to a campaign by local paper columnist David Brooks, the New Hampshire Historical Highway Marker was installed earlier this month.

      Professor John Kemeny, Maths professor Thomas Kurtz, and a group undergraduate students at Dartmouth College (pics) created BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). The first program ran on 1 May 1964.

    • Qt 5.12.4 Released with support for OpenSSL 1.1.1

      The update to OpenSSL 1.1.1 is important to note for users leveraging OpenSSL in their applications. We wanted to update now as the earlier version of OpenSSL runs out of support at the end of the year and some platforms, such as Android, need the new one even sooner. Unfortunately OpenSSL 1.1 is binary incompatible with 1.0, so users need to switch to the new one and repackage their applications. One important functionality enabled by OpenSSL 1.1 is TLS 1.3 bringing significant cryptography and speed improvements. As part of the change, some old and insecure crypto algorithms have been removed and support for some new crypto algorithms added. For the users not leveraging OpenSSL in their applications, no actions are needed. OpenSSL is not included in a Qt application, unless explicitly so defined by the developer.

      Going forward, Qt 5.12 LTS will receive many more patch releases throughout the coming years and we recommend all active developed projects to migrate to Qt 5.12 LTS. Qt 5.9 LTS is currently in ‘Strict’ phase and receives only the selected important bug and security fixes, while Qt 5.12 LTS is currently receiving all the bug fixes. Qt 5.6 Support has ended in March 2019, so all active projects still using Qt 5.6 LTS should migrate to a later version of Qt.

    • Qt 5.12.4 Released with support for OpenSSL 1.1.1

      Qt developers have announced the new release of Qt 5.12.4 on 17th June, 2019.

      Qt 5.12.4, the fourth patch release of Qt 5.12 LTS.

      It provides a number of bug fixes, as well as performance and other improvements.

      Also, it provides binaries build with OpenSSL 1.1.1, including the new TLS 1.3 functionality.

      Qt 5.12.4 provides around 250 bug fixes compared with the previous release of Qt 5.12.3.

      OpenSSL 1.1.1 has beenn updated since the older version of OpenSSL runs out of support at the end of the year.

      And some platforms requires OpenSSL 1.1.1 sooner like Android, etc.,

    • Building Apache Kafka Streams applications using Red Hat AMQ Streams: Part 2

      The Apache Kafka project includes a Streams Domain-Specific Language (DSL) built on top of the lower-level Stream Processor API. This DSL provides developers with simple abstractions for performing data processing operations. However, how one builds a stream processing pipeline in a containerized environment with Kafka isn’t clear. This second article in a two-part series uses the basics from the previous article to build an example application using Red Hat AMQ Streams.

      Now let’s create a multi-stage pipeline operating on real-world data and consume and visualize the data.

    • Clang “Interface Stubs” Merged For Offering Interface Libraries To ELF Shared Objects

      In addition to Clang-Scan-Deps being merged a few days ago, another new feature for LLVM’s Clang is called the Clang Interface Stubs and brings a concept from Windows/macOS over to Linux/ELF systems.

      Clang Interface Stubs allows generating stub files/libraries containing the mininal information needed to build against that library. The Clang Interface Stubs can be used for limiting access to a library’s internal systems or breaking up build dependencies thanks to the minimal approach.

    • Five Tech Companies Discuss Golang Advantages

      Since it first appeared at Google in 2009, thousands of developers (and entire businesses) have adopted the open-source coding language Go for key software-based products and services. Designed to mimic core features of C, Go’s authors sought to maximize brevity and simplicity. Today, the language’s clarity and lack of ambiguity around its syntax makes it a favorite with developers.

      We spoke with technologists at five tech companies about what they’ve built in Go, and why they chose it for those particular tools and services.


  • Hardware

    • US chip firms seeking to ease ban on Huawei: report

      American processor companies are lobbying the government to ease the ban on supplying components to Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, a report claims.

    • U.S. chipmakers quietly lobby to ease Huawei ban: sources

      Executives from top U.S. chipmakers Intel and Xilinx Inc attended a meeting in late May with the Commerce Department to discuss a response to Huawei’s placement on the black list, one person said.

      The ban bars U.S. suppliers from selling to Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company, without special approval, because of what the government said were national security issues.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘The Story of Water’: New Video From Story of Stuff Team Delivers Short, Beautiful Smackdown of Water Privatization

      Water is a public good and belongs in public hands.

      That’s the message from a new video, The Story of Water: Who Controls the Way We Drink?, which highlights how profit-driven corporate entities leave a trail of broken promises—as well as higher costs and exacerbated inequality—when they snatch up public water systems.

      “It doesn’t have to be this way,” says the video, which was produced by The Story of Stuff Project in partnership with Corporate Accountability.

      Success stories from Philadelphia, South Bend, Indiana, and Baltimore show how municipalities can utilize different strategies to dodge privatization.

    • Interview With Oakley Shelton-Thomas On The ‘Fracking Endgame’ In The United States

      Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola interview Oakley Shelton-Thomas, researcher for Food and Water Watch. He was a lead author of the organization’s recent report, “Fracking Endgame: Locked Into Plastics, Pollution, and Climate Chaos.”

      The report describes how fossil fuel companies are building a “wave of new gas-fired power plants” and relying on the proliferation of plastics plants to prop up business. Industry is propping up the fracking industry.

      “Our latest research shows that their endgame is a world locked into plastics, pollution and climate chaos. In addition to the buildout of a growing pipeline network, we’ve discovered that more than 700 new facilities have been built or proposed to capitalize off a glut of cheap fracked gas,” according to the report.

      Shelton-Thomas said, “There are 364 new gas-powered plants in some point of planning and construction, and that’s underway right now. And that’s in addition 333 petrochemical facilities that are also going to become an outlet for this expansion.”

      There are around 50 liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in development too.

    • Because ‘This Is a Public Health Crisis,’ Pennsylvania Gov. Urged to Investigate Link Between Fracking and Childhood Cancers

      More than 100 environmental groups and over 800 concerned citizens sent a letter on Monday urging Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to investigate the link between fracking and growing cancer diagnoses, citing recent reports of rare forms of childhood cancer emerging in counties located near fossil fuel development projects.

      The letter (pdf), which calls on Wolf to suspend drilling permits until a thorough investigation is conducted, comes after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette documented nearly 70 cases of childhood and young adult cancer diagnoses in rural Pennsylvania counties.

      “This is a public health crisis that requires immediate and significant action,” reads the letter, which was signed by local and national environmental leaders, including 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Concerned Health Professionals of New York co-founder Dr. Sandra Steingraber.

      “Obviously, this high number of cancer cases among children in four counties in southwest Pennsylvania over the last eleven years is not only heartbreaking but extremely unusual,” the letter states. “Scientific evidence about the harmful toxic chemicals used in gas drilling and fracking activities strongly suggest a connection. Many of the chemicals used in these activities are known carcinogens.”

    • Skyrocketing Drug Prices Have Americans Taking Desperate Measures

      With the rising cost of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs, Americans are scrambling for ways to cover lifesaving care. Injuries and illness, whether due to freak accidents or as chronic issues, often come “at a staggeringly high financial cost,” writes Jeffrey Young in HuffPost.

      Sometimes this means Americans resort to crowdfunding their medical care. As Young explains, “more than 50 million donors contributed more than $5 billion to GoFundMe campaigns between 2010 and 2017.” For the 7.5 million Americans with diabetes who rely on insulin to survive, it might mean international travel. As Emily Rauhala reports in The Washington Post, Americans who can’t afford insulin here are making trips to Canada.

      “It felt like we were robbing the pharmacy,” said Quinn Nystrom, a Type-1 diabetic who joined a caravan driving from Minnesota to Fort Frances, Ontario. There, she paid $1,200 for a supply of insulin that would have cost $12,000 at home.

      The price of insulin has risen considerably from when Nystrom was diagnosed with diabetes as a child in the late 1990s. She told the Post that “her family paid about $15 to $20 a vial. Now, at 33, she sometimes pays more than $300 for the same amount.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Secret tripartite summit in Jerusalem

      A summit of the national security advisors from the USA, Israël and Russia has been announced in Jerusalem. The aim of this conference is to untangle the imbroglio around the Axis of Resistance, guarantee the security of all the States in the Middle East, and establish a shared suzerainty of the United States and Russia over all the actors, including Israël.

    • Where Are the Skeptics as the Drums Roll for War with Iran?

      Vijay Prashad challenges the media reality that Iran attacked the oil tankers, calling for a real investigation to uncover the truth

    • Trump Calls Newspaper Report on Russia Power Grid ‘Treason’

      President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

      The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

      The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

    • U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage That Is Deadly, Illegal, and Ineffective

      While the mystery of who is responsible for sabotaging the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman remains unsolved, it is clear that the Trump administration has been sabotaging Iranian oil shipments since May 2, when it announced its intention to “bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.” The move was aimed at China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all nations that purchase Iranian oil and now face U.S. threats if they continue to do so. The U.S. military might not have physically blown up tankers carrying Iranian crude, but its actions have the same effect and should be considered acts of economic terrorists.

      The Trump administration is also committing a massive oil heist by seizing $7 billion in Venezuela’s oil assets–keeping the Maduro government from getting access to its own money. According to John Bolton, the sanctions on Venezuela will affect $11 billion worth of oil exports in 2019. The Trump administration also threatens shipping companies that carry Venezuelan oil. Two companies–one based in Liberia and the other in Greece–have already been slapped with penalties for shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba. No gaping holes in their ships, but economic sabotage nonetheless.

      Whether in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea or one of the 20 countries under the boot of U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration is using its economic weight to try to exact regime change or major policy changes in countries around the globe.

    • Iran Speeds Up Uranium Enrichment as Mideast Tensions Mount

      Iran will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the U.S. withdrawal lit the fuse for the heightened tensions now between Tehran and Washington.

      The announcement by Iran’s nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

    • The Broader View Reveals the Ugliest of Prospects

      Standing back a little and surveying the events of the last couple of weeks, gives a bleak view of the current state of western democracy.

      We have seen what appears to be the most unconvincing of false flags in the Gulf. I pointed out why it was improbable Iran would attack these particular ships. Since then we have had American military sources pointing to video evidence of a packed small Iranian boat allegedly removing a limpet mine from the ship the Iranians helped to rescue, which was somehow supposed to prove it was the Iranians who planted the alleged device. We also have had the Japanese owner specifically contradict the American account and say that the ship was hit by flying objects.

      The Iranians certainly have a strange method of bomb disposal if they carry it out using unarmoured personnel, with as many as possible crammed into a small boat in immediate contact with the “mine”. It is also hard to understand why the alleged “limpet mines” would be four feet above the waterline.


      This blatant interference by a foreign power in the UK’s democracy is an absolute scandal. Compare the lack of media outrage at Pompeo’s intervention with the ludicrous claims made about much less high profile Russian attempts at influence. This incident provides incontrovertible proof that the world does indeed operate in the way that I have been explaining here for a decade. It is not a “conspiracy theory” that democracy is manipulated by hidden powers, it is fact. Pompeo’s description of Corbyn’s route to election as “running the gauntlet” is particularly revealing. Even more so is the cursory coverage this story was given, and I have seen no evidence to date of any MSM “journalist” attempting any follow-up investigation on the methods the US are planning to employ – or more likely already employing – against Corbyn.

      Everybody should be incandescent at this, no matter who they vote for.

      Something else which revealed the truth of the way the political world now operates, and which again did not get nearly the media attention it deserves, was Matt Kennard’s stunning revelation of the way the Guardian has been taken over by the security services. I have been explaining for years that the Guardian has become the security services’ news outlet of choice, and it is very helpful to have documentation to prove it.

    • Dominoes, Hegemonies and the Future of Humanity

      Hegemonies come in different sizes; small, medium and big; an amusing “pecking order” whose interaction can be observed on the daily news broadcasts. It also comes in different styles; softly spoken but treacherous, generous with economic assistance but containing hidden strings to hang you, belligerent with a viscous warmongering streak and lastly, schizophrenic; oscillating between all the previous styles. There are also the would-be-hegemons if given half a chance.

      More recently, the hegemony arena has, though knock-out matches, been narrowed down to one grand hegemon and a couple of runners-up, and the heat is now rising as the final tournament approaches – Let us hope it will not be too bloody and Armageddon-ish.

      Despite that, many nations continue to dream of becoming hegemons. But at the same time, they continue to concentrate on their ‘white dots’ and disregard the likelihood that they are already in the crosshairs of a bigger hegemon.

      They seem oblivious to the hegemonic ploys that undermine their political and economic structures through unending sanctions, onerous trade or military treaties, contemptuous disregard for local and international laws, negative and false news reporting, regime change tactics, false flag incidences, scaremongering, and outright threats that are occasionally translated into destructive military action. Like the proverbial deer, they are frozen in the headlights of the oncoming speeding car and wait until it is too late to save themselves.

      What happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia, Grenada, Venezuela, Argentine, Brazil, Cuba, Greece, Iran, North Korea and many other places are only the tip of the iceberg. What is likely to happen elsewhere is still being baked in the oven and will come out once done and ready. What is surprising is that, not only were the signs written on all the walls but, again, the victims failed to comprehend the messages and continued to stare at their ‘white dots’!

    • The Defense Department Is Worried About Climate Change — and Also a Huge Carbon Emitter

      cientists and security analysts have warned for more than a decade that global warming is a potential national security concern.

      They project that the consequences of global warming — rising seas, powerful storms, famine and diminished access to fresh water — may make regions of the world politically unstable and prompt mass migration and refugee crises.

      Some worry that wars may follow.

      Yet with few exceptions, the U.S. military’s significant contribution to climate change has received little attention. Although the Defense Department has significantly reduced its fossil fuel consumption since the early 2000s, it remains the world’s single largest consumer of oil — and as a result, one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters.

    • Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best

      The crackpot president of the United States of America has so snarled up the gangplank to truth these past 29 months that no matter how much “evidence” he and his crew produce to prove that the Iranians have been trying to blow up oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – or not quite blow them up – the pictures have a kind of mesmeric quality about them.

      Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration photos were edited to “prove” that there were more supporters on the Washington Mall than actually went there. And now his administration, anxious to prove that the Iranians are attacking oil tankers, releases video footage of Iranians actually removing a limpet mine from the hull of a Japanese vessel.

      Well that proves it then, doesn’t it? Those pesky Iranians can’t even bomb their targets professionally – so they go back later to retrieve a mine because it probably says “Made in Iran” on the explosives.

      Because that would give them away, wouldn’t it? Then it emerges that the tanker crew believe they were attacked with airborne munitions – and mines don’t fly. The crew on another bombed ship suggest a torpedo. And on the basis of this, Washington is now “building a consensus” among its allies for the “decisive” response which Trump’s Saudi chums are demanding against Iran in revenge for these and earlier non-lethal attacks off the Emirates.

      And our own beloved foreign secretary, ever mindful that he needs a majority of the party’s most faithful 120,000 votes to make him the next Tory Ayatollah, is “confident” that those wretched Iranians were behind the mining attacks. Presumably the hojatoleslam – for so Jeremy Hunt must remain unless he becomes the Supreme Leader – also believed the doctored pictures of the crowds welcoming Trump’s presidency on the National Mall in Washington.

    • Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland

      The U.S. Navy has contaminated the groundwater at Maryland’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS) with 1,137.8 parts per trillion (ppt) of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to a report published last July by the engineering firm CH2M Hill. PFAS have been associated with a variety of cancers and are known to jeopardize human reproductive health. The contamination was not reported on the Defense Department’s March 2018 report on PFAS.

      There are no restrictions currently on military or industrial PFAS discharges under either the federal Clean Water Act or the federal Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a non-binding, non-regulatory advisory to states and municipalities of 70 ppt in drinking water. Neither the military nor chemical companies are currently required to report releases of PFAS through the federal Toxic Release Inventory. Some states, such as nearby New Jersey, have moved to fill the vacuum left by the EPA. However, Maryland does not regulate the carcinogens, and the Navy’s discharge of PFAS into Maryland’s groundwater is 87 times higher than what New Jersey allows.

      According to the CH2M Hill report, aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) containing PFAS has been extensively used in hangars and at multiple locations on the base in fire-training exercises. Much of the contamination is associated with Site 41, an old firefighting burn pad, as well as Site 34, a drum disposal area. Site 34 is located a quarter-mile from Rt. 235 near the southwest corner of the base. The area adjacent to the base is populated with many homes served by groundwater wells.

      The evaluation of the sites on base that have been identified as having known or suspected releases of PFAS was limited to “existing environmental restoration sites,” according to the CH2M Hill report. These areas were found “to have no complete exposure pathway to a potential drinking water source, hence no off-base drinking water sampling was initiated.”

    • Proposal to ‘Pave Paradise’ in Galapagos Islands for US Military Airstrip Met With Criticism in Ecuador and Beyond

      The Galapagos Islands archipelago in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire world, home to a number of species found nowhere else on the planet, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

      So, naturally, the U.S. military wants to use one of its islands as an airstrip.

      Ecuadorian defense minister Oswaldo Jarrín announced President Lenín Moreno’s administration’s decision to allow the Pentagon to expand an existing airfield on San Cristobal Island for U.S. spy planes targeting drug traffickers in comments to Telesur on June 12. The airport is at the southwest end of the island in the city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

      According to The Independent, “a U.S. air force Boeing 707 plane carrying radar surveillance and a Lockheed P-3 Orion plane will patrol the Pacific Ocean, using the Galapagos as a launching off point.”

      The Ecuadorian National Assembly isn’t sold on the proposal. In a vote on June 13, El Universo reported, 106 of the assembly’s 137 members cleared the way for calling on Jarrín and environmental minister Marcelo Mata to appear before the chamber’s Commission of Sovereignty and International Relations.

      Carlos Viteri, an assembly member from the southern region of Sarayacu, Pastaza, and a member of the Revolución Ciudadana party, said that allowing the U.S. to operate off of the airstrip was “vassalage.”

    • Ousted President Morsi Dies in Court During Trial

      Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who rose to office in the country’s first free elections in 2012 and was ousted a year later by the military, collapsed in court during a trial and died Monday, state TV and his family said.

      The 67-year-old Morsi had just addressed the court, speaking from the glass cage he is kept in during sessions and warning that he had “many secrets” he could reveal, a judicial official said. A few minutes afterward, he collapsed in the cage, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

    • How the Upheaval in Khartoum Affects One of Sudan’s Longest-Running Crises

      Blue Nile has been at war with Khartoum for decades. Hopes for a more peaceful future rest on the TMC being willing to negotiate on rebel demands for greater autonomy, and on the rebel leaders themselves resolving internal divisions.

      Delay will worsen an already deep humanitarian crisis in this remote southeastern corner of the country, where years of fighting has displaced more than 200,000 people and forced half a million into neighbouring countries, according to a March report by the rebels’ humanitarian wing, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency.

      Awadallah Yacob, in the village of South Ulu in Blue Nile’s Bau County, is one of those in need. Squatting on a wooden stool in his yard he takes an aggressive bite out of a soggy baobab leaf. Sometimes it’s all he eats for days. “The situation is getting worse and no one’s coming to help us,” said the 30-year-old.

    • ‘Barreling Towards Another Catastrophic War,’ Trump Orders 1,000 More Troops to Middle East to Threaten Iran

      The Trump administration has claimed—on the basis of scarce evidence—that Iran carried out last week’s tanker attacks, but Japan and European nations have expressed deep skepticism and called for a thorough investigation. Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks.

      While acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan insisted in a statement that the 1,000 additional troops are being deployed for “defensive” purposes, anti-war critics and members of Congress raised alarm that the Trump administration is rapidly moving closer to an all-out military conflict with Iran.

      “Rather than pursuing diplomatic off ramps to avert conflict with Iran, the Trump administration is in the left lane pushing the pedal to the floor, barreling towards another catastrophic war of choice,” Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, said in a statement.

      “War with Iran would be a historic disaster, imperiling countless U.S. and Iranian lives and further destabilizing the region,” said Rainwater. “We cannot allow the administration to play politics with our foreign policy at the expense of national security.”

      Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, declared in response to the troop deployment, “This is the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran.”

      The Pentagon’s announcement came just hours after Iran said it may ramp up uranium enrichment in an effort to pressure European nations to provide relief from crippling U.S. sanctions and uphold their end of the nuclear accord, which President Donald Trump unilaterally violated last year.

      “None of this would be happening if Trump didn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said of the growing threat of war with Iran. “America’s response should be to return to the table and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. Increasing tensions and threats of war serve nobody’s interests.”

    • Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame

      On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed Iran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a version of events quickly challenged by Iran and the owner of the tanker. These accusations are reminiscent of similar charges lobbed at the Iranian regime in May, with some in the press naturally drawing parallels to the propaganda surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which in 1964 facilitated the disastrous American involvement in Vietnam.

      Alarmingly, Pompeo clarified he considers the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) valid for initiating war without congressional approval.

      Thursday’s potentially volatile situation follows months of belligerent war-mongering, reneging on international agreements, and enforcement of crippling sanctions against countries resisting American corporate interests and military expansionism, including Iran, Russia, Yemen, China and Venezuela, among other countries, as well as a long list of onslaughts on the global environment and civil liberties in the United States.

    • Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China

      The recent White House decision to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf has led many in Washington and elsewhere to assume that the U.S. is gearing up for war with Iran.

      As in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials have cited suspect intelligence data to justify elaborate war preparations. On May 13th, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan even presented top White House officials with plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible future combat with Iran and its proxies. Later reports indicated that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more soldiers than that.

      Hawks in the White House, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, see a war aimed at eliminating Iran’s clerical leadership as a potentially big win for Washington. Many top officials in the U.S. military, however, see the matter quite differently — as potentially a giant step backward into exactly the kind of low-tech ground war they’ve been unsuccessfully enmeshed in across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa for years and would prefer to leave behind.

      Make no mistake: if President Trump ordered the U.S. military to attack Iran, it would do so and, were that to happen, there can be little doubt about the ultimate negative outcome for Iran. Its moth-eaten military machine is simply no match for the American one. Almost 18 years after Washington’s war on terror was launched, however, there can be little doubt that any U.S. assault on Iran would also stir up yet more chaos across the region, displace more people, create more refugees, and leave behind more dead civilians, more ruined cities and infrastructure, and more angry souls ready to join the next terror group to pop up.

      It would surely lead to another quagmire set of ongoing conflicts for American soldiers. Think: Iraq and Afghanistan, exactly the type of no-win scenarios that many top Pentagon officials now seek to flee.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • John Pilger: Extradition Process a ‘Very Long Uphill Road’ for Assange

      Britain’s Home Secretary signed off on the U.S. request to extradite Julian Assange, and now UK courts will decide his fate.

    • Sources: US to question Assange pal jailed in Ecuador

      U.S. investigators have received permission from Ecuador to question a Swedish programmer close to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has been held in jail for more than two months on suspicion of hacking, The Associated Press has learned.

      The interview with Ola Bini is set for June 27, according to an Ecuadorian prosecutor’s order provided to AP by someone closely following the case.

      Spokespeople at the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment, but a person familiar with the case in the United States confirmed that U.S. authorities want to hear from Bini, who was arrested the same day that Ecuador evicted Assange from its embassy in London. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss an investigation that is in progress.

    • Assange judge refuses to step down, despite evidence of intelligence and defence links

      Accusations of a conflict of interest have emerged regarding the judge presiding over the pre-extradition hearings of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    • First Five: New Assange charges raise two First Amendment alarms

      Two First Amendment alarms are sounding in the wake of new federal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but only one is being heard by most of us — for now.

      Initially, federal prosecutors charged Assange with just one crime: conspiring in 2010 with former Army Private Chelsea Manning to hack a government computer password, which allowed Manning access to a trove of classified information that she turned over to WikiLeaks.

      For weeks, free press advocates worried that the Department of Justice would go beyond prosecuting Assange for computer hacking and expand the charges into journalists’ territory —publishing classified information.

      These fears were not unfounded. On May 23, the unsealing of an 18-count indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act, accusing Assange of working directly with Manning to obtain secret government documents, set off Alarm #1 for most journalists. The new charges implicate the work of journalists, which often involves talking with sources and at times possessing and publishing secret documents.

    • Germany: Protest vigil in Dusseldorf demands release of Julian Assange

      On Wednesday last week, the “ Free Assange Committee Germany ” organized a protest vigil in front of the consulates of Britain and the United States in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Düsseldorf to demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of Julian Assange.
      The US has now officially requested the extradition of the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks from the UK. Assange is being held in the Belmarsh maximum security prison for almost a year for breaching his bail conditions. The British government has already agreed to the extradition.

    • Two protesters arrested at Melbourne rally in defence of Assange

      Two protesters were violently arrested at a Melbourne rally in defence of Julian Assange last Friday, in the latest demonstration of the hostility of the Australian political establishment and state apparatus to any action demanding freedom for the WikiLeaks founder.
      The event was held outside the city’s UK consulate the same day as the first British hearing over a US request for Assange’s extradition. The Trump administration is seeking to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder on an unprecedented 18 charges over WikiLeaks’ role in the exposure of US war crimes and diplomatic conspiracies.
      The peaceful protest in Melbourne, organised by supporters of Assange and WikiLeaks, was attended by around two dozen people. They were met by a large contingent of police, including members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), plain-clothed detectives and uniformed police officers.

    • Freeing Julian Assange: Part Two

      The public has been led to believe that the 2016 election and the resulting Mueller Report is the definitive evidence that WikiLeaks was somehow in cahoots with Russia, reinforcing the premise that they were in a political alliance with, or favoured, Donald Trump and his Presidential election campaign.

      Prominent Russiagate-skeptics have long pointed out the multitude of gaping holes inherent in those theories, including the advocacy group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) who have produced credible forensic work analysing the 2016 WikiLeaks releases, that resoundingly debunks officials claims.

      In the course of researching this article, I stumbled across a major discovery that augments that: the false notion of WikiLeaks being a front for Russian intelligence isn’t new – it has been pushed by media since 2009.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Why Everybody Is So Excited About 23 Salmon

      For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn’t just strong—it’s imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California’s San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.

      For thousands of years, spring-run Chinook were the most abundant salmon in central California. Every year beginning in March, thousands upon thousands of adult fish made their way from the Pacific Ocean into San Francisco Bay, then muscled upstream for nearly 370 miles through the Central Valley’s rich agricultural lands until they reached the cool waters of the high Sierra Nevada. Their counterparts, fall-run Chinook, would make the same journey in the autumn.

      Spring-run Chinook spent the summer near the river’s headwaters, spawned there in the fall, and then died, the nutrients from their decaying carcasses feeding insects and fertilizing aquatic and terrestrial plant life. Their offspring would make the perilous reverse trip, either swimming to sea during their first spring, when still small enough to fit in a human hand, or remaining in the river upland and migrating to the ocean as yearlings the following spring. Two to five years later, instinct would compel them to return to their natal grounds to spawn, continuing the cycle.

    • Pope Francis Declares Climate Emergency in Meeting With Big Oil Leaders

      Pope Francis declared a climate emergency Friday as he met with oil industry executives and some of their biggest investors to urge them to act on the climate crisis.

    • Landmark Coal Ash Bill Signals Hope for Midwest Communities

      Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area’s many lakes and streams. But some waters aren’t as clean as they should be.

      That’s in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest’s iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.

    • How These Farms Are Working to Fight Food Waste

      On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn’t just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they’re also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.

      Located on Noblehurst Farms, about 500 feet from dairy cows, this creamery is home to the only biodigester in the U.S. that uses cow manure and food scraps from the cheese-making process and local businesses to create electricity. Since 2014, Noblehurst Farms has recycled 20 million pounds of food scraps in its biodigester.

      “For many years, our farms have focused on producing high-quality milk while nurturing the land, but we wanted to know where our milk was going once it left our farms,” says farmer and Craigs Creamery partner Chris Noble. “The cheese brand was a way to do that and diversify our businesses by investing in something that wasn’t just focused on farming.”

      From ugly greens to zero-waste dinners to food scrap pizza, more and more consumers, businesses and nonprofits are looking for ways to repurpose food that would otherwise go to waste. On average, an individual American wastes one pound of food each day, which is enough to feed two billion people annually. Put another way, if food waste were a country, its greenhouse gas emissions would rank third in the world, after the United States and China. But while there has been increased attention on wasted food on plates, food waste happens at every stage of the supply chain, starting on the farm.

    • G20 environment ministers agree to tackle marine plastic waste

      The Group of 20 major economies agreed a deal to reduce marine pollution at a meeting of their environment ministers on Sunday in Karuizawa, Japan.

      The host nation “proposed a workable framework” on how to deal with ocean trash in emerging and less developed countries.

      “I am glad that we, including emerging countries and developing countries, were able to form a broad international framework,” Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, told a news conference.
      Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wanted his country to be a leader in reducing marine plastic waste by using biodegradable material and other technological innovations.

      Images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and stomachs of dead fish full of plastic materials have sparked global outrage, with environmental activists calling for stricter action to deal with the environmental hazard.

    • 633 Divers Break Record for World’s Largest Underwater Cleanup

      Guinness officiator Michael Empric flew down from New York to sign off on the achievement.

      “I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water … so we know immediately whether or not the record’s been broken,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, as The Independent reported.

      In total, 633 people entered the water between 9 and 11 a.m. and stayed beneath the waves for at least 15 minutes. They succeeded in surpassing the previous record of 614, which was set in the Red Sea in 2015 by a team organized by Egyptian Army scuba diver Ahmed Gabr.

    • Divers set world record for cleaning debris from ocean floor

      Over 600 scuba divers have set a world record for the largest mass subaquatic clean-up of a section of seabed.

      Equipped with aqualungs, a total of 633 divers simultaneously picked up litter from the sea floor near the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida.

      The record was overseen by Guinness officiator Michael Empric, who arrived from New York to do the official head count between 9am and 11am, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

      “I actually stood there and clicked off everyone as they got in the water … so we know immediately whether or not the record’s been broken,” he told the reporter, who described him as “sporting the dark blue Guinness blazer and teal tie in 87 degree heat (35C)”.

    • I Say No to Frack-Sand Mining Near My Home — for Myself and the Planet

      The “not in my backyard” or NIMBY crowd generally gets a bad rap. They most often raise their hackles in opposition to high–density housing being located in their neighborhoods. NIMBY restrictions on construction have been a major factor in soaring housing costs in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities.

      I am practicing a different sort of NIMBY-ism these days, however — taking part in a local resistance effort against a frac sand mining site — and make no apologies for it.

      Last summer, my wife and I moved out to southern Utah. We wanted to be near Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where we had been volunteering on vacations for a decade. We also wanted to be in a beautiful part of the country. Our new home, Kanab, is located between Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, with the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument just to our east. The area gives us endless opportunities for exploring and hiking.

      It now looks like our plans are in danger. A start-up mining company, Southern Red Sands LLC, has plans to set up a frack sand mining operation in the hills just above the city. This facility would both mine and process sand to be used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking sites in various parts of the West.

      Apparently, the sand in the hills above Kanab is very well suited for fracking. It also is much closer to the western fracking sites than the current sources, which are mostly located in Wisconsin and Texas. For this reason, Southern Red Sands sees a real bonanza here.

      Many of the people in the town see it differently. Kanab’s primary industry is tourism, which depends both on its proximity to the national parks and monuments, and its own natural beauty. Its motto is “magically unspoiled.”

      That doesn’t fit well with an industrial sand mining plant located on the city’s outskirts. The mine and plant will be capable of operating around the clock. The noise is likely to carry for many miles on an otherwise quiet and beautiful plateau that includes well-known hiking trails and canyons such as Diana’s Throne and Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon.

    • Immediate Action Needed to Avoid Thousands of Heat-Related Deaths in U.S., New Study Says

      Extreme heat due to the climate crisis will cause thousands of deaths around the country unless immediate action is taken to stop global temperatures from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Already this month, San Francisco, typically cool in June, has seen triple digit temperatures, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. And meanwhile, parts of India have seen scores of heat-related deaths from temperatures sizzling around 122 degrees Fahrenheit, according to CNN.

      “The more warming you have, the more heat waves you have,” said Michael Wehner, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who was not involved in this study, as reported by the New York Times. “The more heat waves you have, the more people die.”

      By examining the effects extreme heat will cause in 15 U.S. cities, the study shows the pressing need for immediate action for nations around the world to ratchet up their efforts to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

      “Our results demonstrate that strengthened mitigation ambition would result in substantial benefits to public health in the United States,” the study’s authors concluded.

      In the absence of those efforts, the outlook is bleak. If the global average temperature rises 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels, a heat wave could claim 6,000 lives in New York City, 2,500 in Los Angeles and 2,300 in Miami, the study says, as NBC News reports. The greatest risks are in northern cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

    • Can the Paris Climate Goals Save Lives? Yes, a Lot of Them, Researchers Say

      Summertime heat is forecast to become even deadlier without action to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to a new study.

      Under the Paris climate agreement, 195 countries pledged to cut their greenhouse gas in an effort to hold global warming to two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. They also promised efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    • Without swift action on climate change, heat waves could kill thousands in U.S. cities

      If global warming sometimes seems like a distant or abstract threat, new research casts the phenomenon in stark, life-or-death terms. It predicts that in the absence of significant progress in efforts to curb emissions of temperature-raising greenhouse gases, extreme heat waves could claim thousands of lives in major U.S. cities.

      If the global average temperature rises 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels — which some scientists say is likely if nations honor only their current commitments for curbing emissions — a major heat wave could kill almost 6,000 people in New York City. Similar events could kill more than 2,500 in Los Angeles and more than 2,300 in Miami.

      But the new research also indicates that if the U.S. and other nations take aggressive steps to limit warming, many of those deaths from extreme heat might be avoided.

    • At least 36 people dead in one of India’s longest heatwaves

      At least 36 people have died this summer in one of India’s longest heat waves in recent history, Anshu Priya, a spokeswoman for India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told CNN.

      Intense heat has scorched the country for more than 30 consecutive days, primarily in northern and central India. Temperatures reached 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) in New Delhi on June 10 — the highest ever recorded in the capital in June.

    • Heat wave could sizzle Bay Area through Tuesday

      Dry heat is expected to persist for the first half of the week as a heat wave rolls through the Bay Area.

      Temperatures are likely to peak Monday, when thermostats could exceed 100 degrees in parts of the North, East and South Bay valleys, according to the National Weather Service.

      Record-high temperatures were tied or exceeded Sunday in downtown San Francisco and at San Francisco and Oakland airports, as well as in Half Moon Bay and Monterey, the National Weather Service said.

      The tarmac at SFO was so hot that the Jetway — the ramp-like bridge used to connect planes to terminals — created its own pothole and couldn’t come out to meet the plane. One United Airlines flight from Mexico City had to be towed to a different gate. In explaining the long delay, the pilot told the passengers, “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

    • National Butterfly Center: Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Pollinators and Other Wildlife

      The National Butterfly Center is not only home to butterflies but also to various species of bees, including some only found around the Rio Grande in southern Texas and northern Mexico. A team of wildlife photographers and scientists documented the wild bees found in the butterfly center that will be displaced if the border wall is constructed. They photographed some species that have never been seen before in the U.S.

      “Many of these bees range no more than a few hundred yards from their nests in a lifetime, and so the National Butterfly Center is the only home they’ve ever known,” said Paula Sharp, a lead photographer on the project, to the Revelator. She noted that the butterfly center is safe zone for pollinators since it is ecologically pristine — that is, it is free from pesticides, erosion, invasive species and habitat destruction, which is found in nearby areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

      “Bees are central to every habitat because they are the pollinators that sustain the plants that feed birds, mammals and other creatures,” Sharp said, according to the Revelator. “If you destroy the bees, you do irreparable harm to the environment.”

    • National Butterfly Center Warns of Effect of Border Wall on Pollinators

      The possible future construction of the border wall could threaten the butterfly population, according to the National Butterfly Center.

    • Current Farm Crisis Offers Opportunity For Change

      JFK, as it turns out, was not correct when he noted 60 years ago that the word ‘crisis’ is a combination of the Chinese brush strokes meaning danger and opportunity. While he was linguistically incorrect, we get what he was saying. A crisis situation can be the impetus for change, an opportunity to figure out a better way and in the spirit that Kennedy meant it, a better way for society in general.

      While unemployment rates are down and hourly wages are increasing slightly, the increased cost of living—up 14% over the last 4 years and stark economic inequality, no, the economy is not “the greatest economy in the history of our country”. Health insurance coverage is inadequate —if you can’t afford to live, if you are sick with no recourse, that is a crisis. And on top of that, the overarching threat of an increasingly variable and changing climate can be labeled as nothing other than a clear and growing crisis.

      Most any farmer, or rancher anywhere in the US, would nod in the affirmative if asked whether or not there is currently a crisis in agriculture. In the minds of farmers, fishers and ranchers the cause of the crisis can be easily summed up, low prices—pay prices below the cost of production.

      While many other farmers and I see unprecedented adverse weather as undeniable evidence of a changing climate which is a contributing factor to the current economic crisis, that is not a universally accepted idea among farmers. None would deny however, that prices are historically unfair with 2019 farm income predicted to be below the average seen for nearly the past century.

    • ‘The New Normal’: Ten of Thousands Flee Extreme Heatwave in India as Temperatures Topping 120°F Kill Dozens Across Country

      Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

      Officials in Bihar reported that as of Monday, 76 people in total had died of heat-related conditions as temperatures in the region hovered around 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Hospitals have increasingly overflowed with patients reporting heatstroke since the heatwave began in early June.

      Across the country in the city of Aurangabad, India Today reported, 22 died just on Saturday. The death toll that day in the northern city of Gaya was 20.

      About two-thirds of India is facing the heatwaves at the same time that roughly half of the country is struggling through its worst drought in six decades.

      Officials on Sunday asked Bihar’s 100 million people to stay inside Monday as fears of more fatalities grew.

    • Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada

      As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.

      For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.

      But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.

      A US Big-Oil backed juggernaut of Conservative provincial governments and the federal Opposition are well advanced in a Canada campaign to reverse longstanding parliamentary decisions, environmental laws, climate action initiatives, Supreme Court directions, first-nations negotiations, and bring down the government of Canada. Yet no-one in public or media circles has joined the dots.

      Canada’s vast tar-sands deposits are world famous as surpassing Saudi Arabia oil-field capacities in total barrels of potential yield. Great Canada! Yet few notice that over two-thirds of the entire tar-sands operations are owned by foreign entities sending their profits out of Canada, and almost all its raw product is controlled for refining and sale in the US.

      What is especially kept out of the daily news is the incendiary fact that the infamous, election-interfering and oft-EPA-convicted Koch brothers have a dominant stake in the toxic crude of the Alberta tar-sands seeking a massive BC-pipeline out to their US refineries.

      Koch-owned industries have already extracted countless billions of their near $100-billion fortune from the tar-sands and deployed their well-known voter-manipulations to change the balance of power in Canada as they have done in the US.

    • Heathrow expansion consultation: Green Party says ‘no way’ is the only answer

      “Aviation clearly has to contract, not expand, while we need to promote and encourage cleaner options like train travel, which could replace many Heathrow flights.

      “Huge numbers of Londoners already suffer from the noise and air pollution from Heathrow, see their transport systems overloaded and their lives disrupted.”

      Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader and Lambeth councillor said: “We are in a climate emergency.

    • The director of Russian TV’s upcoming ‘Chernobyl’ miniseries weighs in on the HBO smash hit

      In late May, director Alexey Muradov wrapped filming on a new Russian miniseries called “Chernobyl.” The new 12-episode project is expected to premiere this fall on the television network NTV. The show’s plot revolves around the Ukrainian SSR’s KGB discovering that a CIA agent named “Albert Lentz” has infiltrated Pripyat, the “nuclear city” built in 1970 to serve the nearby Chernobyl Power Plant. To prevent a possible terrorist attack, Soviet counterintelligence agent Andrey Nikolaev follows the American spy to the station, where the show unfolds. Meduza spoke to Muradov about this fictional plot and the differences between his show and the critically acclaimed series by the same name that recently aired on HBO.

    • Oregon Tackles Climate Change With Cap-and-Trade Proposal

      Oregon is on the precipice of becoming the second state after California to adopt a cap-and-trade program, a market-based approach to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions behind global warming.

      Supporters call it the United States’ most progressive climate policy, saying it not only cuts emissions but invests in transitioning the state economy and infrastructure to better prepare for more intense weather events as climate change worsens.

      “We have an opportunity to invest a substantial amount into low-income communities off the backs of the 100 or so major polluters that caused this problem,” said Shilpa Joshi, with the lobbying group Renew Oregon. Joshi has spent years working with dozens of organizations around the state to help shape the final legislation.

    • ‘Huge Victory’ for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as New York Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation

      Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country’s most ambitious environmental reforms.

      The legislature reached an agreement just before midnight Sunday on the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA), one of several climate bills state lawmakers have pushed in recent months since progressives gained momentum in their push for a federal Green New Deal.

      New York’s CCPA—like those passed in recent months in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington—offers a path forward for the implementation of Green New Deal-like laws at the state level, proponents say.

      “This is going to be a huge victory for the environmental justice movement in New York,” author Naomi Klein tweeted, adding that some far-reaching parts of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal grew out of state legislation.

    • Paris treaty would cut US heat peril

      British scientists have identified a way in which President Trump could save thousands of American lives from the US heat peril. All he needs to do is honour the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep global warming to “well below” 2°C above the planetary average that has endured for most of human history.

      If the global thermometer is kept at the lowest possible level of a rise of 1.5°C – rather than the average rise of 3°C of human-triggered heating that the planet seems on course to experience by the end of the century − then this simple decision would prevent up to 2,720 extra deaths in any city that experienced the kind of potentially-deadly heatwave that comes along every thirty years or so, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Advances.

      Researchers focused on 15 US cities from where records yielded reliable data that could answer questions about climate and health. These were Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis and Washington DC.

  • Finance

    • Amazon laid off ‘dozens’ of game developers amidst reorganization

      The layoffs game at the end of this week’s E3 in LA, and an Amazon spokesperson told Kotaku that “Amazon Game Studios is reorganizing some of our teams to allow us to prioritize development of New World, Crucible, and new unannounced projects we’re excited to reveal in the future.”

    • Instead of Death and Destruction, Poor People’s Moral Budget Shows What It Looks Like to ‘Invest in Life’

      “Refusal to properly use our resources to address these five interlocking injustices is economically insane, constitutionally inconsistent, and morally indefensible,” Rev. Dr. William Barber from Repairers of the Breach told reporters Monday.

      In the report’s foreword, Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Kairos Center—the Poor People’s Campaign co-chairs—explain how the Poor People’s Moral Budget: Everybody Has a Right to Live (pdf) builds on the campaign’s Moral Agenda, which was unveiled last year ahead of a series of direct actions nationwide.

      “As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has suggested, our state and national budgets prove that many of our elected leaders and their lobbyists treasure the military, corporate tax cuts, and welfare for the wealthy while they give rugged individualism, shame and blame, unfair wages, and a shredded social safety net to the poor,” write Barber and Theoharis.

      “This is a willful act of policy violence,” they explain, “at a time when there are 140 million poor and low-income people—over 43.5 percent of the population—in the richest country in the history of the world.”

    • Raising the Minimum Wage Must Be a Central Issue in 2020 Election

      As the 2020 election season nears, it’s a fair bet that wages will become a central focus of policy arguments both within the Democratic Party and also between Democrats and Republicans. In public forums, the leading Democratic candidates — pushed leftward on economic issues by candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as by grassroots campaigns such as Fight for $15 — have all come down in favor of a minimum wage that would, over a number of years, increase to at least $15 per hour. But some, such as Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, have in recent weeks gone beyond that and called for wages in high cost-of-living cities and states to reach $15 per hour sooner and to then rise beyond $15 as inflation adjustments kick in.

      In January, a Hill-HarrisX poll found 55 percent of respondents favored a $15 minimum hourly wage; and another 27 percent favored raising it but not to $15. Only about 5 percent of those polled favored eliminating the minimum wage entirely.

      Yet, despite the popularity of living wage measures, in recent years the GOP in Congress has united against legislation to increase the earning power of those at the bottom of the economy. Last month, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told Congress the administration opposed any increase in the minimum wage. Trump himself has been all over the map on the issue, at times seeming to tack toward supporting a small increase in the federal minimum wage, at other times seeming to want to entirely scrap the federal minimum and leave it to the discretion of the states.

      This isn’t just a technocratic tug of war, it’s a deeply moral issue. Low wages are locking millions of Americans into a debilitating poverty. Entire industries, from fast food to discount superstores, are built around low-wage models. And their workforces are playing a constant, unwinnable game of catch-up as a result.

    • ‘Shameful’ Milestone: Congress Goes Record 3,615 Days Without Raising Federal Minimum Wage

      That’s the longest period of stagnation since the federal minimum wage was enacted under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, HuffPost reported. The minimum wage was last raised on July 24, 2009, from $6.55 an hour to the current rate of $7.25.

      David Cooper, deputy director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), noted in a blog post on Monday that while the federal minimum wage has remained the same, its purchasing power has eroded significantly due to inflation.

      “As the graphic shows, when the minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 in July 2009, it had a purchasing power equivalent to $8.70 in today’s dollars,” Cooper wrote. “Over the last 10 years, as the minimum wage has remained at $7.25, its purchasing power has declined by 17 percent. For a full-time, year-round minimum wage worker, this represents a loss of over $3,000 in annual earnings.”

    • How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement

      Teach For America has long maintained that it does not prefer charter schools. “We believe in public education,” the organization states on a webpage devoted to combating criticism. “We’re not concerned about whether kids (or teachers) go to traditional district schools or public charter schools or innovative magnet schools, and TFA takes no institutional position on school governance.”

      Marc Sternberg, a former corps member, now runs K-12 education for the Walton Family Foundation, which has given more than $100 million to Teach For America over the years. He said the foundation has a “bedrock partnership” with Teach For America. To Sternberg, the missions of the two organizations are intertwined: expanding educational opportunity, and options, for children.

      “I was placed in a school that was pretty dysfunctional,” said Sternberg, reflecting on his Teach For America experience at a traditional public school in the South Bronx in the late 1990s. “It lacked a leadership thesis that is necessary for organizational success. The entrepreneur walks into that environment, and sees all the great things, and develops an understanding of the problem statement and then wants to do something about it.”

      While Sternberg said that the Walton foundation is “agnostic” about the types of schools it funds, the foundation has been one of the most generous supporters of charter schools, having spent more than $385 million to help launch and sustain about a quarter of the nation’s charter schools since 1997. In 2016, the foundation announced that it would spend an additional $1 billion to support charter schools, expand school choice and develop “pipelines of talent.”

      The foundation’s 2013-15 grant paid more for placing TFA teachers in charter schools, Sternberg said in an email, because “we wanted to ensure that the growing number of charter schools had access to high-quality educators given increased demand from communities.” Its current grants to TFA provide equal funding for teachers at charter and traditional public schools, he said.

      Today, in most of the cities targeted by the 2013 grant, TFA partners with more charter schools than traditional public schools, according to AmeriCorps data. In Indianapolis and greater Los Angeles, about two-thirds of TFA’s partner schools are charters. In New Orleans, where nearly all of the schools are charters, all of TFA’s corps members are assigned to charter schools. In the past five years, the proportion of TFA teachers placed in charter schools has increased even as the raw numbers have gone down, reflecting an overall decrease in corps members.

    • Parity Releases Zebra, the First Alternative Zcash Client, to the Zcash Foundation

      Open-source and licensed under GPL v3.0, Zebra has already been handed over to the Zcash Foundation’s Github repo where it will continue to be developed into a full-featured Zcash client. Zebra was derived from Parity Bitcoin, which led to a quick turnover and fast roadmap after the announcement of the partnership several months ago.

    • Global Inequality in a Time of Climate Emergency

      If we had to choose one voice, one single slogan, to represent the pivot we’re now passing through, as Wen Stephenson suggests in the Nation, we might well pick the Czech playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel and his notion of “living in truth.” More of us are choosing to live that life. We’ve become sick of the lies. Even the comforting lies.

      So where does this all leave us? Three key points.

      First, despair is looming, and for good reason. Take a look at Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, the so-called “Hothouse Earth” paper, or at least know its bottom line: Our environmental “tipping points” have actually become “tipping cascades,” and these cascades, once they really get moving, will amplify each other in ways all but impossible to stop. By the time our global temperatures arrive at 2°C, if indeed they do, we will face a real risk of runaway feedback.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The most unpopular presidential election winner ever could win again in 2020

      Donald Trump is the first president to ever be elected while being actively disliked by the majority of Americans. Trump was also the first person elected president who was significantly less popular than his counterpart.

      Most Americans have heard of presidents losing the popular vote but winning the election. But to win while the majority of Americans oppose you? How is that possible?

      At the time of the election, Trump had the highest unfavorability rating in history, with over 61% of Americans having an “unfavorable” view or “disapproving” of Trump. (There’s also an “undecided” option.)

      Luckily for Trump, he faced a historically unpopular opponent. Before 2016, no losing presidential candidate had had an unfavorable rating above 47%. But on election eve, Hillary Clinton’s was 52%, an unprecedented election in American history.

    • ‘All-Out Assault on Science’: Latest Executive Order by Trump Puts Expert Advice on the Chopping Block

      Experts accused the White House of escalating its war on science after President Donald Trump issued a Friday executive order slashing federal advisory committees by at least one-third.

      “It was death by a thousand cuts, now they are taking a knife to the jugular,” said Gretchen Goldman, a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

      “Make no mistake,” added volcanologist Jess Phoenix. “This is an all-out assault on science.”

      Trump’s order sets a September 30 deadline for each agency to make the cuts to the bodies formalized under 1972′s Federal Advisory Committee Act.

    • GOP Mutters, Quietly, as Trump Sidesteps Senate for Top Aides

      President Donald Trump’s latest anointment of an acting head of a major federal agency has prompted muttering, but no more than that, from Republican senators whose job description includes confirming top administration aides.

      Their reluctance to confront Trump comes as veterans of the confirmation process and analysts say he’s placed acting officials in key posts in significantly higher numbers than his recent predecessors. The practice lets him quickly, if temporarily, install allies in important positions while circumventing the Senate confirmation process, which can be risky with Republicans running the chamber by a slim 53-47 margin.

      The latest example is Ken Cuccinelli, who last week was named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He is an outspoken supporter of hard-line immigration policies and his appointment was opposed by some key Senate Republicans.

      Definitive listings of acting officials in Trump’s and other administrations are hard to come by because no agency keeps overall records. Yet Christina Kinane, an incoming political science professor at Yale, compiled data in her doctoral dissertation, “Control Without Confirmation: The Politics of Vacancies in Presidential Appointments.”

      Kinane found that from 1977 through mid-April of this year — the administrations of President Jimmy Carter through the first half of Trump’s — 266 individuals held Cabinet posts. Seventy-nine of them held their jobs on an acting basis, or 3 in 10.

    • A soccer player and an actor explain why they suddenly decided to join the same Moscow City Duma race as a high-profile opposition activist

      On June 15, the well-known Russian hospice advocate Nyuta Federmesser announced her decision to drop out of the race for a Moscow City Duma seat in the capital’s downtown. She had been planning to run in the city’s 43rd District, where she would have faced one of the area’s most prominent opposition activists: Lyubov Sobol is an attorney for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which is run by opposition politician Alexey Navalny. Sergey Mitrokhin, the former chairperson of the opposition-leaning Yabloko party, is also running in the same district, but he is viewed as a more likely collaborator for Moscow City Hall than Sobol. Alexey Navalny had publicly called on Federmesser not to run for the seat so as not to draw votes away from Sobol, and Federmesser’s decision to run also met with harsh criticism on social media. Immediately after the palliative care advocate withdrew from the 43rd District race, however, two new candidates entered it: former soccer player and Russian national team member Dmitry Bulykin and actor Andrey Sokolov. We asked both why they have decided so suddenly to run for this particular Moscow City Duma seat.

    • Microsoft & Pentagon are quietly hijacking US elections (by Lee Camp)

      Good news, folks! We have found the answer to the American rigged and rotten election system.
      The most trustworthy of corporations recently announced it is going to selflessly and patriotically secure our elections. It’s a small company run by vegans and powered by love. It goes by the name “Microsoft.” (You’re forgiven for never having heard of it.)

      The recent headlines were grandiose and thrilling:

      “Microsoft offers software tools to secure elections.”

      “Microsoft aims to modernize and secure voting with ElectionGuard.”

      Could anything be safer than software christened “ElectionGuard™”?! It has “guard” right there in the name. It’s as strong and trustworthy as the little-known Crotch Guard™ – an actual oil meant to be sprayed on one’s junk. I’m unclear as to why one sprays it on one’s junk, but perhaps it’s to secure your erections? (Because they’ve been micro-soft?)

    • Trump Wasn’t the Only Candidate to Test Our Campaign Laws

      By now, anyone who pays the slightest attention to politics knows that Donald Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an Oval Office interview last week that he would “take” opposition research on his 2020 election rivals, even from a foreign source like Russia, China or (eyeroll) Norway. Trump also said that he might not notify the FBI about his receipt of such information, and that FBI Director Christopher Wray was “wrong” to suggest in a recent Senate hearing that the law requires the bureau to be alerted.

      Trump’s remarks sent howls of “collusion” across the landscape of cable news and the mainstream press. Pundits asked if the president had forgotten the lessons of 2016 and the Mueller probe. Had Trump gone, in the words of New Yorker columnist Susan B. Glasser, from proclaiming “no collusion” to admitting that he was, after all was said and done, “pro-collusion?”

      In a rare display of unity, leading Democrats and Republicans assailed the president for apparently opening the door to a new round of election meddling. Even Lindsey Graham—Trump’s most loyal congressional enabler—gave the president a thumbs down. Asked by reporters if he would take foreign opposition research, Graham replied: “A foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no.”

      Graham was quick to add, however, that Democrats were just as culpable for paying ex-British spy Christopher Steele to prepare his much-ballyhooed dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia. “I hope my Democrat colleagues will be equally offended,” Graham said, “by the fact that this actually did happen in 2016 where a foreign agent was paid for by a political party to gather opposition research. All those things are wrong.”

    • ‘Virginia Voters Are Finally Getting Fair Maps’: Rights Advocates Celebrate US Supreme Court Ruling on Racial Gerrymandering

      Voting rights advocates celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday ruling on a racial gerrymandering case that, as Common Cause put it, “means Virginia voters are finally getting #fairmaps!”

      “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is an important victory for African Americans in Virginia who have been forced since 2011 to vote in racially gerrymandered districts that unfairly diluted their power,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), said in a statement Monday.

      “With a new, fair map in place, all Virginians will now—finally—have the opportunity this fall to elect a House of Delegates that actually represents the will of the people,” added Holder. An NDRC affiliate, the National Redistricting Foundation, supported voters in the case.

      In a 5-4 decision (pdf), the justices dismissed a challenge to a 2018 ruling (pdf) by a panel of federal judges from the Eastern District of Virginia which determined that 11 state legislative districts drawn after the 2010 census were racially gerrymandered by Republicans and must be redrawn by a nonpartisan expert for the 2019 election.

    • Wall Street Donors Are Swooning for Mayor Pete. (They Like Biden and Harris, Too.)

      Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him. These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.

    • Wall Street Has Its Top Democratic Hopefuls All Picked Out

      The Iowa caucus is still more than six months away and the Democratic Party has yet to hold its first primary debate, but Wall Street is already zeroing in on its favorites for 2020. To the surprise of nobody, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are conspicuously absent from its list of preferred candidates.

      According to The New York Times, the financial industry is throwing its support behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as well as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden. The article notes that the same New York donors have also given to the campaigns of local politicians Sen. Kirtsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

      “Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him,” writes the Times’ Shane Goldmacher. “These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.”

      Goldmacher’s findings follow a separate Times report from April that revealed “long-time party financier” Bernard Schwartz had hosted a series of Democratic dinners in New York and Washington in which members of the party’s corporate wing actively discussed how to slow Sanders’ momentum. (At the time, the Vermont senator had raised more than $18 million from individual donors, and there was a “growing realization” among strategists that he could “end up winning this thing.”) Those gatherings included such prominent names as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Buttigieg himself.

    • In Barcelona, Being a Fearless City Mayor Means Letting the People Decide

      Losing Barcelona. That was the headline on the story in Jacobin this week. A local vote in a far-off city; had I not just returned from Barcelona, I might have left it at that. possibilitiy

      The truth is, US media give us so little coverage of goings-on elsewhere, and so little context as to why Americans should care, there’s little incentive to keep up; but Barcelona’s different. For close to a decade now, it’s been what my friend Sol Trumbo Vila calls a beacon for the possibilities of transformative change at the city level.


      But Losing Barcelona? Maragall and Colau actually stood neck and neck in council seats when the Jacobin article appeared. They were both left of center parties. Colau could have teamed up with him to stay in government but lose the Mayor’s post, or she could have partnered with more left-of-center winners—Pedro Sanchez’s socialist party (PP), which came in second after a high profile surge in national elections earlier in the month. In the end, Colau was re-elected mayor by the city council with the support of the Socialists and the backing of former French prime minister, Manuel Valls.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF’s Recommendations for Consumer Data Privacy Laws

      We have long sounded the alarm against federal legislation that would wipe the slate clean of stronger state privacy laws in exchange for one, weaker federal one. Avoiding such preemption of state laws is our top priority when reviewing federal privacy bills.

      State legislatures have long been known as “laboratories of democracy” and they are serving that role now for data privacy protections. In addition to passing strong laws, state legislation also allows for a more dynamic dialogue as technology and social norms continue to change. Last year, Vermont enacted a law reining in data brokers, and California enacted its Consumer Privacy Act. Nearly a decade ago, Illinois enacted its Biometric Information Privacy Act. Many other states have passed data privacy laws and many are considering data privacy bills.

      But some tech giants aren’t happy about that, and they are trying to get Congress to pass a weak federal data privacy law that would foreclose state efforts. They are right about one thing: it would be helpful to have one nationwide set of protections. However, consumers lose—and big tech companies win—if those federal protections are weaker than state protections.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Killer Whale and Sadfluid – Dark Smith

      The white supremacists rallying cry expresses a paranoia that the white male Christian power structure is under attack. Racists, homophobes and misogynists want to preserve the oppressive status quo, which benefits them at the expense of the marginalized.

      The Seattle-based queer dreampunk band Dark Smith tackles these narrow-minded bigoted views on their latest album Degressive.

      Two tracks that challenge these racists and patriarchal power structures are “Killer Whale” and “Sadfluid.”

      “Killer Whale” directly addresses the “You will not replace us” crowd with the counter-point argument, “I’ve got a message for the master race. You’re about to be replaced.”

    • ‘Everybody Has the Right to Live’: The Visionary Budget at the Heart of Our Moral Uprising

      As we have traveled around these yet to be United States of America, from Appalachia to Alabama, California to the Carolinas, Mississippi to Maine, the delta of the south to the coal miner’s home in Kentucky, we have seen the pain and heard the cry of every race, creed, color, and sexuality that our moral values and economic policies are out of sync. Indeed, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has suggested, our state and national budgets prove that many of our elected leaders and their lobbyists treasure the military, corporate tax cuts, and welfare for the wealthy while they give rugged individualism, shame and blame, unfair wages, and a shredded social safety net to the poor.

      This is a willful act of policy violence at a time when there are 140 million poor and low-income people – over 43.5% of the population – in the richest country in the history of the world. This includes 39 million children, 74.2 million women, 60.4% or 26 million Black people, 64.1% or 38 million Latinx people, 40.8% or 8 million Asian people, 58.9% or 2.14 million Native and Indigenous people, and 33.5% or 66 million White people. Increasing the harm on these 140 million, since 2010, there has been an onslaught of attacks on voting rights in state legislatures: racialized voter suppression and gerrymandering have helped to smuggle state leaders into office, who then turn around and pass policies that hurt the poor and marginalized. Life-giving social programs are being eviscerated to make way for increased spending on war, militarizing our border, and tax payouts to Wall Street.

    • “16 Shots”: Chicago Police Killing of Laquan McDonald Exposed a System Built on Lies

      The documentary “16 Shots” examines the 2014 murder of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald in Chicago and the attempt by the city’s police department to cover up the events. McDonald, who was 17, was shot 16 times by former police officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was found guilty in 2018 of second-degree murder and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for McDonald’s murder. He was also found guilty on 16 counts of aggravated battery—one count for each of the 16 bullets he fired at McDonald. The film is screening on Showtime. We speak with Rick Rowley, director of “16 Shots.”

    • Teens in Cage Protest Trump Immigration Policies Outside UN, Demanding Action From Human Rights Council

      While an audio recording of detained migrant children crying played in the background, teenagers in T-shirts that read #ClassroomsNotCages stood in a metal cage outside the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva Monday to protest the Trump administration’s “cruel” immigration policies.

      The action was part of a demonstration that aimed to draw attention to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s consideration of a complaint (pdf) filed last year by unions, faith organizations, and human and civil rights groups about the “inhumane [U.S.] policy of tearing immigrant children from their families who come to our borders seeking asylum and protection.”

    • Report: ORG Regulation Report II

      There is a legacy of Internet regulation in the UK that does not comply with due process, fairness and fundamental rights requirements. This includes: bulk domain suspensions by Nominet at police request without prior authorisation; the lack of an independent legal authorisation process for Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) blocking at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and in the future by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), as well as for Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) notifications to platforms of illegal content for takedown. These were detailed in our previous report.

      The UK government now proposes new controls on Internet content, claiming that it wants to ensure “the same rules online as offline”. It says it wants “harmful” content removed, while respecting human rights and protecting free expression.

      Yet proposals in the DCMS/Home Office White Paper on Online Harms will create incentives for Internet platforms such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to remove content without legal processes. This is not “the same rules online as offline”. It instead implies a privatisation of justice online, with the assumption that corporate policing must replace public justice for reasons of convenience. This goes against the advice of human rights standards that government has itself agreed to and against the advice of UN Special Rapporteurs.

    • Crying Children In Cages: This Is Not Somewhere Else

      Over 3,000 poor, brown children remain penned like animals in cages, sleeping alone under 68-cent blankets in freezing cells thanks to this regime’s “purposefully cruel” family separations. In recent days, as protesters from Florida to Geneva called for an end to the barbarity and the cretins in charge considered the new atrocity of replicating Japanese internment camps “layered in trauma,” things got real in New York City: Last week, immigrant rights advocates put up two dozen startling guerrilla art installations in two dozen carefully chosen landmark locations featuring a chain-link cage, a foil-wrapped “child,” and harrowing audio of real-life kids sobbing. The kick-in-the-gut art project by ad agency Badger & Winters, about 10 street artists and RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, is part of the group’s No Kids In Cages campaign. Arguing that “walking by is no longer an option,” RAICE’s campaign homepage urges viewers to “SHARE their stories online. ACT by telling Congress to pass Bill HR-541 – Keep Families Together Act. And SUPPORT organizations that are fighting to save and reunite children separated at our border. “This is not history,” they write. “This is happening now.”

    • Appeals Court To Cops: There’s Nothing Inherently Suspicious About Running From The Police

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just handed down a refresher [PDF] on a few legal issues, most notably what is or isn’t “reasonable” when it comes to suspicion. Police officers thought an anonymous tip about a man carrying a gun and someone running away from them created enough suspicion to chase down Daniel Brown, stop him at gunpoint, and search him for contraband.

      Contraband was found, leading to Brown’s motion to suppress. The lower court said this combination — an anonymous report of a gun and Brown’s decision to run when he saw the police cruiser — was reasonable enough. Not so, says the Ninth Circuit, pointing out the obvious fact that a person carrying a gun can’t be inherently suspicious in a state where carrying a gun in public is permitted.

    • ‘Brink of Catastrophe’ as Trump Muslim Ban Keeps Refugees in Limbo

      President Donald Trump’s near-total ban on immigration to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries, known colloquially as the “Muslim ban,” is having widespread negative effects on refugees in the Middle East, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

      In the new report, The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us, Amnesty interviewed nearly 50 refugees stuck in Lebanon and Jordan due to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Hundreds of families from war-torn regions of the Arab world, from Sudan to Syria, are “locked in an impossible limbo” waiting for the U.S. government to act either way on their asylum applications.

      “These are families who put their trust in the United States at their most desperate hour, and now find themselves on the brink of catastrophe through absolutely no fault of their own,” Amnesty researcher Denise Bell said in a statement.

      One refugee interviewed by Amnesty, named in the report as “Malik,” has been waiting to go to the U.S. from Beirut after fleeing Baghdad with his family for fear of religious persecution due to their Christian faith.

    • Massive Hong Kong Protests Demand Withdrawal of Extradition Bill, Leader’s Resignation

      As many as 2 million protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. Protesters also called for the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and other top officials who pushed for the extradition bill. Lam has apologized for her handling of the legislation and indefinitely delayed a vote on the bill; however, the bill has not been fully withdrawn. Critics of the extradition bill say it would infringe on Hong Kong’s independence and the legal and human rights of Hong Kong residents and visitors. Just a few days ago, police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray at tens of thousands of demonstrators. We speak with Nathan Law, a pro-democracy activist who helped lead the Umbrella Movement, and Minky Worden, director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

    • After Serious 911 Mishaps, Rhode Island Will Now Pay for Better Training

      Rhode Island lawmakers are moving forward on a spending plan that includes money to train all 911 call takers to respond to cardiac arrests and other medical emergencies.

      The $220,000 earmarked in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins July 1, follows an investigation by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica that raised questions about whether the lack of training for the state’s 911 call takers is costing lives.

      The funding would, among other things, pay to train all 911 call takers to provide guidance over the phone on how to perform CPR on a person whose heart has stopped. The House Finance Committee approved the full budget by a vote of 12 to 3 shortly before midnight Friday, and it will be taken up by the full House later this week.

      “It’s gonna save peoples’ lives, without question,’’ said Dr. Joseph R. Lauro, an emergency physician and member of the Rhode Island chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which helped lead the push to improve training.

    • [Older] Request for Names of CIA Torturers Gets Boost From Ninth Circuit

      A Freedom of Information Act request for the identities of CIA agents who engaged in torture isn’t dead yet, the Ninth Circuit said May 1.

      The district court originally said it didn’t have jurisdiction over Stephen Yagman’s request because he didn’t reasonably describe the records requested. But in 2017, the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the lower court to give Yagman a chance to work with the CIA to craft an accurate request.

    • [Older] Guantánamo lawyers see issues in torture exhibit at spy museum

      Defence lawyers and critics say Washington museum’s display on US use of torture in wake of 9/11 sanitises the punishments.

    • [Older] Guantanamo defence lawyer calls Spy Museum torture exhibit ‘CIA propaganda’

      Last week, a group of defence lawyers working on the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay visited a new exhibit at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., about the use of torture by the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

      It wasn’t a fun field trip.

      “In what seems to be an effort to provide a balanced account of an issue that doesn’t require balance … I believe the Spy Museum has tilted way too far to include CIA propaganda about the torture program,” defence lawyer Alka Pradhan told As It Happens host Carol Off.

      The Spy Museum did not respond to As It Happens’ request for comment.

      Pradhan represents Guantanamo prisoner Ammar al-Baluchi, who has been charged with helping facilitate the Sept. 11 attacks. The torture he has faced in Guantanamo has been widely publicized.

      She first heard about the Spy Museum’s new exhibit on social media. After attending the exhibit in person, her concerns were not assuaged.

    • [Older] Theresa May told to ask Donald Trump for CIA torture flights report

      Theresa May is facing calls to ask Donald Trump for Scottish investigators to be given access to a classified intelligence report that may hold the key to whether secret CIA flights broke UK laws against torture.

      Police Scotland has spent six years examining whether planes used Scottish airports to transport terror suspects to be tortured or held at Guantanamo Bay.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Write more accessible Markdown images with this one simple trick

      Sometimes the people we exclude are the ones we did not realize were there. Screen readers are an essential tool for blind and visually-impaired people to use software and browse the Internet. In open source projects and communities, Markdown is a lightweight markup language used to format text. It is also used in many other places. Often you need to embed an image into whatever you are writing (a picture, a diagram, or some useful visual aid to get your point across). One of the lesser-known and used features of Markdown are alt tags for images.

    • Shockingly, Cable TV and Broadband Customer Satisfaction Is Still The Worst In America

      Every few years or so, giant cable and broadband companies like Comcast will proclaim that they’ve finally seen the light, and will be spending time shoring up their terrible customer service. Like a few years ago, when Comcast proclaimed it had hired a “Customer Experience VP” who would finally make addressing the company’s historically terrible customer service a top priority. CEO Brian Roberts also can be found at least once a year claiming that the company is going to finally address the problem by hiring better people, improving support systems, and generally revisiting the company’s policies.

      But year after year, big cable and broadband companies fail to deliver. Case in point: the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index was recently released, and ISPs and cable providers continue to see the worst customer satisfaction scores in America. These companies are so bad at what they do, they’re routinely bested by even everybody’s favorite punching bag: the IRS.

    • The 9 Best Search Engines to Explore the Invisible Web

      Can we imagine a life without Search Engines? Think about it for the next two minutes.. you still will have no answer! The fact is that only because of Search Engines our life has become smoother and the internet has become dearer!

      But, here comes a twist! Would you feel betrayed when I tell you that these search engines, in fact, show you a very small percentage of data that is dumped on the web! Well, that’s right, the data that is visible to us is called the Surface Web and that which is not visible is called the Invisible Web.

      Invisible Web is also known as Deep Web and they are not easily accessible through the normal Search Engine.

    • Comcast Forgets To Delete Evidence It’s Using Evil Fansubs In Its Streaming Service

      The war on fan-made subtitles waged by the entertainment industry has been going on for a long, long time. While fansubs could, and probably should, be viewed as a potential boon to the entertainment industry, allowing those in far-flung lands to suddenly enjoy its products, fansubs have instead been painted as an aid to pirated content overseas or, in some cases, as copyright infringement themselves, given that they essentially copy parts of the content scripts.

      If nothing else is clear as a result of this introduction, it should be that major industry players absolutely hate fansubs.

      … Except when they can make use of them, apparently, as Comcast-owned Swiss broadcaster Sky had been found using fansubs in its streaming service in the dumbest way possible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Bauteilverbindungsvorrichtung, Germany

      The Federal Court of Justice held that introducing only selected features of an example into a claim is allowable if the resulting combination in the claimed generality is derivable from the application as originally filed. Further, a general incentive from the prior art does not render the specific embodiment of an invention obvious.

    • Huawei Now Using Patent Claims To Demand $1 Billion From Verizon, As The US Tries To Chase Huawei Out Of The US Market

      This one combines a few stories that we’ve covered a lot over the years, showing how they’re intersecting. For some time now we’ve been covering the US’s evidence-free attacks on Huawei, the Chinese telco equipment giant. Basically, for years, there have been stories insisting that Huawei is too closely linked to the Chinese government, leading to fear mongering stories saying that the company should be effectively barred from the US. However, multiple attempts to find security flaws in Huawei’s products have failed to show any kind of backdoors, and the fact that US-based Huawei competitors often seem to be making the loudest noises about the Chinese giant should raise some eyebrows.

      The other story we’ve covered a lot is around China and patents. For years and years, US companies (and policymakers) would go on and on about how Chinese companies didn’t respect US patents, and demanding that China “must respect our IP.” As we’ve highlighted for years, the Chinese government realized a decade or so ago that since the US kept trying to apply diplomatic pressure to “respect patents,” China realized it could just start using patents as an economic weapon. The number of patents granted in China started to shoot up, and (surprise surprise) suddenly in legal disputes, Chinese companies were using patents to block American competitors. And the US couldn’t really complain since it was the US that demanded China “respect patents” so much.

    • Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Holds Hearings on Proposed Revisions to 35 U.S.C. § 101 [Ed: The patent maximalist (he profits from patent lawsuits) Michael Borella promotes the rigged ‘panels’ that merely discredited Senate]

      On June 4, 5, and 11, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held hearings on its recent proposal to revise 35 U.S.C. § 101, and in particular the current draft bill to do so. Chairman Tillis and Ranking Member Coons (with an occasional third senator in the room) heard testimony from 45 individuals representing a broad swathe of patent expertise including industry executives and groups, inventors, a former Federal Circuit judge, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials, and law professors. Notably absent were representatives of high-tech companies, though a software industry association representing many of these organizations sent an envoy.

      The motivation behind the bill and these hearings was the widespread understanding that a series of Supreme Court decisions in the last decade (most recently Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l) had “made a hash” of patent eligibility. The intent behind the draft bill was to offer clarity with regard to what technologies and scientific discoveries are eligible for patenting.

    • Trademarks

      • The slow disappearance of disclaimers: the CJEU decision in Hansson, C-705/17

        As readers might remember, a disclaimer consists of a note recording a statement of waiver which accompanies the registration of a trade mark when it is composed of more elements and it contains descriptive or general words. The aim of the disclaimer is to make it clear that the descriptive element is not covered by exclusive rights.

        The European trade marks system has permitted the use of disclaimer until the repealing of Regulation 207/2009 (as for 23 March 2016). According to the Study on the overall functioning of the European Trade Mark System, only few national trade marks systems envisage(d) [read on] disclaimers. More precisely, Sweden, Ireland and Latvia have (had) them.

    • Copyrights

      • Once More With Feeling: There Is No Legal Distinction Between A ‘Platform’ And A ‘Publisher’

        Amusingly, this actually reminded me of articles I had written over a decade ago, talking up why Google and Facebook needed to become a new kind of internet platform — which I meant in the same manner as Madrigal describes above and which most people talking about “platforms” meant in the mid-aughts. It meant a system on which others could develop new applications and services. I have to admit that I don’t know quite how and when the world switched to calling general internet services “platforms” instead, and I’m just as guilty of doing so as others.

        I have two quick thoughts on why this may have happened before I get back to Madrigal’s piece. First, many of the discussions around these big internet companies didn’t really have a good descriptive term. When talking about the law, things like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act refer to them as “interactive computer services” which is awkward. And the DMCA refers to them as “service providers,” which is quite confusing, because “internet service provider” has an existing (and somewhat different) meaning, as the company who provides you internet access. Ideally, those company should be called “internet access providers” (IAPs) rather than ISPs, but what’s done is done. And, then of course, there’s the equally awkward term “intermediary,” which just confuses the hell out of most non-lawyers (and some lawyers). So “platform” came out in the wash as the most useful, least awkward option.

        And if Madrigal’s piece had just stuck with that interesting historical shift, and maybe dug into things like I did in the previous paragraph, that might be really compelling. Unfortunately, Madrigal goes a step or two further — and one that goes right up to the line (though it doesn’t totally cross it) of suggesting that there’s some legal significance to calling oneself a platform. This is something we’ve seen too many reporters do of late, spreading a false impression that internet “platforms” somehow get magic protections that internet “publishers” don’t get.

        As we’ve explained there is literally no distinction here. Usually people are making this argument with regards to CDA 230′s protections, but as we’ve discussed in great detail that law makes no distinction between a “platform” and a “publisher.” Instead, it applies to all “interactive computer services” including any publisher, so long as they host 3rd party content. Madrigal’s piece doesn’t call out CDA 230 the way others have, but, unfortunately, his piece absolutely can be read in a misleading way to suggest that there is some magical legal distinction here that matters. Specifically this part:

      • The ‘Platform’ Excuse Is Dying

        Technology companies have long had a simple answer to anyone who did not like what was happening on, in, or through them: Services like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were platforms, which merely provided the tools for free expression, and not publishers or broadcasters responsible for the content they distributed. It was in that spirit that the head of policy at Facebook, Monika Bickert, defended leaving up a misleadingly altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” Bickert said.

        In the same vein, YouTube initially defended the YouTuber Steven Crowder’s ability to post videos taunting Carlos Maza, a Vox video producer who is gay, with homophobic slurs. “As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone—from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts—to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site,” YouTube’s official account tweeted. “Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint.”

      • Polish Government’s Legal Challenge To EU Copyright Directive’s Article 13/17 Remains Shrouded In Mystery, But Details May Not Matter

        The awful Article 13/17 of the EU’s Copyright Directive only seems to have passed thanks to some MEPs voting for it by mistake. But the European Parliament was not the only arm of the European Union where there was strong resistance to the awful ideas contained in the upload filter proposal. Some individual governments were also against aspects of the law. For example, right at the end of the legislative process, in April 2019, no less than seven EU nations expressed their serious concerns.


        Those criticisms are made even more pointed by the reference to ACTA — the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that Polish citizens played an important part in helping to defeat in 2012. Using the hashtag #ACTA2 is a clear attempt to frame the Copyright Directive as more of the same bad stuff — with the hope that it will suffer the same fate.

        And yet despite that tantalizing tweet, the Polish government failed to provide any more details about what exactly its legal challenge against the Copyright Directive at the EU’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, (CJEU), involved. We do know that the complaint has been submitted, because the action has been assigned an official case number, C-401/19, but with all the fields containing placeholders at the time of writing.

        Tomasz Targosz, from the Institute of Intellectual Property Law, Jagiellonian University Kraków, has written an interesting post on the Kluwer Copyright Blog about the Polish move. In it, he provides invaluable information about the political context for this unexpected development. He points out that the failure to publish the official complaint may indicate that the argument it employs is weak, and unlikely to stand up to expert scrutiny. B

      • Sharing community and breaking the fast: CC Jordan’s 2019 Iftar

        Just last month, Muslims all over the world celebrated the holy month of Ramadan, the month of prosperity, sharing and spiritual healing. Since 2010, Arab world–based Creative Commons communities have celebrated Ramadan by organizing “Creative Commons Iftars” (CC Iftar) across the region.

        A CC Iftar is a social event, organized by the CC chapter’s community members, where members gather to break the fast, share the table and food, engage in conversations and discuss innovation, technology, and their community’s role as a CC Chapter. The Iftars are built around the basis of CC’s vision of sharing and giving from the community to the community. The Iftar has different goals depending on the chapter’s priorities, but the main objective of the CC Iftar is to share a meal with the CC community, friends and partners.

      • Prenda Mastermind Gets 14 Years In Prison, Told To Pay Back Just $1.5 Million

        The process may have taken forever, but Paul “welcome to the big leagues” Hansmeier, who was the apparent mastermind behind the Prenda copyright trolling scam has finally been sentenced to 14 years in prison, and told to repay $1.5 million to 704 victims of his scam. We’ve been covering the actions of Hansmeier and his partner in crime, John Steele, going back many, many years now. None of us have the time to recount all of the many scams they’ve pulled, but they took copyright trolling to new lows. They tried using Florida’s “pure bill of discovery” rules to try to abuse the system to get names to shakedown based on IP addresses. They sent totally unqualified and unprepared “associates” into courts to try to hide their own involvement in cases, they abused the CFAA by pretending movies they uploaded themselves were “hacked” in an attempt to get around restrictions on copyright trolling, they got someone they threatened to sue to basically take a dive in order to get access to other people to shake down (and then they went after that guy anyway). Oh, and then there was the whole thing about setting up their own fake movie production house, creating their own porn films to upload themselves, and then pretending in court that they were not the owners of the company in questions. And we don’t even have much time to get into the time Steele tried to forge the signature of his housekeeper to pretend he was the actual officer of one of those fake shell companies.

      • After RIAA Targets DJ & Producer Site Mixstep, Site Shuts Down

        A site created to allow DJs and producers to upload their work has shut itself down after being targeted by the RIAA. The operator of Mixstep informs TorrentFreak that despite banning errant users, tackling allegedly-infringing uploads is too much for the no-profit service.

      • Namecheap ‘Suspends’ Domain of File-hosting Service Nofile.io

        Namecheap has suspended the domain of file-hosting service Nofile.io. The suspension follows a few weeks after the RIAA targeted the site and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the music group’s inquiry directly or indirectly spurred the domain registrar into action.

      • ‘Pirating’ Cox Business Subscriber Can Remain Anonymous, Court Rules

        ISP Cox Communications recently agreed to identify thousands of business subscribers accused of sharing pirated material. The disclosure, part of the piracy liability lawsuit filed by several music labels, was protested with success by a lone business subscriber. The identities of thousands of other subscribers who didn’t object will be revealed nonetheless.

‘AI Taskforce’ is Actually a Taskforce for Software Patents

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Published Sunday:

Summary: The mainstream media has been calling just about everything “HEY HI!” (AI), but what it typically refers to is a family of old algorithms being applied in possibly new areas; patent maximalists in eastern Asia and the West hope that this mainstream media’s obsession can be leveraged to justify new kinds of patents on code


e have recently published several articles about how the European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) leveraged a bunch of meaningless buzzwords and misnomers to bypass whatever barriers exist to software patenting. It happened again in Korea last week [1, 2]. António Campinos still promotes software patents in Europe using the “AI” hype like Battistelli did and sometimes the nonsense that is “4IR” or “Industry 4.0″ or whatever the media fancies (or paid to fancy; the EPO paid some publishers to promote these terms and the money was disguised with the veneer of “study” or “research”).

“The EPO facilitates such patents mostly through buzzwords; it doesn’t care what European courts say.”Earlier this week D Young & Co LLP’s Arun Roy and Jonathan Jackson wrote about misusing the "blockchain" hype wave to get illegal software patents (that actual courts would throw out). Other law firms have just mentioned that ludicrous “AI taskforce” — a Trojan horse by which to enable software patents worldwide, in clear defiance of courts, using the “HEY HI!” hype wave (see the new paper from Prof. Clark D. Asay, entitled Artificial Stupidity).

To quote:

On June 13th 2019, the heads of the five largest patent offices in the world held their annual meeting in Incheon, Korea. The five patent offices, commonly known as the IP5 consist of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These offices are said to handle over 85% of the world’s patent applications. Apart from the five heads of the IP5, the meeting was attended by the Director of WIPO, Francis Gurry and chaired by KIPO Commissioner, Park Wonjoo. Representatives of the IP5 held discussions on various subjects including classification of emerging technologies, enhanced work sharing and harmonization of patent practices between the Office’s. Talks were also held in order to bring improvement to the Global Dossier services. The highlight of the event was the decision to collaborate with each other in order to launch a New Emerging Technologies and AI Taskforce that’s aims to establish initiatives to harness global technological developments. The next Annual meeting of the IP5 will take place in 2020 at CNIPA.

So the low-quality (patent quality) Chinese patent office will be next to lead? It’s the only patent office (among the large ones) that explicitly permits software patents, right? The EPO facilitates such patents mostly through buzzwords; it doesn’t care what European courts say. EPO officials don’t even appear in court when summoned to participate (over allegations of their corruption in Zagreb). It’s worth noting that Topić IP, Željko Topić‘s private outfit, is still marked as “under construction” (the English page). He left half a year ago, so now he’s ‘monetising’ a career of abuse in Croatia and the EPO (Munich, Germany). Above the law? Certainly. Would anyone look for legal advice from such people? Asking such people to advise on law is like asking pedophiles for child daycare recommendations.

Patent Maximalism is Dead in the United States

Posted in America, Patents at 12:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dead End sign

Summary: Last-ditch efforts, or a desperate final attempt to water down 35 U.S.C. § 101, isn’t succeeding; stacked panels are seen for what they really are and 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn't expected to change

THE latest (this morning's) daily links contain a lot of good news under “Intellectual Monopolies”. SCOTUS keeps declining Alice-like challenges (for the 43rd time), University of Minnesota proxies cannot invoke immunity/exemption from Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), prioritised examination is being scrutinised and so on. The patent maximalists aren’t saying much anymore; their blogs have become increasingly inactive and each month that goes by they have less and less to say. They’re becoming irrelevant. The USPTO‘s Director, Mr. Iancu, has been virtually invisible for months.

“The very purpose of these Senate hearings was very clear and those who organised these didn’t want anything balanced…”Gene Quinn of Watchtroll left as editor half a year ago. He now acknowledges (in “The Only Way to Counter False Claims on Patent Reform is to Enter the Debate”) that the patent hearings in the US Senate were rigged, or quite simply stacked. He admits there was an absence of voices in support of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and suggests that the problem is lack of participation by the lied-about side.

Is that so? No. Not really. The very purpose of these Senate hearings was very clear and those who organised these didn’t want anything balanced (these were designed for imbalance and were far from objective). People from groups such as CCIA and EFF pointed this out.

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