Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 27/4/2016: A Lot About OpenStack, Vivaldi 1.1 Released

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • A tech company accusing a Google-backed UK rival of copying code is now suing its customers
    London startup Yieldify has been hit with a second lawsuit from competitor Bounce Exchange, again alleging that it copied its code. The more recent suit also names some of Yieldify’s customers as defendants in the suit.

    Bounce Exchange, a New York-based company, alleges in New York and Texas court filings that it gave Yieldify executives a demonstration of its product in 2013 and that Yieldify went on to launch a very similar competing product.

  • I lived with an undercover officer – this BBC series gets it all wrong
    The TV drama is well produced but based on such an implausible premise it is misleading and inauthentic

  • Science

    • Court Smacks Down Kansas Christians for Labeling Evolution a Religion to Force School Ban
      A federal court rejected the argument from a Christian group in Kansas which said that evolution was religious “indoctrination” and should not be taught in schools.

      After the state of Kansas adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) argued that teaching science without a religious explanation for the creation of the universe would indoctrinate children into atheism.

      COPE said that teaching evolution took children “into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause and nature of life and the universe—‘where do we come from?’”

    • Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and others urge Congress to fund K-12 computer science education
      Some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have teamed up with governors and educators to ask Congress to provide $250 million in federal funding to school districts in order to give every single K-12 student in the nation an opportunity to learn how to code. On the legislative side, these tech CEOs are joined by governors from both sides, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R).

    • EC aims to build EUR 6.7 billion science cloud
      In 2017, the EC will make open by default all scientific data produced by future projects under the EUR 77 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding programme, the Commission announced on 19 April “The benefits of open data for Europe's science, economy and society will be enormous”, the statement quotes Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, as saying.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The U.S. Is Dropping Bombs Faster Than It Can Make Them

      Like about 90% of the news today, this would be terrific satire, if it wasn’t true.

      America is dropping so many bombs on ISIS that the country is in danger of running out.

      “We’re expending munitions faster than we can replenish them,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has asked Congress to include funding for 45,000 “smart bombs” in the Defense Department’s 2017 budget. But it could take a while to rebuild the stockpile.

    • US finally acknowledging al-Qaeda factor in breakdown of Ceasefire
      One of the frustrations of following the Syria conflict from the Arabic press is that when you then turn to the English language accounts, they tend to play down the importance of al-Qaeda or the Support Front (al-Jabha al-Nusra).

      In American parlance, there have just been three sides– the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army, and Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). The Free Syrian Army is depicted as democrats deserving US support (only some of them are).

    • From Brady to MH-17, Power Defines Reality
      From the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down to Tom Brady’s NFL suspension, reality gets defined not by facts and reason but by power and propaganda, reports Robert Parry.

    • Saudia Arabia and 9/11: the Kingdom May be in For a Nasty Shock
      Foreign leaders visiting King Salman of Saudi Arabia have noticed that there is a large flower display positioned just in front of where the 80-year-old monarch sits. On closer investigation, the visitors realised that the purpose of the flowers is to conceal a computer which acts as a teleprompter, enabling the King to appear capable of carrying on a coherent conversation about important issues.

    • The Return of the Coup in Latin America
      Venezuela and Brazil are the scenes of a new form of coup d’état that would set the continent’s political calendar back to its worst times. Meanwhile, in Argentina, the brutal model for the demolition of democracy is set forward by the continental oligarchic right and the hegemonic forces of US imperialism who wish to impose their model in the region.

      As we can see in the previews that test the memory of the peoples in the continent, it is difficult to accept that the new types of coups are actually softer and more covert than those which Latin America suffered for so long.

    • ISIL Endgame: Obama to send 250 more US Troops into Syria
      That Obama is focusing on this Kurdish-Arab coalition is a further slap in the face to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who are backing hard line far-right Salafi groups like the Freemen of Syria in the Aleppo area, who have been attacked by the Arab/Kurdish SDF, which is to their left.

    • Mexico Finds It Easier to Focus on Trump Than Its Own Failings
      During my many years as a correspondent in Mexico, some of my best reporting happened around dinner tables. So on a recent trip back, I dined with a range of old contacts to catch up on how Mexico was handling its most pressing challenges, like the 2014 student massacre in southern Mexico, which shocked the world and ignited protests across the country.

      But all anyone wanted to talk about was Donald Trump.

    • Trapped In Turkey: One Afghan Asylum Seeker’s Quest To Make A Life In The EU
      A 23-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, and an example of the collateral damage of America’s longest war, Kakar has been stuck in Turkey since March 20, waiting for human smugglers to get him to Greece. But things have recently tightened up in the Mediterranean route, with Greece even sending some asylum seekers back.

    • An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn from an Italian
      France has just sold 1 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Egypt. Prime Minister François Hollande flew there to sign the eye-watering deals. Other European nations are counting on Field Marshall Al-Sisi's regime and Turkey to keep ISIS in check. Egypt's help with Libya is crucial. The scenario is complex. What else can be done to do posthumous justice to the Cambridge PhD student? Not an easy one.

    • Left-wing, Antiwar Voice in Ukraine Assaulted by Rightist Extremists
      On April 22, the leader of the Union of Left Forces (Союз Лівих Сил) of Ukraine, Vasyl Volga, was attacked in Zaporizhia, southern Ukraine by ‘activists’ – extreme nationalists – of the Azov Battalion and Syla Natsii (Force of the Nation). Volga and his colleagues came to Zaporizhia to present the program of their party which fights for the cessation of war in Ukraine, the restoration of peace and integration of Donbass back into Ukraine.

      Volga and his colleagues were heading to a building in Zaporizhia to hold a press-conference. In an interview with Channel 112 television after the attack, Volga told the 112 journalist that he tried to talk to his attackers but they replied that Ukraine needs war and that they do not want politicians like Volga. One of these thugs attacked Volga from behind. Volga and his colleagues were able to escape thanks to Zaporizhia local police.

    • Meddlesome Empire: Obama and Client Britain’s EU Referendum
      Good to see that history, if it does not possess historical cunning, as Hegel rather foolishly observed, has, at the very least, some humour. US President Barack Obama has been busy making it his business to make sure that Britain remains in the European Union after the referendum elections of June. The urging has all the meaning of a Wall Street plea. If Britain leaves, there will be instability. A world of chaos will ensue.

      Obama in imperial mode has been some sight. Armed with words of condescension, he has treated Britons in a fashion they are rarely used to: being lectured as subjects in need of a good intellectual thrashing. For years, the nostalgic establishment Briton has become the supposedly sagacious backer of US power in various parts of the planet. The US has been assured that it can count on vassal insurance when Washington’s more bizarre imperial failures come to light.

    • Saudi Role Beyond the 28 Pages
      Release of the 28 secret pages from the congressional 9/11 report may be long overdue, but the depth of Saudi involvement with Islamic radicals goes much deeper, says Gareth Porter at Middle East Eye.

    • Orwell’s Ghost is Laughing
      What’s the difference between “boots on the ground” and military personnel wearing boots who are engaged in combat – and perhaps dying – on the ground? If you can answer that question convincingly, perhaps you’d like to apply for John Kirby’s job, because he’s not doing it very successfully. Kirby is the State Department spokesman who, in answer to a question from a reporter about the 250 US troops being sent to Syria, denied President Obama ever said there’d be “no boots on the ground” in Syria.

    • In Yemen, Saudi-Led Intervention Gives Rise to New Armed Religious Faction
      Thickly bearded men — some wrapped in traditional outfits, others masked — can be seen these days driving through Yemen’s central city of Taiz in pickup trucks mounted with machine guns.

      The men belong to a growing faction of Salafis, an ultra-conservative Sunni religious group. In Taiz, the Salafis were once known for being preachers in mosques and religious scholars, but now they have become the most dominant fighters among local resistance to the Shiite Houthi rebels, who ousted from power Yemen’s President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    • The Pentagon’s Medal Inflation
      Like grade inflation in college, the Pentagon has engaged in medal inflation, diluting awards for actual heroism by proliferating ribbons for bureaucratic skills, as Chuck Spinney and James Perry Stevenson explain.

    • 9/11 Commission Didn’t Clear Saudis
      As the Obama administration belatedly weighs releasing the 28 pages on the Saudi role in 9/11, Americans should not be fooled by claims minimizing the Saudi involvement, writes 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser.

    • Justin Trudeau outrage at beheading of Philippines hostage Ridsdel
      The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the beheading of a Canadian hostage kidnapped by Islamist militants in the Philippines.

      John Ridsdel, 68, was taken from a tourist resort with three others by the Abu Sayyaf group in September 2015.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Grauer’s Gorillas May Soon Be Extinct, Conservationists Say
      The Grauer’s gorilla, the world’s largest primate, has been a source of continual worry for conservationists for more than two decades. Longstanding conflict in the deep jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo left experts with no choice but to guess at how that gorilla subspecies may be faring.

      Now, with tensions abating somewhat, researchers finally have an updated gorilla head count — one that confirms their fears. According to findings compiled by an international team of conservationists, Grauer’s gorilla populations have plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 of the animals remaining.
    • Bold Moves Block Tapajós Mega-dam and Uphold Indigenous Rights, for Now
      In the shadow of last week's contentious vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's indigenous agency FUNAI and environmental agency IBAMA made unexpected, decisive rulings in defense of indigenous rights and ecological protection in the Amazon. As if pouncing on the opportunity to finally do their jobs without the overbearing interference of an embattled executive, FUNAI moved to demarcate a besieged indigenous territory while IBAMA took this cue to suspend approval of São Luiz do Tapajós, a mega-dam projected to flood it and displace its Munduruku inhabitants.

    • CNN Is More Focused On Running Fossil Fuel Ads Than It Is On Covering Major Climate Stories
      If you tuned into CNN earlier this year, when NASA And NOAA announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record, you weren’t likely to see much coverage of that announcement. In fact, you were more likely to see an ad for the fossil fuel industry than a news story on how fossil fuels are driving the planet’s warming, according to a new report.

    • Flint and America's Corroded Trust
      It's been the subject of protests and debates, but if anything is improving in Flint, Michigan, it's hard for any of us on the ground to see.

      One of the city's lead pipes has been replaced for the benefit of the press, but more than 8,000 additional service lines are likely corroded and still leaching toxic lead. It took a mom, a pediatrician, and a professor in Virginia to discover Flint's children were being poisoned. It took cable television to get the nation to give a damn.

    • The Great Barrier Reef Won’t Survive Bleaching Events If Global Warming Continues
      The Great Barrier Reef’s coral is dying, and it may never be the same again.

      Last month, as historically high ocean temperatures bathed the waters around the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian government raised the coral bleaching threat to the highest level possible.

      On an aerial reconnaissance trip from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, researchers observed the parts of the reef that are supposed to be the most pristine and vibrant. What they saw was chilling.
    • Chernobyl at 30: Thousands Still Living in the Shadow of Nuclear Disaster
      Just this week, the Associated Press described Belarus, where 70 percent of the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl landed, as "a nation showing little regard for the potentially cancer-causing isotopes still to be found in the soil."

    • 30 Ways Chernobyl and Dying Nuke Industry Threaten Our Survival
      April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion at theChernobyl nuclear power plant.

      It comes as Germany, which is phasing out all its reactors, has asked Belgium to shut two of its nukes because of the threat of terrorism.

      It also comes as advancing efficiencies and plunging prices in renewable energy remind us that nukes stand in the way of solving our climate crisis.

    • What does justice for slain Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres mean?
      Particularly worrisome to human rights organizations was the government’s response within the first 48 hours after the murder, in which investigators allegedly tampered with the crime scene and treated COPINH members as suspects, while ignoring the escalating death threats Berta had been receiving for her opposition to Agua Zarca — a hydroelectric dam project that would have impacted communities surrounding the Gualcarque River.

    • ‘Days of Revolt’: Chris Hedges, Tim DeChristopher Discuss Far-Reaching Effects of Climate Change
      In this week’s episode of “Days of Revolt,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges sits down with Tim DeChristopher, founder of the Climate Disobedience Center.

      The two analyze how the industrialized world fails to significantly confront climate change, beginning with the “exercise in make-believe” that was the 2015 Paris climate conference.

    • Saudi Prince Announces Plan To Free Kingdom From Oil ‘Addiction’
      Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia — second in line behind the crown prince, and his father, King Salman. Before his father ascended the throne a year ago, Prince Mohammed began to quietly plan for his kingdom’s future with the encouragement of the late King Abdullah, according to Bloomberg. Kings and princes frequently plan for the future, but this time the House of Saud wants to be able to thrive in a low-carbon economy.

    • The Chernobyl accident in Ukraine, 30 years after
      April, 26, 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the accident in Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which resulted in a very large release of radionuclides which were deposited over a very wide area in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Europe and, most particularly, in Belarus, Northern Ukraine and part of Western Russia.

      Much work has been conducted immediately after the accident and in the 30 years since in order to secure the area, limit the exposure of the population, provide support and medical follow-up to those affected and study the health consequences of the accident.

    • Mitsubishi Lied About Vehicle Emissions for 25 Years
      Following VW's smog-testing cheating scandal in September, Mitsubishi on Tuesday announced that its employees used outdated emissions testing methods outlawed in Japan on millions of vehicles sold since 1991.

      The outdated methods violated Japanese regulatory standards and provided deceptively low results for emissions measurements. The environmental impact of Mitsubishi's decades-long deception is as of yet still undetermined.
    • “There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s
      Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported.

      DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.

    • Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s
      Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported.

      DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.

    • 30 Ways Chernobyl and Dying Nuke Industry Threaten Our Survival
      April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

      It comes as Germany, which is phasing out all its reactors, has asked Belgium to shut two of its nukes because of the threat of terrorism.

      It also comes as advancing efficiencies and plunging prices in renewable energy remind us that nukes stand in the way of solving our climate crisis.

  • Finance

    • Kansas Governor Justifies Kicking 15,000 People Off Food Stamps
      For over five years now, Kansas has served as an economic policy experiment for anti-tax, small-government conservatives. Their lab work is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, crippling public service budgets, and making life harder for low-income families without reducing the state’s poverty rate at all.

      With his political star beginning to tarnish, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) came to Washington on Wednesday to discuss his poverty policies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. At one point, the embattled governor justified his policy of forcing people off of food stamps if they can’t find a job by likening low-income and jobless people to lazy college students.

    • ‘We’re At War’ Says Organizer Behind Education Protests Sweeping The Country
      Keron Blair will look you directly in the eye the whole time he’s talking to you, making sure you absorb every single word he’s saying. His personality seemed a bit reserved when he sat down with me at a Starbucks to discuss Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, the coalition he is director of, which been responsible for organizing and supporting school protests across the country. But when you listen to his speeches, you hear a minister’s voice.

      “Public education…could die on our watch,” Blair said at a recent event for the Milwaukee Teachers Association. “The reality is what drew me to this fight is the shared acknowledgement that we are in fact at war, and what I’ve learned about wartime is that you cannot operate with the same kind of rules. You’ve got to make some wartime adjustments.”

    • Fast Food Industry Looks To Skirt Labor Law, With An Assist From Scott Walker
      With fast food workers on the march nationwide, deep-pocketed corporate interests have quietly turned to state lawmakers for help.

      The quiet push uses low-profile legislation to shore up a liability firewall that has made it hard for workers in some industries to pursue their labor rights fully since the mid-1980s. Last month, buried in a stack of 59 different laws, Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill that made Wisconsin the latest state to join the party.

      Businesses in the state that use franchising agreements to insulate corporate headquarters from legal liability down at ground level will have a slightly easier time thanks to Wisconsin Act 203. The law prohibits state labor agencies and judges from applying the same logic the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has invoked in recent years to eat away at a common corporate liability shield.

    • Monster Corporate Sovereignty Ruling Against Russia Overturned By Dutch Court, But It's Hard To Tell Whether It's Over Yet
      By now, the theoretical risks of including corporate sovereignty chapters in TPP and TAFTA/TPP are becoming more widely known. But as Techdirt wrote back in 2014, there's already a good example of just how bad the reality can be, in the form of the monster-sized case involving Russia. An investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunal ruled that Vladimir Putin really ought to pay $50 billion to people who were majority shareholders in the Yukos Oil Company. The Russian government didn't agree, and so naturally took further legal action to get the ruling overturned.

    • On Revolutionary Attitude
      I am willing to predict that Cameron, Blair and Clinton all find their way on to Philip Green’s new yacht. I am willing to bet that no ex-employee of BHS ever does.


      The truth is that there is very little hope for young people in the UK. They are saddled with massive tuition fee debt as they leave a commoditised education system in which University Principals are paid €£300,000 a year plus. They move in to a market which does not provide nearly enough graduate level jobs for the number of graduates produced. Work they do find leaves them at the mercy of their employers with very few rights or benefits. They will normally live most of their lives in private sector rental, where each will be a small part of the astonishing 9 billion pounds per year the taxpayer gives to private landlords in housing benefit – yet another direct transfer by the state from ordinary people to the rich. Indeed, for a great many tenants, every penny they pay in tax goes in effect to their landlord in housing benefit.

    • UK's Secret TTIP Assessment: No Benefits, Plenty of Risks
      The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would have "lots of risks and no benefits" for the UK, according to a government analysis released publicly Monday through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the advocacy group Global Justice Now.

    • New York Times Finds Verizon Strike Beneath Notice
      The New York Times actually mentioned the ongoing strike against Verizon on Tuesday.

      David Wacker, a service technician with Verizon who is one of around 39,000 landline and cable employees participating in the largest U.S. strike action in four years, was quoted in an article about Bernie Sanders supporters, which noted, in a subordinate clause, that he was on strike.

      That brief reference was the first mention of the Verizon labor action on the news pages of the New York Times in a week.

      The most recent references before that also had to do with Sanders, when he visited a Verizon picket line in midtown Manhattan on April 18. Outside of those Sanders-focused stories, the New York Times hasn’t run a story on this major labor battle since its second day of action, nearly two weeks ago.

    • Did The Beatles Help Fuel The Reagan Revolution?
      Overcrowded classrooms. Crumbling bridges. Shuttered libraries. These have become our everyday realities after over a generation of tax-cutting political bravado.

      A shrinking middle class. Rising dead-end poverty. The splurges of a new super rich. These have also become the markers of our time.

    • How Bill Gates and His Billionaire Pals Used Their Enormous Wealth to Start Privatizing the Schools in Washington State
      Once upon a time, the super-wealthy endowed their tax-exempt charitable foundations and then turned them over to boards of trustees to run. The trustees would spend the earnings of the endowment to pursue a typically grand but wide-open mission written into the foundation’s charter—like the Rockefeller Foundation’s 1913 mission “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” Today’s multibillionaires are a different species of philanthropist; they keep tight control over their foundations while also operating as major political funders—think Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, or Walmart heiress Alice Walton. They aim to do good in the world, but each defines “good” idiosyncratically in terms of specific public policies and political goals. They translate their wealth, the work of their foundations, and their celebrity as doers-of-good into influence in the public sphere—much more influence than most citizens have.

      Call it charitable plutocracy—a peculiarly American phenomenon, increasingly problematic and in need of greater scrutiny. Like all forms of plutocracy, this one conflicts with democracy, and exactly how these philanthropists coordinate tax-exempt grantmaking with political funding for maximum effect remains largely obscure. What follows is a case study of the way charitable plutocracy operates on the ground. It’s a textbook example of the tug-of-war between government by the people and uber-philanthropists as social engineers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Trump University Fraud Case Could Become A Big Problem For Trump This Fall
      GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump may have to testify shortly before November’s election in a case accusing his now-defunct Trump University of fraud. On Tuesday, a New York judge ruled the New York Attorney General’s case against Trump University will go to trial.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman first filed the lawsuit in 2013 and only recently received the go-ahead from the New York Appellate Division.
    • Here Are 10 Ways to Make Elections More Democratic
      Voter suppression is real and comes in many forms.

    • Clueless CEOs at the Top
      The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Populist Tone Rankles America’s Executives.”

      Apparently the CEOs and board members of big American companies are “increasingly frustrated” by the anti-business rhetoric of both parties, and concerned such sentiments might translate into meaningful public policy change after the election.

      “The precipitousness of the political debate is a little scary right now,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told The Wall Street Journal. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt informed investors that relations between government and big business is “the worst I have ever seen.”
    • Hillary: Wall Street’s Golden Girl
      So it’s a go for Zeus to launch the thunderbolt. Neo-Athena – minus the wisdom – Hillary Clinton, Queen of Chaos, Goddess of War, Empress of the Perma-Smirk, will finally have her shot at the U.S. presidency. After the Battle of New York, she’s on top on number of votes; number of states; number of pledged delegates; number of superdelegates.
    • Dark Money Group Tells the Government it Won’t Spend on Elections While Bragging to Donors it Will "Win Senate Seats" with "No Donor Disclosure”
      Newly-released documents expose how shadowy political operatives flaunt campaign finance law to keep donors secret – and that federal regulators are asleep at the switch.

      The Commission on Hope Growth and Opportunity (CHGO) formed in February 2010 – just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC –told the Internal Revenue Service it would not “spend any money attempting to influence” any “election.”

      Shortly after making those sworn assertions to the IRS, however, CHGO officials prepared a memo and PowerPoint slides telling donors that the group’s goal is to “win Senate seats” and to “make a measureable impact on the election outcome” but “with no donor disclosure.” Citizens United, the group told donors, “creates unprecedented opportunity.”
    • Leading Advocates of “Dark Money” Previously Supported Disclosure
      The campaign to allow money to be spent in the political system without a hint of its origin — the growing phenomenon known as dark money — racked up a major victory last week when a federal judge in Los Angeles issued a permanent injunction ending California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s attempt to obtain the donor list for Americans for Prosperity, the primary campaign and elections arm of the Koch brothers’ $889 million advocacy network.
    • Here's What Today's Primary Voters Think About the Planet's Most Important Issue

    • Bernie Sanders Blames Closed Primaries As Path To The Nomination Narrows
      Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a crushing defeat Tuesday night, losing three out of five states to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by significant margins at press time.

      In a speech shortly after most polls closed at 8 pm, Sanders blamed his loss on closed primaries, which barred independent voters from participating in four of five primaries. He did win Rhode Island, which allows participation by independent voters.

    • Sanders’ Choice
      Should Bernie Sanders abandon the Democratic Party, which he’s technically not a member of, and make a run of some kind either as an Independent or in amalgamation with Jill Stein and the Green Party? It’s a fair question, one many of his supporters will be asking.

    • Seymour Hersh on Sanders vs. Clinton: 'Something Amazing Is Happening in This Country'
      Legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh weighs in on the foreign policy positions of the 2016 presidential candidates. "For me to say who I’m going to vote for and all that … I’m not a political leader, that’s not what I’m into," Hersh says. "But I will say this: Something that’s amazing is happening in this country, and for the first time, I do think it’s going to be very hard for a lot of the people who support Sanders to support Hillary Clinton. … There’s a whole group of young people in America, across the board, all races, etc., etc., who have just had it with our system."

    • Gutless Democrats Fear Fights: Why Triangulating Neoliberal Clintonites Back Big Business Over People
      But it’s not just that American factory workers were sold out. At the same time, professionals (the same class of people who tell us it’s inevitable) were carefully protected. “The arguments on gains from trade are the same with doctors as with textiles and steel,” Baker noted. “The reason that we import manufacturing goods and not doctors is that we designed the rules of trade that way.” Those rules made it easy to off-shore jobs, but retained obstacles to foreign professionals moving here to work. “The reason is simple,” Baker pointed out: “Doctors have more political power than autoworkers.”

    • Donald Trump Is No Match for the Cruz-Kasich Tag Team
      Don’t call it strategy, call it strategery: Ted Cruz and John Kasich are going to cooperate to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination. Also, I don’t know, maybe a hurricane will dishevel Trump’s comb-over and reveal his bald pate, causing such mortification that he quits the race. Or maybe there will be an earthquake next week in Indiana, affecting only precincts where Trump has a lead.

    • Ted Cruz Literally Tells Transgender People They Should Only Pee At Home
      Ted Cruz’s tour de transphobia, launched last week to capitalize on Donald Trump’s criticism of North Carolina’s anti-transgender law, has embraced a new extreme position. Speaking to reporters this weekend in Indiana, he actually admitted that he doesn’t believe transgender people should be allowed to use any restroom except the ones in the privacy of their own home.

    • Cruz Reminds Us That Social Conservatism Has Roots in Prejudice
      All Cruz is really doing is reminding Americans that social conservatism was born in anti-integration politics and anti-gay hysteria.

    • Sanders Didn’t Start The Fire, So Don’t Ask Him To Put It Out
      Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign operation has been anything but subtle in suggesting that now that her win in the New York primary Tuesday has made her nomination at the Democratic convention pretty much inevitable, it’s time for the Bernie Sanders campaign to die with dignity.

      Let’s get on with the laudatory memorial service, the campaign seems to be saying, and then the estate sale, in which Sanders’ cadre of fervent and largely young supporters can be snapped up for pennies on the dollar.

      But Sanders, to the Clinton campaign’s frustration, is not bowing to this bit of conventional wisdom because the Sanders campaign is not a typical campaign. It is, to use Sanders’ oft-repeated word, a “revolution.”

    • GOP Mega-Donors Are So Frustrated by Their Failure to Buy Elections That Some Are Actually Bowing Out
      With all the talk of legalized corruption, it should be good news that money can't always buy an election—case in point, Jeb Bush. But even months after the once "inevitable GOP frontrunner" dropped out, GOP megadonors have been actively throwing money at Trump's opponents, without catching a break.

      “John Kasich’s campaign took in $4.5 million and his supporting super-PAC $2.8 million for the month,” The Hill reported, also stating that “Ted Cruz took in just $12.5 million in March—less than half of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign haul.”

      Any average person would look at these numbers and think, “That’s a lot of money.” But it’s a actually not enough money.

    • Winning in Losing: How Sanders pushed Clinton to the Left
      Bernie Sanders’ path to the nomination as the Democratic Party standard bearer in 2016 was all but closed off by Clinton’s four big wins on Tuesday. His only hope had been to get close enough to her in pledged delegates to have a substantial number of super-delegates switch to him. (This kind of switch actually took place in summer of 2008 when super-delegates deserted Clinton for Obama). Sanders could not turn a string of primary wins into a victory because he went on splitting the state’s delegates with Clinton. His loss in New York was probably already fatal to his campaign, but the delegate count turned radically against him yesterday. If she can keep her super-delegates, which she now can, Clinton is only a couple hundred away from clinching the nomination (she has on the order of 2,168 with super-delegates, and just needs 2383). Even if she only gets half of California’s 475 Democratic pledged delegates, that would put her over (and she did defeat Barack Obama in California in 2008).

    • Clinton and Trump Edge Closer to Party Nominations, as Sanders Softens His Confrontational Tone
      Donald Trump moved closer to the Republican nomination on Tuesday as he swept five mid-Atlantic primaries, while Bernie Sanders slipped further behind Hillary Clinton—despite winning the smallest state, Rhode Island, and promising to keep campaigning to influence the Democratic Party's agenda.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • What White Teachers Can Learn From Black Preachers
      Researchers have found that such mental sorting is commonplace in American classrooms and has huge impact on a student's ability to succeed. When teachers think a student is "teachable," he or she supports that student in hundreds of invisible ways: by giving them more time to answer questions, or through visual cues such as nodding and smiling. What's more, new research found that when a white teacher and a black teacher evaluate the same black student, white teachers are almost 40 percent less likely to think the black student will graduate high school. That same bias often translates into a white teacher being less rigorous with the student and more prone to discipline him or her.

    • Man Sentenced To Die After ‘Expert’ Testified That Black People Are Dangerous
      After Buck was convicted of murder, his own attorneys retained a now-discredited psychologist who testified that Mr. Buck is more likely to be a danger to society in the future because he is black. This testimony then went unchallenged at a later, crucial state court proceeding even though Buck was then represented by a new lawyer. The only new claim that lawyer raised at this proceeding was “based on a non-existent provision of the penal code.”

    • As Poles shift right, democracy runs scarce
      Poland has become yet another European country to take the risky route of a nationalist policy, much to the despair of its international partners, including but not limited to the European Commission, Council of Europe and the United States.

    • Law and policy round-up: Theresa May’s call for the UK to leave the ECHR

      Theresa May, the Home Secretary, gave a speech yesterday which included a call for the United Kingdom to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

      The speech is set out in full at ConservativeHome, and (as it appears to be a statement on behalf of her department) it is also now on the Home Office site.

      The statement is, of course, more about the politics of Brexit and succession to the Tory leadership than anything serious about law and policy. It is a sort of counter-balance to her position on the UK remaining in the European Union.

    • immigration issues
      Peter and Mickey spend the hour examining immigration issues. They speak to two undocumented young adults who arrived in the US as children. Also on the show are two immigration attorneys, who explain the Obama Administration’s DACA and DAPA actions — one of which is now before the Supreme Court — and the millions of US residents affected by them.

    • Samantha Bee on the Racist, Sexist and Historically Ignorant Responses to Harriet Tubman on the 20
      Placing one of the most important black women in American history on the 20 dollar bill hasn’t been so popular among conservatives, explains the “Full Frontal” host.

    • A Syrian constitution by August: by whom and for whom?
      This comes after the December 2015 UN Security Council Resolution endorsing the road map for the peace process in Syria, and setting a timetable for talks. Resolution 2254 already set optimistic targets including a six-month political process to arrive at an agreement on both governance arrangements and a process for drafting a new constitution – while also acknowledging “the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process”. Kerry and Lavrov’s call for a draft constitution by August seems to accelerate this already problematic and challenging timetable and raises alarm in light of recent constitutional transitions.

    • What I Told the Attorney General and the HUD Secretary About My Criminal Record
      After four decades of mass incarceration and over-criminalization in the United States, as many as 1 in 3 Americans now have some type of criminal record, and nearly half of U.S. children now have a parent with a record.

      Today, as part of the Department of Justice’s inaugural National Reentry Week, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro visited Philadelphia to hear how brushes with the criminal justice system have stood in the way of employment, housing, and more—and how people have persevered.

      Here are three stories told to Attorney General Lynch and Secretary Castro—they are representative of the experiences of millions of Americans held back by a criminal record.

    • In / Out: Which Way for the European Union?
      Egyptian Marxist and political economist, Samir Aziz on the other hand has long made known his preference for what he refers to as “convergence of diversity.” Diversity is what the left does well, so why can’t it make it work?

      Part of the problem is that we don’t have a good working definition for such a condition of diversity. Those of us who grew up in a north west European culture have been exposed to the tradition of precise and clinical thinking. We sometimes call this “clear thinking” even in the midst of muddle. This has served us well, especially in the physical world. In the social world where diversity thrives and often seems to be ahead of our particular curve its utility is less certain.

      So we are left with one of life’s old conundrums. How to do the right thing, how to do the thing right? The technocrats and many of my friends in political parties seek to eliminate risk. Others accept risk – this is not just for the entrepreneur classes – it’s part of diversity.

      In the meantime RISE – like them or loath them – goes to the electorate with a convergence of diversity working model, ready to be tested in the referendum. That’s got to be a good start.

    • More Than a Few Rogue Cops: the Disturbing History of Police in Schools
      Another week, another video of police abuse surfaces. This time the video shows San Antonio school resource officer Joshua Kehm body-slamming 12-year-old Rhodes Middle School student Janissa Valdez. Valdez was talking with another student, trying to resolve a verbal conflict between the two, when Kehm entered and attacked her. “Janissa! Janissa, you okay?” a student asked before exclaiming, “She landed on her face!” In a statement on the incident, co-director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne Davis wrote, “Once again, a video captured by a student offers a sobering reminder that we cannot entrust school police officers to intervene in school disciplinary matters that are best suited for trained educators and counselors.”

    • Four Ways To Fight For Democracy
      As we slog through another negative, money-saturated presidential campaign, Americans are doing everything they can to let their leaders know they are fed up. As if the votes for anti-establishment candidates weren’t enough to send the message, thousands of activists spent the last week in Washington and more than 1,200 were arrested in sit-ins at the Capitol.

    • Watch: Samantha Bee's Stunning Interview with Wrongfully Accused and Tortured Former Gitmo Prisoner
    • Watch: Samantha Bee Shuts Down Conservative Whining about Tubman on the $20

    • The One-State Mirage
      The reality is that the settlers are there precisely because of a subsidy that involves American tax monies. This in turn means that, should Americans demand of their tax dollars cease being used to fund the illegal settlements, the Israelis will either have to do some serious financial restructuring or the settlers will have to move to subsidized housing inside Israel proper. Those who refuse to budge will have to do so in a Palestinian state. Think removing this subsidy is impossible? How long did it take Bill Clinton to get rid of the subsidy to poor mothers via Welfare?
    • Denying a Cadet Her Right to Wear Hijab Will Not ‘Make America Great’
      Should a Muslim woman who enrolls as a cadet at the Citadel, a public military college in South Carolina, be permitted to wear hijab with her uniform?

      One student cadet at the Citadel doesn’t think so. As The Washington Post recently reported, when Cadet Nick Pinelli found out that an incoming Muslim student had requested a religious accommodation to wear hijab, he took to his Facebook page, publicly proclaiming it “shameful that people expect to be accommodated by groups that are opposite to themselves” and calling on people to “Make America Great Again.”

    • 6 Corrupt Police Forces That Didn't Even Pretend to Give A F
      In the last few years, there seems to have been a drastic increase of police violence plaguing the United States, as if everyone with a badge is auditioning to become Mad Max in the pending societal breakdown. However, the even more depressing truth is that things haven't really gotten worse. Quite a few cops have been dragging their asses way over the thin blue line since time immemorial. For instance ...

    • A Year After the Baltimore Uprising, the Real Work Is Just Beginning
      ONE YEAR AND one day after Freddie Gray succumbed to the spine injury he received during a 45-minute drive in a police van, the Baltimore police commissioner sat on stage before a room packed with people who had poured into the city’s streets demanding justice. On the walls, black-and-white photos of protesters reminded everyone of the rawness and emotion of Baltimore’s breaking point.
    • Jurors caught using social media could be fined up to $1,500
      Jurors who don't obey a judge's admonition to refrain from researching the Internet about a case or using social media during trial could be dinged up to $1,500 under proposed California legislation.

      The first-of-its-kind measure, now before the California Assembly, would give a new weapon to judges in the Golden State who can already hold misbehaving jurors in contempt. But under the new law, designed to combat mistrials, a judge would have an easier time issuing a rank-and-file citation under the proposed law instead of having to go through all of the legal fuss to charge somebody with contempt.

      Judges routinely warn jurors not to research their case or discuss it on social media. Normally, errant jurors are dismissed without any penalty, and sometimes a mistrial ensues. Under the new law, levying a fine would be as easy as issuing a traffic ticket.

      "We are all on our cellphones and iPads all the time," the bill's sponsor, state Assemblyman Rich Gordon, said. "The problem with that is that it can lead to a mistrial. We’ve seen that happen across the country where verdicts have been tossed out, trials have had to be redone."

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New Report Shows Which Brazilian ISPs Stand With Their Users
      We entrust our most sensitive, private, and personal information to the companies which provide us access to the Internet. Collectively, these companies are privy to the online conversations, behavior, and even the location of almost every Internet user. As this reality increasingly penetrates the Brazilian public consciousness, Brazilian Internet users are justifiably concerned about which companies are willing to take a stand for their privacy and protection of personal data. That is why InternetLab, one of the leading independent research centers on Internet policy in Brazil, has evaluated key Brazilian telecommunications companies’ policies to assess their commitment to user privacy when the government comes calling for their users' personal data.

    • NBC Smells Cord Cutting On The Wind, Will Reduce 'SNL' Ad Load By 30% Next Season
      For several years now we've noted how instead of adapting to the cord cutting age, many in the cable and broadcast industry have responded with the not-so-ingenious approach of aggressive denial, raising rates as fast as humanly possible, and stuffing even more ads into every television hour. And when broadcasters can't get the ads to fit, they'll just resort to speeding up or editing programs to ensure that they're hammering paying customers with more ads than ever. Given the rise in alternative viewing options, this obviously isn't the most ingenious form of market adaptation.

    • FCC Green Lights 'Crushing' Charter Cable Mega-Merger
      When the deal is complete, two-thirds of the nation's high-speed Internet subscribers will be under the control of just two corporations, Charter and Comcast.

    • Measurement Lab explores the current state of the Internet
      M-Lab isn't just about open data either—it's an open platform for a few different research projects. The one that most people know is called Network Diagnostic Test (NDT). NDT measures your Internet connection by seeing how much information it can transfer between you and a server in 10 seconds. Everything about how NDT works is published openly, and anytime someone runs an NDT test the data is published to M-Lab and available for others to study and analyze.

    • Brazilian Cybercrime Bills Threaten Open Internet for 200 Million People
      Brazilian internet freedom activists are nervous. On Wednesday, a committee in the lower house of Congress, the Câmera dos Deputados, will vote on seven proposals ostensibly created to combat cybercrime. Critics argue the combined effect will be to substantially restrict open internet in the country by peeling back the right to anonymity, and providing law enforcement with draconian powers to censor online discourse and examine citizens’ personal data without judicial oversight.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WHO Debates Changes To Safeguards Against Undue Influence By Outside Actors [Ed: The World Health Organization has already complained about the corrupting influence of Bill Gates, who’s trying to profit from it]
      Meanwhile, some 34 civil society groups issued a letter [pdf] this week, titled, “Save the World Health Organization from the undue influence of corporations and corporate linked entities.”

    • Innovative R&D Financing Discussed At Geneva Health Forum
      Given this year’s theme for the forum of ‘Sustainable and Affordable Innovations in Healthcare’, the conference discussed innovation across a whole range of issues. This included sessions on the multi-sectoral approaches to health in the era of SDGs, in dealing with viruses such as Zika and Ebola, on health cooperatives, on the IT revolution for health, innovation solutions for migrations and health, access to innovation at scale for Universal Health Coverage, and on healthcare insurance, among many others. There were also side events on clinical trials and on the future of global public health procurement.

      At an open session on April 21, on ‘Innovation Funding for R&D and Access to Global Health’, TDR – the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases – presented the proposal for a global financial mechanism. The session’s speakers at the Geneva Health Forum included representatives from TDR, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the University of Geneva.

    • Irony? Publisher Celebrates IP By Revoking IP
      There’s no better way to celebrate something than by doing the opposite of it. That seems to be the message of a leading publishing company. In a campaign today to hail the virtues of intellectual property, it appears to be hoping to gain goodwill – and possibly some sales – by removing intellectual property on some of its products.


      It provides open access to numerous – admittedly intriguing – chapters from copyrighted academic books and journals, like samplers of products for sale.

      Exceptions and limitations to copyright are a part of copyright law. But publishers have been under fire for years to make products open access in order to encourage sharing and creativity, and have had to defend the benefits to authors, research and business of copyrighting content.

    • Trademarks

      • Washington NFL Team Asks Supreme Court To Hear ‘Redskins’ Trademark Case
        On Monday, the Washington Redskins asked the Supreme Court to hear its case, which challenges the constitutionality of allowing a trademark to be barred if it “disparages” others.

      • Washington Redskins Appeal To SCOTUS On Trademark And Seek To Tie Their Case To That Of The Slants
        We've talked quite a bit around here about the saga of the Washington Redskins trademark cancellation. The long-held mark by the football team was cancelled after a group of Native Americans petitioned against it, claiming that the team's name was disparaging of their people. After I, dare I say, flip-flopped from cheering on the cancellation to having the team itself change my mind with a delightfully vulgar ruling, which demonstrated that the USPTO grants all kinds of marks on "offensive" terms, the current status of the trademark remains cancelled. Well, the team has now appealed to the US Supreme Court, not only seeking to have its own case reviewed, but also seeking to tie their case to another that we've talked a bit about, that of the Asian music group, The Slants.

        The Slants' case is different from the Redskins', with the music group never getting its trademark registration, also based on the notion that its name was disparaging of the very group of people who comprised the band. An appeals court declared the refusal of the band's trademark applications was a First Amendment violation, rightly. But the USPTO has appealed to the Supreme Court. The Redskins, meanwhile, have petitioned the Supreme Court to take the two cases in tandem, arguing that the slight differences between the two would give the court a well-rounded look at the question of whether blocking disparaging trademarks was a constitutional violation.

      • Hong Kong accepts first movement mark registration
        The Trade Marks Registry recently accepted the first movement mark for registration since the IPD published guidance two years ago. What lessons are there for applicants?

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Says Pirate Sites Will Take Advantage of Set-Top Box Proposals

        Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission promised to "tear down anti-competitive barriers" by opening up the set-top box market in the United States and freeing consumers from $20 billion a year in rental charges. The proposals have spooked content owners, not least the MPAA who fear that pirate sites will take the opportunity to build a "black market" business.
      • The Misguided Plan to Expand A Performers’ Veto: More "Copyright Creep" Through Policy Laundering
        A proposal to rewrite parts of copyright law being pushed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would create new restrictions for filmmakers, journalists, and others using recordings of audiovisual performances. Against the background of the the Next Great Copyright Act lurching forward and the Copyright Office convening a new series of roundtables on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, few have noticed the USPTO push happening now. But these proposals are a classic instance of copyright creep and are dangerous for users, creators, and service providers alike.
      • Copyright Maximalists And Lobbyists Celebrate Vancouver Aquarium Censoring Critical Documentary With Copyright
        We've written many times about how copyright is frequently used for censorship, and just recently we wrote about law professor John Tehranian's excellent article detailing how copyright has a free speech problem, in that people using copyright to censor has become more common and more brazen. Whenever we write this kind of thing, however, I get pushback from copyright maximalist lobbyists and lawyers, who insist that no one really wants to use copyright for censorship purposes, but merely to "protect" their works.

        I'm finding those claims difficult to square with the following story, which I only found out about because the Copyright Alliance -- a front group for the big legacy entertainment companies, and put together by some well known lobbyists -- tweeted out a link to a story on a blog by Hugh Stephens, entitled A Whale of a (Copyright) Tale. Stephens is a former copyright policy guy for Time Warner as well as a former diplomat, who blogs about copyright issues in Canada.

        He happily tells the tale of how the Vancouver Aquarium has successfully blocked filmmaker Gary Charbonneau, who made a documentary critical of the Aquarium's treatment of dolphins and whales, from using clips from the Aquarium's website. In the original version of the documentary, approximately five minutes of the hour-long film came from clips he pulled from the Aquarium's own website. The Aquarium wanted to get the entire film blocked by the court, giving you a pretty clear vision of how they were looking to censor the film. While the courts have not gone that far, they did order Charbonneau to make a new edit and remove all of those clips.

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