Bonum Certa Men Certa

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

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 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 infrastructure.

            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:

      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 COâ‚‚ emissions would go down significantly, only 27% of One Nation supporters got the right answer.

      When the report showed COâ‚‚ 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 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.

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