Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Techrights

Syndicate content
Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 2 min ago

Links 24/5/2019: PostgreSQL 12 Beta 1 and Rust 1.35 Released

3 hours 41 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • Is bare Kubernetes still too messy for enterprises?

      Kubernetes is touted as a computing cure-all, fixing up multicloud networking to data mobility. The open-source platform for orchestrating containers (a virtualized method for running distributed applications) may or may not be the panacea it’s hyped up to be. What is certain is that user-ready Kubernetes isn’t as easy as it sounds, so customers should shop carefully for a provider.

      Enterprise users of Kubernetes and containers may not guess just how many moving parts are under the covers. There are a ton of tiny pieces that have to line up just so in order for them to work, according to Mark Shuttleworth (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of Canonical Ltd. He likens these technologies to carefully constructed “fictions.”

    • Data as a microservice: Distributed data-focused integration

      Microservices is the architecture design favored in new software projects; however, getting the most from this type of approach requires overcoming several previous requirements. As the evolution from a monolithic to a distributed system takes place not only in the application space but also at the data store, managing your data becomes one of the hardest challenges. This article examines some of the considerations for implementing data as a service.

    • Container Adoption Shoots Up Among Enterprises In 2019: Survey

      Majority of IT professionals now run container technologies, with 90 percent of those running in production and 7 in 10 running at least 40 percent of their application portfolio in containers — an impressive increase from two years ago, when just 67 percent of teams were running container technologies in production. According to the joint 2019 Annual Container Adoption Survey released by Portworx and Aqua Security, enterprises have started making bigger investments in containers.

      In 2019, nearly one in five organizations is found to be spending over $1 million annually on containers (17%) as compared to just four percent in 2016.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Zombieload, Nextcloud, Peppermint 10, KDE Plasma, IPFire, ArcoLinux, LuneOS | This Week in Linux 67

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll check out some Distro News from Peppermint OS, ArcoLinux, LuneOS & IPFire. We got a couple apps to talking about like Nextclou0…d and a new Wallpaper tool that has quite a bit of potential. We’ll take a look at what is to come with the next version of KDE Plasma. Intel users have gotten some more bad news regarding a new security vulnerability. Later in the show, we’ll cover some interesting information regarding a couple governments saving money by switching to Linux. Then finally we’ll check out some Linux Gaming News. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

    • Ubuntu Podcast: S12E07 – R-Type

      This week we’ve been installing Lineage on a OnePlus One and not migrating Mastodon accounts to ubuntu.social. We round up the Ubuntu community news from Kubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Peppermint OS and we discuss some tech news.

      It’s Season 12 Episode 07 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

  • Kernel Space
    • ZFS On Linux 0.8 Released With Native Encryption, TRIM, Device Removal

      The feature-packed and long-desired ZFS On Linux 0.8 release has finally taken place! ZoL 0.8 is out there!

      ZFS On Linux 0.8 has debuted today as the newest feature release for this ZFS file-system port for Linux systems. ZFS On Linux 0.8 supports up through the latest Linux 5.1 stable series while still working going back to the Linux 2.6.32 kernel days, but the SIMD support isn’t available on stock 5.0+ kernels leading to big performance penalties.

    • Graphics Stack
      • OpenGL 4.6 / SPIR-V Support Might Be Inching Closer For Mesa Drivers

        We’re quickly approaching the two year anniversary of the OpenGL 4.6 release and it’s looking like the Intel/RadeonSI drivers might be inching towards the finish line for that latest major revision of the graphics API.

        As we’ve covered many times, the Mesa drivers have been held up on OpenGL 4.6 support due to their SPIR-V ingestion support mandated by this July 2017 version of the OpenGL specification. While there are the Intel and Radeon RADV Vulkan drivers already with the SPIR-V support that is central to Vulkan, it’s taken a long time re-fitting the OpenGL drivers for the likes of ARB_gl_spriv. Then again, there aren’t many (actually, any?) major OpenGL games requiring version 4.6 of the specification even with its interoperability benefits thanks to SPIR-V.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GParted 1.0 Release Approaching For Linux Partition Editor – Live 1.0 Beta Released

        The GParted graphical partition editor for Linux systems has been around for 14 years and finally it’s looking like the version 1.0 release is on the horizon.

        GParted 1.0 could be the release succeeding last December’s GParted 0.33 release, including for the GParted Live operating system that is a live Linux distribution designed for an easy workflow of managing the partitions/disks on your system.

        GParted Live 1.0 Beta appeared today with the latest GParted bits. This Linux distribution also pulls in the latest packages against Debian Sid experimental, updates to using the Linux 4.19.37 kernel, updates the boot menu options, and is based on the upstream GParted 1.0 beta code.

      • GNOME 3.34′s Mutter Gets Important Fix To Avoid Stuttering / Frame Skips

        In addition to GNOME’s Mutter compositor / window manager seeing an important fix recently lowering the output lag under X11 so it matches GNOME’s Wayland performance, another important Mutter fix also landed.

        The Mutter/Clutter change to avoid skipping over the next frame to render has landed. This is yet another big deal contribution by Canonical’s Daniel van Vugt as part of their GNOME desktop enhancements.

  • Distributions
    • Draco Desktop

      There is a new desktop available for Sparkers: Draco

    • Reviews
      • Linux Mint Turns Cinnamon Experience Bittersweet

        Linux Mint no longer may be an ideal choice for above-par performance out of the box, but it still can serve diehard users well with the right amount of post-installation tinkering.

        The Linux Mint distro clearly is the gold standard for measuring Cinnamon desktop integration. Linux Mint’s developers turned the GNOME desktop alternative into one of the best Linux desktop choices. Linux Mint Cinnamon, however, may have lost some of its fresh minty flavor.

        The gold standard for version 19.1 Tessa seems to be a bit tarnished when compared to some other distros offering a Cinnamon environment. Given that the current Linux Mint version was released at the end of last December, it may be a bit odd for me to focus on a review some five months later.

        Linux Mint is my primary driver, though, so at long last I am getting around to sharing my lukewarm experiences. I have run Linux Mint Cinnamon on three primary work and testing computers since parting company with Ubuntu Linux Unity and several other Ubuntu flavors many years ago. I have recommended Linux Mint enthusiastically to associates and readers in my personal and professional roles.

    • New Releases
      • Kali Linux Rolls Out Second Update of 2019

        Earlier today, May 22nd 2019, the popular Ethical Hacking Linux distro known as Kali Linux rolled out their 2nd update of 2019, following their last release in February 2019. Perhaps headlining today’s release is a new integration with NetHunter, allowing for a more seamless running of Kali Linux OS on Android mobile devices. The updates also features new integrations with ARM, cleaning up some of the file size problems and speeding up its operation.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Leap 15.1 just dropped with multiple new features and improvements

        he development team of the famous Linux-based operating system, namely the openSUSE community, has announced the release of Leap 15.1. According to the release notes, the new Leap will provide updated support for modern hardware.

        In addition to that, a member of the Leap community states that the new version is focused on stability and continuity. This gives us a brief idea of what this update offers.

      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Released, which is Based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1

        The openSUSE Community announced yesterday (May 22nd 2019) the release of the openSUSE Leap 15.1 Version.

        It’s first minor point release of the openSUSE Leap 15 series and it’s based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1.

        openSUSE Leap 15.1 Supports More Hardware, Drivers, Enhances Installation and improves YaST functionality.

      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Is Here: Offers Full Linux Experience On Raspberry Pi

        The open source company SUSE is known for its commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise offerings for desktop and server users. The company also sponsors a free and open source community distribution known as openSUSE, which is widely popular among open source enthusiasts across the world.

        openSUSE further offers two releases: Leap follows the fixed release model and Tumbleweed follows the rolling release model. In this article, I’m going to tell you about the latest openSUSE Leap 15.1 stable release that’s based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1.

      • SUSE Rolls Out Enterprise Storage 6

        SUSE has announced the latest version of its software-defined storage solution powered by Ceph technology. With SUSE Enterprise Storage 6, IT organizations can adapt to changing business demands. They may also reduce IT operational expense with new features focused on containerized and cloud workload support, improved integration with public cloud, and enhanced data protection capabilities, SUSE said.

    • Fedora
      • Archiving 26 500 community Q&As from Ask Fedora

        Ask Fedora is the Fedora Linux community’s questions-and-answers portal, and it recently transitioned from a forum software called Askbot to Discourse. Changing the underlying forum software doesn’t have to be destructive but Ask Fedora decided to go with a nuke-and-pave migration strategy: They decided to start from scratch instead of copying user accounts and the user-contributed content to the new software.

        The first time I learned of the migration was a few days after it had happen. I’d run into an issue with my Fedora installation and went online looking for solutions. Every useful search result was from the old Ask Fedora site and every link returned an HTTP 404 Not Found error message as those answers hadn’t been migrated to the new Ask Fedora website.

      • Attention epel6 and epel7 ppc64 users

        If you are a epel6 or epel7 user on the ppc64 platform, I have some sad news for you. If you aren’t feel free to read on for a tale of eol architectures.

        ppc64 (the big endian version of power) was shipped with RHEL6 and RHEL7 and Fedora until Fedora 28. It’s been replaced by the ppc64le (little endian) version in Fedora and RHEL8.

    • Debian Family
      • Optional dependencies don’t work

        In the i3 projects, we have always tried hard to avoid optional dependencies. There are a number of reasons behind it, and as I have recently encountered some of the downsides of optional dependencies firsthand, I summarized my thoughts in this article.

        [...]

        Software is usually not built by end users, but by packagers, at least when we are talking about Open Source.

        Hence, end users don’t see the knob for the optional dependency, they are just presented with the fait accompli: their version of the software behaves differently than other versions of the same software.

        Depending on the kind of software, this situation can be made obvious to the user: for example, if the optional dependency is needed to print documents, the program can produce an appropriate error message when the user tries to print a document.

        Sometimes, this isn’t possible: when i3 introduced an optional dependency on cairo and pangocairo, the behavior itself (rendering window titles) worked in all configurations, but non-ASCII characters might break depending on whether i3 was compiled with cairo.

        For users, it is frustrating to only discover in conversation that a program has a feature that the user is interested in, but it’s not available on their computer. For support, this situation can be hard to detect, and even harder to resolve to the user’s satisfaction.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.14 Anonymous Linux OS Adds Mitigations for the Intel MDS Vulnerabilities

          Tails 3.14 is here two months after the release of Tails 3.13 mainly to address the recently discovered MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) security vulnerabilities in Intel microprocessors. To fully mitigate these flaws and protect you against Fallout, RIDL, and ZombieLoad attacks, the SMT function must be disabled.

          Furthermore, Tails 3.14 ships with long-term supported Linux 4.19.37 kernel and the all the latest firmware packages to provide you with up-to-date hardware support and compatibility with newer graphics and Wi-Fi devices, as well as other components, and utilizes the recently released TOR Browser 8.5 anonymous web browser.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu’s MDS Mitigations Now Available for Intel Cherry Trail and Bay Trail CPUs

            On May 14th, 2019, Intel published details about four new security vulnerabilities discovered by various security researchers, which are affecting several of its Intel microprocessor families. Intel released updated microcode firmware to mitigate them, and they landed on the same day for all supported Ubuntu Linux operating system series.

            Now, Canonical has released an updated intel-microcode firmware that addresses these new security vulnerabilities on systems running Intel Cherry Trail and Intel Bay Trail processors. The updated intel-microcode packages are now available in the official software repositories of Ubuntu 19.04, Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 14.04 ESM.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 To Bundle NVIDIA’s Proprietary Driver Packages As Part Of Its ISO

            For Ubuntu 19.10 the developers are adding the NVIDIA driver packages onto the ISO. The NVIDIA binary drivers won’t be activated by default, but will be present on the install media to make it easier to enable post-install.

            The open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” drivers will remain the default for NVIDIA graphics on new Ubuntu installations, but this change is positioning the mainline and legacy NVIDIA proprietary drivers onto the Ubuntu ISO so that they can be easily obtained locally post-install. The main driver here is allowing users to enable the NVIDIA proprietary graphics on Ubuntu even if you don’t have an Internet connection. NVIDIA has already okay’ed the distribution of their driver packages with the Ubuntu ISO.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Peppermint 10 Operating System Officially Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

              As Peppermint 10 is based on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS repositories as of May 14th, 2019, it means it’s in fact based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, which ships with updated kernel and graphics stacks from the Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) operating system. As such, Peppermint 10 is powered by Linux kernel 4.18.0-18.

              Highlights of the Peppermint 10 release include support for automatically install the Nvidia proprietary graphics drivers, including support for Nvidia Optimus setups, Ice 6.0.2 with support for isolated profiles for Chromium, Google Chrome, and Vivaldi web browsers, and a new utility for setting font DPIs.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Google-Huawei case highlights the importance of free software

    [...] The current case demonstrates that even tech giants like Huawei face similar dependencies and vendor lock-in effects as any individual users if they rely on proprietary software.

    The following lessons can be drawn from this case: [...]

  • Red Hat completes open sourcing of 3scale code

    At Red Hat we have always been proud of our open source heritage and commitment. We are delighted that more of the industry now shares our viewpoint, and more companies are looking to promote their open source bona fides of late.

    Open source software energizes developers and teams of committed developers working in parallel can outproduce the large development hierarchies of the last generation. We believe working upstream with open source communities is an important innovation strategy.

    Occasionally, however, innovation does originate in traditional commercial organizations under a proprietary development model. Three years ago, Red Hat discovered just such a company that was doing exciting things in the API economy.

  • Enbies and women in FOSS Wikipedia edit-a-thon

    To be brief, I’ll be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on enbies and women in free and open source software, on June 2nd, from 16:00 – 19:00 EDT. I’d love remote participants, but if you’re in the Boston area you are more than welcome over to my place for pancakes and collaboration times.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 68 Performance Is Looking Good With WebRender On Linux

        With Firefox 67 having released this week, Firefox 68 is in beta and its performance from our tests thus far on Ubuntu Linux are looking real good. In particular, if enabling the WebRender option that remains off by default on Linux, there are some nice performance gains especially.

        Curious how the Firefox performance is looking following the optimization work in Firefox 67 and the maturing state of WebRender, I ran some benchmarks. On an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX + AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 workstation running Ubuntu 19.04 with the Linux 5.1 kernel, I ran various benchmarks using the generic Firefox Linux x86_64 binaries. Tests were done on Firefox 66.0.5, Firefox 67.0, and Firefox 68.0b3. With both Firefox 67 and Firefox 68 Beta, secondary runs were also done when forcing WebRender usage.

      • Firefox brings you smooth video playback with the world’s fastest AV1 decoder

        Tuesday’s release of Firefox 67 brought a number of performance enhancing features that make this our fastest browser ever. Among these is the high performance, royalty free AV1 video decoder dav1d, now enabled by default on all desktop platforms (Windows, OSX and Linux) for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

        With files more than 30% smaller than today’s most popular web codec VP9 [1], and nearly 50% smaller than its widely deployed predecessor H.264 [2], AV1 allows high-quality video experiences with a lot less network usage, and has the potential to transform how and where we watch video on the Internet. However, because AV1 is brand new and more sophisticated, some experts had predicted that market adoption would wait until 2020 when high-performance hardware decoders are expected. Dav1d in the browser upends these predictions.

  • Databases
    • PostgreSQL 12 Beta 1 Released!

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces that the first beta release of PostgreSQL 12 is now available for download. This release contains previews of all features that will be available in the final release of PostgreSQL 12, though some details of the release could change before then.

      In the spirit of the open source PostgreSQL community, we strongly encourage you to test the new features of PostgreSQL 12 in your database systems to help us eliminate any bugs or other issues that may exist. While we do not advise you to run PostgreSQL 12 Beta 1 in your production environments, we encourage you to find ways to run your typical application workloads against this beta release.

    • PostgreSQL 12 Beta Released With Performance Improvements

      Out today is the first beta of the upcoming PostgreSQL 12.0 database server.

      The PostgreSQL 12.0 beta features performance improvements on many different fronts, including for standard B-tree indexes. PostgreSQL 12.0 also enhances the performance by allowing to rebuild indexes concurrently, extended various indexing mechanisms, lower overhead for the write-ahead log, better performance when processing tables with thousands of partitions, and various other optimizations.

  • LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice Conference 2020, it could be in your city

      LibreOffice Conference 2020 will be an event to remember, for a couple of reasons: it will be the 10th of a series of successful conferences, and it will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the LibreOffice project and the 20th of the FOSS office suite. In 2020, The Document Foundation will be on stage at many FOSS events around the world, and the LibreOffice Conference will be the most important of the year. Organizing this conference is a unique opportunity for FOSS communities, because the event will make the history of free open source software.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • DataStax and the Modern Commercial Open Source Business

      One month ago, Google announced a set of partnerships with seven commercial open source providers. Among those announced was DataStax, which held its annual conference this year and, for the first time, an analyst day. While DataStax and the open source project it is based on, Cassandra, are differentiated on a technical basis, the company also represents an interesting contrast with its peers directionally both among the newly minted Google partners and more broadly.

      Of the seven commercial open source partners Google announced, for example, DataStax is one of two along with InfluxData that has not introduced a non-open source, hybrid license as a means of protecting itself from competition from the cloud providers. This is not, notably, because the company doesn’t seem them as a threat; asked about who the competition was in the analyst sessions, the CEO of DataStax candidly acknowledged that the company’s primary competitive focus was not on premise competition such as Oracle, but cloud-based managed services offerings.

    • IGEL Developing Linux Distro For Windows Virtual Desktop Users [Ed: IGEL used to support #GNU/Linux and now it's just helping Microsoft enslave GNU/Linux insider Windows with NSA back doors.]
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GNU Guile 2.9.2 (beta) released

      We are delighted to announce GNU Guile 2.9.2, the second beta release in preparation for the upcoming 3.0 stable series. See the release announcement for full details and a download link.

      This release extends just-in-time (JIT) native code generation support to the ia32, ARMv7, and AArch64 architectures. Under the hood, we swapped out GNU Lightning for a related fork called Lightening, which was better adapted to Guile’s needs.

    • GNU Binutils Begins Landing eBPF Support

      The GNU Binutils is finally getting wired up around the Extended BPF (eBPF) as the modern, in-kernel virtual machine that stretches the Berkeley Packet Filter beyond the networking subsystem.

      Compiling for eBPF has most commonly been done by the LLVM eBPF back-end to allow compiling C into the eBPF bytecode but it looks like the GNU toolchain developers are looking to increase their support around the increasingly common eBPF use-cases for this in-kernel VM.

  • Programming/Development
    • Rust 1.35 Released With Support For Empty Debug Macro, ~4x Faster ASCII Case Conversions

      Version 1.35 of the Rust programming language implementation was released today with a variety of different usability and convenience improvements.

      Among the changes to find with Rust 1.35 is you can now call the dbg!() debug macro without any arguments to easily print the file / line number when called, new methods to copy the sign of a floating point number onto a number, new APIs for seeing of a Range contains a particular value, up to four times faster performance for methods doing ASCII case conversions, and a variety of other library and API improvements.

    • Announcing Rust 1.35.0

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.35.0. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • AMD GCN GPU Target Continuing To Improve For The GCC 10 Compiler

      With the recent release of the GCC 9 stable compiler there is the initial “AMD GCN” GPU target/back-end merged. However, for this GNU Compiler Collection release the AMD GCN target isn’t all that useful but continued work on it gives us hope of seeing it in good shape for next year’s GCC 10 release.

      With the GCC 9.1 release, the AMD GCN back-end can only handle running basic single-threaded programs… Not exactly useful for graphics cards. The GCC 9 code supports targeting the Fiji and Vega 10 GCN instruction set architecture.

    • IBM Begins Plumbing “Future” Processor Into GCC Compiler – POWER10?

      IBM engineers have landed initial support for “-mcpu=future” into the GCC compiler… As they say in the commit message, “a future architecture level, as yet unnamed.”

      This IBM “future” processor is being added to the POWER architecture code succeeding POWER9. More than likely, its the early enablement work for POWER10.

    • Little Trouble in Big Data – Part 1

      A few months ago, we received a phone call from a bioinformatics group at a European university. The problem they were having appeared very simple. They wanted to know how to usemmap() to be able to load a large data set into RAM at once. OK I thought, no problem, I can handle that one. Turns out this has grown into a complex and interesting exercise in profiling and threading.

      The background is that they are performing Markov-Chain Monte Carlo simulations by sampling at random from data sets containing SNP (pronounced “snips”) genetic markers for a selection of people. It boils down to a large 2D matrix of floats where each column corresponds to an SNP and each row to a person. They provided some small and medium sized data sets for me to test with, but their full data set consists of 500,000 people with 38 million SNP genetic markers!

    • Why precompiled headers do (not) improve C++ compile times

      Would you like your C++ code to compile twice as fast (or more)?

      Yeah, so would I. Who wouldn’t. C++ is notorious for taking its sweet time to get compiled. I never really cared about PCHs when I worked on KDE, I think I might have tried them once for something and it didn’t seem to do a thing. In 2012, while working on LibreOffice, I noticed its build system used to have PCH support, but it had been nuked, with the usual poor OOo/LO style of a commit message stating the obvious (what) without bothering to state the useful (why). For whatever reason, that caught my attention, reportedly PCHs saved a lot of build time with MSVC, so I tried it and it did. And me having brought the PCH support back from the graveyard means that e.g. the Calc module does not take 5:30m to build on a (very) powerful machine, but only 1:45m. That’s only one third of the time.

      In line with my previous experience, on Linux that did nothing. I made the build system support also PCH with GCC and Clang, because it was there and it was simple to support it too, but there was no point. I don’t think anybody has ever used that for real.

      Then, about a year ago, I happened to be working on a relatively small C++ project that used some kind of an obscure build system called Premake I had never heard of before. While fixing something in it I noticed it also had PCH support, so guess what, I of course enabled it for the project. It again made the project build faster on Windows. And, on Linux, it did too. Color me surprised.

    • KDAB at CppCon 2019

      CppCon is the annual, week-long face-to-face gathering for the entire C++ community – the biggest C++ event in the world. This year, for the first time, CppCon takes place in the stunning Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, very near Denver International Airport.

    • Clear Linux Discovers Another AVX2/AVX512 Fix/Optimization To Yield Better Performance

      For those running a system with AVX-512 support, Clear Linux builds as of this week should be yielding even better performance on top of their existing AVX2 and AVX-512 optimizations.

      The Intel developers working on Clear Linux uncovered an issue how the new GCC 9 compiler has been building the important libm math library poorly in AVX2/AVX-512 mode. This poor code compilation yielded slowdowns in various math functions since the switch to the GCC 9 compiler.

    • Building Machine Learning Data Pipeline using Apache Spark
    • It is easier to gather package meta-data from PyPI package ecosystem, once know the right way
    • Python 2.7 vs Python 3.4 ─ What should Python Beginners choose?
    • Be Quick or Eat Potatoes: A Newbie’s Guide to PyCon
    • Remote Development with Wing Pro

      In this issue of Wing Tips we take a quick look at Wing Pro’s remote development capabilities.

    • Data School: Data science best practices with pandas (video tutorial)
    • PHP extensions status with upcoming PHP 7.4
    • EuroPython 2019: Financial Aid Program starts today
Leftovers
  • How a planned merger between Russia’s two oldest theaters turned into a region-wide political scandal

    In late March, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky announced that two of Russia’s oldest and most respected theaters would merge. What had previously been the Volkov Theater in Yaroslavl and the Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg would become a single national institution. The Culture Ministry noted that the initiative for the merger came from the artistic directors of the theaters themselves — Yevgeny Marchelli and Valery Fokin, respectively. Nonetheless, the idea did not sit well with the Union of Theater Workers or with local residents and politicians in Yaroslavl. Even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came out against the merger and ultimately suspended it.

  • Yekaterinburg mayor rejects governor’s proposal to rule out controversial construction site for new cathedral

    The mayor of Yekaterinburg has rejected a proposal by the region’s governor to cancel the construction of a cathedral at a downtown public park. Alexander Vysokinsky says he’s not yet ready to remove October Square from the list of possible sites for St. Catherine’s Cathedral, and still wants to make it an option in an upcoming citywide poll that’s intended to resolve the controversy once and for all.

  • Science
    • How software sterilized rock music

      It’s not just pitch correction: with modern music-making software, it’s as easy to snap analog recordings of instruments to a time signature as it is to program EDM. When everything is quantized, says Rick Beato, it loses its humanity—and becomes boring.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Abortion Bans and the Beast the GOP Would Feed Us To

      From last year’s protests against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the ongoing fight against abortion bans in southern states, the image of the red-clad “Handmaid” — an allusion to Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale — has been a constant.

      As women across the country express their fears and panic about the fate of abortion access in the United States, many have likened what’s happening to Atwood’s classic, which tells the story of women being forced to bear children for powerful men amid a global decline in fertility.

      Donning white hats and red cloaks widely associated with Atwood’s book and its television adaptation, activists dressed as Handmaids have appeared at congressional hearings and marches, and have held vigil outside the offices of elected officials. The spectacles they have created have undoubtedly struck a chord with many. Theatrical protest can be quite valuable, but while Atwood’s story has a thematic resonance in these times, the real-world nature of criminalization in the U.S. offers a clearer picture of what Republicans have in store for us.

      The classing that people criminalized by abortion bans could ultimately face is already at work in our society. That classing already restricts the movement, reproductive choices, suffrage, life spans, health and overall human rights of imprisoned people in the United States.

    • An Outright Reversal of Roe V. Wade Isn’t All We Should Fear

      I’m worried about the future of Roe v. Wade — deeply worried. But I’m worried about more than that. I’m worried that the courts will gut the right to abortion and that there won’t be an outcry because the headlines won’t scream, “Supreme Court strikes down right to abortion.”

      Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to take away from outrage over the bans. I’m also agitated about the wave of states — Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri — that have passed abortion bans and states, like Louisiana, rushing to add their names to the list. Those of us who care about people’s right to access abortion are right to decry and protest this wave of bans and the contempt for women they flaunt.

      The bans tell us that opponents of abortion rights are emboldened. They know they have a friend in the White House, and they think the Supreme Court may be theirs as well. Trump, after all, promised to appoint justices who would overrule the right.

    • Abortion Bans Are Backfiring Spectacularly Across the U.S.

      In Texas, if state Rep. Tony Tinderholt had his way, women who have an abortion could get the death penalty. Fortunately, his bill didn’t make it out of committee. But in Alabama, a bill that sentences doctors who perform abortions to life in prison did pass and was signed into law by the governor. If it stands, it goes into effect in six months.

      Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, responded to the draconian law on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, saying, “I will have to choose between my freedom and staying out of jail and doing what is best for my patients … as a women’s health provider, I understand how important abortion access is.” The only exception in the ban is when the life of the mother is at stake. This, Dr. Robinson says, “puts us in a Catch-22 … we could be forced to let patients get near death, get very sick or ill, and potentially be harmed before we could proceed comfortably with doing what’s best for women.”

      A rash of extreme anti-abortion bills like these are being pushed through state legislatures across the country, banning abortions or making them almost impossible to obtain. Abortion is a legal procedure in the United States, and state governments aren’t allowed to ban it. But anti-choice crusaders in states with Republican-controlled governments, like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri, are passing the laws anyway. Proponents of the laws are anticipating court challenges, hoping that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will provide their long-sought swing vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

    • Police Stifled Dissent During Near-Total Abortion Ban Debate in Georgia

      Heavy police presence defined the legislative battle at the state capitol around Georgia’s near-total abortion ban, with pro-choice legislators calling the police presence and tactics “intimidating,” charging that Republican legislative leadership used law enforcement to squelch pushback against the extreme measure.

      It was the word “shame,” rising above the usual din of the Georgia state capitol, that brought journalists, legal observers, state troopers, and curious onlookers to the third floor of the massive stone building, just outside the house chamber in late March. HB 481, the GOP’s near-total abortion ban recently signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and set to take effect in 2020, had just received final passage in the house during the last furious days of the 2019 legislative session. After limited debate time on the house floor, the measure squeaked through, passing by one more vote than is constitutionally required.

      Speaking as much to journalists — pressing in with cameras, recorders, phones, and notepads — as to each other and advocates who had gathered to meet them, state representatives leading the fight against the near-total abortion ban burned with anger, disgust, betrayal, and sadness.

    • Politicizing a Woman’s Body

      That’s the uber-message quietly emerging from the new anti-abortion laws recently passed in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri, no matter that the public remains predominantly supportive of safe, legal abortions.

      That doesn’t matter, see. The fact that the Republican Party controls the legislatures in so many states where it lacks majority status, not to mention is able to put presidents in office who fail to win the popular vote, indicates that we live in a rather limited-definition democracy: rule by the most determined cheaters. Or as some would put it, rule by divine decree.

      As Ari Berman pointed out recently in Mother Jones, this divine decree is achieved primarily by voter suppression and gerrymandering, as exemplified last year in Georgia’s gubernatorial race.

      “As secretary of state, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp essentially oversaw his own election and instituted a series of policies that hurt his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams,” Berman writes. “On Kemp’s watch, Georgia purged 1.4 million people from the voter rolls from 2012 to 2016; put the registrations of 53,000 people, 80 percent of whom were voters of color, on hold before the election; and closed 214 polling places in six years. On Election Day, there were four-hour lines in heavily black precincts.”

      In both Alabama and Georgia, Berman points out, “extreme partisan gerrymandering” has also shaped the states’ legislative districts. For instance: “After winning control of the redistricting process following the 2010 election, Georgia Republicans concentrated black voters into as few districts as possible in order to maximize the number of heavily white Republican seats. In 2018, Kemp narrowly won with 50.2 percent of the vote, but Republicans held nearly 60 percent of state’s legislative seats.”

      And so on. In Alabama, it was just as lopsided, with the result being legislative control by the most full-of-itself minority, whose implicit promise to its supporters, as Leonard Pitts put it, is: “Vote for us and we will repeal the 20th century.”

  • Security
    • Lack of Secure Coding Called a National Security Threat

      The “call to action” report, “Software Security Is National Security: Why the U.S. Must Replace Irresponsible Practices with a Culture of Institutionalized Security,” discusses systemic issues with the software development landscape and what needs to be done to rectify the problem of negligent coding. But solving the problem won’t be easy, given the problems of speed-to-market pressures and the sheer number of IoT devices being produced, the report notes.

    • [Attackers] have been holding the city of Baltimore’s computers hostage for 2 weeks [Ed: Windows]

      Here’s what’s happening: On May 7, [attackers] digitally seized about 10,000 Baltimore government computers and demanded around $100,000 worth in bitcoins to free them back up. It’s a so-called “ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system until the owner of that system pays a ransom.

      Baltimore, like several other cities that have been hit by such attacks over the past two years, is refusing to pay up. As a result, for two weeks, city employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. This is Baltimore’s second ransomware attack in about 15 months: Last year, a separate attack shut down the city’s 911 system for about a day. Baltimore has come under scrutiny for its handling of both attacks.

    • [Windows] Ransomware Cyberattacks Knock Baltimore’s City Services Offline

      With no key, Rubin said the city will have to rebuild its servers from the ground up. That will likely take months, he said, and will involve implementing new hardware and software and restoring any data the city may have backed up.

    • After 2 Years, WannaCry Remains a Threat

      And while the immediate dangers associated with WannaCry have faded, the ransomware still lurks, and many systems have not been patched to prevent exploits by EternalBlue and EternalRomance.

    • ARM latest firm to suspend business with Huawei; Intel mum

      Chip designer ARM says it has to suspend business with Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, a report claims.

    • The case against Huawei, explained

      This morning, ARM announced that it was cutting ties with Huawei, in the interest of “complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the U.S. government.” It’s a catastrophe for Huawei’s device business, halting its access to current and future chip designs and coming on the heels of similar breaks from Google and Microsoft. Huawei is in deep, deep trouble, and we still don’t have a clear picture of why.

      Security experts have been warning about Huawei for more than a year, but it’s only in the last week that those warnings have escalated into an all-out trade blockade on the company’s US partners. There’s never been a full accounting of why the US government believes Huawei is such a threat, in large part because of national security interests, which means much of the evidence remains secret. But it’s worth tracing out exactly where the concerns are coming from and where they could go from here.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • ZombieLoad Mitigation Costs For Intel Haswell Xeon, Plus Overall Mitigation Impact

      With tests over the past week following the disclosure of the Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities also known as “Zombieload”, we’ve looked at the MDS mitigation costs (and now the overall Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS impact) for desktop CPUs, servers, and some laptop hardware. I’ve also begun doing some tests on older hardware, such as some Phoronix readers curious how well aging Intel Haswell CPUs are affected.

    • How to enhance FTP server security [Ed: It just needs to be abandoned]
    • Hack.lu 2019 Call for Papers, Presentations and Workshops

      The purpose of the hack.lu convention is to give an open and free playground where people can discuss the implication of new technologies in society. hack.lu is a balanced mix convention where technical and non-technical people can meet each others and share freely all kind of information. The convention will be held in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg in October (22-24.10.2019). The most significant new discoveries about computer network attacks and defenses, commercial security solutions, and pragmatic real world security experience will be presented in a three days series of informative tutorials. We would like to announce the opportunity to submit papers, and/or lightning talk proposals for selection by the hack.lu technical review committee. This year we will be doing workshops on the first day PM and talks of 1 hour or 30 minutes in the main track for the three days.

    • Hacking SETI
    • Legal Threats Make Powerful Phishing Lures

      On or around May 12, at least two antivirus firms began detecting booby-trapped Microsoft Word files that were sent along with some various of the following message: [...]

    • US officials say foreign election [cracking] is inevitable

      “Systems that are connected to the Internet, if they’re targeted by a determined adversary with enough time and resources, they will be breached,” Hickey said. “So, we need to be focusing on resilience.”

    • Why a Windows flaw patched nine days ago is still spooking the Internet

      The vulnerability resides in Microsoft’s proprietary Remote Desktop Protocol, which provides a graphical interface for connecting to another computer over the Internet. Exploiting the vulnerability—which is present in older versions of Windows but not the much better secured Windows 8 and 10—requires only that an attacker send specific packets to a vulnerable RDP-enabled computer. In a testament to the severity, Microsoft took the highly unusual step of issuing patches for Windows 2003, XP, and Vista, which haven’t been supported in four, five, and seven years, respectively.

    • Serial publisher of Windows 0-days drops exploits for 2 more unfixed flaws

      In Tuesday’s disclosure, SandboxEscaper wrote that the Task Scheduler vulnerability works by exploiting a flaw in the way the Task Scheduler processes changes to discretionary access control list permissions for an individual file. An advisory published Wednesday by US Cert confirmed that the exploit worked against both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ethiopian crash could have been prevented if Boeing took pilots’ concerns seriously, union says

      Tajer pointed instead to Boeing’s software, about which he said American Airlines’ pilots had expressed concerns in a November 2017 meeting with the company. The meeting was a few weeks after the Lion Air crash, but months before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

      It would be fair to conclude, Tajer said, that if Boeing had taken the suggestions of the pilots, the Ethiopian Airlines crash might have been prevented.

    • The U.S. Stands to Lose Much More Than a War With Iran

      After much back-and-forth posturing by the Trump administration, book-ended by national security adviser John Bolton accelerating the planned deployments of an aircraft carrier battle group and a B-52 bomber task force to the Middle East, and President Trump commenting, “I hope not” when asked whether there would be a war, the American commander in chief threatened to destroy Iran on Sunday. “If Iran wants to fight,” Trump tweeted, “that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

      Trying to pinpoint what prompted Trump to communicate what amounts to a genocidal threat is like reading tea leaves—more art than science. But after seeing his effort to isolate Iran diplomatically rejected by a united Europe, and learning from military leaders that a war with Iran would be far costlier and much more problematic than he originally thought, the president reverted to character, lashing out with apocalyptic fury against a nation that has frustrated his administration from its inception.

      Trump has backed himself into a corner. The self-imagined dealmaker sincerely believed that by applying economic pressure on Iran, backed up with the threat of force, the Iranian government would come to the negotiation table and agree to a nuclear deal that denied it everything it had achieved through diplomacy with the Obama administration. Trump believed he could bully America’s allies in Europe to go along with him. And, in the end, when he asked his military leaders to provide him with options to forcefully compel Iran to bend to his will, Trump was told that nothing short of an all-out war, involving more than 500,000 troops, could provide the outcome he sought, and even then only at great cost. Trump had run on a platform that promised an end to costly wars of choice in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. If he pulled the trigger on Iran, his chances of reelection in 2020 would be all but eliminated.

    • Joe Biden Is Not the Pragmatic Choice for 2020

      An insidious idea pervading media analysis and public discourse around the 2020 presidential election is that voters looking to defeat President Donald Trump are locked into an ideological battle between pragmatism and idealism. Voters backing former Vice President Joe Biden find him to be “electable” rather than being a candidate whose values they support. But is Biden really the pragmatic choice?

      Before Biden announced he was running, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared to be the front-runner, boosting hopes among those who supported him in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. But a new poll found Biden garnering the highest “favorability rating” among the many Democratic contenders. As the 2016 race underscored, polling numbers ought to be taken with a giant grain of salt. But still, Sanders’ lead seems to have evaporated once the more “electable” Democrat announced his bid.

      [...]

      Biden believes he is the only one who can take on Trump, reportedly saying, “If you can persuade me there is somebody better who can win, I’m happy not to do it.” He thinks he is the only one who can save the nation from another four years of Trump, just as Clinton felt she was easily poised to beat Trump. Yet on issue after issue, Biden is out of step with those Democrats who have successfully pushed their party to the left since 2016. For example, Biden, who has come under fire for supporting the 1994 crime bill, proudly asserted, “I’m the only guy ever nationally to beat the NRA because when we did the crime bill—everybody talks about the bad things. Let me tell you about the good thing in the crime bill.” In response, acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay fired back, “Wait til you get in front of a crowd that actually knows what you’re doing. Knows the bill. Knows the generational damage. Wait. I hope I’m in the crowd.”

      [...]

      Those who paint Biden’s detractors as being driven by idealistic motivations we cannot afford to espouse are ignoring the fact that Americans are at a breaking point. We do not have the luxury to wait another four or eight years to pick someone who will truly be a climate justice warrior—the planet’s atmosphere is at a breaking point. We do not have the luxury to wait four or eight years for a better candidate to usher in Medicare-for-all at a more practical time far off into the future—Americans are dying today in our broken health care system. We do not have the luxury of allowing millions of Americans to languish in prison cells, or allowing immigrant children to die in Border Patrol custody, or hampering the futures of college graduates burdened by debt. We do not have the luxury to allow our endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen to continue as whole families are obliterated or turned into refugees. And we certainly cannot afford a new war on Iran. Choosing a president who promises a radical departure from the status quo is actually an act of pragmatism.

    • An Attack on Iran Would Violate US and International Law

      As President Donald Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rattle their sabers, there is no evidence that Iran poses a threat to the United States. It was Trump who threatened genocide, tweeting, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” The Pentagon is now considering sending 10,000 additional troops to the Gulf region for “defensive” purposes and not in response to a new threat by Iran. Threats to use military force — like the use of force itself — violate U.S. and international law.

      Last week, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence had determined that Iranian-sponsored attacks on U.S. forces “were imminent.” The Trump administration asserted, “without evidence,” according to The New York Times, that new intelligence revealed Iran was sponsoring proxy groups to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

      The Pentagon announced its intention to deploy a Patriot antimissile battery to the Middle East. Three days later, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the United States would send up to 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or speeds up work on nuclear weapons.

    • Allan Nairn: Deadly Protests Erupt in Indonesia as U.S.-Trained Generals Wage a War on Democracy

      In Indonesia, at least six people have died and hundreds have been injured after supporters of former military commander Prabowo Subianto took to the streets to protest his election defeat. The protests began after authorities announced President Joko Widodo—who is known as Jokowi—had won re-election after receiving 55% of the vote. Prabowo has refused to concede and is preparing to challenge the results. We speak to journalist Allan Nairn, who recently returned from Indonesia.

    • So Many Wars: Remembering Friends in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan and Turkey

      It’s been so long since I have written, that I don’t know where to begin. I pick up a binder and begin scanning through past “Dear Friends” letters. As I read, memories of trips to Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan and Turkey begin to flood my consciousness. So many beautiful faces and stories. So many years of war.

      There is one Iraqi family in particular about whom we have written over the years, always changing the names so as not to put them at greater risk. You might recall that the father and oldest son fled Baghdad in 2015 due to death threats and assassination attempts. Together with thousands of others fleeing violence, they made the torturous trip from Baghdad to Kurdistan and then on to Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Germany, etc. until they landed in Finland. Some months later they were denied asylum. Devastated at the decision, our trusted friend, former driver and translator lamented bitterly, “They don’t want us here.” We pled with them to appeal, which they did. But months passed with no decision.

      The oldest son turned 18 while in Finland and, no longer considered a minor, chose to return “voluntarily” to Iraq against the wishes of his parents. He felt unwanted and isolated in Finland, with no friends, and unable to go to school or work. Two weeks after his return to Baghdad he was kidnapped, together with his second oldest brother. The mother went crazy with grief and the father quickly left Finland to also return “voluntarily” to Iraq.

      I had lived with the family in 2013, and they have a special place in my heart. In the summer of 2017, I spent the day with them in Baghdad. We took photos that day, and the two oldest boys were painfully absent in the pictures. After lunch when my driver was resting in another room, I had a chance to speak alone with the parents. “Talk to me,” I said. Then came a deluge of stories of kidnappings that friends, family and neighbors had experienced-kidnappings of beloved family members, children and spouses. None had “turned out well,” they told me. There were no words. I just held the wife as she wept and wept.

    • Facing Growing Backlash CIA Veteran Stephanie Smith Steps Down As Chair of Kent State 50th May 4 Commemoration Advisory Committee

      “Out of respect for the profound concerns held by some members of Kent State’s May 4 community about my former work in national security, I am stepping down as university chair of the 50th commemoration,” Smith wrote on her Facebook page. “I will continue to encourage my students to join me in active inquiry about how the events of May 4, 1970, are relevant today and especially to ponder the dangers of polarization and the power of reconciliation. Long live the spirit of Kent and Jackson State.”

      Laurel Krause is the sister of Allison Krause, one of the four student protesters killed in the May 4, 1970 Kent State massacre. In 2010 Laurel Krause co-founded the Kent State Truth Tribunal, seeking accountability and reconciliation at Kent State.

      She helped organize a public campaign over the last week to get Kent State President Beverly Warren to reverse her decision to appoint Smith.

      “This is a people’s victory for all fighting for peace and justice in America,” Krause said.

      “We see Ms. Smith’s appointment and career background as a travesty and an insult to all those that seek peace and social justice.”

      Smith’s Kent State faculty page shares that she “co-founded the Department’s Counter Terrorism Communications Center to strengthen and integrate all United States Government counter-terrorism messaging,” pictures Smith in her CIA photo and highlights her abilities in public relations.

    • Hope Will Never Be Silent

      A belated heartfelt happy birthday to Harvey Milk, killed in 1978 for daring to come out of the closet, be who he was and insist on his rights, who would have turned 89 on Wednesday. To commemorate this year’s Harvey Milk Day, established in 2010 by his nephew Stuart Milk and the Harvey Milk Foundation, the California Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring “his critical role in creating the modern LGBT movement” and a legacy that “left an indelible mark on the history of our nation.” Born May 22, 1930, Milk was a middle-class Jewish kid from New York who played football, joined the Navy, worked on Wall Street and for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign before finding himself anew. In 1977, he became the first openly gay elected official in California – and one of the first in the country – when he won a spot on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. At the time, Anita Bryant was vowing to “Save Our Children” and John Briggs was pushing a ballot to ban gay and lesbian teachers, a measure Milk helped defeat because he believed, above all, “you stand up and fight.” “If I turned around every time I was called a faggot,” he once said, “I’d be walking backwards, and I don’t want to go backwards.”

    • Russian newspaper publishes recording of purported call from poisoned former spy Sergey Skripal to his niece

      Russian newspaper publishes recording of purported call from poisoned former spy Sergey Skripal to his niece
      13:42, 23 may 2019Source: Moskovsky Komsomolets
      Moskovsky Komsomolets published an audio recording of a voice message that it described as a call from former GRU agent Sergey Skripal, who was poisoned in England in 2018, to his niece Viktoria. Viktoria Skripal said she received the message on May 9, 2019.

      In the recording, a man wishes the recipients of the message a happy week of May holidays and says “everything is OK” with him and “Yulechka.” Skripal’s daughter, Yulia, was poisoned along with him.

    • To ‘Nurture Human Lives Rather Than Take Them Away,’ 2020 Democrats Urged to Support Slashing Annual Pentagon Budget By $200 Billion

      Over the next decade, the “People Over Pentagon” agenda would make at least $2 trillion in spending available for essential domestic needs and ambitious programs like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, said the coalition, which includes Win Without War, Public Citizen, 350.org, and other grassroots organizations.

      “I’ve always found it remarkable that when it comes to war, fighter jets, and bombs, most politicians never ask how we’ll pay for it, but when it comes to progressive policies like Medicare for All, some members of Congress pretend we can’t afford to foot the bill,” Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, said in a statement.

      The current Pentagon budget—which was approved on a bipartisan basis last June—is $716 billion. As Common Dreams reported in March, the Democratic leadership is attempting to cut a deal with Trump to hike military spending to $733 billion—slightly less than the $750 billion President Donald Trump demanded in his 2020 budget request.

      “Democrats, for good reason, vehemently oppose almost everything Trump proposes, but when he asks for a huge increase in military spending, there are almost no voices in dissent,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate who voted against the 2019 Pentagon budget, wrote for In These Times earlier this year.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Austria’s Strache Scandal Shows Why Media Freedom Matters

      Strache’s and FPÖ’s fall in Austria are directly linked to the ability of independent media to work freely in Austria and elsewhere despite undergoing attempts to curb it. The media was able to report the story, prompting Austrians to take to the streets in protest, calling for new elections.

      The type of independent media that brought Strache down hardly exists in Hungary, as most of the media landscape, especially broadcast, is in the hands of Orban and his cronies. The few existing independent and investigative outlets do good work but have limited reach.

    • Julian Assange is facing 17 new criminal charges

      “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment,” wrote the ACLU in a statement today. “It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it is equally dangerous for US journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the US can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s nothing preventing China, or Russia, from doing the same.”

    • New Assange indictment adds 17 espionage charges

      Today, the Department of Justice filed a new indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia—adding 17 more charges atop the original hacking charge used to file for Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom. The new charges are all espionage-focused: conspiracy to receive, obtaining, and disclosure of “national defense information. Each of the 17 counts carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.

    • WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange indicted on 17 new charges under Espionage Act

      In a superseding indictment, a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, has accused Assange of breaking the law by inducing Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning to send him classified documents — and then publishing material that included the names of confidential sources who provided information to American diplomats.

      The 17 counts were tacked on to a single count accusing Assange of conspiring with Manning to crack a Department of Defense password. Assange, who was taken out of the Equadorian embassy in London in April, is being held in a London jail for jumping bail on a sex charge and awaiting extradition to the United States.

      The government says Manning provided Assange and WikiLeaks with databases containing about 90,000 Afghanistan War-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq War-related reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables.

      The material, which began to be published in 2010, made headlines across the world and shed light on U.S. government activities.

    • ACLU Comment on Julian Assange Indictment
    • US hits Assange with 17 charges under Espionage Act

      WikiLeaks publisher and founder Julian Assange has been hit with 17 new charges under the US Espionage Act over his alleged role in leaking documents from former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010, according to the US Department of Justice.

    • U.S. Charges WikiLeaks’ Assange With Publishing Classified Info

      In a case with significant First Amendment implications, the U.S. filed new charges Thursday against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that accuse him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing thousands of secret and classified documents, including the identities of confidential sources for American armed forces and diplomats.

      The Justice Department’s 18-count superseding indictment alleges that Assange directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. It says the WikiLeaks founder damaged national security by publishing documents that harmed the U.S. and its allies and aided its adversaries.

    • ‘This Is About Attacking Journalism,’ Warn Press Freedom Defenders as Trump DOJ Hits Assange With New Espionage Charges

      “This is about attacking journalism and the public’s right to information about war crimes done in their name with their dollars,” The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill said in a series of tweets. “This is about retaliation for publishing evidence of U.S. war crimes and other crimes by the most powerful nation on Earth. It’s a threat to press freedom. That’s why you should care.”

      Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, explained in a statement what sets these charges apart from past U.S. government legal actions targeting journalists and publishers.

      “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information,” Wizner said. “This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment.”

    • Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues

      Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the Justice Department announced on Thursday — a novel case that raises profound First Amendment issues.

      The new charges were part of an expanded indictment obtained by the Trump administration that significantly raised the stakes of the legal case against Mr. Assange, who is already fighting extradition proceedings in London based on an earlier hacking-related count brought by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia.

      The case has nothing to do with Russia’s 2016 election interference, when Mr. Assange’s organization published Democratic emails stolen by Russia to help elect President Trump, the case has nothing to do with the election interference. Instead, it focuses on Mr. Assange’s role in the leak, by the former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and diplomatic files.

      Justice Department officials did not explain why they decided to charge Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act — a step also debated within the Obama administration but ultimately not taken. Although the indictment established a precedent that deems criminal actions related to obtaining, and in some cases publishing, state secrets, the officials sought to minimize the implications for press freedoms.

    • U.S. charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with espionage

      The U.S. Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired with and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information.

    • WikiLeaks founder indicted on Espionage Act charges, raising issue of press freedoms
    • The Trump admin’s new charges against Julian Assange are a fundamental threat to press freedom in the 21st century

      In a truly shocking development, Trump’s Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for publishing secret government documents under the Espionage Act of 1917.

      The Espionage Act, originally intended for use against spies, has been wielded against as sources of journalists and whistleblowers in recent decades, but never a publisher. No matter your personal feelings about Assange, these new charges against him are unprecedented, terrifying, and strike at the heart of fundamental press freedom rights.

    • Statement from Chelsea Manning and Her Lawyer Regarding Today’s Superseding Indictment

      The continued detention of Chelsea Manning is purely punitive. Today’s events underscore what Chelsea has previously said, “[a]ll of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010—answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013.”

      “I continue to accept full and sole responsibility for those disclosures in 2010,” said Chelsea Manning this evening. “It’s telling that the government appears to have already obtained this indictment before my contempt hearing last week. This administration describes the press as the opposition party and an enemy of the people. Today, they use the law as a sword, and have shown their willingness to bring the full power of the state against the very institution intended to shield us from such excesses.”

      Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning’s attorney stated, “up until now the Department Of Justice has been reticent to actually indict publishers for work implicating matters of national security, because the first amendment rights of the press and public are so constitutionally valuable. This signals a real shift, and sets a new precedent for the federal government’s desire to chill and even punish the vigorous exercise of the free press.”

    • In Charging Assange With 17 Espionage Act Offenses, Prosecutors Claim Power To Decide Who Is And Is Not A Journalist

      In a superseding indictment, the Justice Department charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act.

      The Justice Department has relied upon the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers for unauthorized disclosures of information. It has treated journalists as if they were co-conspirators when prosecuting cases. But up until now, the United States government refrained from charging journalists with any crimes for publishing classified information.

      “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment,” declared Ben Wizner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

      Wizner added, “It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it is equally dangerous for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the U.S. can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s nothing preventing China, or Russia, from doing the same.”

      Indeed, the indictment invokes an executive order that applies to the classification of information. It states, “At no point was Assange a citizen of the United States nor did he hold a United States security clearance or otherwise have authorization to receive, possess, or communicate classified information.”

    • New Assange Indictment Makes Insane, Unprecedented Use Of Espionage Act On Things Journalists Do All The Time

      As we noted when Julian Assange was arrested in the UK last month, it was notable how… lacking the charges were. The whole thing revolved around an apparently failed attempt to help Chelsea Manning crack a CIA password. We still had significant concerns about the way the CFAA was being used, and the fact that the description of the “conspiracy” involved actions that tons of journalists do every day — but the original indictment didn’t have what was most feared: use of the Espionage Act against the actions of a news organization. At the time, some knowledgeable observers pointed out that it was likely a superseding indictment would come, and it wouldn’t surprise them if it had Espionage Act charges. And they were right.

      On Thursday the DOJ unsealed the new indictment against Assange and it should absolutely terrify anyone who believes in a free press and the 1st Amendment. It takes a whole variety of things that journalists at major publications do every single day — finding and cultivating sources, getting information and publishing that information — as evidence of Espionage Act violations. We’ve always had issues with the Espionage Act, which we believe is almost certainly unconstitutional. In the past, we’ve highlighted how it’s been used in ridiculous ways against many whistleblowers, and it doesn’t even allow for a defendant to give a reason for why they leaked documents (i.e., they can’t say they did it to blow the whistle on government malfeasance — it’s just automatically treated as espionage, which is nonsensical).

      However, this indictment goes much further. It’s not going after an actual leaker, it’s going after a publisher. It’s so bad that even Obama-era officials (who used the Espionage Act against leakers more times than any other President in history combined) seem horrified.

    • Techdirt Sues ICE After It Insists It Has No Records Of The 1 Million Domains It Claims To Have Seized

      It seemed quite clear to me that seizing an entire website, based merely on accusations of copyright infringement, presented the same problem.

      And here, the situation was even worse. Because it wasn’t being done based on a real investigation by the government, but entirely on the say so of industry — and, in particular, an industry that has a long history of over exaggerating and misrepresenting the “threats” of the internet. As we noted at the time, if the FTC/DOJ announced plans to bring antitrust charges against Google, and did so from Microsoft’s headquarters… people would freak out. And yet, announcing website seizures from Disney’s headquarters was no problem?

      ICE continued seizing websites under this program, which it called “Operation In Our Sites.” Later in 2010 we found a bunch of seizures especially problematic, because among the seizures were two blogs, an open discussion forum and a search engine. Seizing a blog was clearly prior restraint. Indeed, over a year later, ICE quietly handed back one of the blogs, and later admitted that it didn’t have any evidence at all that the site was engaged in copyright infringement. Later documents (only unsealed due to a court challenge by EFF) revealed that ICE had seized that blog, Dajaz1, based entirely on false claims by an RIAA exec, and took over a year to hand back the domain (including getting the court to grant “secret” extensions that it wouldn’t even tell Dajaz’s lawyer about) because it kept waiting for the RIAA to provide the evidence it insisted it had… but never seemed to be able to give to ICE.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘It’s Raining Plastic’: Researchers Find Microscopic Fibers in Colorado Rain Samples

      The U.S. Geological Survey researcher had collected rain samples from eight sites along Colorado’s Front Range. The sites are part of a national network for monitoring changes in the chemical composition of rain. Six of the sites are in the urban Boulder-to-Denver corridor. The other two are located in the mountains at higher elevation.

      The monitoring network was designed to track nitrogen trends, and Wetherbee, a chemist, wanted to trace the path of airborne nitrogen that is deposited in the national park. The presence of metals or organic materials like coal particles could point to rural or urban sources of nitrogen.

      He filtered the samples and then, in an inspired moment, placed the filters under a microscope, to look more closely at what else had accumulated. It was much more than he initially thought.

      “It was a serendipitous result,” Wetherbee told Circle of Blue. “An opportune observation and finding.”

    • Prada Bans Fur in Victory for Animal Rights

      In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it’s ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

      This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada’s catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA’s behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

    • South Africa’s Fallen Pride: How Law and Government Fail to Protect Lions

      A few weeks ago, inspectors made a gruesome discovery at a farm in the northwest corner of South Africa. More than 100 lions and other big cats were found suffering from neglect, parasites, mange and other health problems. Two lion cubs were too sick to walk; a third had to be euthanized.

      Despite their illnesses, all of the lions on the farm were intended for use in “canned hunts” or to be slaughtered and sold for their bones.

      In the wake of the investigation, the National Council for the Societies of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged the farm owner with animal cruelty. The criminal charge is unusual in South Africa, although the situation that produced it is not.

      Indeed, humanity’s hot pursuit of the commercialization of nature is rarely more evident than in South Africa’s intensive breeding of lions. Despite years of local and international outcry, it’s still legal to use these former kings of the jungle in a range of lucrative commercial activities, including trophy hunting and exporting their bones.

    • Former U.S. Nuclear Safety Chief: ‘New Nuclear Is off the Table’

      From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

    • First, Climate Change, Now the Global Extinction Crisis: Industry-Paid Hacks Deny Science to Congress

      In this week’s Congressional hearing on the recent (and dire) UN Global Assessment of Biodiversity, conservation scientist Dr. Jacob Malcom did not mince words as he explained the report’s startling findings that one million species are at risk of extinction.

      “We are, as you have heard, losing species faster than ever in human history, tens to hundreds of times faster than the background rate of extinction,” the Defenders of Wildlife scientist told the Congressional House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee. “We are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, where the last time this happened it was because an asteroid hit the planet. Today we are that asteroid.”

      Such a massive loss of plants, animals, and other species would also, quite naturally, affect human life on earth. But just as they have with hearings on the climate crisis, Congressional Republicans and their witnesses used this opportunity to attack the well-documented scientific evidence of a far-reaching global threat to life. And they even used some of the same climate science deniers and tired arguments to do it.

    • Drastically Shorter Workweeks Needed to Fight Climate Crisis, Study Finds

      If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

      That’s the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

    • Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include

      Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA’s approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere “expectation” that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer’s non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

    • Botswana Lifts 5-Year Ban on Hunting Elephants

      Botswana, home to one third of Africa’s elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

      “The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension,” the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

    • Botswana lifts ban on elephant hunting

      It’s one of the world’s last sanctuaries for African elephants. But now, Botswana says, its population of the animals will be fair game for hunters.

      The southern African nation, which is home to 130,000 elephants — more than anywhere else on the continent — imposed the ban in 2014 to help declining numbers recover from poaching and shrinking habitats.

    • Beef Industry Takes the Biggest Bite Out of Earth’s Natural Resources

      One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

      This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

    • Jeff Bezos blew off Amazon employees’ proposal at the shareholder’s meeting and they were miffed: ‘This is not the kind of leadership we need’

      Nearly 8,000 Amazon employees publicly signed a letter asking their company to drastically limit its impact on the environment. They hoped to present their plea directly to their boss, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

    • 8,000 Amazon employees asked the company to do more on climate change. Shareholders just said no.

      Amazon shareholders just voted down a proposal backed by more than 7,500 Amazon employees asking Jeff Bezos to create a comprehensive climate-change plan for the company. But just because the proposal didn’t get through this time doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

    • World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos Hides Backstage as Amazon Workers Demand ‘Bold, Rapid’ Climate Action

      Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), with the support of over 7,000 Amazon workers, proposed a resolution demanding a “company-wide climate plan” to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

      Shareholders ultimately voted down the resolution, which was opposed by Amazon’s board of directors.

      “Jeff remained off-stage, ignored the employees, and would not speak to them,” AECJ said in a statement following the shareholder meeting. “Jeff’s inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis and spoke volumes about how Amazon’s board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon’s role in the climate emergency.”

      Emily Cunningham, an Amazon employee and AECJ member, called on Bezos to come on stage and listen to his employees’ call for an ambitious climate plan after the resolution failed, but he did not do so.

      David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, told Cunningham, “Mr. Bezos will be out later, thank you.”

    • Amazon Votes Down Employee-Backed Climate Resolution

      The employee-filed resolution asked the company to develop a public plan for responding to extreme weather events and weaning itself off of fossil fuels. It was publicly backed by more than 7,600 employees, who signed their names to an open letter, a novel tactic for tech employee activism, The New York Times said.

      Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, the group that grew out of the resolution, said in a press release they will file another if the company’s board doesn’t increase its climate commitments.

      “The enthusiasm is overwhelming,” Amazon employee Rebecca Sheppard, who works in air cargo operations, told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ll be back.”

    • Amazon shareholders vote down facial recognition, climate change proposals

      Amazon.com Inc. shareholders rejected a large slate of proposals at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, including one that would have restricted the use of controversial facial recognition technology.

      Proposals calling for Amazon to end the sale of its Rekognition technology to governments and study its potential risks were defeated by a majority of voters, Amazon said. The software is being used by a sheriff’s office in Oregon to identify suspects, but civil liberties groups have been critical of such technology, citing the possibility it could be abused.

      Shareholders also voted down a proposal submitted by employees, and supported by more than 7,600 of them in an open letter, that called on the company to detail its strategy for coping with climate change and reducing its use of fossil fuels blamed for contributing to a warming Earth.

    • Amazon Investors Reject Proposals on Climate Change and Facial Recognition

      Amazon said on Wednesday that its shareholders had voted down proposals that would have pushed the company to reconsider its societal impact in two key areas: facial recognition and climate change.

      The proposals asked Amazon to develop a more comprehensive approach to reducing its carbon footprint and put the brakes on how the company sells surveillance technologies to governments.

      The company’s board had opposed the changes. But the initiatives received support from the two most prominent shareholder advisory firms, which help large, long-term investors decide how to vote.

      Amazon did not disclose the vote total on Wednesday, but said it would by the end of the week.

    • Amazon’s shareholder meeting turns testy as investors demand action on climate crisis and diversity

      Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday turned hostile as shareholders demanded change on a number of issues, ranging from renewable energy use to equal pay.

      Dozens of shareholders, including current employees, joined the meeting in Seattle, presenting their case in over 12 different proposals. They included demands that the company take action on climate change through energy use, as well as improving diversity and pay equality in its workforce. Two of the resolutions asked for Amazon to stop the sale of its facial recognition software to government agencies, which the backers say raises concerns of racial bias and discrimination.

    • A New Volkisch Mythos

      There is a clear problem with most environmental discussions or debates. The problem is, in short form, a lack of class analysis.

      This is most evident in the manufacturing of the overpopulation argument. But it is prevalent in nearly all discussions about global warming or rising sea levels or most anything relating to planetary ecology, really.

      What is bothersome here is that the voices I am hearing warning of mankind’s immanent demise are mostly ruling class voices.

      Leakey says..“I am increasingly convinced that in the tropics, and particularly in the poorer nations, protecting nature everywhere is an effort with diminishing returns. I believe that protected areas (that is areas of land set aside by governments and governed by national statutes) such as national parks and national forests are the best targets if nature is to be protected. “

      So give up on the poor, can’t save them. And Leakey goes on …“Whilst state-owned wildlife land, designated as national parks, is vital, in some countries private land may also be secured by state laws that allow for private ownership of title. Thus an individual can use such land for wildlife and nature protection for the duration of the term of the title and this can be equally as secure as a national park.”

      Ok, so create spaces for the rich to be safe from the restive natives.

    • ‘What Could Be More Important?’: World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

      Scientists at the United Nations’ intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species—but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

      Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that partially because the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its report on what it called nature’s “unprecedented” decline on the same day that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had their first child, news reports on the study’s grave implications were few and far between.

      While some international and progressive outlets—including Common Dreams—published high-profile stories on the report when it was released, just two of Britain’s national newspapers included any reporting about biodiversity on their front pages on May 7, the day after the royal baby was born to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

    • Climate Change Is a Top Concern in 2020 Election

      The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

      Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate’s position on climate change is “very important” when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

    • Empowering Communities to Save the Ocean

      Conservation icon David Attenborough’s familiar, soothing narration has accompanied nature documentaries for decades, but he brings a new and urgent tone to his latest project, Netflix’s new series Our Planet.

      While Attenborough’s previous projects, Planet Earth and Blue Planet, were windows into the wonders of nature, Our Planet is an alarm bell. If we don’t change our ways, human-driven problems like climate change will leave behind bleached coral and barren oceans.

      Our Planet carries a particularly urgent warning about the threats facing our coastal seas and the possible consequences for people and nature. An episode of the series focusing on coastal seas illuminates a challenge not often talked about: overfishing.

      Driven in part by a growing global demand for seafood, overfishing harms marine ecosystems and the communities they support. The constant barrage of discarded fishing nets, plastic and other debris, and chemical pollutants wreak havoc on these critical habitats. Meanwhile, destructive fishing practices like dynamite fishing destroy some of our most effective nature-based tools for fighting climate change. Just this month, the United Nations’ global assessment on biodiversity cited overfishing as one of the main ways people are reducing biodiversity.

    • Senate Approves $19.1 Billion in Disaster Funding After Years of Climate-Fueled Disasters

      President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

      “The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!” the president tweeted Thursday.

    • Deal struck to pass $19 billion disaster relief package without border funds

      Republicans senators say President Donald Trump has agreed to a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill, providing relief to a country beset by devastating floods, wildfires and hurricanes without funding for the border that the President had sought.

      Late Thursday, the President tweeted his approval of the measure: “The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!”
      The Senate passed the measure Thursday afternoon by a vote of 85 to 8.
      The House is expected to pass it Friday and key Republican lawmakers say Trump has agreed to sign it. Congress will be out for recess next week.
      It took months for Congress and the White House to strike a deal, as negotiations between Republicans and Democrats stalled over funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border and how to rebuild Puerto Rico two years after Hurricane Maria hit the US territory.

    • No more climate change: it’s now a crisis

      Talk about climate change, and there’s a good chance that people will know what you’re referring to, even if they don’t share your concerns about it.

      But for one UK-based newspaper, The Guardian, “climate change” is now frowned upon, though it’s not formally banned. The paper’s house style guide recommends that its journalists should instead use such terms as “climate crisis” and “global heating”.

      The Guardian has updated the style guide to introduce terms that it thinks more accurately describe the environmental crises confronting the world. So out goes “climate change”, to be replaced by the preferred terms, “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown”. “Global heating” replaces “global warming”.

      “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” says the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

    • 3 Dead in Missouri Tornadoes, ‘Extensive Damage’ to State Capital

      Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing “extensive damage” to the state’s capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

      “There was a lot of devastation throughout the state,” Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. “We were very fortunate last night that we didn’t have more injuries than what we had, and we didn’t have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many.”

    • Photos of Missouri Tornado: Jefferson City Damage ‘Extensive’

      A violent tornado tore through the Missouri capital overnight on Wednesday, and as morning dawned, the extent of the damage was becoming clear: homes with roofs shorn off, wrecked stores, downed power poles and reports of people trapped in the rubble.

      The Missouri Department of Public Safety said the damage in part of Jefferson City, the capital, was “extensive.” As shelters opened for residents, state troopers and local emergency officials went door-to-door searching for survivors.

    • Three Killed As Violent Tornadoes Cause ‘Devastation’ In Missouri

      Thousands were without power and multiple people were hurt as a series of storms spawned multiple tornadoes in Missouri late Wednesday and into Thursday.

  • Finance
    • A Political Economist on How China Sees Trump’s Trade War

      Earlier this month, after trade talks with China collapsed, President Trump ramped up his trade war, raising tariffs from ten to twenty-five per cent on a third of Chinese imports, about two hundred and fifty billion dollars’ worth of goods. In response, U.S. markets have become jumpy, and economists have grown more concerned about prospects for economic growth. But less attention has been paid in the United States to what this trade war means for China’s economy and the political fortunes of its President, Xi Jinping. I recently spoke by phone with Victor Shih, a professor of political economy at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, who studies Chinese economic policy. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the biggest dangers to the Chinese economy, what the Communist Party thinks of President Trump, and whether China has entered a new era of repression.

    • The Apple boycott in China is getting worse

      BuzzFeed News had detailed the growing Apple boycott movement earlier this month, and matters are only getting worse. A South China Morning Post report this morning is offering more perspective on the anti-Apple sentiment. Chinese consumers are feeling that they should support domestic brands instead of buying products from foreign companies.

    • Chinese Company Tells Employees to Boycott US Products, as Trade War Propaganda Heats Up

      In an internal announcement issued May 16 by the Jinggang Motor Vehicle Inspection Station located in Donghai County, Jiangsu Province, the company echoed the propaganda, explaining that China’s developments in military, science, and technology have frightened and worried the United States.

      As a result, the United States started the trade war with China. “To help our country win this war, company authorities have decided that all employees must immediately stop purchasing and using American products,” the notice read. The refrain that the United States is impeding China’s rise on the global stage has been repeated in much of Chinese state media lately.

      The notice included a list of more detailed requirements: [...]

    • Social Issues Raised by Amazon Investors Aren’t Going Away

      Amazon fought hard against the resolutions. A company lawyer reportedly tried persuading employees to withdraw their climate change proposal, without success. And Amazon tried asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep the two facial recognition resolutions from coming to a vote. A company spokesperson declined to comment about why Amazon didn’t similarly fight the climate change proposal with the SEC. Amazon’s board recommended shareholders vote against all three resolutions in its proxy statement last month.

      It will be several days before the resolutions’ supporters know exactly by how much they lost. Even if the margin is large, these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. “These proposals, to be effective and to attract the attention of a company, they don’t need to be a 50 percent vote,” says Michael Connor, the executive director of Open MIC, a nonprofit that works with tech investors and helped write the facial recognition proposals. “It takes a long time to educate people about these issues and to bring major shareholders on.”

    • Ocasio-Cortez and Warren Have Some Tough Questions for Mnuchin About the Collapse of Sears

      Two high-profile Democrats have questions for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about his role in the downfall of Sears as a former member of the retailer’s board of directors, and his possible role in government decisions about the company.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), who is also a 2020 presidential candidate, released a video Thursday in which they outline the details of a letter (pdf) they sent to Mnuchin seeking answers about his involvement with Sears…

    • Intent on Leading a ‘Political Revolution,’ Not Just a Campaign, Sanders Rallies Support for McDonald’s Strike

      In a demonstration of what the Bernie Sanders campaign says makes its operation unique—”not just a campaign, but a movement”—its email list, social media team, and volunteer network was mobilized to galvanize support for a series of strikes by fast food workers taking place nationwide on Thursday.

      As McDonald’s held its annual shareholders meeting, workers went on strike in cities across the country, demanding a $15 minimum wage, the right to form a union, and protection from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

      Sanders rallied his supporters ahead of the strike, using his campaign’s email list to call on progressives to show solidarity with McDonald’s workers in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.

    • Beware Billionaires Bearing Gifts

      There’s a new Koch organization in town. Instead of trying to buy politicians to do the bidding of billionaires, as Charles and David Koch have historically done, this foundation will support community groups trying to cure the miseries of eons—everything from poverty to addiction.

      And they’ve got some street cred, having successfully worked with renowned liberal Van Jones to secure legislation to reduce mass incarceration. Billionaire Charles Koch says the mission is this: “We must stand together to help every person rise.”

      That is some good stuff, right there. It’s what labor unions have always preached—workers must stand together to gain the collective power essential to pull every one of them up. It works, too. In the middle of the last century, collective bargaining created the great American middle class.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Danish parties stepping up social media funding

      With the general election looming on June 5, Danish parties are starting to really shell out the big bucks on social media in an effort to garner as many votes as possible.

    • Fake videos edited to make Pelosi appear drunk spread on social media

      Deceptively edited videos altered to make Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appear to be drunkenly slurring her words are spreading across social media despite attempts by platforms to halt their dissemination, according to The Washington Post.

      The videos alter the audio of Pelosi’s speech at a Center for American Progress event Wednesday in which she accuses President Trump of a “cover-up,” editing the clip to make it appear as though she is slurring her words.

    • Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation accuses Russian culture minister’s family of owning 200 million-ruble Moscow penthouse

      The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), led by opposition politician Alexey Navalny, argued in a new video that Marina Medinskaya, who is married to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, acquired a 300-square-meter penthouse in Moscow in 2018.

    • Landslide Win for ‘Ruthless and Vindictive’ Prime Minister Stokes Fears of Further Division in India

      Right-wing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed a decisive re-election victory on Thursday, raising fears that his government’s assault on minorities in the world’s largest democracy is just beginning.

      Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is headed to a clear majority of seats in the Indian Parliament, tweeted that “India wins again!” as results came in Thursday. At press time, the BJP had strong leads in 299 parliamentary districts; 272 seats are needed for a majority in the parliament.

      In an analysis, The New York Times said that the BJP has built a “cult of personality” around Modi, who refers to himself in the third person in speeches, like one noted by the Times in a recent rally where the prime minister exhorted the crowd by bringing up an airstrike on neighboring Pakistan in February.

    • “India Loses Again, and the World Loses with It”: Siddhartha Deb on Modi’s Landslide Re-election

      Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears set to enter a second term in a landslide victory. Election results show Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party leading in 325 of the 543 seats in Parliament. At this rate, these numbers will give him an even greater majority than in 2014, when his party claimed the first outright majority in decades. Most analysts had predicted Modi’s BJP party would lose seats in this election. Modi’s government has been criticized for a crackdown on civil society, targeting political opponents, journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and writers. Human rights groups have also raised the alarm on attacks against vulnerable populations, especially Dalits and Muslims. We speak to award-winning Indian author and journalist Siddhartha Deb.

    • Why YouTube Is Changing the Way It Reports Subscriber Counts

      YouTube’s official explanation is that it wants to “create more consistency everywhere that we publicly display subscriber counts,” according to a blog post Tuesday announcing the change. Currently, all channels with more than 1,000 subscribers have their subscriber counts displayed differently in different places across YouTube desktop and mobile apps.

      But YouTube likely has another motive: to discourage obsessive comparisons of certain creators’ subscriber counts — something that has become a spectator sport of late in the YouTube world.

    • Twitter co-founder Ev Williams says Fox News is “much, much more powerful and much more destructive than Twitter”
    • Twitter co-founder calls President Trump ‘master of the platform’

      The president regularly uses his Twitter account to go after his political opponents and has made false and misleading statements on the platform. But Williams argued the potential negative effects of the president’s tweets on the country’s political discourse are “trivial compared to the effect of the broader media.”

      “The vast majority of the electorate is not on Twitter reading Trump’s tweets and being convinced by that,” said Williams. “What they’re convinced much more by is the destructive power of Fox News, which is much, much more powerful and much more destructive than Twitter.”

    • Theresa May’s final days are crashing us into a whole new world of Brexit madness

      So successful has she been, that having been 20 points ahead in the polls in 2017, her party now looks likely to win a quarter of the votes of a party boasting they’ll make us poorer until 2050

    • Rep. Thompson Works to Secure Our Elections

      Foreign adversaries and domestic dirty tricksters can secretly hack our nation’s electronic voting systems. That’s why information security experts agree we must go back to basics: paper ballots. We also need “risk-limiting audits,” meaning mandatory post-election review of a sample of the paper ballots, to ensure the election-night “official” results are correct. EFF has long sought these reforms.

      A new federal bill is a step in the right direction: H.R. 2660, the Election Security Act. It was introduced on May 10 by Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Administration Committee; and Rep. John Sarbanes, Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force.

    • Ajit Pai May Have Lied To Congress About FCC’s Failure To Address Wireless Location Data Scandals

      So we’ve talked a bit about how the FCC has done absolutely nothing to seriously address the rise of wireless industry location data scandals. That’s despite story after story showing how wireless carriers were selling this data to an endless line of companies and organizations. Those organizations, in turn, failed utterly to protect this data from being misused by everybody from law enforcement to bail bondsman and even random stalkers posing as law enforcement. Despite this being on scale with the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, the silence from the Pai FCC has been deafening.

      Last week during a Congressional FCC oversight hearing, several lawmakers criticized Pai for failing to hold carriers accountable or even publicly mentioning the scandal. And while the FCC has supposedly been conducting an investigation for the better part of the last year, Pai’s fellow commissioners say they’ve been stonewalled when they’ve asked about the progress of the inquiry.

      [...]

      Again, Pai’s decision to be a rubber stamp for the telecom industry’s biggest companies isn’t much in dispute at this point, though Pai and his staffers like to insist (and may even actually believe) this is all just unfair partisan posturing. Pai has repeatedly stated that the industry can self-regulate, but when it comes to privacy they’ve shown themselves to be incapable of the task. So while carriers say they’ve ceased the collection and sale of your location data to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet, with their history of falsehoods on the privacy front, the only way to actually confirm this is a transparent, third party inquiry.

    • Why Reactionaries Won in Australia

      Overall however, three things explain Scomo’s narrow win of 77 seats – which means that he has a one man (mostly men) majority. Scomo’s three winning factors are: a) the Murdoch press, b) Labor’s big mistake and c) Scomo’s political marketing ability. First to the Murdoch press. Australia is where Murdoch came from. It is here where he sharpened his teeth. As a consequence of Murdoch’s dominance over the Australian media landscape, journalist John Pilger called Australia a Murdochracy – a democracy run by Murdoch’s media empire.

      There are vast geographical areas in this vast continent in which the only paper read is a Murdoch paper. But Murdoch’s ideological arm also reaches deep into cities. In Sydney for example, traditional working class areas such as the western suburbs are almost completely covered by Murdoch’s tabloid press. Unsurprisingly, most of those seats are held by Scomo’s people. Aiding that are conservative commercial TV stations such as channel Seven, Nine and Ten. Scomo also receives generous help from right-wing radio hosts. In other words, Labor faces not only Scomo but a media landscape run by Murdoch, etc.

      But there are a few exceptions to that as well. Some geographical areas – like Sydney’s Inner West – are populated by the pro-democracy, environmental conscious, and enlightened citoyens who tend to read Australia’s liberal newspaper (“liberal” in the American understanding), the only not staunchly pro-neoliberalism newspaper in Sydney, called Sydney Morning Herald. People in the Inner West are also more likely to watch Australia’s public broadcasters such as ABC and SBS. Unlike their commercial counterparts of Seven, Nine, and Ten, the two public broadcasters of ABC and SBS show a more balanced picture of Australian politics – to the great annoyance of Scomo and his entourage.

      While Murdoch’s VOX covers the Midwest of the USA, Murdoch’s Australian outfit covers rural Australia to such a degree that there has been talk of Quexit, the exiting of redneck Queensland from Australia. In general, Murdochracy – whether it is Murdoch’s flagship tabloid the Daily Telegraph or News.Com – means a daily barrage of anti-Labor messaging while simultaneously being highly favourable to Scomo’s conservatives.

      Just one example explains this. The Murdoch press made sure that nobody forgot the 2010 leadership issue between two Labor leaders, Gillard and Rudd whilst the fact that Scomo stabbed a much liked sitting prime minister in the back in a ruthless coup d’état in 2018 was hardly ever mentioned during the recent election campaign. Murdoch’s press made sure that during the election nobody thought about Scomo’s cold-bloodedness. As they say, the media cannot tell people what to think but it can tell people what to think about. Murdoch is a master of this. But his media dominance is by no means all there is to the downfall of Labor.

    • Round-the-Clock Disinformation

      In these unsettled times, you often hear people say that they can’t bear to read or watch one more news report on what the Trump administration is doing.

      The round-the-clock disinformation emanating from the White House creates the chaos that Trump thrives on–obscuring the damage he does to the environment, to the most vulnerable, to democracy itself.

      Rather than cutting through the chaos, corporate media capitalize on it—riding a wave of division and anxiety all the way to the bank.

    • It’s Time For The Democratic Party To Stand Up

      Trump ordering former White House lawyer Don McGahn not to appear before Congress, and McGahn not showing up, is just the latest example of House Democrats appearing to beg Big Daddy Trump for candy, just so he can slap their hands and say, “No Children! Go to your rooms.”

      Trump’s staged walkout from a meeting with Democratic lawmakers on infrastructure, followed by a Rose Garden temper tantrum, only accentuates this dynamic. Trump wants to be strong, and make Democrats appear weak, vacillating, and without clear principles.

      Indeed, House Democrats’ strategy of stepping back while Trump stonewalls is starting to look more like an unprincipled shirking of their duty to stand up for the Constitution, and commence impeachment hearings before Trump turns America into a Presidential dictatorship.

      That’s why it’s time for a Democratic Party that stands up for the rule of law and the Constitution, instead of constantly holding its fingers to the wind and following meekly.

    • Another Wild Day in DC, and Impeachment Is Still Off the Table

      When historians write the book on this irredeemably depraved administration, May 22 is going to require its own chapter.

      It began with the Democratic Speaker of the House accusing Donald Trump of covering up crimes before declaring her intention to do nothing about it. It was stuffed through the middle with a presidential Rose Garden performance that will loom large in the annals of televised gibberish until the sun burns out. It ended when a federal judge dropped a metaphorical bag of bricks directly on Trump’s head for the second time in two days by again refusing to quash a subpoena for financial documents.

      Act I opened with a morning meeting of the House Democratic caucus, a follow-up to the tense Monday meeting when several members pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to authorize the official opening of an impeachment inquiry against Trump. Reasons for doing so are manifest, having been meticulously detailed in the Mueller report. For Congress, impeachment is also nothing less than an act of self-preservation; Trump is actively working to strip the legislative branch of appropriations, oversight and war powers — efforts that, if successful, would render the institution essentially moot.

      “Would you believe that it’s important to follow the facts?” asked Speaker Pelosi after the meeting. “We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up. In a cover-up.”

      Like Jimmy Two Times in “Goodfellas,” she said “cover-up” twice, so it must be important, right?

    • Under Fire From Progressives, DCCC Chair Backs Out of Fundraiser for Anti-Choice Democrat Dan Lipinski

      After facing intense backlash from progressives for planning to star at a fundraiser for an anti-choice Democrat amid a wave of Republican attacks on abortion rights, DCCC chair Cheri Bustos announced late Wednesday that she has decided to back out of the high-dollar event.

      “I’m proud to have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and I’m deeply alarmed by the rapidly escalating attacks on women’s access to reproductive care in several states,” Bustos, a congresswoman from Illinois, said in a statement announcing her withdrawal from the fundraiser for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), who is facing a progressive primary challenge from Marie Newman.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Indonesia restricts access to Facebook and WhatsApp to stop the spread of fake news after riots erupted that killed 6 people and injured 200

      Tito told a press conference that several protesters were arrested with envelopes totalling 6 million rupiah (US$410) and admitted to being “paid” to demonstrate.

    • More Data on Content Moderation Won’t Silence Facebook’s Critics

      The researchers found lots to be desired in the way Facebook measures and reports its progress. For instance, Facebook relies on a global team of moderators to review content flagged by users, but it doesn’t release accuracy rates for those reviewers. Facebook also releases data on the “prevalence” of prohibited content on the platform, which is to say, how many people might have viewed one of these posts. Facebook does this by randomly sampling all content views across Facebook, then manually reviewing how many of them violate Facebook’s policies. That’s a valuable number, the researchers argue, but it leaves out another crucial figure: Not just what percentage of views on the platform are of prohibited content, but how much prohibited content there was to begin with.

    • Republican Senator Says Facebook and Instagram Need to ‘Disappear’

      “Social media’s innovations do our country more harm than good. Maybe social media is best understood as a parasite on productive investment, on meaningful relationships, on a healthy society,” he wrote. “Maybe we’d be better off if Facebook disappeared.”

    • Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are parasites. Maybe they should disappear: Senator

      Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — they devote massive amounts of money and the best years of some of the nation’s brightest minds to developing new schemes to hijack their users’ neural circuitry. That’s because social media only works — to make money, anyway — if it consumes users’ time and attention, day after day. It needs to replace the various activities we enjoyed and did perfectly well before social media existed.

      Social media users understand this intuitively. You don’t go on Facebook to connect with a friend when you can just as easily call him or send her a text on your phone.

      You don’t log on to find an article you’ve been meaning to read when you could just as easily find it yourself with a different service designed for that purpose, like online search.

      No, you log on to Facebook to be on Facebook. Just for a minute. Or maybe a few. Or maybe an hour.

      Let’s be clear. This is a digital drug. And the addiction is the point. Addiction is what Mark Zuckerberg is selling.

    • Indonesia restricts WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram usage following deadly riots

      The restrictions come as Indonesia grapples with political tension following the release of the results of its presidential election on Tuesday. Defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto said he will challenge the result in the constitutional court.

      Riots broke out in capital state Jakarta last night, killing at least six people and leaving more than 200 people injured. Following this, it is alleged that misleading information and hoaxes about the nature of riots and people who participated in them began to spread on social media services, according to local media reports.

      For Facebook, seeing its services forcefully cut off in a region is no longer a rare incident. The company, which is grappling with the spread of false information in many markets, faced a similar restriction in Sri Lanka in April, when the service was completely banned for days amid terrorist strikes in the nation. India, which just this week concluded its general election, has expressed concerns over Facebook’s inability to contain the spread of false information on WhatsApp, which is its largest chat app with over 200 million monthly users.

    • Portland Trailblazers Streisand Stupid Local Article Into National Spotlight For No Reason At All

      While stories about the Streisand Effect here are legion, the most frustrating aspect of them for me is typically how pointless and petty the victims of it are. There are so many of life’s problems that can be best taken on by being completely ignored and the simple fact is that many famous folk and large companies have a much larger capacity and ability to ignore petty shit than the average person. I mean, come on people, you have lawyers and PR teams.

      The Portland Trailblazers certainly do. And, yet, they appear to have decided to Streisand a mildly trafficked big dumb stupid local publication into the national spotlight just by failing to ignore it. The setup here is a playoffs game 3 loss and Tim Brown, an editor of the Oregonian, doing the laziest of “articles.”

    • Forget ‘Breaking Up’ Internet Companies, Senator Josh Hawley Says They Should All Die Because They’re Too Popular

      We’ve had our issues with politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren whose plans to “break up” big internet companies don’t seem to make much sense, but it appears that Senator Josh Hawley has decided to take things to another level of insanity altogether. In an op-ed for USA Today, Hawley makes the argument that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter should all die. And while there are plenty of people who appear to support a dead Facebook in response to that company’s long history of sketchy practices, that’s not really the reason Hawley wants them dead.

      He wants them dead because they’re too popular. Hawley cherry picks some evidence to suggest that using social media is bad for our health.

    • Report: ORG policy responses to Online Harms White Paper

      Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based digital campaigning organisation working to protect fundamental rights to privacy and free speech online. With over 3,000 active supporters, we are a grassroots organisation with local groups across the UK.

      ORG has actively engaged with the government’s proposals for online regulation since the Internet Safety Strategy in 2017. The following policy positions have been developed through a long period of reflection and engagement with different stakeholder groups. We hope that they assist others intending to respond to the white paper consultation.

      For the avoidance of doubt, this paper does not comprise our full consultation response. We will publish that in due course.

    • Russia’s Communications Ministry lists threat categories that could trigger RuNet isolation

      Russia’s Communications Ministry has prepared a set of executive regulations that describe how and under what conditions control over the Russian segment of the Internet might be centralized. That process could entail isolating Russian traffic from the World Wide Web under a new law passed by the State Duma in April.

    • [Older] Richard Stallman: The Christchurch Terrorist’s Manifesto Is a Hideous Document, But Banning Possession of It Is Not the Solution
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Captured states – e-Privacy Regulation victim of a “lobby onslaught”

      Compared to non-governmental organisations and trade unions, private corporations are far better equipped to influence European level decision-making. A report “Captured states: when EU governments are a channel for corporate interests” by Corporate Europe Observatory’s (CEO) describes the various ways corporations approach the Member States of the European Union to maximise their impact.

      When adopting EU’s laws and policies, Member States are key actors, along with the European Parliament and the Commission. Thus, lobbyists representing private corporations consider Member States as primary targets to influence the decisions at the European level in favour of their interests. The CEO report exemplifies how national governments become channels for corporate interests by relating numerous lobbying successes, including the e-Privacy Regulation (pdf).

    • Ocasio-Cortez Ties Concerns Over Unregulated Facial Recognition Technology to ‘Global Rise in Authoritarianism and Fascism’

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday tied “the political reality that there is a global rise in authoritarianism and fascism” to concerns about the threats that facial recognition technology poses to Americans’ civil rights and liberties.

      “I don’t want to see an authoritarian surveillance state,” the New York Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill, “whether it’s run by a government or whether it’s run by five corporations.”

      BuzzFeed’s Davey Alba, who captured the congresswoman’s comments on video, reported that she was referencing U.S. tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

    • Snapchat Employees Abused Data Access to Spy on Users

      Several departments inside social media giant Snap have dedicated tools for accessing user data, and multiple employees have abused their privileged access to spy on Snapchat users, Motherboard has learned.

      Two former employees said multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago. Those sources, as well as an additional two former employees, a current employee, and a cache of internal company emails obtained by Motherboard, described internal tools that allowed Snap employees at the time to access user data, including in some cases location information, their own saved Snaps and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses. Snaps are photos or videos that, if not saved, typically disappear after being received (or after 24 hours if posted to a user’s Story).

      Motherboard granted multiple sources in this story anonymity to speak candidly about internal Snap processes.

      Although Snap has introduced strict access controls to user data and takes abuse and user privacy very seriously according to several sources, the news highlights something that many users may forget: behind the products we use everyday there are people with access to highly sensitive customer data, who need it to perform essential work on the service. But, without proper protections in place, those same people may abuse it to spy on users’ private information or profiles.

    • Snapchat’s Internal Tool ‘SnapLion’ Is Abused By Employees To Spy On You

      The latest report from Motherboard is an important but unsurprising revelation. According to the report, Snapchat’s internal tool ‘SnapLion’ is often abused by employees to access users’ snaps without their permission. Snaps are photos that disappear after some time, however, Snapchat employees have access to these photos and regularly violate users’ privacy, the report added.

    • Digital Advertising, Consumer Privacy and More

      Digital ads—and control of the user data that makes them so profitable—are the heart of the consumer privacy debate. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Understanding the Digital Advertising Ecosystem and the Impact of Data Privacy and Competition Policy” to grapple with these complicated and often conflicting ideas.

      Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham opened the hearing by asking the panelists if Congress should pass a federal privacy law at all, and if they thought we should have “one national standard”—a potentially dangerous idea, as it could preempt stronger existing state laws. The panelists more or less supported a single national law, though we were glad to see Dr. Johnny Ryan argue that a federal law should preempt state law only to the extent that it provides greater protections. Dr. Fiona M. Scott Morton further clarified that even with a strong federal standard, states were still going to want to regulate on top of the law.

      Troublingly, when discussing whether or not states should be able to create their own protections for consumers, Chairman Graham said, “It’s my job to make sure we have a viable [digital advertising] industry when this is all done.” But enacting a law that would protect the advertising industry at the expense of his constituents and their privacy is antithetical to the Chairman’s job. Previous hearings on data privacy have featured witness panels stacked with industry advocates, and corporate interests threatening to hollow out existing data privacy laws. Consumers are relying on Congress to resist this pressure, not bow to it.

      The rest of the hearing turned to discussions of the role competition plays in a healthy innovation landscape, how to engineer meaningful consent, and who actually owns users’ data.

    • Data Mining vs Machine Learning: Top 20 Things You Must Know

      We all aware of the beauty of Artificial Intelligence, which reigns the current technology-driven world. This board area relates to the two essential disciplines that are Data Mining and Machine Learning. Both data mining and machine learning originate from the same root that is data science, and also they intersect each other. Moreover, both are data-driven disciplines. Both disciplines help developers to develop an efficient system. However, still, there is a question “Is there a difference between data mining vs. machine learning?” To provide a clear understanding of this question, we outline 20 distinctions between them, which guide you to pick the right discipline to solve your programming problem.

    • Americans believe that they should own the mountains of data produced by their cars, but they don’t

      This is the home version of what John Deere has done to farmers: using terms of service and copyright licensing to deprive you of the benefit of your own property, to their own benefit. Farmers can’t access the telemetry about soil condition they generate by driving their own tractors around their own fields (they can only get it piecemeal as part of an app that comes with Monsanto seed), while Deere can aggregate that data to predict crop yields and sell intelligence to the futures market. Car owners can’t access the telemetry from their own vehicles, but automakers can use that data to make real-estate bets, plan products, even place ads on your mobile devices.

      Farmers can’t fix their own tractors or take them to independent service centers; car owners can’t bypass the locks that control their car diagnostic information nor can independent mechanics access the unlock codes that cause cars to recognize new parts after installation.

      And neither farmers nor drivers can benefit from independent security audits of the massive, deadly robots they entrust their lives to, because bypassing the system’s locks to conduct such an audit gives rise to serious criminal and civil liability.

    • Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight

      Cars not only know how much we weigh but also track how much weight we gain. They know how fast we drive, where we live, how many children we have — even financial information. Connect a phone to a car, and it knows who we call and who we text.

      But who owns and, ultimately, controls that data? And what are carmakers doing with it?

      The issue of ownership is murky. Drivers usually sign away their rights to data in a small-print clause buried in the ownership or lease agreement. It’s not unlike buying a smartphone. The difference is that most consumers have no idea vehicles collect data.

    • In less than one second, a malicious web-page can uniquely fingerprint an Iphone, Pixel 2 or Pixel 3 without any explicit user interaction

      In a new paper for IEEE Security, a trio of researchers (two from Cambridge, one from private industry) identify a de-anonymizing attack on Iphones that exploits minute differences in sensor calibration: an Iphone user who visits a webpage running the attack code can have their phone uniquely identified in less than a second, through queries to the sensors made through automated background processes running on the page.

    • Online identification is getting more and more intrusive

      Most online fraud involves identity theft, which is why businesses that operate on the web have a keen interest in distinguishing impersonators from genuine customers. Passwords help. But many can be guessed or are jotted down imprudently. Newer phones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers often have beefed-up security with fingerprint and facial recognition. But these can be spoofed. To overcome these shortcomings the next level of security is likely to identify people using things which are harder to copy, such as the way they walk.

      Many online security services already use a system called device fingerprinting. This employs software to note things like the model type of a gadget employed by a particular user; its hardware configuration; its operating system; the apps which have been downloaded onto it; and other features, including sometimes the Wi-Fi networks it regularly connects through and devices like headsets it plugs into.

    • Like It or Not, We’re Already Cyborgs

      Have you ever felt uneasy about how Big Tech follows you around? For some, this is just a function of modern digital life. But for others, like privacy activists Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag, it’s an erosion of civil liberties.

      To them, we don’t need brain implants to become cyborgs. We’re already jacked in thanks to GPS-enabled smartphones, fitness trackers, social networks, and more. It’s why Balkan and Kalbag created Ind.ie, a nonprofit social justice design company—best known for building the Better web blocker—and crafted the Universal Declaration of Cyborg Rights.

      We spoke with Balkan and Kalbag from their home in Ireland. Here are edited and condensed excerpts from our conversation.

    • Toronto plastic surgeon told to remove security cameras from consult rooms

      Last year, while reporting undercover for a story on breast implants, Marketplace producers spotted security cameras in a closed-door consultation room at Jugenburg’s clinic as well as in the waiting area. The small black devices were attached to the ceiling in the corner of the rooms.

      The consultation rooms are where patients are regularly asked to remove their clothing during pre- and post-operative appointments.

      The CBC producers, one posing as a potential patient and the other as her supportive friend, were not told about the security cameras. Several past patients of Jugenburg’s clinic say they were not told either, nor did they see any signs mentioning the cameras before staff asked them to undress for a consultation.

    • There’s a problem with WhatsApp, but it isn’t end-to-end encryption

      You can argue about degrees, but WhatsApp is unquestionably a product of the surveillance capitalist ecosystem. Eventually it will evolve to monetise the digital exhaust of our interactions, or in terms Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff puts it: using private human experience as raw materials in a behavioural data rendering process which is designed to herd and tune us towards profitable outcomes.

      The suppliers of widely-adopted secure communications should not also be the controllers of this behavioural modification market. Any application claiming to offer privacy must be entirely disentangled from the interests of these parties. Apple has had a crack with iMessage, but sadly its products remain out of reach to most of the world. iPhones are bloody expensive, and not everyone can afford to pay a ridiculous premium on a shiny phone so their personal communications don’t wind up as a part of a data set flagged for monetisation.

    • Amazon shareholders reject banning sale of facial recognition software to law enforcement

      During the e-commerce giant’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholders rejected all proposals including two related to Rekognition, Amazon confirmed to USA TODAY.

      One proposed banning the sales of the technology and the other called for the company to conduct an independent study and issue a report on the risks of governments using the technology.

      Amazon did not release shareholder vote totals Wednesday but said information would be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission later in the week.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Al-Aqsa Mosque Address: ‘An Islamic state would have strategy to soften infidels

      Sheikh Amira said that the first step would be to “soften” the infidels by calling them to Islam through the Internet, television, propaganda, and media and to show them how to implement Islam until they are “convinced.”

    • New Proposal Would Let Companies Further Screw You Over With Terms of Service

      Specifically, they noted that the updated draft language proclaims that consumers would not need to read a contract to be bound by its terms. The draft states as long as consumers received “reasonable notice” and had “reasonable opportunity to review” it, the contract would be legally binding.

      Under this model, consumers wouldn’t need to even understand the contract to be bound by it, a problem given data suggests such agreements are often incomprehensible to the average user. The language was problematic enough to result in a letter this week by 23 state attorneys general, criticizing the ALI’s proposal as a major threat to consumer rights.

    • Trump Is Considering Deputizing the Military as a Civilian Police Force. That Is Terrifying.

      The Donald Trump presidency, marked by cruelty, corruption, and disdain for the rule of law, has been disastrous for our democracy. If there is one silver lining, it is this: Trump’s abuses have exposed weaknesses in our laws and institutions that were previously hidden and which we can now begin to try to fix. We learned about one such weakness in February, when Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act to commandeer funding Congress had specifically denied for the construction of a border wall. The latest such legal loophole is another emergency power that could enable the president to turn the military into his own immigration police force.

      According to a report in the Daily Caller last week, the Trump administration is considering invoking the Insurrection Act to give federal troops the power to detain and remove undocumented immigrants in the United States, acting essentially as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The White House, when asked about the option last week, refused to rule it out.

    • SFPD Earning Universal Condemnation For Raiding A Journalist’s Home During Its Internal Leak Investigation

      When the San Francisco Police Department decided to externalize its internal investigation of a leaked document, things got unlawful and unconstitutional in a hurry. Deciding the best way to sniff out the leaker of a police report detailing the death of prominent public defender Jeff Adachi was through the front door of a local journalist, the SFPD now has a lot of explaining to do.

      The SFPD raided journalist Bryan Carmody’s home supposedly to find information that would lead them to one of its own officers. Carmody is a stringer and had shopped around a copy of the police report someone inside the SFPD leaked to him. None of this is criminal. Nothing about Carmody’s information-gathering fell outside of the law. If anyone broke the law, it was the officer or PD employee who gave him the report.

      That fact notwithstanding, officers showed up at Carmody’s house and — after waging a losing battle with an impressive front gate — handcuffed him for six hours while confiscating $10,000-worth of electronic devices and computers. It’s safe to assume these items contained plenty of information Carmody had gathered from other sources, as well as information about those sources. Again, this search and seizure violated the state’s journalist shield law, if not the US Constitution itself.

    • What’s Behind Lobbyist Attempts to Block Casinos on Indigenous Land?

      President Donald Trump threw his weight against a bipartisan House bill last week that would affirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s right to 321 acres of land in Massachusetts.

      The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, or H.R. 312, was introduced by Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.) and co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. Supporters of the act said entitling the 2,600-member tribe to promised, federally recognized land upheld tribal sovereignty and protected the tribe’s economy by enabling the tribe to build a casino on the land.

      The House voted in favor of the bill, moving the tribe one step closer to building a $1 billion proposed casino on the land. But the president’s opposition warrants a look into his past links to casino magnates and the gambling industry. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.

    • Honduran Labor Fight Reveals Exploitation Behind the Migrant Crisis

      Thousands of migrants sit in cages along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      U.S. policy makers and media debate their proper treatment as if they have appeared out of nowhere — fleeing hardships that are, to us, unknowable and unavoidable.

      Two thousand miles away, one labor struggle reveals how false this narrative is.

      In a microcosm of the conditions that have forced millions around the world to leave their homes in search of a better life in the global North, farmworkers in Honduras are fighting for their rights against the violent exploitation of a powerful multinational corporation and a global economic system designed to marginalize them.

      Fyffes plc is the fourth-largest banana distributor in the world and the top importer of winter-season melons to the United States. Despite an annual $1 billion in revenue, the Japanese-owned and Irish-headquartered corporation remains a virtual unknown compared to its competitors: Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte. But in Honduras, Fyffes is infamous.

    • Migrant Child’s Death in Custody Raises Cover-Up Questions

      CBS News reported Wednesday that a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died in a facility run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in September. She was the first of six migrant children to die in U.S. custody, in a hospital, or shortly after being released, in the last eight months, but the government didn’t acknowledge her death until Wednesday. Her name has not been released.

      Mark Weber, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees ORR, told CBS News that the girl was “medically fragile” due to a congenital heart condition she had prior to entering U.S. custody in Texas. “She passed due to fever and respiratory distress” after being treated in multiple facilities, including a San Antonio hospital, a nursing facility in Phoenix and a children’s hospital in Omaha, Neb., Weber said,

    • Joe Biden’s Racist Dog Whistles Will Haunt Him

      In a party that officially condemns dog-whistle appeals to racism, Joe Biden is running on Orwellian eggshells. Whether he can win the Democratic presidential nomination may largely depend on the extent of “doublethink” that George Orwell described in 1984 as the willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

      It is an inconvenient fact that Biden has a political history of blowing into dog whistles for racism. More than ever, the Democratic electorate is repelled by that kind of pitch. If his dog-whistling past becomes a major issue, the former vice president and his defenders will face the challenge of twisting themselves into rhetorical pretzels to deny what is apparent from the video record of Biden oratory on the Senate floor that spanned into the last decade of the 20th century.

      Biden is eager to deflect any prospective attention from his own history of trafficking in white malice and racial division. When he tweeted this week that “our politics today has become so mean and petty — it traffics in division and our president is the divider in chief,” Biden was executing a high jump over the despicably low standards set by Donald Trump.

      A key question remains: Does it matter that Biden was a shrill purveyor of tropes, racist stereotypes and legislation aimed at African Americans? During pivotal moments in the history of race relations in this country, from the 1970s to the 1990s, Biden’s hot air manifested as pitches to white racism. From the outset of his career on Capitol Hill, he even stooped to reaching out to some of the worst segregationist senators from the South to advance his legislative agenda against busing.

      As Adolph Reed and Cornel West noted this month in the Guardian, Biden began his racially laced approach to lawmaking soon after arrival in the Senate, when he “earned sharp criticism from both the NAACP and ACLU in the 1970s for his aggressive opposition to school busing as a tool for achieving school desegregation.”

    • ‘Vague, Overly Broad, and Sweeping in Scope’: Lawsuits Take Aim at Efforts to Criminalize Anti-Pipeline Protests

      Reporting from The Intercept, details how three states—Texas, Louisiana, and South Dakota—are facing or, in the case of Texas, will face, lawsuits challenging the anti-protest laws.

      Civil rights activists argue that the effect of the laws is to tamp down protest, an unconstitutional attack on free speech. In Texas, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month, both the state House and Senate passed versions of a bill that would make interfering with public infrastructure like pipelines a third degree felony—on par with attempted murder and indecent exposure to a child.

      “It’s hard to convince or even ask people with children to organize against pipelines if a mother will risk a felony,” Jennifer Falcon, spokesperson for Texas-based organization Society of Native Nations, told The Intercept.

      The laws all make it a felony to trespass on property defined as “critical infrastructure,” an amorphous term that can be used broadly to imprison people fighting against planet-killing pipeline projects.

      Texans will have to wait for the state’s law to be used to charge someone before challenging the rule, lawyers told the Society of Native Nations. But other states are already seeing the effects of harsh, anti-protester legislation.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The real cost of cutting the cord: What streaming companies don’t want you to know

      But like most great things in life, cutting the cord is complicated. There are so many streaming options that it’s hard to settle on only one or two. Do it wrong, and cord-cutters might end up paying more than traditional cable, which is exactly what streaming companies don’t want you to realize.

    • Streaming Services Far Exceed Traditional Cable in Customer Satisfaction

      There’s just something about terrible customer service, high prices, and sketchy quality product that consumers oddly don’t like. American consumers’ dislike of traditional cable TV providers was once again made clear this week in a study by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which, as its name implies, tracks US consumer approval of companies on a 100 point scale. As has long been the case, the full report shows most traditional cable TV, satellite, or IPTV providers languishing somewhere in the mid 60s — scores that are bested by a long line of industries and government agencies (including the IRS).

      Not too surprisingly, the report shows that American consumers far prefer streaming video alternatives, which provide them with lower costs and greater package flexibility.

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Qualcomm stock falls on antitrust ruling — and analysts ‘don’t know what will happen next’

      Shares of Qualcomm plunged 10.9% Wednesday, a day after a judge ruled the company broke the law by suppressing competition in the cellphone chip market.

      The plunge shaved more than $10 billion from the company’s market cap, bringing it to $84.3 billion.

      U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh sided with the Federal Trade Commission. She granted an injunction that orders Qualcomm to renegotiate license terms with customers “free from the threat of lack of access to or discriminatory provision of modem chip supply or associated technical support or access to software,” among other provisions. The company must also report to the FTC annually for seven years to ensure compliance with the injunction, according to the ruling in the Northern District of California.

      In a statement, Qualcomm said it will seek a stay of Koh’s judgment as it pursues an “expedited appeal.”

    • Judge Koh: Qualcomm’s Licensing Practices Destroyed Competition, Harmed Consumers

      Last year, Judge Koh issued a summary judgment ruling that signaled her skepticism of Qualcomm’s licensing practices. In that ruling, Judge Koh found that Qualcomm was obligated to license its competitors to Qualcomm’s standard-essential patents (SEPs).

      Yesterday’s ruling made that finding explicit. In a section of the ruling that extensively describes Qualcomm’s history of refusing to license, Judge Koh found that Qualcomm’s refusal to license “has promoted rivals’ exit from the market, prevented rivals’ entry, and delayed or hampered the entry and success of other rivals.” That history included refusing actual competitors like MediaTek and Intel as well as potential competitors like Samsung. And even when they occasionally did provide licenses, such as to VIA, the licenses contained onerous terms like only allowing VIA to sell to customers who also had licenses from Qualcomm and requiring VIA to provide Qualcomm with detailed information on their chipset sales—information that is normally considered sensitive information that no company willingly shares with its competitors.

      That refusal to license has had real harms. As Judge Koh summarized, “Qualcomm’s refusal to license has prevented rivals’ entry, impeded rivals’ ability to sell modem chips externally or at all, promoted rivals’ exit, and delayed rivals’ entry.” And as she notes elsewhere, those harms have spread, with the result that “other SEP licensors like Nokia and Ericsson have concluded that licensing only OEMs is more lucrative, and structured their practices accordingly.”

    • Carucel Investments’ Patent Challenged as Likely Invalid

      On May 17, 2019, Unified, represented by Haynes and Boone, filed an IPR against U.S. Patent No. 7,979,023, owned by Carucel Investments. The ‘023 patent is related to in-vehicle cellular systems and has been asserted against numerous automobile companies such as Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz.

    • Synkloud Technologies patent added to PATROLL

      On May 20, 2019, Unified added a $3,000 contest to PATROLL seeking prior art for U.S. Patent No. 9,219,780 which has been asserted by SynKloud Technologies, LLC, an NPE. The ’780 patent, generally related to a wireless device accessing a remote storage space allocated to a user of the wireless device, has been asserted in one district court case to date.

    • Scentsational Technologies LLC v. PepsiCo, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Parties often push experts to testify outside their area of expertise and leave it up to the expert to push back when uncomfortable. If the expert fails to do so, a party’s aggressiveness may come back to haunt it before the Court. That is why the Scentsational case, although nonprecedential, serves as a cautionary tale for intellectual property litigators.

      Scentsational’s interactions with Pepsi began in 2001, when it first shared trade secrets relating to the development and commercialization of scented packaging for beverages. Over the next nine years, the two companies executed four confidentiality agreements and a funded development agreement. Scentsational’s founder also made technical presentations about the technology to Pepsi scientists and engineers, including in January 2008 and March 2010, and provided product samples to Pepsi. Soon after the March 2010 presentation, however, the project lost steam and Pepsi decided to terminate the relationship with Scentsational.

      Upon Pepsi’s shelving of the project, Scentsational immediately went to talk to Coca-Cola about how its technology could benefit Coke’s products. In August 2010, Scentsational and Coke executed an agreement to begin the project and completed the initial phase (Phase I). However, before they started Phase II — or executed the Phase II agreement — Coke discovered a number of Pepsi patent applications that had been filed between 2008 and 2011 and, unbeknownst to Scentsational, allegedly incorporated the same Scentsational trade secrets that were now being exploited on Coke’s behalf. Coke therefore terminated the relationship.

      [...]

      While the merits of the Scentsational case provide little guidance to other parties, other than the need to aggressively police nondisclosure agreements, the grounds for resolution provide a clear warning. The Federal Circuit will have little sympathy for a party that has stretched an expert’s testimony beyond the bounds of her expertise, and will uphold a district court’s decision disqualifying an expert who falls prey to that trap.

    • Trademarks
      • The X Factor v The Pets Factor, Trade Mark Opposition

        The X Factor is a reality TV singing contest programme and franchise created by producer Simon Cowell, as I am sure readers are aware since the TV Format now airs in over 50 countries. You might be surprised to learn that a talent show for animals called The Pets Factor, is not in fact a spin-off programme from The X Factor… hence this trade mark opposition.

    • Copyrights
      • Poland to take copyright reform to EU court
      • Court Rules Redditor Can Stay Anonymous in Significant Copyright Case

        What do Reddit, free speech, and the Jehovah’s Witness religion have in common? A lawsuit regarding the right to remain anonymous online. Last week, a federal court ruled that a Redditor does not have to reveal his identity in a copyright case.

        In the case, a Reddit was subpoenaed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for Jehovah’s Witness organizations, for the identity of a user named Darkspilver. A lifelong Jehovah’s Witness, Darkspilver had shared an advertisement from a Watchtower magazine asking for donations and a chart detailing the personal data the organization stores. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society didn’t take that kindly and filed a suit claiming Darkspilver’s posts infringed Watch Tower’s copyrights. Meanwhile, Darkspilver claimed his post fell under fair use as it was meant to spark discussion and he didn’t claim to own the advertisement in any way.

      • How the copyright directive changed my view of the EU

        About 10 years ago, in early 2009, I was installing a GNU/Linux distribution (Ubuntu) on my computer for the first time. Back then I was 18 years old, but using Linux I quickly realized the value of open source and freedom in computing. Soon, I started advocating for digital rights: privacy, freedom of expression, open knowledge. Fast-forward 10 years, I’m now doing a PhD in Computational Privacy at Imperial College London.

        In the meantime, I’ve always been a convinced Europeanist. For a few months now, an EU flag has been hanging on the wall in my room in London. Simply put, to me being a Europeanist means believing that only a united Europe can face the challenges of a globalized world, ensuring good living standards and freedom for European citizens. However, most Europeanists are not completely happy with the way the EU currently works. They know that the EU is not perfect and needs to change in some areas.

        That said, for the sake of intellectual honesty I have to admit that most Europeanist criticisms of EU institutions, representatives, and political agenda are typically not very forceful. Their objections to the status quo are often quite shy and submissive, as if they were afraid of challenging the EU’s aura of inscrutable benevolence — that rooted idea that EU institutions know what’s better for the people, and therefore their decisions can’t really be questioned. On the contrary, criticism from the Eurosceptic front is quickly dismissed as exaggerated, subversive and often based on fake news or even conspiracy theories. In a nutshell: unfounded.

      • Award-Winning John Lennon Photographer Sues Universal Music For $150,000

        Award-winning photographer Allan Tennanbaum has filed a copyright infringement complaint against Universal Music in New York. Known for his iconic images of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the photographer says that Universal used his work without permission on one of its websites. He is demanding up to $150,000 in damages.

EPO Strikes Further Diminish Chances of UPC Ever Materialising (in Any Shape or Form)

5 hours 44 min ago


Credit: MSServices Global

Summary: The EPO crumbles under the weight of its own corruption while an increasingly-insane Team UPC pretends all remains normal and a patent trolls-friendly system is ready to take off

IT IS becoming a busy week (and maybe weekend) down in Munich. SUEPO has had the final straw. We expect more to be said, maybe in light of the Kötter Group as well. Is the EPO about to become infested with thugs and goons from a firm founded inside the Third Reich? And apparently participated in the occupation and exploitation of the Netherlands?

“What we’re seeing here is a gradual shift; the public does not view the EPO as an ally or a regional protector; rather, it’s an exploitative foe that extracts money from the European public and gifts rogue entities, both contractors of the EPO (connected to EPO chiefs) and patent trolls.”Earlier today we took note of the upcoming strike (assuming staff votes for it and it’s approved), adding the above banner. As it turns out, it was made by a Dutch firm. “Sorry to bother you with this,” one reader told us, “but it seems that you used the wrong source for the published picture (“Credit: Anonymous Twitter account“); however credits go to “MSServices Global” (a Dutch registered business). I’ve heard from a reliable source (from within the Union) that this company supports the union. Many thanks in advance for correcting it.” (We’ve just corrected it)

What we’re seeing here is a gradual shift; the public does not view the EPO as an ally or a regional protector; rather, it’s an exploitative foe that extracts money from the European public and gifts rogue entities, both contractors of the EPO (connected to EPO chiefs) and patent trolls. The public is only going to suffer and Europe’s reputation too is being harmed.

Earlier today we saw this press release in PRNewswire about “Formal Requirements of the European Patent System”; which system? The one foreseen and set up by the EPC or the sordid mess we have today, operating outside the rule of law and even defying the EPC itself?

“The EPO basically violates the law; the EPC, the courts, the European Parliament…”On May 16th this long blog post was published in Spanish (Spain opposes the UPC and is no friend of the EPO in general). Benjamin Henrion had a go at translations with [1, 2]: “Where the European Parliament did have a starring role was in the rejection of the Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions in 2005. [...] However, the EPO has continued to do what it has wished in this area [...] EPO has continued to do what it has wished in this area, so the rejection of the European Parliament did not result in the elimination of “software patents” and certainly leads to the EU’s inhibition in patents, leaving initiative to the EPO…”

The EPO basically violates the law; the EPC, the courts, the European Parliament…

“Putting aside illegal software patents, how about patents on life and nature?”No sane judge would ever entrust or assign anything legally-sensitive to the EPO, which also violates the privacy of stakeholders (underreported issue that corporate media did not bother covering, as usual).

Putting aside illegal software patents, how about patents on life and nature? CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP’s Robert Stephen has just published this article about Broad Institute’s CRISPR patent loss. Will the EPO’s examiners manage to defy management and patent maximalists who infest the management level? Then deny patents on life itself? (Patents in violation of EPC)

To quote Robert Stephen:

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard owns several key patents related to the CRISPR technology. One such patent is EP2771468 (“EP ‘468”), which relates to a fundamental aspect of the CRISPR technology in eukaryotic cells. EP’468 was granted in February 2015 and opposed by nine opponents. Following an oral hearing in January 2018 the Opposition Division of the EPO revoked the patent due to lack of novelty over two pieces of intervening art, i.e. documents published after the earliest priority date. These two documents became part of the state of the art after it was decided that the application was not entitled to its earliest two priority dates.

The Broad Institute has appealed the Opposition Division’s decision. Their grounds of appeal rely on attacking the EPO’s current approach to determination of priority entitlement.

The EPO applies an “all applicants” test for priority. The right to claim priority belongs simultaneously and jointly to applicants when there is more than one. The right to claim priority to the two earliest applications belonged simultaneously and jointly to Mr Zhang, Mr Cong, Ms Habib, and Mr Marraffini, yet neither Mr Marraffini nor his successor in title (Rockefeller University) were named as applicants on the PCT, and neither had assigned his right to claim priority to any of the named applicants. The PCT could not, therefore, validly claim priority to the two earliest applications, and thus EP ‘468 was deemed to have a priority date of 30 January 2013.

At the moment, with referrals and appeals impending, all sorts of European Patents are just ‘hanging in the air’ (great uncertainty over their fate). The FCC in Germany is certainly aware that EPO judges lack independence (the judges themselves say so), so we very much doubt the UPC can get off the ground. To make matters worse, there’s an imminent meltdown at the Office because staff will revolt.

“They’re dressing up corpses or embalming dead bodies.”What do the bullies/litigators think of the UPC? Well, they live in another universe. Team UPC’s Vanessa Rieu (who describes herself as “experienced litigator specialised in all areas of intellectual property” [sic]) makes it pretty obvious that Bristows were the ones writing this latest UPC propaganda in Kluwer Patent Blog (albeit anonymously). Just compare the texts. One says: “The latest development shows preparations are going on despite the uncertainty about the future of the UP system due to the German constitutional complaint which was filed against the UPCA in 2017.”

That’s similar to their obsession over/with robes. They’re dressing up corpses or embalming dead bodies. In their official blog they said: “The building that will, at least initially, host the UPC is located on the Quai de la Mégisserie, overlooking the Ile de la Cité, and it is reported that a few years after the Court opens (and there are more cases) the Court may move to the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cité.”

“Bristows continues to discredit itself each time it tries to reattach these clipped wings to their ‘fallen angel’.”Haha, they said something similar about venues in the UK up until Brexit. “The Paris offices of the future Unified Patent Court have been disclosed,” writes the anonymous person in Kluwer. Guess who…

Bristows continues to discredit itself each time it tries to reattach these clipped wings to their ‘fallen angel’. They must be in a lot of pain. Battistelli is meanwhile ‘hiding’ in CEIPI, presumably praying for a UPC (which he’s hoping to head while António Campinos brings him back to the Office as a judge!).

EPO Allegedly Becoming Insolvent (Pretext for Cuts), So Staff Gets Punished While Management Takes the Jackpot

6 hours 31 min ago

Can it ask for bailout like a private bank?

@schestowitz You‘re gonna love this: the EPO has a WiFi network here that is named EPO-CORPORATE. See screenshot. More in this morning’s tweet (with replies)

Summary: The corporate ‘logic’ at the EPO follows the “shareholders’ value” propaganda line as if the EPO is a private company looking to maximise revenue rather than serve the public

READERS are (mostly) aware that António Campinos is a former banker — a scandalous, notorious bank we might add (we did a series about it a couple of years ago). What is his plan for the European Patent Office (EPO)? Granting loads of rubbish patents like software patents in violation of the EPC? Is that actually a legitimate plan? What else can be done in the name of so-called ‘efficiency’? Recall his last act as chief of the EUIPO. It’s just incredible.

Will Campinos lie to his own staff like his predecessor? Well, he already did. Manufacturing or faking a crisis for nefarious purposes and toxic agenda? Surely a possibility.

It’s not like the EPO will be bankrupt/insolvent because it’s not a private company, or is it?

Battistelli’s gambling with EPO money has already cost 100 million Euros in just one year, but don’t expect the person whom he gave the presidency to ever hold him accountable. Brimelow warned about it, seeing or claiming there were financial difficulties over the horizon. Does this justify breaking the law, attacking judges, refusing to obey court orders and so on? Of course not. Moreover, it is self-discrediting and merely serves to devalue European Patents as a whole.

For some time now we’ve been hearing about the EPO’s internal report regarding finances. This morning an anonymous person (Märpel) blogged about it, citing a document from the Central Staff Committee (CSC). As it turns out, based on the blogger, the CSC “has just published a document titled “The Financial Study: Yet another hoax”.” (with Donald Trump proximity, via Mercer, so one can expect sheer dishonesty)

Can someone send us the full document (from CSC and the report they allude to)? Here’s a portion from the blogger:

Dear colleagues,

In the EPO, financial studies tend to be a prelude to cuts in staff benefits. The latest study is no exception. The present publication explains one of the tricks used to make the Office look poor. More publications will follow.

The recently published financial study (CA/46/19) by Mercer and Oliver Wyman seems to indicate that more bad news is to come.

The studies’ conclusions …

The key message of the financial study (p 34) is:

“The EPO faces a structural operational gap, with costs increasing faster than revenues, leading in the future to significantly decreasing cash flows.

The EPO has greater control of cost levers than revenue levers which presents an opportunity to better meet its future obligations through careful cost management.”

In other words: the Office must be reducing costs – staff costs.

… and how they came about

The EPO’s main income is from fees. The Financial Study includes this 4% fee increase for 2020 but assumes that there will be no further fee increases from then on till 2038. On the other hand Staff salaries and pensions follow the normal increase. For any organisation – as rich as it may be – such an approach will lead in the end to budgetary gaps. According to our first calculations the alleged gaps could be offset by merely continuing the biennial 5% fee adjustments in place.

Märpel added that he or she “is no accountant but checked the study and it seems that the Central Staff Committee is indeed right and that the document was drafted on unreasonable assumptions chosen to make the financial situation appear catastrophic. In contrast, the proven historical records show that the EPO has a yearly surplus of over 350 millions Euros. It seems that President Campinos has decided to prepare for a new conflict. What other reasons could there be to publish such a blatant lie? A staff strike is planned for the next meeting of the Council.” A lot of things are happening quite fast this week, but the media is in general unresponsive; it’s writing nothing but puff pieces about a ‘study’ sponsored/commissioned by EPO/EUIPO and that stupid EIA (we’re going to just ignore these pieces as they’re little beyond PR).

EPO President Still Not Obeying Courts’ Rulings

7 hours 13 min ago

Summary: Federation of International Civil Service Associations (FICSA) sent a message to António Campinos yesterday (the same day SUEPO publicly made a call for strike)

FICSA has just sent a letter to the EPO‘s President, António Campinos, this one in English [PDF] even though he can also speak French (France is his country of birth and where he studied). “On 23 May 2019, the Federation of International Civil Service Associations (FICSA) wrote a letter to Campinos expressing concern about the continuing irregularities in the treatment of EPO staff,” SUEPO summarised and we’ve decided to make an image of it. If someone out there can run better OCR through it, we’ll add an HTML version as well.

“Is the tone escalating ahead of the strike?”FICSA is no stranger to this conflict and we wrote about FICSA many times before. Is the tone escalating ahead of the strike?

Can someone at SUEPO do us a quick translation of this, e.g. for German and French? It wouldn’t be unthinkable/surprising if they already assigned some people to work on that.

António Campinos Has Run Out of Time and EPO Staff is Going on Strike (Skipping Mere Protests)

Friday 24th of May 2019 01:37:57 AM

Less than a year after he came to the Office, only to unmask himself as another Battistelli (while bringing him back, adding insult to injury)


Credit: MSServices Global

Summary: European Patent Office strikes are to resume; as SUEPO recently put it, people have come to accept that EPO leadership has not really changed and none of the underlying issues is being tackled

SO EPO President António Campinos has run down the clock. The only thing he managed to deliver in 9 months is a monster. People have come up with all sorts of nicknames for him, some of which we named here before (António the Unready, the Silent Cricket and so on) because his behaviour was reducible mostly to a PR exercise and stonewalling. Talk, no action. Promises, no delivery. How long can one wait? How long can the grace period last?

For about a month now we said (and had heard) it was about to boil over. Yesterday IPPro Magazine finally spelled it out: “SUEPO calls for strike after ‘disappointing’ Campinos meeting” (article by Barney Dixon, their only real reporter). To quote:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has called for a strike in all EPO sites around the European Patent Organisation’s next Administrative Council meeting.

This comes following a meeting between SUEPO and the office’s president, António Campinos, on 16 May.

This is the first call for action under Campinos, who has been in the role since 1 July 2018.

Campinos initially organised this meeting to discuss a framework for a memorandum of understanding between the office and SUEPO.

But SUEPO said that the meeting was “disappointing” and, in the absence of progress in the discussion, handed out a call for strike to the president.

The staff union purposely delayed the publication of the call for strike to give time for Campinos to reconsider his position.

[...]

“These issues must be solved to avoid irreparable damage to our organisation and its staff, and to restore respect and trust”, SUEPO concluded, “This requires a change not only of certain regulations, but also in the attitude of the administration towards staff”.

Credit again to Mr. Dixon for stepping out of the usual IPPro Magazine echo chamber (he’s not just copying EPO PR as his colleagues habitually do).

Other sites that claim to be covering patent news won’t be covering something like these strikes. They won’t be highlighting calls for strikes (the EPO’s PR machine sure is well-funded and effective). For instance, just watch World Intellectual Property Review reduced to a supine parrot, repeating talking points from EUIPO and EPO earlier this week. The usual since years ago. They ought to know paid-for ‘studies’ should not be a source of news because the payer pays for PR. Any journalists who participate in this are themselves just PR operatives.

How about this from an IAM ‘sister site’? They might as well just copy and paste the whole press release from the EPO, accompanied by this tweet which said: “SMEs that have filed at least one IP right are 21% more likely to experience a growth period afterwards & are 10% more likely to become a high growth firm (HGF).”

They all repeat the very same talking points uncritically.

Will EUIPO and EPO merge one day? The top-level staff and the corruption are similar (already more or less the same). The EPO even retweets things like this: “Joint EPO-EUIPO study looks at the use of #IPR by high-growth #SMEs and analyses how these firms shape their IPR strategies prior to experiencing high growth.”

But can they be trusted? It’s the same old “SME” propaganda, which helps distract from evidence to the contrary. And still, weeks down the line, every day the EPO advertises grants to scholars who say what EPO management likes to hear.

Who’s behind all the noise? Does the EPO still employ external PR agencies? As one person pointed out this week [1, 2, 3, 4], it seems like the fracking (and EPO-hired) PR agency FTI Consulting is right about now meddling in EU elections on behalf of clients. The question is, which clients?

Where’s the real journalism about EPO issues? Why is nobody covering actual news? As further reaffirmed by some recent comments in Kluwer Patent Blog (people who saw or heard about it), it sure seems like European Patents granted today will have expired after the EPO is already bankrupt, based on an internal EPO report. Can someone send a copy of this report to us?

Right now patent quality is in a freefall. It gives an illusion of growing revenue (at great longterm expense) and the EPO offers rewards for invalid software patents (it not only awards patents for these). Consider this new tweet which says: “Norwegian inventor Esben Beck at @stingraynews used image recognition, #AI and lasers to keep salmon safe from marine parasites.”

“There are many reasons for a strike; patent quality should be one of them because it guarantees many frivolous lawsuits across Europe, causing billions in damages (waste on legal bills) and making a lot of Europeans miserable for decades to come.”What the EPO means by “AI” is algorithms and “image recognition” is basically mathematics (I know because it’s my research area). These patents are not legal in Europe. But the EPO not only grants these but also offers special awards for these. The EPO is also granting abstract patents if you ride hype waves like "Blockchain". Earlier this week it wrote: “Blockchain-based patent applications can only be granted if the invention provides a technical solution to a technical problem. More on the EPO’s approach to blockchain here…”

It’s an approach not compatible with the EPC, but does the EPO care? There are many reasons for a strike; patent quality should be one of them because it guarantees many frivolous lawsuits across Europe, causing billions in damages (waste on legal bills) and making a lot of Europeans miserable for decades to come. Europe should support striking EPO staff.

Links 23/5/2019: Elisa 0.4.0, OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released

Thursday 23rd of May 2019 03:54:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Some Difficulty That Are Often Experienced By New Linux Users

      On a Linux Users forum, I asked about the difficulties experienced by users. Apparently, I got many interesting and varied answers. Here are some of the difficulty that Linux users feel based on the opinions of people in the forum.

    • Huawei laptop extras driver
    • Huawei Linux Laptop Driver Improvements On The Way

      Huawei laptops have already worked well on Linux like the MateBook while further improvements are forthcoming, as is commonly the case for x86 laptops with various quirks and other non-standard support bits. A patch was sent out today for improving the Linux kernel’s existing Huawei laptop driver and extending it from being just a WMI hot-keys driver to now being a platform driver with extra functionality.

      The added functionality to this Huawei-WMI Linux driver includes controlling the mic/mute LED, controlling battery charging thresholds, adjusting the Fn-lock state, and related functionality.

  • Server
    • Bringing the Benefits of Linux Containers to Operational Technology

      Linux container technology was introduced more than a decade ago and has recently jumped in adoption in IT environments. However, the OT (operational technology) environments, typically made up of heterogenous embedded systems, have lagged in the adoption of container technologies, due to both the unique technology requirements and the business models that relied on proprietary systems. In this article, I explore recent innovation in open-source offerings that are enabling the use of containers in OT use cases, such as industrial control systems, IoT gateways, medical devices, Radio Access Network (RAN) products and network appliances.

      Enterprise IT leaders have adopted “cloud-native” computing architectures because of the innovation velocity and cost benefits derived by the approach. To leverage containers, developers segment applications into modular micro-services that enable flexible development and deployment models. These micro-services are then deployed as containers where the service itself is integrated with the required libraries and functions. On containerization, these application components have small footprints and fast speeds of deployment. The applications become highly portable across compute architectures due to the abstraction away from the hardware and the operating system.

    • Rook-Ceph storage Operator now on OperatorHub.io

      We are excited to announce the addition of the Rook-Ceph storage Operator to OperatorHub.io. Operators are design patterns that augment and implement common day one and day two activities with Kubernetes clusters, simplifying application deployments and empowering developers to focus on creation versus remediation. The Rook-Ceph Operator is an upstream effort that Red Hat is leading and is using as part of its work towards Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4.

      Developing and deploying cloud-native applications at scale can be complex and challenging. The new Rook-Ceph storage Operator is designed to automate the packaging, deployment, management, upgrading, and scaling of Ceph clusters that provide persistent storage to stateful applications as well as infrastructure services (logging, metrics, registry) in Kubernetes clusters. The release of Rook’s Ceph Operator augments Kubernetes scheduling with a complement of stateful storage services including block, filesystem and object storage.

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.3 has been released

      Red Hat Satellite 6.4.3 is generally available. The main drivers for the 6.4.3 release are a Request for Feature Enhancement (RFE) for capsule syncing control as well as general stability fixes.

      The capsule syncing control feature enables the user to have control over when capsule syncs occur. Traditionally the capsule sync occurs automatically after a content view is updated, but some customers may want more granular control over when the synchronization occurs. Satellite 6.4.3 introduces a new setting in Administer —> Settings —> Content —> Sync Capsules after Content View promotion.

    • Red Hat and the rise of RHEL

      If the success of the open source company Red Hat can be ascribed to one thing, it’s the Enterprise Linux operating system that it releases

      The company recently unveiled the general release of the latest version, RHEL 8, and it serves as a bellwether for how software development has changed over the years.

      Developers are now shouldering more operational responsibilities, which is largely due to the rise in the use of containers. This enables teams to use microservices to build applications. With RHEL 8, Red Hat has also placed container tools such as Buildah, Podman and Skopea directly into the operating system.

    • What Is New Features In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8)?

      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8) was released on 2019-05-07. The first beta was announced on 14 November 2018.

      There are lot of opportunities in Devops to improve the IT infra to next generation so, Red Hat is more focus on this area.

      To give more space to developers, they were added a lot of tools that developer-friendly capabilities.

      IT infra has been moved from Physical servers to Virtual servers. Now, we are migrating from Virtual servers to Containers & Kubernetes.

    • Distribution Release – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
    • The future of Docker containers

      Michael Crosby is one of the most influential developers working on Docker containers today, helping to lead development of containerd as well as serving as the Open Container Initiative (OCI) Technical Oversight Chair. At DockerCon 19, Crosby led a standing-room-only session, outlining the past, present and — more importantly — the future of Docker as a container technology. The early history of Docker is closely tied with Linux and, as it turns out, so too is Docker’s future.

      Crosby reminded attendees that Docker started out using LXC as its base back in 2013, but it has moved beyond that over the past six years, first with the docker-led libcontainer effort and more recently with multi-stakeholder OCI effort at the Linux Foundation, which has developed an open specification for a container runtime. The specification includes the runc container runtime which is at the core of the open source containerd project that Crosby helps to lead. Containerd is a hosted project at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and is one of only a handful of projects that, like Kubernetes, have “graduated”, putting it in the top tier of the CNCF hierarchy in terms of project stability and maturity.

    • Why Organizations Want A Kubernetes-based Container Service for Cloud
    • The technology that powers IG

      Instagram run in Ubuntu Linux 11.04 (“Natty Narwhal”). Engineers found past variants of Ubuntu had a wide range of flighty solidifying scenes on EC2 under high traffic, yet Natty has been strong and exceptional

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 810
    • The NAS Fleet | BSD Now 299

      Running AIX on QEMU on Linux on Windows, your NAS fleet with TrueCommand, Unleashed 1.3 is available, LLDB: CPU register inspection support extension, V7 Unix programs often not written as expected, and more.

    • FLOSS Weekly 531: Bareos

      Bareos is a reliable, cross-network open source software for backup, archiving and recovery of data for all well-established operating systems. It offers among other features LTO hardware encryption, bandwidth limitation and new practical console commands.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.1.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.4 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

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

      https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

    • Linux 5.0.18
    • Linux 4.19.45
    • Linux 4.14.121
    • Linux 4.9.178
    • BPF: what’s good, what’s coming, and what’s needed

      The 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit differed somewhat from its predecessors in that it contained a fourth track dedicated to the BPF virtual machine. LWN was unable to attend most of those sessions, but a couple of BPF-related talks were a part of the broader program. Among those was a plenary talk by Dave Miller, described as “a wholistic view” of why BPF is successful, its current state, and where things are going.

      Years ago, Miller began, Alexei Starovoitov showed up at a netfilter conference promoting his ideas for extending BPF. He described how it could be used to efficiently implement various types of switching fabric — any type, in fact. Miller said that he didn’t understand the power of this idea until quite a bit later.

    • The first half of the 5.2 merge window

      When he released the 5.1 kernel, Linus Torvalds noted that he had a family event happening in the middle of the 5.2 merge window and that he would be offline for a few days in the middle. He appears to be trying to make up for lost time before it happens: over 8,300 non-merge changesets have found their way into the mainline in the first four days. As always, there is a wide variety of work happening all over the kernel tree.

    • DAX semantics

      In the filesystems track at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit, Ted Ts’o led a discussion about an inode flag to indicate DAX files, which is meant to be applied to files that should be directly accessed without going through the page cache. XFS has such a flag, but ext4 and other filesystems do not. The semantics of what the flag would mean are not clear to Ts’o (and probably others), so the intent of the discussion was to try to nail those down.

      Dan Williams said that the XFS DAX flag is silently ignored if the device is not DAX capable. Otherwise, the file must be accessed with DAX. Ts’o said there are lots of questions about what turning on or off a DAX flag might mean; does it matter whether there are already pages in the page cache, for example. He said that he did not have any strong preference but thought that all filesystems should stick with one interpretation.

      While Christoph Hellwig described things as “all broken”, Ts’o was hoping that some agreement could be reached among the disparate ideas of what a DAX flag would mean. A few people think there should be no flag and that it should all be determined automatically, but most think the flag is useful. He suggested starting with something “super conservative”, such as only being able to set the flag for zero-length files or only empty directories where the files in it would inherit the flag. Those constraints could be relaxed later if there was a need.

    • A filesystem for virtualization

      A new filesystem aimed at sharing host filesystems with KVM guests, virtio-fs, was the topic of a session led by Miklos Szeredi at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. The existing solution, which is based on the 9P filesystem from Plan 9, has some shortcomings, he said. Virtio-fs is a prototype that uses the Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) interface.

      The existing 9P-based filesystem does not provide local filesystem semantics and is “pretty slow”, Szeredi said. The FUSE-based virtio-fs (RFC patches) is performing “much better”. One of the ideas behind the new filesystem is to share the page cache between the host and guests, so there would be no data duplication for multiple guests accessing the same files from the host filesystem.

      There are still some areas that need work, however. Metadata and the directory entry cache (dcache) cannot be shared, because data structures cannot be shared between the host and guests. There are two ways to handle that. Either there can be a round trip from the guest to the host for each operation to ensure the coherence of the metadata cache and dcache, or the guest can cache that information and somehow revalidate the cache on each operation without going to the host kernel.

    • Common needs for Samba and NFS

      Amir Goldstein led a discussion on things that the two major network filesystems for Linux, Samba and NFS, could cooperate on at the end of day one of the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. In particular, are there needs that both filesystems have that the kernel is not currently providing? He had some ideas of areas that might be tackled, but was looking for feedback from the assembled filesystem developers.

      He has recently just started looking at the kernel NFS daemon (knfsd) as it is a lesser use case for the customers of his company’s NAS device. Most use Samba (i.e. SMB). He would like to see both interoperate better with other operating systems, though.

    • NFS topics

      Trond Myklebust and Bruce Fields led a session on some topics of interest in the NFS world at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. Myklebust discussed the intersection of NFS and containers, as well adding TLS support to NFS. Fields also had some container changes to discuss, along with a grab bag of other areas that need attention.

      Myklebust began with TLS support for the RPC layer that underlies NFS. One of the main issues is how to do the upcall from the RPC layer to a user-space daemon that would handle the TLS handshake. There is kernel support for doing TLS once the handshake is complete; hardware acceleration of TLS was added in the last year based on code from Intel and Mellanox, he said. RPC will use that code, but there is still the question of handling the handshake.

    • Crazy Compiler Optimizations

      Kernel development is always strange. Andrea Parri recently posted a patch to change the order of memory reads during multithreaded operation, such that if one read depended upon the next, the second could not actually occur before the first.

      The problem with this was that the bug never could actually occur, and the fix made the kernel’s behavior less intuitive for developers. Peter Zijlstra, in particular, voted nay to this patch, saying it was impossible to construct a physical system capable of triggering the bug in question.

      And although Andrea agreed with this, he still felt the bug was worth fixing, if only for its theoretical value. Andrea figured, a bug is a bug is a bug, and they should be fixed. But Peter objected to having the kernel do extra work to handle conditions that could never arise. He said, “what I do object to is a model that’s weaker than any possible sane hardware.”

      Will Deacon sided with Peter on this point, saying that the underlying hardware behaved a certain way, and the kernel’s current behavior mirrored that way. He remarked, “the majority of developers are writing code with the underlying hardware in mind and so allowing behaviours in the memory model which are counter to how a real machine operates is likely to make things more confusing, rather than simplifying them!”

      Still, there were some developers who supported Andrea’s patch. Alan Stern, in particular, felt that it made sense to fix bugs when they were found, but that it also made sense to include a comment in the code, explaining the default behavior and the rationale behind the fix, even while acknowledging the bug never could be triggered.

      But, Andrea wasn’t interested in forcing his patch through the outstretched hands of objecting developers. He was happy enough to back down, having made his point.

      It was actually Paul McKenney, who had initially favored Andrea’s patch and had considered sending it up to Linus Torvalds for inclusion in the kernel, who identified some of the deeper and more disturbing issues surrounding this whole debate. Apparently, it cuts to the core of the way kernel code is actually compiled into machine language.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Automotive Linux Summit and Open Source Summit Japan Keynote Speakers and Schedule Announced

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source has announced the speaker line up for Open Source Summit Japan and Automotive Linux Summit. One registration provides access to all content at both events, which will be held July 17-19 at the Toranomon Hills Forum in Tokyo.

        Open Source Summit Japan (OSSJ) and Automotive Linux Summit (ALS) will bring together top talent from companies on the leading edge of innovation including Toyota Motor Corporation, Uber, Intel, Sony, Google, Microsoft and more. Talks will cover a range of topics, with ALS talks on everything from infrastructure and hardware to compliance and security; and OSSJ sessions on AI, Linux systems, cloud infrastructure, cloud native applications, open networking, edge computing, safety and security and open source best practices.

      • Linux Foundation Statement on Huawei Entity List Ruling

        Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling.[1] While statements in the Executive Order prompting the listing used language granting a broader scope of authority, the Huawei Entity List ruling was specifically scoped to activities and transactions subject to the Export Administration Regulation (EAR).
        Open source encryption software source code was reclassified by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) effective September 20, 2016 as “publicly available” and no longer “subject to the EAR.”[2] Each open source project is still required to send a notice of the URL to BIS and NSA to satisfy the “publicly available” notice requirement in the EAR at 15 CFR § 742.15(b).

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMD Begins Queueing Graphics Driver Changes For The Linux 5.3 Kernel

        Being past the Linux 5.2 kernel merge window, AMD’s open-source Linux graphics driver developers have already begun queuing changes anticipated for Linux 5.3 via a work-in-progress tree.

        Given the short time that this 5.3 WIP tree has been around, there isn’t too much exciting about the changes — yet. But surely over the weeks ahead it will get interesting. Making things particularly interesting is that we are expecting initial Navi support to make it for Linux 5.3… In recent weeks AMD began pushing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end changes for GFX10/Navi and we expect the AMDGPU DRM kernel driver enablement to come for Linux 5.3. Linux 5.3 will already be arriving after the rumored release of the first Navi graphics cards so having to wait past 5.3 for mainline support would already be tragic. But given the recent LLVM activity, we expect AMD to push out the Navi kernel driver changes soon. For that likely massive patch-set to be reviewed in time, the Navi patches would need to make their debut within the next few weeks.

      • Hans de Goede: Wayland itches summary

        1. Middle click on title / header bar to lower the Window does not work for native apps. Multiple people have reported this issue to me. A similar issue was fixed for not being able to raise Windows. It should be easy to apply a similar fix for the lowering problem. There are bugs open for this here, here and here.

        2. Running graphical apps via sudo or pxexec does not work. There are numerous examples of apps breaking because of this, such as lshw-gui and usbivew. At least for X11 apps this is not that hard to fix. But sofar this has deliberately not been fixed. The reasoning behind this is described in this bug. I agree with the reasoning behind this, but I think it is not pragmatic to immediately disallow all GUI apps to connect when run as root starting today.

      • Hans de Goede: Better support for running games under Wayland (with GNOME3/mutter as compositor)

        First of all I do not want people to get their hopes up about $subject of this blogpost. Improving gaming support is a subjects which holds my personal interest and it is an issue I plan to spend time on trying to improve. But this will take a lot of time (think months for simple things, years for more complex things).

      • Problems Being Investigated Under Wayland Itches Program, Including Gaming Performance

        Last week we wrote about a “Wayland Itches” program being devised by prolific open-source contributor Hans de Goede of Red Hat. The goal of this program is to address itches/paper-cuts/problems in using GNOME Shell atop Wayland. He’s received a fair amount of feedback so far and has some early indications to share.

        Hans de Goede wrote two blog posts today outlining the early feedback to his Wayland Itches project. Two items he is going to look into initially are middle-click on title/header bar to lower the Window not working for native applications and sudo/pfexec not working on Wayland. For the sudo/pfexec support, Hans is planning to optionally support the ability for GUI apps to connect when running as root. That was rejected upstream before but his plan is for this to be an optional feature for enabling the xauth file for allowing XWayland as root by GNOME-Shell/Mutter.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.07 Linux Driver Wires In Two More Extensions

        NVIDIA today released the 418.52.07 Linux driver as an updated build intended for Vulkan developers with it introducing support for two more extensions.

      • Problems Being Investigated Under Wayland Itches Program, Including Gaming Performance

        Last week we wrote about a “Wayland Itches” program being devised by prolific open-source contributor Hans de Goede of Red Hat. The goal of this program is to address itches/paper-cuts/problems in using GNOME Shell atop Wayland. He’s received a fair amount of feedback so far and has some early indications to share.

        Hans de Goede wrote two blog posts today outlining the early feedback to his Wayland Itches project. Two items he is going to look into initially are middle-click on title/header bar to lower the Window not working for native applications and sudo/pfexec not working on Wayland. For the sudo/pfexec support, Hans is planning to optionally support the ability for GUI apps to connect when running as root. That was rejected upstream before but his plan is for this to be an optional feature for enabling the xauth file for allowing XWayland as root by GNOME-Shell/Mutter.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.07 Linux Driver Wires In Two More Extensions

        NVIDIA today released the 418.52.07 Linux driver as an updated build intended for Vulkan developers with it introducing support for two more extensions.

    • Benchmarks
      • An Early Look At Some PHP 7.4 Performance Benchmarks

        The initial PHP 7.4 Alpha 1 release is just two weeks away already… Curious about the performance of this yearly update to PHP7, I ran some benchmarks on the latest development code as of this morning compared to the earlier PHP7 releases and even PHP-8.0 that is in development on Git master.

        PHP 7.4 has been working on preloading options, short closures, custom object serialization, FFI work that didn’t end up making it for PHP 7.3, the null coalescing assignment operator has been added, and various other changes. The PHP 7.4 alpha releases are supposed to kick off on 6 June while the betas will then fire up starting on 18 July followed by at least six release candidates beginning at the end of August. If all goes well, PHP 7.4.0 will make its debut around the end of November or early December. PHP-7.4 has been branched since January while PHP-8.0 development is on Git master for that next major PHP8 release with JIT functionality and other changes in the works.

      • AMD Radeon VII Linux Performance vs. NVIDIA Gaming On Ubuntu For Q2’2019

        It’s been three months now since the AMD Radeon VII 7nm “Vega 20″ graphics card was released and while we hopefully won’t be waiting much longer for Navi to make its debut, for the time being this is the latest and great AMD Radeon consumer graphics card — priced at around $700 USD. Here are some fresh benchmarks of the Radeon VII on Linux and compared to various high-end NVIDIA graphics cards while all testing happened from Ubuntu 19.04.

        Fortunately, the open-source Radeon VII Linux support is in fact in great shape. There was some confusion for some weeks and a lack of benchmarks recently since I had been unable to get my Vega 20 graphics card running reliably. Under different OpenGL/Vulkan workloads and even some desktop tasks, the graphics card would freeze and spewing from dmesg would most often be a load of VMC page faults and other errors stemming from AMDGPU. But after a lot of testing, ultimately it was figured out the graphics card became defective in some manner. The original card was a pre-launch Radeon VII review sample and was my lone Vega 20 GPU but has now been fortunately replaced by AMD. I received a new Radeon VII last week and since then has been under near constant load/testing. This new card has been working out well and I haven’t encountered any issues with this retail card, unlike the woes I experienced with the original VII a few weeks after launch. It was a bit surprising the original Radeon VII failed especially without having done any over-clocking to it (granted was pushed very hard for a few weeks with all of my benchmarking workloads), but whatever the case, this retail Radeon VII is working out fine on Ubuntu 19.04 and various kernel/Mesa upgrades.

  • Applications
    • 8 Best Free Linux Video Converters

      Given there are many different video formats available, a free video converter is an extremely useful piece of software. The best video converters make the conversion process simple, and support a wide number of different codecs and formats.

      Video conversion is a narrower term for transcoding. Transcoding is the process of the conversion of digital data (typically video and audio files) from one format to another. It involves extracting tracks from a digital media file, decoding the tracks, filtering, encoding, and then multiplexing the new tracks into a new container. Transcoding will reduce the quality of the tracks unless lossless formats are used.

      There are many reasons to transcode media files. Some popular examples include the ability to convert files so that they are supported on a target device, and at the same time removing commercials, and reducing the file size. While transcoding is a very CPU intensive task, modern processors with a high number of cores offer impressive conversion rates provided the transcoding software supports multi-core architectures.

    • Amp Up Your Linux Music Library With DeaDBeeF

      There are a ton of great music players for Linux, and most of them have a pretty strong following. What makes DeaDBeeF stand out? In a word, it’s customization. DeaDBeeF is as close to a DIY music player as you’re going to get without making the jump to the command line.

      DeaDBeeF lets you customize the entire layout of your music player, how your library is arranged, and which information is displayed when you play a song. Plus, it’s highly extensible, and there are plenty of excellent plugins that open up even more options for how you can customize and control your listening experience.

    • Drill: New Desktop File Search Utility That Uses Clever Crawling Instead Of Indexing

      Drill is a new file search utility that uses “clever crawling” instead of indexing, for Linux, Windows and macOS.

      The application can locate files and folders, but it does not search file contents. It’s designed for desktops, using a Gtk GUI by default, but there’s also a command line frontend available, albeit quite minimal right now (a Ncurses backend is on the todo list as well).

    • ICQ Messenger Available to Install via Snap in Ubuntu 18.04/Higher

      ICQ, the popular chat application, is available for Linux as an official Snap package.

    • KDSoap 1.8.0 released

      KDAB has released a new version of KDSoap. This is version 1.8.0 and comes more than one year since the last release (1.7.0).

      KDSoap is a tool for creating client applications for web services without the need for any further component such as a dedicated web server.

      KDSoap lets you interact with applications which have APIs that can be exported as SOAP objects. The web service then provides a machine-accessible interface to its functionality via HTTP. Find out more…

    • Petter Reinholdtsen: Nikita version 0.4 released – free software archive API server
    • Dockly – Manage Docker Containers From Terminal
    • Olivia: Cloud-Based Music Player With YouTube Support And Over 25,000 Online Radio Stations

      Olivia is a fairly new free, open source Qt5 cloud-based music player for Linux. It can play music from YouTube, comes with more than 25,000 Internet radio stations, it supports themes, has a mini player mode, it can save songs for offline playback, and much more.

      The cloud-based music player is available as alpha software for testing right now. Even so, it works quite well, though lacking some features which I’ll mention later on.

      Olivia is well integrated with YouTube, allowing users to search for songs and add them to the play queue, browse trending YouTube music with the ability to change the country, and more. To save bandwidth, Olivia only plays the audio of YouTube streams.

    • MariaDB 10.3.15 Release And What’s New

      The MariaDB Foundation is pleased to announce the availability of MariaDB 10.3.15, the latest stable release in the MariaDB 10.3 series.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • The latest Steam Client Beta fixes Rumble support on Linux with Steam Input

        Seems Valve are on a bit of a roll lately fixing up some long-standing issues in the Steam Client for Linux.

        They’ve been released quite a number of Beta client updates recently with Linux improvements, like the one last week which had a fix for a this two year old issue where you were unable to move games around if they had files bigger than 2GB.

        The latest Beta, released today fixes another long-standing issue with gamepad Rumble support. Valve said they “Added support for rumble pass-through for virtual controllers. This fixes missing rumble support for any controllers opted into Steam Input, and rumble emulation support for the Steam controller.”.

      • We have some keys for ‘Tank Maniacs’ for those willing to test and give feedback

        Tank Maniacs, a crazy local multiplayer game that’s all about blowing each other up is coming to Linux “soon” and we have keys for those willing to provide the developer with feedback.

        For those who haven’t seen it before, check out the trailer below first to see if you would actually be interested:

      • Create your AI, pick your robots and prepare for battle as Gladiabots has left Early Access

        Gladiabots makes me feel dumb, very dumb. It asks you to create various AI and assign them to robots, to face off against another team of robots in a battle arena.

        It’s a strategy game of sorts, while also being a logic puzzle programming game at its heart as well. It offers up a single-player campaign, which realistically is just a (quite good) extended tutorial to get you ready to compete against other real people. This is where it really gets interesting, as it offers online play but it’s of the asynchronous sort so you’re not playing at the same time, meaning it doesn’t actually need people online to play which makes it pretty sweet.

      • Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is out and it comes with same-day Linux support

        Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, possibly one of the biggest Total War games yet is officially out. Developed by Creative Assembly and published by SEGA, it was ported by Feral Interactive and they managed to get Linux support in right away.

      • Total War: Three Kingdoms Sees Same-Day Linux Release

        Feral Interactive has managed to deliver a same-day release of their Linux and macOS ports to coincide with today’s Windows release of Total War: Three Kingdoms.

        This turn-based real-time tactics video game was developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. Today marks the Windows release of this latest Total War game and surprisingly Feral has managed a same-day Linux/macOS release.

      • GOG are revamping GOG Galaxy, to help you manage multiple launchers and still no Linux support

        It’s like a much fancier version of Steam’s own ability to add games installed from other sources, as Galaxy 2.0 will also support cross-launcher friends lists and chat making it sound pretty darn handy. They do also state you can “Connect more platforms and add new features with open-source integrations.”. Those hoping that is some kind of olive branch being extended for Linux will likely be disappointed though, going by their FAQ on the newer dedicated Galaxy site it sounds more like it’s simply for adding other services into the client itself for those GOG haven’t yet done.

        This would have been the perfect time to finally announce the ridiculously long-overdue Linux support for GOG Galaxy (especially with the Epic Store also not supporting Linux), sadly GOG are continuing to leave Linux out. In response to a user question on Twitter about Linux, the GOG team simply said “GOG GALAXY 2.0 will be available for Windows and Mac.”. While an honest answer, it’s also pretty blunt. No mention of it coming, just a whole lot of nothing.

      • Zork And The Z-Machine: Bringing The Mainframe To 8-bit Home Computers

        Computer games have been around about as long as computers have. And though it may be hard to believe, Zork, a text-based adventure game, was the Fortnite of its time. But Zork is more than that. For portability and size reasons, Zork itself is written in Zork Implementation Language (ZIL), makes heavy use of the brand-new concept of object-oriented programming, and runs on a virtual machine. All this back in 1979. They used every trick in the book to pack as much of the Underground Empire into computers that had only 32 kB of RAM. But more even more than a technological tour de force, Zork is an unmissable milestone in the history of computer gaming. But it didn’t spring up out of nowhere.

        [...]

        While home computers were still scarce, the concept of selling software to regular consumers was also new. This was the time when the Atari 2600 had just gone on sale, starting the second generation game consoles that were expandable to play more that one game through the use of plug-in cartridges. It was a new market, with many questions among MIT, Stanford and other students regarding the open hacker culture versus the world of commercial software. Some, like Richard Stallman, not changing their stance on this much since their student days at MIT.

        As the Zork developers were graduating, they realized that with the success of Zork on their hands, they had this one chance to commercialize it, taking their lives and careers into an entirely different direction from their original goals. With little standing in their way, Infocom was founded on June 22nd, 1979.

      • Gaming Platform War Update: Epic Games Store Suspends Accounts…For Buying Too Many Games

        As we’ve talked about before, it seems an era of gaming platform wars is upon us. While Valve’s Steam platform mostly only had to contend with less-used storefronts like GOG and Origin, a recent front was opened up by the Epic Games Store, which has promised better cuts to publishers to get exclusive games and has attempted to wage a PR battle to make people mad at Steam. It’s all quite involved, with opinions varying across the internet as to who the good and bad guys in this story are.

      • Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Gets On-Disk Shader Cache Support

        In helping to speed-up game load times when switching to the new Intel “Iris” Gallium3D OpenGL Linux driver and smooth out frame-rates for games sporadically loading shaders, Mesa 19.2-devel has added on-disk shader cache support for the driver.

        Intel’s existing “i965″ classic Mesa driver has long supported an on-disk shader cache along with the other Mesa OpenGL drivers while now the Gallium3D shader cache functionality has been extended for the new Iris driver.

      • 10 Unknown Google Search Games for You

        Google Search by default has games hidden in it, which is a fact, not many Google users are aware of. Google has compiled some really authentic and entertaining games over a period of time, that can be played in Google.com page itself without having to visit any other Web page.

        Most of these games were made to appear as Google Doodle, in relation with certain anniversaries that have been a remarkable day in history. While some of these games are not available easily because Google Doodle keeps changing.

        However, a few of them continue to be played even today. All you need is to search the game by its name in Google and hit “search” and Voila! The games will appear right in front of your eyes and you can play them right then and there.

        Read on to know about the playable games still available, though hidden within the Google Search.

      • Valve have released a new dedicated mobile Steam Chat application

        Now that Valve have upgraded the chat and friends system in the desktop Steam client, they’ve also rolled out a brand new dedication mobile application to do the same.

        This isn’t the normal Steam mobile application, instead they’ve oddly decided to split them in two. Touching on that, they said the original Steam mobile application is going to get some upgrades “focused on account security” including better Steam Guard options, like QR codes and a one-touch login.

      • Sci-fi first-person shooter ‘Interstellar Marines’ continues to live on, with a big update out now

        Interstellar Marines, a once promising sci-fi first-person shooter that slowly died is slowly making a comeback. Update 28 was released just recently, giving it an overhaul in a few places.

      • Valve working on a stand-alone version of the popular Dota Auto Chess

        Dota Auto Chess, a very popular custom game mode for Dota 2 is being turned into a stand-alone game by Valve.

        The Dota 2 arcade is full of interesting games but nothing has really come close to Dota Auto Chess, looking at it right now it has over 125K people playing just this one game mode. It also has over 8 million people subscribed to it, to give you another idea of just how popular it is. Based on player-count, if it manages to keep it for the stand-alone version it would put it into the top-5 games on Steam.

      • Blacksite returns alongside Sirocco for the latest Danger Zone update in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

        Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s newer Battle Royale mode, Danger Zone, continues to be tweaked and the original map has made a return.

        This should help spice things up a bit, as Blacksite is quite a good map but I’ve also immensely enjoyed playing on the newer and more open Sirocco map. Thankfully, Valve have now enabled Danger Zone for both maps together as a “time-based map rotation” as you can see below:

      • DXVK 1.2.1 really does improve Overwatch quite a lot on Linux with NVIDIA

        In the latest release of DXVK 1.2.1 that was released last week, it included a note about improved GPU utilization. They certainly weren’t kidding, with Overwatch now performing even better on Linux with Wine.

        When I previously wrote about it, I said I was in shock at how well you could play Overwatch on Linux thanks to Wine, DXVK and a little help from Lutris. I included a video in the previous article to show it off, which showed the framerate hardly going above 100FPS and often dipped down to around 60FPS. Checking back, previous versions of DXVK didn’t let my NVIDIA 980ti GPU utilization go above 80%.

      • The absolutely insane and pretty awesome twin-stick shooter ‘BulletRage’ is now on Kickstarter

        BulletRage is a game I firmly think is worth supporting, as the developer has had Linux support in very early and it does seem like a pretty awesome twin-stick shooter.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Elisa 0.4.0 Release

        I am happy to announce the release of 0.4.0 version of the Elisa music player.

        The new features are explained in the following posts New features in Elisa, New Features in Elisa: part 2 and Elisa 0.4 Beta Release and More New Features.

        There have been a couple more changes not yet covered.

  • Distributions
    • Antergos Linux Project Is Dead — Here Are Some Alternatives To Try

      A group of developers started Antergos as a hobby project in 2012 and pushed the first release in July 2012 under the name Cinnarch. Later, it got its name Antergos and gained popularity as an Arch Linux-based distribution created for all the users.

      In a development that will surprise the Antergos enthusiasts, the developers of the operating system have announced their plans to end the project. In other words, the Antergos 19.4 ISO refresh was the last release and the developers don’t wish to continue the project any further.

    • Yet another Linux distribution shuts down, and the Open Source community should be worried

      More and more people are trying Linux-based operating systems these days, and with Windows 10 being so hated, that should not be a surprise. Sadly, while the Linux community should be thriving from Microsoft’s missteps with Windows, it feels like the opposite is happening. The Linux Mint development team is experiencing turmoil, for instance, while Scientific Linux has shut down entirely.

      Unfortunately, things are getting even more dire, as yet another Linux distribution has shut down. This time, the operating system is the Arch-based Antergos.

    • Antergos Linux Project Discontinued

      Antergos project has been announced about their project ends on yesterday (May 21, 2019).

      Antergos is beginner-friendly Arch Linux based distribution, which started seven years ago (2012-13) and quickly became an awesome Linux distribution.

      Beginners are don’t like Arch Linux since the installation steps are very difficult for them.

      Antergos took the challenge and made Arch Linux accessible to everyone by providing a simple and user friendly installation steps.

      The project has gained popularity in 2014 and became a popular distribution.

      As per their records, it was downloaded close to a million times (931,439 unique downloads).

    • New Releases
      • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking OS Now Supports More Than 50 Android Devices

        Powered by the Linux 4.19.28 kernel, Kali Linux 2019.2 is here to introduce a new release of the Kali Linux NetHunter toolkit, which lets you run Kali Linux on Android-based mobile devices. The Kali Linux NetHunter 2019.2 release adds support for 13 new devices.

        These include the Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, OnePlus 2, and Galaxy Tab S4 (both LTE and Wi-Fi models). With this, the Kali Linux NetHunter toolkit now support more than 50 devices powered by a wide-range of Android OS releases, from Android 4.4 KitKat to Android 9 Pie.

      • The Antergos Distro Is Ending, HP Linux Imaging and Printing Software Updated to Version 3.19.5, Kail Linux 2019.2 Is Out, Tails 3.14 Released and openSUSE 15.1 Leap Is Now Available

        Kali Linux announces its second release of the year, Kali Linux 2019.2. This release “brings our kernel up to version 4.19.28, fixes numerous bugs, includes many updated packages, and most excitingly, features a new release of Kali Linux NetHunter!” You can download it from here.

        Tails 3.14 has been released. The release fixes many security issues, so you are urged to update as soon as possible. Some changes include an update to kernel 4.19.37, enabling “all available mitigations for the MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) attacks and disable SMT (simultaneous multithreading) on all vulnerable processors to fix the RIDL, Fallout and ZombieLoad security vulnerabilities” and updating the Tor Browser to 8.5, among others.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 released with updated kernel and Kali Linux NetHunter

        Three months after the last major release, it’s time for the second Kali Linux release of the year. Kali Linux 2019.2 is here, and in addition to an updated kernel, there’s also an updated version of Kali Linux NetHunter, complete with support for more Android devices.

        Offensive Security says that the Debian-based Kali Linux 2019.2 is primarily about tweaks and bug fixes, but there are still a number of updated tools included.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Release And What’s New

        The Kali Linux team is announced the availability of Kali Linux 2019.2. It’s second release of 2019, which is available for immediate download.

        This new release shipped with kernel 4.19.28, fixes numerous bugs, includes many updated packages, and more.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Released With NetHunter 2019.2 And New Kernel

        Offensive Security, the makers of Kali Linux, have shipped their second release in 2019. The new Kali Linux 2019.2 distribution is now available for ethical hackers and security researchers. This release brings along many bug fixes and updated packages that are surely worth upgrading.

        Before you move ahead to explore the new changes in Kali Linux 2019.2, let me tell you about our new list of best Kali tools for hacking and pen-testing. These tools are highly recommended if you are willing to kickstart a journey in the field of ethical hacking.

        Coming back to the latest Kali 2019.2. Offensive Security adopted a rolling release model a few years back and it continuously keeps updating the existing Kali installations. But what if a new user needs to perform a clean installation? To address this issue, the developers keep releasing fresh Kali builds from time to time and ensure that new downloads contain bug fixes, new Linux kernel, and other updates.

      • OSMC’s May update is here

        Last month, we released Kodi v18 for OSMC devices. Since then, we’ve been working on a number of improvements and bug fixes to keep things running smoothly.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Linux-based operating system available for download

        openSUSE Leap fans, prepare to be excited — the latest version of your favorite Linux distribution is here! Yes, openSUSE Leap 15.1 can now be downloaded.

        The YaST configuration tool is one of the most significant aspects of openSUSE, and with Leap 15.1, it is getting several improvements. Firewalld gets a new user interface, which will be appreciated by many users, I’m sure. When you need to divvy up the storage space on your hard drive or solid state drive, you will be treated to an enhanced Partitioner tool. YaST will even look prettier on HiDPI screens with this update. There are plenty of non-YaST changes in openSUSE Leap 15.1, of course.

      • openSUSE Community Releases Leap 15.1 Version

        Today’s release of the openSUSE Leap 15.1 brings professional users, entrepreneurs and Independent Software Vendors updated support for modern hardware.

        The release of Leap 15.1 improves YaST functionality and the installer.

        “Continuity and stability are what we are providing users with Leap 15.1,” said Haris Sehic, a member of the openSUSE community. “With Leap 15, we have introduced a huge number of new features and innovations in security, performance and tool/desktop area. Having in mind how stable, efficient and reliable Leap has become, with this release, we managed to keep the level of quality to the point that our private and Small Business users can, actually more than ever, profit from the enterprise background of an openSUSE Linux Distribution. Let’s continue to have a lot of fun!”

        Leap releases are scalable and both the desktop and server are equally important for professional’s workloads, which is reflected in the installation menu as well as the amount of packages Leap offers and hardware it supports. Leap is well suited and prepared for usage as a Virtual Machine (VM) or container guest, allowing professional users to efficiently run network services no matter whether it’s a single server or a data center.

      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Officially Released, Based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1
      • OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released – Based Off SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1
      • The OpenStack User Survey is now open

        The 2019 OpenStack User Survey is now open and waiting for your input. Whether you’re a user of OpenStack, or an operator utilising it to power your offerings, the OpenStack Foundation (and the rest of the community) want to hear about your usage.

        2018 saw the 11th OpenStack User Survey unveiled at the Berlin OpenStack Summit, giving some fantastic insight into how and where people are using OpenStack across 63 different countries. Usage in Asia surged dramatically in 2018, with 48% of respondents based in that continent, with Europe 2nd at 26% and North America 3rd with 20% of respondents.

    • Fedora
      • Contributors are Empowered When They Know the Process

        There is a saying in the legal profession that you should never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. Despite how this sounds, it is actually a rule most people follow in life. This is the source of that feeling you get when you’re too scared to raise your hand and ask a question. In Open Source we need to make sure that contributors feel like they already “know” the answers, so they will feel confident in making the request.

        As a university lecturer, I always encouraged my students to first think about what they thought the answer was and then ask the question. In some cases, I encouraged them to actually write down what they thought the answer was. In this way, they could judge both their skills and their ability to grow based on what the answer turned out to be. It created an additional feedback loop.

      • Alisha and Shraddha: Positive feedback loops in Fedora

        This post is the second introduction to the Fedora Summer Coding interns Class of Summer 2019. In this interview, we’ll meet Alisha Mohanty and Shraddha Agrawal, who are both working on Fedora Happiness Packets to promote positive feedback loops in the Fedora community.

      • Fedora 30 Workstation review – Smarter, faster and buggier

        Fedora 30 is definitely one of the more interesting releases of this family in a long-time. It brings significant changes, including solid improvements in the desktop performance and responsiveness. Over the years, Fedora went from no proprietary stuff whatsoever to slowly acknowledging the modern needs of computing, so now it gives you MP3 codecs and you can install graphics drivers and such. Reasonable looks, plus good functionality across the board.

        However, there were tons of issues, too. Printing to Samba, video screenshot bug, installer cropped-image slides, package management complications, mouse cursor lag, oopses, average battery life, and inadequate usability out of the box. You need to change the defaults to have a desktop that can be used in a quick, efficient way without remembering a dozen nerdy keyboard shortcuts. All in all, I like the freshness. In general, it would seem the Linux desktop is seeing a cautious revival, and Fedora’s definitely a happy player. But there are too many rough edges. Well, we got performance tweaks after so many years, and codecs, we might get window buttons and desktop icons one day back, too. Something like 6/10, and definitely worth exploring.

        I am happy enough to do two more tests. I will run an in-vivo upgrade on the F29 instance on this same box, and then also test the distro on an old Nvidia-powered laptop, which will showcase both the support for proprietary graphics (didn’t work the last time) and performance improvements, if they scale for old hardware, too. That’s all for now.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.14 Is Out And What’s New Features

          Tails 3.14 is out today (2019-05-21), this release fixes many security vulnerabilities.

          Tails team is advising users to upgrade the latest version as soon as possible.

          Tails or The Amnesic Incognito Live System is a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution designed to be used from a USB stick or a DVD independently of the computer’s original operating system.

          All its incoming and outgoing connections are forced to go through Tor. It aims to provide anonymous access (users privacy).

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 17.x Reached End Of Life (EOL)

              We came to know from the Linux Mint monthly (April-2019) newsletter, the Linux Mint team reported that Linux Mint 17.x has reached the end of its supported life.

              After 5 good years of service, Linux Mint 17.x (i.e. 17, 17.1, 17.2 and 17.3) reached “End Of Life”.

              Although the repositories will continue to work they will no longer receive security updates.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • You’re Invited: Celebrating Powering Potential.

    OSI Affiliate Member Powering Potential Inc. (PPI) is currently preparing for their annual fundraising event scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, 2019, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at NoMad Studio, located at 29 W. 39th Street, 10th Floor, in New York City.

    This year PPI celebrates their 10 Year Partnership with the Segal Family Foundation. The close, long-time relationship has been a key factor in the amazing progress PPI has made in bringing their “Educating through Technology” programs to the rural students in Tanzania.

    Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards the Sazira Secondary School SPARC+ Lab Upgrade impacting 800+ students in rural Tanzania: an ambitious project needing $23,500. While this is significant, The Collegiate Churches of New York recently awarded Powering Potential a generous grant of $13,000 towards this goal.

    PPI has an incredible event planned for their guests. Back by popular demand, Tanzanian dancers performing traditional dance led by Justa Lujwangana, CEO and founder of Curious on Tanzania will provide entertainment for the evening. A buffet will also feature authentic Tanzanian dishes based on menus from Taste of Tanzania by Miriam Malaquais. The author has donated twenty of her books for sale at the event with proceeds going to PPI.

  • Open Source Hong Kong Becomes an OSI Affiliate Member

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, is excited to announce the Affiliate Membership of the Open Source Hong Kong (OSHK). For ten years OSHK has worked across Asia to support open source communities, foster open source development, and increase the use of open source software, their recent OSI Membership highlights both organizations’ desires to collaborate across communities.

    “OSHK mission is promoting Open Source Software projects in Hong Kong and foster its development by connecting to the global open source community. In joining OSI as an Affiliate Member, OSHK connects with OSI, and other open source organizations, to support the promotion of open source,’ said Sammy Fung, President of OSHK. “Open Source Software is not just about viewing the source code, it also guarantees the right to use the software, and modify it for our own use. By working together, I believe both organizations will be able to extend our reach and missions.”

    “We are excited to welcome OSHK as an OSI Affiliate Member,” said Molly de Blanc, OSI President. “The open source community truly is global, and their dedication to that idea is what inspires us as an organization. Our work for the future of open source is driven by that global community, and having the voices of OSHK in our affiliate membership helps us meet our goal in promoting and protecting open source and communities. We look forward to supporting their efforts and collaborating to help spread the message of open source even further.”

  • Google and Binomial Partner to Open Source Basis Universal Texture Codec

    Google and Binomial have announced a partnership to open source the Basis Universal texture codec to improve the performance of transmitting images on the web and within desktop and mobile applications, while maintaining GPU efficiency. This release fills an important gap in the graphics compression ecosystem and complements earlier work in Draco geometry compression.

  • Events
    • Register Now for the 2019 Introductory Linux Clusters Institute Workshop

      Registration is now open for the 2019 Linux Clusters Institute (LCI) Introductory Workshop,which will be held August 19-23, 2019 at the Rutgers University Inn & Conference Center in New Brunswick, NJ. This workshop will cover the fundamentals of setting up and administering a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster and will be led by leading HPC experts.

    • Additional early bird slots available for LPC 2019

      The Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) registration web site has been showing “sold out” recently because the cap on early bird registrations was reached. We are happy to report that we have reviewed the registration numbers for this year’s conference and were able to open more early bird registration slots. Beyond that, regular registration will open July 1st. Please note that speakers and microconference runners get free passes to LPC, as do some microconference presenters, so that may be another way to attend the conference. Time is running out for new refereed-track and microconference proposals, so visit the CFP page soon. Topics for accepted microconferences are welcome as well.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Firefox 67 Web Browser Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        After a one-week delay due to a major issue with its add-ons mechanism, Open Source company Mozilla officially released the Firefox 67 cross-platform web browser today for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android.
        Mozilla Firefox 67 comes with numerous performance improvements and new features to make your Firefox browsing experience better. To improve the overall performance, Mozilla did a few internal changes, such as to lower the priority of the “setTimeout” function during loading of web pages, delayed the component initialization until after Firefox’s start up, as well as to suspend unused tabs.

        A key feature of the Firefox 67 release, which most users will love, it’s a built-in cryptominer blocker, which blocks fingerprinters as well. You can find it in the Custom settings page of the Content Blocking preferences, so if you notice that your Firefox web browser eats too much RAM and CPU, try enabling these functions immediately and restart the web browser.

      • New Release: Tor Browser 8.5

        Tor Browser 8.5 is the first stable release for Android. Since we released the first alpha version in September, we’ve been hard at work making sure we can provide the protections users are already enjoying on desktop to the Android platform. Mobile browsing is increasing around the world, and in some parts, it is commonly the only way people access the internet. In these same areas, there is often heavy surveillance and censorship online, so we made it a priority to reach these users.

      • Mozilla Firefox 67 Is Now Available for All Supported Ubuntu Linux Releases

        The Firefox 67 web browser arrived on May 21st, 2019, and promises to be the fastest Firefox release to date thanks to the numerous internal performance improvements implemented by Mozilla. Firefox 67 also comes with a built-in crypto miner and fingerprinter blocker, and a much-improved Private Browsing mode.

        One of the coolest new features of the Firefox 67 web browser is the ability to finally run different builds of Firefox at the same time. As such, users can now install and run the Firefox stable, beta, and nightly versions all side by side, or install and use both the latest stable and the ESR (Extended Support Release) version simultaneously.

      • Tor Browser 8.5 Release With Important Security Updates

        Tor project has release Tor Browser 8.5 on May 21, 2019.

        It is now available from the Tor Browser download page and also from our distribution directory.

        The first stable Android version is also available from Google Play and should be available from F-Droid within the next day.

        This release features important security updates to Firefox.

        Tor Browser 8.5 is the first stable release for Android Since Tor released the first alpha version in September.

      • Andy Wingo: bigint shipping in firefox!

        I am delighted to share with folks the results of a project I have been helping out on for the last few months: implementation of “BigInt” in Firefox, which is finally shipping in Firefox 68 (beta).

      • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #45

        Hi there! I first published this newsletter episode on May 21st and hitting the publish button at the same time as Jessie who wrote an excellent announcement post about WebRender on the stable channel. We decided to unpublish the newsletter for a couple of days to avoid shadowing the other post.

        WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: May edition

        Firefox 68 has officially entered Beta. The deadline to ship localization updates into this version is June 25. It’s important to remember that 68 is going to be an ESR version too: if your localization is incomplete on Jun 26, or contains errors, it won’t be possible to fix them later on for ESR.

        A lot of content has landed in Firefox 68 towards the end of the cycle. In particular, make sure to test the new stub installer in the coming weeks, and the redesigned about:welcome experience. Detailed instructions are available in this thread on dev-l10n. You should also check out this post on how to localize the new “Join Firefox” message.

        Partially related to Firefox Desktop: Facebook Container is quickly approaching version 2.0, adding several informative panels to the initial bare UI.

      • Firefox 67 Released With Improved Performance

        Mozilla team has released Firefox 67 (May 21, 2019) today. In this article, we will show you what’s new in Firefox 67.

        Mozilla Firefox (known as Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

        Firefox is available for Windows, OS X, Linux and mobile for Android.

      • Emblematic Group and Mozilla Team Up to Showcase Next Generation of Storytelling on the Web

        Everything you share on the internet is a story. You read blog posts and watch videos that make you feel connected to people across the world. Virtual Reality has made these experiences even stronger, but it wasn’t available to most people as a storytelling tool, until now.

        This breakthrough in accessibility comes from VR pioneer and award winning journalist, Nonny de la Peña, who is founder & CEO of the immersive technology company Emblematic Group. Their newest initiative was to launch a browser based platform that allows anyone to tap into the immersive power of virtual reality, regardless of their technical background. That is exactly what they did with REACH. With support from like minded partners such as Mozilla and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, de la Peña launched the platform at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. REACH completely simplifies authorship and distribution of virtual reality experiences using a simple drag and drop interface which anyone can access from any device, including a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

  • LibreOffice
    • The Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 6.2.4

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.4, the fourth bug and regression fixing release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family, targeted at tech-savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

      LibreOffice’s individual users are helped by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all of these resources available.

      LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • LibreOffice 6.2.4 Open-Source Office Suite Released with More Than 100 Bug Fixes

      The Document Foundation announced today the general availability of the fourth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 6.2 open-source office suite series for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows.

      Coming about a month after the LibreOffice 6.2.3 release, the LibreOffice 6.2.4 update is here to squash even more of those pesky bugs reported by users lately, in an attempt to make the LibreOffice 6.2 office suite as stable as possible for enterprise deployments.

    • Annual Report 2018: New releases of LibreOffice

      Thanks to your generous donations, and contributions from our ecosystem of certified developers, we released two major releases of LibreOffice in 2018: 6.0 on January 31, and version 6.1 on August 8.

      In addition, 14 minor releases were also made available throughout the year, for the 5.4, 6.0 and 6.1 branches. Meanwhile, several Bug Hunting Sessions were held in preparation for the new major releases. These typically took place on a single day between set times, so that experienced developers and QA engineers could help new volunteers to file and triage bugs via the IRC channels and mailing lists. The Bug Hunting Sessions for LibreOffice 5.4 were held on April 27, May 28 and July 3 – while those for LibreOffice 6.2 took place on October 22, November 19 and December 21.

    • The Document Foundation welcomes Adfinis SyGroup to the project’s Advisory Board

      The Document Foundation (TDF) announced today that Adfinis SyGroup – a Swiss FOSS company headquarted in Bern, with offices in Basel, Zurich and Crissier (Vaud) – has joined the project’s Advisory Board.

      Adfinis SyGroup is using LibreOffice for office productivity, in addition to providing professional consultancy to customers with SLA contracts to support migrations from proprietary software to LibreOffice. The company has helped to organize the LibreOffice Conference in 2014, when the event was hosted by the Bern University, is contributing patches to the source code, and is also hosting various TDF servers and buildbots on their infrastructure.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • parallel @ Savannah: GNU Parallel 20190522 (‘Akihito’) released

      GNU Parallel 20190522 (‘Akihito’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      GNU Parallel is 10 years old in a year on 2020-04-22. You are here by invited to a reception on Friday 2020-04-17.
      See https://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/10-years-anniversary.html

  • Programming/Development
    • Team OpenCensus or OpenTracing? It’ll be neither and both now: Hello, OpenTelemetry

      Something odd happened at KubeCon 2019. Rather than snipe at each other from the safety of Twitter, two very similar open-source projects opted to pool their ideas into one: OpenTelemetry.

      The project is geared towards solving the problem of working out just what the heck is happening in today’s microservices or container-based apps. Logging without incurring a chunky overhead both in terms of generating useful telemetry and actually collating the output.

      Distributed tracing is a bit more than fancy logging, as one commentator put it. Think more a transaction log over all the containers, services and components used in an application.

      Two projects emerged to deal with the challenge – OpenCensus from Google and OpenTracing, co-created by Ben Sigelman of Lightstep.

    • PHP 7.4 as Software Collection.

      Version 7.4.0-alpha1 will be soon released. It’s now enter the stabilization phase for the developers, and the test phase for the users.

      RPM of this upcoming version of PHP 7.4, are available in remi repository for Fedora 29, 30 and Enterprise Linux 7, 8 (RHEL, CentOS, …) in a fresh new Software Collection (php74) allowing its installation beside the system version.

      As I strongly believe in SCL potential to provide a simple way to allow installation of various versions simultaneously, and as I think it is useful to offer this feature to allow developers to test their applications, to allow sysadmin to prepare a migration or simply to use this version for some specific application, I decide to create this new SCL.

    • HEIC / HEIF images support

      The HEIF image format (High Efficiency Image File Format) is now widely used, especially since iOS 11, so it make sense to be able to process these images.

    • EuroPython 2019: First batch of accepted sessions
    • Hello CodeGrades!

      This is a blog about CodeGrades, an experiment to help folks learn about programming (initially in Python). We’ll use it to celebrate the successes, learn from the failures and reflect upon the feedback of participants. We’ll also share project news here too.

    • Setting Up GitLab CI for a Python Application

      This blog post describes how to configure a Continuous Integration (CI) process on GitLab for a python application.

    • How OpenTracing & OpenCensus Merger Helps Users Like GitLab

      In this episode of Let’s Talk, Andrew Newdigate – Staff Site Reliability Engineer at GitLab talks about OpenTracing, OpenCensus, and the newly announced OpenTelemetry project.

    • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 287
    • Check if String Contains Substring
    • Kushal Das: Game of guessing colors using CircuitPython
    • Intel Icelake Brings New Top-Down Performance Counters

      Back to the Sandy Bridge days there have been “Top-Down” metrics for exposing CPU pipeline statistics around bottlenecks in the processor front-end, back-end, bad speculation, or retiring. Those metrics have been done using generic counters but with Icelake and Intel CPUs moving forward, there are in-hardware fixed performance counters for these metrics.

    • Intel Open-Source 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime Released

      For those making use of Intel’s OpenCL “NEO” Compute Runtime, a new tagged release is now available.

      The Intel 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime is this latest release consisting of the latest code around their OpenCL LLVM/Clang components with the graphics compiler, GMM Library, and related bits. With today’s release, they pulled in the Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.4 update.

    • Running Python in the Browser

      Running Python in the web browser has been getting a lot of attention lately. Shaun Taylor-Morgan knows what he’s talking about here – he works for Anvil, a full-featured application platform for writing full-stack web apps with nothing but Python. So I invited him to give us an overview and comparison of the open-source solutions for running Python code in your web browser.

    • Python Logging: A Stroll Through the Source Code

      The Python logging package is a a lightweight but extensible package for keeping better track of what your own code does. Using it gives you much more flexibility than just littering your code with superfluous print() calls.

      However, Python’s logging package can be complicated in certain spots. Handlers, loggers, levels, namespaces, filters: it’s not easy to keep track of all of these pieces and how they interact.

      One way to tie up the loose ends in your understanding of logging is to peek under the hood to its CPython source code. The Python code behind logging is concise and modular, and reading through it can help you get that aha moment.

      This article is meant to complement the logging HOWTO document as well as Logging in Python, which is a walkthrough on how to use the package.

    • Enhance your AI superpowers with Geospatial Visualization
    • Kushal’s Colourful Adafruit Adventures

      Friend of Mu, community hero, Tor core team member, Python core developer and programmer extraordinaire Kushal Das, has blogged about the fun he’s been having with Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express board, CircuitPython and Mu.

    • Kyma – extend and build on Kubernetes with ease

      According to this recently completed CNCF Survey, the adoption rate of Cloud Native technologies in production is growing rapidly. Kubernetes is at the heart of this technological revolution. Naturally, the growth of cloud native technologies has been accompanied by the growth of the ecosystem that surrounds it. Of course, the complexity of cloud native technologies have increased as well. Just google for the phrase “Kubernetes is hard”, and you’ll get plenty of articles that explain this complexity problem. The best thing about the CNCF community is that problems like this can be solved by smart people building new tools to enable Kubernetes users: Projects like Knative and its Build resource extension, for example, serve to reduce complexity across a range of scenarios. Even though increasing complexity might seem like the most important issue to tackle, it is not the only challenge you face when transitioning to Cloud Native.

    • A panel with the new Python steering council [Ed: Microsoft bought PyCon and and now it's stuffing/stacking Python panels to push proprietary software with back doors (or its 'free bait')]

      Brett Cannon is a development manager for the Python extension to Visual Studio Code at Microsoft.

      [...]

      [I would like to thank LWN's travel sponsor, the Linux Foundation, for travel assistance to Cleveland for PyCon.]

    • Testing a Go-based S2I builder image
    • EuroPython 2019: Monday and Tuesday activities for main conference attendees

      Although the main conference starts on Wednesday, July 10th, there’s already so much to do for attendees with the main conference ticket on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th.

    • Test and Code: 75: Modern Testing Principles – Alan Page
    • Shaily and Zubin: Building CI pipelines and helping testers

      This post is the third introduction to the Fedora Summer Coding interns Class of Summer 2019. In this interview, we’ll meet Shaily Sangwan and Zubin Choudhary, who are both working on projects to improve quality assurance processes in the Fedora community.

Leftovers
  • Dear UNB: please leave my email alone.

    Apparently motivated by recent phishing attacks against @unb.ca addresses, UNB’s Integrated Technology Services unit (ITS) recently started adding banners to the body of email messages an. Despite (cough) several requests, they have been unable and/or unwilling to let people opt out of this. Recently ITS has reduced the size of banner; this does not change the substance of what is discussed here. In this blog post I’ll try to document some of the reasons this reduces the utility of my UNB email account.

    [...]

    I don’t browse the web without an ad-blocker and I don’t watch TV with advertising in it. Apparently the main source of advertising in my life is a service provided by my employer. Some readers will probably dispute my description of a warning label inserted by an email provider as “advertising”. Note that is information inserted by a third party to promote their own (well intentioned) agenda, and inserted in an intentionally attention grabbing way. Advertisements from charities are still advertisements. Preventing phishing attacks is important, but so are an almost countless number of priorities of other units of the University. For better or worse those units are not so far able to insert messages into my email. As a thought experiment, imagine inserting a banner into every PDF file stored on UNB servers reminding people of the fiscal year end.

    [...]

    Unlike many people, I don’t generally read my email on a phone. This means that I don’t rely on the previews that are apparently disrupted by the presence of a warning banner. On the other hand I do send and receive OpenPGP signed and encrypted messages. The effects of the banner on both signed and encrypted messages is similar, so I’ll stick to discussing signed messages here. There are two main ways of signing a message. The older method, still unfortunately required for some situations is called “inline PGP”. The signed region is re-encoded, which causes gpg to issue a warning about a buggy MTA, namely gpg: quoted printable character in armor – probably a buggy MTA has been used. This is not exactly confidence inspiring. The more robust and modern standard is PGP/MIME. Here the insertion of a banner does not provoke warnings from the cryptography software, but it does make it much harder to read the message (before and after screenshots are given below). Perhaps more importantly it changes the message from one which is entirely signed or encrypted, to one which is partially signed or encrypted. Such messages were instrumental in the EFAIL exploit and will probably soon be rejected by modern email clients.

  • Science
    • Say Goodbye to the Physical Kilogram (and Perhaps much More)

      Once upon a time we lived in a society that was not only completely analog but infinitely simpler. A time when it seemed the physical world could be understood and described, perhaps even tamed, purely through the application of rational thought. Contemporaries dubbed that era the Age of Enlightenment and looked forward to the wonders that this brave new world would bring. This week, one of the last icons of that heady time was dethroned and retired to a museum in Paris.

      I am speaking, of course, about the kilogram, the last of the seven International System of Units measures to be represented by a physical object rather than an “invariant constant of nature.” But where did it come from? And why, after two hundred twenty years, has it been replaced?

      The story begins with the same school of humanists that provided the philosophic justification for the French revolution which began honorably before descending into a campaign of terror. When they decided to rationalize the multiple systems of weights and measures, the results were both more benign and long-lasting, perhaps because they took their inspiration from the grand canvas of the physical world around them. The metre became the fundamental unit of length and was fixed at one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. Weight, in turn, would henceforth be calculated in reference to the kilogram, defined as the mass of one decimetre of pure water at sea level at a set temperature and barometric pressure.

    • Scientists find new periodic water cycle on Mars

      Scientists have discovered a new type of water cycle on Mars, which is a bit surprising given the generally severe lack of water on the planet. According to a new study, water vapor rises from the lower atmosphere to Mars’ upper atmosphere, and some of it even escapes into space, but this can only happen under very limited conditions. This finding may also help explain how Mars lost most of its water billions of years ago.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Abortion fight is about white patriarchy clinging to power. It’s time for decent men to speak up

      If you weren’t paying close attention, the prairie fire of strict anti-abortion laws jumping like flaming embers from red state to red state — punctuated by Alabama’s clearly unconstitutional (for now, anyway) straight-up ban that imposes a straight-outta-Gilead maximum sentence of 99 years on doctors performing the procedure — seemed to come out of nowhere.

      But inside the bubbling core of the reactionary political movement of extremists known, politely, as Trumpism, they get it. They feel it in their bones — that finally having a potty-mouthed president who “talks the way we talk” about immigrants, journalists and feminists and who hears their chants of “Build the wall!” and “Lock her up!” (even if her left the stage 3 years ago) and now the new chastity-belt politics are all moving them toward the same place. A restoration of the way things ought to be. Which to them is the way things used to be.

    • Starbucks Stores Exposed NYC Customers to Dangerous Pesticides for 3 Years, Lawsuit Claims

      The first claims that the coffee chain exposed customers over the last three years to Dichlorvos, or DDVP, a toxic ingredient in Hot Shot No-Pest Strips used against recommendations in Manhattan stores. In the second, a former employee and two pest control contractors say they were retaliated against for raising concerns about the use of the strips, NBC News reported.

    • Starbucks accused of exposing New York City customers to toxic pesticide

      Two lawsuits filed against Starbucks claim that several New York City stores exposed customers to a poisonous — and potentially deadly — pesticide toxin, and then fired a store manager who complained about them.

      In one class action suit, filed on Tuesday in state court in Manhattan, 10 Starbucks customers claim that they were “exposed to the toxic chemical” Dichlorvos, or DDVP, after making purchases in multiple city stores over the last three years.

      DDVP is an ingredient that is emitted into the air by a pesticide called Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which are produced by Spectrum Brand Holdings.

    • House Democrats Hold Historic Second Hearing on Medicare for All

      After Democrats held the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All last month, the House Budget Committee on Wednesday morning invited federal officials to testify at an historic second hearing on the costs replacing the nation’s current for-profit system with one that guarantees healthcare as a right for all Americans.

    • ‘Absolutely Nothing to Offer’: Beto’s Answer on Medicare For All at CNN Town Hall Angers Progressives

      Democratic presidential primary candidate Beto O’Rourke went on CNN for a town hall Tuesday evening in an attempt to breathe some life into his struggling campaign, but all he did was earn the ire of progressives after delivering a less than ambitious answer to a question on Medicare for All.

      O’Rourke declined to endorse the popular policy by host Dana Bash as a follow up to a question from the audience on drug prices. Bash asked the former Texas congressman why he supports the Medicare for America plan put forth by Democratic Reps. Rose DeLauro (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) instead of Medicare for All.

      “They don’t have time for us to get to the perfect solution,” O’Rourke said, referring to audience member Diane Kolmer, whose struggles with the disease multliple sclerosis prompted her to ask about healthcare, and a man O’Rourke claimed to have met named “Joey.”

      “If we were to start from scratch, maybe we would start with a single payer,” added O’Rourke, “but we’ve got to work with the system that we have here today.”

    • As Republicans Target Roe, New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Don’t Want Landmark Ruling Overturned

      As Republican politicians nationwide continue to mount a challenge to Roe v. Wade with a wave of anti-choice state laws, a new poll shows the majority of Americans don’t want the landmark Supreme Court ruling, which affirmed the constitutionally protected right to have an abortion, overturned.

      The CBS News poll, published late Monday, found that 67 percent of all respondents want the high court—if it reconsiders Roe—to “keep it as is.” By contrast, only 28 percent said they want the court to “overturn it.”

    • Abortion Laws in Saudi Arabia More Forgiving Than in Alabama: Report

      That’s according to a new study by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which compared new laws in the U.S. to restrictions in Muslim-majority countries in southwest Asia and North Africa. All have more lenient laws around abortion than the Alabama law.

      Alabama’s law, which was passed through the legislature last week and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, bans abortions in the state at every point in pregnancy and carries sentences of up to 99 years for doctors that perform the medical procedure. The bill followed similarly restrictive laws in Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Georgia, though none of the other states went as far as the Alabama legislation.

      By contrast, there are a number of abortion exceptions in the countries Haaretz looked at, and, in the cases of Turkey and Tunisia, legal through the first trimester.

      Different definitions of “risk” appear to be in play in the countries as well. In Iran, for example, “some contemporary religious rulings support abortion in cases of rape, fetal impairment, or where there is risk to woman’s life and health.” Both Iran and Iraq also allow abortion in the case of rape and incest; in Saudi Arabia, the procedure is also allowed for women “to protect her physical and mental health.”

    • Trump’s So-Called “Conscience Rule” Would Allow Dangerous Discrimination Against Marginalized Patients, State AGs Say

      Denouncing a Trump administration push to protect so-called “conscience rights in healthcare” as an attack on reproductive rights and marginalized patients, two dozen states and cities filed a complaint against the Health and Human Services Department and demanded that the rule be lifted.

      New York Attorney General Letitia James led states including Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and cities like Chicago in filing the lawsuit Tuesday, two months before the rule is set to go into effect.

    • America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors

      By 2035, seniors are projected to outnumber children in the U.S. population.

      Maybe then we’ll look back and credit Washington state activists for being on the forefront of tackling America’s elder care crisis. On May 13, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a social insurance program for long-term care benefits.

      “This is a huge victory for organizing and people power, for care and caregiving, and for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Josephine Kalipeni of Caring Across Generations, one of more than 20 groups that formed Washingtonians for a Responsible Future to push the path-breaking legislation.

      Nationally, our long-term care financing system is broken. Medicare doesn’t currently cover home care or nursing facility care, while Medicaid coverage varies widely by state. To qualify, you have to meet poverty criteria, which requires people to spend down nearly all of their savings before getting coverage.

    • Challenging Orthodoxies: Alabama’s Anti-Abortion Law

      It seems like a grand ploy of massive distraction. On the surface, the move by Alabama to place the most onerous restrictions on the granting of an abortion has become a lighting-rod of conviction for Democrat agitators. And not just them.

      The fear, and one with suggestive implication, is that various legislatures are paving the way to push Roe v Wade into the domain of a Supreme Court so conservative it is being touted as reactionary. Colorado lawmakers, earlier this year, made a similar attempt to pass a bill banning elective abortions every bit as nasty as the Alabama version. The feeling is that the 1973 decision will be terminated in the name of foetus worship taking way the injunction against states from interfering in a woman’s right to an abortion within the first trimester.

      Roe was never, in truth, such a radical innovation in the field of social reform. It, for one, heavily circumscribes the way choice operates for a woman in terms of her relationship with the foetus. It’s celebration of a woman’s autonomy leaves the designation of how it is used, not in the hands of the carrier, but the Supreme Court.

      What certain stone throwing conservatives have repeatedly disliked about it is that the decision was reformist at all. “Roe,” tut tuts Rich Lowry of the National Review, “is judicially wrought social legislation pretending to the status of constitutional law.” It was a product of such judicial activism that produced the Miranda and Griswold cases, “as much a highhanded attempt to impose a settlement on a hotly contested political question as the abhorrent Dred Scott decision denying the rights of blacks.”

      Lowry’s swipe belies the broader problem facing anti-abortion advocates, many of whom simply think that the legislators in that good red state have lost the plot. The Alabama move is being seen on the part of some on the right as too extreme, painting advocates who favour limiting abortion into a narrow, extreme corner. In the words of conservative pundit Jonathan V. Last, having such a law was the very counter-reproductive thing the movement feared, “the most damaging development to the pro-life movement in decades.”

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Illumos-Powered OmniOS Gets Updated Against MDS / ZombieLoad Vulnerabilities

      While it was just earlier this month that the OpenSolaris/Illumos-based OmniOS saw a big LTS release, it’s already been succeeded by a new release given the recent Intel MDS / Zombieload CPU vulnerabilities coming to light.

      There are new spins of OmniOS for all supported releases. These new OmniOS Community Edition releases mitigate against the Multiarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities and also bundle in the updated Intel CPU microcode.

    • Hackers Hack A Forum For Hacked Accounts: Here’s How

      A group of hackers failed to deploy security mechanisms to secure the storage where they store hacked accounts and another hacker group hacked it.

      The story is indeed funny and real. Infamous forum named OGUSERS which is popular amongst hackers for obtaining “OG” Instagram, Twitter usernames, hacked accounts of Domino’s Pizza, Steam, PlayStation Network, and other online accounts was hacked by a hacker group and its data was published in another hacker forum.

    • Security Announcement: Disabling SMT by default on affected Intel processors

      This is an important announcement with an upcoming change in the next Core Update of IPFire.

      Because of the recent vulnerabilities in Intel processors, the IPFire team has decided, that – to keep systems as secure as possible – Simultaneous Multi-Processing (SMT) is automatically disabled if the processor is vulnerable to one of the attacks.

      SMT is also called Intel(R) Hyper-Threading Technology and simulates more virtual cores than the system has. This allows to perform faster processing when applications benefit from it. Unfortunately with networking, we benefit from that. Therefore the effect of disabling SMT will be a very signifiant performance impact of around 30% or more. Applications that will be affected in IPFire are the firewall throughput itself as well as other CPU and memory-bound tasks like the web proxy and the Intrusion Prevention System. On systems that are not vulnerable for this attack, SMT is being left enabled. If you still want to disable it, please do so in the BIOS of your firewall.

    • Report from the curl bounty program

      We announced our glorious return to the “bug bounty club” (projects that run bug bounties) a month ago, and with the curl 7.65.0 release today on May 22nd of 2019 we also ship fixes to security vulnerabilities that were reported within this bug bounty program.

    • OpenSUSE Adds Option To Installer For Toggling Performance-Hitting CPU Mitigations

      With the newly released openSUSE Leap 15.1 they have added an option to their installer for toggling the CPU mitigations around Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow / Zombieload to make it very convenient should you choose to retain maximum performance while foregoing the security measures. But it also allows disabling SMT/HT from the installer should you prefer maximum security.

      When installing openSUSE Leap 15.1 today, I was a bit surprised to see a “CPU mitigations” option that allows toggling the value similar to the mitigations= kernel command line option.

    • Equifax just became the first company to have its outlook downgraded for a cyber attack
    • Equifax just became the first company to have its outlook downgraded for a cyber attack

      Moody’s has just slashed its rating outlook on Equifax, the first time cybersecurity issues have been cited as the reason for a downgrade.

      Moody’s lowered Equifax’s outlook from stable to negative on Wednesday, as the credit monitoring company continues to suffer from the massive 2017 breach of consumer data.

      “We are treating this with more significance because it is the first time that cyber has been a named factor in an outlook change,” Joe Mielenhausen, a spokesperson for Moody’s, told CNBC. “This is the first time the fallout from a breach has moved the needle enough to contribute to the change.”

      Equifax could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • Kubernetes security: 4 strategic tips

      As with all things security-related, “fingers crossed!” isn’t exactly a confident posture. Kubernetes offers a lot of powerful security-oriented features, and the community has shown a strong commitment toward the security of the project. But it’s always best to be proactive, especially if you or your teams are still relatively new to containers and orchestration.

      The fundamentals of security hygiene still largely apply, as we noted in our recent article, Kubernetes security: 5 mistakes to avoid. There’s also some new learning to be done to ensure you’re proactively managing the risks inherent in any new system, especially once it’s running in production.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Has the New York Times declared War on Iran?

      The corporate media—and most memorably the US newspaper of record, the New York Times—thrust itself onto the PR frontlines by presenting as reality the unhinged claims of the George W Bush administration.

      A repeat performance

      Now, more than 16 years and an obscene quantity of Iraqi deaths later, it seems we may be witnessing a repeat performance of the same old media tricks, this time targeting Iran – although at least Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman has not yet decreed that the Iranians be made to “suck on this”.

      First off, of course, there’s the ongoing nuclear hysteria, which apparently can’t be put to rest no matter how many times we review the facts.

    • It’s New Hampshire’s Time to Repeal the Death Penalty

      The last state in New England with capital punishment is on the precipice of repeal.
      For over three decades in New Hampshire, there has been a rising call to repeal the death penalty. That call has, until recently, gone unanswered. In 2019 that could all change.

      Though the Granite State has come close to repeal in the past, too often we have missed the margin by just one or two key legislator’s votes, or were stifled by a gubernatorial veto, first by a Democratic governor, and later a Republican one. The state’s attempt at repeal last year fell just short, but since then, there had been an election. Going into this legislative session, the vote count was more promising than it had been in years.

      We entered the new year believing 2019 could, just maybe, be the year for repeal in New Hampshire. The night of the state elections, I was counting votes as the results came in. Some people count party seats or sit on the edge of their seats over a particular candidate. I was doing death penalty repeal math. Because of a recount in one senate district, the math was uncertain for a couple of weeks. When the race was finally called, the math added up to 16 – the magic number for overriding a gubernatorial veto in the State Senate. We were also hopeful about the vote count in the House, which has consistently shown stronger support for repeal than the Senate in past years. From the day House Bill 455 was introduced, there was hope in the air. Conversations in the hallways of the legislative building shifted from “if” to “when.” The word “veto” lost its pervasive vigor and air of absolutism, and was replaced by a new whisper, a new conversation, and finally a new call sign: “veto-proof.”

      New Hampshire, which is the last state in New England with the death penalty, is on the cusp of shaking off that unwanted distinction. It is not a credit to one party, but a recognition that in these partisan and divisive times, there is at least one issue that rises above party. Asking the government to take a life summons within us all our common humanity.

    • The Money in the Trump-Kushner Peace Plan

      This is obviously quite vague, but it might be helpful to readers to put this $68 billion figure in context. First, it is a bit more than half of the estimated fortune of Jeff Bezos.

      More importantly, if we take the total population of the four groups listed, it comes to roughly 120 million. This means that the sum that Trump and Kushner hope to raise to induce a commitment to their peace plan comes to $560 per person. This seems to be a one-time figure rather than any ongoing commitment of aid.

    • Mission Accomplished? Could US-Iran Conflict Tear Iraq Apart Again?

      The rising tensions between the Trump administration and Iran have the potential to roil the entire Middle East, and no country feels the heat more than Iraq, which has warm relations both with the US and Iran, as Egyptian journalist Islam Muhammad argues in a wideranging report.

      Iraqi nationalist and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made headlines earlier this week when he tweeted out that a US-Iran War would “finish off Iraq.” Al-Sadr, who stands for an Iraq independent of both American and Iranian influence, rejected the notion that Iraq should be dragged into the Trump-Iran confrontation.

    • Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services

      The US Department of Defense’s bloated budget, along with CIA venture capital, helped to create tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and PayPal. The government then contracts those companies to help its military and intelligence operations. In doing so, it makes the tech giants even bigger.

      In recent years, the traditional banking, energy and industrial Fortune 500 companies have been losing ground to tech giants like Apple and Facebook. But the technology on which they rely emerged from the taxpayer-funded research and development of bygone decades. The internet started as ARPANET, an invention of Honeywell-Raytheon working under a Department of Defense (DoD) contract. The same satellites that enable modern internet communications also enable US jets to bomb their enemies, as does the GPS that enables online retailers to deliver products with pinpoint accuracy. Apple’s touchscreen technology originated as a US Air Force tool. The same drones that record breath-taking video are modified versions of Reapers and Predators.

      Tax-funded DoD research is the backbone of the modern, hi-tech economy. But these technologies are dual-use. The companies that many of us take for granted–including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and PayPal–are connected indirectly and sometimes very directly to the US military-intelligence complex.

    • Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?

      The last time I used this subtitle was when I first wrote about the morally noxious appointment of Bob Kerrey as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees in 2016. I had the exact same gut reaction to this message, which appeared in my inbox earlier this year: NAFSA (Association of International Educators*) is pleased to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell (retired) will be the Opening Plenary of the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 28.

      As one colleague opined, “They’re aiming to impress NAFSA attendees with Albright and Powell’s ‘star power’, lies and callousness notwithstanding. You can bet your bottom dollar that no questions from the audience that are not pre-screened will be taken.” Not surprisingly, NAFSA invited conference registrants to submit up to two questions in advance “for our distinguished guests.” Can you guess what types of questions will not survive the screening process? No doubt the “special conversation” that is the plenary will consist of softball questions lobbed by executive director and CEO, Esther Brimmer, and attendees who submitted theirs online.

    • A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging

      “If Iran wants to fight,” US president Donald Trump tweeted on May 19, “that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again.”

      The “threat” Trump appears to be responding to is a statement from Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that “[w]e are certain … there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion that they can confront Iran in the region.”

      Some “threat,” huh? Let’s seek a little clarity as to just who’s threatening whom here:

      In 1953, US and British intelligence operatives orchestrated a coup d’etat, overthrowing Iran’s democratically elected government and promoting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi from constitutional monarch to (increasingly absolutist) dictator.

      Twenty-six years later, the Iranian people rose up and toppled the Shah. Over the next few years, Islamists led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini defeated rival factions and consolidated their power over the country, replacing the monarchy with an “Islamic Republic” — more of a democracy than western propagandists acknowledge, with a representative parliament, but with extensive power residing in a Shiite “Supreme Leader” and associated clerical councils.

      The US government never forgave the Iranian people for overthrowing its puppet regime. For decades, US foreign policy toward Iran consisted entirely of demonization, sanctions, and calls for “regime change.” US atrocities of the period include the murder of 290 Iranians (including 66 children) aboard Iran Air flight 655, shot down by the USS Vincennes in 1988.

    • A US Foreign Policy in Three Simple Words: Do No Harm

      That’s putting it mildly. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Diamond writes, “Democracy faces a global crisis. We have seen 12 consecutive years of erosion in global levels of political rights and civil liberties, with many more countries declining than gaining each year, according to the nonprofit group Freedom House. Over the past decade, one in six democracies has failed. Today only a bare majority of the world’s larger states remain democracies.

      “Nor do the numbers capture the full extent of the danger. Behind the statistics is a steady, palpable corrosion of democratic institutions and norms in a range of countries. China, Russia and their admirers are making headway with a new global narrative, hailing strongman rule—not government by the people—as the way forward in difficult times.”

      When it comes to hastening this disastrous worldwide decay, Donald Trump, is, of course, an enabler supreme, patting on the back despots like Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, welcoming Hungary’s far right prime minister Viktor Orban to the White House (and calling him successful and “highly respected, respected all over Europe”), singing the praises of the Philippines’ Duterte and Brazil’s Bolsinaro, etc. And all the while yearning to yield that same kind of anti-democratic dictatorial power over his own United States.

      That’s why the president’s shambolic foreign policy can be both a curse and a sort of blessing. On the one hand, his inchoate fumbling and lack of coherent doctrine has us upending the planet and could at any moment walk us right off a cliff and down into major fresh hell. On the other, this same haplessness and uncertainty has kept some truly gruesome ideas from being implemented. Inertia often reigns because no one in this administration ever seems to know what the boss wants; his mind changes from moment to moment and he has the attention span of a toddler in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese.

    • Understanding NATO, Ending War

      On 4 April 2019, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, marked the 70th anniversary of its existence with a conference attended by the foreign ministers of member nations in Washington DC. This will be complemented by a meeting of the heads of state of member nations in London next December.

      Coinciding with the anniversary event on 4 April, peace activists and concerned scholars in several countries conducted a variety of events to draw attention to, and further document, the many war crimes and other atrocities committed by NATO (sometimes by deploying its associate and crony terrorist armies – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra – recruited and trained by the CIA and funded by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries and the US directly or through one or other of its many agencies: see ‘NATO – No Need – NATO-EXIT: The Florence Declaration’), the threat that NATO poses to global peace and security as an appendage of the US military, and to consider ways that NATO might be terminated.

      These protests and related activities included several outlined in ‘No To NATO: Time To End Aggressive Militarism’ which also explains how NATO ‘provides a veneer of legality’ when ‘the US is unable to get the United Nations Security Council to approve military action’ and ‘Congress will not grant authority for US military action’ and despite the clearcut fact that NATO has no ‘international legal authority to go to war’, the grounds for which are clearly defined in the Charter of the United Nations and are limited to just two: authorization by the UN Security Council and a response in self-defense to a military attack.

      The most significant gathering of concerned scholars was undoubtedly the ‘Exit NATO!’ conference in Florence, Italy, which culminated in the Florence Declaration calling for an end to NATO. See ‘The Florence Declaration: An International Front Calling for NATO-Exit’.

    • How the OPCW Leak Makes Trump a War Criminal

      On May 13th, Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria made public on his website an utterly damning document that had been suspiciously excluded from the final investigative report by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the U.S.-and-allied allegation that on 7 April 2018 the Syrian Government had sarin-attacked residents in its town of Douma and had killed a large number of non-combatants.

      Seven days after that alleged incident, the U.S. and two of its allies, UK and France, massively missile-invaded Syria on April 14th, in alleged international ‘response’ to that alleged national war-crime on the part of Syria’s Government.

      It now turns out that that alleged national war-crime was totally staged by America’s own proxy-soldiers, Islamic terrorists who were trying to overthrow Syria’s Government, and so the attack against Syria on 14 April 2018 by U.S., UK and France, constitutes an international war-crime, an unequivocal violation of the U.N.’s Charter.

      This excluded finding by the OPCW is proof that “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT”.

      That’s the way an independent detailed study by the two top U.S. experts had concluded their study of the U.N.’s evidence concerning the U.S.-and-allied allegations that there had been a 21 August 2013 sarin-attack by the Syrian Government against its town of East Ghouta. Their finding then was virtually identical regarding that U.S.-alleged sarin-use by Syria’s Government — identical to this recent OPCW finding.

    • Michael Avenatti Charged With Defrauding Stormy Daniels

      Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame through his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her battles with President Donald Trump, was charged Wednesday with ripping her off.

      Federal prosecutors in New York City say Avenatti used a doctored document to divert about $300,000 that Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal, then used the money for personal and business expenses. Only half of that money was paid back, prosecutors said.

      Daniels isn’t named in the court filing, but the details of the case, including the date her book was released, make it clear that she is the client involved.

      Avenatti denied the allegations on Twitter.

      “No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence,” he wrote.

    • The “Forever Wars” Enshrined

      Earlier this month, I spent a day visiting Marseilles to videotape a documentary about recent American military history, specifically the ongoing wars that most of us prefer not to think about.

      Lest there be any confusion, let me be more specific. I am not referring to Marseilles (mar-SAY), France, that nation’s largest port and second largest city with a population approaching 900,000. No, my destination was Marseilles (mar-SAYLZ), Illinois, a small prairie town with a population hovering around 5,000.

      Our own lesser Marseilles nestles alongside the Illinois River, more or less equidistant between Chicago and Peoria, smack dab in the middle of flyover country. I have some personal familiarity with this part of America. More than half a century ago, the school I attended in nearby Peru used to play the Panthers of Marseilles High. Unfortunately, their school closed three decades ago.

      Back then, the town had achieved minor distinction for manufacturing corrugated boxes for Nabisco. But that factory was shuttered in 2002 and only the abandoned building remains, its eight-story hulk still looming above Main Street.

      Today, downtown Marseilles, running a few short blocks toward the river, consists of tired-looking commercial structures dating from early in the previous century. Many of the storefronts are empty. By all appearances, the rest may suffer a similar fate in the not-too-distant future. Although the U.S. economy has bounced back from the Great Recession, recovery bypassed Marseilles. Here, the good times ended long ago and never came back. The feel of the place is weary and forlorn. Hedge-fund managers keen to turn a quick profit should look elsewhere.

      Perhaps not too surprisingly, this is Trump country. Marseilles is located in LaSalle County, which in 2016 voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a hefty 14% margin. It’s easy to imagine residents of Marseilles, which is more than 96% white, taking umbrage at Clinton’s disparaging reference to The Donald’s supporters as so many “deplorables.” They had reason to do so.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • 18 Ways Julian Assange Changed the World

      Julian Assange is a dick. It’s important you understand that.

      Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite. So, if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery.

      In a moment I’m going to list all the ways Julian Assange changed the world by being a dick.

      In an evolved and fully realized society, the oligarchy would see Assange as a dangerous criminal (which they do), and the average working men and women would view him as justice personified (which they don’t). We would celebrate him even as the mass media told us to hope for his downfall—like a Batman or a Robin Hood or an Ozzy Osbourne (the early years, not the cleaning-dog-turds-off-his-carpet years).

      But we are not evolved and this is not Gotham City and average Americans don’t root for the truth. Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

      “Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America.

    • Britain’s ‘Media Freedom’ is Smokescreen to Hide the Persecution of Journalists Who Expose War Crimes

      As Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fights on from inside high-security Belmarsh prison, we see a stream of ‘Media Freedom’ campaign tweets from the Foreign Office. Jeremy Hunt’s campaign is apparently running parallel to Assange’s arrest and battle against extradition to the US by way of Sweden. But Hunt’s campaign cannot erase or hide the fact the British government is persecuting a journalist who has dared to empower people throughout the world with knowledge of their leaders’ war crimes. Nor can its shiny press releases blind us to its increasingly hostile and repressive position towards journalists and truth-tellers.

      On the day Wikileaks tweeted the first warning that Assange could have his asylum imminently withdrawn, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the government’s new Media Freedom campaign which would be fronted by celebrity human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. It was a media circus. It was noticeable that despite Clooney’s previous role in Assange’s legal counsel, any connections between the two were effectively left out of mainstream media reports, so that without prior knowledge or research nobody would have known this was the case.

    • On the spot report: Ecuador’s government colludes with Washington to seize Julian Assange’s possessions

      The search took place 40 days after Assange was seized by a police snatch squad and dragged out of the embassy despite being granted asylum in 2012. He was forced to leave behind all his possessions, including personal, legal and medical documents, as well as electronic devices. Assange is locked up in Belmarsh maximum security prison, after being sadistically sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment on May 1 for a minor bail violation dating back nearly seven years.

      Supporters of Assange began gathering by 8 a.m. yesterday outside the embassy to witness and denounce the search and seizure.

      [...]

      At around 10 a.m., a marked police car pulled up opposite the Embassy before driving off. Later, a Met police van arrived and parked adjacent to the embassy’s side entrance, before a number of officers marched to the front of the Embassy building. Assange supporters demanded to know what they were doing and chanted, “Shame on you!,” “Gangsters!,” “Julian Assange is innocent!,” and “This is theft, stop the crime!”

      Ecuador’s surrender of Assange’s personal possessions is an act of truly staggering criminality.

      WikiLeaks has reported that Assange’s entire legal defence against US extradition was left in the embassy. In a press statement issued early yesterday morning, WikiLeaks noted the timing of the search and seizure, just three weeks before the June 14 deadline for the US to file its final extradition request to the UK. Assange’s persecutors arrived to ransack his possessions with representatives of his legal team and even a United Nations official barred from being present.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • To Save Slow-Breeding Giants, Biologists Recommend New Method for Defining Endangered Species

      Typically, conservationists use a methodology called population viability analysis (PVA), a species-specific risk assessment that considers when a particular population will go extinct given certain perimeters. A new study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution suggests that basing conservation decisions simply on low population counts in slow-breeding animals could cause irrevocable decline.

      “Critical thresholds in so-called vital rates — such as mortality and fertility rates among males and females of various ages — can signal an approaching population collapse long before numbers drop below a point of no return,” said lead author Dr. Shermin de Silva, adding that conservation efforts for megafauna should be aimed at maintaining their “demographic safe space.” That is, a combination of key vital rates, such as offspring survival rate and habitat loss, that support population increases rather than short-term trends in population size and distribution

      To come to this conclusion, de Silva and his team analyzed endangered Asian elephants as a case study, whose populations are thought to have been halved in less than a century. Today there are fewer than 50,000 wild Asian elephants, in part because they breed extremely slowly — oftentimes just one calf every six years or more. Mathematical modeling of near-optimal reproduction and high survival rates for calves determined that Asian elephant populations cannot tolerate losing more than 7.5 percent of females annually.

    • Sea level rise may double forecast for 2100

      If you are among the many millions of people who live near the world’s coasts, it will probably be worth your while to read this: sea level rise could be much greater than we expect.

      A team of international scientists led by the University of Bristol, UK, has looked again at the estimates of how much the world’s oceans are likely to rise during this century. It concludes that the figure could be far higher than previous studies suggested.

      In an extreme case, the members say, sea level rise over the next 80 years could mean that by 2100 the oceans will have risen by around six feet (two metres) − roughly twice the level thought likely till now, with “pretty unimaginable” consequences

    • England to Ban Sale of Plastic Straws, Stirrers and Cotton Buds by April 2020

      From April 2020, the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems will be prohibited in England.

      The UK first announced it would work towards a ban in April 2018, saying it would consult manufacturers to find alternatives and make sure there was time to make the necessary changes before it was implemented. Now, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) have confirmed a ban.

      “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment,” Gove said in the government announcement. “These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.”

    • A Steal of a Deal: How Ranchers Take Advantage of Public Lands

      The shocking thing is, ranchers now pay even less than they used to. Earlier this year the Trump administration lowered the monthly fee for grazing on public lands and national forests from $1.41 to $1.35 — the lowest price allowed by law.

      The fee covers one “animal month” — 30 days of grazing — for each cow, or cow with calf. The same fee applies for every five sheep or goats.

      These grazing fees — collected by the Bureau of Land Management — brought in only$16 million in 2018 (before the monthly fee was lowered). That sum doesn’t even cover the costs to administer the program or the environmental degradation caused by livestock grazing on public lands.

      “BLM’s own records reveal that much of the sagebrush West is in severely degraded condition due to excessive commercial livestock grazing,” Kirsten Stade, advocacy director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a press release when the new fees were announced. “Lowering already ultra-low grazing fees only encourages more abuse of public rangelands.”

    • Does Shopping Ethically Really Make a Difference?

      Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We’re far more familiar with the “tried and tested” methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

      But while Americans generously donated $390 billion to charities in 2017, that number pales in comparison to the $130 trillion we spent on buying stuff in the same year.

    • The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia

      Australian politics since the 1990s has been marked by a dedicated loathing of the “vision thing”. For those keen to see policies lasting beyond the life of the May fly, disappointment lies. Federal governments, at best, have shelf lives of three short years. Governments are effectively encouraged to be agents of small change if, indeed, they are to be agents of any change whatsoever. Anything beyond that is bound to be what Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister terms “courageous”, so brave as to be an act of folly and a discouragement.

      Opposition leader Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party never quite had it. He had, it is true, overseen the end of two prime ministers – Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – and came close to sneaking in during the 2016 election. But his stewardship of the federal Labor Party never cured that sense of a permanent “trust deficit”. Not even a phalanx of credible female politicians, aided by his wife’s support, were able to protect him against a highly personalised campaign that stressed the simple, the visceral, and, the importance of self-interest. The world might be burning, but what did that matter to retirees concerned about their share income from franked dividends?

      Labor’s strategy had been geared towards a battle of details kept in a stuffing of income distribution. But the campaign got bogged down. Documents and policy statements were designed for the deposed Turnbull. With the coming to power of Scott Morrison after a palace coup in 2018, a sense of hopeless fun pervaded proceedings. This was not an election for him to win – keeping losses to a minimum would have been seen as an achievement of sorts.

    • An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing

      The state of Acre, on the western edge of Brazil, is so remote, there’s a national joke that it doesn’t exist. But for geochemist Foster Brown, it’s the center of the universe, a place that could help save the world.

      “This is an example of hope,” he said, as we stood behind his office at the Federal University of Acre, a tropical campus carved into the Amazon rainforest. Brown placed his hand on a spindly trunk, ordering me to follow his lead. “There is a flow of water going up that stem, and there is a flow of sap coming down, and when it comes down it has carbon compounds,” he said. “Do you feel that?”

      I couldn’t feel a thing. But that invisible process holds the key to a massive flow of cash into Brazil and an equally pivotal opportunity for countries trying to head off climate change without throwing their economies into turmoil. If the carbon in these trees could be quantified, then Acre could sell credits to polluters emitting clouds of CO₂. Whatever they release theoretically would be offset, or canceled out, by the rainforest.

      Five thousand miles away in California, politicians, scientists, oil tycoons and tree huggers are bursting with excitement over the idea. The state is the second-largest carbon polluter in America, and its oil and gas industry emits about 50 million metric tons of CO₂ a year. What if Chevron or Shell or Phillips 66 could offset some of their damage by paying Brazil not to cut down trees?

      The appetite is global. For the airline industry and industrialized nations in the Paris climate accord, offsets could be a cheap alternative to actually reducing fossil fuel use.

    • Washington Becomes First State to Legalize Human Body Composting

      Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize human composting Tuesday, offering residents a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of their remains, AFP reported.

      The bill, signed by Governor and climate-focused presidential candidate Jay Inslee, would allow people who die in Washington after May 2020 to forgo burial or cremation and have their bodies turned into soil through a process called recomposition.

    • Louisiana Law Turning Pipeline Protests Into Felonies Violates Constitution, New Lawsuit Alleges

      A lawsuit filed today in federal court in Louisiana challenges the state’s “critical infrastructure” law, used to press felony charges against fossil fuel pipeline construction opponents, as unconstitutional.

      Louisiana’s critical infrastructure law is unconstitutionally vague and broad, the suit alleges, because it lets “any authorized person” exclude people from public places like sidewalks and roads if the state’s 125,000 miles of mostly unmarked pipelines cross there. The law could even be used to bring felony charges against a landowner for being on their own land, the lawsuit alleges.

      “And, as more than a dozen arrests of peaceful protesters under the new law demonstrate, its actual aim is to chill, and harshly punish, speech and expression in opposition to pipeline projects,” the complaint adds.

    • German candidate reflects on standing for the Green Party in the North West Region

      Astrid Johnson, 55, is a candidate in the Green Party in the North West region in tomorrow’s election.

      Writing for Metro, she’s reflected on the experience of being an EU27 candidate in these elections, and how she’s felt since the 2016 referendum result.

      She wrote: “I fell in love with England when I was 12 years old. I came for a language exchange, and immediately knew that I wanted to move to live here from my native Germany. I loved the easy-going politeness of the English people in comparison to the formalities of home.

    • Meduza reviews episode three of HBO’s miniseries ‘Chernobyl

      On May 21, the American premium cable network HBO aired the third episode of “Chernobyl,” a new miniseries about the catastrophic nuclear accident in April 1986 that rocked the Soviet Union. After two episodes, with the initial fire extinguished and early panic beginning to subside, the focus shifts to questions about why the reactor exploded and who was responsible for the disaster. Meduza shares its thoughts about the show’s latest installment, “Open Wide, O Earth,” and looks at some of the showrunners’ editing decisions.

    • What If We Covered the Climate Emergency Like We Did World War II?

      I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world,” to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland.

      I don’t come with a silver bullet. And I’m no expert on the topic. Like you, I am just a journalist whose craft calls for us to explain things we don’t understand. There’s so much I don’t understand that journalism became my continuing course in adult education. The subjects were so fascinating, and the work so fulfilling, that I kept at it “full speed ahead” for half a century, until two years ago, at the age of 83, I yielded finally to the side effects of a long life and retired (more or less). This is the first opportunity I have had since then to be with so many kindred spirits of journalism, and the camaraderie reminds me how much I have missed your company.

      Many of us have recognized that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There’s been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the Goliaths of the US news media, those with the biggest amplifiers—the corporate broadcast networks—have been shamelessly AWOL, despite their extraordinary profits. The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 20l8—a drop of 45 percent, reported the watchdog group Media Matters.

    • Changing rainfall poses dilemma on dams

      For the builders of hydro-electric schemes – usually multi-billion dollar projects involving vast amounts of complex engineering work – changing rainfall is a serious problem.

      With climate change either on the horizon or already happening in many regions of the world, rainfall patterns, on which hydro schemes ultimately depend, are becoming ever more unpredictable.

      Christian Rynning-Tonnesen is CEO of Statkraft AS, Norway’s biggest power producer and a major player in the international hydro power business.

      In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, Rynning-Tonnesen says his company has had to double its spending over the last 10 years to reinforce dams in order to cope with heavier rains. He says climate change is hard to ignore when you’re in the hydro-electric business.

    • After DeSmog’s Revelations, Enbridge’s Weymouth Gas Facility Air Permit in Jeopardy

      In a surprise move that threw a controversial fossil fuel project into a whirlwind, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) late last week revealed new evidence of toxins in the area of a proposed natural gas facility in the greater Boston area.

      The sequence of events leading to the disclosure was set in motion by DeSmog’s recent revelations that the state had not released air pollution data, including evidence of carcinogens, which were collected from the proposed site of Enbridge’s gas compressor station in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

      Now, DEP’s air permit for the compressor station, which is currently under appeal, is teetering.

  • Finance
    • Ending the Generational Abuse of Student Debt

      When I speak on college campuses, I ask students to write the amount of debt they anticipate graduating with on a slip of paper.

      In a recent class of 25 undergraduates at Boston College, just eight will graduate without debt, either because of full scholarships or family wealth. For the rest, an imposing debt looms — $40,000 on average, but with six reporting more than $150,000.

      Can you imagine being 22 and having $150,000 in debt? This is generational abuse.

      Previous generations were propelled forward by free or very low-cost higher education at land-grant universities and robust free college systems in states like California and New York.

      Entrepreneur Dariel Garner attended both undergraduate and graduate school at University of California, Berkeley, free between 1968 and 1975. “I got a world-class education for free,” he told me. Within decades, he’d amassed a multi-million dollar fortune from several enterprises.

    • It’s Not Brain Surgery: Oreos and Idiots and Arrogant Incompetence Oh My

      We know you don’t really need more evidence of the evil clown show that is our current government. But if you did: Check out the surreal appearance before the Democrat-led House Financial Services Committee of alleged Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who in a series of mind-bending exchanges veered between stupor, belligerence, smirking condescension and breathtaking ignorance about the basics of his job, prompting stunned observers on social media to offer, “Huge congrats on making Betsy DeVos look like she has her shit together.” The mumblecore former brain surgeon who manages to make brain surgery look bad – you gotta wonder how many of his patients survived – is also the guy who said slavery was the best thing to happen to black people and illegal immigrants who get caught voting should be stripped of their citizenship. So it’s little wonder that after two years he still has no clue what he’s doing other than, according to his Trumpian overlord, making housing harder to find for people he’s supposed to be helping, and occasionally confusing cookies with foreclosures.

    • Lucrative business of transporting tourists at heart of Uber-taxi dispute

      Taxi drivers in the tourism-oriented state have protested against the legislative proposal that seeks to regulate Uber and other ride-sharing services and allow them to operate legally.

      Uber already operates without formal authorization in Baja California Sur but taxi drivers fear that if it is given the go ahead to do so legally, it will further diminish their share of the tourism transportation market, which is worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

    • A False Answer, a Big Political Connection and $260 Million in Tax Breaks

      A company that won the second-largest tax break in New Jersey history gave a false answer about being prohibited from working with a federal agency in sworn statements made to win $260 million in taxpayer assistance for a new plant in Camden.

      A review by WNYC and ProPublica found that Holtec International CEO Kris Singh responded “no” on certified forms submitted to the state in 2014 that asked if the applicant had ever been barred from doing business with a state or federal agency. The forms were submitted to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as part of its successful application for tax breaks.

      In fact, the international nuclear parts manufacturer was caught up in a contracting investigation at the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority. In 2010, Holtec was barred for 60 days from doing any federal business and paid a $2 million administrative fine to the TVA, according to an agency report. Holtec’s debarment marked the first time the agency had taken such action against a contractor.

    • TurboTax Uses A “Military Discount” to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes

      In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount.

      Yet some service members who’ve filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 — even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free.

      Liz Zimmerman is a mother of two teenage daughters and a toddler who lives with her husband, a Navy chief petty officer, in Bettendorf, Iowa, just across the river from the Rock Island military facility. When Zimmerman went to do her taxes this year, she Googled “tax preparation military free” and, she recalled in an interview, TurboTax was the first link that popped up, promising “free military taxes.” She clicked and came to the site emblazoned with miniature American flags.

      But when Zimmerman got to the end of the process, TurboTax charged her $60, even though the family makes under the $66,000 income threshold to file for free. “I’ve got a kid in braces and I’ve got a kid in preschool; $60 is half a week’s worth of groceries,” she said. “Who needs date night this month? At least I filed my taxes.”

      In the commercial version of TurboTax that includes the “military discount,” customers are charged based on the tax forms they file. The Zimmermans used a form to claim a retirement savings credit that TurboTax required a paid upgrade to file. If they’d started from the TurboTax Free File landing page instead of the military page, they would have been able to file for free.

    • Why Did Deutsche Bank Keep Lending to Donald Trump? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Whispers of money laundering have swirled around Donald Trump’s businesses for years. One of his casinos, for example, was fined $10 million for not trying hard enough to prevent such machinations. Investors with shady financial histories sometimes popped up in his foreign ventures. And on Sunday, The New York Times reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank internally flagged multiple transactions by Trump companies as suspicious. (A spokesperson for the Trump Organization called the article “absolute nonsense.”)

      The remarkably troubled recent history of Deutsche Bank, its past money-laundering woes — and the bank’s striking relationship with Trump — are the subjects of this week’s episode of the “Trump, Inc.” podcast. The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt.

    • The Rank Hypocrisy Of Rahm Emanuel

      Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took advantage of his elite privilege and joined The Atlantic, a major media publication, as a contributing editor. He also was hired by ABC News to be a contributor.

      For months, The Atlantic has periodically published punditry from Emanuel, including when he was still mayor. He is now the latest high-profile person to benefit from the revolving door between public office and the news media.

      Emanuel’s first column since the end of his tenure as mayor centered on the college admissions scandal.

      “The outrage over the Varsity Blues investigation perfectly illustrates what may be the most important, least understood, and underappreciated political dynamic of our era: a full-on middle class revolt against the elites and the privileges they hoard,” Emanuel wrote.

      “For all the focus on inequality and social justice, this middle class revolt is the most important barrier standing between Democrats and the White House.”

      Emanuel is one of those elites who hoard privileges. For example, like most high-profile politicians, he sent his children to private schools instead of public schools.

    • Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

      A dirt field overgrown with weeds is the incongruous entrance to one of America’s wealthiest towns, a short walk to a Rodeo Drive-like stretch replete with upscale stores such as Tiffany & Co.

      But this sad patch of land is also the physical manifestation of a broader turf war over what type of housing — and ultimately what type of people — to allow within Westport’s borders.

      It started when a developer known for building large luxury homes envisioned something different back in 2014 for the 2.2 acre property: a mix of single- and multifamily housing that would accommodate up to 12 families. A higher density project is more cost efficient, he said, and would allow him to sell the units for less than the typical Westport home.

      But the site was zoned to hold no more than four single-family houses, so he needed approval from a reluctant Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, which denied his plan. Residents erupted in fury each time he made a scaled-back proposal, and it took the developer four years after purchasing the property to win approval to build two duplexes and five single-family homes.

    • Striking Ohio Hospital Workers Remain United, Head to Bargaining Table

      More than two weeks after walking off the job, the striking workers at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, remain united. The overwhelming support the workers have received has shown Mercy Health that the hospital workers and the community they serve are united in winning contracts for the three bargaining units that put safety, patient care and good employee benefits first.

    • Russian investigative journalists find a $36-million mansion outside Moscow that’s guarded by Putin’s secret service and owned by firms tied to his rich friends

      Companies tied to two close friends of Vladimir Putin — Mikhail Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko — own a large plot of land in a prestigious residential area in Moscow’s western suburbs that’s guarded by the Federal Protective Service (FSO), according to a new investigative report by the website Proekt.

      Covering six hectares (almost 15 acres) in the village of Gorki-10, the real estate includes three houses hidden by tall pine trees, several manmade ponds, newly planted fir trees, and a helipad. The largest of the houses is 2,200 square meters (23,680 square feet), and the second biggest home is 1,200 square meters (12,916 square feet). (The size of the third house is unknown.) In 2012, according to Proekt, the property was valued at 2.3 billion rubles ($35.8 million). Since 2013, the owners have spent 733.5 million rubles ($11.4 million) on beautification improvements.

    • Deal or No Deal, the Rivalry Between the US and China Will Intensify

      The recent collapse of trade talks between the U.S. and China sent shock waves through the global capitalist system. Almost everyone had expected a deal to be struck, including President Trump, who had predicted it would be “epic.”

      When it all fell through, he blamed China for the failure and escalated what had been a low-intensity trade war into a full-blown one. He increased tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese exports to the U.S. and threatened to impose 25 percent duties on another $300 billion. Once those go into effect, all of China’s exports will be subject to tariffs.

      With the gauntlet thrown down, Beijing announced it would raise levies from 10 percent to as much as 25 percent on $60 billion worth of U.S. exports. A spokesperson on its state television warned, “If the U.S. wants to talk, our door is open. If the U.S. wants to fight, we’ll be with them till the end.”

      The threat of a trade war spooked investors throughout the world. In a massive selloff on stock markets around the world, they wiped a trillion dollars off the books. U.S. multinationals like Apple and Boeing, which are heavily dependent on China and would be affected by the new tariffs for the first time, were hammered particularly hard.

    • ‘No Amount of Legal Advice Will Stop the Lawlessness and Lies’: Leaked IRS Memo Says Mnuchin Must Hand Over Trump Tax Returns

      First obtained by the Washington Post, the memo states that federal law “does not allow the secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met.”

      Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has refused to release the president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee on multiple occasions on the grounds that “the committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

      But the 10-page IRS memo (pdf)—reportedly prepared last fall “by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel”—makes clear that the “secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee… to state a reason for the request.”

      “The memo writer’s interpretation is that the IRS has no wiggle room on this,” Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, told the Post. “Mnuchin is saying the House Ways and Means Committee has not asserted a legitimate legislative purpose. The memo says they don’t have to assert a legitimate legislative purpose—or any purpose at all.”

    • WaPo Hypes ‘Space Capitalists’—One of Whom Owns the Paper

      The Washington Post (5/16/19) touts “the birthplace of America’s Space Age…bouncing back, fueled by private industry.”

      “NASA lost its ability to launch humans from US soil when the space shuttle retired,” read a starry-eyed subhead under “Companies in the Cosmos,” a special section of the Washington Post (9/11/18) dedicated to the business of outer space. “Now, companies and billionaire entrepreneurs are defining a new space age.”

      “The birthplace of America’s Space Age fell into decay once the shuttle retired,” another Post article (5/16/19) declared. “Now it’s bouncing back, fueled by private industry.”

      Therein lies the premise of the Post’s general coverage of space exploration: Businesses can, must and will shepherd the future of the US’s space-exploration program. By parroting the propaganda of an emergent class of “space capitalists,” the Post extols the virtues of the private sector, its repackaged press releases masquerading as inspirational musings on American scientific progress.

      Peppered throughout “Companies in the Cosmos” was a series of paeans to spaceflight firms: Boeing, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. The last of those four, aptly, is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner, since 2013, of the Washington Post. (The Post consistently discloses Bezos’ ownership in articles related to him, though not when the paper discusses the space business more generally.)

    • Federal Judge Refuses to Block Trump Bank Subpoenas

      A federal judge in New York is refusing to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks that did business with President Donald Trump.

      U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said during a hearing Wednesday that Trump and his company were unlikely to succeed in a lawsuit arguing that the subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional.

      Democrats in Congress have sought the information from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

      Deutsche Bank has lent Trump’s real estate company millions of dollars over the years.

    • Blaming Dead Pilots Brought to You by Boeing

      The House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation held an oversight hearing last week on the two recent Boeing 7373 MAX airplane crashes

      Testifying were the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

      Asking questions and making statements were 39 members of the House – 22 Democrats and 17 Republicans – who during the 2018 election cycle took in a total of $134,749 – or an average of $3,455 each from Boeing in campaign contributions.

      Inoculating their interests from responsibility, blame, shame, and liability were the Boeing lobbyists and lawyers swarming the Capitol.

      The chair of the subcommittee, Rick Larsen (D-Washington) ($7,048 from Boeing in 2018, $101,134 over his career), artfully steered the hearing away from Boeing’s corporate responsibility for the deaths of the passengers on the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes that crashed within five months killing all 346 passengers on board.

    • Four in 10 Americans Believe Socialism a ‘Good Thing’: Gallup

      Four in 10 Americans think socialism is a good thing for the United States, a shift in attitude that reflects the modern 21st century political landscape and changing social mores.

      Results from a Gallup poll released Monday show that 43 percent of U.S. adults polled from April 17-30 think socialism is a “good thing.” It’s likely not a coincidence that rise in popularity across all Americans came as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), both of whom identify as democratic socialists, became two of the most prominent politicians in the U.S.

      The 43 percent number is a jump in approval of socialism by 18 percent since a poll by Roper 1942, the historical date used by Gallup for reference to show the country’s evolving views.

    • Time for ‘New Vision’ Clear as UN Expert Gives Blistering Takedown of UK Austerity

      A United Nations expert on Wednesday issued a scathing rebuke to austerity policies implemented in the United Kingdom over the past decade.

      “It is hard to imagine a recipe better designed to exacerbate inequality and poverty and to undermine the life prospects of many millions,” said Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

      Alston’s remarks come alongside his new report on poverty, which pulls from hundreds of submissions and numerous meetings with stakeholders on his visit to the U.K. in November 2018.

      The new report, said Anela Anwar, Convenor of the Poverty Alliance, “lays bare the scandalous reality of poverty in the U.K.”

      “The policies pursued [by the government] since 2010 amount to retrogressive measures in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations,” the report said. The austerity reflects a “harsh and uncaring ethos,” was pursued based on an ideological not economic agenda, and has pushed millions in the U.K. into misery.

    • To ‘Circumvent’ White House Obstruction, New York Passes Bill to Give Congress Access to Trump Tax Returns

      According to the New York Times, the TRUST Act would allow the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release Trump’s tax returns “to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any ‘specified and legitimate legislative purpose.’”

      Trump’s tax returns in New York, the president’s home state and the site of his business heaquarters, “would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns,” the Times reported.

      The legislation passed New York’s Assembly as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—who last week refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump’s tax returns—testified on Capitol Hill.

      As Common Dreams reported late Tuesday, a leaked IRS memo appeared to completely undermine Mnuchin’s justifications for withholding the president’s tax documents.

      New York state Assemblyman David Buchwald, the sponsor of the tax return bill, said during a floor speech Wednesday that the legislation is designed to overcome White House obstruction.

    • Gillibrand Introduces Sweeping Family Bill of Rights to Ease Financial Burdens and ‘Level the Playing Field for Children’

      Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday introduced her “Family Bill of Rights,” a five-point economic policy that aims to “lift many of the financial burdens on families and help level the playing field for children.”

      “The resources and care available at the start of a child’s life have a crucial impact on their health, safety, development, and future success — but not every child starts on equal footing,” the senator from New York wrote on a Medium post detailing her plan.

      “Families and kids face huge disparities in opportunity and resources depending on their income and zip code, and the gap is wider for families of color,” she noted. “That isn’t fair, and it isn’t acceptable.”

      Gillibrand vowed Wednesday that, if she is elected president, she will implement her proposal, which “guarantees a set of fundamental rights to give every child the chance to succeed — no matter what block they grow up on,” during her first 100 days in office.

    • Making Struggling Workers and Families Foot the Bill, Corporate America Paying Lowest Share of Taxes Since Eisenhower Era

      “Businesses contributed 7.6 percent of the $3.5 trillion in total tax revenue collected for fiscal-year 2018… a two percentage point decline from the previous year,” CBS News reported.

      According to CBS, that is the smallest share of federal income taxes corporations have paid in “nearly 60 years.”

      With U.S. companies paying less, and in some cases zero, in federal taxes thanks to the Trump-GOP law—which slashed the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent—individuals are now taking on a larger share of the nation’s tax burden.

      Individuals accounted for 57 percent of federal tax revenue in 2018, compared with 54 percent the previous year, CBS reported.

    • Labeled ‘No Vacation Nation,’ US Still Lags Behind Other Wealthy Countries in Giving Workers Paid Holidays

      Just ahead of Memorial Day, a new report out Wednesday reveals that workers in the U.S. continue to lag far behind those in other wealthy countries when it comes to paid vacation and holidays.

      The report—titled “No Vacation Nation, Revised” (pdf) and published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)—updates the center’s two earlier studies on paid vacations, compiled in 2007 and 2013. Like the previous research, CEPR found that the U.S. is the only rich economy where a significant portion of the workforce receive no vacation pay.

      Twenty-two percent of American workers don’t receive any holiday pay, and the average employee can take 10 paid vacation days and six paid federal holidays per year—far less than paid time off that’s offered to the majority of workers in Europe, where governments and employers have been forced to prioritize time for workers to recharge and relax.

      “In the U.S., paid vacation and holiday benefits are based on luck in the boss lottery, not federal policy,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of CEPR. “Since we did this study in 2007, there’s been no progress on the national front to catch up with other rich countries. We can’t depend on the largesse of employers to do the right thing.”

    • Watch: Congresswoman Pressley Presses Mnuchin to Explain Delay of Harriet Tubman’s $20 Bill

      “#RepresentationMatters,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday, after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that a planned redesign of the $20 bill—which would have featured abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Tubman—will not meet an initial 2020 deadline as planned.

      In 2016, the Obama administration announced the new design, which would have booted former President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder who signed the Indian Removal Act, to the backside and put the Underground Railroad hero to the front. The planned launch for 2020 was to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

      Mnuchin suggested it would come eight years later, if at all.

      During a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Pressley pressed Mnuchin about whether the 2020 deadline would be met.

      “The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin told the Massachusetts Democrat.

      “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028,” he said. “The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”

    • ‘A Small Tax on Wall Street to Make Big Change’: Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee Introduce New Financial Transaction Tax

      The Inclusive Prosperity Act (pdf) was introduced in the Senate by Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and in the House by Lee, a Democrat from California, and a dozen of her colleagues.

      “Wall Street gets away with no taxes, even when conducting high-risk financial transactions,” Lee said in a statement. “This has to stop. It’s past time to make sure Wall Street pays their fair share so that we can provide funding for things that make us a better nation like jobs, housing, infrastructure, and college education.”

      The tax is a tiny levy on the hundreds of billions of transactions on Wall Street each day.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • As 2020 Democrats Cozy Up to Wall Street Donors, Warren and Sanders Refuse to Play Big-Money Game

      While characterizing their campaigns as “grassroots” operations fueled by the people, many 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have reportedly been spending a significant chunk of their time on the trail cozying up to Wall Street executives and raking in checks at big-dollar events across the nation.

      Two major presidential candidates, however, are eschewing the lavish fundraisers and donor meetings that have come to encapsulate the widespread corruption of the American political system: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

      “In the past, there was no candidate who didn’t come to New York, Chicago, L.A. for money,” Marc Lasry, the head of Avenue Capital Group and a major bundler for Hillary Clinton in 2016, told Bloomberg.

      “Today,” said Lasry, “there are two candidates who aren’t doing that—Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.”

      Bloomberg reported Tuesday that while many major Democratic candidates are “trying to outdo each other with promises to finance their campaigns with grassroots contributions,” Wall Street executives say they have seen little change in candidates’ eagerness to ask them for cash.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Be Endorsing Joe Biden Any Time Soon

      This month, CNN also reported that AOC (as she is widely known) is leaning toward Sanders or Warren. Ocasio-Cortez has teamed up with both leading progressives on a number of efforts, including a recent proposal she drafted with Sanders to cap credit card interest rates. While she still hasn’t given an official endorsement, her preferences have been clear for some time now.

      “What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” she told CNN. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that.”

    • Founders Of News Review Site Plan To Accelerate Shift In Media From Clicks To Credibility

      The ability to critically evaluate news content is an important skill, but up until now, building this muscle has been an isolating experience. A new platform called Credder seeks to create a community and develop a collective memory around journalists and media outlets that will empower news consumers.

      Chase Palmieri, co-founder of Credder, said, “Back in 2016, we saw the amount of clickbait and sensationalism in online news growing as a percentage of news coverage, and we were looking at the solutions being proposed. And a lot of the times it was Google and Facebook will censor stories on our behalf or an AI for news will come and save the day.”

      Palmieri, along with Jared Fesler and Austin Walter, examined other industries struggling with what they call the “producer-consumer alignment.” They determined a review platform for news would be one way to hold the news industry accountable and help consumers “find the best sources and articles on any topic.” Importantly, it would not require any censorship at all

      Credder was in private beta development for the last months, and it already has 900 users and 300 journalists signed up on the platform. It opens to the public on May 27.

    • Discuss: European Elections

      Labour is making losses too, according to the polls, but whether that’s due to the various smear campaigns launched against the leadership, or their vague equivocating stance on Brexit, is unclear.

      All this time Corbyn has been told he should be making Labour a remain party, but polls suggest there was a massive leave vote waiting for a party to appeal to its wants.

      Meanwhile the “resurgent” Lib Dems, fresh off their huge gains in the local elections, seem to have safely captured the majority of the Remain vote. But since they won’t do anything with it, except what someone more powerful tells them to, does anyone really care?

    • Vote SNP Today – Chagos Just One Example of the Need to Dismantle the Imperial Entity

      In Scotland I urge everybody to go out and vote SNP today, as the priority must be to send an unequivocal signal of support for Independence. I have respect for those who will vote Green and intend to send the same message, but it is not what I recommend you to do.

      In the rest of the UK, I recommend people to vote Labour or Green as your analysis dictates. I am afraid I still have not seen sufficient evidence that my old party the Lib Dems has recovered from its sharp Orange Book lurch to the right to be able to recommend it.

      The Chagos Islands vote at the UN yesterday illustrated why everybody should be ashamed of the label “British”. By a thumping 116 votes to 6, the UN General Assembly voted to uphold the International Court of Justice and demand that the UK return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius.

      In the entire world, the only five countries allied with the UK are Donald Trump’s USA, apartheid Israel, ScoMo’s climate change denying Australia, Viktor Orban’s near fascist Hungary and the ultra corrupt Maldives. The fact that in the EU only the far right racist pariah Orban was prepared to support the UK, shows exactly the kind of far right rogue state the UK has become.

    • The Belligerence of Empire

      Empire understands nothing except ruthless expansion. It has no other raison d’etre. In the past this meant the violent acquisition of lands and territories by a militarized system where caste was very apparent and visible. But today the dealings of empire are far more duplicitous. The ruling order of this age expands empire via the acquisition of capital while using the military industrial complex to police its exploits. But there is an insidious social conditioning at work which has led the general public to where it is today, a state of “inverted totalitarianism” as political philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained. Indeed, capitalism has morphed into the unassailable religion of the age even among the working class. Its tenets are still viewed as sacrosanct.

      Violence is the sole language of empire. It is this only currency it uses to enforce its precepts and edicts, both at home and abroad. Eventually this language becomes internalized within the psyche of the subjects. Social and cultural conditioning maintained through constant subtle messaging via mass media begins to mold the public will toward that of authoritarian conformity. The American Empire is emblematic of this process. There is mass compliance to the dictates of the ruling class and this occurs most often without any prompting or debate whatsoever. In this dictatorship of money the poor are looked at with ridicule and contempt, and are often punished legally for their imposed poverty.

      But the social conditioning of the American public has led toward a bizarre allegiance to its ruling class oppressors. Propaganda still works here and most are still besotted with the notion of America being a bastion of “freedom and democracy.” The growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the poor and the gutting of civil liberties are ignored. And blind devotion is especially so when it comes to US foreign policy.

      Most Americans still believe they live in the greatest country on the planet. They believe the American military to be noble and that they always reluctantly go into or are forced into war. Indeed, both the Democrats and Republicans possess an uncanny ability to bridge their ideological distances when it comes to defending US militarism, the Pentagon and the war machine of imperialism. But this is tied to the defense of capitalism, the ruling class, and the ultimate reason for war: the protection of that class’s global capital investments.

      The persecution of Chelsea Manning, much like the case of Julian Assange, is demonstrative of this. It is a crusade against truth tellers that has been applauded from both sides of the American establishment, liberal and conservative alike. It does not matter that she helped to expose American war crimes. On the contrary, this is seen as heresy to the Empire itself. Manning’s crime was exposing the underbelly of the beast. A war machine which targeted and killed civilians and journalists by soldiers behind a glowing screen thousands of miles away, as if they were playing a video game.

    • What and Who Gave Us Trump?

      Donald J. Trump’s presidential ambition has simmered for decades. He was and is a regular TV watcher and saw the changing political landscape. One by one, previous presidents diminished the integrity of the presidency and violated the rule of law, paving the way for Trump’s candidacy.

      Bill Clinton was exposed for serial adulteries and abuses of women and lied under oath. This perjury led to him being impeached in the House (though he was acquitted in the Senate). “Hmm,” thought Donald, a serial abuser of women, “Clinton got away with it and was elected twice.” One potentially career-ending violation no longer had the weight it once did.

      Then came George W. Bush – selected by the Electoral College and a Republican Supreme Court. “Hmm,” thought Donald to himself, “Even though Gore won the popular vote, Bush won because of Electors in swing states.” Despite Gore’s crushing loss, the Democratic Party refused to support ongoing Electoral College reform (see nationalpopularvote.com). Once in office, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied repeatedly to start an unconstitutional illegal war with Iraq, which caused huge Iraqi and U.S. casualties and wreaked havoc on the U.S. budget. Bush and Cheney not only got away with these atrocities, but were reelected. A majority of voters believed their lies. Violating the laws did not matter. “Hmm,” thought Donald to himself, “The President is above the law.” Positions of power and the trampling of laws appealed to Trump, a lawless, failed gambling czar.

      Then along came Obama. He too got away with all kinds of slaughter abroad without authority of the Constitution, statutes, or international treaties. He too was reelected. Domestically, Obama did not prosecute any of the big Wall Street crooks that brought down our economy in 2008-2009, even though a vast majority of the population loathed these reckless financiers. With all of these misdeeds and violations of law on full display, Trump a big business crook himself, must have thought that he would not be held accountable. Even better, he knew how to use television to manipulate the media to his advantage. These examples are just some of the major ways that past presidents, Democrats especially, handed Trump his opportunity. I describe these and other presidential abuses of power in my recent book, To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course.

      Given these inoculations for breaking social norms and laws, Trump felt he could break additional norms and laws and still secure the Presidency. It almost didn’t work – Hillary Clinton’s campaign bungling lost three key states, which provided Trump a path to the White House. The crazy, antiquated Electoral College sealed the deal.

    • Dilution of “Kashmiriyat” and Regional Nationalism

      I am highly skeptical of the attempts of various political organizations to either communalize or demonize the notion of “Kashmiriyat” to serve their vested interests.

      The various communities in the state of J & K – Kashmiri Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits, Dogras and Ladakhis – have tried time and again to form a national consciousness in order to name a cultural alterity through the nation. The construction of “Kashmiriyat,” or a syncretic cultural ethos, by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s NC involved culling selected cultural fragments from an imagined past that would enfold both the Pandits and the Muslims.

      Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, with his socialist politics, sought to challenge the domain of privilege and power which had disenfranchised the Muslim majority, reinforced the seclusion of Kashmiri women, and made their support irrelevant for the Dogra sovereigns and later for the regimes installed by New Delhi. Interestingly, it was the Kashmiri Muslims led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who rallied around the notion of regional nationalism.

      The notion of “Kashmiriyat” was not handed down to me as an unachievable and abstract construct; on the contrary, it was crystallized for me as the eradication of a feudal structure and its insidious ramifications. It was the right of the tiller to the land he worked on. It was the unacceptability of any political solution that did not take the aspirations and demands of the Kashmiri people into consideration; the right of Kashmiris to high offices in education, the bureaucracy and government. It was the availability of medical and educational facilities in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. It was the preservation of literatures, shrines and historical artifacts that defined an important aspect of “Kashmiriyat.” It was the fundamental right of both women and men to free education up to the university level; equal opportunities afforded to both sexes in the workplace. It was the nurturing of a contact zone in social, political and intellectual ideologies and institutions. “Kashmiriyat” was pride in a cultural identity that was generated in a space created by multiple perspectives.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook Restricts Live Streaming After New Zealand Shooting

      The company said that starting Tuesday, anyone who breaks certain rules in broadcasting content on Facebook Live will be temporarily barred from using the service, with the possibility of a 30-day ban on a first offense. Previously, it did not typically bar users until they had broken these rules multiple times.

      Multiple offenders, or people who post particularly egregious content, could be barred from Facebook.

    • EFF Highlights Stories Of Bad Content Moderation With New TOSsed Out Site

      We’ve pointed out for many years that content moderation at scale isn’t just hard, it’s impossible to do well. At the scale of giant platforms, there needs to be some level of moderation or the platforms and users will get overwhelmed with spam or abuse. But at that scale, there will be a ton of mistakes — both type I and type II errors (blocking content that shouldn’t be blocked and failing to block content that probably should be blocked). Some — frankly dishonest — people have used a few examples of certain content moderation choices to falsely claim that there is “anti-conservative bias” in content moderation choices. We’ve pointed out time and time again why the evidence doesn’t support this, though many people insist it’s true (and I’ll predict they’ll say so again in the comments, but when asked for evidence, they will fail to present any).

      That’s not to say that the big platforms and their content moderation practices are done well. As we noted at the very beginning, that’s an impossible request. And it’s important to document the mistakes. First, it helps get those mistakes corrected. Second, while it will still be impossible for the platforms to moderate well, they can still get better and make fewer errors. Third, it can help people understand that errors are not because someone hates you or has animus towards a political group or political belief, but because they fuck up the moderation choices all the time. Fourth, it can actually help to find what actual patterns there are in these mistakes, rather than relying on moral panics. To that end, it’s cool to see that the EFF has launched a new site, creatively dubbed TOSsed Out to help track stories of bad content moderation practices.

    • Laying Out All The Evidence: Shiva Ayyadurai Did Not Invent Email

      As you may have seen, last week we settled the lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us in early 2017. No money exchanged hands, but we did agree to post a link at the top of the 14 articles that he sued over. The text of that link says, “Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s Response to this Article and Statement on the Invention of Email.” You can read his link, and you can read our articles. As I’ve said in the past, I urge you to read both and make up your own mind.

    • The Moscow government sent out warnings that a popular teen band might be dangerous for kids. Even the censors say otherwise.

      On May 21, Moscow’s Labor and Social Welfare Department sent a memo to various district governments and social welfare agencies recommending that they warn adoptive parents and guardians about the dangers of listening to the teen pop duo Friendzone. The memo followed Moscow ombudswoman Tatiana Potyaeva’s decision to take her concerns about the group to prosecutors and police. Potyaeva told Meduza that she only asked for an expert evaluation of the group’s music. Russia’s communications regulation agency, Roskomnadzor, already investigated Friendzone’s lyrics this year and found no potentially harmful material. Despite its charming high school vibe, Friendzone has faced resistance since November, when complaints from parents’ groups and local authorities shut down two of the group’s concerts.

    • Former protest organizer and independent journalist Ekaterina Vinokurova explains why she took a job at ‘Russia Today’

      The independent media journalist and protest organizer Ekaterina Vinokurova began working for the state media channel RT (formerly called Russia Today) in the spring of 2019. She now leads a project “The Regions,” which aims to increase RT’s influence among Russian viewers. In an interview with Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev, Vinokurova explained why she joined a state-run channel and how opposition politician Alexey Navalny affected that choice. This interview was recorded while Vinokurova was in Russia’s Ural region covering protests in Yekaterinburg.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Here’s Why London Tube Will Track Riders From July 8

      If you’re one of the riders of the London Underground (aka Tube), then in the coming days you’re going to be a part of its data collection program.

      Transport of London (TfL) which manages Tube’s operations said it will start tracking riders from July 8, 2019. It will set up Wi-Fi access points at 260 stations to understand the flow of riders across the network.

    • The Government Is Expanding Its Social Media Surveillance Capabilities

      Federal government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have dramatically expanded their social media monitoring programs in recent years, collecting a vast amount of user information in the process — including political and religious views, data about physical and mental health, and the identity of family and friends. DHS increasingly uses this information for vetting and analysis, including for individuals seeking to enter the United States and for both U.S. and international travelers.

      But while the government has justified its expansion in the name of national security, there is little indication that social media monitoring programs — or the algorithms that sometimes power them — are effective in achieving their stated goals. Additionally, there is evidence that DHS is using personal information extracted from social media posts to target protestors and religious and ethnic minorities for increased vetting and surveillance. In a new report, Social Media Monitoring, the Brennan Center provides an overview of DHS social media monitoring programs and the new set of challenges that they are surfacing.

    • As San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Tech By Local Cops, New York City’s Legislators Stall On Transparency Reforms

      Earlier this month, the San Francisco city council passed the first ban on facial recognition tech use by city agencies in the US. While other cities have scaled back government use of surveillance tech by introducing measures requiring public input periods and approval by city legislators, San Francisco is the only one to ban the tech outright. And it did so prior to any deployment by local agencies, managing to be one of the few governments to have ever have closed a barn door while horses were still in the barn.

    • DARPA Is Working On A Wearable Neural Tech For Mind Control

      Later, the two methods will require 18 months each and include both animal and human testing.

      While it remains to be seen where this research will lead us a decade or two later, or maybe even before that, as Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is also working on brain tech that can connect your brain to computers very soon.

      DARPA’s N3 project will certainly create a deep impact on both military and civilian life if this project comes to fruition.

    • Russian police reportedly begin testing compact face recognition cameras

      Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry has begun testing cameras with facial recognition capabilities, Vedomosti reported. The devices were developed by NtechLab, which also created an algorithm called FindFace that generated controversy in Russia after it was used to recognize users’ social media photos. A representative for the company confirmed that it had created a new facial recognition gadget for Russia’s law enforcement agencies but denied that the Internal Affairs Ministry was involved in testing. The representative said tests were being conducted in collaboration with private security companies.

    • Court Rejects FBI’s Argument That Discussing NSLs With Lifted Gag Orders Would Threaten National Security

      The FBI uses National Security Letters like regular people use copy paper. It issues thousands of these every year. It works out great for the FBI because it gets to bypass judicial review. If it wants some identifying info, it just writes out its own subpoena, signs it itself, and slaps on an indefinite gag order preventing the company receiving the NSL from informing the targeted users, much less the rest of its customers that the FBI is poking around in its innards.

      The passage of the USA Freedom Act made things a bit more difficult for the FBI. It now has to review its gag orders periodically to make sure they’re still necessary. Of course, the FBI more often than not decides they are and recipients must ask a court to make the final determination.

      When this happens, the FBI likes to rely on its national security arguments. These arguments also tend to bypass judicial review as many courts are willing to grant the agency deference on these issues, assuming the FBI knows more about the national security implications of lifting a gag order than the courts do.

      But it doesn’t always work. Some courts are probably just tired of the FBI shouting “National security!” every time someone wants to talk about its NSLs. The federal court in the northern district of California is one of these courts. It likely sees far more challenges than any other court in the land, thanks to its coverage of the Silicon Valley. As Nicholas Iovino reports for Courthouse News Service, this FBI request for indefinite silence has been shot down.

    • An Australian worker won a landmark privacy case against his employer after he was fired for refusing to use a fingerprint scanner

      Jeremy Lee from Queensland, Australia, was fired from his job in February 2018 after he refused to use the company’s newly-introduced fingerprint scanners to sign in and out of work. He later sued his employer for unfair dismissal, citing his right to deny consent to the collection of his biometric data.

    • “Digital strip-searches”: police increasingly downloading everything from smartphones – including from crime victims

      Cardinal Richelieu is alleged to have said: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” Imagine, then, what can be done with six Gigabytes of your most private data, extracted from your phone. Given the incredible richness of that material, it is no wonder that there is a clear trend among the authorities to demand mobile devices when they can, and to download and use as much data as possible. But that very richness means that it imperative to improve both the standard security of mobile devices, so that brute-force extraction tools don’t work, and the legal protection for their contents when governments do manage to gain access to them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Down in Juárez

      At the protest (against the separation of immigrant children from their adult fellow travelers) there were never more than fifty people at any given time. The speakers and performers represented the diversity of El Paso and Juárez. Nancy Green spoke of how she was born in El Paso but has gone to live in Juárez twice. The first time was because her mother was Mexican and her father was black, and in the 1950s that was illegal. (Similarly, Langston Hughes wrote about the “invisible line” across which he and other black people could buy a beer in Juárez and drink it next to white people who would not do so in Texas.)

    • Foreign Aid That Costs an Arm and a Leg — Literally

      My friend Andrew Rubin is an amputee. He’s lost his right hand, lower arm, right foot, and lower leg.

      He used to be an avid runner and cyclist. He can’t do much of that anymore, although his walking is getting much better. Soon he might be able to run with his artificial leg.

      Andrew is incredibly lucky.

      The medical catastrophe that left his hand and foot so terribly damaged didn’t kill him. But when his limbs never healed even after a decade, he decided to undergo the amputations. It was his choice, and it was made much easier because he knew what lay ahead: the most advanced artificial limbs ever imagined. The kids call him Bionic Man now.

      Andrew is lucky for another reason: He doesn’t live in Gaza.

      According to the United Nations, 1,700 young Gazans are facing amputation, mainly of their legs, in the next two years. They’re among the 7,000 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza shot by Israeli snipers over the last year.

      Since last spring, thousands of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied Gaza have poured out of their teeming refugee camps and houses every Friday to join nonviolent protests, demanding an end to the siege that’s destroying their lives, and the right to return to the homes Israel displaced them from.

    • New performance indicators for Kremlin employees reportedly include social optimism and decreased protests

      Six Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been formulated for certain divisions of the Kremlin’s staff, two sources close to Russia’s presidential administration told RBC. The list of KPIs includes a decreased potential for protests, political stability in Russia’s regions, increased numbers of patriotic youth, and increased social optimism.

    • One of 30 concertgoers injured by Moscow police at May 1 hip-hop festival requests criminal charges

      Maxim Sidorenko, a 22-year-old student of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, has petitioned Russia’s Investigative Committee to bring criminal charges against an unnamed police officer who beat him with a club at the Hip-Hop Mayday festival. Sidorenko’s attorney, Dmitry Julai of the human rights organization Zona Prava, told Meduza about the young man’s complaint.

    • How ICE Is Using Solitary Confinement to Punish Asylum Seekers, Including LGBT & Disabled Immigrants

      Since 2012, ICE has used solitary confinement as a routine punishment for thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers locked up in immigration jails across the country. We look at a new, damning investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that has revealed this widespread abusive use of solitary confinement in immigration jails overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture says solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and defines extended use of solitary as “inhuman and degrading treatment.” Despite this, a review of more than 8,400 reports of solitary confinement in ICE detention found that immigration officers repeatedly used isolation cells to punish gay, transgender and disabled immigrants for their identities and to target other jailed immigrants for actions like kissing consensually or hunger striking. Almost a third of the people held in solitary confinement suffered from mental illness. In at least 373 cases, immigrants were put in isolation for being potentially suicidal. In nearly 200 instances, immigrants were held in solitary confinement for more than six months. The investigation is called “Solitary Voices.” We speak to one of its lead authors, Spencer Woodman.

    • ‘This Is Criminal’: Whistleblower Reports Thousands of Gay, Trans, and Disabled Immigrants Have Been Held in Solitary Confinement by ICE

      New reports surfaced on Tuesday about the Department of Homeland Security’s use of solitary confinement, where it has placed thousands of immigrants in solitary confinement due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities.

      Ellen Gallagher, a DHS policy adviser-turned-whistleblower, shared her knowledge of what she called the “torture” of more than 8,000 immigrants by the U.S. government with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group which includes NBC News and The Intercept.

      At least 8,488 immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention between 2012 and 2017 were held in solitary confinement under both the Obama and Trump administrations, according to Gallagher and documents that were obtained by the ICIJ through the Freedom of Information Act.

    • Following ‘Appalling’ Deaths of Migrant Children in CBP Custody, Sen. Elizabeth Warren Demands Answers From White House

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren took aim Tuesday at the “appalling” string of deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody and demanded to know what plans the Trump administration has to protect those detained at the southern border.

      “I have been and continue to be extraordinarily concerned about this administration’s treatment of immigrant children,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote.

      Her questions came in a letter (pdf) to John P. Sanders, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), dated Tuesday—one day after the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who was in government custody.

      He was fifth migrant child to die since December after being detained.

      That child, Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, “had been held by immigration authorities for six days—twice as long as federal law generally permits—then transferred him to another holding facility even after he was diagnosed with the flu,” The Associated Press reported.

      Warren, in her letter, noted that the teen’s death came less than a week after the death of a two-year-old who’d migrated with a parent and had been detained by border authorities. The toddler died after weeks spent in the hospital with pneumonia.

      The heartbreaking list goes on: 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez died on April 30. Two younger children died in December 2018—seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo.

    • Trump’s War on the Constitution Has Reached a Breaking Point

      Much of the nation is focused on the growing constitutional conflict between the Trump administration and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Words like “unprecedented” are being bandied about in the press to describe the slow-rolling legal calamity unfolding before us. While it is true that many elements of the current situation are peculiar to history, there is nothing new here save, perhaps, for the danger represented by this preposterous president.

      It was, in fact, former Vice President Dick Cheney who started this fight in earnest, way back when he got angry at what all those meanie Democrats were doing to Richard Nixon, Cheney’s first presidential boss. Nixon, of course, attempted to put the presidency beyond the reach of the law and failed in spectacular fashion. The members of his legal team fell short because they were basically making up their arguments as they went along. No president in a century had been so eager to flout the Constitution in broad daylight.

      Cheney — a protégé of Nixon White House official Donald Rumsfeld — learned many lessons from the Watergate experience. He bided his time, gathering to himself enough power and influence such that when Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush tapped him to choose a running mate in 2000, Cheney chose himself.

      The rest is odious history. Over the eight years of the second Bush administration, Dick Cheney became the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, and used that power to deploy what became known as the Unitary Executive Theory. The theory argues that, to all intents and purposes, the rule of law does not apply to the president of the United States (unless that president happens to be a Democrat).

      The Bush White House, under Cheney’s behind-the-scenes stewardship, flagrantly ignored lawfully issued subpoenas from House Democrats. In many instances, these subpoenas wound up getting slammed in court. “The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” ruled Judge John D. Bates in August of 2008 regarding subpoenaed testimony from administration officials Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers.

    • President Donald Trump ‘Engaged in a Cover-Up,’ Says House Speaker Pelosi

      Under increased pressure from progressive members of the Democratic caucus and constituents to move more aggressively toward impeachment proceedings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning used her strongest language to date against President Donald Trump as she accused him of being “engaged in a cover-up.”

      “We do believe that it is important to follow the facts,” Pelosi told reporters in the nation’s capitol following a closed-door meeting with House Democrats. “We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States, and we believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover up, in a cover up.”

    • “We Don’t Want a Monarchy”: Rep. Al Green Says Democrats Have No Choice But to Impeach Trump

      A growing number of House Democrats are calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Pelosi has called for a closed-door special caucus meeting this morning to discuss the impeachment question, which has deeply divided House Democrats. The House speaker has long opposed opening an impeachment inquiry, arguing that focusing on impeachment could hurt the chances of Democrats winning in the 2020 election. But she is facing growing pushback from other members of the House as President Trump continues to block congressional oversight efforts by refusing to hand over documents and by barring officials from testifying. On Tuesday, former White House counsel Don McGahn defied a congressional subpoena and skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the request of the White House. Earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr also skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing. We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Democratic Congressmember Al Green of Texas. In 2017, he became the first member of Congress to call for President Trump’s impeachment.

    • Regional governor says Yekaterinburg cathedral should not be built in contested square

      Sverdlovsk Region governor Yevgeny Kuvaishev has announced that “a new location must be found” for the planned cathedral that Orthodox Church supporters hoped would be built in a central square. In mid-May, thousands of protesters converged on the square for several days because they saw the area as a rare and valuable section of green space in the city.

    • Impeachment Will Succeed If It Demonstrates Very Publicly That Trump Is a Tyrant Unfit for Office and GOP Lawmakers Are His Enablers

      Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi continues to temporize, almost to the point of absurdity, resisting House Democrats clamoring for impeachment, and meeting for a second time with Trump and Chuck Schumer to discuss infrastructure. But the pressure on her appears to be building, with most Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee now moving towards support for an impeachment inquiry, a position articulated with stunning clarity by Rep. Jamie Raskin in a recent Washington Post interview.

      At the same time, much of the public discussion of impeachment in the media continues to obscure the fact that impeachment is not so much a legal move as it is a necessary, constitutionally-prescribed political response to a dangerous president, which can only be justified as part of a political effort to weaken and then defeat this president.

    • Trump Stalks Out on Democrats, Demands End to Russia Probes

      President Donald Trump abruptly stalked out of a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday with a flat declaration he would no longer work with Democrats unless they drop all investigations in the aftermath of the special counsel’s Trump-Russia report.

      Democrats said the walkout seemed scripted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it all “very, very, very strange” and said she was praying for Trump and the nation.

      After turning and leaving the three-minute non-meeting with the Democratic leaders, scheduled for a discussion of U.S. infrastructure problems, Trump strode to the Rose Garden where aides had gathered reporters and TV cameras for his demand that Congress drop its investigations that are increasingly leading to talk of what he called the “i-word” — impeachment.

      Trump assailed Pelosi in particular for her comment earlier in the morning on Capitol Hill that she believed the president was engaged in a “cover-up” of the Russia probe.

    • New York just made it harder for President Trump to abuse his pardon power

      A new bill passed in the New York state legislature would curb President Donald Trump’s ability to abuse his pardoning power in order to hinder investigations into potential criminal misconduct.

      The law passed by New York’s General Assembly would make it easier for state prosecutors, in specific situations, to target individuals who had received a presidential pardon for federal crimes for which they were convicted, according to NBC News. Empire State law currently does not permit state prosecutors to pursue individuals who have been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The revisions would not change most of that, but they would allow New York prosecutors to pursue investigations into pardoned individuals who worked in a president’s administration, campaign, transition team or a non-profit or business headed by a president if a crime occurred in the state of New York.

      New York Attorney General Letitia James has pushed for this bill, arguing that it would prevent Trump from abusing his pardoning power in order to avoid accountability for alleged crimes committed within the Empire State. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also indicated he would sign the bill, which was passed by a margin of 90-52 in the General Assembly, into law.

      “The rule of law is a core pillar of our nation’s democracy, and my primary role is to uphold it and ensure that no one is above it,” James said in a statement regarding the legislative measure.

    • We’re Suing Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to Release the Records He’s Hiding From Arizonans.

      Prosecutorial transparency serves everyone. But in Maricopa County, Arizona, secrecy trumps transparency, and the people suffer for it.
      Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery claims to be a big believer in data. As reported last year, Montgomery has blocked effective, commonsense criminal justice reform proposals from becoming law in part by criticizing them as having “no data to support” them, and as being “pet projects” “based on myths and rhetoric.”

      Given this insistence on evidence-based policy, it would be reasonable to assume that Montgomery would happily comply with a public records request seeking exactly the sort of data he wishes folks would utilize. He’s done the exact opposite.

      In October 2018, the ACLU of Arizona and investigative journalist Sean Holstege (a consultant that the ACLU of Arizona hired to write a report on Arizona prosecutors) sent Montgomery and his office a request seeking basic information about how the office functions: policies, procedures, staff rosters, budget figures, and data on how the office disposes of criminal cases.

      This was a large request, to be sure. But rather than accept Holstege’s offers to receive information on a rolling basis, Montgomery’s office delayed, stonewalled, and provided platitudes rather than answers.

    • ‘Dangerous and Disgraceful’: HUD Proposal Would Let Homeless Shelters Turn Away Trans People

      “This is a heartless attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said in a statement denouncing the plan.

      HUD’s new proposal would revise the Equal Access Rule, first published in 2012, that bars housing programs from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

      If the revision takes effect, operators of federally funded sex-segregated shelters can consider factors such as “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs” and sex designations on government documents when making a determination about a person’s sex for housing purposes.

      In a Twitter thread Wednesday, NCTE noted the high rates of trans individuals who experience homelessness in their lifetime and the “disproportionate levels of discrimination” they face at shelters.

    • Swede Complains About Death Threats Over ‘Ramadan Pork and Booze’ Joke

      The joke went viral after being quoted by several popular accounts, and his Instagram page has gathered hundreds of hateful comments, apparently from Swedish Muslims that include personal insults against himself and his mother and even death threats. The latter are not limited to Fredrik himself, but also include his family. While some of the posts are racial in nature, others describe in detail how Fredrik, his family and relatives are to be raped and killed, according to Samhällsnytt. Following the outbreak of verbal abuse, Fredrik’s Instagram account switched into closed mode.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Unsurprisingly, Ajit Pai’s FCC Thinks The T-Mobile Sprint Merger Will Be Wonderful

      For the last year, Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing a large number of bogus claims justifying their $26 billion competition and job-eroding megamerger. One, that the deal will create jobs (false). Two, that the deal is necessary to deploy fifth-gen (5G) wireless (false). Three, that reducing the number of major wireless competitors from four to three will somehow create more competition (false, just ask Canadians or the Irish how that works out in practice).

      There’s really no debate over whether such significant consolidation is bad for the market, consumers, and employees. You need only look to 30 years of US telecom history to discover that such growth for growth’s sake uniformly results in less competition, in turn resulting in higher prices, fewer jobs, and worse customer support. It’s a major reason everybody hates Comcast. It’s also easy to find a long, long list of companies that made all manner of pie in the sky promises pre-merger, only to fail utterly to adhere to any of them.

      It’s a major reason why similar deals–both AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011 and Sprint’s attempted merger in 2014–were blocked by regulators, something that helped drive more competition to market.

    • DOJ Staffers Think T-Mobile’s Merger Benefit Claims Are Nonsense

      History and antitrust data is pretty clear on this point: when you reduce the overall number of major competitors in telecom, the end result is almost always higher prices, fewer jobs, and worse service. Growth for growth’s sake may be wonderful for investors and executives over the short term, but over the longer term it’s immensely harmful. You need only look at the US Telecom sector; one of the most despised, uncompetitive, and aggressively terrible sectors in all of American industry. That we refuse to learn that mindless consolidation is harmful directly reflects our refusal to learn from history.

      Time and time again, telecom companies promise that somehow this merger will finally fix the universe of sectors problems caused by…mindless merger mania. And time and time again, these telecom giants fail utterly to follow through on their promises, using the reduction in consolidation (and regulatory apathy) to jack up prices and lag on innovation and network expansion.

      The fact that T-Mobile CEO John Legere plays a hip Millennial on Periscope and sometimes says “fuck” on Twitter doesn’t change this equation. A major reason T-Mobile was so competitive and disruptive is (and “government is incapable of ever doing good” folks like to ignore this bit of history) because the DOJ blocked AT&T’s attempted 2011 acquisition of the company, a decision based not only on the evidence that such consolidation would hurt consumers, but because the companies involved made a wide variety of merger benefit claims that were downright preposterous.

    • Broadband Monopolies Are Acting Like Old Phone Monopolies. Good Thing Solutions to That Problem Already Exist

      The future of competition in high-speed broadband access looks bleak. A vast majority of homes only have their cable monopoly as their choice for speeds in excess of 100 mbps and small ISPs and local governments are carrying the heavy load of deploying fiber networks that surpass gigabit cable networks. Research now shows that these new monopolies have striking similarities to the telephone monopolies of old. But we don’t have to repeat the past; we’ve already seen how laws can promoted competition and broke monopolies.

      In the United States, high-speed fiber deployment is low and slow. EFF decided to look into this problem, and we now have a research report by the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic (TLPC) on behalf of EFF that details the history of our telecom competition policies, why they came into existence with the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and the FCC’s mistakes—starting in 2005—that eroded the law and has given us a high-speed broadband access monopoly that disproportionately impacts low income and rural Americans.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Judge finds Qualcomm violated anti-trust law; company to appeal

      American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm has been found to have illegally suppressed competition for smartphone processors by holding out the threat of limiting supplies and obtaining excessive licensing fees.

Links 22/5/2019: Mesa 19.0.5, Huawei and GNU/Linux, Curl 7.65.0, End of Antergos, Tails 3.14, ownCloud Server 10.2, Firefox 67.0

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019 10:30:14 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Windows ban? Huawei laptops disappear from Microsoft Store

      Huawei laptops running Windows appear to have disappeared from the Microsoft Store online, following the decision by the US Commerce Department to put the Chinese firm on a list that forces it to seek permission to buy American products.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Dark Style Rises | LINUX Unplugged 302

      Can the Free Desktop avoid being left behind in the going dark revolution? Cassidy from elementary OS joins us to discuss their proposal.

      Plus we complete our Red Hat arc by giving Silverblue the full workstation shakedown, Drew shares his complete review, and we discuss the loss of Antergros.

    • mintCast 309 – Virtualization
  • Kernel Space
    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux Kernel 5.2, First RC Out Now

      The two-week merge window is now closed and the first RC (Release Candidate) milestone has been released for public testing and early adoption to discover pesky bugs and other annoyances that might block the final release of the Linux 5.2 kernel series later this summer. Things looks normal for now and everything is on track for a calm release.

      “Things look fairly normal. Just about two thirds of the patch is drivers (all over), with the bulk of the rest being Arch updates, tooling, documentation and vfs/filesystem updates, of which there were more than usual (the unicode tables for ext4 case insensitivity do end up being a big part of the “bulk” side),” says Linus Torvalds in a mailing list announcement.

    • Sad News – Martin Schwidefsky

      We are devastated by the tragic death of Martin Schwidefsky who died
      in an accident last Saturday.

      Martin was the most significant contributor to the initial s390 port
      of the Linux Kernel and later the maintainer of the s390 architecture
      backend. His technical expertise as well as his mentoring skills were
      outstanding. Martin was well known for his positive mindset and his
      willingness to help.

      He will be greatly missed.

    • systemd Clocks In At More Than 1.2 Million Lines

      Five years ago today was the story on Phoronix how the systemd source tree was approaching 550k lines so curiosity got the best of me to see how large is the systemd Git repository today. Well, now it’s over 1.2 million lines.

      After surpassing one million lines in 2017, when running GitStats on the systemd Git repository today it’s coming in at 1,207,302 lines. Those 1.2 million lines are spread across 3,260 files and made over 40,057 commits from nearly 1,400 different authors.

    • Graphics Stack
      • mesa 19.0.5 Hi List, I'd like to announce the availability of mesa 19.0.5. Just as a reminder the plan is to have one more release of the 19.0 series in two weeks, but that is subject to change base on the 19.1 release progress. Things have slowed back down from the last release, which is good for this late in the series. No one area has received too much work, with a little bit sprinkled in here and there in both core code and drivers. Dylan Shortlog ======== Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (2): nir: Fix nir_opt_idiv_const when negatives are involved nir: Fix clone of nir_variable state slots Charmaine Lee (2): st/mesa: purge framebuffers with current context after unbinding winsys buffers mesa: unreference current winsys buffers when unbinding winsys buffers Dylan Baker (5): docs: Add SHA256 sums for mesa 19.0.4 cherry-ignore: add patches for panfrost cherry-ignore: Add more 19.1 patches bump version to 19.0.5 docs: Add release notes for 19.0.5 Eric Engestrom (1): meson: expose glapi through osmesa Gert Wollny (2): softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides Revert "softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides" Ian Romanick (1): Revert "nir: add late opt to turn inot/b2f combos back to bcsel" Jason Ekstrand (3): intel/fs/ra: Only add dest interference to sources that exist intel/fs/ra: Stop adding RA interference to too many SENDS nodes anv: Only consider minSampleShading when sampleShadingEnable is set Józef Kucia (1): radv: clear vertex bindings while resetting command buffer Kenneth Graunke (1): i965: Fix memory leaks in brw_upload_cs_work_groups_surface(). Leo Liu (1): winsys/amdgpu: add VCN JPEG to no user fence group Lionel Landwerlin (1): anv: Use corresponding type from the vector allocation Marek Olšák (1): st/mesa: fix 2 crashes in st_tgsi_lower_yuv Nanley Chery (1): anv: Fix some depth buffer sampling cases on ICL+ Samuel Pitoiset (1): radv: add a workaround for Monster Hunter World and LLVM 7&8
      • Mesa 19.0.5 Released As The Series Approaches The End

        Mesa 19.0.5 is now available as what is expected to be the second to the last release in the Mesa 19.0 series.

        Mesa 19.0.5 has just around two dozen fixes, mostly all minor items. There are random fixes throughout ranging from NIR and other core components to the Intel ANV / i96t5 / Radeon RADV drivers.

      • mesa 19.1.0-rc3 Hello, list. The third release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available. Remind that right now there are two bugs blocking the final release: #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (2): nir: Fix nir_opt_idiv_const when negatives are involved nir: Fix clone of nir_variable state slots Charmaine Lee (2): st/mesa: purge framebuffers with current context after unbinding winsys buffers mesa: unreference current winsys buffers when unbinding winsys buffers Dave Airlie (1): glsl: init packed in more constructors. Eric Engestrom (2): util/os_file: always use the 'grow' mechanism meson: expose glapi through osmesa Gert Wollny (1): Revert "softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides" Ian Romanick (1): Revert "nir: add late opt to turn inot/b2f combos back to bcsel" Jason Ekstrand (5): intel/fs/ra: Only add dest interference to sources that exist intel/fs/ra: Stop adding RA interference to too many SENDS nodes anv: Emulate texture swizzle in the shader when needed anv: Stop forcing bindless for images anv: Only consider minSampleShading when sampleShadingEnable is set Juan A. Suarez Romero (2): cherry-ignore: radeonsi: update buffer descriptors in all contexts after buffer invalidation Update version to 19.1.0-rc3 Lionel Landwerlin (4): nir: fix lower_non_uniform_access pass vulkan/overlay-layer: fix cast errors vulkan/overlay: fix truncating error on 32bit platforms nir: lower_non_uniform_access: iterate over instructions safely Marek Olšák (1): radeonsi: remove old_va parameter from si_rebind_buffer by remembering offsets Nanley Chery (1): anv: Fix some depth buffer sampling cases on ICL+ Neha Bhende (1): draw: fix memory leak introduced 7720ce32a Samuel Pitoiset (1): radv: add a workaround for Monster Hunter World and LLVM 7&8
      • Mesa 19.1-RC3 Brings NIR, Vulkan Driver Fixes & Other Changes

        If all goes well the Mesa 19.1 release will be happening in the next week or two. But for those wanting to help test this open-source graphics driver stack, Mesa 19.1-RC3 was released today as the newest weekly release candidate.

        Mesa 19.1-RC3 isn’t particularly exciting but brings a handful of changes throughout. Most of the changes this week pertain to fix-ups with the NIR code, the Intel ANV and Radeon RADV Vulkan drivers, a few core Mesa/GLSL changes, a lone RadeonSI code change, and some other minor work. The changes aren’t too noticeable for end-users but at least on the RADV front is a workaround for the Monster Hunter World game when using LLVM 7/8 AMDGPU code.

    • Benchmarks
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 Benchmarks On AMD EPYC – Big Speed-Ups Over RHEL7

        Since the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 at the start of May we’ve been running various benchmarks of this latest enterprise Linux platform. Our tests to date have been with Intel Xeon hardware where it’s been performing well and a nice speed-up over RHEL 7 with modern Xeon Scalable CPUs. Similarly, AMD EPYC is also much faster with RHEL 8.0 thanks to the much newer Linux kernel, compiler, and other software updates.

        AMD EPYC screams on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 compared to RHEL 7.6. The modern AMD server platform performs much better thanks to the GCC 8.2 compiler replacing the older GCC 4.8 compiler that came well before any Zen support. The Linux 4.18 kernel is also a blessing for newer AMD (and Intel/IBM/ARM) hardware compared to the heavily-patched Linux 3.10 kernel of RHEL7. RHEL 8.0 also shifted over to the MQ-Deadline scheduler for SATA SSDs compared to the non-MQ deadline scheduler and the plethora of upgraded packages compared to RHEL7 also means a big deal for performance at large.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • [GSoC – 1] Achieving consistency between SDDM and Plasma

        I’m very excited to start off the Google Summer of Code blogging experience regarding the project I’m doing with my KDE mentors David Edmundson and Nate Graham.

        What we’ll be trying to achieve this summer is have SDDM be more in sync with the Plasma desktop.

        What does that mean? The essence of the problem is quite simple: you can customize Plasma to no end, yet the only thing you can customize in SDDM is the cursor theme. As a customization-loving user, this has been a big pet peeve of mine. In my attempts to work around the issue I’ve already went as far as adding one too many config points to the Breeze SDDM theme. So to finish that project and thereby solve our GSoC issue, perhaps we could just hook up the respective KCM’s UI to those options…

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.34′s Mutter Lowers Output Lag On X11 To Match Wayland Performance

        Adding to the list of positive changes with GNOME 3.34 due out this September is lowering possible output lag when running GNOME’s Mutter on X11/X.Org.

        GNOME has experienced higher output lag on X.Org-based sessions rather than Wayland in some configurations. In particular, the higher output lag on X11 could be experienced when dragging around windows and seeing possible lag. Fortunately, as of today’s latest Mutter 3.33 series development code, that lag has been addressed.

  • Distributions
    • Antergos Linux Project Ends

      What started as a summertime hobby seven years ago quickly grew into an awesome Linux distribution with an even more awesome community around it. Our goal was to make Arch Linux available to a wider audience of users by providing a streamlined, user friendly experience including a safe place for users to communicate, learn, and help one another. There have been 931,439 unique downloads of Antergos since 2014 (when we began keeping track). We think it’s safe to say we’ve accomplished our goal.

      Today, we are announcing the end of this project. As many of you probably noticed over the past several months, we no longer have enough free time to properly maintain Antergos. We came to this decision because we believe that continuing to neglect the project would be a huge disservice to the community. Taking this action now, while the project’s code still works, provides an opportunity for interested developers to take what they find useful and start their own projects.

      For existing Antergos users: there is no need to worry about your installed systems as they will continue to receive updates directly from Arch. Soon, we will release an update that will remove the Antergos repos from your system along with any Antergos-specific packages that no longer serve a purpose due to the project ending. Once that is completed, any packages installed from the Antergos repo that are in the AUR will begin to receive updates from there.

    • Antergos Linux has been Discontinued

      Beginner-friendly Arch Linux based distribution Antergos has announced that the project is being discontinued.

    • Arch-Based Antergos Linux Distribution Calls It Quits
    • Manjaro Vs Ubuntu

      Everyone who is associated with technology and core programming must have heard of names like Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Debian, and Mint. While many of you have years of experience working on various kernels, switching platforms and developing software; there’s a fair amount of individuals, who don’t have enough knowledge regarding the smaller and currently emerging distributions. One such distro of Linux is Manjaro.

    • New Releases
      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Release

        Welcome to our second release of 2019, Kali Linux 2019.2, which is available for immediate download. This release brings our kernel up to version 4.19.28, fixes numerous bugs, includes many updated packages, and most excitingly, features a new release of Kali Linux NetHunter!

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Academic Support Center BiASC connects the SUSE Academic Program with Belgium and Luxembourg

        The SUSE Academic Program has taken significant strides in new territories with the help of trusted academic partners from different regions. BiASC is an academic support organization that connects with IT academies from higher and secondary education and from non-commercial and professional training institutions. Already working with a number of universities, including the University of Luxembourg and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, we hope to see our footprint spread with support from BiASC.

      • Raspberry Pi Close To Seeing CPUFreq Support

        Nicolas Saenz Julienne of SUSE has been working on CPUFreq support for the Raspberry Pi single board computers to allow for the Linux kernel to provide CPU frequency scaling controls.

        This CPUFreq support communicates with firmware running on a dedicated processor on the Raspberry Pi that is responsible for adjusting the CPU frequencies as well as that of the VPU and related blocks. The driver can request changes to the CPU frequencies though isn’t necessarily honored depending upon thermal factors and other criteria. The firmware also offers the ability to request a turbo mode, but that can boost up other clocks and appears to be causing issues at least with the current state of the Raspberry Pi kernel drivers.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Molly de Blanc: remuneration

    I am a leader in free software. As evidence for this claim, I like to point out that I once finagled an invitation to the Google OSCON luminaries dinner, and was once invited to a Facebook party for open source luminaries.

    In spite of my humor, I am a leader and have taken on leadership roles for a number of years. I was in charge of guests of honor (and then some) at Penguicon for several years at the start of my involvement in FOSS. I’m a delegate on the Debian Outreach team. My participation in Debian A-H is a leadership role as well. I’m president of the OSI Board of Directors. I’ve given keynote presentations on two continents, and talks on four. And that’s not even getting into my paid professional life. My compensated labor has been nearly exclusively for nonprofits.

    Listing my credentials in such concentration feels a bit distasteful, but sometimes I think it’s important. Right now, I want to convey that I know a thing or two about free/open source leadership. I’ve even given talks on that.

    Other than my full-time job, my leadership positions come without material renumeration — that is to say I don’t get paid for any of them — though I’ve accepted many a free meal and have had travel compensated on a number of occasions. I am not interested in getting paid for my leadership work, though I have come to believe that more leadership positions should be paid.

  • ownCloud Server 10.2 Release – Power to the Users

    ownCloud 10.2 introduces advanced sharing permissions, automatic synchronization in federated clouds and improved rights for users.

  • How to advance your career by contributing to open source projects

    In 2017, I wrote my (so-far) most popular article of all time, “The Impact GitHub is Having on Your Software Career, Right Now…,” on Medium. In that article, I cast the vision for how you can develop your career through open source contributions. It clearly struck a nerve—it got 382 points and 237 comments on Hacker News. Many of the comments hated on it so hard—they disagreed with my main premise—but I felt they had missed the point. At the time I was a recruiter with 10 years of engineering experience, working at Red Hat.

    There is nothing I love more than a challenge, so I went “deep cover.” I quit my job as a recruiter and got a job as a software engineer in a pure closed-source company that uses BitBucket and has PCI-compliant security. Fourteen months later, I got hired by Camunda to work as the developer advocate for Zeebe, a workflow engine for orchestrating microservices, purely based on my open source contributions while working at that job. I just did everything I advised readers to do in the comments of my original Medium article.

  • Events
    • The Document Foundation and LibreOffice Online at OW2con 2019

      OW2con 2019 is the annual open source event bringing together the OW2 community, technology experts, software architects, IT project managers and decision-makers from around the world. The conference will be hosted by the Orange Gardens Innovation Center, Paris-Châtillon, on June 12-13, 2019.

    • Highlights Video of Red Hat Summit Keynotes

      If you missed Red Hat Summit, you should not despair: we’ve compiled a highlights video that captures the breadth and depth of what’s happening in the Red Hat OpenShift Ecosystem and beyond. From Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, the keynotes at the show demonstrated the widespread support and enthusiasm Red Hat has built across many technical domains. If you’ve got time, there will be dozens of videos from the show popping up on our YouTube Channel, keynotes or otherwise, over the coming weeks. For now, however, here’s the highlight reel featuring appearances from IBM, Delta, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Kohl’s, OneMain, UPS, NVIDIA, HCA Healthcare, Boston Children’s Hospital, Optus, BP, Emirates NBD, and BMW. And there were a lot more customers speaking. Just take a look:

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Version 67.0, first offered to Release channel users on May 21, 2019
      • Latest Firefox Release is Faster than Ever

        With the introduction of the new Firefox Quantum browser in 2017 we changed the look, feel, and performance of our core product. Since then we have launched new products to complement your experience when you’re using Firefox and serve you beyond the browser. This includes Facebook Container, Firefox Monitor and Firefox Send. Collectively, they work to protect your privacy and keep you safe so you can do the things you love online with ease and peace of mind. We’ve been delivering on that promise to you for more than twenty years by putting your security and privacy first in the building of products that are open and accessible to all.

        Today’s new Firefox release continues to bring fast and private together right at the crossroads of performance and security. It includes improvements that continue to keep Firefox fast while giving you more control and assurance through new features that your personal information is safe while you’re online with us.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released, ownCloud Announces New Server Version 10.2, Google Launches “Glass Enterprise Edition 2″ Headset, Ubuntu Expands Its Kernel Uploader Team and Kenna Security Reports Almost 20% of Popular Docker Containers Have No Root Password

        Firefox 67.0 was released today. From the Mozilla blog: “Today’s new Firefox release continues to bring fast and private together right at the crossroads of performance and security. It includes improvements that continue to keep Firefox fast while giving you more control and assurance through new features that your personal information is safe while you’re online with us.” You can download it from here, and see the release notes for details.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released, Upgrading to Dav1d AV1 Decoder

        Mozilla Firefox 67.0 was released today with performance improvements and some new features.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 59
      • The Fastest Firefox Ever: Firefox 67 Now Available For Windows, Linux, And Mac

        ver since Mozilla developers released the much-anticipated Firefox Quantum in 2017, the open source company has been continuously working to improve the overall performance and security measures deployed in the web browser. The latest Firefox 67 release isn’t any deviation and the developers are promising big performance gains for the users.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released With Better Performance, Switches To Dav1d AV1 Decoder

        Mozilla set sail Firefox 67.0 this morning as the newest version of this web browser and the update is heavy on the feature front.

        Firefox 67.0 brings a number of performance improvements, the ability to block known cryptominers/fingerprinters, better keyboard accessibility, usability/security enhancements to Private Browsing, various ease-of-use improvements, switching to DAV1D as its AV1 video decoder, FIDO U2F API support, security fixes, and various JavaScript API additions.

      • Firefox 67 released

        The Mozilla blog takes a look at the Firefox 67 release.

      • Firefox 67 Is Here, And It’s “Faster Than Ever”

        A brand new version of the Mozilla Firefox web-browser is now available to download, and the release is being dubbed the ‘fastest yet’.

        Now, granted, every other release of Firefox seems to carry a similar claim, although few have felt as unequivocally speedy as the Quantum release in 2017.

        But in Firefox 67 the speed boosts are palpable.

      • Save and update passwords in Private Browsing with Firefox

        Private browsing was invented 14 years ago, making it possible for users to close a browser window and erase traces of their online activity from their computers. Since then, we’ve bundled in various levels of tracking protection and privacy control. While that’s great, some basic browser functionality pieces were missing from the Private Browsing Mode experience, namely giving you the option to save logins and passwords and giving you the power to choose which extensions you wanted enabled.

      • No-Judgement Digital Definitions: What is Cryptocurrency?

        Cryptocurrency, cryptomining. We hear these terms thrown around a lot these days. It’s a new way to invest. It’s a new way to pay. It’s a new way to be deeply confused. To many of us, crypto-things sound like technobabble from sci fi movie. If you’re used to thinking about money as something that is issued by your government, kept in a bank and then traded for goods and services, then wrapping your head around cryptocurrency might be a bit of work, but we can do it!

      • Let Firefox help you block cryptominers from your computer

        Is your computer fan spinning up for no apparent reason? Your electricity bill inexplicably high? Your laptop battery draining much faster than usual? It may not be all the Netflix you’re binging or a computer virus. Cryptocurrency miners may be using your computer’s resources to generate cryptocurrency without your consent. We know it sounds like something out of a video game or one of those movies that barely gets technology right, but as much as cryptomining may sound like fiction, the impact on your life can be very real.

      • How to block fingerprinting with Firefox

        If you wonder why you keep seeing the same ad, over and over, the answer could be fingerprinting.

        Fingerprinting is a type of online tracking that’s different from cookies or ordinary trackers. This digital fingerprint is created when a company makes a unique profile of your computer, software, add-ons, and even preferences. Your settings like the screen you use, the fonts installed on your computer, and even your choice of a web browser can all be used to create a fingerprint.

      • Firefox 67: Dark Mode CSS, WebRender, and more

        Firefox 67 is available today, bringing a faster and better JavaScript debugger, support for CSS prefers-color-scheme media queries, and the initial debut of WebRender in stable Firefox.

      • The Cost of Fragmented Communication

        Mozilla recently announced that we are planning to de-commission irc.mozilla.org in favour of a yet to be determined solution. As a long time user and supporter of IRC, this decision causes me some melancholy, but I 100% believe that it is the right call. Moreover, having had an inside glimpse at the process to replace it, I’m supremely confident whatever is chosen will be the best option for Mozilla’s needs.

        I’m not here to explain why deprecating IRC is a good idea. Other people have already done so much more eloquently than I ever could have. I’m also not here to push for a specific replacement. Arguing over chat applications is like arguing over editors or version control. Yes, there are real and important differences from one application to the next, but if there’s one thing we’re spoiled for in 2019 it’s chat applications. Besides, so much time has been spent thinking about the requirements, there’s little anyone could say on the matter that hasn’t already been considered for hours.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Licensing/Legal
    • What You Should Know About Contributor License Agreements In Open Source Projects

      An open source project comprises a community of software developers that agree to develop a common software-code base and make it freely available but subject to certain license requirements. The resulting software is typically vetted by multiple contributors to the open source project and may be further updated and improved based on their contributions. Open source software is prevalent in many popular software products, including Mozilla Firefox, WordPress, GNU/Linux, Android mobile devices, Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK), and even commercial products like Apple’s OS X.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Flex PCB Fabrication

        I’ve gotten a few people asking me where I get my flex PCBs fabricated, so I figured I’d make a note here. I get my flex PCBs (and actually most of my PCBs, except laser-drilled microvia) done at a medium-sized shop in China called King Credie. Previously it was a bit hard to talk about them because they only took orders via e-mail and in Chinese, but they recently opened an English-friendly online website for quotation and order placement. There’s still a few wrinkles in the website, but for a company whose specialty is decidedly not “web services” and with English as a second language, it’s usable.

        Knowing your PCB vendor is advantageous for a boutique hardware system integrators like me. It’s a bit like the whole farm-to-table movement — you get better results when you know where your materials are coming from. I’ve probably been working with King Credie for almost a decade now, and I try to visit their facility and have drinks with the owner on a regular basis. I really like their CEO, he’s been a circuit board fabrication nerd since college, and he’s living his dream of building his own factory and learning all he can about interesting and boutique PCB processes.

  • Programming/Development
    • Python built-ins worth learning

      In every Intro to Python class I teach, there’s always at least one “how can we be expected to know all this” question.

    • Append Contents to a File

      In this article, we’ll examine how to append content to an existing file using Python.

    • The 2019 Python Language Summit

      The Python Language Summit is a small gathering of Python language implementers, both the core developers of CPython and alternative Pythons, held on the first day of PyCon. The summit features short presentations from Python developers and community members, followed by longer discussions. The 2019 summit is the first held since Guido van Rossum stepped down as Benevolent Dictator for Life, replaced by a five-member Steering Council.

    • Petr Viktorin: Extension Modules And Subinterpreters
    • Episode #131: Python 3 has issues (over on GitHub)
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #369 (May 21, 2019)
    • Interactive Data Visualization in Python With Bokeh
    • OpenJDK 8 and 11: Still in safe hands

      In 2018, Oracle announced that it would only provide free public updates and auto-updates of Java SE 8 for commercial users until the end of January 2019. Java 8 is a very important platform, used by millions of programmers, so this was a big deal. The Java community needed to fill the gap.

      In February of this year, I was appointed as the new Lead of the OpenJDK 8 Update Releases Project. A couple of weeks later, I was appointed the new Lead of the OpenJDK 11 Updates Project. This is an important milestone in the history of OpenJDK and of Java SE because it’s the first time that a non-Oracle employee has led the current long-term OpenJDK release project. JDK 8 is still a much-used Java release in industry, and JDK 11 is the current long-term maintenance release.

      It’s now a couple of weeks after the first releases of JDK8u and JDK11u on my watch. I think the process went pretty well, although it was not entirely smooth sailing for the developers. Having said that, we got our releases out on the day, as planned, and so far we’ve seen no major problems.

Leftovers
  • TechnicalDebt

    Thinking of this as paying interest versus paying of principal can help decide which cruft to tackle. If I have a terrible area of the code base, one that’s a nightmare to change, it’s not a problem if I don’t have to modify it. I only trigger an interest payment when I have to work with that part of the software (this is a place where the metaphor breaks down, since financial interest payments are triggered by the passage of time). So crufty but stable areas of code can be left alone. In contrast, areas of high activity need a zero-tolerance attitude to cruft, because the interest payments are cripplingly high. This is especially important since cruft accumulates where developers make changes without paying attention to internal quality – the more changes, the greater risk of cruft building up.

  • Science
    • Huge New Study Finds Almost No Evidence That Social Media Makes Kids Unhappy

      Among the many narratives making the rounds these days about how terrible the internet and social media apparently are, one popular trope is the idea that using social media makes people depressed. Just last year there was a study purporting to show that limiting your social media use could limit depression. But that study was conducted by an undergrad at UPenn, based on just 143 other UPenn students. Not exactly the most rigorous of studies. A much more thorough, careful, and methodologically sound study was just released finding little impact on “adolescent life satisfaction” from using social media. The study was conducted by three researchers at Oxford’s well-respected Internet Institute, including Professor Andrew Przybylski, who has a history of very thoughtful work in this space.

    • Social media effect ‘tiny’ in teenagers, large study finds

      The effects of social media use on teenage life satisfaction are limited and probably “tiny”, a study of 12,000 UK adolescents suggests.
      Family, friends and school life all had a greater impact on wellbeing, says the University of Oxford research team
      It claims its study is more in-depth and robust than previous ones.
      And it urged companies to release data on how people use social media in order to understand more about the impact of technology on young people’s lives.
      The study, published in the journal PNAS, attempts to answer the question of whether teenagers who use social media more than average have lower life satisfaction, or whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social media.
      Past research on the relationship between screens, technology and children’s mental health has often been contradictory.

  • Hardware
    • Apple Is Finally Fixing the Keyboards on MacBook Pros

      Apple’s newest MacBook Pros, which are being announced today and include significant bumps in power and performance, are still using Apple’s third-generation “butterfly” keyboard. But the company says these keyboards have a change in the physical material that exists within the butterfly mechanism that will address some of the issues that MacBook users have been experiencing. The company declined to say exactly what the material change was. [...]

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Research on Children’s Health Risks in Doubt Over EPA Funds

      Long-running research projects credited with pivotal discoveries about the harm that pesticides, air pollution and other hazards pose to children are in jeopardy or shutting down because the Environmental Protection Agency will not commit to their continued funding, researchers say.

      The projects being targeted make up a more than $300 million, federally funded program that over the past two decades has exposed dangers to fetuses and children. Those findings have often led to increased pressure on the EPA for tighter regulations.

    • Why We Must Legalize Marijuana

      The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality.

      We must end this nonsensical prohibition.

      The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined.That’s one marijuana arrest every minute.

      The costs associated with enforcing this ban – including arrests, court costs, and incarceration – reach nearly $14 billion a year.

      Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.

    • A Beacon of Hope: Nevada’s Women Lawmakers Pass Abortion Rights Bill

      On a day when most of the country was protesting a move back to the dark ages for women’s reproductive rights, Nevada became “the only state that had something to celebrate” by passing Senate Bill 179, also known as the #Trust Nevada Women Act, which decriminalizes abortion and removes several decades-old restrictions on it. The bill passed 27 to 13 in what since the mid-terms has been the country’s first majority-female legislature – in contrast, say, to Alabama, where men just banned abortion and women not coincidentally make up just 15% of lawmakers. In Nevada, observers say, the state’s old, white, sexist, brothel-owning, sexual-harassing guard are dying off, and increasingly yielding power to more young, racially diverse, Democratic women who once believed “politicians aren’t us” and then learned otherwise, in part thanks to newly galvanized political action groups recruiting and training women. The results are startling: Today, more than 17 pending bills deal with sexual assault and misconduct, bills to ban child marriage and study maternal mortality are on the docket, and women’s voices have joined policy debates on gun safety and prison reform. A few years ago, says Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, “None of these bills would have seen the light of day.”

    • 6 Reasons Impossible Burger’s CEO Is Wrong About GMO Soy

      Throughout the U.S., major food brands are trying to get rid of GMO ingredients—not necessarily for the right reasons, but because nearly half of consumers say they avoid them in their food, primarily for health reasons.

      But the CEO of Impossible Foods, purveyor of the Impossible Burger, is bucking that trend.

      The manufacturers of the controversial veggie burger just announced that in the future, due to “high demand” for the product, its plant-based patties will be made using GMO soy.

      The formula change was made to ensure the smooth rollout of the Impossible Burger in Burger King restaurants. The soy formulation is apparently better able to withstand Burger King’s trademark flame grilling. As a result, in early in 2019, Impossible Foods dumped the textured wheat protein it had been using and replaced it with soy protein concentrate instead.

      Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, publicly defended the move. But a closer look reveals that Brown’s claims about the healthfulness and sustainability of “Impossible Burger 2.0” just don’t stack up.

      Here are six reasons the CEO of Impossible Burger is wrong when he claims that GMO soy is “the safest and most environmentally responsible option” for scaling up production of the fake meat product—a product that already uses a genetically engineered yeast, called heme, as its key ingredient.

    • Students learn about protecting water quality at Lake St. Clair Water Festival
    • Let’s Shut Down the Economy to Fight for Abortion Rights

      In recent weeks, several states have passed incredibly restrictive laws against abortion. The specifics of these laws vary, but the end result is the same: abortion is becoming illegal again. In many cases, these laws threaten anyone who gets or performs an abortion with prison time.

      The Alabama bill (HB 314) reclassifies performing an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy as a Class A felony, meaning that doctors will face a minimum of 10 years and up to 99 years in prison. The law states that people who seek or attain abortions will not face criminal or civil liability. There are exceptions for “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” ectopic pregnancies, and pregnancies in which the fetus has a “lethal anomaly.” However, there are no exceptions for situations involving rape, incest, or pregnancy of a minor.

      The Georgia bill (HB481) is similar but does include exceptions for rape and incest. In contrast to the Alabama bill, the Georgia bill lacks a provision exempting the person seeking the abortion from prosecution. Currently, being found guilty of breaking abortion law in Georgia results in between 1 and 10 years of prison time. However, the language of the bill leaves room for prosecutors/judges to redefine abortion as homicide, meaning that pregnant people and their doctors could both be charged under criminal codes pertaining to murder and manslaughter.

      The Missouri state senate also passed a bill (HB126) early Thursday morning that bans abortions after eight weeks, without any exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The bill does include provisions for when the person seeking an abortion is a minor, but these provisions primarily take the form of making obtaining an abortion more difficult, not less.

    • ‘We’re Still Going to Be Making Sure People Have Access to Abortions They Want and Need’ – CounterSpin interview with Jill Heaviside and Oriaku Njoku on reproductive rights assaults

      Clyde Chambliss, Alabama senate sponsor of a law banning virtually all abortion, was asked whether the law would likewise criminalize in vitro fertilization clinics that discard embryos. His answer was clear: “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman.”

      You could spend all day pointing out indications that the legislators seeking to curtail abortion access are not driven by concern for the sanctity of all (even potential) human life, but by the desire to exert authority over particularly some women’s lives and possibilities.

      Blowing away the fog around the anti-abortion movement is useful, not as an end in itself, but if it helps us see how to move effectively to ensure all women’s human rights, while protecting those made particularly vulnerable under the current onslaught.

    • Up next – Trial in Monsanto’s hometown set for August after $2 billion Roundup cancer verdict

      After three stunning courtroom losses in California, the legal battle over the safety of Monsanto’s top-selling Roundup herbicide is headed for the company’s hometown, where corporate officials can be forced to appear on the witness stand, and legal precedence shows a history of anti-corporate judgments.

      Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s, is the next plaintiff currently set for trial. Gordon v. Monsanto starts Aug. 19 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, located just a few miles from the St. Louis, Missouri-area campus that was the company’s longtime world headquarters until Bayer bought Monsanto last June. The case was filed in July 2017 on behalf of more than 75 plaintiffs and Gordon is the first of that group to go to trial.

    • State Duma passes bill allowing Russians with HIV to adopt children already living with them

      Russia’s State Duma has approved the third and final reading of a bill that allows people with HIV, hepatitis C, and other viruses to adopt children who are already living with them.

    • Trump Owns This Attack on American Women

      As Georgia, Ohio and Alabama have passed laws drastically restricting access to safe, legal abortion or even banning it outright, women’s health care and rights have jumped to the forefront of our nation’s political conversation once again. As a doctor, the leader of the most trusted reproductive health organization in the country and a mother, I am outraged and disgusted by the rhetoric that devalues women and the attacks that will cost us our freedoms, our health and our lives.

      But I also think President Trump and his allies have grossly overreached and made a huge political mistake. This is now a fight we can and will win, if Americans are ready to act on their convictions and make women’s health a priority. And by doing so, we will not only protect women’s health care and rights for this generation and generations to come, but we will also shine a spotlight on Trump’s disastrous overall agenda and cynical political style in a way that will resonate through the 2020 elections.

      For those of us who have been watching closely, the events of the past few weeks were expected. Trump promised his base that he would pack the federal courts with extreme judges, and he has done that. Politicians who have been plotting for years to ban abortion in the United States have promised to move outrageous and unconstitutional laws through their states to challenge Roe v. Wade, and they’ve done that, too. And now opponents of Roe, a decision that has been settled law for nearly 50 years, are prepared to take these state laws to a Supreme Court that Trump has swung to the right in anticipation of this very moment.

    • ‘It’s a Sure Winner—Except for the Profiteers’: 200+ Economists Send Letter to Congress Endorsing Medicare for All

      “Medicare for All will give us a system already proven in other countries: much lower costs with less hassle and worry,” Sachs said. “It’s a sure winner—except for the profiteers.”

      In their letter (pdf), the economists highlighted the fact that the United States spends far more on healthcare than other industrialized nations while achieving significantly worse results—a crisis they say can be remedied by transitioning to a single-payer system.

      “Evidence from around the world demonstrates that publicly financed healthcare systems result in improved health outcomes, lower costs, and greater equity,” the letter states. “For these reasons the time is now to create a universal, single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system in the United States.”

      The economists’ endorsement of Medicare for All comes just 24 hours before the House Budget Committee is scheduled to hold just the second-ever congressional hearing on single-payer. The panel will discuss Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act of 2019, which currently has 108 co-sponsors.

      National Nurses United (NNU), which has been leading efforts to build grassroots support for Medicare for All nationwide, urged Americans to call members of the Budget Committee and let them know “we’re counting on their support.”

    • ‘We Need More DAs Standing Up Like This’: Georgia Prosecutors Vow Not to Charge Women Under State’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

      Women in Georgia’s four largest counties may be protected from the state’s recently-passed six-week abortion ban—which has been condemned as part of the Republican Party’s recent ramped-up attack on reproductive rights—even if the law goes into effect next year.

      The district attorneys of DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton counties all told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday that they have no intention of prosecuting women who obtain abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, citing concerns with the constitutionality of the so-called Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (H.B. 481).

    • Extremist Laws Will Make It Harder for Poor Women to End Pregnancies

      Alabama — led by utterly clueless male legislators — just passed the most restrictive ban on abortion in the country, with Georgia and Missouri piling on. Other states dominated by right-wing Republican politicians are jockeying to join in.

      Their aim is to get the courts, newly packed with right-wing judges appointed by Trump, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark precedent that established a woman’s right to choose in the early months of pregnancy.

      The new laws generally deem abortion murder after six or eight weeks, no exceptions. This is often before women are even aware that they are pregnant. Some of the laws would imprison doctors; others lock up mothers. This is what the anti-abortion movement has demanded. It has been spurred on by cynical politicians like Donald Trump, who devoted part of his State of the Union address to a blood-curdling description of infanticide that came completely from his own ugly imagination.

      Now anti-abortion activists are on the verge of getting what they want — the ability to prosecute doctors and/or pregnant women for murder if they choose to abort a fetus early in their pregnancies. Even if the life of the mother is at risk, doctors would be loath to risk imprisonment by taking the necessary step to save her.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Google Joins The Evidence-Optional Assault On Huawei

      So we’ve noted several times now how the US efforts to blacklist Huawei from global telecom markets haven’t much in the way of, oh, supporting evidence. The Trump administration and FCC have taken all manner of actions to try and blackball the company, from pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies.

      The underlying justification for these moves has centered on the idea that Huawei operates as a surveillance extension of the Chinese government, something that still hasn’t been proven despite a decade’s worth of claims to this effect, and an eighteen month investigation by the White House.

      That’s not to say the Chinese government is an innocent little daisy. Nor is it meant to suggest that it’s impossible that Huawei spies on Americans. But the lack of any actual public evidence of spying remains troubling all the same, given that if the shoe were on the other foot, there’d be no shortage of face-fanning consternation on the part of American politicians and industry.

    • Nearly 20% of the 1000 Most Popular Docker Containers Have No Root Password

      Earlier this month, Talos released research showing that the Alpine Linux docker images were shipping with no (or nulled) root passwords. Alpine patched the docker files, and issued their response to the vulnerability here, noting that “an attacker who compromised your system via an unrelated security vulnerability, or a user with shell access, could elevate their privileges to root within the container.”

    • Let us subject MDS vulnerability to the glare of truth

      In the last three days, we’ve received a whole bunch of questions like Should I disable Hyper-Threading or not? and How Hyper-Threading disabling can impact performance? So, here we are with some important information about the point.

      But what is the problem? CPU has two execution threads per physical core. Both threads share the same resources inside the CPU. It means sibling cores can see the same data as the primary core can.

    • Is Linux Safer Than Windows and macOS?

      Cybersecurity is extremely important – now more than ever. If you start to do research, however, you’ll find a debate going on about which operating system is the safest. These days, more IT professionals and companies are preaching the benefits of Linux systems. There are definitely some security advantages to the platform. But like everything in the computer world, so much comes down to user training. Even if you have a very secure platform, a virus can still be a problem. So let’s take a look at Linux and some of the advanced security measures you need to take.

    • Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS Mitigation Costs On An Intel Dual Core + HT Laptop

      Following the recent desktop CPU benchmarks and server CPU benchmarks following the MDS/ZombieLoad mitigations coming to light and looking at the overall performance cost to mitigating these current CPU vulnerabilities, there was some speculation by some in the community that the older dual-core CPUs with Hyper Threading would be particularly hard hit. Here are some benchmarks of a Lenovo ThinkPad with Core i7 Broadwell CPU looking at those mitigation costs.

    • Fending off Zombieload attacks will crush your performance
    • List of MDS Speculative Execution Vulnerability Advisories & Updates
    • Linux version of Winnti malware found
    • WannaCry? Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers

      But cities aren’t the only highly vulnerable targets to be found by would-be attackers. There are hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected Windows systems in the United States that still appear to be vulnerable to an exploit of Microsoft Windows’ Server Message Block version 1 (SMB v. 1) file sharing protocol, despite repeated public warnings to patch systems following the worldwide outbreak of the WannaCry cryptographic malware two years ago. And based on data from the Shodan search engine and other public sources, hundreds of them—if not thousands—are servers in use at US public school systems.

    • Google stored some passwords in plain text for fourteen years

      In a blog post today, Google disclosed that it recently discovered a bug that caused some portion of G Suite users to have their passwords stored in plain text. The bug has been around since 2005, though Google says that it can’t find any evidence that anybody’s password was improperly accessed. It’s resetting any passwords that might be affected and letting G Suite administrators know about the issue.

      G Suite is the corporate version of Gmail and Google’s other apps, and apparently the bug came about in this product because of a feature designed specifically for companies. Early on, it was possible for your company administrator for G Suite apps to set user passwords manually — say, before a new employee came on board — and if they did, the admin console would store those passwords in plain text instead of hashing them. Google has since removed that capability from administrators.

    • Notifying administrators about unhashed password storage
    • Google Disappoints Yet Again: Stored Some Passwords In Plain Text For 14 Years

      G Suite users were taken aback yesterday when Google disclosed that it stored some passwords for Enterprise G Suite users in plain text for 14 years.

      In a blog post, the search giant mentioned that the passwords were encrypted but not hashed, which means that Google employees had complete access to them. However, the company says that there is no evidence that passwords were illegally accessed by anyone or misused.

    • Stable Version Of Tor Browser For Android Now Available On Play Store

      After eight months of testing, a stable release for the Tor browser has arrived on the Play Store. The new Android browser now brings Tor features directly into a standalone browser, replacing the Orbot/Orfox as the main way to connect to the Tor network via Android devices.

      The stable version (v8.5) of Tor for Android routes your web traffic through the Tor network — a web of encrypted computers spread worldwide.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘We Will Not Be Complicit’: Protesting Assault on Yemen, Italian Dock Workers Refuse to Load Saudi Weapons Vessel

      In an act of defiance against Saudi Arabia’s brutal assault on Yemen—which is being carried out with the support of the United States and European nations—Italian union workers on Monday refused to load a Saudi vessel reportedly filled with weapons that could be used to fuel the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      “We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen,” union leaders said in a statement.

      According to Reuters, dockworkers attempted to have the Saudi ship—officially called the the Bahri Yanbu—barred from entering the Port of Genoa.

      When that effort failed, Reuters reported, “workers refused to load two generators aboard the boat, saying that although they were registered for civilian use, they could be instead directed to the Yemen war effort.”

    • As Iran Tensions Rise, Congress Moves to Curb Trump’s War Powers

      Rep. Barbara Lee and other House Democrats are expected to announce bipartisan legislation this week to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) issued after the 9/11 attacks. The legislation would provide Congress with new tools for containing the Trump administration as it meddles in foreign conflicts and stokes military tensions with Iran.

      The latest effort in Congress to repeal the 2001 AUMF comes after lawmakers reacted to the escalating tensions between Iran and the unpredictable Trump administration, which boiled over on Twitter over the weekend after President Trump warned that Iran would face its “official end” if Tehran provokes the U.S. military. A rocket had landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but it remains unclear whether Iran had anything to do with the attack. The White House and Tehran spent the last week trading jabs and engaging in military posturing, although leaders in both countries have said they do not want war.

      On Friday, 100 House Democrats urged Trump in a letter to “resist factions” in his administration that are “leading our country down a disastrous path to war” and warned that the White House cannot declare war with Iran without approval from Congress, including under the 2001 AUMF. Administration officials are reportedly building a case to declare Iran a terrorist threat in order to circumvent Congress and launch military strikes under AUMF authority if the administration decides to engage Tehran.

    • Locked in a Cold War Time Warp

      On Saturday May 18th, the New York Times ran a lengthy front-page article by Alexander Burns and Sydney Ember entitled “Mayor Who Brought the Cold War to Vermont,” which exemplifies how the poisonous political climate of the Cold War has not yet receded.

      The piece details presidential contender Bernie Sanders’ opposition to Ronald Reagan’s Central America Wars in the 1980s while Burlington Mayor, and Sanders’ travels to Nicaragua and meeting with Sandinista revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega.

      The article also mentioned Sanders’ travels to Cuba where he came away impressed by Cuba’s “free health care, free education [and free housing],” and a trip to Yaroslavi in the Soviet Union, a Burlington sister-city, whose health care system, Sanders noted, was “free or virtually free.”

      Sanders told the Times reporters: “I plead guilty to, throughout my adult life, doing everything that I can to prevent war and destruction.”

    • Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes

      In its escalating confrontation with Iran, the US is making the same mistake it has made again and again since the fall of the Shah 40 years ago: it is ignoring the danger of plugging into what is in large part a religious conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

      I have spent much of my career as a correspondent in the Middle East, since the Iranian revolution in 1979, reporting crises and wars in which the US and its allies fatally underestimated the religious motivation of their adversaries. This has meant they have come out the loser, or simply failed to win, in conflicts in which the balance of forces appeared to them to be very much in their favour.

      It has happened at least four times. It occurred in Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of 1982, when the turning point was the blowing up of the US Marine barracks in Beirut the following year, in which 241 US military personnel were killed. In the eight-year Iran-Iraq war during 1980-88, the west and the Sunni states of the region backed Saddam Hussein, but it ended in a stalemate. After 2003, the US-British attempt to turn post-Saddam Iraq into an anti-Iranian bastion spectacularly foundered. Similarly, after 2011, the west and states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey tried in vain to get rid of Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Syria – the one Arab state firmly in the Iranian camp.

      Now the same process is under way yet again, and likely to fail for the same reasons as before: the US, along with its local allies, will be fighting not only Iran but whole Shia communities in different countries, mostly in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean.

      Donald Trump looks to sanctions to squeeze Iran while national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo promote war as a desirable option. But all three denounce Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Popular Mobilisation Units in Iraq as Iranian proxies, though they are primarily the military and political arm of the indigenous Shia, which are a plurality in Lebanon, a majority in Iraq and a controlling minority in Syria. The Iranians may be able to strongly influence these groups, but they are not Iranian puppets which would wither and disappear once Iranian backing is removed.

    • Trump’s “Genocidal” Tweets Against Iran Come With a Price

      Donald Trump threatened to wipe Iran off the map in a moment of yet-to-be-explained Twitter-rage Sunday night. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” he wrote. After a few days of apparent de-escalation between the US and Iran, Trump managed to once again fuel fears of an impending war. Yet, Trump’s tweet is likely more a reflection of his frustration over the failure of his pressure and coercion strategy than a carefully thought-through plan for war.

      Trump is not the first U.S. official to threaten Iran with genocide. Back in 2008, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton threatened to “obliterate” Iran. John McCain liked to sing songs about bombing Iran. George W. Bush never missed an opportunity to remind Iran that “all options are on the table.” In fact, this is not even Trump’s own first transgression into genocidal territory. Last July, he warned — in an all-caps tweet — that Iran “WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

    • Bomb-Laden Drone From Yemeni Rebels Targets Saudi Airport

      Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels attack a Saudi airport and military base with a bomb-laden drone, an assault acknowledged by the kingdom as Middle East tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

      The attack on the Saudi city of Najran came after Iran announced it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity, though still at a level far lower than needed for atomic weapons, a year after the U.S. withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

    • No War With Iran, Say 62 Groups in Letter to Congress

      The push to war has been led mainly by President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump himself has been noncommittal, expressing support and hesitance in nearly equal measure depending on the day.

      Nevertheless, a number of the letter’s signatories said in a statement, the administration’s actions require pushback from Congress.

      “Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton are taking this country to the brink of a completely avoidable military confrontation,” said Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian-American Council. “It’s time for Congress to turn its words into action by passing legislation to stop Trump and Bolton from starting an illegal war.”

      Under the Constitution, only Congress has the ability to declare war. But that right has been eroded over the last seven decades as presidents have used language like “police actions” and other euphemisms to go around Congress and start wars at will. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks has been used (pdf) over 37 times by Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump in over 14 countries.

      Still, there’s a sense that Congress may finally be ready to take its duties seriously. The House has become progressively warmer in recent years to legislation by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—the lone vote against war in the wake of the 2001 attacks—to restrict the use of the AUMF.

    • Why Jon Chait Can’t Read

      Chait is critiquing an imaginary study by FAIR that judged media on whether they “describe[d] Maduro as a strongman or authoritarian.” His problem with this imaginary study “is that Maduro is considered an authoritarian by the entire human rights community.” In other words, FAIR (and Taibbi) are complaining that commentary is one-sided—but commentary should be one-sided. Why would anyone disagree with “the entire human rights community”?

      In reality, of course, there is more to the human rights community than Chait imagines. There’s a statement, for example, signed by 70 Latin American scholars and humanitarian activists condemning “US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means”—signed by leaders of such groups as the Alliance for Global Justice, the Center for International Policy, Code Pink, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and Toward Freedom.

      Would Chait disagree with these human rights advocates’ take on Venezuela? Probably—if he had ever seen it. But because he shares the approach of elite media decision-makers—if I disagree with it, there’s no need for it to be heard—he’s very likely unaware of the arguments they make, and certainly has had no real need to ever engage with those arguments.

    • Dave Lindorff and Michael White

      Veteran journalist Dave Lindorff is the first guest; he describes the misrepresentations and complete falsehoods that US corporate media has been presenting about Venezuela. Then New York activist Michael White explains how real estate and other private interests have been attempting to close or shrink some of New York’s most important public libraries, and how citizens are fighting back.

    • The Time Has Come for Patriotic Dissent: Stopping War With Iran Is Essential

      What if they called a war and no one came? Well, now’s the time folks. The apparent march to war with Iran represents a pivotal moment in the historical arc – the rise and fall – of our republic come empire. This potential war is so unnecessary, so irrational, that it borders on the absurd. Still, since the U.S. now fields a professional, volunteer military, few citizens have “skin in the game.” As such, they could hardly care less.

      Unlike in past wars – think Vietnam – there is no longer a built in, established antiwar movement. This is unfortunate, and, dangerous for a democracy. See the US Government operates with near impunity in foreign affairs, waging global war without the consent of the people and, essentially, uninterested in what the people have to say at all. It should not be thus in a healthy republic. People should not fear their government; governments should fear their people.

      So let me propose something seemingly ludicrous. It’s this: since Americans only trust the military among various branches of government, and since that military is both over adulated and ultimately responsible for waging these insane wars, it is within the military that active dissent must begin. That’s right, to stop the war America needs clean cut, seemingly conservative, all-American soldiers and officers to start refusing to fight. The people will back them; trust me. These guys are heroes after all, right? I mean few will pay attention to some aging hippie protester – even if he or she is correct – but even Republicans might tune in to here what a combat vet has to say.

      Remember, we soldiers take an oath not to a particular president or a certain government but to the Constitution. And that constitution has been violated time and again for some 75 years as US presidents play emperor and wage unilateral wars without the required, and clearly stipulated, consent of Congress, I.e. the people’s representatives. Thus, one could argue – and I’m doing just that – that a massive military “sit-down-strike” of sorts would be both legal and moral.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Weather forecasters urge caution for Tuesday after 18 tornadoes across five states on Monday

      After 18 tornadoes swept through five states on Monday, forecasters say Tuesday’s severe weather threat warrants caution but lacks the same potential.

      At least some tornadoes, damaging winds and hail are possible Tuesday in parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois, said Jared Guyer, lead forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center.

      More than a dozen severe thunderstorm warnings and a few tornado warnings remained active overnight, Guyer added. Flash flash flooding from torrential rains that accompanied the storms also posed a concern.

    • 18 Tornadoes Reported in 5 States Monday

      The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had raised the probability of tornadoes in northwest Texas and central Oklahoma from 35 to 45 percent Monday afternoon. The last time chances were that high was April 14, 2012, when 122 tornadoes killed six people in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to USA Today.

      “I’d certainly label this the ‘nightmare scenario,’” meteorologist Mike Smith tweeted of Monday’s forecast, as USA Today reported.

    • Virtual Pipelines: A Dangerous New Way to Transport Fracked Gas by Truck

      For several years a mysterious fleet of tractor trailers loaded with natural gas cylinders has been crisscrossing U.S. roads, and in the dark early morning hours on Sunday, March 3, one drove off a highway near Cobleskill, New York, careened down an embankment, and flipped over. The driver had fallen asleep, according to a New York State police accident report, the truck was demolished, and “several tanks ruptured and were leaking” natural gas. Five nearby homes were evacuated.

      For retired New York Department of Transportation commercial vehicle inspector Ron Barton, an alarm bell he had been ringing for months suddenly grew even more urgent. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” says Barton.

      The trucks are part of a little-known system of moving natural gas called “virtual pipelines.”

    • Worst Case Sea Level Rise by Century’s End Could Be Doubled, New Study Finds

      In its fifth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted between 52 and 98 centimeters (approximately 1.7 to 3.2 feet) of sea level rise by 2100. But the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, put the range at 62 to 238 centimeters (approximately two to 7.8 feet).

    • Climate change: Global sea level rise could be bigger than expected

      Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica.
      The long-held view has been that the world’s seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100.
      This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure.
      This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say.

    • Ice sheet contributions to future sea-level rise from structured expert judgment
    • Trump Admin Pushes More ‘Clean Coal’ Spending as Justice Department Investigates Failed ‘Clean Coal’ Project

      In April, the Department of Justice informed Southern Company that it was under investigation “related to the Kemper County energy facility” in Mississippi, where Southern had spent $7.5 billion, including hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy, trying to build a coal-fired power plant that would capture carbon emissions.

      Former engineers and officials from the Kemper plant have described evidence of possible intentional fraud at the construction project, alleging that the company knew of design flaws early on but pressed forward with the project in the hopes that costs could be passed on to power customers even if the project ran severely over-budget.

      But the while the company remains under investigation, the Trump administration is doubling down by offering new funding — not just millions for more “clean coal” research and development, but also billions more for another construction project, which is also far behind schedule and over-budget, by the same company.

    • Trump’s EPA Is Changing Its Math to Make Clean Power Plan Rollback Seem Less Deadly

      When Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

      Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

    • E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of Pollution Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math

      The Environmental Protection Agency plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, a shift that would make it easier to roll back a key climate change rule because it would result in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, according to five people with knowledge of the agency’s plans.

      The E.P.A. had originally forecast that eliminating the Obama-era rule, the Clean Power Plan, and replacing it with a new measure would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year. The new analytical model would significantly reduce that number and would most likely be used by the Trump administration to defend further rollbacks of air pollution rules if it is formally adopted.

      The proposed shift is the latest example of the Trump administration downgrading the estimates of environmental harm from pollution in regulations. In this case, the proposed methodology would assume there is little or no health benefit to making the air any cleaner than what the law requires. Many experts said that approach was not scientifically sound and that, in the real world, there are no safe levels of the fine particulate pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels.

    • Presidential Candidate Michael Bennet Proposes $1 Trillion Climate Change Plan

      Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet’s plan calls for the establishment of a “Climate Bank,” using $1 trillion in federal spending to “catalyze” $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

      The plan also calls for a state “climate challenge,” providing federal funds for states to slash emissions by 2030, as well as conservation of 30 percent of the country’s lands and oceans by 2030.

    • Big Polluters Hijack Shipping Talks to Slow Decarbonisation Progress

      UN shipping talks stalled last week as slow-moving players, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the US, obstructed attempts to decide how the sector should begin to decarbonise.

      The negotiations, which took place at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), are part of a global process on how to cut shipping’s large and growing emissions.

    • Outrage as Texas Senate Passes ‘Unconstitutional’ Bill That Would Hit Pipeline Protestors With Up to 10 Years in Prison

      Sparking outcry from indigenous tribes and environmental groups, the Texas state Senate on Monday passed industry-backed Republican legislation that would hit pipeline protestors with a third-degree felony and up to ten years in prison.

      “Here in Texas, members of the legislative body are looking to pass laws that harshly criminalize free speech and the right to protest,” Juan Mancias, Tribal Elder with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, said in a statement.

    • Labor Leader Sara Nelson Says Workers of Disrupted Industries Must Be Engaged in Green New Deal Solutions

      That’s what the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, Sara Nelson, told Common Dreams in an interview Tuesday. Nelson believes that the airline industry needs to get on board with finding swift solutions to the climate crisis.

      “Let’s have lawmakers, scientists, and innovators get together to keep planes in the air,” said Nelson.

      Nelson sees a prominent role for her union in figuring out how to balance the demands of aviation with the deepening reality of the climate catastrophe and President Donald Trump’s policies. If the president won’t lead, said Nelson, others need to step forward.

      “We have to be engaged in the conversation about solutions,” said Nelson.

      For the airlines, that means taking a hard look at what can be changed in the industry to meet the goals of the Green New Deal. Air travel and shipping is indispensable to the U.S. economy, shuttling people and product across the country and the world.

      Thus there’s no time to waste, said Nelson, who believes that air travel will become unsustainable if nothing is done.

      “There are solutions that cut emissions,” said Nelson. “Airlines have already been doing that—we need to do it at a faster rate.”

      Among the solutions Nelson suggested are finding ways to power airplanes through less polluting fuels and using electric power, describing the push as both morally and financially incentivized.

    • Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine

      The most penetrating criticism I’ve seen of renewable energy is that it’s being promoted at massive scale to reassure us that we can go on as before, with little if any change of lifestyle, no move beyond our comfort zones. That’s a comforting view, one that we’d all love to be true. And yet, it raises a big and uncomfortable question. Can we mine, baby, mine, to ensure no reduction of living standards, no uncomfortable change of lifestyle?

      Alas, the shift away from drill, baby drill has already become a shift to mine, baby, mine. Consumer demand for electric cars is a prime example. Heralded as next wave of personal transportation, electric cars will require little to no real change in personal comfort or lifestyle, but will require twice as much copper wire as today’s gasoline combustion vehicles. And building these cars will take yet a bit more mining to build the cars themselves.

      There will be millions upon millions of them. The mining industry sees it coming.

    • Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming

      A recent article in Arctic News on the outlook for global warming foresees a frightening scenario lurking right around the corner. Hopefully, the article’s premise of impending runaway global warming (“RGW”) is off the mark, by a lot. More to the point, off by really a lot in order to temper the sting expected when abrupt temperature increases hit hard, as projected in the article, which is entitled: “Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating.” Oh, BTW… the worst-case scenario happens within one decade!

      Here’s a snippet: “… such a rise in greenhouse gas levels has historically corresponded with more than 10°C or 18°F of warming, when looking at greenhouse gas levels and temperatures over the past 800,000 years….” (Source: Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating, Arctic News, May 1, 2019)

      Obviously, it goes without saying no sane person wants to believe, and likely won’t believe or accept, studies about killer temperatures locked, loaded, and ready to fire, right around the corner. That fact alone serves to christen the title “Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming.”

      Furthermore, and for journalistic balance, it is important to mention that mainstream science is not warning of imminent Runaway Global Warming (“RGW”), as outlined in the Arctic News article.

    • ‘This Is Not A Drill’: Amid GOP Attack, Pro-Choice #StopTheBans Rallies Take Place Nationwide

      A week after the Alabama legislature sparked outrage that spread across the country with its approval of a near-total ban on abortion care in the state, reproductive rights advocates across the country are holding “Stop the Bans” rallies on Tuesday to demand that state Republican lawmakers end their attacks on abortion rights.

      NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood were among dozens of national groups that began planning a #StopTheBans Day of Action last week after extreme anti-choice laws were passed both in Alabama and Missouri. By Tuesday morning, more than 500 direct actions were planned in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

      The organizations urged people nationwide to join demonstrations in their area which were planned throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Tuesday.

    • Global Sea Level May Rise Faster Than Previously Projected, With ‘Profound Consequences for Humanity’

      “If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable,” lead author Jonathan Bamber, a professor of physical geography at the U.K.’s University of Bristol, told New Scientist.

      The structured expert judgement study, published Monday by the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), brought together 22 experts.

      Under the experts’ worst case scenario projection—based on global temperatures increasing to 5°C (9°F) above pre-industrial levels by 2100—rising seas would leave about 1.79 million square kilometers (691,123 square miles) underwater and displace up to 187 million people.

    • Playing Politics With Coal Plants

      The Anaconda Smelter was precipitously shut down at noon on “Black Monday,” Sept. 29, 1980. Suddenly, 1,200 smelter workers were without jobs.

      Just that morning Mel Stokke, the general manager of the smelter, had assured workers that the smelter would continue operating into the foreseeable future. But then the call came in from ARCO’s headquarters telling Stokke to immediately cease operations and, as Stokke’s son Chuck recalled 30 years later: “Quite frankly, he had no idea the closure was coming. A lot of people weren’t believers until they decided to just demolish the whole thing.”

      Almost 40 years later, the same “it won’t close” delusion exists at the Colstrip power plant — and it’s being played for political election-year gain by none other than Montana’s Republican senator, Steve Daines.

      An article by Tom Lutey late last week described the efforts by Daines to postpone Colstrip’s inevitable demise. NorthWestern Energy tried but failed to pass hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for the outmoded coal-fired power plants on to Montana’s utility consumers in the recent legislative session, so Daines now turns to the nation’s taxpayers for bailout funds through the dubious, extremely expensive and inefficient process known as “carbon capture and sequestration.”

      To accomplish his quixotic quest, Daines has co-sponsored a bill with the Orwellian title of the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology Act. The measure would direct the Department of Energy to dump taxpayer money into retrofitting the power plants to capture their massive output of carbon dioxide and then pipe it to oil wells in southeast Montana, inject it underground at high pressures and force more oil out of the strata.

    • Over 1,351 Climate Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday as Global Revolt Escalates

      Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

      Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday.

  • Finance
    • The Legal Argument That Could Destroy Uber

      However, independent contractors, who can have limited liability corporations or other incorporated entities in their own right, do not have many of those rights, including the right to collectively bargain.

      But if ride-hailing drivers are “independent contractors” and not “employees,” and thus they are all “different corporations” for the purpose of this legal argument, that brings up a big problem.

      This is because we have a different label for when different corporations get together and determine the cost for their services. We call it price fixing. And price fixing, under the Sherman Antitrust Act, is illegal.

      “Uber is effectively trying to have it both ways,” says Sanjukta Paul, a law professor at Wayne State University who has been writing about the gig economy’s vulnerability to price fixing regulation for several years. “They’re setting a price for a product they say they don’t sell.”

    • Trade war rattles confidence among Southern California businesses

      The Foreign Direct Investment study from World Trade Center Los Angeles shows that about 10,305 foreign-owned firms were operating in Southern California in 2018, accounting for roughly 1.2 percent of all businesses in the region.

    • ‘Sick and Tired of Being Paid Poverty Wages,’ Walmart Workers Invite Bernie Sanders to Press Their Case at Shareholder Meeting

      Walmart workers seeking a seat on the company’s board invited Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime advocate for higher wages and better labor conditions, to present their shareholder proposal at the retail giant’s annual meeting next month.

      The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Independent senator from Vermont and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate will attend Walmart’s meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas on June 5 to advocate for the hourly workers behind the request. The proposal was filed by Cat Davis, a company employee and leader of labor rights group United for Respect.

    • Beware Trump’s Sneak Attack on Social Security

      Donald Trump’s recent budget proposal included billions of dollars in Social Security cuts. The proposed cuts were a huge betrayal of his campaign promise to protect our Social Security system. Fortunately for Social Security’s current and future beneficiaries, he has little chance of getting these cuts past the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.

      So Trump and his budget director/chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has long been hostile to Social Security, are trying another tactic to cut our earned benefits. They are pursuing a long game to reach their goal. In a divide-and-conquer move, the focus is not Social Security. At least, not yet.

    • Emails Show How Much Pull Political Bosses Had Over State Tax Breaks

      A law firm linked to New Jersey political boss George E. Norcross III enjoyed extraordinary influence over the state’s tax break program, crafting new rules and regulations in hundreds of calls, meetings and messages with top officials in Trenton, newly released emails reveal.

      The emails, obtained by WNYC and ProPublica through a public information request, provide a rare look at how the Norcross family machine leveraged its access to top state officials to advance the interests of clients and friends allied with the political leader. The lawyers pushed officials at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for client concessions, pressed staffers for expedited reviews and went over their heads to appeal objections.

      Kevin Sheehan, an attorney with Parker McCay, where Norcross’ brother Philip is managing partner, focused on getting bigger tax breaks for the Philadelphia 76ers, Cooper Health System and nuclear services giant Holtec International, which won some of the most lucrative tax awards in state history. The companies were promising to move to downtrodden Camden as part of a renaissance pushed by George Norcross, a Democrat whose insurance brokerage was among the tax break recipients.

    • Bernie Sanders Is Bringing Back the Most Underrated Education Policy

      Over the past two decades, education reform has been a major topic of debate and policymaking, from President Bush’s No Child Left Behind bill to President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Reforms have generally followed the pattern of adapting mechanisms from the for-profit business world to “fix” supposedly broken aspects of the public education system: weakening teacher unions, replacing public schools with privately-run charters, tying teacher pay to test score results, and so on.

      Yet there is one idea that was once a major focus of reform efforts, but has been set aside for years: racial desegregation.

      That is, until now. Last week, Bernie Sanders released a plan to revitalize school integration efforts. It’s both an excellent plan and brings attention to a vitally important racial justice issue.

      Historical context is important here. For a couple decades after the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the federal government put real effort into forcing school districts to integrate their populations. The main objective was to equalize educational opportunity, particularly in the South. Stuffing black populations into crummy, under-resourced institutions was one of the major mechanisms of the Jim Crow apartheid system — but if white and black children went to the same schools, then they should receive education of a similar quality (or at least a lot closer than before).

      Because cities across the nation were (and remain) extremely segregated, and whites violently resisted any attempt to integrate actual neighborhoods, the only realistic option was using transportation to achieve a decent demographic mix. But this led to an enormous white backlash across the country.

      It turned out northern schools were just as segregated as southern ones, if not worse, and northern whites were not any keener on integration than southern ones — indeed, an integration plan in Boston sparked violent riots. Centrist triangulators like then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), seized on the issue, teaming up with southern segregationists to beat back integration efforts. (In 1977 Biden wrote to Dixiecrat Senator James Eastland of Missippi: “I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.”)

    • Debt is the Hidden Issue in The European Elections

      The citizens of the European Union are called to vote this week for the European Parliament. It is not a real parliament, and it lacks prospects for becoming one, since all important decisions are taken by the unelected heads of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, dubbed “the worst-run Central Bank in the world”.

      These elections capture however the general mood of exasperation with current policies. Conservative and extreme Right parties will rise, reflecting widespread scepticism as to the economic course of the EU and its lack of benefits for the common people. The mainstream Left unfortunately neglects these issues, and it will pay the price.

      The conservatives generally blame the weak and scapegoat the refugees, the immigrants, the women, and the poor, while promising to save the middle class from the onslaught of big capital. They create false hopes of easy reform, and they never denounce the exploitation inherent in today’s system. History shows however that small owners manage to resist financial stranglehold only when they make common cause with workers and the poor, and they are not afraid to fight.

    • How California Egregiously Failed Its Care Workers

      Across California, at least 20 companies providing care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill continue to operate illegally after being cited for failing to pay their workers more than $1.4 million in back wages and penalties.

      “There’s no accountability,” said Hina Shah, an associate law professor at Golden Gate University who directs the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic, which represents low-wage workers on issues of wage theft, discrimination and harassment. “Many of the cases that are being brought by workers are challenging flat-rate pay for 24 hours of work, conditions that are akin to modern-day slavery.”

      In 2015, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Fair Day’s Pay Act, which aimed to thwart wage theft in California. It barred companies with outstanding wage theft judgments from conducting business in the state.

      But the state Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division, which is in charge of licensing facilities for the elderly and disabled, has not acted, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

      The agency received debtors’ names from the state labor commissioner’s office over the last year or so. However, the companies continue to operate despite their outstanding wage theft judgments, Reveal found. Meanwhile, employees who won tens of thousands in judgments remain unpaid.

    • Deutsche Bank Has Rolled on Donald Trump

      The opening salvo of The New York Times’s big Sunday story about Donald Trump and Deutsche Bank got straight to the point: The bank’s money-laundering watchdogs recommended that multiple overseas financial transactions by Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner be reported to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Executives at Deutsche Bank, however, made no such reports, and the bank took no action against its favored client.

      “The nature of the transactions was not clear,” reads the Times report. “At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious…. [F]ormer Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws.”

      “You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money-laundering specialist who has filed complaints against the bank’s money-laundering protections with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in the report. “It’s the D.B. way.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Schiff: Amash criticism not enough to push Trump impeachment
    • Alarming Lessons From Facebook’s Push to Stop Fake News in India

      “Nobody checks,” says Noor. “They want to show off by just forwarding everything they receive.” This particular day she also vetted a photo claiming to be BJP men insulting Rohingya Muslim refugees in Kolkata city. The photo turned out to be of men from the other side of the country protesting India’s new taxation system. Noor’s family thinks her work is not just trendy but vital. “Because of my job, I’ve gained new respect in my family and friends’ circles,” she says.

      Whatever the result in India’s election, there’s no denying that fake news has amplified rage and polarization. The problem will outlast the election and worsen in the coming months, said Rajesh Upadhyay, editor-in-chief of Vishvas News.

    • Don McGahn Defies Subpoena for Testimony, Faces Contempt Vote

      House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler gaveled open a Trump-Russia hearing Tuesday with an empty witness chair and a stern warning that former White House Counsel Don McGahn will be held in contempt for failing to appear in defiance of the committee’s subpoena.

      “Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said. The panel will hear from McGahn “one way or another,” he said. “This committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him.”

    • Election-Meddling Follies, 1945-2019

      In this country, reactions to the Mueller report have been all-American beyond belief. Let’s face it, when it comes to election meddling, it’s been me, me, me, 24/7 here. Yes, in some fashion some set of Russians meddled in the last election campaign, whether it was, as Jared Kushner improbably claimed, “a couple of Facebook ads” or, as the Mueller report described it, “the Russian government interfer[ing]… in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

      But let me mention just a few of the things that we didn’t learn from the Mueller report. We didn’t learn that Russian agents appeared at Republican Party headquarters in 2016 with millions of dollars in donations to influence the coming election. (Oops, my mistake! That was CIA agents in the Italian election of 1948!) We didn’t learn that a Russian intelligence agency in combination with Chinese intelligence, aided by a major Chinese oil company, overthrew an elected U.S. president and installed Donald Trump in the White House as their autocrat of choice. (Oops, my mistake again! That was the CIA, dispatched by an American president, and British intelligence, with the help of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later BP. In 1953, they overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, the elected prime minister of Iran, and installed the young Shah as an autocratic ruler, the very first — but hardly the last — time the CIA successfully ousted a foreign government.) We didn’t learn that key advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin were in close touch with rogue elements of the U.S. military preparing to stage a coup d’état in Washington, kill President Barack Obama in a direct assault on the White House, and put the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in office. (Sorry, again my slip-up and full apologies! That was President Richard Nixon’s adviser Henry Kissinger in contact with Chilean military officers who, on September 11, 1973 — the first 9/11 — staged an armed uprising during which Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of that country, died and army commander-in-chief Augusto Pinochet took power.) We didn’t learn that, at the behest of Vladimir Putin, Russian secret service agents engaged in a series of plots to poison or in some other fashion assassinate Barack Obama during his presidency and, in the end, had at least a modest hand in encouraging those who did kill him after he left office. (Oh, wait, I was confused on that one, too. I was actually thinking about the plots, as the 1960s began, to do in Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.) Nor, for that matter, did we learn that the Russian military launched a regime-change-style invasion of this country to unseat an American president and get rid of our weapons of mass destruction and then occupied the country for years after installing Donald Trump in power. (Sorry one more time! What I actually had in mind before I got so muddled up was the decision of the top officials of President George W. Bush’s administration, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, to launch a “regime-change” invasion of Iraq in 2003, based on fraudulent claims that Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, and install a government of their choice in Baghdad.)

    • Democrats in House Leadership Rebel Against Pelosi on Impeachment

      At the Time 100 Summit in April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., played down speculation that the Democratic caucus was divided over whether President Trump should face impeachment proceedings. According to Roll Call, when asked whether support for impeachment was growing among House Democrats, Pelosi answered, “You would think so as far as how it is amplified, but I don’t think it’s a growing number.”

      On Monday night, her words seemed like wishful thinking. As The Washington Post reported, “Several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump … an effort the speaker rebuffed each time.”

      According to the Post’s sources, at least five members of the leadership team advocated for beginning an impeachment inquiry. Four of them are on the House Judiciary Committee, which has authority over impeachment. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who heads the Judiciary Committee, followed up hours later with a separate plea, which Pelosi also rejected.

      Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., who supports beginning impeachment proceedings, told the Post that such proceedings would strengthen ongoing investigations: “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals.” Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., echoed Cicilline, adding, “We should be having the conversation about . . . how this will help us break through the stonewalling of the administration.”

    • ‘The Dam Is Breaking’: Progressives Say Pelosi ‘Running Out of Excuses’ Not to Impeach Trump

      “The dam is breaking, and the voices of people demanding impeachment are becoming impossible to ignore,” Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, said in a statement. “Nancy Pelosi is running out of excuses, and her ability to delay impeachment proceedings is getting weaker by the day.”

      “We need her to heed the growing calls of her colleagues and people across the country demanding she defend our democracy and protect us from Donald Trump,” Hess said.

      MoveOn, an organization with more than a million members nationwide, echoed CREDO, tweeting simply: #ImpeachmentInquiryNow.

    • Warren and Sanders Understand the Power of ‘The Bad Guy’

      Progressive activist Norman Solomon offers a succinct description of neoliberalism: an ideology that sees victims but never victimizers. Bad things just happen. They’re the product of mysterious, unaccountable and ill-defined “market forces.” Factories just close, endless wars just “erupt,” the Nasdaq just crashes and our 401K and home equity just evaporate. No one specifically is responsible. And when someone is, around the margins, it’s a handful of faceless Arabs off in a cave somewhere or, increasingly, anonymous “Russians.” Our military and intelligence services are off fighting those Bad Guys. Trust us.

      But intuitively we know this is inadequate. It’s clear neither Islamic State group nor the Russians caused the opium crisis, the housing bubble, racist policing, the predatory gig economy, massive college loans, endless wars or a host of other social ills. It’s human nature to seek out the causes of a crisis, name names and get a sense that, even if one accepts that terrorism and Putin are real and urgent threats, they’re small-time compared to those making us poor, overworked, drug-addicted, indebted and war-fatigued. We have victims—this much is obvious. But where are the victimizers?

    • Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat

      As one of the few pundits who correctly called the 2016 election for Donald Trump, it would be wise to rest on my laurels rather than risk another prediction, one that might turn out wrong.

      But how would that be fun? Let the 2020 political prognostications begin!

      The arithmetic of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries is repeating itself on the Democratic side in 2020: a big field of candidates, one of whom commands a plurality by virtue of name recognition—which implies higher “electability”—while his 20-or-so opponents divvy up the rest of the single-digit electoral scraps.

      The Trump 2016 dynamic will probably play out the same way when Democratic delegates are counted at the 2020 convention. But the outcome in November 2020 is likely to be the opposite: Trump gets reelected.

      Here’s how I see it playing out.

    • Tennessee House Speaker to Resign Amid Text Message Scandal

      Tennessee’s embattled House speaker, Glen Casada, said Tuesday that he plans to resign from his leadership post following a vote of no confidence by his Republican caucus amid a scandal over explicit text messages.

      The move is unprecedented in Tennessee’s modern political era. The last speaker resignation came in 1931 in the Senate.

      “When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition,” Casada said in a statement.

      The speaker announced the decision just a day after previously shrugging off a 45-24 secret ballot vote from his GOP caucus determining they no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the Tennessee House. Casada said he would work to regain his colleagues’ trust.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • TOSsed out: EFF catalogs the perverse ways that platform moderation policies hurt the people they’re supposed to protect

      TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms’ moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors.

      The project comes at a critical juncture, where the monopolies enjoyed by the platforms have made them irresistible targets for both bad actors (harassers, terrorists, white nationalists etc) and governments, who are willing to hand the platforms eternal dominance in exchange for taking on state-like duties to monitor and control all user-speech (a move that is too often cheered by progressives, who assume these policies will only be used against people they dislike, despite evidence to the contrary).

    • TOSsed Out

      We’ve been tracking the impact of social media content takedowns and account deactivations for many years. TOSsed Out highlights the various ways in which Terms of Service (TOS) and other speech moderation rules are unevenly enforced, with little to no transparency, against a wide spectrum of people.

    • The Euroskeptic plan for tech

      With Euroskeptic forces likely arriving in force at the European Parliament after the election this month, the tech community is getting nervous.

      The concern is not so much about what populist lawmakers — Euroskeptic far-right parties are expected to seize 250 seats during the May 23-26 vote — have planned, it’s that their agenda is largely unknown.

      To shed light on what the tech world should anticipate from the incoming anti-EU faction in Parliament, POLITICO spoke to campaigners and strategists for Euroskeptic groups around the bloc and analyzed their election programs on tech-related matters, ranging from digital industry to platform censorship, privacy and artificial intelligence.

    • Why We Can’t Support Modifications to Texas’ Anti-SLAPP Law

      Earlier this year, a critical free speech law in Texas came under attack. Texas bill H.B. 2730, as introduced, would have gutted the Texas Citizens Protection Act, or TCPA.

      The TCPA has been one of the strongest laws in the nation protecting citizens against SLAPPs. SLAPP is a shorthand way of referring to lawsuits in which the legal claims are just a pretext for silencing or punishing individuals who use their First Amendment rights to speak up on public matters. At EFF, we have supported so-called “anti-SLAPP” laws, like the TCPA, which allow speakers to quickly dismiss frivolous cases against them and often obtain attorney’s fees.

      The original bill, H.B. 2730, would have severely limited the average Texan’s ability to use the TCPA and allowed litigious businesses to once again use courts to intimidate their critics. But a broad coalition of groups spoke out against the bill, including journalism associations, environmental groups, and hundreds of Texas-based EFF supporters who emailed their state representatives.

      We’re grateful for that vocal opposition, which created momentum for big changes to be made to H.B. 2730. Through your activism, some of the biggest problems have been fixed. But despite those changes, EFF still cannot support the bill, because of two issues that remain.

    • Kremlin comments on forced resignation of ‘Kommersant’ journalists

      Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov commented on the forced resignation of Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov from the major Russian newspaper Kommersant. Peskov, who lauded Safronov, called the matter “an exclusively corporate question.” He said the Kremlin sees no reason for government involvement to examine potential violations of Russian media laws or intimidation of journalists.

    • ‘Kommersant’ journalists who resigned in protest locked out of newsroom, escorted out of office building under guard

      The 11 journalists who resigned yesterday from the Russian newspaper Kommersant have had their passes into the publication’s newsroom blocked. One of the journalists, deputy politics editor Mariya-Luiza Tirmaste, wrote on Facebook that the newspaper’s head of human resources notified the group about their blocked passes at the apparent request of its editor-in-chief, Vladimir Zhelonkin. Tirmaste asked her followers to help her find a labor attorney.

    • What newspaper staff were told vs. what managers claim publicly

      On May 20, the public learned that Kommersant has forced out two journalists, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov, at the insistence of the newspaper’s owner, Alisher Usmanov. The dismissals were reportedly the result of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko potentially stepping down to lead Russia’s Pension Fund, clearing the way for current Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin. After Safronov and Ivanov were dismissed, Kommersant’s entire politics desk resigned in protest, plunging the outlet into a crisis. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief and the chairman of the board then accused Safronov and Ivanov of violating editorial standards, prompting a statement from the remaining staff that Kommersant’s shareholders “are right now destroying one of the best media outlets in Russia.” Meduza has learned more about how the situation with the Matviyenko story developed inside Kommersant’s newsroom, uncovering information that undermines claims from management that reporters broke any editorial standards.

    • Report: Freedom of Expression and Brexit

      The freedom to access and share information and to hold and express personal ideas and opinions has particular resonance in the digital age. As our digital ability to exercise rights of expression and information increases, challenges for protection and enforcement become more complex.

      Post-Brexit, the UK must decide what action it will take to continue to protect our rights to information and expression online, including evaluating whether we should continue to adhere to EU-wide laws and frameworks developed for this purpose.

      Open Rights Group are fighting for balanced copyright laws, researching the reach and impact of web blocking and censorship, and standing up for the respect of freedom of speech online.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Prince Harry Uses GDPR To Obtain Payout From Photographer Who Shot Photos Of His Rental Home

      The repeated answer to the question, “How does the GDPR work?” is: “Not well.” The privacy law enacted by the European Union is a regulatory omnishambles that was first greeted by non-European websites telling Europeans their business was no longer welcome.

      From there, the convoluted law the EU Commission itself can’t even comply with properly has been used to vanish everything from documents on US court dockets to trash cans inside an Ireland post office. When it’s not providing new attack vectors to cybercriminals, it’s being co-opted by the powerful to control what the public gets to see and hear about them.

      The latest repurposing of the GDPR into an offensive weapon occurred in the pre-Brexit UK, which may give the royal family a reason for remaining united with the rest of Europe. Britain’s literal ruling class has never shied away from dragging publications and paparazzi into court, but this latest case — involving photos of house being rented by Prince Harry — has a new GDPR twist.

    • Reddit Commenter’s Fight for Anonynmity Is a Win for Free Speech and Fair Use

      A fight over unmasking an anonymous Reddit commenter has turned into a significant win for online speech and fair use. A federal court has affirmed the right to share copyrighted material for criticism and commentary, and shot down arguments that Internet users from outside the United States can’t ever rely on First Amendment protections for anonymous speech.

      EFF represents the Reddit commenter, who uses the name “Darkspilver.” A lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, Darkspilver shared comments and concerns about the Jehovah’s Witness organization via one of Reddit’s online discussion groups. Darkspilver’s posts included a copy of an advertisement asking for donations that appeared on the back of a Watch Tower magazine, as well as a chart they edited and reformatted to show the kinds of data that the Jehovah’s Witness organization collects and processes.

      Earlier this year, Watch Tower subpoenaed Reddit for information on Darkspilver as part of a potential copyright lawsuit. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a group that publishes doctrines for Jehovah’s Witnesses, claimed that Darkspilver’s posts infringed their copyright, and that they needed Darkspilver’s identity to pursue legal action. EFF filed a motion to quash the subpoena, explaining that Watch Tower’s copyright claims were absurd, and that Darkspilver had deep concerns that disclosure of their identity would cause them to be disfellowshipped by their community. Accordingly, Watch Tower’s subpoena could not pass the well-established “Doe” test, which allows a party to use the courts to pierce anonymity only where they can show that their claims are valid and also that the balance of harms favors disclosure. The Doe test is designed to balance the constitutional right to share and access information anonymously with the right to seek redress for legitimate complaints.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • You Don’t Own What You’ve Bought: Google Nest Edition

      Well, here we go again. One of the common themes here over the past few years is how in the digitization of everything, the very meaning of “ownership” and “property” has changed — and not necessarily in good ways. The latest example: last week Google more or less announced the end of its “Works with Nest” program, as it migrates Nest from a separate entity into the Google mothership, and trying to move other “internet-of-things” devices into the Google Assistant ecosystem instead. As the Verge notes, this will upset a bunch of systems that used to work one way, and no longer will going forward.

    • Russia’s Investigative Committee reportedly received a second claim of high-ranking FSB racketeering two months ago and has not responded

      Alexander Shestun, the former government head for Moscow Oblast’s Serpukhovsky District, is in jail awaiting trial for embezzlement, bribery, and other charges. He had told journalists before his arrest that high-ranking officials in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and in Vladimir Putin’s administration had threatened to bring a criminal case against him. Now, Shestun’s press secretary, Vlada Rusina, has told journalists that the former district head submitted a racketeering complaint against an FSB general two months ago.

    • Europeans Criminalized for Helping Migrants as Far Right Aims to Win Elections

      Five months ago, at 10 o’clock in the morning, German police arrived at the home and parish of Christian Hartung, a pastor in Rhineland-Palatinate. At the same time, they descended on the residences of four other Protestant pastors, seizing some of their cell phones, correspondence with lawyers and church records.

      It was an “attempt at intimidation,” Hartung told openDemocracy. The pastors have been under police investigation since 2018, after allowing Sudanese refugees to sleep in church buildings in rural, western Germany. It’s a region where the far-right AfD party is aiming for record votes in this week’s hotly-contested European Parliament elections.

      Hartung described an “emergency situation” in which church sanctuary was “the last lifeline” for these refugees, some of whom had life-threatening health problems. While he believes the investigation against him and his fellow pastors will eventually be dropped, he says that if it goes to court they “are ready to fight.”

      These pastors are among the hundreds of Europeans who have been arrested, investigated, or threatened with prison or fines over the past five years under a range of different laws that rights advocates say are “criminalising solidarity” with migrants, according to a new dataset of these cases compiled by openDemocracy.

    • A Question of Honor

      Diana Kader was in her early 20s and living in the U.K. in 2005 when her family took her on a holiday to Yemen, their country of origin. She met relatives, visited tourist sites and stayed in the village where her parents were born. Two of her sisters fell in love and married Yemeni men. A wealthy suitor approached Kader’s father, asking for her hand in marriage. Kader, who wanted to continue her studies in the U.K., refused. Her family supported her decision. The suitor persisted and even threatened the family. Eventually, however, he seemed to accept her decision.

      In May 2006, Kader set off on a road trip around Yemen, alone. On the highway, she was run off the road by a petrol tanker belonging to her suitor’s family. Her car flipped; she was thrown out. As she lay injured, her suitor, who had been driving the tanker, approached her and phoned her father. He said he would leave her to die by the side of the road “like a dog,” although he finally relented and took her to a hospital. Her arm and leg were broken, and her pelvis was shattered in four places.

      Her suitor claimed that the crash was an accident. The statement released by police and forensic officers regarding the incident clearly contradicts his claim. This translation has been verified by a neutral third party: “Police and forensic officers … found from the tread marks that the petrol tanker … had been driving on the wrong side of the road, heading in Diana Kader’s direction and forcing her off the road. Evidence also suggests that the petrol tanker had done a U turn in the road and chased Diana’s vehicle. … Our investigation shows that Diana Kader had been deliberately forced off the road, then hit. … Our investigation corroborates Diana Kader’s statement [that she was intentionally struck with the goal of killing her].”

    • This Is How Republics Die

      The American republic could die, just like Rome.

      Wavering for some time on the verge of becoming a complete oligarchy, America is on the verge of flipping from a democratic republic to a strongman or autocratic form of government, something that’s happened to dozens of democracies in the past few decades, but never before here. It’s possible we won’t recover from it.

      The death of a republic is different from the death of a nation; Rome was a nation for nearly 2,000 years, but its period of being a republic was only around 300 years long. For the rest, it was a brutal empire with a small but wealthy and corrupt ruling class and a thin patina of democracy-for-show.

      Trump is openly defying the norms and laws of our republic, while calling for the imprisonment of both his political enemies and members of the very law enforcement agencies that might hold him to account. And he’s only able to do it because billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, with Fox News, and the billionaires Republicans depend on to fund their re-elections are providing him with cover.

      And they’re largely able to do that because five “conservatives” on the Supreme Court empowered billionaires to own the political system with the 1976 Buckley and 2010 Citizens United decisions.

    • Yekaterinburg dismantles perimeter at controversial construction site ahead of citywide poll

      On the morning of May 21, crews in Yekaterinburg started dismantling a wall that went up a week earlier around the construction site for a new cathedral in one of the city’s few remaining public parks. The wall was erected after protesters repeatedly toppled the original perimeter: a chain-link fence. After nearly a week of demonstrations that attracted national news attention, at the suggestion of President Putin, local officials decided to conduct a citywide survey to determine the construction site’s future. In the meantime, the city’s diocese asked workers to remove the wall around the site, “for the sake of peace and harmony in the city.”

    • Government Generously Hands Back Two-Thirds Of The $626,000 It Stole From Two Men Driving Through Missouri

      A case out of Missouri is highlighting yet again the stupidity and vindictiveness that defines civil asset forfeiture. In January 2017, law enforcement seized $626,000 from two men as they passed through the state on their way to California. According to the state highway patrol, the men presented contradictory stories about their origin, destination, and the plans for the money found during the traffic stop.

      The complaint filed against the money made a lot of claims about the government’s suspicions this was money destined for drug purchases. Supposedly evidence was recovered from seized phones suggested the two men were involved in drug trafficking, utilizing a third person’s money. Despite all of this evidence, prosecutors never went after the men. They only went after the money.

    • Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged & Electrocuted

      It’s been a year since women’s right activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was detained and jailed in Saudi Arabia for leading a movement to lift the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Despite international outcry, she’s been imprisoned ever since. During that time, her family says, she’s been held in solitary confinement and faced abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. The Saudi government has resisted calls from human rights groups and lawmakers from around the world to release Loujain and the other jailed activists. We speak with two of Loujain’s siblings, Walid and Lina Al-Hathloul.

    • Detained, Abused & Denied Medical Care: How Trump Immigration Policies Led to Child Deaths at Border

      A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in U.S. custody Monday after spending a week in immigration jail. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was found dead at a Border Patrol station at Weslaco, Texas, just one day after being diagnosed with the flu. He was not hospitalized. This marks the fifth death of a Guatemalan child apprehended by Border Patrol since December. Before last year, it had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of U.S. immigration officials. We speak with Fernando Garcia, the founding director of the Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy organization based in El Paso, and Jennifer Harbury, a longtime human rights lawyer based in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • BREAKING NEWS: Federal Trade Commission wins antitrust case against Qualcomm in Northern District of California

      Judge Koh is amazing. Just like I noticed at the January trial, she’s totally focused on the facts and not interested in lawyers’ rhetoric. And her ruling explains the complex commercial and technical issues in this case as well as applicable antitrust case law in a very understandable form (though it’s obviously still a complex matter).

      I am now still studying the findings of fact and conclusion of law in detail, and will continue to update this post accordingly, but this is a resounding victory for the FTC–and totally consistent with my coverage of and commentary on the January trial in San Jose (here and on Twitter). And a defeat for Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, whose subordinates made a last-minute submission that failed to persuade Judge Koh.

    • Bitcoin Patent Trolling

      Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 266. This is my appearance in Episode 36 of the Did You Know Crypto Podcast, with host Dustin. We talked “about the possibility of using patents as an attack vector on Bitcoin.” As Dustin summarized in his show notes: Stephan and I talk about… What is a Patent? Differences in EU/US & China Why is it so “hallowed” Open Source Software and patents What is a “Patent Troll” Craig Wright’s patents Can Bitcoin developers be sued?

    • Germany: What happens when prior art is described in a patent?

      In the decision Scheinwerferbelüftungssystem (X ZR 16/17), the German Federal Court of Justice was concerned with the issue of claim interpretation in terms of prior art described in the patent. As a general principle, highlighted in the decision, it must be considered for claim interpretation that a patent with its teaching seeks to delimit itself from prior art described therein. In particular, if the content of a state of the art description is equated with the preamble of a patent claim, the features of the characterising portion must, in case of doubt, not be construed as being part of the subject matter of the state of the art from which they shall differ.

    • Unified Patents Real Party-in-Interest (RPI) Decisions (May 2019 Update)

      Unified’s status as the sole RPI was challenged in its first IPR where the Board held that Unified was the sole RPI. Unified Patents Inc. v. Clouding IP, LLC, IPR2013-00586, Paper 9 (Mar. 21, 2014) (members were not found to be RPIs, where there was no evidence of funding or control of the particular IPR; challenged claims were later cancelled in a Final Written Decision issued April 26, 2015). As catalogued below, Unified overcame every such challenge in the proceeding years. As a result, many times Unified’s RPI status was no longer being challenged.

      But in 2018, the Federal Circuit had their first opportunity to review the Board’s developing RPI jurisprudence in a case involving a different membership organization. That opinion endorsed the Board’s long standing RPI test set forth in the Trial Practice Guide, but outlined facts particular to that situation (including a potential time-bar) and characteristics of that different membership organization that merited further scrutiny on remand. See Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corp., 897 F.3d 1336 (July 9, 2018) (“AIT”).

    • Inevitable Disclosure Injunctions Under the DTSA: Much Ado About § 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I)

      When trade secret law was federalized in 2016, some commentators and legislators expressed concern that federalization of trade secret law would make so-called “inevitable disclosure” injunctions against departing employees a federal remedy, and negatively impact employee mobility on a national scale.

      In response to such concerns, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) included a provision that is ostensibly designed to limit availability of inevitable disclosure injunctions under the DTSA. The limiting provision is codified in 18 U.S.C. 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I), discussed further below.

      The DTSA has been in effect for just over three years. My preliminary observation is that courts do not appear to view Section 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I) as placing novel limitations on employment injunctions in trade secret cases. They also do not seem to be wary of “inevitable disclosure” language.

    • Unified Launches CyberSecurity Zone with Industry Leading Members

      Unified Patents Inc., the world’s only membership organization dedicated to deterring Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) activity, today announced the launch of its Cybersecurity Protection Zone that seeks to deter unsubstantiated or invalid patent assertions within the ever-growing industry.

      Cybersecurity companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply for membership in the Cybersecurity Protection Zone, with complimentary membership for small-sized businesses and scaled pricing based on revenue for larger organizations. Membership already includes numerous industry leaders, including Cisco, McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, Rapid7, Red Hat and others.

    • Over 90% of Cybersecurity litigation is NPE related

      Unified is pleased to announce the creation of its Cybersecurity Zone, a new zone directed to protecting technology relating to network security systems. Similar to Unified’s other NPE Zones, the objective of the Cybersecurity Zone is to deter frivolous NPE assertions against companies that provide innovative solutions to cybersecurity issues using technologies such as threat detection and prevention, encryption, behavioral analytics, and authentication systems. A complete list of technologies covered by this Zone is available in the Cybersecurity Zone definition.

    • All Challenged Claims of Fall Line Patent Held Unpatentable; Unified Sole RPI

      On April 4, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Fall Line Patents, LLC, IPR2018-00043, holding as unpatentable claims 16-19, 21, and 22 of U.S. Patent No. 9,454,748, owned and asserted by Fall Line Patents, LLC, an NPE. The final written decision was made publicly available on May 16, 2019. The ‘748 patent is generally directed to collecting data from a handheld computing device by means of a questionnaire on the handheld computing device and transmitting responses, including GPS coordinates of the handheld computing device, to a server. The ‘748 patent has been asserted against numerous companies including American Airlines, AMC Entertainment, Boston Market,Choice Hotels, Cinemark Theatres, McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Starbucks, Uber, and Zoës Kitchen.

    • Velos Media Patent Likely Unpatentable

      On May 16, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims against U.S. Patent 9,338,449. The ’449 patent is currently owned and alleged to be standard essential by Velos Media, LLC, and was originally owned by Qualcomm, Inc. The ’449 patent is directed to scan order techniques for coding transform coefficients and expires in 2032.

      This filing is part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its new SEP Video Codec Zone. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. The ‘449 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the third-largest family known to be owned by Velos. It represents approximately 5.5% of Velos’ total known assets (and 6.25% of its total known U.S. assets). To date, Unified has challenged over 30% of Velos’ known assets.

    • Federal Circuit Affirms $1.3M Attorney’s Fees Award Under Octane Fitness Standard

      In a patent infringement suit where non-infringement may be easily determined, a lack of an adequate pre-suit investigation may be sufficient to result in an award of attorney’s fees to the accused party.

    • Finnavations LLC v. Payoneer, Inc. (D. Del. 2019)

      In the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, motions for an exceptional case and attorneys’ fees were granted on the basis that the patent owner brought suit with a software patent having claims so “ugly” that they had no chance to survive a challenge under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The case is Finnavations LLC v. Payoneer, Inc. and Finnavations LLC v. Stitch Labs, Inc. Here, Defendant Payoneer Inc. filed a Motion for Exceptional Case and Defendant Stitch Labs, Inc. filed a Motion for Attorneys’ Fees after prevailing in the action by invalidating the asserted patent under § 101. The District Court granted each of these motions and offered some strong opinions on the invalidity of the patent. However, it’s difficult to see, based on current standards, how the patent claim is as “ugly” as the Court stated.

    • Hyper Search LLC v. Facebook Inc. (D. Del. 2018)

      In October 2017, Hyper Search brought a patent infringement action against Facebook in the District of Delaware, asserting U.S. Patent Nos. 6,085,219, 6,271,840, and 6,792,412. Facebook sought to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), alleging that all asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. While all three patents suffered a similar fate, the ’412 patent and the Court’s reasoning regarding this patent is of particular interest because the claims thereof specifically address machine learning.

      [...]

      Until a claim written in accordance with these techniques is subject of a § 101 challenge, the eligibility landscape of machine learning inventions will remain largely unmapped.

    • InterDigital expects to be able to license 5G tech to Huawei, despite U.S. ban

      InterDigital Wireless Inc said on Monday that it can license its 5G network technology to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd despite the threat of a U.S. ban on selling chips and software to the Chinese telecommunications firm, and patent attorneys said Qualcomm Inc likely also can do so.

    • United States: Paying Just Compensation for “Taking” Patents?

      Since the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Oil States rejected a constitutional challenge to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s authority to invalidate patents in post-grant reviews, patent owners in the United States have started exploring other constitutional challenges to these PTAB proceedings. Some patent owners have said that the PTAB violated their due process rights, and others have claimed that the PTAB’s Administrative Patent Judges were unconstitutionally appointed. Others have also raised the novel argument that the invalidation of a patent by the PTAB is an unconstitutional taking violating the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which provides that private property cannot be taken for public use without the payment of “just compensation.” But a threshold question for courts to address is this – is a patent a private property right subject to protection by the Takings Clause in the first place? In the upcoming months, the Federal Circuit will get its chance to weigh in on this very issue.

      [...]

      Whatever the outcome, Christy is a case worth watching – and the Supreme Court’s penchant for both Federal Circuit and Fifth Amendment cases may mean the issue may ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Interested parties – particularly those who own U.S. patents – may wish to weigh in with amicus filings to help the Federal Circuit’s consideration of this issue of first impression.

    • Trademarks
      • “Total win” for licensees in SCOTUS TM-bankruptcy ruling

        The US Supreme Court’s finding that bankrupt trademark licensors may not revoke licensees’ rights is a resounding victory for licensees, according to lawyers

        The 8-1 decision yesterday answered a longstanding question related to IP rights and the bankruptcy code.

      • In Mission Product Ruling, Supreme Court Clarifies Longstanding Circuit Split on Effects of Bankruptcy on Trademark Licenses
      • A “Conveyed” Trademark License Cannot be Rescinded in Bankruptcy

        Today’s Supreme Court trademark case has several important nuggets for intellectual property owners. Here are two: First, TM licensing is somewhat clarified with the holding that a bankrupt mark-holder cannot simply cancel prior licenses as part of the bankruptcy. Second, the court’s holding here treats a TM license effectively as a property right that has been transferred rather than a contract with ongoing mutual obligations. In bankruptcy proceedings, ongoing contracts can ordinarily be rejected by the bankruptcy trustee while prior property transfers are only rarely rolled-back.

      • Maximizing Licensee Interests to the Detriment of the Bankruptcy Estate

        As a guest blogger on this site invited to talk a bit about Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, I approach this topic with some consternation. The Supreme Court’s position in this case has broken the traditional understanding of § 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, and may have larger ramifications for how we read the Bankruptcy Code overall.

        Let me back up a bit. Bankruptcy provides some pretty fantastic opportunities for debtors to shift the traditional balance of power between them and their creditors, which is typically why companies are motivated to file. A struggling or insolvent company doesn’t need bankruptcy – they could attempt a creditor-by-creditor workout, use state court proceedings, or just throw in the towel and let the creditors snap up assets in a race to the courthouse. Provisions in the Bankruptcy Code are intended to preserve and maximize value, often by restraining creditors from invoking their rights under state law. For example, the automatic stay prohibits secured creditors from repossessing the debtor’s property, even if the debtor has clearly defaulted on its security agreement. As long as the debtor remains in bankruptcy, it retains control of the property and there is nothing the creditor can do about it, other than petition the court for so-called “adequate protection” to cover the risk of loss or depreciation, or for an order of relief from the automatic stay, which will only be granted if the debtor doesn’t need the property to reorganize. The stay gives a debtor the chance to make more of the property, which benefits all creditors of the estate. There are tons of other examples, all of which paint the picture of the Bankruptcy Code as a place where rights are reevaluated and often held in abeyance, so long as this reevaluation is in the interest of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate, and by extension, its creditors.

    • Copyrights
      • US Magistrate Judge Provides The Template To End Copyright Trolling With Ruling Against Strike 3

        While we’ve been busily pointing out that the practice of copyright trolling is a plague across the globe, it seems there is something of a backlash beginning to build. For far too long, copyright trolls have bent the court system to their business model, with discovery requests and subpoenas allowing them to unmask internet service account holders on the basis of IP addresses, and then using that information to send settlement/threat letters to avoid trials altogether. Put simply, that is the business model of the copyright troll. The backlash against it has been multi-pronged. Canada has begun restricting what types of threat letters trolls can force ISPs to send to their customers, for instance. Elsewhere, Swedish ISPs have have led something of a legislative crusade against copyright trolls. In the US, some courts are finally realizing how bad IP addresses are as evidence, pushing trolls to get something better.

        But the key to ending the plague of copyright trolling has probably been best outlined in a recent decision by a US Magistrate Judge against Strike 3 Holdings, in which the judge argues using Strike 3′s own statistical analysis that it is abusing the court system to the detriment of innocent people.

      • Monday Miscellany [Ed: After (only after) they sold a law to billionaires they merely discuss "implementation"]

        On 13th of June, the European Copyright Roundtable will take place in Brussels. It will focus on Article 17 (ex-13) DSMD that regulates online content sharing service providers. Academics and industry representatives will discuss interpretations and possible implementations of Article 17 DSMD and its various components. The event is structured into four panels: (a) General issues; (b) Licensing issues; (c) Preventive obligations; (d) Over-removal of the legitimate content. The event is organized and funded by Tilburg Law School (Martin Husovec) and CREATe, University of Glasgow (Martin Kretschmer).

      • Open Letter: Copyright Working Group Must Include NGO Voices

        Here is the open letter signed by Liberties and more than 40 other human and digital rights organizations calling for their inclusion in the implementation process of the EU Copyright Directive.
        Dear President Juncker, Dear First Vice-President Timmermans, Dear Vice-President Ansip, Dear Commissioner Gabriel, Dear Director General Roberto Viola,

        The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organizations, the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities from across the European Union.

        The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been adopted and, as soon as it is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to implement the new rules. Article 17, on ‘certain uses of protected content by online services’, foresees that the European Commission will issue guidance on the application of this Article.

      • Cross-border ‘illegal’ linking: questions of localization and choice of law

        In GS Media the CJEU found that, where it is established that the person linking knew or ought to have known that the hyperlink provides access to a work illegally placed on the internet, the provision of that link constitutes a communication to the public. How the CJEU characterized linking is unique in the sense that it presupposes the existence of two communications to the public: provision of the hyperlink and the publication of the linked content. The illegality of latter is a legal condition of the first.

        The most common form of linking concerns the situation where a hyperlink is posted on a website leading to content published on another website. More often than not, these websites have different connecting factors. The servers of the websites may be situated in different countries, the content and the languages may be different, and thus the intended audience may too be different. Furthermore, the acts of publishing committed by the individuals posting the link respectively material may take place in different countries.

Quality of Patents is Going Down the Drain and Courts Have Certainly Noticed

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019 07:01:29 AM

Judges don’t participate in this toxic agenda

Summary: Uncertainty or lack of confidence in the patent system has reached appalling levels because heads of patent offices are just striving to grant as many patents as possible, irrespective of the underlying law

TECHRIGHTS was never against patents. It was for patent quality — something that slipped at the European Patent Office (EPO) over the past decade or so (we wrote about software patents in Europe as early as the Brimelow days) and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well. 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice has meant that many granted US patents got thrown out by courts and sometimes by PTAB.

“It’s about legal firms, not about advancing science and technology.”Director Iancu in the US and António Campinos in Europe are both patent maximalists. They devalue patents by granting far too many of them, but what else should be expected considering their professional background? It’s about legal firms, not about advancing science and technology. It’s about litigation, not improvement of living standards.

The collapse of software patents in the US leads to their collapse elsewhere; as noted by Daniel Law’s Rana Gosain in this article (under software patents in Brazil):

The aftermath of the decision in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court decision in Alice v CLS Bank has brought about uncertainty and at the moment it appears difficult to propose substantial changes to the Brazilian IP law.

Good. What else is good? Even Donald Trump supporters recognise that Trump just put a patent trolls and litigation ‘mole’ inside the USPTO. As one supporter of Trump put it on Monday:

The previous director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office, Michelle Lee, had previously worked at Google and was well respected by all major product- and service-focused tech companies for her understanding of the need for a balance in the patent system: a balance between the interests of right holders in valid and enforceable intellectual property rights as well as the interest of the general public in preventing overbroad patents and, particularly, the enforcement of patents that should never have been granted in the first place.

Mrs. Lee’s predecessor, David Kappos, came from IBM, a company that has for some time been known for rather aggressive patent monetization (though they rarely litigate) and has, since leaving the USPTO, been lobbying hard for broad and strong patents. That said, he respected legislative and judicial decisions without a doubt, and compared to the current USPTO director Andrei Iancu his actual decisions at the helm of the USPTO were the ones of a centrist, and clearly not those of an extremist. He had his views and beliefs, but a reasonable agenda.

Director Iancu used to be the managing partner of Irell & Manella, a renowned L.A. law firm with a particular focus on patent enforcement. Presuambly they also represent defendants, but interestingly, I’ve always heard of them only when they were counsel for plaintiffs.

There are various respects in which Director Iancu is trying hard to turn the legislative and judicial tide–which is an agenda that the executive branch of government shouldn’t have, but sometimes that’s unfortunately the way it is.

[...]

This is the mission statement of a patent radical and of someone who doesn’t appear to understand that he has a responsibility not only for patentees and for litigation firms like the one he used to chair, but also–in fact, even more so–for the economy and society at large.

The unspecified reference to “the public alike” doesn’t counterbalance his focus on “rights owners” and their interests.

The way Director Iancu modified the claim construction standard for post-grant reviews (by instructing PTAB judges to apply the narrower standard used in infringement proceedings) has nothing to do with greater predictability: decisions were equally predictable before, but it used to be harder to defend weak patents.

[...]

Those of us promoting a balanced patent system must keep a close eye on what’s going on at the USPTO under Director Iancu. I anticipate more posts on the USPTO, and especially on inter partes reviews, going forward.

There’s growing disdain and resistance against this. Earlier this month we wrote about the EPO using European Inventor Award to promote software patents and earlier this week Benjamin Henrion said: “The EPO’s spending on the “European Inventor Award” has no legal basis in the EPC. The EPO should better spend this money on something more useful. Furthermore, patents on computer programs are forbidden by art52.2 EPC.”

“Even Donald Trump supporters recognise that Trump just put a patent trolls and litigation ‘mole’ inside the USPTO.”These are, in effect, illegal patents. Why offer rewards for these?

Meanwhile, as it turns out based on a new press release, the EPO admits, yet again, that it granted (or nearly granted) a fake European Patent; why the change of heart? The UK High Court:

Estar Medical has been successful in revoking Regenlab’s original PRP patent in the European Patent Office (EPO) opposition proceedings. This ruling follows a recent judgment by the UK High Court which also found the Regenlab PRP patent invalid…

Courts are again stepping in, applying law unlike the Office. These courts do not measure their “success” in terms of revenue.

We’re disturbed to see the EPO granting patents on life, on nature, on maths…

These patents are not legal. Granting these patents would be a violation of the EPC. But the EPO’s management gives staff quite a dilemma: break the law or get fired.

“These patents are not legal. Granting these patents would be a violation of the EPC.”The management of the EPO is trying to trick examiners into thinking that what they do is compliant, but it’s not. They keep using all sorts of buzzwords and misleading semantics (which courts reject). Here’s a report from yesterday in which “Kazuhiko Ishimaru, general manager of licensing at the multinational electronics company [Panasonic, feeder of patent trolls], shares insights on IP strategies in an age of AI, IoT and big data” (to quote the summary).

Panasonic is a patent parasite and it promotes abstract patents under guise of buzzwords, “AI, IoT and big data…”

Why not add “4IR”, “blockchain” and “Industry 4.0″?

We’ve meanwhile noticed that Bardehle Pagenberg continues pushing the software patents agenda at the EPO (for profit regardless of the law). It’s doing that in paid-for ‘articles’ and many tweets like this one. It’s no secret that nowadays the EPO grants all sorts of dodgy patents (over 100,000 of them a year), so what is this company bragging about in this new press release? Presumption of invalidity is becoming reasonable as rates of validity have fallen sharply.

“The way things stand, European courts will continue to reject a lot of European Patents, putting in doubt just about all the work done by the EPO since the Battistelli years (fake ‘production’).”The only way for the EPO to survive a ‘bloodbath’ is to change the law or get rid of courts. Complicit media like IAM has been paid to help with that agenda. Watch what IAM has just paid to promote (lawyers put patent monopoly/greed ahead of public safety) and this other IAM piece about patents on plants at the EPO. These malicious people are hoping to just bypass courts, expanding the scope of patents and miraculously rendering fake patents “valid”. Mind this latest UPC jingoism from Joff Wild and his paid-for (to promote UPC) colleagues. There’s another new example from IP Law Galli’s Cesare Galli, presumably what qualifies as “Team UPC”. There’s this new ‘article’ (actually lobbying by a law firm) titled “Unitary patent and UPC – Italy moves forward” [1, 2] and it’s about as laughable as this year’s necrophilia from Bristows. Italy Moves forward with a dead thing? Like Sam Gyimah did one year ago (just before resigning)? The UPC spin has taken new forms. Here’s the opening sentence:

The government recently adopted provisions to coordinate national legislation with the EU Unitary Patent Regulation and the Unified Patent Court (UPC)…

That’s the equivalent of marrying a dead partner posthumously because there’s no UPC and barriers to it have only piled up. The way things stand, European courts will continue to reject a lot of European Patents, putting in doubt just about all the work done by the EPO since the Battistelli years (fake ‘production’).

EUIPO and EPO Abuses Growingly Inseparable

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019 06:11:49 AM

Bleeding reputation

Summary: ‘Musical chairs’ at CEIPI and the EPO/EUIPO (Battistelli, Archambeau, Campinos) as well as joint reports never fail to reveal the extent to which EPO abuses are spreading

OUR 5-year research into abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO) often led us not astray but into abuses at other institutions. EUIPO, for instance, does not have a shortage of scandals; for instance, recall António Campinos/Battistelli 'musical chairs' at CEIPI, immunity scandals, nepotism/entryism, and outsourcing.

Now that Campinos is the President at the EPO he’s promoting software patents in Europe and doing just about nothing to improve anything; later this month he might even give 30 million euros to a company with roots in the Third Reich.

“What has Campinos brought to the EPO? Nothing.”In Twitter, IAM has just resorted to facts-free name-calling against me, seeing that we covered the back room story about how Christian Archambeau's appointment was 'fixed'. He’s still head of the EUIPO and now he has his “first press briefing,” on which World Trademark Review/IAM was very eager to ‘report’ (and yes, it’s an incredible puff piece or marketing). The summary says: “Christian Archambeau sat down with journalists earlier today in what was his first press briefing since he became executive director of the EUIPO. In a wide-ranging discussion, he revealed various plans that the office has in the works.”

IAM aren’t “journalists”; they’re paid by the very same institutions they cover, e.g. EPO. Sadly, EUIPO is quickly becoming the same thing EPO was about 5 years ago, owing to nepotism and corruption (the head of the EUIPO came from EPO and head of EPO came from EUIPO; sometimes known as “cross-pollination”).

“New study looks at relationship between SMEs, growth and use of Intellectual Property Rights,” says the summary of this EPO “news” (warning: epo.org link), promoted in Twitter under the title “Joint EPO-EUIPO study finds strong link between growth of SMEs and their use of IP” [sic] (mixing two totally different things, patents and trademarks).

“Campinos brought Battistelli back to the EPO. Just less than a year after he had left.”Can one even tell the difference between those two anymore? Except one being EU-tied and the other predating the EU?

What has Campinos brought to the EPO? Nothing. A delusion or a false hope of change.

Have a look at Barney Dixon’s article, which was cited by SUEPO this week. The author rightly notes that it took Campinos ‘only’ a year to merely speak about MoU with SUEPO chiefs (it took him 5 months to merely face them) and staff representatives remain punished after union-busting activities. From the article:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) met with the office’s president, António Campinos, last Thursday (16 May) to discuss a framework for a memorandum of understanding between the office and SUEPO.

While details from the meeting have not yet emerged, in an open letter ahead of the meeting, SUEPO said it was not prepared to prioritise a discussion on a memorandum of understanding over the issue of the unlawful sanctions against European Patent Office (EPO) staff.

It said that these negotiations could only go hand in hand with progress achieved in the other topics, including the settlement of sanctions.

SUEPO claims that, despite many statements from Campinos outlining his intention to restore social dialogue at the office, it was only in December, five months after he took office, that he first met with SUEPO Central.

The union also claims that Campinos failed to organise a follow-up meeting in January 2019.

SUEPO is the largest union at the EPO, representing more than half of staff office-wide.

[...]

It was carried out in order to establish a baseline to measure progress as the new EPO strategy is rolled out from summer 2019 onwards; give EPO staff a chance to have their say at an important time for the office and compare results with relevant external benchmarks.

The EPO’s Central Staff Committee said the results are “neither a surprise nor a statistical anomaly … Instead, they are a dangerous continuation of a long-standing trend, that of a sinking ship.”

So the EPO is still going down the drain, based on the employees of the EPO. Notice this new comment responding to this: “It also shows the responsibility of the Administrative Council. They simply cannot trust anything even the new President, Campinos, puts on the table.”

The response: “Does that mean that they will be employing food-tasters at the upcoming Inventor of the Year Sommerfest in Vienna?”

“They’re hijacked by few corrupt individuals who assign (gift) top posts to friends and colleagues, not people best qualified for the job; they become exceedingly rich at the expense of Europe and if the institutions collapse in the process, so be it (the way they see it).”Remember that they’ve added Battistelli as a jurist. On technical matters (Battistelli has no background in science). Campinos brought Battistelli back to the EPO. Just less than a year after he had left.

Here’s another new comment: “The Office issued a new financial study. Märpel should try to get it. The study concludes that the EPO equity will be negative, but omits all planned fee increases while keeping regular increases in costs. Hence, it seems that Campinos, just like Battistelli, will not hesitate to publish bogus studies to serve his plans.”

These institutions are victims of corruption at the higher/highest level. They’re hijacked by few corrupt individuals who assign (gift) top posts to friends and colleagues, not people best qualified for the job; they become exceedingly rich at the expense of Europe and if the institutions collapse in the process, so be it (the way they see it).

Links 21/5/2019: China’s GAFAM Exit, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3

Tuesday 21st of May 2019 04:28:00 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • The Huawei Ban: Will Linux Replace Windows On Future Huawei Laptops?

    As I write this, Bloomberg has learned that other U.S-based tech giants like Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom will cut off their supply of components to Huawei. Losing access to Intel processors will obviously affect future Huawei laptops, but what about the operating system Huawei will ship on these devices? What about the installation of Windows 10 you currently have on your Huawei laptop?

    [...]

    Linux Out Of The Box?

    We know that Huawei has prepared for this situation by developing its own in-house alternative operating systems to both Android and Windows, though the state of said development is unknown.

    Its Windows alternative is almost certainly a custom Linux distribution. And it’s not far-fetched to speculate that Huawei has it playing nicely on its own processors.

  • Huawei’s “plan B” smartphone OS: What it needs to succeed

    Vultures have been circling Huawei with a renewed fervor over the past six months, with flimsy claims of backdoors and the arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada last December. Last week, President Trump signed an executive order restricting US firms from doing business with the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer—prompting Google to suspend Huawei’s use of Play Services, a component that delivers Google’s proprietary services on Android devices.

    Likewise, US-based chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Qorvo, Xilinx, Micron, and Western Digital have halted shipments following the order. German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon similarly stopped shipments temporarily to assess compliance requirements. While Huawei has reportedly kept a supply of chips on hand under the expectation of sanctions—and their HiSilicon division makes them better positioned to weather this storm than ZTE was when subjected to sanctions last May—the company is still extensively reliant on software and hardware from the US.

  • Desktop
    • South Korea’s Government is Switching to Linux

      The country’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety reckon that migrating away from Microsoft Windows will lower costs and reduce reliance on a single operating system.

      With 2020 bringing the end of “free” support for Windows 7, a system widely used throughout the South Korean government, the timing is prudent.

      There’s no word (yet) on what sort of Linux distribution South Korea might use (or whether the government would create its own) but let’s not put the cart before the horse: there are a few hurdles Linux needs to clear first…

    • South Korea eyes Linux as Windows 7 end of support nears

      As reported by the Korea Herald, the nation’s Interior Ministry last week announced plans for a potentially major Linux deployment as part of a plan to cut tech costs and reduce its reliance on a single operating system.

      It’s not known what mix of Windows 7 and Windows 10 the Korean government currently uses, however the plan to adopt Linux more widely comes as organizations around the world prepare for the end of Windows 7 support on January 14, 2020.

    • Kernel 5.2-rc1 Is Out, Xfce 4.14 Pre-Release Now Available, Microsoft Open-Sources Its SPTAG Algorithm, South Korean Government Switching to Linux and Arduino Launches Four New Nano Boards

      The South Korean government plans to switch to Linux as the end of Windows 7 support nears.

    • South Korean government plans to ditch Windows

      The South Korean government is planning to switch its operating system (OS) from Windows to Linux, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has announced.

      According to the Korea Herald, the changeover will begin with a test-run of Linux OS on PCs within the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on private networked devices. Linux will be introduced more widely across government systems if a trial period passes with no issues arising with regards to security, or compatibility using software developed to run on Windows.

    • South Korea is switching to Linux ahead of the Windows 7 shutdown

      The Ministry of the Interior and Safety has confirmed it is making the change over cost concerns, as well as trying to stop the current stranglehold of a single operating system (ie Windows).

      It was fairly inevitable that we’d get some switch-outs over the coming months, given that Windows 7 machines will need to be upgraded to Windows 10 (at cost) during the rest of the year, ahead of the older OS reaching end-of-life in January.

      The document doesn’t talk in terms of timetables, nor of which Linux distro or distros are favoured. Its Northern neighbour already uses a customised Linux distro called Red Star, but it got more security holes than an Emmental Facebook.

      The cost of the changeover has been put at around $655m (£514m). It’s not clear how much that will save, and when the break-even point will be.

      Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that Microsoft will throw money at South Korea in an attempt to change its mind. That’s exactly what happened when Munich switched allegiance back in 2005-6.

    • South Korea moves from Windows to Linux

      In an effort to prepare for Windows 7′s End of Life early next year, South Korea has revealed that all of its government computers will soon make the switch from Windows to Linux.

      The official Windows 7 End of Life is set for January, 14 2020 and Microsoft has said that it will provide support for up to three years after that date though companies will need to pay.

      However, for governments such as South Korea which depend on Windows 7, the cost of extended support could quickly become too high to manage. For example, support for Windows Enterprise users using Windows 7 for the first year after the End of Life date will cost $25 per device. This price rises to $50 per device for year two and $100 for year three.

    • South Korean government opts for Linux instead of Windows 10

      The South Korean government believes Windows will be too expensive to support in the future, and in a bid to reduce costs the country plans to transition to the open-source Linux. While there will still be costs associated with support and new PCs, it’s believed there will be both cost reductions and a reduced dependency on a single operating system.
      Earlier this year, Microsoft signaled the end of support for Windows 7, which still powers many machines around the globe. Aside from shelling out serious cash for paid support, most users will have little choice but to migrate to a newer version of Windows.
      However, South Korea has opted to change operating systems entirely, perhaps to Microsoft’s dismay. The South Korean Ministry of Interior and Safety announced plans to migrate to Linux, starting with a trial of sorts to test for compatibility and security. Assuming there’s no mishaps, a broad rollout could commence shortly thereafter.

  • Server
    • CloudLinux OS Feature Survey – CLOSING SOON

      We’re closing this CloudLinux OS feature survey at the end of this month. We’ll publish the results after the survey has closed.

      Thanks to everyone who participated. If you didn’t, there’s still time to share your views on the direction of CloudLinux OS. It only takes a few minutes.

    • May 30 virtual event explores digital leadership in financial services

      Today’s financial services businesses are faced with the need to drive new and better digital products, services, and efficiencies to improve customer loyalty and competitive advantage. Payments, authorizations, and risk and fraud assessments are embedded as part of everyday events rather than an event unto itself, with the need for speed—now often in fractions of a second—blurring the lines between front office and back office operational processing. Financial services companies need to balance the costs of renewing systems with the costs of adopting new, innovative technologies, while seeking advantages from automation, real time assessments, embedded intelligence, and more.

    • CentOS 8 Release Map And It’s Details

      We already know that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 was released on 2019-05-07, and everyone is waiting for CentOS 8 release.

      Most of us doesn’t have active subscription to download Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 from the Red Hat Customer Portal.

      We have to wait till CentOS 8 release to test this out.

    • OpenShift 4: Red Hat’s on ramp for the hybrid cloud

      In this next generation of Red Hat’s Kubernetes platform, Red Hat explicitly stated OpenShift 4 is designed to deliver a cloud-like experience across the hybrid cloud by driving automated updates across Kubernetes deployments everywhere. Or, as Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst summed it up: “Make open hybrid cloud the default architecture.”

      In more detail, Ashesh Badani, Red Hat senior vice president of Cloud Platforms, said: “Enterprise IT’s future is driven by hybrid and multicloud computing, with Kubernetes acting as a bridge to seamlessly connect workloads between on-premise datacenters and public cloud footprints. Red Hat OpenShift 4 makes this vision of Kubernetes a reality, offering a consistent, self-managing enterprise Kubernetes platform that spans the hybrid cloud.”

    • Sudo + syslog-ng: two software at two conferences

      Recently I visited two conferences: LOADays and Red Hat Summit. They both focus on open source software, but similarities end there. LOADays in Antwerp is small, free and focuses on Linux administrators. The Red Hat Summit in Boston is huge, expensive and covers a wide variety of topics, including administration among many others. No matter of the differences, both are among my favorite events.

      Why sudo? Last year Balabit, the company where I work, was acquired by One Identity. Todd Miller, developer of sudo became my colleague. I was happy to see another open source software around. I read sudo and learned that it has many more features than I knew about, even if I have been using it for decades. So, next to syslog-ng I started to evangelize sudo as well, demonstrating how much more it can be than a simple prefix to administrative commands.

    • Software Defined Storage: The Next Killer App for Cloud

      It’s never going to be possible to completely disconnect software from hardware. Indeed, hardware development is having a bit of a rebirth as young developers rediscover things like the 6502, homebrew computing, and 8-bit assembly languages. If this keeps going, in 20 years developers will reminisce fondly and build hobby projects in early IoT platforms, using 2007-era cloud APIs with old refrigerator-sized storage arrays.

      In my experience, storage hardware has remained something of a legacy boat anchor in many enterprises: you don’t mess around when it comes to storing your company’s long term data or selecting storage providers for your lights-on, business critical applications. Governments demand it be retained, and data scientists are increasingly building new algorithms based on giant old datasets. For a time after the cloud revolution began in the late 2000’s it seemed that storage hardware wouldn’t be moving to x86 cloud-based virtual machines–much less Linux containers–anytime soon.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Batteries are Leaking | Coder Radio 358

      A strong argument against Python’s batteries included model exposes some bigger problems the community is struggling with. We chat about all of it.

      Plus lessons learned six years after a project, a new tool, and some feedback.

    • SMLR 307 Night of The Living Daemon
    • This Week in Linux 67 | Zombieload, Nextcloud, Peppermint 10, KDE Plasma, IPFire, ArcoLinux, LuneOS

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll check out some Distro News from Peppermint OS, ArcoLinux, LuneOS & IPFire. We got a couple apps to talking about like Nextclou0…d and a new Wallpaper tool that has quite a bit of potential. We’ll take a look at what is to come with the next version of KDE Plasma. Intel users have gotten some more bad news regarding a new security vulnerability. Later in the show, we’ll cover some interesting information regarding a couple governments saving money by switching to Linux. Then finally we’ll check out some Linux Gaming News. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

  • Kernel Space
    • Some Btrfs vs Ext4 random-read/write performance observations

      I’ve been using XFS as a very conservative file system choice for the last four years or so after being burned by BtrFS file system corruptions a couple of times in a row. However, I’ve been working more with many small files lately to build this blog using a static website generator. Performance hasn’t been great and I’ve also found a need for recording file creation times, something which isn’t natively supported by XFS.

      My hardware setup have consisted of two old fashioned spinning software mirrored 4 terabyte hard drives for my home directory. I’ve used these drives as a backing drive with a Samsung 960 EVO NVMe solid state drive as a LVM cache drive for performance. I stopped using LVM cache disk a few months ago as I wanted to enable full-drive encryption and it also prevented my system from hibernating; a problem LVM caches share with BCache. I considered trying BCache anyway, but luckily decided against it just days before people started noticing drive corruptions with BCache on GCC 9 and Linux 5.

      After a careful review I decided to slim down my home directory and move over to the NVMe with an LUKS encrypted BtrFS file system. I’ve had bad experiences with this file system in the past, but surely something has happened in the last four years, right? I decided to give it a fourth chance in the interest of getting a more modern file system. I had to move a lot of files over to a separate drive, but cleaning up your home directory never hurt anyone (assuming you have proper backups).

    • Xen Developers Continue Work On CPU Core Scheduling Support

      Sent out earlier this month is the second version of the Xen core scheduling patches that allow for CPU core and socket-level scheduling by this virtualization hypervisor.

      The focus of this core/socket-level scheduling is to ensure the same VM(s) share the vCPU threads, which is more important these days in light of the various CPU speculative execution vulnerabilities that make Hyper Threading look particularly unsafe.

    • Do you know what IVBP, ROMB or UTOK are?

      First, thanks to everyone for the all the help with UEFI modules. There are a ton left, but also a lot done, so we’re getting there. If anyone is intimately familiar with ME firmware, I’d also really like some help with this Intel Management Engine document too. Thanks!

    • Purism and the Linux Kernel

      We’re especially proud of our kernel contributions – where 13 patches have made it into 5.1. Since this is our first installment, it also includes the changes that went into 5.0 and 4.20. Bellow is a list of our most recent contributions.

    • Creating and using a custom Linux kernel on Guix System

      Guix is, at its core, a source based distribution with substitutes, and as such building packages from their source code is an expected part of regular package installations and upgrades. Given this starting point, it makes sense that efforts are made to reduce the amount of time spent compiling packages, and recent changes and upgrades to the building and distribution of substitutes continues to be a topic of discussion within Guix.

      One of the packages which I prefer to not build myself is the Linux-Libre kernel. The kernel, while not requiring an overabundance of RAM to build, does take a very long time on my build machine (which my children argue is actually their Kodi computer), and I will often delay reconfiguring my laptop while I want for a substitute to be prepared by the official build farm. The official kernel configuration, as is the case with many GNU/Linux distributions, errs on the side of inclusiveness, and this is really what causes the build to take such a long time when I build the package for myself.

      The Linux kernel, however, can also just be described as a package installed on my machine, and as such can be customized just like any other package. The procedure is a little bit different, although this is primarily due to the nature of how the package definition is written.

    • Improved Logitech wireless device support in kernel 5.2

      The just released 5.2-rc1 kernel includes improved support for Logitech wireless keyboards and mice. Until now we were relying on the generic HID keyboard and mouse emulation for 27 MHz and non-unifying 2.4 GHz wireless receivers.

      Starting with the 5.2 kernel instead we actually look at the devices behind the receiver. This allows us to provide battery monitoring support and to have per device quirks, like device specific HID-code to evdev-code mappings where necessary. Until now device specific quirks where not possible because the receivers have a generic product-id which is the same independent of the device behind the receiver.

      The per device key-mapping is especially important for 27MHz wireless devices, these use the same HID-code for Fn + F1 to Fn + F12 for all devices, but the markings on the keys differ per model. Sofar it was impossible for Linux to get the mapping for this right, but now that we have per device product-ids for the devices behind the receiver we can finally fix this. As is the case with other devices with vendor specific mappings, the actual mapping is done in userspace through hwdb.

    • The Better Logitech Wireless Device Support In The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      Red Hat’s Hans de Goede who was involved in this latest Logitech support improvement work for the Linux 5.2 kernel has now blogged to share additional background information on the effort.

    • Graphics Stack
      • SiFive RISC-V SoCs Can Now Be Paired With A GPU… Imagination’s PowerVR

        If you want a SiFive SoC for the royalty-free, open-source RISC-V architecture it’s now possible to pair it with graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics option is about as far from open-source as possible.

      • WebRender newsletter #45

        WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

      • Mozilla GFX: Graphics Team ships WebRender MVP!

        After many months of hard work and preparation, I’m pleased to announce the general availability of WebRender for selected Windows 10 devices. WebRender is a major rewrite of the Firefox rendering architecture using the same kind of GPU-based acceleration techniques used by games.

      • SVT-AV1 0.5 Released As Intel’s Speedy AV1 Video Encoder

        While we have been reporting on and benchmarking the Intel SVT video encoders since February, they were only officially announced last month and this Sunday marks their first tagged release for the AV1 encoder in the form of SVT-AV1 0.5.0.

        SVT-AV1 0.5 is easily one of the fastest AV1 CPU-based video encoders and has been performing excellent in our tests, including continued daily benchmarks of it in keeping track of its performance.

      • Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.4 Released With Fixes & Improvements

        Less than one month after releasing the Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.3, the Intel team maintaining “IGC” today released version 1.0.4.

        The only changes to this LLVM-based graphics compiler for Intel GEN graphics hardware are “minor fixes and improvements.”

      • RadeonSI Primitive Culling Lands In Mesa 19.2

        The past few months AMD’s Marek Olšák has been working on primitive culling support for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver and last week that code was merged into the Mesa 19.2 development code.

        Marek has been working on primitive culling via asynchronous compute prior to the vertex shader process to eliminate geometry that ends up being invisible. Marek found that this functionality helps in workloads like the workstation ParaView software we use as part of our OpenGL test suite.

      • X.Org’s XDC2019 Issues Call For Proposals On Wayland, Mesa, X.Org, Etc

        X.Org’s annual event, the X.Org Developers’ Conference, is running like a well-oiled machined these days. While there are still months to go until XDC2019 in Montreal, a Call for Proposals has been issued for those wishing to speak at this annual gathering that pertains to Wayland, Mesa, libinput, Cairo, and related components as well, yes, the X.Org Server.

    • Benchmarks
      • A Look At The MDS Cost On Xeon, EPYC & Xeon Total Impact Of Affected CPU Vulnerabilities

        This weekend I posted a number of benchmarks looking at the performance impact of the new MDS/Zombieload vulnerabilities that also included a look at the overall cost of Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS on Intel desktop CPUs and AMD CPUs (Spectre). In this article are similar benchmarks but turning the attention now to Intel Xeon hardware and also comparing those total mitigation costs against AMD EPYC with its Spectre mitigations.

        This article offers a look at the MDS/Zombieload mitigations on a 1st Gen Skylake Xeon Scalable server as well as a Kabylake Xeon E3 server for reference. Following that is a look at the total CPU vulnerability mitigation costs for 1st Gen Xeon Scalable, 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake), and an AMD EPYC 2P server as well for its Spectre mitigations.

        As expected given Intel’s guidance last week of their latest Xeon processors being mitigated for MDS, indeed, the dual Xeon Platinum 8280 Cascade Lake server reported it was not affected by the MDS mitigations and thus not enabled. So for the MDS tests up first it’s just some reference results using a dual Xeon Gold 6138 Skylake server running Ubuntu 19.04 with the Linux 5.0 patched kernel and reference results side-by-side for a separate Xeon E3-1275 v6 server.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • The Two Solitudes of GNOME and KDE

      Novelist Hugh MacLennan once described Canada as “two solitudes” — an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one, neither of which had much to do with the other. The description is decades out-dated, and today a dozen solitudes might be more accurate. However, the phrase echoes in my mind whenever I think of the gulf today between GNOME technologies and KDE software compilations. Although both are based on the Linux kernel, the expectations and philosophies are different enough that they might almost be different operating systems.

      The difference has not always existed. When GNOME and KDE began in the late 1990s, both were scrambling hard to match desktops on other operating systems. Widgets aside, the differences were minimal. For years the two graphical interfaces regularly traded places on reader surveys, with perhaps a slight edge for GNOME, depending on the magazine or site conducting the survey. Flame wars could be fierce, but like many flame wars, the fierceness reflected how trivial the differences mostly were — at least, after KDE’s Qt toolkit became free software. The difference was largely one of branding.

      Still, GNOME and KDE each slowly developed its own ecosystem of applications. A few applications like OpenOffice.org were shared, presumably because developing alternative for large applications was difficult. Moreover, the popularity of some apps like Firefox overwhelmed native alternatives like KDE’s Konqueror. But in categories like music-players, archivers, and CD burners, each slowly started to developed its own set of tools.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • This Summer with Kdenlive

        Hi! I’m Akhil K Gangadharan and I’ve been selected for GSoC this year with Kdenlive. My project is titled ‘Revamping the Titler Tool’ and my work for this summer aims to kickoff the complete revamp of one of the major tools used in video-editing in Kdenlive, called the Titler tool.

        [...]

        After the backend is done with, we begin integrating it with Kdenlive and evolve the titler to use the new backend.

        A great long challenge lies ahead, and I’m looking forward to this summer and beyond with the community to complete writing the tool – right from the backend to the new UI.

      • Linux perf and KCachegrind

        If you occassionally do performance profiling as I do, you probably know Valgrind’s Callgrind and the related UI KCachegrind. While Callgrind is a pretty powerful tool, running it takes quite a while (not exactly fun to do with something as big as e.g. LibreOffice).

        Recently I finally gave Linux perf a try. Not quite sure why I didn’t use it before, IIRC when I tried it somewhen long ago, it was probably difficult to set up or something. Using perf record has very little overhead, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled by perf report. I mean, it’s text UI, and it just gives a list of functions, so if I want to see anything close to a call graph, I have to manually expand one function, expand another function inside it, expand yet another function inside that, and so on. Not that it wouldn’t work, but compared to just looking at what KCachegrind shows and seeing …

        When figuring out how to use perf, while watching a talk from Milian Wolff, on one slide I noticed a mention of a Callgrind script. Of course I had to try it. It was a bit slow, but hey, I could finally look at perf results without feeling like that’s an effort. Well, and then I improved the part of the script that was slow, so I guess I’ve just put the effort elsewhere :).

      • KDAB helps unu build Qt-based UI

        Those of you who’ve visited KDAB’s offices in Berlin, will know we have a fleet of electric scooters for our staff. You may have even tried one yourself!

        Today, unu, the Berlin-based mobility company that makes them, launches their latest electric scooter – the unu Scooter.

        The unu Scooter has been completely redeveloped, is more open to sharing and rental services and has the fastest acceleration you’ll find in any electric scooter, courtesy of its Bosch engine.

      • Help Test Plasma 5.16 Beta

        Plasma 5.16 beta was released last week and there?s now a further couple of weeks to test it to find and fix all the beasties. To help out download the Neon Testing image and install it in a virtual machine or on your raw hardware. You probably want to do a full-upgrade to make sure you have the latest builds. Then try out the new notifications system, or the new animated wallpaper settings or anything else mentioned in the release announcement. When you find a problem report it on bugs.kde.org and/or chat on the Plasma Matrix room. Thanks for your help!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Comparing Search between Nautilus and Nemo File Managers

        Personally, I like Nemo search better than Nautilus search as I need to sort everything I find and I cannot do that with Nautilus. I love sort by Date/Descending as I use it everyday.

        Apparently, not only me saying this. I don’t know why this once-existed feature removed in current versions of Nautilus, as normal interface provides sorting but search interface does not. I will not wonder if somebody ask “why not removing sort in the normal interface as well?” or such.

  • Distributions
    • 10 Best Linux Distros to Install on a USB Stick

      The GNU/Linux community is blessed with 100+ distributions and we do our best to cover only the best of them on FossMint so if you haven’t checked out titles like the Best Linux Distros for Laptops in 2019, 5 Operating Systems for the IoT, and the Top 10 GNU/Linux Distros for Privacy & Security then you probably should.

      Today, our attention is Linux distros that are perfect for running from USB sticks (and potentially other portable external storage devices) which means that we’ll be concentrating on portable Operating Systems.

      These are Operating Systems that are designed to be minimalist in their resource requirements i.e. they can run on hardware with little secondary storage space and/or little RAM.

      Portable Operating Systems also typically come in small enough sizes to fit on USB drives and CDs without losing the quality of their performance even when running on old machines. With that being said, here’s my list of the best portable Linux distributions.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
    • Fedora
      • Fedora Community Blog: GSOC 2019 – release-bot project

        On May 6, the selected students for Google summer of code 2019 were officially announced. We, as mentors of the release-bot project, would like to thank all applicants and provide insight into our decision process.

        Google summer of code is popular for the past several years which means that competition is really high. For our project, release-bot, this was definitely the case. We had several very promising candidates providing early contributions.

      • Manas and Marek: Improving Fedora release process

        Manas Mangaonkar (pac23) is working on the Change Management Tool, a tool for the Fedora Program Managers and contributors to propose, edit, and approve changes per Fedora’s change process. He was selected for Google Summer of Code 2019.

        We asked Manas a few questions as he prepares for his next three months working with Ben Cotton, his mentor for the summer.

    • Debian Family
      • Lenovo Hooks Up With Debian For DebConf 19

        Usually taking the top spot for DebConf sponsoring is the likes of Intel, HP Enterprise, or Google (to which the search/Android giant is back again this year at the platinum level). Interestingly, however, Lenovo has made the plunge to DebConf and have committed to being a platinum sponsor for this upcoming Debian GNU/Linux event. Platinum sponsors contribute at least $20,000 USD to Debian for the event.

      • Candy Tsai: Outreachy 2019 March-August Internship – The Application Process

        Really excited to be accepted for the project “Debian Continuous Integration: user experience improvements” (referred to as debci in this post) of the 2019 March-August round of the Outreachy internship! A huge thanks to my company and my manager Frank for letting me do this since I mentioned it out of the blue. Thanks to the Women Techmakers community for letting me know this program exists.

      • Derivatives
        • Linux distros without systemd

          If you are reading this post you’re very much likely not a fan of systemd already. So we won’t preach on why systemd is bad, but today we’ll focus more on what are the alternatives out there. Our approach is obviously not for settling for less but for changing things for the better. We have started the world after systemd project some time ago and the search isn’t over.

        • Linux Distros Without Systemd (2019)
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Expands Its Kernel Uploader Team

            As a sign of the times with the Linux kernel being affected by an increasing number of CVEs (and particularly high profile ones at that), there are now more Ubuntu developers with upload rights for sending down new kernel upgrades.

            Ubuntu’s Kernel Uploaders Team approved adding Tyler Hicks (a longtime Canonical developer working as an Ubuntu kernel engineer) to the kernel uploaders group as well as Juerg Haefliger (having worked on stable kernels and recent high profile CVE issues already) and Khalid Elmously (another Canonical employee and existing kernel team member).

          • Design and Web team summary – 10 May 2019

            It was another busy iteration for the web and design team, trying to get a lot of work wrapped up before we head off to Lyon, France for our 19.10 Roadmap cycle kick-off.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 579
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • Fedora Mexico: Three months of activities

      The Fedora contributors and enthusiast in Mexico city has monthly meetings since February.

    • Linux Security Summit 2019 North America: CFP / OSS Early Bird Registration

      The LSS North America 2019 CFP is currently open, and you have until May 31st to submit your proposal. (That’s the end of next week!)

      If you’re planning on attending LSS NA in San Diego, note that the Early Bird registration for Open Source Summit (which we’re co-located with) ends today.

    • Kubeflow at KubeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona

      Kubeflow, the Kubernetes native application for AI and Machine Learning, continues to accelerate feature additions and community growth. The community has released two new versions since the last Kubecon – 0.4 in January and 0.5 in April – and is currently working on the 0.6 release, to be released in July. The key features in each release are briefly discussed below.

    • Tracing Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Tracing Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! Its return to Linux Plumbers shows that tracing is not finished in Linux, and there continue to be challenging problems to solve.

      There’s a broad list of ways to perform Tracing in Linux. From the original mainline Linux tracer, Ftrace, to profiling tools like perf, more complex customized tracing like BPF and out-of-tree tracers like LTTng, systemtap, and Dtrace. Part of the trouble with tracing within Linux is that there is so much to choose from. Each of these have their own audience, but there is a lot of overlap. This year’s theme is to find those common areas and combine them into common utilities.

    • YottaDB at LFNW 2019

      YottaDB was happy to sponsor and attend the 2019 Linux Fest North West in Bellingham, WA on April 26 -28, 2019.

    • YottaDB

      At the core of YottaDB is a daemon-less hierarchical key-value database engine that executes within the address space of the application process, which makes in-memory calls to a YottaDB API. Processes cooperate with one another to manage the database, and the achievable throughput is limited by the underlying computing platform, rather than the potential single-point bottleneck of a daemon. Combining the database engine and application logic in a single process yields robustness, security, simplicity and performance.

  • LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is ready for testing

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is ready for testing!

      LibreOffice 6.3 will be released as final in mid August ( Check the Release Plan ) being LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 the first pre-release since the development of version 6.3 started in mid November, 2018. Since then, 6390 commits have been submitted to the code repository and more than 1050 bugs have been set to FIXED in Bugzilla. Check the release notes to find the new features included in this version of LibreOffice.

      LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is already available for downloading here, for Linux, MacOS and Windows.

  • Education
    • Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education to make physics experiments easier

      Higher secondary students will now be able to undertake physics experiments in digital form, courtesy the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE).

      KITE will make available a free and open source software (FOSS) and hardware ‘ExpEYES’ (Experiments for Young Engineers and Scientists) that can be connected to laptops. This facility for physics studies is in addition to the Maths IT labs that will be introduced this year.

      At present, 36 practical activities have been stipulated for higher secondary students.

      In addition to lab experiments, students can easily undertake electronics, electrical, mechanical, thermal, and sound experiments through ExpEYES, a recent statement from KITE said.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • One billion Linux desktops? [Ed: Pushing the nonsense that Linux counts only when it's spied on]
    • Neil Williams: New directions

      Third, my job hunting has shown that the centralisation of decentralised version control is still a thing. As far as recruitment is concerned, if the code isn’t visible on GitHub, it doesn’t exist. (It’s not the recruitment agencies asking for GitHub links, it is the company HR departments themselves.) So I had to add a bunch of projects to GitHub and there’s a link now in the blog.

  • BSD
    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 Released With Various Fixes

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 was released on Monday with just a hand full of changes over last month’s 5.4.2 point release.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 takes care of an SMP race condition within the PF code, fixes a FP bug in its kernel, restores the trim_enabled device sysctl, ensures the ca_root_nss certificate is installed, sets GID_TTY for non-root users by default, and stubs out pthread_equal() for its C library.

  • Programming/Development
    • Getting started with Source-to-Image for building container images

      Source-to-Image is an excellent tool for building container images for applications in a fast, flexible, and reproducible way. Usually abbreviated as S2I, Source-to-Image takes a base “builder” image with all the libraries and build tools needed to compile an application or install dependencies (like Python’s PIP or Ruby’s Bundler) and a set of scripts in predefined locations that are used to build, test, and run the application. Once the builder image is created, S2I can take code from a repository, inject it into the build image, compile or install dependencies, and generate an application image with the final application ready to go.

      I set out to learn how to build container images for applications written in Go (unofficially called Golang), and in over the next two articles, we will do so.

    • EuroPython 2019: Conference and training ticket sale opens today

      After the rush to the early-bird tickets last week (we sold more than 290 tickets in 10 minutes), we expect a rush to the regular and training tickets this week as well.
      We only have 300 training tickets available, so if you want to attend the training days, please consider getting your ticket soon.

    • Adding Pagination With Django

      While working on a modern web application quite often you will need to paginate the app be it for better user experience or performance. Fortunately, Django comes with built-in pagination classes for managing paginating data of your application.

      In this article, we will go through the pagination process with class-based views and function based views in Django.

    • Python’s Counter – Part 2

      Counter is an amazing tool that simplifies the task of counting items, but, No! it works only on iterables – there is more to this, so keep reading. In the meantime, what is an iterable? In basic terms, an iterable stores a sequence of values, or characters, which you can traverse.

    • Wing Tips: Selecting Logical Units of Python Code in Wing

      In this issue of Wing Tips we take a look at quickly selecting Python code in logical units, which can make some editing tasks easier.

    • Python 3.7.3 : Use the tweepy to deal with twitter api – part 002.
    • Python 3.7.3 : The google-cloud-vision python module – part 002.
    • Growth of a Population

      Hello and welcome back, in this episode we are going to solve a python related problem in Codewars. Before we start I just want to say that this post is related to python programming, you are welcome to leave your comments below this post if and only if they are related to the below solution, kindly do not leave any comment which has nothing to do with python programming under this article, thank you.

    • Overview of Async IO in Python 3.7
    • Test and Code: 74: Technical Interviews: Preparing For, What to Expect, and Tips for Success – Derrick Mar
    • Unicode & Character Encodings in Python: A Painless Guide
    • The google-cloud-vision python module – part 001.
    • The 2019 Rust Event Lineup
    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta Offers Bridge With Sketch Vector Graphics Editor

      Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta also introduces gradients support for shape-based items and other changes. More details on the Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta over on the Qt blog.

    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta released

      Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development tool that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and develop complex UIs. Both designers and developers use Qt Design Studio and this makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined. To get an impression, you should watch this video.

      The main addition for Qt Design Studio 1.2 is the Sketch Bridge. It is now possible to export your scenes from Sketch and import them to Qt Design Studio 1.2.

    • ESR Switches To Threadripper But His GCC SVN-To-Git Conversion Could Still Take Months

      It looks like the saga of converting the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) source tree from SVN to Git isn’t over yet and could still take months until completion.

      As written about last week, a Linaro developer worked on a Bash script leveraging Git-SVN for converting GCC’s SVN to Git as while Eric S Raymond has been working on the effort for many months using his homegrown “Reposurgeon” utility, it hasn’t yet panned out. Reposurgeon in last year’s form was too memory hungry and slow while ultimately he began rewriting the tool in Golang in hopes of addressing these issues.

    • digest 0.6.19

      digest creates hash digests of arbitrary R objects (using the md5, sha-1, sha-256, sha-512, crc32, xxhash32, xxhash64, murmur32, and spookyhash algorithms) permitting easy comparison of R language objects.

      This version contains two new functions adding new digest functionality. First, Dmitriy Selivanov added a fast and vectorized digest2int to convert (arbitrary) strings into 32 bit integers using one-at-a-time hashing. Second, Kendon Bell, over a series of PRs, put together a nice implementation of spookyhash as a first streaming hash algorithm in digest. So big thanks to both Dmitriy and Kendon.

    • Next C++ workshop: Binary Search Trees, 23 May at 18:00 UTC

      Learn C++ features with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting.

    • Apache Camel development on Eclipse Che 7

      Apache Camel development is improving on Eclipse Che 7 compared to Che 6. On Che 6, it is limited to XML DSL and without classical XSD-based XML support. With Che 7, Camel Java DSL is available and XSD-based XML support is working nicely with the Camel XML DSL support. Please note that Che 7 is still in beta.

    • level up yo py/js adhd af research blaggin
    • Episode 4: A Conversation with Steve George

      Steve joined Weaveworks in February 2017 as COO. In a career spanning 20 years, Steve has worked in a range of roles in the technology sector, most recently leading Canonical’s operations and corporate development. His interest and support for FOSS goes back to 1997, when he got hold of his first copy of Slackware on floppy disk.

    • Rule-Based Matching In Natural Language Processing

      SpaCy is an open-source software library for advanced Natural Language Processing, written in Python and Cython. Here it is used to build a rule-based matcher that always classifies the word “iPhone” as a product entity

    • Eclipse IoT Surveys Developer Community
  • Standards/Consortia
    • MIME type “text/vnd.sosi” for SOSI map data

      As part of my involvement in the work to standardise a REST based API for Noark 5, the Norwegian archiving standard, I spent some time the last few months to try to register a MIME type and PRONOM code for the SOSI file format. The background is that there is a set of formats approved for long term storage and archiving in Norway, and among these formats, SOSI is the only format missing a MIME type and PRONOM code.

Leftovers
  • Sony’s Deal With Microsoft Blindsided Its Own PlayStation Team

    Last week, the companies announced a strategic partnership to co-develop game streaming technology and host some of PlayStation’s online services on the Redmond-based company’s Azure cloud platform. It comes after PlayStation spent seven years developing its own cloud gaming offering, with limited success.

    Negotiations with Microsoft began last year and were handled directly by Sony’s senior management in Tokyo, largely without the involvement of the PlayStation unit, according to people familiar with the matter. Staff at the gaming division were caught off-guard by the news. Managers had to calm workers and assure them that plans for the company’s next-generation console weren’t affected, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

  • A Decade of Remote Work

    So what have I learned over this decade of working and running remote teams? Let’s dive in.

  • Turning destructive arguments into productive dialog

    I loved having debates with my uncle. We’d debate a wide range of issues, but I’ll always remember one debate in particular.

    On this issue, we had very different opinions. I mentioned to him that no matter how different our opinions were, he couldn’t insult me. He didn’t agree, so I asked him to try.

    “OK,” he said. Then he started calling me names and swearing at me.

  • Science
    • RealTalk: This Speech Synthesis Model Our Engineers Built Recreates a Human Voice Perfectly

      It’s surreal for our engineers to be able to say they’ve legitimately created a life-like replica of Joe Rogan’s voice using AI. Not to mention the fact that the model would be capable of producing a replica of anyone’s voice, provided that sufficient data is available.

      As AI practitioners building real-world applications, we’re especially cognizant of the fact that we need to be talking about the implications of this. `

    • New Supercomputer Will Span Continents, Outrace World’s Fastest

      The fastest supercomputer in the world will soon be outpaced by a newer, swifter rival.

      Scientists recently completed the engineering design for the first of two paired supercomputers called the Science Data Processor (SDP). Together, these supercomputers will manage vast quantities of data collected by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a network of radio telescopes in Perth, Australia, and Cape Town, South Africa, SKA representatives said in a statement.

      An international team of researchers representing 11 countries collaborated for five years to produce the hardware, software and algorithms to drive the first of the two supercomputers, according to the statement. [9 Supercool Uses for Supercomputers]

  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Creepy New Addition to McDonald’s Menu

      The great thing about corporate giants is that they’re such amazing business innovators. For example, in the category of “wheel-spinning” innovation — i.e., trying to change a corporation’s course without actually changing anything — it’s hard to top McDonald’s.

      For several years, the fast-food chain has been losing customers to younger chains with healthier, more stylish offerings. So CEO Steve Easterbrook has tried to recoup the losses with PR tricks, such as calling the menu “healthy” and “fresh.” But McNuggets and fries are still what they are, so people haven’t bitten the PR bait.

      [...]

      Far from helping customers, McDonald’s snazzy new AI ordering system will be helping the corporation by silently compiling personal information on you, ranging from your “movement patterns” to your license plate number. As Easterbrook admits, McDonald’s will use the technology to “make the most” of the data collected.

    • Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?

      What is behind the bigotry masquerading as sanctimonious religiosity fervently opposed to abortion in the United States?

      One motivation for US conservatives’ opposition to abortion – “a woman’s right to choose” – as stated by demographer Ben Wattenberg (in his increasingly neoconservative later years, after the 1970s), and cited by the wonderful educator, Jane Elliott (“White Fear”, in her anti-racism teachings, is that white supremacists’ great fear is over demographic dilution.

      American conservatives’ opposition to abortion is not primarily concerned with preventing Blacks, Latinos, minorities and the poor from procreating too many — and “too costly” to the public purse — non-white babies, but in fact to prevent white women from producing too few white babies. 60% of the 1.6 million abortions annually in the United States are for white women.

      The banning of abortion was exactly the policy of the Nazi regime in Germany, when bounties were paid for high fertility by acceptably white – “Aryan” – women. The fertility rate of Whites in Europe, in the U.S.A., in South Africa, and in Israel with its captive and concentration-encamped Palestine, is the lowest of all ethnicities/races. Generally speaking, the poorer and darker people are, and the closer to the equator they live or come from, the more children they are likely to have produced and/or have in their families. There is a worldwide darkening of the complexion of humanity underway.

    • They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade

      Militarism, consumerism, and racism have drawn alongside, and even to, misogyny and anti-immigrant hate. The juggernaut of greed, power, and hate may be impossible to stop at this point in U.S. history.

      Those of goodwill have been fighting the good fight against these regressive forces for decades. When the Vietnam War ended, only a brief hiatus of warmongering took place before the right was drawing up its vicious plans again.

      Racism has never had a vacation in the U.S. Slavery led to Jim Crow, and that turned into mass incarceration and white supremacy.

      Now, the landmark case from 1973, Roe v. Wade, is on the precipice, with the recently passed anti-abortion law in Alabama set to go into effect in six months. The Alabama law is only the latest in decades of attacks agains Roe. Challenges to that law that make it up to the U.S. Supreme Court may in fact close off a woman’s right to abortion guaranteed under Roe. States like New York, Massachusetts, and Maine, among others, have and will take strong action to protect a woman’s right to access abortion, but huge swaths of the U.S. exist as women’s health-care deserts, just as food deserts exist in many ghettoes.

    • Big Pharma Companies Accused Of Conspiring To Inflate Prices Of Over 100 Generic Drugs By Up To 1000%

      At the heart of patents lies a quid pro quo. In return for a time-limited, government-backed intellectual monopoly, companies place their inventions in the public domain after the patent has expired. The theory is that granting patents encourages innovation, although there is plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. In the world of drugs, this approach is supposed to allow other pharmaceutical companies to produce generics — low-cost versions of drugs — once they are off patent. People benefit because they can buy drugs at much cheaper prices than when they were still under patent.

      But as Techdirt has reported, for many years, Big Pharma companies around the world have been trying to renege on that deal with society. One of the main ways is through “pay for delay” schemes. A drug company holding an expired patent buys off manufacturers of generics so that it can continue to enjoy monopoly pricing. A new lawsuit brought by 44 states suggests another way Big Pharma may have been cheating the public.

    • Opinion | The Legislature’s abortion ban is a disgraceful political stunt that will cost Alabamians

      On Wednesday, Governor Ivey signed HB314 – one of the most extreme attacks on the right to abortion in recent memory – into law. HB314 outlaws virtually all abortions in the state and criminalizes doctors who provide this safe and constitutionally protected health care, threatening them with up to 99 years in prison. With her signature, Gov. Ivey has given her blessing to state law enforcement to insert itself into one of the most personal and private decisions a woman and her family can make. Indeed, these penalties are so draconian, there is no doubt the law would chill doctors from providing all manner of pregnancy-related care – even for women whose life and health are in danger – for fear of being accused of violating the ban. Given that Alabama already faces a severe shortage OB-GYNs, this is unconscionable.

    • Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings

      Surprise medical bills are in the news almost daily. Last Thursday, the White House called for legislation to protect patients from getting surprise doctor bills when they are rushed to the emergency room and receive care from doctors not covered by insurance at an in-network hospital.

      The financial burden on patients can be substantial — these doctor charges can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

      What’s behind this explosion of outrageous charges and surprise medical bills? Physicians’ groups, it turns out, can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract. The doctors are then free to charge patients, who desperately need care, however much they want.

      This has made physicians’ practices in specialties such as emergency care, neonatal intensive care and anesthesiology attractive takeover targets for private equity firms.

      As health reporter Bob Herman observed, acquisition of these health services “exemplifies private equity firms’ appetite for buying health care providers that wield a lot of market power.”

    • The war on women is still on

      That’s because the Alabama abortion ban is one of the most draconian revocations of women’s rights since women won the vote, a ban that would force even 11-year-old victims of rape and incest to carry to term.

      These forced birthers want to take down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rendered abortion bans unconstitutional. And why not try to reverse it now, what with Donald Trump and his Republican-controlled Senate packing the bench with conservative judges?

      If successful, Alabama would bar “abortion and attempted abortion” by women “known” to be pregnant, whatever that means. The only exception is to “prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” As for doctors performing the procedure, they are looking at up to 99 years in prison.

      This latest vote follows other “heartbeat laws” in states across the South and Midwest. They essentially ban the procedure when a heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into pregnancy, a period when many women do not yet even suspect that they are pregnant and aren’t exactly rushing into clinics for ultrasounds.

      Indeed, so many states — Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Georgia, Kentucky and, now, Alabama and Missouri — have passed similar laws that the New York Times says abortion bans are now “mainstream.”

    • Bottle of Lies: How Poor FDA Oversight & Fraud in Generic Drug Industry Threaten Patients’ Health

      Generic drugs amount to 90% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S., most of them made in plants in India and China. Generic drugs can be more affordable, but in her new explosive book “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” investigative journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how some manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety. This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems and that “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Voicemail For Jill – Amanda Palmer

      Alabama signed a law on May 15 which is almost a total abortion ban. The strict law does not include provisions for rape and incest victims. The law is expected to be challenged in the courts and may never take effect.

      But part of the purpose of the law was to induce litigation that would give anti-abortion activists a case that would be heard by the Supreme Court and potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

      As expected, this resulted in heated debates on both sides of the aisle. When people discuss pro-life versus pro-choice the arguments are often along political or religious lines. What often gets overlooked is the humanity of those who must make the difficult decision of whether to have an abortion.

    • Racist Voter Suppression Made Alabama’s Abortion Ban Possible
    • Despite Inclusive Rhetoric, Corporations Back Extremist State Legislators Waging War on Women

      Legum took aim at six specific companies: AT&T, Walmart, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, and insurance corporation Aetna. Each corporation proudly promotes inclusion, equality, and concern for the health of women in company statements.

      “In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality,” wrote Legum. “But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights.”

      Of the six companies, AT&T donated by far the most—$196,600, about three times as much as the next highest donor, Eli Lilly, at $66,250.

    • Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry

      Earlier this month, New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum wrote a moving piece on Ady Barkan. Ady is a lifelong activist who is now dying from A.L.S., often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

      It is an incredibly sad story, Ady is just 35 years old. He is married with a young son. While I’m sure he would like to spend the time he has left with his loved ones, he is determined to use whatever energy he can to push for universal Medicare.

      I was sitting next to him last month when we were both testifying on universal Medicare. Ady was in a wheel chair, having lost control over most of his muscles. He could not speak and instead had a mechanical voice speak out the words he typed.

      It was clear that it was not easy for him to be there. He was sweating profusely in a room that was not particularly warm. It was a very impressive show of determination for a cause to which he is very committed.

  • Security
    • Why Are Cryptographers Being Denied Entry into the US?

      Is there some cryptographer blacklist? Is something else going on? A lot of us would like to know.

    • Security Engineering: Third Edition

      Today I put online a chapter on Who is the Opponent, which draws together what we learned from Snowden and others about the capabilities of state actors, together with what we’ve learned about cybercrime actors as a result of running the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre. Isn’t it odd that almost six years after Snowden, nobody’s tried to pull together what we learned into a coherent summary?

      There’s also a chapter on Surveillance or Privacy which looks at policy. What’s the privacy landscape now, and what might we expect from the tussles over data retention, government backdoors and censorship more generally?

    • Google halts some business with China’s Huawei: report

      Huawei will reportedly no longer be able to access Android updates, the Gmail app, the Google Play store and new versions of Google phones outside of China.

    • Google restricts Huawei’s use of Android

      Existing Huawei smartphone users will be able to update apps and push through security fixes, as well as update Google Play services.

      But when Google launches the next version of Android later this year, it may not be available on Huawei devices.

      Future Huawei devices may no longer have apps such as YouTube and Maps.

    • Forget Huawei, The Internet Of Things Is The Real Security Threat

      We’ve noted for a while how a lot of the US protectionist security hysteria surrounding Huawei isn’t supported by much in the way of hard data. And while it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, the reality is that Chinese (or any other) intelligence services don’t really need to rely on Huawei to spy on the American public. Why? Because people around the world keep connecting millions of internet of broken things devices to their home and business networks that lack even the most rudimentary of security and privacy protections.

      Week after week we’ve documented how these devices are being built with both privacy and security as a distant afterthought, resulting in everything from your television to your refrigerator creating both new attack vectors and wonderful new surveillance opportunities for hackers and state actors.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • NetBSD 8.1 RC1 Released With MDS Mitigations, Option To Turn Off SMT/HT, Driver Updates

      The first and only anticipated release candidate for NetBSD 8.1 is now available for testing.

      The NetBSD 8.1 release candidate adds the necessary mitigations for the Microarchitectural Data Sampling / Zombieload vulnerabilities. With Hyper Threading looking increasingly insecure with these new CPU vulnerabilities, NetBSD has joined other operating systems in offering a new setting to disable HT/SMT support: the smtoff rc.conf option.

    • Outbound Traffic Filtering | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      This week, we’re discussing outbound traffic filtering. This is filtering provided at the network edge by a firewall with rules (ACLs) restricting what internal users are allowed to access. Some firewalls have the ability to filter by an application (layer 7 firewalls), but we’re going to concentrate on standard packet-filtering firewalls and their capabilities. There are several reasons for wanting to restrict outbound communications, such as defeating malware, making data exfiltration harder, and the detection of infected hosts.

    • Bluetooth’s Complexity Has Become a Security Risk

      Fundamentally, both Bluetooth and BLE open up a channel for two devices to communicate—an extremely useful arrangement, but one that also opens the door for dangerous interactions. Without strong cryptographic authentication checks, malicious third parties can use Bluetooth and BLE to connect to a device they shouldn’t have access to, or trick targets into thinking their rogue device is a trusted one.

    • Huawei promises continued security updates and service to existing users post Google ban

      Google has shocked the world by banning Huawei from future OS versions and security updates, but existing Huawei handsets will continue getting Google Play app updates, while Huawei promises it will issue security updates instead.

    • Security Advisory: Kernel and Firmware Updates for Intel MDS Vulnerability
    • ICE Tops Its Old Record, Spends Another $820,000 On Cellphone-Cracking Tools

      As consecutive heads of the FBI have whined about the general public’s increasing ability to keep their devices and personal data secure with encryption, a number of companies have offered tools that make this a moot point. Grayshift — the manufacturer of phone-cracking tool GrayKey — has been selling hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of devices to other federal agencies not so insistent the only solution is backdoored encryption.

      ICE is one of these agencies. It led all federal agencies in phone-cracking expenditures in 2018. It spent $384,000 on these tools last year. It wasn’t just ICE. Other agencies like the DEA and [checks notes] the Food and Drug Administration have also purchased these devices. But ICE led the pack, most likely because ICE — along with DHS counterpart CBP — are engaging in more suspicionless, warrantless device searches than ever.

    • Security boffins uncover Linux variant of Winnti malware
    • Linux variant of Winnti malware spotted in wild
    • Linux variant of Winnti malware discovered by Chronicle cybersecurity experts
  • Defence/Aggression
    • NIAC Statement on Trump’s Tweet Threat to “End” Iran

      “President Trump’s saber-rattling about Iran has reached a dangerous new low with his threat to “end” Iran—a country of 83 million men, women, and children. Since the President reneged on the Iran nuclear deal last year, the administration’s policies have been geared towards provoking Iran into retaliation to give cover for a perilous escalation favored by administration hawks. There is no doubt that National Security Advisor John Bolton will use the slightest Iranian action—even bereft of reliable intelligence—as a pretext to push for the war he’s always wanted.

    • ‘Genocidal’: Trump—Who Claims He Doesn’t Want War—Threatens ‘Official End of Iran’

      As military tensions between the U.S. and Iran appeared to be gradually cooling despite dangerous provocations from the White House, President Donald Trump—who said publicly last week that he hopes there is not another war in the Middle East—took to Twitter Sunday to threaten “the official end of Iran,” a remark numerous critics condemned as “genocidal.”

      “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Trump tweeted, without specifying how Iran threatened the United States.

      Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, speculated that Trump’s threat was prompted by a Fox News segment on Iran.

    • Targeting Iran

      A dangerous flashpoint has emerged in world politics at the moment. There is widespread fear that the United States and its allies might launch a military operation against Iran at any time. A US aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are already deployed in the region. The alleged sabotage of four oil tankers, two of them Saudi, and the attack on a major oil pipeline are being linked in certain circles without an iota of evidence to Tehran. There is no need to repeat that scenarios of this sort are often manufactured to justify military aggression.

      For more than a year now since unilaterally repudiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers, the US has not only re-imposed economic sanctions upon Iran but has also forced other states that trade with Iran to reduce drastically their interaction with Tehran. US targeting of Iran is a grave travesty of justice for the simple reason that the UN’s nuclear inspection agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has reiterated over and over again that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal. It should not therefore be punished with old or new sanctions. This is also the position adopted by the other signatories to the deal, namely, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

    • The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition

      The West alleges that the Venezuelan opposition is peaceful and democratic; however, their extensive history of right-wing violence proves otherwise.

      The Venezuelan opposition is led by a predominately white bourgeoisie, the US state department and its allies. The US state department has provided at least $49 million since 2009 in aid for Venezuelan right-wing opposition forces who have sparked violent protests and murders of innocent civilians with the hopes of removing the democratically elected President Maduro. The US government has also provided $4.26 million for Venezuela through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2015 in order to fund organizations that engage in anti-government work.

      Contrary to Western narratives, these anti-government protestors have a history of escalating to extreme forms of violence, such as their burning of Venezuelan youth Orlando Jose Figuera, who was stabbed and set on fire on May 20th, 2018. This occurred in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, one of the wealthiest regions of the capital, after the anti-government protestors suspected he was a Chavista because he was Black. 80% of his body suffered burns and stab wounds as a result and he unfortunately died from this hate crime. This heinous act even drew the attention of Ernesto Vega, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, who issued a statement on his Twitter account following the death of Figuera, his statement is, as quoted: “Orlando Figuera, stabbed and burned alive by minds diseased by the hate in Altamira on May 20, just died of cardiopulmonary arrest,” he also elaborated that international mainstream media has failed to expose the opposition for how violent it truly is in its protests as opposed to “peaceful.”

    • From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes

      When is a war crime not a war crime? When it’s committed by us, of course.

      But this truism is taking on a new and sinister meaning today – and not just because Trump and his crackpots may be planning another clutch of atrocities in the Middle East.

      For there is now a dangerous slippage becoming apparent in which western states are more ready than ever to countenance military crimes against humanity, to accept them, approve of them and to expect us to connive at these gross and sickening breaches of international law.

      I’m not just talking about the pathetic and grotesque behaviour of our latest minister of defence’s “amnesty on historical prosecutions” – which means we can murder Iraqis and Afghans and get away with it, but must be a bit more restrained in Northern Ireland. Not much more restrained, mind you, for just look at the snapping young Tory elites and the desiccated ex-generals who are yelping to extend this kill-by-permission to those who have killed British citizens in Belfast and Derry.

      Not only is this an insult to the humanity of Irish men and women in Northern Ireland who happen to have British citizenship; it is also placing them in a limbo-world between brown-eyed Muslims in the Middle East who can be forgotten 10 years after they have been liquidated, and blue-eyed Brits, whose murder would have squads of policemen and anti-terror squads racing through the streets of the nation to hunt down and bring to justice their killers.

      It’s not just a difference between the DNA of our victims, of course. It’s that word “historical”. For what Penny Mordaunt and her roughnecks are proposing is a statute of limitations on war crimes – something which thousands of ex-Nazis sought and prayed for after the Second World War.

    • From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf

      The number of world wars should bury the argument that history does not repeat itself. But the detail is different, and the devil is in the detail.

      Iran. Can warmongers again offer the arguments of weapons of mass destruction? No. The Iraq playbook can’t be repeated, but you don’t have to go too far back to find one that may suit.

      Question. Where is Iran.

      It’s in the Gulf.

      OK, Gulf, well, we obviously can’t have Gulf War or justify intervention over the invasion of an emirate.

      But we have had a Gulf before. True, different location, but it worked a treat. Dust down the Gulf of Tonkin scenario. The phantom attack on the USS Maddox in 1964 led to greater US military involvement in Vietnam.

      A Great playbook from 1964. A US ship, a new Maddox, only this time hit by Iranian bullets from a speedboat. And it’s in the Gulf. The real Gulf.

      National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on May 5 that the administration had ordered a carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf (short note on descriptions, it’s also called the Iranian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf, damn details). This was done on the basis of “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of unspecified Iranian threats. Brilliant, nothing definite, nice and vague. Then, a week later four oil tankers (two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati) were damaged in an alleged “sabotage” attack. Again, few details have been released about the incident, which is said to have taken place early on May 12 within the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, east of the key UAE oil terminal port in Fujairah, near the Straits of Hormuz

    • End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue

      May 16thwe had news of the arrest of Josu Ternera, a.k.a. Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea Bengoetxea, the former leader of Basque terrorist group, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna(ETA, Basque Homeland and Freedom) near Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in the French Alps. The operation was conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil and the French General Directorate of Interior Security. As Ternera represents some of the ETA old guard, the news was welcome. Yet, some serious questions remain in the present. Where are the Basques and Spain in their peace process? Will further arrests of ETA commandos and ETA leadership ease enough tensions for the Spanish government to resume talks with the radical-Basque left (Batasuna)?

      It has been eight years since ETA declared a permanent and verifiable ceasefire and last year, Ternera as spokesperson for the group, declared ETA’s final dissolution.In those past eight years, many Basques have waited for a peace process and negotiations with the Spanish government along the lines of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Even so, successive Spanish governments during this time, both conservative and liberal, have not wanted to negotiate with Basque political parties who in the past supported violence against Spanish security forces, the military and police, as well as contra Spanish politicians.

    • Iraq All Over Again? And Where Is Katharine Gun

      Some called her a traitor; others insisted she was a hero. Whatever, she blew the whistle ultimately revealing the truth behind the build-up to the Iraq War—regime change, disguised as terrifying threats of weapons of mass destruction.

      Exaggerating threats to provoke a war? Sound familiar?

      Never mind that invading another country for the purpose of regime change is illegal according to international laws to which the United States is a signatory. The team of hawks circling George Bush had long wanted to take out Saddam Hussein, as did Bush. Some of those same birds are still flapping wings in the skies above Washington. The concern among many Americans is that claims of an unprovoked, deadly attack by Iran are exaggerated. The issue is provocation. Who, one must ask, is provoking whom?

      Much to the distress of our former partners in the Iran nuclear deal, Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement and announced tougher sanctions. This, despite credible evidence that Iran was in full compliance with terms of the agreement. Provocation? Now, Trump says, he wants to see Iran back at the negotiating table. Iran, of course, isn’t interested in dealing with him. Perhaps they don’t trust him to keep his word.

    • There’s Far More Diversity in Venezuela’s ‘Muzzled’ Media Than in US Corporate Press

      The international corporate media have long displayed a peculiar creativity with the facts in their Venezuela reporting, to the point that coverage of the nation’s crisis has become perhaps the world’s most lucrative fictional genre. Ciara Nugent’s recent piece for Time (4/16/19), headlined “‘Venezuelans Are Starving for Information’: The Battle to Get News in a Country in Chaos,” distinguished itself as a veritable masterpiece of this literary fad.

      The article’s slant should come as no surprise, given Time’s (and Nugent’s) enthusiastic endorsement (2/1/19) of the ongoing coup led by self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Time’s report is based on a trope oft-repeated by corporate journalists for over a decade (Extra!, 11–12/06), namely that Venezuela’s elected Chavista government is an “authoritarian” regime that brutally suppresses freedom of expression. Corporate outlets frequently speak of “Chávez’s clampdown on press freedom” (New York Times, 4/30/19), “a country where critical newspapers and broadcast media already have been muzzled” and “much of Venezuela’s independent press has disappeared” (NBC, 2/3/19, 5/16/19), or the Maduro “regime” controlling “almost all the television and radio stations” (Bloomberg, 1/29/19).

    • Despite Anti-American ‘Baiting’ by NYT, Sanders Makes ‘No Apologies’ for Opposing Reagan-Backed Death Squads

      In response to what one observer described as “anti-American baiting” by a New York Times reporter over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders refused to shy away from his record of opposition to Reagan-backed death squads and coup plotters in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.

      During an interview published in the print edition of the Times on Sunday, journalist Sydney Ember repeatedly asked Sanders about supposed anti-American chants that rang out during a rally he attended in Managua in 1985, when the Reagan administration was funneling arms and money to the right-wing Contras in support of their brutal and deadly effort to topple the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

    • Fire the Nutcases Leading Us to War

      President Donald Trump claimed this week that he does not want war with Iran. If he really believes this, the president ought to look into what his subordinates are doing.
      Among their bellicose actions are deployment of the ‘Abraham Lincoln CVN-72’ carrier task force to the coast of Iran, massing a strike package of B-52 heavy bombers in Qatar, just across the Gulf from Iran, positioning more US warplanes around Iran, readying a massive cyber attack against Iran, and trying to stop the export of Iranian oil, upon which its economy depends.
      Plus repeated attempts to overthrow the government in Tehran – something the US already did very skillfully in 1953.
      If all this is not war, according to Trump, then what is? It’s war by another name. Just what the US did to Cuba, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, Nicaragua, Syria, and, since 1979, Iran. Like a shark, the US warfare state has to keep moving. So it finds threats popping up all over.

    • Trump’s Iran Trap

      Remember President Trump’s tweet and accompanying statements by the Trump administration officials concerning Iran – as reported here by CNN on May 19, 2019.

      Trump’s statement amounts to a de facto declaration of war on Iran.

      Objectively speaking, it is a lie that Iran threatens the US. It is a lie that the US sends aircraft carriers to the region in self-defence. It’s lies as blatant as the one about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

      You may think that this is just psychological warfare and positioning. It is not. Because: Over time, this type of statements develop its own dynamics and the US will not be able to back down from what it threatens to do without loosing face.

      President Trump’s statement is a blatant violation of international law, the UN Charter’s Article 2.4 which states:
      “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

      In this extremely worrying situation of years of step-by-step US build-up to war with Iran, every and each government that does not issue a formal public protest distancing itself from this type of rogue state behaviour that endangers world security must be considered co-responsible for a war on Iran if and when it breaks out.

    • Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge

      Che Guevara had a dream. After decades of chasing the American Empire into guerrilla street fights from Guatemala to the Congo, Che dreamed of drawing that dreadful beast into an unwinnable quagmire on the graves of its first victims in the heart of Latin America, the treacherous mountain forests of Bolivia where the Conquistadors first struck it rich with Indio silver. Che dreamed of revenge for centuries of violence, of rape, genocide and colonialism. He dreamed of creating another Vietnam in the Western Hemisphere that would spread across Uncle Sam’s indentured colonies and liberate his people, all of his people, from Tierra del Fuego to Tijuana and beyond. Che chased this Quixotic dream into the rugged highlands of Bolivia in 1966 where he got more than he bargained for. Less than a year later he would be dead at the hands of a CIA death squad. But his dream remained, festering just beneath the flesh of a thousand banana republics.

      Flash forward to a half century later. Just a few jungles north-west of Che’s grave, in the embattled nation of Venezuela. May 1st, May Day in this year of our lord Satan, twenty-hundred-and-nineteen. Everything should have gone perfectly. Everything was in place for Washington’s latest Latino coup de tat. After softening up the oil rich left-wing pariah state with decades of crippling sanctions and economic sabotage, the stage was finally set. Uncle Sam’s latest camera-ready caudillos, Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, a couple of scrumptiously fuckable brown choir boys who appear to have been hand plucked from Manudo by the School of the Americas had secured the loyalty of a score of Venezuelan power brokers from the Supreme Court to the Presidential Guard. The night before, Guaido announced his final triumphant putsch in the form of a march to his master’s house at the American embassy in Caracas. A profound publicity stunt in which the entirety of Nicholas Maduro’s fiercely loyal army would join him in overthrowing their own democratically elected government. His Employer in Chief seconded the motion vis a vis Twitter. It all should have gone perfectly, like a thousand times before.

    • The Pompeo Bolton Tag Team from Hell

      There was little pretense that when former UN Ambassador John Bolton became President Trump’s National Security Adviser and former Rep. Mike Pompeo moved into the Secretary of State position, that either would bring a professionally credible and respectable presence to world diplomacy or foreign affairs.

      It is fair to say that both have surpassed any of the bleak expectations and proven to be more extreme in their ideology, more personally amoral and malevolent than previously feared. What we are seeing now is as if all constraints have been removed with free rein to fulfil their zio-neocon agendas specifically against Venezuela and Iran.

      While speaking to a student audience recently at Texas A&M University, Pompeo revealed his utter contempt for a democratic government based on the rule of law when he bragged about “lying, cheating and stealing” as CIA Director. To an audience of undergraduates which clapped and laughed throughout, Pompeo offered

    • Fear the Mustache: Why Bolton Makes Even Donald Trump Nervous

      Even U.S. President Donald Trump, who is getting ready to pardon war criminals, fears John Bolton. Trump had hesitated to give Bolton a seat in his Cabinet (initially because of Trump’s distaste for Bolton’s bushy mustache). Bolton and General H.R. McMaster were both in line to become National Security Adviser (NSA). Trump went with H.R. McMaster, who lasted a year. Bolton, called “The Mustache” by Trump, slipped into this consequential post. The NSA is the main adviser to the U.S. president on foreign policy—often more important than the Secretary of State. Bolton has Trump’s ear. Trump, mercurial in his policy-making, therefore, has the world’s most dangerous man whispering at him.

      As his trigger finger tightened with Iran in the gunsights, Trump said of Bolton, “if it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now.” Bolton is on record saying that he would like to turn the immense force of the U.S. military against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. These are likely the “four wars” that Trump mentioned. These would be additional wars, for the United States remains actively at war in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq and Syria. The United States currently operates over 100 military bases—many of them in active operations—around the world.

      The normal aggressiveness of the U.S. military force does not satisfy Bolton; he wants the United States to deepen its aggressiveness.

    • Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality

      In clear violation of the Vienna Convention, the United States police entered by force, after 37 days of resistance, the premises that housed the Venezuelan Embassy and arrested the four activists protecting the diplomatic headquarters from the terrorist vandalism of the so-called “Venezuelan opposition.

      “The Venezuelan government will respond to the invasion of its embassy in Washington within the framework of international law,” declared Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. “Once again, Donald Trump’s administration has shown how much the truth hurts and has reacted with arrogance, in violation of international law.

      The Bolivarian Minister of Foreign Affairs reported on Thursday, May 16, that his country is evaluating its response to the illegal invasion of its Embassy in the United States, although he advanced that this will be within the framework of international law and protected by the principles of reciprocity.

      From his Twitter account, Arreaza had repudiated the illegal seizure of the diplomatic headquarters by the U.S. police on Thursday. He emphasized then that with this action Washington was not fulfilling its obligations under the Vienna Convention, to which the United States and Caracas are signatories.

    • Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire

      Amnesty International fails in its broadside to put its claims against the Maduro government in the context of a concerted regime-change campaign, which amounts to war, by the bully from the north. The US is waging an illegal war against Venezuela and Amnesty International’s broadside leaves out this inconvenient fact, egregiously even omitting any mention of sanctions.

      As human rights activist Chuck Kaufman of the Alliance for Global Justice noted about Amnesty International (AI): “They don’t seem to even care about their credibility anymore.” A more credible and honest account of what is unfolding in Venezuela, than the hatchet job presented in AI’s May 14th Venezuela: Crimes against humanity require a vigorous response from the international justice system, would have also noted along with the alleged transgressions of the Maduro government:

      Grave human rights violations. Economists Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University recently reported that US sanctions on Venezuela are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. This is the price being exacted on Venezuela, with a prediction for worse to come, for the regime change that AI is implicitly promoting.

      Shortages of medicines and food. Since 2015, when US President Obama first instituted them, the US has been imposing ever more crippling illegal sanctions on Venezuela expressly to create misery for the population in the hope that it would then turn against their own democratically elected government. The sanctions are specifically designed to suffocate the economy so that Venezuela cannot address its problems. The US government boasts about the impacts of sanctions. Playing the good cop to the US role as bad cop, AI laments the very conditions they are tacitly promoting in asking for ever increasing “punishments.” New US sanctions on Venezuela were imposed on May 10th.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Missing Step

      In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

      The European Arrest Warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European Arrest Warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.

      Assange’s initial appeal up to the UK Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the UK had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Desert dust cools vulnerable Red Sea corals

      Located between two of the hottest and driest places on earth, the Red Sea is being protected by the desert dust that the winds whip up in the lands that surround it.

      The dust so effectively blocks out the sun that the Red Sea is kept cool, saving its coral reefs from dangerous overheating and providing nutrients that keep its waters healthy.

      The sea lies between North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the world’s largest region for generating dust, which strong summer winds pump down a narrowing mountain-fringed passage that forces it into the air over the widest southern portion of the sea.

      The research, carried out by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST, the first mixed-gender university in Saudi Arabia), is part of a wider programme to discover the effect of dust in the atmosphere in changing the weather and climate.

    • Hot Arctic and a Chill in the Northeast: What’s Behind the Gloomy Spring Weather?

      When temperatures hit the 80s Fahrenheit in May above latitude 40, sun-seekers hit the parks, lakes, and beaches, and thoughts turn to summer. By contrast, when temperatures lurk in the drizzly 40s and 50s well into flower season, northerners get impatient for summer. But when those 80-degree temperatures visit latitude 64 in Russia, as they just did, and when sleet disrupts Mother’s Day weekend in May in Massachusetts, as it just did, thoughts turn to: what is going on here?

    • Hydropower dams can harm coastal areas far downstream

      Thousands of hydroelectric dams are under construction around the world, mainly in developing countries. These enormous structures are one of the world’s largest sources of renewable energy, but they also cause environmental problems.

      Hydropower dams degrade water quality along rivers. Water that flows downstream from the dams is depleted of oxygen, which harms many aquatic animals. The reservoirs above dams are susceptible to harmful algal blooms, and can leach toxic metals such as mercury from submerged soil.

      We wanted to know whether dams also impact river systems farther away, at the coastlines where rivers flow into the sea. So we performed a natural experiment comparing four rivers along Mexico’s Pacific coast – two that are dammed and two that remain free-flowing. We found that damming rivers has measurable negative ecologic and economic effects on coastal regions more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) downstream.

    • Resources for Recreational Boaters

      Understanding nautical charts is critical to navigating waterways. The U.S. Chart No. 1 provides descriptions for the symbols, abbreviations, and terms found on both paper and electronic navigational charts.

    • Did the Earth Just Lose Australia’s Climate Election?

      Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

    • It Was Supposed to Be Australia’s Climate Change Election. What Happened?

      The polls said this would be Australia’s climate change election, when voters confronted harsh reality and elected leaders who would tackle the problem.

      And in some districts, it was true: Tony Abbott, the former prime minister who stymied climate policy for years, lost to an independent who campaigned on the issue. A few other new candidates prioritizing climate change also won.

      But over all, Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. On Saturday, in a result that stunned most analysts, they re-elected the conservative coalition that has long resisted plans to sharply cut down on carbon emissions and coal.

      What it could mean is that the world’s climate wars — already raging for years — are likely to intensify. Left-leaning candidates elsewhere, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, may learn to avoid making climate a campaign issue, while here in Australia, conservatives face more enraged opponents and a more divided public.

    • England to Plant 130,000+ Trees to Fight Climate Change

      The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

      The plan, announced Sunday, will allow individuals, local governments, non-governmental organizations and charities to apply for grants from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. As a challenge fund, the grants will match what the applicants themselves are able to offer for the planting of trees and continued care during their first three years of life.

    • Can Congress Find the Political Will to Solve Our Flood Problems?

      It’s been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

      Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

      The program was established in 1968 as a way to provide flood insurance to properties with high flood risk — some of which is subsidized by taxpayers — and to use management programs to help reduce risk.

      But Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation, says the program has unintentionally done the opposite over the years. By offering government-funded insurance where private companies wouldn’t, it’s made it easier to build in flood-prone areas. Local land-use decisions in some places haven’t helped, either.

      Most people agree that some reform of the National Flood Insurance Program is needed. Four former FEMA administrators recently sent a letter to Congress asking for just that. But legislators — who disagree how to accomplish that goal — have been kicking the can down the road by issuing short-term extensions since the program’s last five-year authorization lapsed in September 2017.

      Most recently the House of Representatives voted May 14 to approve the 11th short-term extension. If the Senate agrees, the program would then carry on as-is until September 30.

    • DOI’s Offshore Oil Regulatory Rollback Relies On Big Oil Doc

      Yesterday, Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee about his leadership of the agency, flanked by swamp monsters in the audience highlighting his corruption.

      When Rep Huffman asked Bernhardt for specific examples of times when he told former clients “no,” when they asked for a policy change, he struggled to name a single instance. Remember, this is the man with so many conflicts of interest he has to carry them on a card, so he has plenty of former clients to choose from. After being pressed further by Huffman to name something specific, Bernhardt makes a reference to a “well control” rule.

      That’s really where it gets interesting. Bernhardt’s industry clients actually praised the DOI’s well control rollback. And not only that, but the rule actually relies on the industry’s own guidance, effectively supplanting an Obama-era regulation with an American Petroleum Institute document.

      As E&E’s Dylan Brown reported yesterday, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has been monitoring the DOI as it seeks to undo rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 and polluted the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of oil. POGO noticed that in the final version of the rollback, DOI advises industry to follow the advice in a document from the American Petroleum Institute. That document provides for drilling to continue when conditions might otherwise require them to stop, like when the well pressure is fluctuating outside safe parameters, as it does before a blowout.

    • Lewes Liberal Democrats hand power to Tories

      Zoe Nicholson, leader of the Green group of councillors on Lewes District Council, tonight expressed frustration and anger at the actions of Liberal Democrats in refusing to join an agreed co-ooperative alliance for the council, which included Labour and independent councillors.

      She said: “The Liberal Democrats actively obstructed the proposed move to put people, planet and place ahead of party politics, leaving control with the Tory Party administration.

      “Over the past two weeks Greens took the leadership and put people first and party second. We developed an agreement that met every one of the Liberal Democrat Group’s request for equality in decision making, to implement their manifesto and that of the other groups. We agreed to them taking over the leadership in a year. Every one of their ideas and needs we built into the agreement.

    • Greens rally against hate in Burnley today

      Green Party candidate for the North West region Gina Dowding, also a Lancashire County Councillor, will today be speaking at a rally in Burnley for a community preparing to resist messages of hatred and xenophobia.

    • Wilder world can slow climate change

      Imagine a wilder world where many of the species humanity has almost wiped out are instead protected, cared for and encouraged to thrive.

      No − it’s not Jurassic Park brought to life; it’s still largely an idea waiting to happen. But if it does ever become reality rewilding, as it’s known, could do a lot for us.

      Rewilding simply means re-introducing wild creatures which used to live in countries like the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe and North America. One example is the Eurasian beaver, hunted in the UK to near-extinction several centuries ago but now making a tentative return to Britain.

      They began their UK recovery modestly: two families were imported from Norway in 2001, with more animals following later to increase genetic diversity.

    • Untangling the Politics of Dam Removal

      We’ve spent a century in the United States feverishly building more than 79,000 dams. Two decades ago we started to undo some of that, dismantling nearly 1,000 dams, many aging and unsafe, and restoring the rivers they had impoverished.

      Despite this uptick in dam removal, there’s no blueprint for how it happens — the politics, engineering and ecology are unique to each case. Still, our experience so far can help guide future dam-removal projects. That’s the premise behind a new book, Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration, by Peter Brewitt.

      Brewitt, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Wofford College, takes a close look at three dam-removal projects in the Pacific Northwest, digging into the political, social, regulatory and scientific aspects of removal. His three historic case studies are relevant to communities across the country.

    • Because ‘BP Fueling Climate Emergency’: Greenpeace Blockades London HQ With Massive Metal Containers

      “We’re shutting down BP’s HQ because business as usual is just not an option,” Greenpeace U.K. activist Paul Morozzo said in a statement. “BP is fueling a climate emergency that threatens millions of lives and the future of the living world. The science is clear: we must stop searching for new oil and gas if we want a livable planet. BP must clean up or clear out.”

    • Breaking: “I’ve shut down BP. Here’s why.”

      As you read this, I’m sitting in a big container outside BP HQ in London, blocking one of the main entrances to the building. Along with a team of climbers on the roof, and more people in containers like mine, we’ve shut down the building. This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I know it’s the right thing.

    • Pushing Pro-Coal Proposal, Trump’s EPA to Downplay Plan’s Danger Using Scientifically-Unproven Method

      In its latest effort to manipulate how the human impact of its pro-business policies are perceived, the Trump administration is preparing to throw out decades-old methodology used to determine the danger of air pollution. The EPA will now favor a new method under which it would drastically undercount the number of premature deaths that pollution causes, critics say.

      The New York Times reported Monday that as the White House prepares to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) plan, the Trump administration will bolster its case for the regulatory rollback by effectively rescinding the EPA’s own estimate that it could lead to 1,400 premature deaths per year.

      That estimate was made using a peer-reviewed methodology under which the existence of fine particles of chemicals—also known as particulate matter—in the air were found to be dangerous even if they were below the level considered to be toxic. Under the EPA’s new plan, only particulate matter which reaches that level will be considered a public health risk which could lead to premature deaths.

    • ‘The Fight Is Not Over,’ Say Groups, as Coal Lover Wins Re-Election in Australia

      Calling the results “horrifying,” NYU professor Kate Crawford said on Twitter: “We’re on the brink of climate catastrophe. Australia is one of the top carbon emitters per capita in the world. The new leader has no climate change policy, and walked into parliament waving a chunk of coal. Not even kidding.”

    • Bill to Ban Circus Animal Suffering Set for Introduction in US Congress

      Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the United States that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

      The measure, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), is set to be introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

      Sponsored by Arizona Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D) and David Schweikert (R), TEAPSA would amend the Animal Welfare Act by restricting the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and other traveling performances. The animals are kept prisoner and subject to tortuous treatment in the name of entertainment.

      “Confined, abused, and forced to perform, this is the sad reality of circus life for the animals,” said TEAPSEA backer and actor Ed Asner in a statement. “The suffering never, ever stops, until they die. Let’s finally say ‘no’ to these horror shows and ‘yes’ to TEAPSPA!”

    • From Greta Thunberg to Parkland: Young Activists and the Right-Wing Smear Industry

      I recently hit the age of 50, but let me tell you one thing I don’t think as I enter the second half-century of my life: that younger citizens around me are lazy, apathetic, entitled snowflakes, ensconced in cocoons of political correctness. Younger citizens—and, yes, they are citizens even though they can’t vote—must navigate a social universe of public-ness, information overload and surveillance unthinkable to those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet, pre-social media era. And, they must do this while dealing with all of the usual things that can make the pre-teen and teen years hard: school, family, friends, bullying, and status.

      It is for this reason that there are few things as cynical, cowardly and fundamentally damaging to the long-term prospects for democracy than adults who smear and denigrate young citizens engaging in activism and civic engagement. We call kids lazy and disconnected. Yet, when those same kids dare to engage with the adult world, many grown-ups respond with arrogance and disdain. It is a dissonant message.

      As a case in point, a report was spread recently in a number of European publications and on social media that the mother of the famous Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg—who this week appears on the cover of TIME magazine—had claimed her daughter was able to “see” carbon dioxide. Predictably, this “claim” was used by opponents as evidence of 16-year old Greta’s cult-like status. The report, of course, was nonsense (yes, her mother said she could “see” carbon dioxide…but only in the sense that she could “see” the problem with carbon dioxide) rooted in a combination of bad translations, lazy journalism and a whirlpool of social media bullshit.

    • As youth activists in multiple Russian cities plan to join global climate strike, Moscow leader struggles to obtain permit

      Arshak Makichyan, a Moscow student who has been picketing weekly to push for action on the global climate crisis, wrote on Twitter that he had been denied a permit to join an international climate strike on May 24. On May 20, Makichyan posted an image of an official document denying government approval for a protest in the Russian capital. The document claimed that there would be no suitable location in the city for 500 activists to gather without disturbing other citizens. Makichyan expressed doubt about that claim and argued, “it’s meaningless to protest in the forest.”

    • A Trojan Horse or a Change of Heart? Charles Koch Rebrands.

      A majority of Americans support raising taxes on the rich in some form, according to a February poll conducted by SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. Just weeks before, a similar poll by TheHill/HarrisX, asking specifically about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for an annual 2% tax on people with assets over $50 million, found that 74% of respondents agreed with the idea.

      Supporters of wealth taxes generally, and Warren’s specifically, include Trump voters. “I think that raising taxes on the rich should have happened a long time ago,” Virginia Connolly, who voted for Trump and runs a home-cleaning business in Florida, told the Times. “The rich, what are they going to do with all that money?”

      As The Washington Post reports Monday, if you’re Charles Koch, billionaire head of Koch Industries, you might use it to rename and reorganize your right-wing empire—funded by you and around 700 of your closest wealthy friends, who pay at least $100,000 annually—into an organization called Stand Together, formerly known as The Seminar Network, emphasizing philanthropy toward such causes as poverty, addiction, recidivism, gang violence and homelessness.

  • Finance
    • Uber’s founders have cashed in. How about the drivers?

      The ride-hailing company Uber has made its long-awaited debut as a publicly traded stock, but investor demand for the May 10 initial public offering (IPO) fell short of the company’s hopes. Part of the reason is a lingering question about its workforce: Does the still-unprofitable firm deliver low-cost rides for passengers at the expense of decent treatment for drivers, and could the resulting discontent undermine Uber’s business model?

      The issue over whether Uber drivers are employees (entitled to company benefits such as sick pay and retirement) or contractors (entitled to nothing) has been at the center of the labor controversy since the company launched a decade ago. It is still largely unresolved.

    • Uber, Lyft drivers manipulate fares at Reagan National causing artificial price surges

      Every night, several times a night, Uber and Lyft drivers at Reagan National Airport simultaneously turn off their ride share apps for a minute or two to trick the app into thinking there are no drivers available—creating a price surge. When the fare goes high enough, the drivers turn their apps back on and lock into the higher fare.

    • Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Gaming Surge Pricing to Protest Getting Screwed Over on Pay?

      Drivers told WJLA that they have resorted to using the system because of falling pay, one of the foremost reasons Uber drivers around the world went on strike in May. According to multiple studies, Uber drivers can make less than minimum wage after accounting for expenses like gas and wear and tear on their cars.

    • Baidu Posts Its First Loss Since Its IPO — and Things Could Get Worse

      However, Baidu saw red ink for the first time since its 2005 IPO, with a net loss of 327 million renminbi ($49 million), versus a profit of 6.7 billion RMB a year earlier. Its adjusted earnings — which exclude divestments, acquisitions, and other charges — plunged 80% to 967 million RMB ($144 million), or $0.41 per American Depository Share (ADS), missing estimates by $0.16.

    • The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle

      I am writing you from Montpellier, France, where I am a participant-observer in the Yellow Vest movement, which is still going strong after six months, despite a dearth of information in the international media.

      But why should you take the time to learn more about the Yellow Vests? The answer is that France has for more than two centuries been the classic model for social innovation, and this unique, original social movement has enormous international significance. The Yellow Vests have already succeeded in shattering the capitalist myth of “representative democracy” in the age of neo-liberalism. Their uprising has unmasked the lies and violence of republican government, as well as the duplicity of representative institutions like political parties, bureaucratic unions and the mainstream media.

      Moreover, the Yellow Vests represent the first time in history that a spontaneous, self-organized social movement has ever held out for half a year in spite of repression while retaining its autonomy, resisting cooptation, bureaucratization and sectarian splits. All the while, standing up to full-scale government repression and targeted propaganda, it poses a real, human alternative to the dehumanization of society under the rule of the capitalist “market.”

    • Getting Worse Part 1: Intuit Routinely Lies To Customers To Avoid Paying Refunds For Tax Prep Work

      It appears Intuit has decided to make things worse rather than better. Just after tax season, we discussed ProPublica’s excellent research article on the extreme lengths Intuit had gone to keep its Free File service an unknown to the public. This service is the result of an agreement the top tax prep companies out there reached with the IRS. Essentially, by promising to allow members of the public that earn under a certain amount of money to use their services to file their taxes for free, the IRS in turn has agreed not to pursue its own free to file service. It’s an extremely dumb deal for any number of reasons, one of which being how much more efficient it would be for the IRS to carry the weight here, given that it already has all the information most taxpayers need to file.

      The other reason, as it turns out, is because Intuit has decided to behave pretty much as cynically as it possibly can. As we detailed in our previous post, the company engaged in a strategy coupling the buying of ads for Google searches and hiding the free to file via the robot.txt file. As a result, something like 3% of eligible taxpayers file for free using the system, while Intuit set up a layer of websites and landing pages all designed to direct the public to paid services, without ever telling them they qualified for free to file tax prep.

    • Getting Worse Part 2: Intuit’s CEO Informs Employees That Free To File Was Hidden For The Public’s Own Good

      Like we said, Intuit apparently wants to keep digging this hole for itself. After our initial coverage of ProPublica’s excellent posts on how Intuit was going to crazy lengths to keep anyone from finding its free to file tax prep site, we followed up with reports of how many Intuit reps were lying to keep from giving people refunds. Those lies included claims that Intuit and TurboTax don’t even run the free to file program and that it was instead operated by the IRS itself with TurboTax branding. Another lie was that ProPublica’s reporting was all wrong and that the news organization was about to run a retraction. Spoiler alert: no they are not.

      But it seems that the Intuit brass aren’t content only to lie to the public. Intuit’s CEO managed to cobble together an internal video — which of course leaked — so that he could lie to his own staff as well.

    • Trump’s Trade War With China Is Waged to Make the Rich Richer

      Donald Trump seems determined to double down and keep pressing forward on his trade war with China. He promises more and higher tariffs, apparently not realizing that U.S. consumers are the ones paying these taxes — not China’s government or corporations.

      While tariffs clearly impose a cost on people in the United States, this cost could be justified as a weapon to change a trading partner’s harmful practices. During his campaign, Trump pledged to wage a trade war with China over its currency policy. He said he would declare China a “currency manipulator” on day one of his administration, putting pressure on China to raise the value of its currency against the dollar.

      The value of China’s currency matters, since it determines the relative price of goods and services produced in China and the United States. Ordinarily, the currency of a rapidly growing country with a large trade surplus like China would be expected to rise against the currency of a country with a large trade deficit like the United States. However, China’s government intervened in currency markets to keep its currency from rising, thereby keeping down the price of China’s goods and services.

      This was ostensibly the behavior that Trump was determined to change in his China trade war. But now that we are in the war, the currency issue has largely disappeared from the conversation. According to the published accounts, the big issue is over China’s respect for the intellectual property claims (i.e., patent and copyrights) of U.S. corporations.

    • Without Tax Hikes on Corporations and the Rich, Critics Warn, $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan ‘Another Empty Promise’ From Trump

      “If major tax increases are off the table, there is no way to pay for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, it’s that simple,” Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), said in a statement. “Other options, such as raising the gas tax, might be part of the package, but by themselves won’t come close to reaching the $2 trillion that’s needed.”

      During his scheduled meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Trump is expected to unveil a plan to fund an infrastructure package.

      “It will be interesting to see what the president comes up with,” said Clemente. “But without asking more from the wealthy and corporations, the plan will be just another empty promise while our roads, bridges, rail lines, and public buildings continue to deteriorate.”

      Clemente pointed out that while Senate Democrats have proposed rolling back some of the tax cuts for the rich and corporations in the Trump-GOP tax law as a way to pay for an ambitious infrastructure plan, congressional Republicans have signaled they would oppose such a move.

      And, as The Hill reported last week, Republicans in Congress “have indicated they are unlikely to support an infrastructure package” with a $2 trillion price tag “unless they can reach a deal on how to pay for it without adding to the deficit.”

    • Deutsche Bank Officials Flagged Kushner/Trump Transactions as ‘Suspicious’ But Top Execs Killed Inquiry: Report

      According to the Times report, in 2016 and 2017 employees at the bank—specifically anti-money laundering specialist Tammy McFadden—flagged transactions from Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization that were suspected of being involved with money laundering and referred them to executives in the expectation that the transactions would then be sent to the Treasury Department.

      But the executives took no action, preferring instead to kill the matter. That has McFadden, and other former employees of the bank that the Times spoke to, fuming.

      “You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” said McFadden, who was fired in 2018 for performance issues.

      Also fuming was President Donald Trump, who attacked the Times using one of his favored insults, “fake news.” In a lengthy Twitter thread, Trump went after the Times for its reporting on Deutsche Bank. Notably, the president didn’t address the central claims of Sunday’s article.

      “The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years), and others of the Fake News Media, keep writing phony stories about how I didn’t use many banks because they didn’t want to do business with me,” tweeted Trump.

    • Revolting Against Speaker’s Inaction, Pelosi’s Own Leadership Team Demands Trump Impeachment Proceedings

      After the Trump administration instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to refuse to comply with a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify, several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team privately confronted the Democratic leader late Monday and demanded impeachment proceedings against the president immediately in response to the latest attempt to stonewall congressional oversight.

      According to the Washington Post, at least “five members of Pelosi’s leadership team—four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment—pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an [impeachment] inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.”

      [...]

      “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals,” Cicilline told the Post.

      Raskin reportedly made a similar case during the meeting, arguing that impeachment hearings “would allow leadership to streamline and centralize all of the investigations into one—and let everyone else focus on the Democratic agenda items that won them the majority in 2018,” the Post reported.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • A Kompromat Mystery: Collapsing the Austrian government with a video

      The Austrian vice chancellor, HC Strache an extreme right wing politician, was exposed in a brilliant piece of kompromat that has collapsed a government in a weekend. When deploying weaponised kompromat the correct channel is via the most damaging source. Politicians are most exposed to public perceptions, a shared knowledge base primarily influenced by public mainstream media. Strache’s political capital was no match against the double barrelled blast from SZ and Der Spiegel – two major German language newspapers with Pulitzers and reputations for good journalism.

    • Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy

      The course is part of an anti-fake news initiative launched by Finland’s government in 2014 – two years before Russia meddled in the US elections – aimed at teaching residents, students, journalists and politicians how to counter false information designed to sow division.

    • GOP Congressman Who Calls for Impeachment Stands Alone

      He was known in the Michigan statehouse as “Mr. No” for voting against some Republican legislation. But now in Congress, on the question of whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, Rep. Justin Amash is the lone Republican saying “Yes.”

      In tweeted remarks over the weekend, Amash wrote that he’s read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump’s conduct during and after the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not find evidence of conspiracy with Russia, but he revealed startling details about Trump’s efforts to shut down the probe and made no recommendation on obstruction. Amash did, becoming the only Republican in Congress to call for the House to formally charge the president.

      “Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash, a longtime Trump critic, tweeted on Saturday after reading the report. Specificially, Amash tweeted, the findings identify “multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice.”

    • Trump Critics Call on Democrats to Heed GOP Rep. Justin Amash’s ‘Wake-Up Call’ and Begin Impeachment Proceedings

      Trump critics on Monday pointed to what they said was the latest evidence that congressional Democrats must begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump: the fact that the move now has the support of at least one Republican.

      Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first Republican to publicly call for the House to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump in a Twitter thread on Saturday, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the president’s campaign offers ample evidence that Trump obstructed justice.

    • Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam

      He became an exaggeration of the common man with gifts, the everyday man with other worldly talents. But many of his instincts were standard political attributes: vanity, a lust for power, a desire for the top position. As the Labor government of Gough Whitlam shuddered through its short burst of occupancy between 1972 and 1975, Hawke was having meetings with US embassy sources.

    • Trump Baby Must Fly, Because Friends Don’t Let Friends Play Host to Lying Whoremongering Authoritarians

      Finally getting the grown-up hoopla he was inexplicably promised two years ago by P.M. Theresa May, Little Donnie will make his first and God willing last state visit to the U.K. June 3 to 5 to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and what the White House calls “the steadfast and special relationship” between our two countries. No doubt to honor his illustrious military career, Private Bone Spurs will attend an elaborate D-Day ceremony in Portsmouth complete with a flyover of 26 types of RAF aircraft and “one of the greatest British military spectacles in recent history”; he will also dine with the Queen, meet with May, and travel to Normandy with President Macron to pretend he actually knows something about the history he’s supposedly celebrating. During his trip last year across the pond, Trump avoided London and its massive protests, but he also missed out on the shiny, hollow pomp – the carriage ride! the ranting to Parliament! – his fragile-yet-imperial ego craves. This year, with even more atrocities under his belt, it seems unlikely he’ll be greeted with the adoring crowds of his fever dreams given that Brits are responding to his “bonkers” visit with comments like, “kissing his despotic a** is out of the question,” “The entire UK denounces Trump for what he is: simply put, an international embarrassment,” and “friends don’t let friends play host to lying whoremongering authoritarians.”

    • ‘This Is the Cover-Up’: Trump DOJ Instructs McGahn to Disregard Subpoena by House Judiciary

      The Trump administration on Monday, via a legal opinion issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, has directed former White House counsel Don McGahn to disregard a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee meant to compel testimony about the president’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice by thwarting the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

      According to the DOJ memo (pdf), authored by the Office of Legal Counsel, “Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties. This testimonial immunity is rooted in constituional separation of powers and derives from the President’s independence from Congress.”

      Independent journalist Judd Legum said the order from the White House was a “pivotal moment” in the ongoing battle between the president and House Democrats. “This is the cover-up,” he said.

    • The Disinformationists

      So, the election-meddling Putin-Nazi disinformationists are at it again! Oh yes, while Americans have been distracted by Russiagate, Obstructiongate, Redactiongate, or whatever it’s being called at this point, here in Europe, we are purportedly being bombarded with Russian “disinformation” aimed at fomenting confusion and chaos in advance of the upcoming EU elections, which are due to take place in less than two weeks.

      The New York Times reports that an entire “constellation” of social media accounts “linked to Russia and far-right groups” is disseminating extremist “disinformation,” “encouraging discord,” and “amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.”

    • Why Are Democrats So Scared of Impeachment?

      Why haven’t congressional Democrats moved to impeach Donald Trump? Is their failure to act due to an inexcusable lack of courage and political will, or is the inaction attributable to an understandable fear of failure?

      The answer, unfortunately, is a bit of both. Given the president’s thoroughgoing corruption and reckless disregard for the rule of law, impeachment is imperative.

      But impeachment is a two-step process, and that’s where the fear sets in. Even if the current Democratic majority in the House votes to impeach Trump, there is little prospect that the Senate will convict the president and remove him from office following an impeachment trial conducted in the upper chamber.

      Sooner rather than later, Democrats will have to find the fortitude to set aside their fears. The president and his new attorney general, William Barr, are daring them to initiate impeachment proceedings, refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas and document requests seeking, among other items, Trump’s tax returns, and the full, unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller.

      As New York Times reporters Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt recently noted, “As the White House and Congress escalate their constitutional showdown, President Trump and his team are essentially trying to call what they see as the Democrats’ bluff. The message: Put up or shut up. Impeach or move on.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • TOSsed Out: Highlighting the Effects of Content Rules Online

      Today we are launching TOSsed Out, a new iteration of EFF’s longstanding work in tracking and documenting the ways that Terms of Service (TOS) and other speech moderating rules are unevenly and unthinkingly applied to people by online services. As a result of these practices, posts are deleted and accounts banned, harming those for whom the Internet is an irreplaceable forum to express ideas, connect with others, and find support.

      TOSsed Out continues in the vein of Onlinecensorship.org, which EFF launched in 2014 to collect reports from users in an effort to encourage social media companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability as they regulate speech. TOSsed Out will highlight the myriad ways that all kinds of people are negatively affected by these rules and their uneven enforcement.

      Last week the White House launched a tool for people to report incidents of “censorship” on social media, following the President’s repeated allegations of a bias against conservatives in how these companies apply their rules. In reality, commercial content moderation practices negatively affect all kinds of people, especially people who already face marginalization. We’ve seen everything from Black women flagged for sharing their experiences of racism to sex educators whose content is deemed too risqué. TOSsed Out will show that trying to censor social media at scale ends up removing legal, protected speech that should be allowed on platforms

    • Flip Side To ‘Stopping’ Terrorist Content Online: Facebook Is Deleting Evidence Of War Crimes

      Just last week, we talked about the new Christchurch Call, and how a bunch of governments and social media companies have made some vague agreements to try to limit and take down “extremist” content. As we pointed out last week, however, there appeared to be little to no exploration by those involved in how such a program might backfire and hide content that is otherwise important.

      We’ve been making this point for many, many years, but every time people freak out about “terrorist content” on social media sites and demand that it gets deleted, what really ends up happening is that evidence of war crimes gets deleted as well. This is not an “accident” or such systems misapplied, this is the simple fact that terrorist propaganda often is important evidence of war crimes. It’s things like this that make the idea of the EU’s upcoming Terrorist Content Regulation so destructive. You can’t demand that terrorist propaganda get taken down without also removing important historical evidence.

      It appears that more and more people are finally starting to come to grips with this. The Atlantic recently had an article bemoaning the fact that tech companies are deleting evidence of war crimes, highlighting how such videos have actually been really useful in tracking down terrorists, so long as people can watch them before they get deleted.

    • EFF Project Shows How People Are Unfairly “TOSsed Out” By Platforms’ Absurd Enforcement of Content Rules

      San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched TOSsed Out, a project to highlight the vast spectrum of people silenced by social media platforms that inconsistently and erroneously apply terms of service (TOS) rules.

      TOSsed Out will track and publicize the ways in which TOS and other speech moderation rules are unevenly enforced, with little to no transparency, against a range people for whom the Internet is an irreplaceable forum to express ideas, connect with others, and find support.

      This includes people on the margins who question authority, criticize the powerful, educate, and call attention to discrimination. The project is a continuation of work EFF began five years ago when it launched Onlinecensorship.org to collect speech takedown reports from users.

      “Last week the White House launched a tool to report take downs, following the president’s repeated allegations that conservatives are being censored on social media,” said Jillian York, EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression. “But in reality, commercial content moderation practices negatively affect all kinds of people with all kinds of political views. Black women get flagged for posting hate speech when they share experiences of racism. Sex educators’ content is removed because it was deemed too risqué. TOSsed Out will show that trying to censor social media at scale ends up removing far too much legal, protected speech that should be allowed on platforms.”

    • Kazakhstan Cops Protect Citizens’ Free Speech Rights By Arresting A Protester Holding A Blank Sign

      Sometimes it sucks to be right. Sagutdinov hoped to point out the “idiocy” of his country and its laws. Protesting nothing in particular, he was arrested by police and taken to the station. So far, there’s been nothing reported as to which charges, if any, he’ll be facing. But it’s too late for the cops and his idiotic country. The point has already been made.

      The police argued — via an official statement — that order must be maintained or something. According to the police, officers had “received a report” of an “unknown male” holding a blank placard and drawing a small crowd of curious onlookers. Rather than align themselves with the content of Sagutdinov’s placard and do nothing, officers chose to something. And that “something” was to drive their irony-proof squad car to the scene and detain the protester.

    • ‘Meduza’ responds to censorship scandal at ‘Kommersant’

      Kommersant’s billionaire owner, Alisher Usmanov, has forced out two of the newspaper’s journalists, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov, after they wrote a story claiming that Valentina Matviyenko might step down as Federation Council chairperson, to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin. You can read the article here.

      Kommersant’s editor-in-chief and CEO, Vladimir Zhelonkin, told the newspaper Vedomosti: “We have parted ways with these journalists because our editorial standards were violated during the preparation of this story.” In other circumstances that are sadly absent in today’s Russia, Zhelonkin might have to explain exactly what editorial standards were broken, given that the newspaper’s entire politics desk resigned in protest, after Safronov and Ivanov were fired.

    • Two top Russian journalists are forced to quit, and an entire department follows

      On May 20, two top journalists at the Russian newspaper Kommersant announced their resignation. Special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov left the newspaper at the request of the company’s owner, Alisher Usmanov, after they published an article claiming that Russia’s Federation Council chairperson Valentina Matvienko might leave her post. Eleven other journalists, including Kommersant’s entire politics department, soon quit their jobs as well to protest the owner’s intervention.

    • A statement by Kommersant’s employees following the mass resignation of their colleagues

      Today, our newsroom received official notice that the Kommersant Publishing House broke off its working relationship with two of our coworkers, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and deputy politics editor Maxim Ivanov. On paper, the resignations followed an “agreement among all parties involved,” and representatives for Alisher Usmanov, a businessman and Kommersant shareholder, told Vedomosti that Usmanov “does not interfere in editorial politics, let alone make decisions about firing or hiring journalists.” One representative clarified, “Mr. Usmanov found out about the resignations of Kommersant’s employees from subsequent press coverage.”

    • ‘Kommersant’ board chairman says journalists were fired for refusing to reveal their sources

      Ivan Streshinsky, Kommersant’s board chairman and publishing house owner Alisher Usmanov’s representative, told the website The Bell that the firing of journalists Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov is not connected to the content of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko stepping down to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Millions of Instagram influencers had their private contact data scraped and exposed

      The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records — but was growing by the hour.

      From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they’re verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner’s email address and phone number.

    • Contact Details Of 49 Million+ Instagram Celebrities Leaked Online

      massive trove of data containing contact information of more than 49 million Instagram influencers and celebrities has surfaced online. As reported by TechCrunch, the database existed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was not encrypted or protected by password, making the details visible to anyone.

    • Surprise! Police are allegedly abusing facial recognition software
    • Garbage In, Garbage Out

      There are no rules when it comes to what images police can submit to face recognition algorithms to generate investigative leads. As a consequence, agencies across the country can—and do—submit all manner of “probe photos,” photos of unknown individuals submitted for search against a police or driver license database. These images may be low-quality surveillance camera stills, social media photos with filters, and scanned photo album pictures.3 Records from police departments show they may also include computer-generated facial features, or composite or artist sketches.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • News of two foreign journalists missing in Saudi Arabia

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has obtained confirmation that the Saudi authorities are holding Marwan Al Muraisi, a Yemeni journalist missing in Saudi Arabia since June 2018, and Abdel Rahman Farhaneh, a Jordanian journalist who disappeared in the east of the country in February of this year.

    • Petition to abandon United States as a venue for computer science conferences.

      Here is a petition if you want to support researchers of Machine Learning who are struggling to get visas to go to the AI conferences (ICML, NeurIPS, ICLR, etc.) that are often held in the United States. Basically it is really frustrating when you work for a year or so on the research and finally get accepted at the top conferences but then cannot present it because software engineers and computer scientists are suspicious to the US government and always require administrative processing. This happened to me this year (5th time already in total) and to another author of the paper, so neither of us can go to present our work at ICLR 2019. This happens more frequently than you might think (especially if you never applied for US visa) and impacts a lot of scientists around the globe.

    • We’re losing foreign students due to Trump immigration rules, N.J. college presidents lament

      Delays in processing visa applications and “staggering” requests for more and more paperwork are threatening to drive foreign students and professors away from New Jersey universities, the presidents of 25 of the state’s four-year colleges said in a letter sent Thursday.

      The colleges took the unusual step of writing a joint letter — signed by the presidents of all 25 schools along with the chancellors of each of Rutgers University’s campuses — to New Jersey’s congressional delegation saying the “log-jammed” immigration system is costing them students and money.

    • Hearing Wednesday: Can Criminal Defendants Review DNA Analysis Software Used to Prosecute Them?

      Fresno – On Wednesday, May 22, at 9 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue that criminal defendants have a right to review and evaluate the source code of forensic DNA analysis software programs used to create evidence against them. The case, California v. Johnson, is on appeal to a California appeals court.

      In Johnson, the defendant was allegedly linked to a series of crimes by a software program called TrueAllele, used to evaluate complex mixtures of DNA samples from multiple people. As part of his defense, Johnson wants his defense team to examine the source code to see exactly how TrueAllele estimates whether a person’s DNA is likely to have contributed to a mixture, including whether the code works in practice as it has been described. However, prosecutors and the manufacturers of TrueAllele claim that the source code is a trade secret and that the commercial interest in secrecy should prevent a defendant from reviewing the source code—even though the defense has offered to follow regular procedure and agree to a court order not to disclose the code beyond the defense team.

    • Can It Happen Here?

      Can it happen here? Absolutely it can. Even in a liberal bastion. A few weeks ago, a handful of white supremacists marched into a bookstore in Washington D.C., temporarily disrupting a talk by Jonathan Metzl, the author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.

      To put this in context, this was in Politics and Prose, in hip DuPont Circle, during an Antiracist Book Festival, on the same day that a 19-year-old white supremacist shot up a California synagogue, killing one person and injuring three others.

      Around the same time, two members of the same group, calling itself the American Identity Movement, dressed up in clown suits to disrupt a story hour for kids led by drag queen performers at a New Orleans public library.

      These aren’t isolated events. The Washington Post reports that white nationalists have been targeting bookstores and libraries across the country for a while, in one instance, going so far as to threaten to burn the store down. Elsewhere, progressive groups are facing threats of violence and intimidation on campus; for example in Portland, where white so-called Patriot groups have targeted meetings of the DSA and the ISO and vandalized an office of the IWW.

    • Palace: DFA to extend assistance to Morales, family after HK travel ban

      Malacañang on Monday said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would extend assistance to former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales after she was stopped from entering Hong Kong.

      “I already called up Usec [Ernesto] Abella as Secretary [Teodoro] Locsin is in Myanmar, and requested him to give assistance to former Ombudsman Morales and her family. He already replied and said they are already on it,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday.

      “We will render assistance to every Filipino in need of assistance abroad regardless of their political persuasion,” he added.

      Morales was barred entry to Hong Kong on Tuesday for being a “security threat.”

    • Head of Program Profiling Muslims in Chicago Steps Down Amid Pressure

      Have you ever been angered by U.S. and Western foreign policy? Been at a transitional time in your life? Grown facial hair? Worshiped at a mosque? If you said “yes” to any of these questions — you might be considered a potential violent extremist by the U.S. government.

      The Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program claims to identify people who might be vulnerable to “radicalization” by using indicators such as “difficulties in school, searching for a sense of belonging, and acculturation difficulties experienced by refugee youth” that range from vague to overtly racialized. This approach is not backed up by social science, and the program’s indicators disproportionately target Muslim and Arab communities, effectively criminalizing everyday behavior.

      Chicago’s StopCVE coalition won a major victory against this racist program this month, when the head of the local iteration of CVE, Junaid Afeef, stepped down, and there are no current plans to replace him — as verified by the Arab American Action Network in a phone call with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), which administers the CVE program in Illinois, and which has received a $187,000 Department of Homeland Security grant. No press statement was released by the organization.

      Because controversy surrounded CVE from the very beginning, recent iterations of the program have rebranded, using progressive-sounding frames to obscure their true intent. In Illinois, CVE was rebranded as the “Targeted Violence Prevention Program” (TVPP), which engages in “bystander-gatekeeper” trainings and holds “hate crime focus groups.”

    • Protest art group Voina’s leader arrested in Germany

      The performance art group Voina announced on Twitter that the group’s leader, Oleg Vorotnikov, has been arrested in Germany. The group also posted a message on its website saying that Vorotnikov is in urgent need of an attorney in Berlin.

      The news of Vorotnikov’s arrest has not yet been confirmed by the German government.

    • Embattled Yekaterinburg cathedral sponsors plan to remove wall from contested park ‘in the name of peace’

      Alexander Andreyev, the director of Yekaterinburg’s St. Catherine’s Foundation, announced that a wall erected around the planned construction site of a new cathedral in the city would soon be taken down. For several days last week, protesters occupied the site in hopes of preserving the green space already present there.

    • Border Patrol Museum Demonstrators Targeted In Crackdown On Immigrant Rights Protests

      Four activists turned themselves in to El Paso police on May 13 after the police issued warrants for their arrest related to a nonviolent demonstration inside a United States Border Patrol museum.

      The 15-minute action in February highlighted the stories of Jakelin Caal Maquin, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, and Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, three migrant youth who died in Border Patrol custody between May and December 2018.

      The four activists—Amanda Tello, Nicolas Cruz, Monica Chan, and Skylar Ruch—are among 16 people who face charges related to the demonstration. Three of those are charged with trespassing, while 13 are charged with felony criminal mischief – an alleged crime that carries a prison sentence of up to two years.

      Before entering the police department on May 13, Tello, Cruz, Chan, and Ruch, who are part of the coalition “Tornillo: the Occupation,” read statements about the spirit of their work.

      The activists were released after several hours in custody. Two other activists previously surrendered to police.

    • 5th Migrant Child Dies in U.S. Custody

      A 16-year-old Guatemala migrant who died Monday in U.S. custody had been held by immigration authorities for six days — twice as long as federal law generally permits — then transferred him to another holding facility even after he was diagnosed with the flu.

      The teenager, identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, was the fifth minor from Guatemala to die after being apprehended by U.S. border agents since December.

      Advocates demanded that President Donald Trump’s administration act to safeguard the lives of children in detention as border crossings surge and the U.S. Border Patrol detains thousands of families at a time in overcrowded facilities, tents, and outdoor spaces.

      “We should all be outraged and demand that those responsible for his well-being be held accountable,” said Efrén Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

    • Another Federal Magistrate Says Compelled Production Of Passwords/Biometrics Violates The Fifth Amendment

      In another judicial rarity, a magistrate judge has rejected a warrant request by the federal government to compel a criminal suspect to unlock a phone found during the search of his residence. It won’t set precedent but it does present some arguments suspects will find useful when faced with orders for compelled production of passcodes or passwords.

      Earlier this year, a California magistrate came to the same conclusion, finding that compelled production of fingerprints or faces to unlock phones violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the suspects targeted by the warrant. Equating biometric security features with passwords, the judge denied the warrant request, stating that if it’s a Fifth Amendment violation to compel password production, it’s a Fifth Amendment violation to force someone to apply their fingerprints to a locked device.

      The device in this case is apparently secured by a swipe pattern. This would require more input from the suspect than simply applying a finger to the device. The court finds [PDF] that this act would be testimonial — covered by Fifth Amendment protections against self-implication. But it goes further, finding that attempting to violate Fifth Amendment rights causes violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

    • Soon You May Not Even Have to Click on a Website Contract to Be Bound by Its Terms

      If you’re like most people, you’ve probably clicked “I agree” on many online contracts without ever reading them. Soon you may be deemed to have agreed to a company’s terms without even knowing it. A vote is occurring Tuesday that would make it easier for online businesses to dispense with that click and allow websites that you merely browse — anything from Amazon and AT&T to Yahoo and Zillow — to bind you to contract terms without your agreement or awareness.

      As public outcry mounts over companies like Facebook collecting and selling user information, the new proposal would prime courts and legislatures to give businesses even more power to extract data from unwitting consumers. If the proposal is approved, merely posting a link to a company’s terms of service on a homepage could be enough for the company to conclude that a user has agreed to its policies. That includes everything from provisions that allow the sale of customer data or grant the right to track visitors to policies that limit consumers’ legal rights by barring them from suing in court or in class actions. Some courts have already given their blessing to this practice. But the proposal up for a vote Tuesday is set to make those kinds of business-friendly rulings all the more common.

      The proposal has outraged consumer advocates, state attorneys general and other constituencies. They see it as improperly tilting the scales in favor of business interests. They argue that the solution is creating clearer, simpler contracts rather than lengthy, confusing ones that are harder to find. The proposal’s authors counter that they have simply summarized trends in American law.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Bullshit Reason Ajit Pai Is Using to Back the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

      Consumer rights groups including Free Press objected to Pai’s announcement.

      “The digital divide isn’t just about rural buildout — though as others opposing the deal have shown, the merged companies’ spectrum wouldn’t allow for decent rural coverage at 5G speeds,” said Free Press Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood. “Both T-Mobile and Sprint are already building 5G networks without the deal. The digital divide the FCC should focus on is the affordability crisis. It leads to an adoption gap that makes it hard for poorer people to get online, and it keeps people of color disconnected more often than other demographic groups. People who rely on prepaid services won’t see any benefits from the conditions the FCC is touting with such glee this morning.”

    • Leaving Google Fi

      About a year ago I tried to get my parents to switch from AT&T to Google Fi. I even made a spreadsheet for my dad (who likes those sorts of things) about how much money he could save. He wasn’t interested. His one point was that at anytime he can go in and get help from an AT&T rep. I kept asking “Who cares? Why would you ever need that?”. Now I know. He was paying almost $60 a month premium for the opportunity to able to talk to a real person, face-to-face! I would gladly pay that now.

    • Trump’s FCC Chair Accused of Betraying Public Interest Mandate by Backing T-Mobile/Sprint Mega-Merger

      Consumer advocates rebuked FCC chairman Ajit Pai on Monday after the Trump appointee backed the proposed mega-merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

      “Ajit Pai doesn’t even try to pretend that he works for the public,” said Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer. “He seems to take smug pleasure in being a blatant telecom shill.”

      Pai’s approval followed what Engadget put as “a fresh round of promises [from the companies] to win regulators’ hearts.”

      Those promises—which the advocacy groups say do nothing to prevent the harms of the proposed merger—include Sprint divesting from Boost Mobile; the deployment of nearly-nationwide 5G network within 6 years; expanding high speed wireless service; and facing billions in fines if the agreement is violated. Pai’s statement also referenced the “prior commitment not to raise prices for three years” made by the two companies.

      “In light of the significant commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint as well as the facts in the record to date, I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the FCC approve it,” Pai said in a statement.

  • DRM
    • We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices

      Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.

    • DRM and terms-of-service have ended true ownership, turning us into “tenants of our own devices”

      Tufekci’s analysis points out a serious problem in the “Surveillance Capitalism” critique that says that paying for devices and services (rather than getting them through an advertising subsidy) would restore dignity and balance to the tech world. When Apple charges you $1,000 for a phone and then spends millions killing Right to Repair legislation so that you’ll be forced to buy repair services from Apple, who will therefore be able to decide when it’s time to stop fixing your phone and for you to buy a new one, then it’s clear that “if you’re not paying for the product” is a serious misstatement, because in a world of Big Tech monopolies, even when you’re paying for the product, you’re still the product.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • EU Blocks ‘Brexit Beer’ Trademark, First As ‘Offensive’, Then As Non-Distinctive

        Brexit, as most of you will know, is still a full on mess. And, frankly, it’s been a mess since the historic vote was taken and the British public rode a wave of nationalism draped in false promises to decide to economically scuttle their own country. In the nearly three years since, the British government has managed to put on an impressive performance piece on dysfunctional government, managing to refuse to agree on how to actually implement the will of their own people.

        At the same time that all of this has been going on, some opportunistic folks have been attempting to cash in on the Brexit story by trademarking the term, without even having a plan for how to use those marks. As we’ve pointed out in past posts, this sort of attempt to cash in is fully annoying, but not illegal. Which makes it sort of strange to watch the EU throw everything against the wall just to see what’s sticky enough to deny a UK brewer his trademark for Brexit Beer.

        Upon first reviewing the application, the EU’s IPO denied it on the insane grounds that the term “Brexit” is offensive.

    • Copyrights
      • 8 Best Torrent Search Engine Sites To Find Any Torrent [2019 Edition]

        If you have been living close to the torrent ecosystem, you might realize that there exist tons of torrent sites where you can search torrent files. But if you remember, when the FBI nabbed the operators of KAT, many people heard the term torrent search engine for the first time.

      • Italian Version of Article 17 Requires LEGAL Content to Be Filtered Out

        Last Friday the text of the new EU Copyright Directive was published on the Official Journal of the EU. However, due to glaring error, the Italian translation of Article 17 (formerly 13) requires online platforms such as YouTube to prevent the availability of works “that do not infringe copyright”, even in cases where such works are “subject to an exception or limitation”.

      • 15 Best Sites to Watch Movies and TV Shows Online in 2019

        Old days of watching TV together with the family members and sometimes even with your neighborhood is long gone! Once we struggled to get a cable connection, and now most of the people do not bother about having one, because now the TV has gone far beyond it. The only thing people need to entertain themselves is a computer/Mobile device and an internet connection.

        With no time to watch our favorite TV shows, most of us have happily switched to watching TV on our computers or smartphones. There are various sites today that not only features all the TV serials currently running, but also features some famous old TV series. Some sites also have their original web series and movies to make sure that you can find something to match your taste.

        With numerous sites available, each trying to offer the best of service, it is important for you to create your top watch-to list. Here are our picks for the same so that you utilize your time in watching TV rather than struggling to choose one!

Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

Monday 20th of May 2019 11:24:30 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • South Korea Chooses Linux Over Windows 10

      Support for Windows 7 will end in January 2020. Microsoft probably hopes the moribund operating system’s users will switch to Windows 10, but the South Korean government plans to switch its machines over to a Linux distribution instead, according to a May 17 report from The Korea Herald.

      The report said testing Linux is supposed to help South Korea reduce the cost of maintaining its systems while also reducing its reliance on a particular operating system. Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 effectively forced the country to choose between updating to Windows 10, which will eventually meet the same fate, or exploring options that aren’t controlled by a single entity. South Korea’s government opted for the latter.

    • South Korea’s government will switch to Linux over cost concerns

      Some governments might have fallen out of love with Linux, but South Korea appears ready to start a torrid affair. The country’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety has outlined plans to switch government computers from Windows to Linux due to both lower costs and a reduced dependency on a single operating system

    • Korean government is moving from Windows to Linux

      Microsoft Windows is the most used operating system in the world, at least when talking about desktop and laptop computers. In addition to the usual consumer and enterprise customers, it is also used in government offices and computers. That may have been the status quo but more and more governments are looking to other solutions for one reason or another. The latest to start that journey is South Korea, whose government is planning to migrate its computers to the open source operating system Linux.

    • South Korean Government To Give Windows The Boot In Favor Of Linux

      Unfortunately for many users, Microsoft announced they will be ending support for Windows 7 on January 14th, 2020. Many companies and government institutions have held onto Windows 7 because of its stability, performance, and compatibility with older apps. Some businesses and organizations will be granted a slight extension, but many are moving on to other operating systems.

  • Server
    • Why the future of the cloud is in Linux

      Organisations today are investing in new technologies and practices to transform the way they deliver value to customers. This has become a critical investment area as we move into an era of disruption.

      Cloud computing plays a vital role in supporting both the technologies and processes driving the digital transformation imperative. Offering greater speed, cloud-based strategies leave more time for companies to focus on building and delivering innovation, value, and differentiation while creating financial efficiency.

      While moving to a single public cloud has many benefits, the reality is that for some workloads the public cloud simply doesn’t make sense, or meet requirements for things like control, security or regulatory compliance. As a result, a majority of today’s IT environments are inherently hybrid, comprising of applications deployed on-premises, and in both private and public clouds.

    • A ‘smoking good’ deal? Red Hat could prove a $34 billion bargain for IBM
    • Keep Red Hat independent within IBM? Please, no!
    • Red Hat Helps Lockheed Adopt Open Source, Agile to Update F-22 Aircraft; Paul Smith Quoted [Ed: Openwashing Murder, Inc.]
    • Solo.io wants to bring order to service meshes with centralized management hub

      Idit Levine, founder and CEO at Solo, says she formed the company because she saw an opportunity to develop a set of tooling for a nascent market. Since founding the company in 2017, it has developed several open-source tools to fill that service mesh tool vacuum.

    • CRI-O: An Open Source Container Runtime for Kubernetes

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept CRI-O as an incubation-level hosted project on April 8th. CRI-O, created by Red Hat, is an Open Container Initiative (OCI) container runtime for Kubernetes that provides an alternative to Docker, rkt, or Moby.

      CRI-O is designed to work specifically with Kubernetes by delivering a minimal runtime that implements the standard components of the Kubernetes Container Runtime Interface (CRI). Early versions of Kubernetes only supported containers with the Docker runtime. As the Kubernetes team began to add support for new runtimes, such as rkt, they decided to develop and release CRI in order to decouple Kubernetes from specific container runtimes.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Podcast.__init__: Hardware Hacking Made Easy With CircuitPython

      Learning to program can be a frustrating process, because even the simplest code relies on a complex stack of other moving pieces to function. When working with a microcontroller you are in full control of everything so there are fewer concepts that need to be understood in order to build a functioning project. CircuitPython is a platform for beginner developers that provides easy to use abstractions for working with hardware devices. In this episode Scott Shawcroft explains how the project got started, how it relates to MicroPython, some of the cool ways that it is being used, and how you can get started with it today. If you are interested in playing with low cost devices without having to learn and use C then give this a listen and start tinkering!

    • Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 13, your weekly round-up podcast is here

      Grab a cup of coffee and come listen to some news you may have missed over the last week or so, as the Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 13 has arrived.

      As always, if you read GamingOnLinux every day this will all seem rather familiar. This bite-sized podcast is aimed at everyone who doesn’t have the time for that.

    • GNU World Order_13x21
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 146 – What the @#$% happened to Microsoft? [Ed: New PR strategy, same old EEE. Some people are easily fooled.]

      Josh and Kurt talk about Microsoft. They’re probably not the bad guys anymore, which is pretty wild. They’re adding a Linux kernel to Window. Can we declare open source the unquestionable winner now?

    • Linux Action News 106

      ZombieLoad’s impact on Linux, AMP to start hiding Google from the URL, and the huge Linux switch underway.

      Plus the impact of Google suspending business with Huawei, the recent ChromeOS feature silently dropped, and more.

  • Kernel Space
    • The Many Changes & Additions To Find With The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      The Linux 5.2 kernel merge window has been open for two weeks now and is expected to close today or in the next few days (there is some uncertainty due to Linus Torvalds traveling this week due to his daughter’s graduation). But anyhow all of the major pull requests have already been sent in so here is a look at the new features to find with the Linux 5.2 kernel and the many other changes.

      The TLDR version of the Linux 5.2 kernel is that this summer 2019 update is simply going to be massive… Among the work to get excited about in Linux 5.2 is EXT4 case-insensitive feature, Intel Sound Open Firmware support, better AMD Ryzen laptop touchpad/touchscreen support, Intel Comet Lake support, production-ready Intel Icelake/Gen11 graphics support, ARM Mali graphics drivers landed with Lima and Panfrost, the legacy IDE driver was deprecated, a brand new Realtek WiFi driver to replace the existing RTLWIFI driver, and new subsystems for Fieldbus and generic counters.

    • Linux Kernel’s Perf Now Supports Zstd-Compressed Trace Recording

      Late updates to the Linux kernel’s perf subsystem introduces support for compressed recording of traces, which can yield a three to five time reduction in file-size.

      The run-time trace compression and auto-decompression is actually a very useful feature in the context of the Perf subsystem with those records easily hitting many GB in size if making a recording of the events for any real length of time.

    • Linux 5.2-rc1

      Nothing particularly odd going on this merge window. I had some travel
      in the middle of it, but to offset that I had a new faster test-build
      setup, and most of the pull requests came in early (thank you) so my
      travels didn’t actually end up affecting the merge window all that
      much.

      We did have a few late pull requests too, but since that meshed fairly
      well with my schedule as per above, and people generally made the
      proper noises (“sorry for late pull request, I had good reasons: xyz”)
      I didn’t mind this time. But let’s try to not repeat that, ok?

      Things look fairly normal. Just about two thirds of the patch is
      drivers (all over), with the bulk of the rest being arch updates,
      tooling, documentation and vfs/filesystem updates, of which there were
      more than usual (the unicode tables for ext4 case insensitivity do end
      up being a big part of the “bulk” side).

      But there’s core networking, kernel and vm changes too – it’s just
      that the other areas tend to simply be much bulkier. Drivers etc tend
      to just have a ton more lines to them, if only by virtue of there
      being so many of them (although admittedly also sometimes because some
      drivers tend to just be very verbose and have a lot of register
      definitions etc).

    • Linux 5.2-rc1 Kernel Released With Case-Insensitive EXT4, New Intel HW & RTW88 WiFi
    • Linux’s vmalloc Seeing “Large Performance Benefits” With 5.2 Kernel Changes

      On top of all the changes queued for Linux 5.2 is an interesting last-minute performance improvement for the vmalloc code.

      The Linux kernel’s vmalloc code has the potential of performing much faster on Linux 5.2, particularly with embedded devices. Vmalloc is used for allocating contiguous memory in the virtual address space and saw a nice optimization merged today on the expected final day of the Linux 5.2 merge window.

    • Linux Foundation
  • Applications
    • ‘Remotely’ is a Simple VNC Viewer For Linux Desktops

      Simple by design, Remotely is not packed full of advanced features.

      Remotely does not have VNC server capabilities built-in. While you can connect to a VNC server on a different device you cannot use the app to ‘share’ a desktop with another device.

      So if you need an expansive, fully featured remote desktop client with support for protocols other than VNC, stick with Remmina — it even comes preinstalled in Ubuntu!

      Otherwise, have at it!

      Remotely is free, open source software. It’s available to install from Flathub, the Flatpak app store:

    • LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha Was Tagged This Week, Stable Expected In August

      Tagged at the start of the week was LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha 1 as the first step towards the next major release of this cross-platform, open-source office suite.

      LibreOffice 6.3 is expected to make its stable debut by mid-August and for that to be the feature freeze and branching is approaching at the end of the month followed by the first beta and then a few release candidates over the next two months. Alpha 1 striked on time so things are looking good at this stage for LibreOffice 6.3.

    • Zettlr – Markdown Editor for Writers and Researchers

      Zettlr is an open source markdown editor with features that help writers and researchers. Read and see if Zettlr can be your next favorite application.

    • Best Command Line Language Translators for Linux

      The importance of Language translation applications cannot be overemphasized especially for those who travel a lot or communicate with people who don’t share the same language on a regular basis.

      Today, I introduce to you the best command-line based translation tools for Linux.

    • k3OS Takes Kubernetes to the Edge

      In the tradition of embedded Linux comes k3OS, an open source project for managing Kubernetes instances on embedded platforms at the edge. k3OS combines a Linux distro with a k3s Kubernetes distro in one. It simplifies the path to quickly stand up clusters and maintain them over time. Let’s explore how two paths meet taking Kubernetes to the edge, and how you can get started running it today.

    • Proprietary
      • What proprietary tool do you need open source alternative to?

        Taking the plunge from easy and familiar proprietary tools we use every day to unknown and open source tools can be a challenge. When do you find the time to do the research to choose the right option for you? How do you choose? What will be daily repercussions be? Will the positive outweigh the negative?

        To help take some of the guesswork out of it for you, we’ve been writing articles that present you with some open source alternatives and how they work. We hope this will give you some insight into what the daily cost and benefits could be for you given your unique needs and lifestyle.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
    • Games
      • Google Stadia GPU To Be Based on 14nm AMD Vega Architecture

        The details of Google Stadia GPU have been leaked online. The streaming console from Google will use a Vega Graphics from AMD, instead of the speculated Navi.

        The information comes from the Khronos’ Vulcan API product listings. The Google Stadia is listed as “Google Games Platform Gen 1 AMD GCN 1.5)”

      • A quick look at some fun games & expansions released with Linux support in 2019 so far

        We’re closing in on the midway point of 2019 so let’s slow down for a moment, take a step back and look at some of the top games released with Linux support so far this year.

        Note: I am not counting Early Access or in-Beta titles and only including games that support Linux, so for those looking for something new you can expect a full completable experience with any of these titles. Also, it’s in no particular order as this isn’t meant as a best to worse compilation. Also, some may have had their official Linux releases later than the other platforms.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Xfce 4.14pre1 released!

      Note: A lot has happened since Xfce 4.12 was released four years ago and this announcement only covers the changes that were included in the latest development releases dubbed as Xfce 4.14pre1. Also, we have noticed some confusion by people or news outlets that seem to mistake xfdesktop for the “Xfce Desktop Environment”.

      The comprehensive changelog will be provided with the Xfce 4.14 final release, but here go some select highlights that were released in the last week (chosen subjectively by the author).

    • Xfce 4.14 Sees Its Long-Awaited Pre-Release

      The GTK3-ported Xfce 4.14 might see its long-awaited official release in the near future. In preparing for a hopeful August debut, the Xfce 4.14 pre-release is now available.

      It’s been four years since the release of Xfce 4.12 and in addition to the GTK3 tool-kit re-tooling there has been a lot of UI improvements, vblank support added, colord integration, and many other feature additions.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Plasma 5.16 To Allow Fully Configuring Touchpads With Libinput On X11

        It was another busy week in KDE space with a lot of bug fixing and last minute work around KDE Plasma 5.16. In case you missed it, this week Plasma 5.16 reached beta.

        KDE developer Nate Graham continues doing a splendid job summarizing the KDE improvements made each week.

      • Weixuan XIAO (Inokinoki): About me

        I’m Weixuan XIAO, with the nickname: Inoki, sometimes Inokinoki is used to avoid duplicated username.

        I’m glad to be selected in Google Summer of Code 2019 to work for KDE Community to make KDE Connect work on macOS. And I’m willing to be a long-term contributor in KDE Community.

        As a Chinese student, I’m studying in France for my engineering degree. At the same time, I’m waiting for my bachelor degree at Shanghai University.

      • Okular: another improvement to annotation

        Continuing with the addition of line terminating style for the Straight Line annotation tool, I have added the ability to select the line start style also. The required code changes are committed today.

      • Jonathan Riddell: libqaccessibilityclient 0.4.1
      • KDE Craft now delivers with vlc and libvlc on macOS

        Lacking VLC and libvlc in Craft, phonon-vlc cannot be built successfully on macOS. It caused the failed building of KDE Connect in Craft.

        As a small step of my GSoC project, I managed to build KDE Connect by removing the phonon-vlc dependency. But it’s not a good solution. I should try to fix phonon-vlc building on macOS. So during the community bonding period, to know better the community and some important tools in the Community, I tried to fix phonon-vlc.

  • Distributions
    • Gentoo Family
      • Review: Sabayon 19.03

        Sabayon’s claim that it is a “beginner-friendly” distro that is “bleeding edge” and “stable and reliable” is a bit of a stretch. I doubt “beginners” will comprehend the instructions for what to do after installing Sabayon – and that is assuming inexperienced users will find the information in the first place. Similarly, the systemd and GNOME versions are rather old for a distro that claims to be “bleeding edge”. That said, I did find Sabayon’s GNOME edition to be stable and reliable, bar a few minor issues (such as the notification about the VirtualBox kernel service not running).

        I don’t think it is entirely fair to ask if Sabayon lives up to the bold marketing slogans on its home page. Personally, I see Sabayon as a friendly and interesting distro for tinkerers and distro-hoppers, and a very good one at that. I should also mention that, in general, Sabayon’s use of language is refreshingly informal; both the graphical Rigo package manager and the wiki put a smile on my face more than once. Even Equo has some jokes built in – the command equo moo prints an ASCII cow that says “Entromoooo!”.

        Sabayon does still has some way to go to become the sophisticated operating system it wants to be. With 19.03 the distro switched from the Anaconda to the Calamares installer which, to my mind at least, is a good decision. However, contrary to what is claimed in the release notes, the disk encryption issue has not been resolved yet and the wiki still talks about how to find your way through the Anaconda installer. Work on the new wiki announced in the release notes seems to be at a very early stage.

        I also couldn’t fail to notice that Sabayon’s forums are rather quiet. Lively forums don’t necessarily equate to a thriving community, but the overall feeling I got is that Sabayon could do with a bit more momentum. That shouldn’t discourage you from giving Sabayon a try though. On the contrary, if you are a Linux-loving tinkerer then Sabayon might be the distro for you.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Introducing SUSE Enterprise Storage 6

        SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 enables IT organizations to seamlessly adapt to changing business demands while reducing IT operational expense by transforming their enterprise storage infrastructure with our intelligent software-defined storage solution.

        Based on the Ceph Nautilus release and built on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP1, SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 enables IT organizations to seamlessly adapt to changing business demands while reducing IT operational expense with new features focused on containerized and cloud workload support, improved integration with public cloud, and enhanced data protection capabilities

    • Fedora
      • Introducing Fedora Summer Coding Class of Summer 2019

        Starting today, interns from the Fedora Summer Coding (F.S.C.) class of Summer 2019 start working on their projects. Three interns selected for Outreachy begin today, and another five interns selected for Google Summer of Code begin on Monday, May 27. The Fedora CommOps and Diversity and Inclusion teams worked together to interview all eight interns. This week on the Fedora Community Blog, we’ll introduce two interns each day of this week!

      • Getting set up with Fedora Project services

        In addition to providing an operating system, the Fedora Project provides numerous services for users and developers. Services such as Ask Fedora, the Fedora Project Wiki and the Fedora Project Mailing Lists provide users with valuable resources for learning how to best take advantage of Fedora. For developers of Fedora, there are many other services such as dist-git, Pagure, Bodhi, COPR and Bugzilla that are involved with the packaging and release process.

        These services are available for use with a free account from the Fedora Accounts System (FAS). This account is the passport to all things Fedora! This article covers how to get set up with an account and configure Fedora Workstation for browser single sign-on.

    • Debian Family
      • Lenovo Platinum Sponsor of DebConf19

        With this commitment as Platinum Sponsor, Lenovo is contributing to make possible our annual conference, and directly supporting the progress of Debian and Free Software, helping to strengthen the community that continues to collaborate on Debian projects throughout the rest of the year.

      • David Kalnischkies: Newbie contributor: A decade later

        Time flies. On this day, 10 years ago, a certain someone sent in his first contribution to Debian in Debbugs#433007: –dry-run can mark a package manually installed (in real life). What follows is me babbling randomly about what lead to and happened after that first patch.

        That wasn’t my first contribution to open source: I implemented (more like copy-pasted) mercurial support in the VCS plugin in the editor I was using back in 2008: Geany – I am pretty sure my code is completely replaced by now, I just remain being named in THANKS, which is very nice considering I am not a user anymore. My contributions to apt were coded in vim(-nox) already.

      • Joey Hess: 80 percent

        I added dh to debhelper a decade ago, and now Debian is considering making use of dh mandatory. Not being part of Debian anymore, I’m in the position of needing to point out something important about it anyway. So this post is less about pointing in a specific direction as giving a different angle to think about things.

        debhelper was intentionally designed as a 100% solution for simplifying building Debian packages. Any package it’s used with gets simplified and streamlined and made less a bother to maintain. The way debhelper succeeds at 100% is not by doing everything, but by being usable in little pieces, that build up to a larger, more consistent whole, but that can just as well be used sparingly.

        dh was intentionally not designed to be a 100% solution, because it is not a collection of little pieces, but a framework. I first built an 80% solution, which is the canned sequences of commands it runs plus things like dh_auto_build that guess at how to build any software. Then I iterated to get closer to 100%. The main iteration was override targets in the debian/rules file, to let commands be skipped or run out of order or with options. That closed dh’s gap by a further 80%.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Peppermint OS 10 Run Through

              In this video, we look at Peppermint OS 10. Enjoy!

            • Peppermint 10 Linux OS Released For A Fast And Lightweight Experience

              In our yearly list of the best Linux distros for older computers, Peppermint Linux OS appears prominently. This Ubuntu Linux derivative features the LXDE desktop environment which needs relatively lower hardware requirements. What really sets Peppermint OS apart is its combination of regular desktop apps and cloud-based infrastructure.

              The latest iteration, i.e., Peppermint 10, is based on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS base. For users of outdated desktops, this release brings a sigh of relief as the 32-bit images are also available for use. The trend to drop support for 32-bit hardware is becoming increasingly prevalent these days and it’s nice to see a popular distro choosing not to do so.

            • Pop!_OS 19.04 – Based on Ubuntu 19.04 and Use GNOME 3.32 as Default Desktop

              Pop!_OS 19.04 is the latest release of Pop!_OS, based on Ubuntu 19.04 and use GNOME 3.32 as default desktop environment that brings several other features like new icon theme, fractional scaling, permission control for each application, granular control on Night Light intensity among many other changes. Also, include most of the gnome applications 3.32.

              The changes that are exclusive to Pop!_OS 19.04, the new Refresh Install option allows you to reinstall the OS without losing your user account and data stored in Home.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Limor Fried, AC2SN, is Recipient of 2019 Women in Open Source Award

    Nominations for this year’s awards were accepted for two categories: “Academic” for those currently enrolled in a college or university, and “Community” for those working on or volunteering with projects related to open source. A panel of judges determined finalists based on nomination criteria, and the public voted to determine the award winners.

  • Introducing GopenPGP, an open source encryption library for native applications

    Open source is a core principle of ProtonMail. We’re excited to make even more of our code available for independent inspection and use by the developer community.
    In 2016, ProtonMail became the maintainer of OpenPGP.js, the world’s most widely used Javascript email encryption library. Since then we have updated the library with new features, such as streaming encryption; assisted developers to adopt the library in their own applications; and submitted the library to independent security audits.

    Today, we are happy to announce another open source project that will be maintained by ProtonMail: GopenPGP. This project consists of a high-level OpenPGP library, as well as a fork of the golang crypto library. We started this project to make it easier for mobile and desktop developers to use OpenPGP encryption in their apps.

  • Gab’s New Strategy: Fork Open-Source Software And Add Bitcoin

    After Keybase announced integration of Stellar on its platform, Gab has threatened to fork the open-source chat software and swap its XLM wallet…

  • Seven Major Trends in the Cryptoasset Industry, According to ConsenSys

    Web 3.0 Development Will Mostly Be Open-Sourced, But “Not Free”

    As confirmed by ConsenSys, open-source projects like OpenSSL Software and also open-source blockchain and crypto-related initiatives are, for the most part, operating on relatively low budgets due to lack of adequate funding.

    Although the management at ConsenSys believes Web 3.0, an evolving set of protocols and standards for the new internet, will be created mainly through open-source development projects, it also noted that the world wide web of the future will not be developed “for free.”

    On May 11, 2019, Ethereum co-founders Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin announced they had donated 1,000 ether (each) to Moloch DAO, an initiative aimed at acquiring funding for the ongoing development of Ethereum’s open-source ecosystem.

  • UPenn Medicine’s AI tool for data analytics is open-source, free to the public

    An automated system that uses machine learning for data analysis is completely open-source and free to use, thanks to the Institute for Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

    Penn AI is designed to be used by anyone interested in AI, regardless of experience level, from high school students to trained researchers. Users can either import their own datasets for analysis within the tool or use one of the hundreds provided by UPenn.

  • Former Chef Software CTO talks IT automation, open source

    Adam Jacob: I’ll eventually start another company and do something in enterprise software, because that’s where my expertise is, and that’s what I like. But I don’t know exactly what it’ll be or when.

    We have to build the system that makes people effective at adopting new technology — whatever it is, wherever it may be in the stack — that they need to run their business more effectively, instead of just the next platform.

    Things like serverless are interesting, because they point the way to the user experience, and they’re going to get adopted and have value. Are they the future of enterprise computing? Maybe for a minute. But then, there’ll be something else. And until we get good at navigating those transitions, which we’re completely bad at right now, I don’t know that it matters.

  • Events
    • OpenStack Keeps One Eye on the Prize, One Over Its Shoulder

      The OpenStack Foundation (OSF) used its recent Open Infrastructure Show (OIS) to remind the open source community of its importance, maturity, and flexibility. But the event also showed that the group understands that the virtualized infrastructure environment is evolving rapidly.

      I must admit that heading into the OIS event I was not expecting much. Conversations I have had over the past year continued to show a strong core of OpenStack supporters, but it seemed that the platform’s innovative spirit was diminishing. And in such a rapidly evolving technology segment, any sort of diminishing momentum is the equivalent of going backwards.

    • Open Source Day 2019 focuses on the cloud, security and development

      The 12th edition of Open Source Day (OSD) will take place today at the Legia Warsaw Stadium in Poland’s capital city.

      The event will include presentations, forums and nine technical sessions spanning automation, containerization, cloud computing, virtualization, security, monitoring, CI/CD, software and app development and databases.

  • Intel
  • Databases
    • Top Open source NoSQL database programs

      NoSql, it stands for Not Only SQL, refers to the non-relational database. The next generation database mainly addresses several key points: non-relational, distributed, open source, and horizontally scalable. The non-relational database has developed very rapidly due to its own characteristics. The NoSQL database was created to solve the challenges brought by the multiple data types of large-scale data collection, especially the big data application problem. It also supports easy replication, simple APIs, final consistency (non-ACID), and large data. It is stored by us with the most key-values, and of course other document types, column stores, graph databases, XML databases, and so on. Here are some top available NoSQL database programs in Open source or free category.

    • We need a new type of open source event – here’s why

      Open source events tend to focus on developers, this needs to change says EnterpriseDB’s Jan Karremans

    • RavenDB Adds Pull Replication and Distributed Online Counters to Its Open Source NoSQL Document Database Offering
  • Telco
    • The benefits of open source networking for enterprise IT

      Open source software has proved its benefits for various aspects of the IT community in terms of costs, agility and flexibility. Open source networking software is in its early stages of deployment among enterprises. Meantime, hyperscale cloud providers and the largest service providers have made effective use of open source networking.

      It is standard in large IT organizations to consider open source software alongside packaged software and SaaS as part of their IT architecture. Enterprise IT shops frequently deploy open source software in test environments and when designing new applications, like in DevOps.

      IT organizations report a range of benefits from open source software, including innovative design, time to market and agility. While open source software helps reduce some costs, deployment in production environments is generally accompanied by a vendor-supplied support contract.

    • How “Lab as a Service” supports OPNFV and ONAP development

      The Interoperability Lab at the University of New Hampshire (UNH-IOL) is a community resource that allows developers and open source users to have access to resources that they might not have themselves. The “Lab as a Service” provides the necessary shared compute and networking resources for developers working on projects such as OPNFV. Access is remote via a VPN connection, so it acts like a remote server. Those new to OPNFV can create a virtual deployment on a single node and run small VNFs on top. It gives developers access to a bare metal system for low level checking and installs. The next step is to add better support for multi-node usage, integrating the CI work that’s being done in the OPNFV project and making the system more compatible with ONAP development.

    • The modern data center and the rise in open-source IP routing suites

      Primarily, what the operators were looking for was a level of control in managing their network which the network vendors couldn’t offer. The revolution burned the path that introduced open networking, and network disaggregation to the work of networking. Let us first learn about disaggregation followed by open networking.

    • Tracking Telco Progress in Open Networking

      I recently attended the Open Infrastructure Summit (formerly the OpenStack Summit — more on this later). While the conference has gotten smaller, I didn’t hear any complaints. Instead, people attending recognized that the developers who showed up came to work on real problems, rather than to cheerlead for the latest technology. Despite some of the dire headlines of the past year, I did not sense a crisis or panic.

    • Exclusive: Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist
    • 5G and #Huawei – Trade wars can be prevented by using Open Source

      Consumer Choice Center Managing Director Fred Roeder stressed that more openness and transparency of telephone and radio networks could lead to more trust in the soft- and hardware of infrastructure providers: “Outright bans by country of origin should only be the last resort for policy makers. Bans risk getting the global economy deeper into costly trade wars. Consumers benefit from competition and the fast rollout of new technologies such as 5G networks. At the same time, we are worried about vulnerabilities and potential backdoors in equipment and software. Closed systems have a much higher likelihood of hiding vulnerabilities. Hence more open systems and open source approaches can really help consumers, and governments, trust the security promises of 5G providers,” said Roeder.

      “Private efforts such as the Open Radio Access Network Alliance show that open source systems are an option for telecommunication infrastructure. It would be a win-win situation for consumers and industry if more companies would embrace open standards. An open source approach in telecommunications could revolutionize market access and rollout pace of new standards in the era of 5G, in the same way as blockchain does in the financial services and payment industry. Manufacturers that commit to open source systems show that they don’t have any vulnerabilities to hide, and at the same time have a compelling case not to be excluded on the basis of their country of origin,” he added.

  • CMS
    • XJTLU brings Moodle – one of the world’s most popular open source learning platform – event to China for first time

      On May 19, Dr Dougiamas, founder and CEO of Moodle, will deliver the keynote address at China’s inaugural MoodleMoot, a conference held around the world to encourage collaboration and sharing of best practices of Moodle. China MoodleMoot, part of XJTLU’s 2019 Annual Conference on Higher Education Innovation, will see Dr Dougiamas share his experience in using technology to transform teaching and learning.

      Dr Dougiamas, who developed the Moodle software as part of his PhD in Australia and went on to release it to the world as an open source technology in 2002, says he is looking forward to discussing the future of Moodle in China. “Anecdotally, we know many people use Moodle in China – we hope to see many of them at the first China MoodleMoot to help plan the future of Moodle, and open technology in general, in China,” he says.

    • Acquia Acquires Mautic, Open-Source Marketing Automation Firm

      Hurley adds that “advancements in AI, voice, and connected devices” are raising consumer expectations, and claims that what Drupal did for the web, Elastic did for search and MongoDB did for databases, Mautic is now doing for marketing automation.

    • Acquia Delivers Open Source Framework for Contextual Commerce
    • Why Drupal matters

      After a number of complaints from the Drupal community, the Drupal Association finally removed the seemingly odd tagline “community plumbing” from its home page a few years ago (the word “plumbing” doesn’t make good SEO for a digital platform, you see).

  • Education
    • The Untapped Potential of Making and Makerspaces

      Makerspaces are physical locations with equipment that students can use to undertake do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Arguably, they have been around for decades; we just haven’t used the name makerspace. At my institution, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, we’ve had a student-run DIY craft shop on our campus for more than 20 years.

      The difference between older forms of makerspaces like that craft shop and emerging ones is that the latter focus more heavily on digital making, such as 3-D design and printing, digital fabrication (sometimes called “FabLabs”), or the programming of open-source electronic hardware like the Arduino microcontroller. What is also new are the maker practices or principles of: 1) licensing digital designs and how-to instructions under a Creative Commons or similar copyright license and 2) openly sharing those designs through internet-enabled, cloud-based maker websites. Licenses chosen usually permit the sharing of the work with author attribution and, in some cases, permit new users to adapt and remix the work for other purposes. For example, at Thingiverse.com, 3-D modelers openly share their digital designs in this manner.

    • Global Learning Xprize splits $10M purse for best teaching app for disadvantaged kids

      These finalists were then subjected to field testing in Tanzania, where 8,000 Pixel C tablets generously donated by Google for the purpose were distributed to communities where teaching was hardest to come by and literacy rates lowest.

  • Healthcare
    • Health Port: Creates Holistic Solution for Open Source Electronic Health Records

      The medical industry has been slow to embrace modern record-keeping technology. Health Port is bringing next-generation blockchain technology to Electronic Health Records (EHR). The idea behind Health Port is simple; make EHR technology simple, safe, and open source.

      Around the time that the internet bubble was in full swing, there is a good chance that your local doctors were still writing health care records by hand. The internet has been a big force in the world of data, but the medical industry has been left out of the internet data revolution.

      [...]

      The most important reason why EHRs need to be open is patient care. A person should have easy access to their medical history. When a person changes location or healthcare providers, making sure their medical records go with them shouldn’t be a hassle.

      An EHR isn’t special from a data handling perspective. Much like other sensitive personal information, it should be easy to share with authorized agents. In an emergency care scenario, this aspect of EHRs is even more important.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Bison 3.4 released

      We are happy to announce the release of Bison 3.4.
      A particular focus was put on improving the diagnostics, which are now
      colored by default, and accurate with multibyte input. Their format was
      also changed, and is now similar to GCC 9′s diagnostics.
      Users of the default backend (yacc.c) can use the new %define variable
      api.header.include to avoid duplicating the content of the generated header
      in the generated parser. There are two new examples installed, including a
      reentrant calculator which supports recursive calls to the parser and
      Flex-generated scanner.

    • GNU Guix 1.0.1 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNU Guix version 1.0.1. This new version fixes bugs in the graphical installer for the standalone Guix System.

      The release comes with ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running guix pull.

      It’s been just over two weeks since we announced 1.0.0—two weeks and 706 commits by 40 people already!

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Confluent says it has the first cloud-native Kafka streaming platform

      Open-source unicorn Confluent Inc. is ready to go head-to-head with cloud computing giants with the release of a cloud-native and fully managed service based upon the Apache Kafka streaming platform.

    • For open source vs. proprietary, AWS might have it both ways [Ed: Mac Asay, Adobe, proponent of calling proprietary "open". IDG has just received money from Adobe (“BrandPost Sponsored by Adobe”) and Asay is now publishing articles owing to his employer paying the media. He’s is some kind of editor at InfoWorld (IDG). So the corporations basically buy ‘journalism’ (their staff as editors) at IDG.]
    • Why Open Source Should Remain Open

      On one hand, the validation that comes along with major tech players offering open source fuels growth in the software. On the other, it also changes the platform from one that’s always been free and available to one that is only available with limitations and has red tape all around it. As some of these companies join in the open source community, they’re losing sight of the original goal and community. Instead, they are building artificial walls and shutting down many parts of what makes open source open. This isn’t a unique occurrence, it’s happening more and more frequently and is something that will completely rearrange the core of open source as we know it.

    • BREAKING: OnePlus 7 Pro root achieved on global and Indian variants, kernel source codes released

      OnePlus phones are known for their developer friendliness as well as strong aftermarket development community. The Chinese OEM prefers to mandate GPL and push kernel source codes in a timely manner, which is a godsend compared to most of their competitors.

    • OnePlus 7 / 7 Pro kernel source code is now out, expect custom ROMs soon

      OnePlus announced the most-awaited OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro last week. Both the smartphones are already on sale and can be bought in all the countries they are available. Even the OnePlus 7 Pro received its maiden update which brings April security patch and more. As usual, the kernel source for the OnePlus 7 series is now out too in a timely manner. Thus, users can expect custom ROMS sooner than later.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration