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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 38 min 19 sec ago

Links 24/4/2019: Chrome 74, QEMU 4.0 Released

5 hours 7 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • 5 of the Best Linux Desktops for Touchscreen Monitors in 2019

      The concept of using Linux on a touchscreen monitor or two-in-one computer has come a long way. Touchscreen support is now built into the Linux kernel, so theoretically any Linux distribution should run with a touchscreen. That said, not every distribution will be easy to use on a touchscreen, and this comes down to the desktop.

      For example, using a tiling window manager like Awesome or i3 isn’t going to do you much good on a touchscreen. Choose the right desktop (more precisely, desktop environment), and you’ll have a much better time using Linux with a touchscreen.

  • Server
    • Why Hybrid Cloud is About to Get a Whole Lot Easier

      It seems like analysts, vendors and IT decision makers have been talking about “hybrid cloud” for the longest time. The concept has been around for at least a decade – and that’s a really long time in the IT industry. Is it still important? Absolutely.
      Almost every piece of cloud market research I read shows the majority of enterprises are focusing on a hybrid cloud strategy. Why? Because they all need increased agility, innovation and productivity, better cost optimization and improved customer experience.

    • The Open Organization guide to Red Hat Summit 2019 [Ed: The 'Open Organization' slant in Red Hat Summit 2019 with Microsoft CEO as keynote because it's all about money, not "open" or "free" (just proprietary and expensive]

      When Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst published The Open Organization in 2015, he didn’t just release a book. He catalyzed a global conversation about the ways open principles are reshaping organizational culture and design.

    • Developing distributed applications and services for tomorrow: a proof of concept

      Innovation is accelerating across the automobile industry, bringing advances in the in-vehicle experience. Connected vehicle technologies are opening up new business models and providing a whole range of new software and data-driven services.

      When it comes to new software and data-driven services, the possibilities are immense. But there is one trend many use cases have in common: they are becoming more distributed. To provide a great user experience, connected in-vehicle services often need to integrate increasingly diverse data.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • mintCast 307 – Encryption Part 1

      This is Leo and with me I have Joe, Moss, and the return of Rob for this episode! We’re recording on Sunday April 21st 2019.

      First up, in our Wanderings, I talk Kernel 5.0 and transfer speed, Joe reformats and loses Windows but gains NVidia peace of mind, and finally Moss digests more distros and has some success with migrating Kodi

      Then, our news is filled with updates from top to bottom.

      In our Innards section, we dive into file and disk encryption.

    • Blame Joe | LINUX Unplugged 298

      This week we discover the good word of Xfce and admit Joe was right all along. And share our tips for making Xfce more modern.

      Plus a new Debian leader, the end of Scientific Linux, and behind the scenes of Librem 5 apps.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.1 Encounters “Regression Special” For Intel & VirtIO DRM Drivers

      If you have been hit by a bug on Linux 5.1 where your X.Org Server would no longer start or separately where when using VirtIO DRM that XWayland and GNOME Shell would break, fixes have now landed in Linux 5.1 Git.

      David Airlie sent in the DRM fixes on Wednesday as a “regression special” for the Intel i915 and VirtIO DRM drivers compared to the usual DRM fixes cadence.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA 430.09 Linux Driver Brings GTX 1650 Support, Surprising VDPAU Improvements

        With today’s GeForce GTX 1650 launch, NVIDIA has posted the 430.09 Linux driver as their first in this new driver series.

        The GeForce GTX 1650 is now supported by this new NVIDIA LInux driver along with its Max-Q Design and the GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q Design.

        The NVIDIA 430 Linux driver also adds HEVC YUV 4:4:4 decode support to VDPAU, various other VDPAU additions, raised the X.Org Server requirement to version 1.7, adds the GL_NV_vdpau_interop2 extension, and updates the NVIDIA installer to work better on the latest Linux distributions.

      • NVIDIA have two new drivers out with 430.09 and the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05

        NVIDIA have just recently released two new drivers for Linux users, with the main series now being at 430.09 adding new GPU support and the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05 giving ray-tracing to some older GPUs.

        Firstly, the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05 was actually released last week, which adds support for the “VK_NV_ray_tracing” extension for certain older graphics cards including the TITAN Xp, TITAN X, 1080, 1070, 1060, TITAN V and 1660 (along with Ti models). It also adds support for the “VK_NV_coverage_reduction_mode” extension, which doesn’t seem to have any documentation up just yet. They also cited “minor performance improvements” and two bug fixes.

      • NVIDIA Releases The GeForce GTX 1650 At $149 USD, Linux Benchmarks Incoming

        The TU117-based GeForce GTX 1650 starts out at $149 USD and aims to deliver double the performance over the GTX 950 Maxwell and doing so in only a 75 Watt TDP, meaning no external PCI Express power connector is required. There are 896 CUDA cores and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory with the GTX 1650.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Lands FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync For Mesa 19.1

        While on the kernel-side there has been FreeSync support with the AMDGPU DRM driver since Linux 5.0 and for the OpenGL driver with RadeonSI there has been this functionality in Mesa 19.0 when paired with a supported kernel, the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver has missed out on this action until now. But landing just in time for the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze is now the FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync enablement for RADV.

      • A Decade Later, Mesa Wiring In Support For Qualcomm/AMD’s ATC Texture Compression

        Adding to the list of Mesa 19.1 changes is now AMD_compressed_ATC_texture being plumbed into Mesa/Gallium3D primarily with a focus on the Freedreno driver.

        AMD_compressed_ATC_texture is the extension worked on a decade ago by AMD/Qualcomm for ATC compressed texture formats. ATC was AMD’s proprietary compression algorithm with a focus on mobile devices for power and memory bandwidth savings. That was right around the time ATI/AMD Imageon IP was sold off to Qualcom to form the Adreno graphics processors for the company’s SoCs.

      • “Cage” Sees Initial Test Release For Kiosk-Like Wayland Compositor

        The Cage Wayland Compositor for kiosk / full-screen-one-app environments has managed to materialize.

        Former libratbag+Piper GSoC developer Jente Hidskes has spent the past number of months working on this kiosk-oriented Wayland compositor where to date there hasn’t been too much activity. He’s working on this kiosk-like Wayland compositor as part of a home automation project. Cage is building atop Sway’s WLROOTS Wayland library for sharing support and doing much of the heavy lifting.

      • The first pre-release of Cage

        Almost exactly four months ago I announced Cage, my Wayland compositor for a kiosk-like environment. To the uninitiated: a kiosk is designed for running a single, maximized application and preventing the user from interacting with any other part of the system. You’ve probably seen many in your life in malls, stores or even the dentist (how satisfied are you with your service?). Kiosks can also be used for much cooler things, though, such as running home automation systems.

      • Intel Iris Gallium3D Picks Up Conservative Rasterization Support

        On top of Intel’s new open-source OpenGL driver seeing some hefty performance optimizations, the Iris Gallium3D driver has picked up another OpenGL extension ahead of the Mesa 19.1 branching.

        Iris Gallium3D now supports INTEL_conservative_rasterization alongside the existing support in the i965 driver. INTEL_conservative_rasterization is the several year old Intel extension for seeing if all fragments are at least partially covered by a polygon rather than the default rasterization mode of including fragments with at least one sample covered by a polygon.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Bundle Up, It’s Time To Discover Some Apps

        I absolutely did, and here you go! The culmination of ten years of scheming and plotting has come to fruition, and we finally have a way to deliver software in a more social fashion. Now, I realise you are going to scream at us all and say distributions are great at this. They totally are, and that’s not the point here, and i would like if we could aim that discussion elsewhere (you will notice how Discover still very much has all the distribution packages up front and centre, particularly in the last screenshot).

      • KDE’s Snap Packages

        The Linux world has always worked with a develop and deploy model where software gets written by projects such as KDE and then distro projects pick that up, polish it and give it to the user. No other computer environment works like this and it goes against the fashion of DevOps concepts where the people who code are empowered to deploy to the end user going through QA as appropriate. We changed that with KDE neon where we brought the packaging into KDE making .deb packages. That integration allows for blockages and imperfections which get identified to be solved easily through the most efficient channels. Kipi Plugins is a good example of this, KDE dropped the ball here by stopping releases. Nobody noticed until as a packager I wondered where it had gone, realised it was no longer being released and, because I work directly in the project responsible, could easily fix that in the right place. With new containerised formats Linux is changing, and projects like KDE can now package software and send it direct to the user. I’ll discuss this more in a future blog post but for now lets look at Snaps where last week, for the first time, KDE Applications was released with 50-odd apps available directly for all to enjoy direct from the Snap Store.

      • Announcing Akademy 2019 in Milan, Italy (September 7th – 13th)

        Akademy 2019 will be held at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, from Saturday the 7th to Friday the 13th of September.

        The conference is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from the global KDE community to discuss and plan the future of the community and its technology. Many participants from the broad Free and Open Source software community, local organizations and software companies will also attend.

        KDE e.V. is organizing Akademy 2019 with unixMiB — the Linux User Group of the University of Milano-Bicocca. unixMiB aims to spread Open Source philosophy among students.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Stilo Is A Pack Of Clean, Minimalistic GTK Themes

        Stilo is a pack of clean, minimalistic, yet stylish GTK themes for the GNOME desktop. It consists on 2 main themes, Stilo and Stiloetto, each with light and dark variations. A GNOME Shell theme is also available.

        Both Stilo and Stiloetto use gray with bits of blue, the difference being that Stilo is completely flat and square, while Stiloetto uses a slight gradient for header bars, and slightly rounded corners for application windows, and elements like buttons and drop-downs.

      • Builder 3.33.1

        Our first 3.33 release has landed as we move towards 3.34. There is a lot to do this cycle in case you’re interested in contributing. The best way to get started is to dive into the code. We can help you with that on IRC.

        Lots of this release is code behind the scenes, so screenshots won’t do them justice. But there are some visible goodies too.

        We got a DBus Inspector inspired by D-feet. The long term goal is to merge that new code into D-feet itself.

      • GtkSourceView moved to Meson

        The master branch of GtkSourceView (what will become 4.4) has moved to meson for development. I branched gtksourceview-4-2 for patch releases of 4.2.x which will remain autotools. Today’s release of gtksourceview-4.3.1 contains both autotools and meson. However 4.3.2 will remove autotools entirely.

  • Distributions
    • Scientific Linux is Being Discontinued

      Scientific Linux, a distributions focused on scientists in high energy physics field, will not be developed anymore. It’s creator, Fermilab, is replacing it by CentOS in its labs.

    • New Releases
      • [Reposted] Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 released

        Like its cousin, the Debian based version, Netrunner Rolling also ships a dark Look and Feel theme including the Kvantum theme engine.
        Using the Kvantum Theme engine plus the Alpha-Black Plasma Theme allowed us to create a more 3D-looking design.
        Moving the mouse into the lower right corner now visibly activates the “Minimize all Windows to show Desktop” function by a light glow.
        For those who prefer the classic look, going back to the well-known LNF is a three-button click and explained under “Tips” in our current Readme Section.

      • Debian-Based Netrunner Linux Gets April 2019 Release with New Look and Feel
    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • On Cloud Nine in Denver

        Next week, members of the open source community will descend upon Denver in hordes unseen since the gold rush that resulted in the city being formed back in the late 1800’s (probably). That’s right, it’s the very first Open Infrastructure Summit – bringing together some of the finest minds across the open source community to discuss, demo and deliberate all things OpenStack, Kubernetes, ONAP, Kata Containers, Airship, Zuul, and much, much more.
        We’re particularly excited about this summit as we’ll be unveiling SUSE OpenStack Cloud 9 to the world there, having pre-announced it earlier in the month at SUSECON in Nashville. As the first company to produce an enterprise-ready OpenStack distribution back in 2012, we continue to work to make OpenStack easier for companies to implement in an enterprise environment, giving a stable, production-ready base for business-critical systems and applications to run on.

      • Eirini and CF Containerization: a field guide

        The recent Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia featured two talks that were crucial to understanding the future of Cloud Foundry as it relates to Kubernetes.

        [...]

        But there’s another problem. In talking to people in the hallways and at the SUSE booth, we found that there was considerable confusion about what the Eirini and CF Containerization projects were responsible for. Specifically, many people thought that Eirini was the project for containerizing the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime.

      • SQL Server on SUSE Linux from A-Z: Data platform, High Availability and Containers [Ed: SUSE is advertising proprietary software from Microsoft]
      • SUSE delivers first enterprise Linux for SAP HANA Large Instances on Microsoft Azure

        SUSE has announced the availability of the first enterprise Linux image for SAP HANA Large Instances on Microsoft Azure.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Samsung’s Linux on DeX beta now rolling out to Galaxy S9, S10, Tab S5e

            While we trialled the beta software at the tail end of last year on the Galaxy Note 9, it was only available to those who had access to the Note 9 or Galaxy Tab S4. That did leave a sour taste in the mouth for many wanting to try out Linux on their own Samsung handsets.

            Samsung has today confirmed that the Linux on DeX beta has now extended to a further set of devices, and now fully supports Android Pie and their own One UI OS skin.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 Development Has Started — Daily Build ISO Images Now Available

            Ubuntu 19.04 desktop arrived in a variety of flavors last week and it turned out to be a well-received release. Thanks to certain GNOME 3.32 tweaks, the open source desktop feels a bit snappier. Linux 5.0 has also added support for newer hardware and brought better mitigation for Spectre and Meltdown flaws.

            The release of Ubuntu 19.0 has also kickstarted the Ubuntu 19.10 development process. The daily build ISO images are also now available for download and testing. You can go ahead and install them on a secondary system or virtual machine but you won’t notice any considerable changes at the moment.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 Daily Builds Are Now Available to Download

            While the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) just hit the streets at the end of last week, Canonical’s Ubuntu team are already working on the next release, Ubuntu 19.10, which doesn’t have a codename at the moment of writing, but we do know that it will be an “Eoan” animal that start with the letter E.

            Until Canonical decided to give Ubuntu 19.10 a proper codename, early adopters and testers can now download the daily build ISO images, which are available for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server, as well as the official flavors, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, and Ubuntu Kylin.

          • Gustavo Silva: Disco Dingo Thoughts

            Those already around me know I love Linux and my favourite linux distribuition is Ubuntu.

            One of the reasons Ubuntu is my favourite is how simple and compatible it is with pretty much all devices I have tried installing. Except my laptop, but that’s due to the graphics card.

            But hey, I fondly received the news that now we can select the option to automatically set nomodeset and other convenient tools when running the setup. For me, this means a major win. I previously had to set nomodeset manually and after installation I had to immediately modifiy some options in the grub’s defaults (namely set the acpi=force) but now, with this new option, the installation process which was already smooth, become (melted) butter. Thank you, honestly, person who remembered to include this option. This seems like a feature that will stick to Ubuntu 20.04, so I’m happy to now a LTS version will become even simpler to install too, so that’s great.

            The UI and custom-Gnome experience has been improved as well, in this custom flavour of Gnome. We now have a few more options for customization, including dark options of the themes but I am definitely pleased to say that the Gnome shell, in Ubuntu 19.04, really looks great.

          • GPD Pocket 2 Max is an 8.9 inch laptop with Core m3-8100Y

            The computer features a 2560 x 1600 pixel display and it should ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit software… although it’s interesting to see that the company’s promotional pictures show the Ubuntu MATE desktop. The folks behind that GNU/Linux-based operating system have made a habit of offering releases customized to support GPD Pocket computers.

          • GPD Pocket 2 Max laptop ventures into 9-inch territory

            Chinese companies are at it again, mixing things up and daring to go where bigger brands with all their resources dare not tread. Chuwi was recently revealed to soon have an 8-inch Yoga-like convertible laptop and the company that rebooted the small laptop/netbook trend is setting its sights on bigger things, literally. GPD reportedly has a certain Pocket 2 Max in the works and, this time, it’s really designed for comfortable typing.

            [...]

            No word yet on what that will be, though. Judging by the images, the company could again offer both Windows 10 and Ubuntu MATE versions just like the first GPD Pocket.

          • How to Try the New Adwaita Theme on Ubuntu 19.04

            Learn how to enable the new Adwaita theme in Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo. The updated Adwaita theme is a solid replacement for Ubuntu’s Yaru theme.

          • Canonical at Open Infrastructure Summit -Denver

            Open Infrastructure Summit is coming to Denver from April 29th to May 1st, 2019. Will you be there? We sure will! Come and visit us in Booth B1!

            Canonical experts will be swarming at the event ready to answer your questions and walk you through our booth demos.

            [...]

            Canonical CEO, Mark Shuttleworth, will be keynoting on Monday, April 29 at 10:25am. Come join us in the main hall to hear Mark’s view on open infrastructure and Canonical’s approach to driving down the cost of multi-cloud.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Lubuntu 19.04 Released with Latest LXQt Desktop and Calamares Installer

              Bundled with the same new features and improvements implemented by Canonical in the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system series, Lubuntu 19.04 is here as the second Lubuntu release to ship with the modern and lightweight LXQt desktop environment by default as the development team’s focus is now only on LXQt, not the old LXDE desktop environment, which is no longer supported.

              “This is the second Lubuntu release with LXQt as the main desktop environment. The Lubuntu project, in 18.10 and successive releases, will no longer support the LXDE desktop environment or tools in the Ubuntu archive, and will instead focus on the LXQt desktop environment,” said developer Simon Quigley in the release announcement.

            • System76 Releases Pop!_OS 19.04 for Its Linux PCs, Based on Ubuntu 19.04
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Whirl Adds Local AirFlow Development Technique

    Apache Airflow is a workflow automation and scheduling system that you can use to set up and manage data pipelines. It uses workflows made of directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. Each task produces some output that is then used as the input to another task.

    The idea of Whirl is to make it easy to run and develop Airflow workflows on your local machine. This gives you rapid feedback about whether the changes you made to your DAG work. The developers suggest you think of it as your integration test environment for developing Airflow DAGs.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP). Apache PLC4X also has the designation as being the 200th project to graduate from the Apache Incubator.

    Apache PLC4X is a universal protocol adapter for creating Industrial IoT applications through a set of libraries that allow unified access to a wide range of industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using a variety of protocols with a shared API. The project was originally developed at codecentric AG, and entered the Apache Incubator in December 2017.

  • April 2019 Web Server Survey

    Despite the overall loss of sites this month, nginx gained 22.3 million websites and 2.03 million additional active sites. nginx also gained the largest number of web-facing computers, increasing its total by 63,000 to 2.57 million (+2.52%). nginx’s market share of web-facing computers is now nearly 30%, and this is continuing to grow steadily closer to Apache’s leading share of 37.3%.

    Microsoft and Apache lost shares in every headline metric this month, with both vendors contributing significantly to this month’s overall loss of sites. Microsoft lost 18.9 million sites, while Apache lost 17.2 million, causing their shares to decrease by 1.01 and 0.87 percentage points.

    These changes have pushed nginx into the lead, giving it a 27.5% share of all sites in Netcraft’s April 2019 Web Server Survey. Significantly, this is the first time since 1996 that a vendor other than Microsoft or Apache has served the largest number of websites.

  • Red Hat Research: Open Source Software Playing a Growing Role in Enterprise IT
  • Coreboot Finally Sees Zen/Ryzen Support In The Form Of Picasso APU Enablement

    The Coreboot open-source firmware/BIOS project has finally seen initial AMD Zen CPU support as part of Google engineers bringing up Picasso APU support in order to handle an upcoming Chromebook launch.

    The most recent AMD CPUs to be supported by Coreboot has been Stoney Ridge, the APUs with GCN graphics and two Excavator cores. That support was done by Google engineers on the Chromebook front with AMD themselves being out of the Coreboot game / open-source AGESA coverage for several years now. But coming in as bit of a surprise today was initial Zen APU / Picasso coverage.

  • Ian Bicking: “Users want control” is a shoulder shrug

    Making the claim “users want control” is the same as saying you don’t know what users want, you don’t know what is good, and you don’t know what their goals are.

    I first started thinking about this during the debate over what would become the ACA. The rhetoric was filled with this idea that people want choice in their medical care: people want control.

    No! People want good health care. If they don’t trust systems to provide them good health care, if they don’t trust their providers to understand their priorities, then choice is the fallback: it’s how you work the system when the system isn’t working for you. And it sucks! Here you are, in the middle of some health issue, with treatments and symptoms and the rest of your life duties, and now you have to become a researcher on top of it? But the politicians and the pundits could not stop talking about control.

  • Web Browsers
    • Google/Chrome
      • Google’s Filament Real-Time PBR Engine Updated With New Features

        Filament is Google’s real-time physically based rendering engine that supports Android along with Linux and all other major platforms, including a target for WebAssembly+WebGL. Filament 1.2.0 was released on Tuesday as the latest step forward for this PBR rendering engine.

        Filament 1.2.0 features various tooling and engine improvements, improves render target management, squeezes better performance out of the job system, support for compressed textures from its JavaScript API, more JavaScript bindings were also added, the Vulkan rendering support now can handle RGB textures, and there are a variety of other rendering advancements.

      • Google Chrome 74 Released for Windows, macOS, and Linux; Dark Mode Arrives on Windows

        Google has released Chrome 74 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android (beta). The latest release brings a number of new features apart from quite a few bug fixes. Probably the biggest highlight of Chrome 74 is support for dark mode on Windows. After arriving on the Mac last month, support for dark mode in Chrome is finally available on Windows. Google Chrome currently has over 1 billion users worldwide.

      • Chrome 74 Is Now Available Though Not Too Exciting For Linux Users

        While Windows 10 users are gushing over Chrome finally introducing a “dark mode” for the web browser, on the Linux front there are no dramatic user-facing changes but just a lot of continued lower-level improvements for this cross-platform web browser.

      • Data Saver is now Lite mode

        Since we introduced Data Saver in Chrome, we’ve reduced users’ data usage by up to 60 percent. But now, the feature is expanding to provide more benefits in addition to data savings. Pages will now load faster, in some cases considerably faster, and use less memory. This is why starting today, we will be renaming Data Saver to Lite mode.
        Lite mode will continue to reduce data use by using Google servers to compress the pages you visit before downloading them. Using the NetworkInformation API, Lite mode tells web servers that you are interested in receiving a version of the site that uses less data if one is available.
        Lite mode also helps improve page loads. If Chrome predicts that a page will take longer than 5 seconds for the first text or image to show on screen, it will load a Lite version of the page instead. Lite pages are highly optimized to load considerably faster. A whitepaper will be published in the coming months that will explain this in more detail.

      • Google Chrome 74 Released: Dark Mode For Windows, Lite Mode For Android

        Google released the Chrome version 74 today for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and Chrome OS users. The new version comes with new features and bug fixes with the main highlight being support for a Dark Mode in Windows.

        Other noteworthy changes include the replacement of Data Saver feature with Lite Mode for Chrome on Android devices. There are a few security improvements too, so read on to find out the details.

    • Mozilla
      • 5 times when video ads autoplay and ruin everything.

        The room is dark and silent. Suddenly, a loud noise pierces your ears. You panic as everyone turns in your direction. You just wanted to read an article about cute kittens, but instead of peaceful kitten reading, an annoying political video ad is on autoplay.

      • This Month In Servo 128
      • Rust’s 2019 roadmap

        Each year the Rust community comes together to set out a roadmap. This year, in addition to the survey, we put out a call for blog posts in December, which resulted in 73 blog posts written over the span of a few weeks. The end result is the recently-merged 2019 roadmap RFC. To get all of the details, please give it a read, but this post lays out some of the highlights.

      • Why AI + consumer tech?

        After talking to nearly 100 AI experts and activists, this consumer tech focus feels right for Mozilla. But it also raises a number of questions: what do we mean by consumer tech? What is in scope for this work? And what is not? Are we missing something important with this focus?

        At its simplest, the consumer tech platforms that we are talking about are general purpose internet products and services aimed at a wide audience for personal use. These include things like social networks, search engines, retail e-commerce, home assistants, computers, smartphones, fitness trackers, self-driving cars, etc. — almost all of which are connected to the internet and are fueled by our personal data. The leading players in these areas are companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple in the US as well as companies like Baidu, TenCent, and AliBaba in China. These companies are also amongst the biggest developers and users of AI, setting trends and shipping technology that shapes the whole of the tech industry. And, as long as we remain in the era of machine learning, these companies have a disproportionate advantage in AI development as they control huge amounts for data and computing power that can be used to train automated systems.

      • It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report

        The Report paints a mixed picture of what life online looks like today. We’re more connected than ever, with humanity passing the ‘50% of us are now online’ mark earlier this year. And, while almost all of us enjoy the upsides of being connected, we also worry about how the internet and social media are impacting our children, our jobs and our democracies.

        When we published last year’s Report, the world was watching the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal unfold — and these worries were starting to grow. Millions of people were realizing that widespread, laissez-faire sharing of our personal data, the massive growth and centralization of the tech industry, and the misuse of online ads and social media was adding up to a big mess.

        Over the past year, more and more people started asking: what are we going to do about this mess? How do we push the digital world in a better direction?

        As people asked these questions, our ability to see the underlying problems with the system — and to imagine solutions — has evolved tremendously. Recently, we’ve seen governments across Europe step up efforts to monitor and thwart disinformation ahead of the upcoming EU elections. We’ve seen the big tech companies try everything from making ads more transparent to improving content recommendation algorithms to setting up ethics boards (albeit with limited effect and with critics saying ‘you need to do much more!’). And, we’ve seen CEOs and policymakers and activists wrestling with each other over where to go next. We have not ‘fixed’ the problems, but it does feel like we’ve entered a new, sustained era of debate about what a healthy digital society should look like.

  • LibreOffice
    • Coming up: The Month of LibreOffice, May 2019!

      LibreOffice is made by hundreds of people around the world: volunteers working from home, certified developers who are part of our commercial ecosystem, and other supporters and users. Throughout the year, they add new features to the software, test them, and help us to make each release polished and reliable. We’re incredibly appreciative of their efforts!

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • The Free Software Directory needs you! IRC meetups every Friday

      The Free Software Directory is an essential catalog of free software online. The Directory is maintained by countless volunteers dedicated to the promotion of software that respects your personal liberty. As with any group composed of volunteers, the informal Directory team has people who come and go, and right now, it could really use some fresh new members to kick our efforts into high gear.

      Tens of thousands of people visit the Directory every month to discover free software and explore information about version control, documentation, and licensing. All of this information is also exported in machine-readable formats, making it a valuable source of data for the study of trends in free software. The Directory is powered by MediaWiki, the same software used by Wikipedia.

    • rush @ Savannah: Version 1.9

      Version 1.9 is available for download from GNU and Puszcza archives. It should soon become available in the mirrors too.

    • GNU dico – News: Version 2.9

      Version 2.9 of GNU dico is available from download from the GNU archive and from its main archive site.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Final “Big Data Seminar” looks at new open-source framework for plant image analysis

      Understanding and analyzing plant data with computational tools is the topic of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s final “Big Data” lecture coming April 25.
      Sponsored by SIU’s Chapter of Sigma XI, a scientific research honor society with more than 50 years’ history on the Carbondale campus, this fifth lecture wraps up the series focused on big data issues in a number of applied contexts. This specific talk features plant biologist and big data expert, Dr. Noah Fahlgren.

  • Programming/Development
    • 10 Best Programming Languages for Embedded Systems

      As we continue to expand our technological horizons by making anything that we can to be smart, the importance of embedded systems is becoming more apparent and many programmers are beginning to concentrate on IoT projects and there is no better time than now for you to start building your embedded systems programming-related skills and you need to know the most appropriate languages to use.

      Embedded systems programming languages are different from others in the sense that they are perfect for low-level system access and require relatively fewer resources than others. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the best programming languages for embedded systems.

    • MLIR Is A New IR For Machine Learning That Might Become Part Of LLVM

      Earlier this month the developers behind Tensorflow open-sourced MLIR as the Multi-Level Intermediate Representation. They hope this IR can become a common format between machine learning models/frameworks and as part of that it might end up becoming an LLVM sub-project.

    • Top 20 Best Machine Learning Applications in Real World
    • GNU Shepherd 0.6.0 released We are pleased to announce the GNU Shepherd version 0.6.0, a release containing new features and bug fixes. • About The GNU Daemon Shepherd or GNU Shepherd is a service manager written in Guile that looks after the herd of system services. It provides a replacement for the service-managing capabilities of SysV-init (or any other init) with a dependency-based system with a convenient interface. The GNU Shepherd may also be used by unprivileged users to manage per-user daemons (e.g., tor, privoxy, mcron, etc.) It is written in Guile Scheme, and is configured and extended using Guile. The GNU Shepherd is developed jointly with the GNU Guix project; it is used as the init system of Guix, GNU’s advanced GNU/Linux distribution.
    • GNU Shepherd 0.6 Released – Adds Support For One-Shot Services

      For those trying to avoid systemd, the Guile-based GNU Shepherd init system / service manager is out with a new feature release.

      GNU Shepherd 0.6 introduces support for one-shot services, Shepherd will now delete its socket file upon termination, it will now ignore reboot errors when running in a container, and there are various translation updates and other improvements.

    • These Programming Languages Pay Highest Salaries: Stack Overflow

      tack Overflow has released its Developer Survey results for 2019. The comprehensive survey report sheds light on programmers’ preferences and work-related stats. One of the topics in the survey is salary based on different programming languages.

      Clojure has been ranked as the highest paying programming language for developers worldwide as developers received an average yearly sum of $90,000 for coding in Clojure.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 23 – Structures
    • Testing firebase with Python 3.7.3 .
    • Welcome Capital One: Python Software Foundation Principal Sponsor [Ed: Too low a sponsorship tier to make up for the fact that Microsoft bought PyCon]
    • Red Hat Breathes New Life Into Java

      Red Hat is the new keeper of the keys to two popular versions of the open source Java implementation, OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11. The company has taken over stewardship from Oracle, it announced last week.

      Oracle ended commercial support for Java 8 and the Oracle JDK 8 implementation of Java SE last year. Oracle left the enterprise Java business when it transitioned support and maintenance of Java Platform to the Eclipse Foundation, where it is now known as “Jakarta EE.”

    • What do companies expect from Python devs in 2019?

      Python is everywhere.

      According to the 2019’s StackOverflow’s Developer Survey, it is the 2nd most loved programming language in the world.

    • Sending Emails With Python
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #365 (April 23, 2019)
    • Acquisition roundabout sees Zend Framework spun off to Linux Foundation

      The Zend Framework is to get a new name and a new home, under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, just a few months after its parent co was itself swallowed whole.

      Zend – as was – is an open source, object-oriented web application framework implemented in PHP 7. It was synonymous with Zend Technologies, which was taken over by Rogue Wave Software in 2015. Rogue Wave Software was itself acquired by private equity outfit Clear Lake Capital earlier this year.

      According to the website for the new organisation, “To take it to the next step of adoption and innovation, we are happy to announce that we are transitioning Zend Framework and all its subprojects to an open source project hosted at the Linux Foundation.”

    • Five RESTful web service client examples for developers

      How do you access a RESTful web service? That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

      If you just want to test connectivity, a terminal-based utility like curl is a great RESTful web service client. If you want to inspect the JSON a service returns to you, a browser-based plugin will probably be a better fit. And if you are in the midst of application development, you’ll likely need to use JAX-RS, Spring or a similar framework.

    • 5 Best Reasons to Opt for PHP Web Development

      Many companies now are choosing PHP web development to realize their IT needs. According to research, almost 83 percent of web services are using PHP, and it is the preferred choice of industry stalwarts such as BlaBlaCar, Slack, and Spotify. PHP is open source and comes with a great community, and it is continuously upgrading. There is no doubt about the same.

    • 27 Excellent Free Books to Learn all about R

      The R language is the de facto standard among statisticians for the development of statistical software, and is widely used for statistical software development and data analysis. R is a modern dialect of S, one of several statistical programming languages designed at Bell Laboratories.

      R is much more than a programming language. It’s an interactive suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation, and graphical display. R offers a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. The ability to download and install R packages is a key factor which makes R an excellent language to learn. What else makes R awesome? Here’s a taster.

    • Getting started with blockchain for Java developers

      Top technology prognosticators have listed blockchain among the top 10 emerging technologies with the potential to revolutionize our world in the next decade, which makes it well worth investing your time now to learn. If you are a developer with a Java background who wants to get up to speed on blockchain technology, this article will give you the basic information you need to get started.

    • Automate user acceptance testing with your DevOps pipeline

      Acceptance testing, also called user acceptance testing (UAT), determines whether a system satisfies user needs, business requirements, and authorized entity criteria. The tests are repeated every time there’s a new design when the application is developed through software development lifecycle (SDLC). In many companies, the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) automates acceptance testing by building a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) pipeline within a DevOps initiative.

    • The DevOps Edge with SUSE Manager
    • GStreamer buffer flow analyzer

      Gstreamer’s logging system is an incredibly powerful ally when debugging but it can sometimes be a bit daunting to dig through the massive amount of generated logs. I often find myself writing small scripts processing gst logs when debugging. Their goal is generally to automatically extract some specific information or metrics from the generated logs. Such scripts are usually quickly written and quickly disposed once I’m done with my debugging but I’ve been wondering how I could make them easier to write and to re-use.

      gst-log-parser is an attempt to solve these two problems by providing a library parsing GStreamer logs and enabling users to easily build such tools. It’s written in Rust and is shipped with a few tools that I wrote to track actual bugs in GStreamer elements and applications.

      One of those tool is a buffer flow analyzer which can be used to provide various information regarding the buffers exchanged through your pipeline. It relies on logs generated by the upstream stats tracer, so no modification in GStreamer core or in plugins is required.

    • Next C++ workshop: Linked Lists / Stack Classes; PQs and Heaps, 25 April at 18:00 UTC
Leftovers
  • Rescuers race to find survivors after Philippine quake kills 16

    Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the tangled debris from a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 16 people.

    Heavy equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescuers shifted through mangled metal and lumps of concrete in Porac, a town 110 km (68 miles) north of Manila, where 12 people were killed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

  • Powerful quake hits Philippines, day after deadly temblor

    A new powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, a day after a magnitude 6.1 quake rattled the country’s north and left at least 16 people dead, including in a collapsed supermarket, where rescuers scrambled to find survivors.

    The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of Tuesday’s quake at 6.4, while the local seismology agency said it was 6.5. The quake was centered near San Julian town in Eastern Samar province and prompted residents to dash out of houses and office workers to scamper to safety.

  • Philippines 6.1-Magnitude Earthquake Leaves at Least 16 Dead

    The Philippines suffers from an elevated number of natural disasters because it is located on the seismically active “Ring of Fire” that surrounds the Pacific Ocean.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Destination Limbo: Health Suffers Among Asylum Seekers In Crowded Border Shelter

      Immigrants from Mexico and Central America seeking asylum in the United States frequently end up at border shelters in Tijuana, Mexico. They stay in them for weeks as they wait for the U.S. government to approve or deny their applications.

      Most of the refugees get sick during their journeys due to insufficient food, a lack of clean water and poor sanitation at camps and shelters along the way. But perhaps their biggest health problem is depression and anxiety: They have suffered violence and been threatened by gangs and left behind everything they know in the world.

      Volunteer health care workers from Southern California recently visited the Movimiento Juventud 2000 (Youth Movement 2000) shelter in Tijuana, and spent the day treating the migrants there. KHN’s Heidi de Marco captured the scene.

    • ‘A Coordinated Backlash’: Anti-Choice Protests Explode as State Lawmakers Protect Abortion Rights

      Giving testimony at the Rhode Island state house in support of abortion rights protections was “unnerving and unsettling” for Jamie Hagen, a post-doctoral fellow in Providence.

      A volunteer abortion clinic escort, Hagen told Rewire.News she feels people don’t understand how at risk access to reproductive rights is in Rhode Island as lawmakers there pressure Democratic leadership to allow votes on Reproductive Health Care Act, which would enshrine Roe protections into state law.

      From church members handing out anti-choice t-shirts outside the state house to the same folks taking up most of the seats and waving anti-abortion signs in the chamber during her public testimony in favor of a bill to protect abortions rights, Hagen said she was surprised by the atmosphere.

      “The antis must have been able to get in there to fill up the room before those of us who were in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act could so they had anti-abortion signs behind me that you can see on camera during my testimony,” she said. “The tone of the room was very hostile, and it did not feel friendly to those who were speaking in support of basic health care for women. I was not prepared for that. It did feel a little bit like a grilling and like I was going out there on a limb to say something as basic as abortion should be protected.”

    • America’s Biggest Lie: We Can’t Afford Medicare for All

      Pundits and politicians repeatedly warn us that the country cannot afford costly social services. They caution about the perils of a rising national debt, the supposed near bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security, and the need to sell public services to the highest bidder in order to save them. We must tighten our belts sooner or later, they tell us, rather than spend on social goods like universal health care, free higher education and badly needed infrastructure.

      To many Americans this sounds all too true because they are having an incredibly tough time making ends meet. According to the Federal Reserve, “Four in 10 adults in 2017 would either borrow, sell something, or not be able pay if faced with a $400 emergency expense.” To those who are so highly stressed financially, the idea of paying for a costly program like Medicare for All sounds impossible.

    • ‘Historic Step’ Toward Healthcare Justice as First-Ever Medicare for All Hearing Set for Next Week

      “Healthcare is a human right and I’m proud the Rules Committee will be holding this hearing on the Medicare for All Act,” Jayapal said in a statement.

      “Even with passage of the Affordable Care Act,” the congresswoman added, “there are more than 70 million people either without coverage or have coverage that leaves them still unable to access medical care due to prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs. There is no other developed country on the face of the Earth that has a healthcare system that is as fragmented and costly as ours. The health outcomes and barriers to care in America are the worst of any industrialized nation.”

      Under Jayapal’s legislation, the United States would transition to a single-payer system over a two-year period, and every American would receive comprehensive health coverage including dental, vision, reproductive health, and mental health for free at the point of service.

      Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), celebrated the upcoming hearing on Twitter.

      “We are excited Congress is taking this historic step by holding the first ever hearing for Medicare for All—the only true solution to this country’s healthcare crisis,” said Castillo.

      As Common Dreams reported, NNU has been leading efforts to build support for Medicare for All at the grassroots as the ambitious proposal gains momentum in Congress.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • A year with Spectre: a V8 perspective

      On January 3, 2018, Google Project Zero and others disclosed the first three of a new class of vulnerabilities that affect CPUs that perform speculative execution, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown. Using the speculative execution mechanisms of CPUs, an attacker could temporarily bypass both implicit and explicit safety checks in code that prevent programs from reading unauthorized data in memory. While processor speculation was designed to be a microarchitectural detail, invisible at the architectural level, carefully crafted programs could read unauthorized information in speculation and disclose it through side channels such as the execution time of a program fragment.

      When it was shown that JavaScript could be used to mount Spectre attacks, the V8 team became involved in tackling the problem. We formed an emergency response team and worked closely with other teams at Google, our partners at other browser vendors, and our hardware partners. In concert with them, we proactively engaged in both offensive research (constructing proof-of-concept gadgets) and defensive research (mitigations for potential attacks).

    • The Purism Librem Key

      The Librem Key is a new hardware token for improving Linux security by adding a physical authentication factor to booting, login and disk decryption on supported systems. It also has some features that make it a good general-purpose OpenPGP smart card. This article looks at how the Librem Key stacks up against other multi-factor tokens like the YubiKey 5 and also considers what makes the Librem Key a unique trusted-computing tool.

      Purism is a new player in the security key and multi-factor authentication markets. With the introduction of the Librem Key, Purism joins the ranks of other players—such as Yubico, Google, RSA and so on—in providing hardware tokens for multi-factor authentication.

      In addition, like the YubiKey 5 series, the Librem Key also provides OpenPGP support with cryptographic functions that take place securely on-key. This allows users to generate and use GnuPG public and private keys without exposing any secret key material to the host computer where the USB device is attached.

      The Librem Key is based on the German-manufactured Nitrokey Pro 2, but it has been modified to focus on “trusted boot” when used with Purism’s Linux laptops. (I take a closer look at what the trusted boot process is and how the Librem Key fits into that process, later in this article.)

    • Atom-based network security appliances focus on industrial control

      Lanner’s Apollo Lake based “LEC-6041” and Bay Trail “LEC-6032” are Linux-supported network security appliances for industrial control monitoring with up to 7x GbE ports, including SFP ports, plus magnetic isolation and extended temp support.

    • How secure are your containerized apps? [Ed: Why does SJVN promote the Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm Snyk?]
    • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 131 is available for testing

      Finally, the next major version of IPFire is ready to testing. We consider our new Intrusion Prevention System such an important change, that we are calling it “IPFire 2.23″ from now on. This update also contains a number of other bug fixes and enhancements.

    • How hacking threats spurred secret U.S. blacklist

      U.S. energy regulators are pursuing a risky plan to share with electric utilities a secret “don’t buy” list of foreign technology suppliers, according to multiple sources.

      The move reflects the federal government’s growing concern that hackers and foreign spies are targeting America’s vital energy infrastructure. And it’s also raised new questions about the value of top-secret U.S. intelligence if it can’t get into the hands of power industry executives who can act on it to avoid high-risk vendors.

      Joseph McClelland, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, told a Department of Energy advisory committee last month that officials are working on “an open-source procurement list” for utilities to use when deciding where to source their software and equipment.

    • Cumulus Networks’ new version of NetQ provides real-time telemetry and fabric-wide analytics
    • Once again, it’s 123456: the password that says ‘I give up’

      The essence of most people’s regard for cybersecurity: we’re DOOMED.

      That’s one of the key takeaways from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which released the results of its first ever UK cyber survey on Sunday, along with a list of the most craptacular passwords found most often in breached databases.

    • GNU Wget Buffer Overflow Vulnerability [CVE-2019-5953]

      A vulnerability in GNU Wget could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.

      The vulnerability exists because the affected software performs improper bounds checks, which could result in a buffer overflow condition in the irc.c source code file. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by persuading a user to retrieve a file that submits malicious input using the wgetcommand. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS) condition.The vendor has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

    • The French Govt’s Hand-Rolled Encrypted Messaging Service (Briefly) Allowed Anyone To Pretend They Were A Government Official

      Not only was Robert able to get his faux account validated within two hours of downloading the app, he was also able to obtain plenty of info linked to other government account profiles. On the bright side, the team behind the app reacted quickly to notification of the security flaw and suspended account creation until it could be patched. The French government has also instituted a bug bounty program for Tchap, which will hopefully result in further flaws being addressed before they’re exploited by criminals or state-sponsored hackers.

      To be fair, Tchap is still in its “beta” stage. But that’s not much comfort considering it was rolled out for use in this state, exposing government employees’ personal account info and allowing any outsider to take a seat at the Tchap table just by exploiting the system’s less-than-robust validation process.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune

      Today, we are not only resisting imperialism. We are also resisting old forms of production and their diverse forms of domination: from the organization of education and affects, to the organization of the formal political sphere and the economy.

    • ‘Morally Despicable’: Trump Administration Threatens to Veto UN Resolution Combating Rape as Weapon of War

      “In recent months, the Trump administration has taken a hard line, refusing to agree to any U.N. documents that refer to sexual or reproductive health, on grounds that such language implies support for abortions,” the Guardian reported. “It has also opposed the use of the word ‘gender,’ seeing it as a cover for liberal promotion of transgender rights.”

      The Trump administration’s opposition to the measure, proposed by Germany, quickly sparked international outrage.

      “If we let the Americans do this and take out this language, it will be watered down for a long time,” an anonymous European diplomat told the Guardian. “It is, at its heart, an attack on the progressive normative framework established over the past 25 years.”

      Heather Barr, acting co-director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “In the latest step in Trump’s war on women, U.S. opposes healthcare for survivors of rape during war. Yes, you read that right.”

    • Do You Prefer Your American Empire Coarse or Polite?

      It amounts to a matter of taste; how you prefer the emperor to behave. Such is political life in the late-stage American Empire. Both major parties offer nothing but the same – hyper-military interventionism and the quest for global hegemony – in the charade of choice each election cycle. The question, as 2020 approaches, is whether we can expect more of the same from the Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Of course, the use of this label, emperor, will undoubtedly make many a reader squirm and/or dismiss this piece.

      Only let me explain myself. Ever since Congress abdicated its constitutional responsibility for declaring and providing oversight of wars, the U.S. president has had near dictatorial, limitless power over foreign affairs. Since the last time the US Congress declared war, during World War II, somewhere north of 100,000 American troops have died in foreign wars. Hundreds of thousands more have been injured, and, though it barely registers on Americans’ radar, several million foreigners have died during the unending cycle of US military intervention.

      This should be a big story, the elephant in the room, the ultimate national scandal, but of course it is not. Precious few Americans bear the burden of waging Uncle Sam’s forever wars, and, as a result, the populace has quit caring what’s done in its name overseas. Consider this paradox: presidential elections are won based on domestic, “kitchen table” issues – not foreign policy – yet it is precisely in world affairs that the executive possesses the most influence. Congress can and does block presidents’ agendas at home, but hardly raise a peep about the minor matters of war and peace.

      So let us consider the outcome of this apathy and presidential unilateralism here at the twilight of American Empire. Neither “liberal” Democratic or “conservative” Republican presidents take any real action to dismantle the imperial superstructure. Indeed, quite often, supposed “liberal” executives felt even more pressure to flex military muscle and avoid looking soft on whatever ism the US is supposedly threatened by – communism, Islamism, take your pick. Democrats started, or waged, the Korean War, Vietnam, the clandestine CIA war in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Syria, and Libya. These mostly ill-advised conflicts certainly account for the majority of American and foreign casualties inflicted by the US war machine. The Republicans are responsible for plenty of doozies too – Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq – but you sort of expect it from them.

    • Federal agents in Russia’s Far East say they’ve busted a terrorist cell

      Russian federal agents in the Primorye region say they’ve “liquidated” a cell of the terrorist group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad.

      Russia’s Federal Security Service told the news agency Interfax that the terrorist cell comprised four individuals from Central Asia. The group was apparently operating with funding from “international terrorist structures.”

    • Trump’s Latest Iran Sanctions Show an Unraveling of US Foreign Policy

      The Trump administration is ramping up its campaign against Iran by announcing it will end waivers allowing eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil—part of an attempt to drop Iranian oil exports to zero. This follows the Trump administration’s categorization of part of Iran’s army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, as a terrorist organization, and unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

      “This administration, for all intents and purposes in my view, is working against the interests of the United States,” Colonel Larry Wilkerson told The Real News Network’s Marc Steiner. China and Turkey have already said they will not abide by the U.S. ending of the waivers, but India will possibly follow along, all of which could lead to a more profound trade war.

      The decision also represents the influence of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was in favor of these sanctions, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted the waivers to continue.

    • Trump’s Chinese Telecom Protectionism Always Seems To Be Lacking Evidence

      If you hadn’t noticed by now, the Trump administration has made blacklisting Chinese telecom companies one of its top priorities. That’s been most notably exemplified by the administration’s attacks on Huawei, which is repeatedly cited as an asset of the Chinese government without much in the way of proof. 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, this effort hasn’t been subtle. A harder, broader ban is supposedly looming in the wings.

      There’s no doubt that Huawei, like AT&T here in the states, isn’t a shining beacon of ethical behavior. At the same time, the dulcet undertones justifying much of the blacklisting is based on the premise that the company spies on Americans on a massive scale. Yet nobody has provided evidence of that. In the slightest. In fact, one 18-month investigation into Huawei in 2011 (the last time we had a similar epidemic of hand-wringing on this subject) found that there was no evidence supporting that claim.

    • The Path To War With Iran Is Paved With Sanctions

      The Trump administration is laying siege to Iran. Taking pages from the Iraq War playbook, senior officials paint a picture of a rogue, outlaw, terrorist regime bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and whose “malign activities” are the cause of all the chaos in the Middle East. They know what they are doing. They have done it before. They are building a case for war.

      The “maximum pressure” campaign by the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department accelerated this week with the announcement that the United States would force China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey to cease all imports of Iranian oil or face severe U.S. sanctions. The goal is to cut to zero all of Iran’s oil exports, which account for some 40 percent of its national income. This strategy is unlikely to force the capitulation or collapse of the regime, but it very likely could lead to war.

      The United States has already reimposed all the nuclear-related sanctions lifted by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that successfully rolled back and effectively froze Iran’s nuclear program and put it under the most stringent inspections ever negotiated. The goals of the sanctions announced April 22, however, go way beyond nuclear issues.

    • The U.S. Is Blocking Investigations Into War Crimes in Afghanistan

      Almost a decade ago, on February 12, 2010, U.S. Special Operations Forces arrived at the home of Haji Sharabuddin in Khataba (Paktia Province, Afghanistan). The family of Sharabuddin was celebrating the birth of a grandson. Inside the home were close family members (including a police investigator and a government prosecutor) as well as the vice-chancellor of Gardez University, Sayed Mohammed Mal. At 3 a.m., the U.S. forces attacked the home, killing five members of the family including Sharabuddin’s son—Mohammed Dawood—who was the police investigator. After the killing, the soldiers carried the bodies into the house and removed the bullets with a knife. They did not want to leave evidence of their actions. They then ransacked the home—including stealing money—and left. The U.S. military said that those whom they killed were insurgents. Both the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior found this allegation to be false. A war crime had been committed here.

      But, thanks to the withdrawal of the International Criminal Court, this crime—and hundreds of others—will neither be properly documented nor will there be justice for the victims and survivors. Thousands of family members, who know very well what happened in little villages like Khataba and Nangalam, will have no recourse either to an admission of guilt or punishment for the killers. The killing in Nangalam was by a U.S. helicopter on March 1, 2011. The pilots fired on nine boys, killing them all. “My son Wahidullah’s head was missing,” said Haji Bismillah. “I only recognized him from his clothes.” The U.S. apologized for the killing but did nothing other than that.

      One village and one town after another has families with stories of such violent and senseless deaths. This U.S. war on Afghanistan, which has been ongoing since 2001, has produced an unknown death count with unknown numbers of war crimes (by the U.S. troops, by the Afghan armed forces and by the Taliban). Afghanistan remains an open sore of crime and impunity.

    • The U.S.-Mexico Border Isn’t Protected by Militias, It’s Patrolled by Domestic Terrorists

      It speaks volumes about today’s political climate that anti-immigrant domestic terrorists have begun calling themselves border militias, holding unarmed people at gunpoint and feeling so emboldened that they post videos of their activities on social media, including Facebook and YouTube.

      Luckily, the hubris of at least one group didn’t impress law enforcement: On Saturday, the New Mexico attorney general’s office announced that Larry Hopkins, the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots (which had been detaining migrants at gunpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border) had been arrested by the FBI and charged with felony possession of firearms and ammunition.

      [...]

      It is ironic that a group with “constitutional” in their name is so unaware — or defiant — of the law and the constitution. Only trained law enforcement officials, like the Border Patrol and ICE, have the authority to detain migrants. But last week, Hopkins’ group posted videos purporting to show their members identifying themselves as “Border Patrol” and holding immigrants at gunpoint. One member told Reuters that they had “helped” Border Patrol detain 5,600 migrants in the last two months.

      By improperly holding people against their will, whether those people legally crossed the border or not, members of the United Constitutional Patriots have opened themselves to charges of assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping and impersonating law enforcement officers. (Hopkins, notably, was previously arrested in 2006 for impersonating law enforcement and illegal possession of a firearm and thus is presumably well aware his actions were not legal.) The UCP members are also likely trespassing on privately-held or federal land.
      More importantly, it is perfectly legal under U.S. law for people to cross the border without papers and apply for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. So if anyone is “illegal” in a confrontation with Hopkins’ followers, it is the United Constitutional Patriots.

    • Russia Recovered Remains Of Israeli Spy From Syria.. Or Did It?

      Russia is about to hand over the remains of the notorious Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Syria, Israeli media claimed earlier this week. The reports based on information provided by anonymous sources in the Syrian opposition hold that a Russian delegation arrived to Damascus, took the body and left the country with it. Despite zero evidence these claims caused a huge commotion in Syria and Israel, forcing both countries to pay closer attention to Russia’s actions. This may be the very outcome desired by those who have been spreading these rumors.

    • Johns Hopkins Students Enter Week 4 of Sit-In Protesting ICE Contracts & Plan for Armed Campus Cops

      Students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have entered their 21st day of a sit-in occupation of their campus administration building to protest the university’s plans for an armed police force on campus, as well as Johns Hopkins’s contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Students at Johns Hopkins are demanding the cancellation of contracts with ICE and a pledge to donate all money received from ICE to Baltimore’s immigration defense fund. They’re also demanding voluntary recognition for all workers wishing to unionize, and a student and faculty representative spot on the university’s board of trustees.

    • Letter to the Emperor

      Japan’s 85 year-old Emperor Akihito is tired. The popular and charismatic king says he will retire at the end of this month, becoming the first Japanese Emperor in history to voluntarily step down from the Imperial throne. Indeed, the weight of his monarchy is heavy, weighed by the 2,600 year old Japanese tradition that says that the Emperor is divine; a direct descendent of the Sun goddess Amaterasu.

      Of course, the question of divinity is problematic. Akihito’s father, the Emperor Hirohito, renounced his own divinity on New Year’s Day in 1946 on the direct orders of the commander of U.S. occupation forces in Japan. Hirohito remained on the throne, but the question remained: Could a U.S. General really force the elimination of the god-status of the Japanese Emperor?

      Different questions still dog the current Emperor Akihito, who has been asked to apologize to war victims on behalf of his father Hirohito, in whose name Japanese soldiers killed 35 million people across Asia. The Emperor’s armies invaded more than a dozen countries, and committed international war crimes that became synonymous with the word ‘atrocity; war crimes with their own names, such as the Nanking Massacre, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, the Rape of Manila, and others. Less well known, but equally horrific was “Unit 731,” the Japanese biological-warfare factory in Manchuria that tortured and murdered thousands of human guinea-pigs, and manufactured and unleashed deadly epidemics on scores of Chinese cities.

      The Emperor’s mystical and de-facto powers over Japan’s population and military machine became more extreme late in the war, when facing defeat, the Japanese army ordered ‘Banzai’ suicidal last-stands in Pacific battlegrounds, while the Air Force sent thousands of Kamikaze suicide pilots to literally die for the Emperor by crashing their planes into U.S. warships.

    • California Tried to Fix Its Prisons. Now County Jails Are More Deadly.

      On the night of Jan. 17, 2018, Lorenzo Herrera walked into the Fresno County Jail booking area and sat down for an interview. Yes, he had a gang history, an officer wrote on his intake form. But Herrera, 19, said he did not expect problems with others inside the gang pod he’d soon call home.

      His parents had encouraged him to barter for books and newspapers — anything he could to preoccupy himself until his trial on burglary and assault charges. His father, Carlos Herrera, offered advice: “Just be careful, and only trust yourself.”

      Herrera survived the violent chaos of the Fresno County Jail for 66 days, including living through a brawl that left another inmate unconscious. Then, on an afternoon in March, jail officers found him strangled.

      Herrera didn’t get a trial or a plea deal. He got a death sentence, his parents say. And even now, no one at the jail seems to know what happened.

      The evening before Herrera entered the jail, Ernest Brock, 20, was also arrested and booked pending trial. Officers put him in a cell with a psychotic inmate accused of rape who had refused to take medication and was beating his head against the walls. Brock made it three days inside before the cellmate choked him into a coma.

    • A Decisive Struggle For Our Future

      The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2019 occurred under different circumstances, and yet they are very similar in their results. They both put an authoritarian figure in power through democratic electoral procedures. As well, both of these figures, like so many modern reactionary leaders before them, denigrate the recent past. Why do they do so?

      In the case of Donald Trump, the past he despises is the 1960s, with its progressive civil rights legislation. The laws passed at this time pushed the white supremacy model out of the public realm. Trump. in practice, has proven to be a white supremacist and an extreme nationalist. Most of his “core” voting base adheres to these ideas as well. This worldview demands that he undo— through presidential orders and future decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court—the progress toward equalitarianism and a multicultural society symbolized by the election of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. Trump also wants to “Make America Great Again” by acting on the basis of national power alone—thus destroying along the way any number of alliances and treaties enshrining human rights and progressive international law.

      Of course, these ambitions alone are not exactly why he was elected. Trump’s racist “core” is too small to have elected him by themselves. He was elected because too many Americans did not want to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016—whom they saw as a status quo candidate—and Trump was the GOP alternative. It may well be that a good number of the electorate who voted for Trump had no idea of what sort of person they were supporting. By now they should have no doubt.

      In the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, the story is an even odder one. The past that Netanyahu rejects is the one designed after World War II to criminalize behaviors such as the waging of aggressive war, genocide, and apartheid. Some of these behaviors had for centuries threatened European Jews. Netanyahu, and those who voted for him, no longer identify with the suffering of their European ancestors. Israel is now a strong, aggressive, land-hungry power much like 19th century Russia and Germany. Many Israeli Jews are also, like Donald Trump’s core supporters, ethnic racists and supremacists.

    • As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?

      In 1830, British colonial administrator Lord Metcalfe said India’s villages were little republics that had nearly everything they could want for within themselves. India’s ability to endure derived from these communities: “Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down but the village community remains the same. It is in a high degree conducive to their happiness, and to the enjoyment of a great portion of freedom and independence.”

      Metcalfe was acutely aware that to subjugate India, this capacity to ‘endure’ had to be broken. Since gaining independence from the British, India’s rulers have only further served to undermine village India’s vibrancy. But now a potential death knell for rural India and its villages is underway.

      There is a plan for the future of India and most of its current farmers don’t have a role in it. Successive administrations have been making farming financially unviable with the aim of moving farmers out of agriculture and into the cities to work in construction, manufacturing or the service sector, despite these sectors not creating anything like the number of jobs required.

      The aim is to displace the existing labour-intensive system of food and agriculture with one dominated by a few transnational corporate agribusiness concerns which will then control the sector. Agriculture is to be wholly commercialised with large-scale, mechanised (monocrop) enterprises replacing family-run farms that help sustain hundreds of millions of rural livelihoods, while feeding the urban masses.

      So why would anyone set out to deliberately run down what is effectively a productive system of agriculture that feeds people, sustains livelihoods and produces sufficient buffer stocks?

      Part of the answer comes down to India being the largest recipient of World Bank loans in the history of that institution and acting on its ‘advice’. Part of it results from the neoliberal-driven US-Indo Knowledge Agreement on Agriculture. Either way, it means India’s rulers are facilitating the needs of (Western) capitalism and all it entails: a system based on endless profit growth, crises of overproduction and market saturation and a need to constantly seek out and expand into new, untapped (foreign) markets to maintain profitability.

      And as a market for proprietary seeds, chemical inputs and agricultural technology and machinery, India is vast. The potential market for herbicide growth alone for instance is huge: sales could reach USD 800 million this year with scope for even greater expansion. And with restrictions on GMOs in place in Europe and elsewhere, India is again regarded as a massive potential market.

    • Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli

      The richly disastrous mess that is Libya has been moving into another phase of inspired aggression at the hands of General Khalifa Haftar. As he does, UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj is anxious. For some three weeks, the General’s eastern forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been edging towards the capital of the fractured state in a hope to remove the “remaining terrorist groups” in the region.

      The government of national accord (GNA) is not getting the voices of support in foreign capitals it might have once enjoyed. In early April, Al-Sarraj was keen to stress his view on how Libya would return to a state of strife-free normalcy. “We will not give up our principles and peaceful solutions to reach a civil state, to ensure that totalitarian rule or militarisation of the state will not return.”

      Much stock was placed in having a national dialogue that would lead to “the unification of institutions and the holding of right presidential and parliamentary constitutional elections to allow people to have their say.”

      General Haftar, veteran of the Libyan war in Chad during the 1970s and 1980s and touted past collaborator with the CIA, has preferred to spoil the party with his own effort to besiege the capital, despite efforts on the part of Western diplomats to discourage him. His argument in attacking Tripoli since the chaos of 2011 has been directed at the feeble efforts of Libya’s interim figures, whom he accuses of being oblivious to the Islamist militia problem. His response to the militia problem has been to create his own ragtag grouping of militias. It takes one to get rid of one.

      Al-Sarraj is doing everything he can to assure that his forces will play by the rules of international humanitarian law, hoping that this will keep him in the good books and add him to others. A counter-offensive has begun, and clashes have been reported in Wadi Rabea, Airport Road, Ain Zara and Khalit Al-Furjan.

    • The War in Yemen
    • Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA

      Seven.The notion that MEChistas are anti-Central American is equally ahistorical and absurd.

      MEChistas played a key role on college/university campuses (and the streets, etc.) during the 1980s and early 1990s, protesting against U.S. military intervention in Central America. This includes being an integral part of the sanctuary movement for Central Americans fleeing U.S. sponsored wars during this same period.

    • Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane

      On April 12, a new Defense Department policy went into effect officially barring most transgender people from enlisting in the nation’s military. This is a sad development, and represents an attack on the values and liberties that we all cherish as Americans.

      After two years of court challenges and public controversy since President Trump announced his plan, the policy as implemented says transgender people can serve only if they haven’t surgically transitioned to another gender or received hormone treatment. This rules out lots of people: Approximately 15,000 current troops identify as transgender. Regardless of your personal views on gender issues, we should all acknowledge that these 15,000 individuals selflessly signed up to risk their lives for America.

      America isn’t just a country—it’s an experiment. The United States is seen as a global beacon of freedom, the light at the end of a tunnel, a nation that stands up for inalienable individual liberty. While imperfect, America has been known as the country of freedom, opportunity, and justice for centuries. Today, America remains the nation of free speech, a nation with marriage equality, and a place where we strive to give all people the opportunity to pursue the life they’ve always dreamed of. It’s supposed to be the nation where religious persecution by the government is non-existent, and the first country to truly give individual liberty a chance—and there’s no reason why that ideal should stop with transgender people.

      Banning transgender individuals from serving their own country is unnecessary, humiliating, and counterproductive. One of the main arguments against allowing transgender individuals into the military is the question of the financial cost for the transition—who is going to pay for it? Will it be taxpayers? But the ban would also prevent those who have already received medical treatment.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange’s Victory

      Throughout history, dark and reactionary forces have always attempted to control the world; by violence, by deceit, by kidnapping and perverting the mainstream narrative, or by spreading fear among the masses.

      Consistently, brave and honest individuals have been standing up, exposing lies, confronting the brutality and depravity. Some have fought against insane and corrupt rulers by using swords or guns; others have chosen words as their weapons.

      Many were cut down; most of them were. New comrades rose up; new banners of resistance were unveiled.

      To resist is to dream of a better world. And to dream is to live.

      The bravest of the brave never fought for just their own countries and cultures; they fought for the entire humanity. They were and they are what one could easily define as “intuitive internationalists”.

      [...]

      A few days before this essay went to print, Julian Assange was cynically betrayed by a country which used to be governed by a socialist administration, and which gave him political asylum and citizenship, both. Its current ruler, Lenin Moreno, will be judged extremely harshly by history: he’ll be remembered as a man who began dismantling the socialist structure of Ecuador, and who then literally sold (to the twisted British and US judiciary systems) a man who has already sacrificed more than his life for the truth as well as for survival of our planet.

      As the Metropolitan Police dragged Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London into a van, the entire world could catch a glimpse of the naked essence of the Western regime; the regime in action – oppressive, gangrenous, murderous and vindictive.

    • Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange

      As Julian Assange awaits his fate, socked away in maximum security lockdown in Great Britain, his supporters and friends—many of whom believe he is one of the most significant publishers of our time—are vigiling, writing, and speaking out in support of his work and calling for his immediate release.

      I spoke to legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg the morning after Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the eyes of the world watching the scene unfold in real time.

      Ellsberg says he is both outraged and deeply concerned about the impact this case might have on the free press. “Without whistleblowers,” Ellsberg tells me in the following interview, “we would not have a democracy.”

    • Documents Show FBI’s Role In Producing Film On Mark Felt, Who Betrayed Bureau In Watergate Scandal

      Set in the aftermath of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s death, 2017’s “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” was a historical thriller about the new FBI leadership and how it came to terms with Hoover’s passing as well as Watergate.

      The film followed Felt as he betrayed the FBI by leaking to reporters and becoming the notorious “Deep Throat.”

      It boasted an A-list cast that included Liam Neeson as Felt and Diane Lane as his wife, yet the film garnered mixed reviews and performed dismally at the box office.

      The film’s release was timed to capitalize on public interest in the now-fading Russiagate allegations, and the producers seemed more interested in playing into the contemporary political narrative than with an accurate presentation of very important historical events.

      Producers were supported by the FBI, who recently released a cache of documents in response to a FOIA request on the support they provided to the movie.

      Curiously, it was the FBI who first approached the filmmakers to offer their assistance. They did not wait to be asked. (This happened with Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” too.)

    • The Prosecution Of Julian Assange Is Infinitely Bigger Than Assange

      The entire world is watching what is being done to Assange currently. No matter how propagandized you are, no matter how much you hate the man personally…

    • Release of Julian Assange sought in Bangladesh

      Under banner ‘Friends of WikiLeaks’, the chain, starting at 4:30pm and ending at 5:30pm, saw activists, eminent citizens and students wielding placards.

      “Julian Assange’s sabotage act is much needed in today’s world,” Prof Anu Muhammad, an eminent citizen, told The Daily Star. “What Assange did was for the people.”

      “He showed the people a way to fight the imperialist powers in the world. We all need to stand beside him,” he added.

    • Street artist’s Assange painting disappeared
    • Britain: the Assange arrest – Blairites run to the support of imperialism

      The arrest of Julian Assange is a vicious assault on basic democratic rights. Through WikiLeaks, Assange has exposed the hair-raising crimes of US imperialism and its allies, including the UK. While war criminals like Bush and Blair walk free, Assange now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a US prison. A defence of Assange is a defence of the right to freedom of expression and the right to information, against imperialist aggression.

    • Assange Arrest : ‘So Now He’s Our Property’

      If ‘journalism’ meant what it is supposed to mean– acting as the proverbial ‘fourth estate’ to challenge power and to keep the public informed – then Julian Assange and WikiLeaks would be universally lauded as paragons. So would Chelsea Manning, the brave former US Army whistleblower who passed on to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential US State Department and Pentagon documents, videos and diplomatic cables about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The most infamous example was ‘Collateral Murder’, a video clip filmed from a US helicopter gunship, showing the indiscriminate killing of a dozen or more Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in 2007. Shockwaves reverberated around the world, to the deep embarrassment of the US government and military. Today, Manning is incarcerated in a Virginia jail, and Assange is locked up in the high-security HM Prison Belmarsh.

    • Petition Calling For Intervention Into Assange Extradition Passes 100,000 Signatures

      An Australian-led petition demanding the federal government intervene in the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States over the publication of hundreds of thousands of documents exposing US involvement in numerous atrocities has passed 100,000 signatures. And it’s growing larger every day.

      The petition on change.org was started by Brisbane resident Philip Adams nine months ago, and had reached more than 30,000 signatures before Assange was arrested earlier this month, after his political asylum within the Ecuadorian embassy in London was cancelled.

    • Julian Assange Was Arrested. So Why Is Chelsea Manning Still In Jail?

      Chelsea Manning on Monday lost her appeal to get out jail after she refused to testify before a grand jury about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

      The fact that Manning is still in jail is one of the clearest signs that federal prosecutors are still investigating Assange and WikiLeaks and mulling additional charges. Assange was arrested by United Kingdom authorities on April 11 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in part because he faces an indictment in the United States that charges him with conspiring with Manning to hack into US Defense Department computer systems in 2010.

      In a two-page order on Monday, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court judge’s ruling in March finding Manning in contempt and ordering her jailed until she complied with the subpoena. The three-judge appeals panel didn’t provide any detailed analysis, only writing that they had found “no error in the district court’s rulings.” The court also denied Manning’s request to be released on bail.

    • Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange: ‘Things that journalists do every single day’

      Journalist Glenn Greenwald on Monday defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was charged by the Justice Department earlier this month for allegedly conspiring to hack a government computer in connection with the organization’s release of sensitive government files in 2010.

      “So much of what’s in the indictment, encouraging a source to get more documents, helping a source cover her tracks in order not to be detected, are things that journalists do every single day,” Greenwald, co-founding editor at The Intercept, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in an appearance on Hill.TV.

      “You can say journalists don’t typically help a source hack into a password in order to get you know, a better way of hiding her identity, but helping a source avoid detection is definitely something journalists are not just entitled to do, but obligated to do,” he continued.

    • For Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno, Evicting Julian Assange Is Only the Beginning

      After almost seven years of diplomatic protection, Julian Assange’s diminishing good will with Ecuador ran out. On April 11, Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been given asylum in 2012 by then-President Rafael Correa to avoid international criticism that his government was restricting freedom of expression. By protecting Assange, Correa also became an icon of the global political left.

      Ecuador’s current president, Lenín Moreno—Correa’s former vice president, protégé, and hand-picked successor—not only expelled Assange from the embassy but also stripped him of the Ecuadorian citizenship granted by the government in 2017. Leftists around the world saw Moreno’s action as the culmination of his betrayal of Correa’s legacy.

      First, he broke with Correa, and then he announced a popular referendum to be held in 2018, in which Ecuadorians voted overwhelmingly to reject the possibility of Correa’s re-election. (Although Correa, who is living in Belgium, is unlikely to return anytime soon—a judge has ordered his arrest in Ecuador based on his alleged participation in the failed kidnapping of an Ecuadorian opposition politician in Colombia.) Correa and his supporters argue that Moreno’s action shows the total reversal of his foreign policy. But Assange’s expulsion is only one example of how Moreno has largely reversed Correa’s plans for Ecuador since his election in 2017.

      When Assange first sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy, Correa had been in power for six years and was leading a charge to upend all of the country’s political institutions. A participatory constituent assembly drafted a new constitution that enhanced several rights—and even gave rights to nature—while concentrating power in the hands of the presidency. Correa put the state at the center of development. Ecuador, a member of OPEC, counts on oil as one of its largest sources of export revenue. By reaping the fruits of extraordinarily high oil prices, Correa had the resources to increase the size of the state, redistribute income, and reduce poverty. Yet in doing so he also increased the country’s economic dependency on the extraction of oil and minerals, and just in time for 2014’s steep drop in oil prices.

    • Legal experts: Assange likely faces espionage charges if extradited to US

      CNN cited US legal scholar Orin Kerr, who bluntly stated that the two publicly-revealed US charges against Assange—alleging he was involved in a conspiracy to gain unauthorised access to a US government computer—were “a placeholder.” Kerr said they were only “a brief indictment sufficient to get the case started, but very likely only a small part of any case against Assange.”

      Peter Toren, a former computer crimes federal prosecutor, said: “The government does not limit an indictment, especially in a case like this, to a single count. It’s a better practice for the government to bring a multi-count indictment.”

      Many legal experts have noted the threadbare character of the charges. They revolve around an unverified 2010 chat log allegedly documenting a conversation between Assange and US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

      US prosecutors claim the logs demonstrate that Manning sought out Assange’s assistance in cracking a hash or password. This would have enabled her to access Defence Department computer networks on a password that was not her own, thereby helping to protect her anonymity.

    • Good News From The EU For A Change: A Strong Directive To Protect Whistleblowers

      There is now one final vote by EU ministers, expected to proceed without the drama that accompanied the similar vote for the Copyright Directive. Once passed, there will be a two-year period during which EU Member States need to implement the directive in their national legislation.

      The general consensus among activists in the digital sphere seems to be that the new directive is probably as good as it could be given the past resistance of some governments to the idea of protecting those who reveal their wrongdoing. It is particularly welcome against the background of the Copyright Directive’s upload filters, which will create a convenient mechanism on the main Internet services for blocking documents obtained by whistleblowers. What we need now are the creation of more online sites that are not subject to the Copyright Directive — because they are not for profit, for example — willing to host material from whistleblowers encouraged to act by the legal protection afforded by the new EU directive.

    • Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story

      One good comes from Assange’s arrest, as many have noted: Wikileaks revelations are in the news. We hear the sneering at “dead bastards”. We hear the disdain.

      There are truths which, if understood intellectually, are not understood fully. Imperialism is one. We know it intellectually without knowing it. In the Wikileaks video (2010), we feel it.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Cloud forests risk drying out by 2060

      Planet Earth may be about to lose a whole ecosystem: the cloud forests – those species-rich, high altitude rainforests found mostly in Central and South America – could be all but gone in 40 years.

      Researchers warn that within 25 years, global warming driven by ever increasing use of fossil fuels could dry up 60-80% of the misty mountain forests of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru, simply by dispersing the clouds that keep them ever moist, and rich with plant, insect and bird life.

      And as the habitat alters, that could be it for the Monarch butterflies that migrate in their millions to the mountains of Mexico, the elfin woods warbler found only in Puerto Rico, and the other creatures that make their homes in forests so rich and wet that even the trees are home to yet more green habitat: ferns, lichens, mosses and other epiphytes nourished by year-round water and water vapour.

    • Belarus halts benzene exports after receiving low-quality petroleum from Russia

      Belarus has temporarily stopped exporting benzene and diesel to the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine because it has received unsatisfactory source petroleum from Russia, said Deputy Director of the Belarusian Oil Company Sergey Grib. He added that exports of dark petroleum products remain at their typical levels.

    • ‘We Are Not Moving Fast Enough’: Study Shows Cost of Melting Permafrost Could Total $70 Trillion

      According to the new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, melting permafrost caused by accelerating Arctic warming would add close to $70 trillion to the overall economic impact of climate change if the planet warms by 3°C by 2100.

      Even if action is taken to limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century, the research found melting permafrost would still add $24.8 trillion to overall climate costs.

      Dmitry Yumashev of Lancaster University, the lead author of the study, told National Geographic that melting permafrost and sea ice “are two known tipping elements in the climate system” that could trigger a cycle of unstoppable global warming.

      In an interview with the Guardian, Yumashev called his study’s results “disheartening,” but said nations of the world have the technological capacity to confront the crisis.

      What’s needed, he said, is urgency and political will.

    • Maine AFL-CIO Becomes First State Federation to Support a Green New Deal Bill

      On Tuesday, Maine lawmakers will hold a hearing for “An Act to Establish a Green New Deal for Maine”—a new climate and jobs bill that has the notable support of Maine’s AFL-CIO, the first state labor federation to endorse a Green New Deal-themed piece of legislation. The bill calls for 80 percent renewable electricity consumption by 2040, solar power for public schools, the creation of a task force to study economic and job growth, and a commission to help facilitate a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Its backing from a coalition of over 160 labor unions offers an instructive lesson for other states looking to build union power to tackle a warming planet.

      The bill is the brainchild of Chloe Maxmin, a 26-year-old state lawmaker elected in November, and the first Democrat to ever represent her district. Maxmin, who has been an environmental activist since she was 12 years old, and co-founded the Harvard fossil fuel divestment campaign while in college, said she knew if she was voted into office she would approach climate politics in a different way.

    • Climate Change Has Increased Global Economic Inequality, Researchers Find

      By comparing the GDP of different countries between 1961 and 2010, the study concluded that had the climate not changed, the wealth gap between rich and poor nations would be 25 percent smaller. While rising temperatures stunted economic growth in poor countries near the equator, countries in colder regions, which tend to be richer and burn more fossil fuels, may have benefited slightly.

    • ‘Profound Implications for Justice’: Report Shows Extent of Inequality Exacerbated by Climate Crisis

      The climate crisis is making global economic inequality worse.

      That’s the verdict from a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

      The results of the study presented by Stanford University professors Noah S. Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke paint a dire picture of the current and future effects of climate change on wealth and resource inequality around the world.

      While the world has become more equal over the last few decades, climate change has held the progression in check.

      “The global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption,” the study’s authors write.

    • Global warming has increased global economic inequality

      We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming. Thus, the global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption. Our results suggest that low-carbon energy sources have the potential to provide a substantial secondary development benefit, in addition to the primary benefits of increased energy access.

    • Earth Day Will Fight for Climate Action on Its 50th Anniversary

      Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it’s going to be a big deal.

    • Amazing New Geckos Discovered in Myanmar — Just As Their Limestone Habitats Are Being Mined

      Shwe Taung, one of Myanmar’s largest industrial companies, had invited Grismer to one of their limestone mining sites to conduct an environmental impact assessment and survey the local wildlife. The researchers didn’t have much time to complete their mission.

      “They said, ‘you can work here from morning until three o’clock, but then you have to leave because we’re going to blow it up,’” recalls Grismer, a biologist at La Sierra University. “So we start surveying and while we’re working they’re drilling these big old holes all around us and stuffing tubes full of C4 down the holes with primer core.”

      [...]

      If conservation work is going to happen, it needs to happen fast.

      Grismer says that many of these areas are being quarried while they conduct their surveys. “We’re collecting in one area and they’re blowing up the place right next to us,” he says.

      That’s not slowing them down. “We’re getting to as many places as quickly as possible, finding and describing these new species and getting them published. That way NGOs like Fauna and Flora International and other environmental organizations in Myanmar can put these species up to be red listed and protected.”

    • A Green New Deal for New York City

      The foundation of this package is a bill that will require large and medium-sized buildings, which account for nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, to reduce their emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The very worst performing buildings will have to act by 2024 to curb their emissions.

      By 2030, this bill will cut New York City’s overall emissions by 4 million tons, which is the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off of the road.

      In addition to reducing emissions, this bill will also accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and will foster the growth of the renewable energy market, something we desperately need.

      These are big changes, and change doesn’t always come easy.

    • Greenland Is Melting 6 Times Faster Than in the 1980s

      The new figure is part of a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reconstructed the mass balance of Greenland over the past 46 years, comparing ice lost to snowfall gained over the period. The results showed that Greenland has contributed 13.7 millimeters to sea level rise since 1972, half during the last eight years. If all the ice in Greenland were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet.

      In reporting the findings to The Washington Post, study author and Earth systems scientist for the University of California at Irvine and NASA Eric Rignot echoed the urgency of activists from the Sunrise Movement to Extinction Rebellion who have called for immediate government action on climate change.

    • Greenland is melting even faster than experts thought, study finds

      Climate change is eliminating giant chunks of ice from Greenland at such a speed that the melt has already made a significant contribution to sea level rise, according to a new study. With global warming, the island will lose much more, threatening coastal cities around the world.

      Forty percent to 50% of the planet’s population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, and the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.

    • The Case for Environmental Justice

      Climate change and widening inequality are not two separate issues. They’re intimately connected. And there’s at least one solution to both.

      The people who are bearing the brunt of climate change here and around the world are the poor and working class who live in areas increasingly prone to flooding.

      Who rely on croplands susceptible to ever more frequent droughts.

      Who depend on outdated water and sewage systems, and older roadways and power grids that are falling apart under the strains of more severe weather.

      Who live in fragile structures particularly vulnerable to intensifying hurricanes and violent storms.

    • Photos: How Russia’s Zabaikalsky Krai fought a fire that destroyed more than 150 homes in 17 towns

      On April 19, wildfires began to rage in the southeastern Siberian region of Zabaikalsky Krai. The flames spread quickly, riding through villages on high-speed winds. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, more than 150 homes were destroyed in 17 towns, and more than 4,000 pets and livestock animals were killed as a result. The country’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that most of the fires were likely caused by open grass burnings, and both regional and federal government agencies have rushed to the aid of the fire’s victims. A state of emergency has been in effect in Zabaikalsky Krai every spring for several years as a precaution against wildfires, but that measure has not entirely prevented new disasters. The following photographs, which were taken by Ksenia Zimina in April 2019, display the aftermath of the most recent fires. These images were provided by Chita.ru.

    • To Escalate Fight Against ‘Existential Crisis,’ Greta Thunberg Backs General Strike for Climate

      “This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It’s an existential crisis,” Thunberg said. “It is something that will affect the future of our civilization. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.”

      Thunberg confirmed later in the event that she advocates for a general strike by simply responding “Yes” when an audience member asked if she felt it was time for a work stoppage in which workers all over the world from various industries would refuse to work until politicians meet the strikers’ demands.

      Writer and anthropologist Jason Hickel applauded the 16-year-old activist for her support, calling a general strike “the sensible next step” needed to force politicians to act immediately to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

    • ‘Coming Mass Extinction’ Caused by Human Destruction Could Wipe Out 1 Million Species, Warns UN Draft Report

      On the heels of an Earth Day that featured calls for radical action to address the current “age of environmental breakdown,” Agence France-Presse revealed Tuesday that up to a million species face possible extinction because of destructive human behavior.

      The warning comes from a forthcoming United Nations report, a draft of which was obtained by AFP, that “painstakingly catalogues how humanity has undermined the natural resources upon which its very survival depends.”

    • Top EPA Advisers Challenge Long-Standing Air Pollution Science, Threatening Americans’ Health

      Americans rely on the Environmental Protection Agency to set pollution control standards that protect their health. But on April 11, an important scientific advisory group submitted recommendations to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that propose new and dangerous ways of interpreting findings on the health effects of air pollution.

      Wheeler has already dismissed a qualified, independent panel of air pollution scientists appointed by the Obama administration to advise the agency on health effects of fine particulate air pollution — a step that hundreds of scientists, including me, have criticized. As a result, members of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee — a group of seven independent experts mandated under the Clean Air Act to advise the agency — have admitted that they don’t have enough expertise to make appropriate judgments.

      Despite this, the committee submitted its recommendation anyway.

    • Global warming tips scales against the poor

      Global warming has increased global economic inequality. Some countries have profited from climate change while the same rise in average planetary temperatures has dragged down economic growth in the warmer countries.

      The gap between those groups of nations with the highest and lowest economic output per person is now around 25% larger than it would have been had there been no climate change.

      “Our results show that most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University in California. “At the same time the majority of rich countries are richer than they would have been.”

    • Green Groups Urge Court to Stop Trump Effort to Approve ‘Climate-Wrecking, Wildlife-Killing’ Keystone XL

      A coalition of environmental groups filed a brief Tuesday urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject President Donald Trump’s latest effort to green-light TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

      “Trump’s trying to ram this dirty pipeline down America’s throat, but we’re not falling for it,” Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “He can’t just approve this climate-wrecking, wildlife-killing project however he wants and avoid the environmental reviews required by law.”

    • Just Another Spring in Progress?

      My corner of New York’s Catskill Mountains is shortly due to explode in green. Today however, it’s brown, beige, russet and auburn:– a wrapping of spindly trunks with naked branches cascading uphill draws my eyes to the horizon. I wait. My neighbors wait. Landscapers and gardeners wait. We wait to plant even a few pansies; we wait before replacing our glass doors with screening. Big Tim waits before removing his truck plow so we too keep our snow shovels handy.

      Impatiently, in search of soft loam, I strike into a plot in front of the house. Not far beneath dry white grass and pallid corn stubble, the steel of the spade meets resistance—not rock but still frozen earth not far below the surface.

      Other warnings of change are undeniable however. First there’s the smell of the air itself– not fragrant yet still inviting; new sounds floating through the atmosphere invite me to ease open a window early in the morning.

      The male merganser ducks arrive and stake out their territory along the riverbank. Small creatures lodged under bark or found other moist crevices during their metamorphosing months stir. I slap at two insects as they fly past me eager to flee the stale winter air of the house. Though they’ll soon encounter predators gathered in nearby branches.

      With snow and ice finally gone, we really don’t want more precipitation, even if it’s spring rain. Sun is enough, we feel. But it’s not up to us, is it? We should not forget the millions of living things evolved to this point and their descendants have survived this winter, awakening only if saturated by tomorrows’ downpours. Indeed rains are forecast to arrive on schedule. They’ll soften the dark loam and soak into it to loosen that ice underground.

  • Finance
    • Explosion of Interest in Worker Cooperatives Drives Economic Changes

      It’s been more than 10 years since the financial crisis of 2008, and working people are still being hammered by its effects — stagnating wages, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and a rise in the sharing economy to meet basic needs. At the same time, one legacy of the 2008 crash has been the growth of the movement for democratic worker-ownership.

      Many have turned to the worker cooperative model as a way to build more sustainable jobs and communities, in large part because collective ownership allows for workers to equitably share the benefits in the good times and the burdens in the hard times. In the past decade, the number of worker-owned cooperatives in the United States has almost doubled from roughly 350 companies to nearly 600. This growth has primarily taken place in communities of color and immigrant communities. As a result, worker cooperatives now exist in diverse sectors across the country, including in the taxi industry, elder care, home cleaning, tech, construction and more.

      I’ve been a worker-owner with The TESA Collective, a worker co-op, since 2010. TESA, which develops board games and tools for social and economic change, has been heavily involved in advocating for the cooperative movement. Over the past decade, our work has ranged from making a board game about cooperatives and co-creating a free documentary on how to start a cooperative, to working with incarcerated people to organize cooperatives behind prison bars. In that time, we’ve seen an explosion of interest in the cooperative movement from everyday working people, and now from policy makers and business owners alike. We’ve witnessed on the ground floor the innovative ways the cooperative movement is growing, and the impact it can have on the larger economy as a whole.

    • If You Paid TurboTax but Make Under $34,000, You Could Get a Refund. Here’s How.

      We recently laid out how TurboTax uses deceptive design and misleading ads to get people to pay to file their taxes, even when they are eligible to file for free.

      But you might be able to get your money back.

      In response to our story, roughly 10 readers said they called TurboTax to complain. And, they said, TurboTax agreed to refund their money.

    • Sen. Warren Just Stepped Up On Free College For All

      Senator Elizabeth Warren just stepped up to support Free College For All. And it’s not just a pose. How do I know? Because I got to ask her myself – twice.
      I’m a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, studying sociology and studio art. Moving to the Granite State from San Diego during high school opened my eyes in a number of ways – first, we have the highest public college tuition in the country. Second, we’re the first stop in the country for presidential candidates.
      Four years ago, as a high school sophomore, I got to see plenty of campaigns and candidates up close – including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. That really activated me – and when I got to UNH, I joined the New Hampshire Youth Movement, part of Student Action and the People’s Action national network of grassroots groups.
      At NHYM, we take our opportunity to engage candidates on the issues very seriously – because we can directly ask candidates questions on behalf of young people, all across the country. And we get to do this while candidates are still forming their views, and the platforms they’re going to run on.
      That’s why it mattered to me so much to ask Senator Warren about Free College For All: I believe access to quality education is a right that should be available to every young person.
      Just after Senator Warren announced she was running for president in February, I went to her Town Hall in Dover. I got in the question line, and asked her if she would support Free College For All for every student, including the undocumented and formerly incarcerated.At that time, she acknowledged the importance of the issue, but was unsure about the position she would take.

    • Mnuchin Defies Demand to Hand Over Trump Tax Returns

      The struggle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over investigations intensified Tuesday as a former White House official defied a subpoena and the Treasury Department ignored a deadline for providing President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

      Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the White House has adopted the “untenable” position that it can ignore requests from the Democratic majority in the House.

      “It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” Cummings said in a statement.

      Cummings was specifically referring to Carl Kline, a former White House personnel security director, who was subpoenaed by Democrats.

    • Bernie Sanders Made a Lot of Money — and He Wants It Taxed

      Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) wrote some good books and made some good money from them. Now, a band of filthy rich critics and their media enablers are having a field day questioning his integrity because of his bank account. “Can He Still Speak for Working-Class Americans?” asked a recent Washington Post headline. Bloomberg News “congratulated” Sen. Sanders for his wealth before challenging him to “say something constructive” about wealthy people.

      Even well-funded Democratic party-connected outlets like ThinkProgress (which presumably should know better) have gotten into the act with quips like, “The one-percenter hopes no one notices that he’s moved up in the world.” It is difficult to find something more cynical than mainstream liberals co-opting the language of the Occupy movement to falsely denigrate a lifelong progressive activist, but that’s the world we live in now. The filthy rich and their collaborators get the joke: It’s a take-down, not an argument.

      I have three words in reply: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

      FDR would be a billionaire if he and his money were teleported to the present, yet in his day he shepherded into existence programs that not only served working people, but saved them from the voracious maw of capitalism.

    • Bankers Won’t Lend to Developers Who Would Lower Rents

      Join Riley and Curtis in a revolving restaurant with an epic view of San Francisco. They’re meeting with the banker, Ernesto, who lends money for developments. Discover why it’s not all about supply and demand because as he says, “That’s not how the industry works.”

    • Payments to Hospitals Are Not Going to Hospital Buildings

      In keeping with accepted standards in debates on economic policy, we are now getting a debate on Medicare for All that is doing a wonderful job of ignoring the relevant issues. The focus of this debate is what Medicare for All will pay hospitals. As The New York Times tells us, if Medicare for All pays hospitals at Medicare reimbursement rates, many will go out of business.

      The reason why this is a bizarre way to frame the issue is that the payments to hospitals are not going to buildings. They are going to pay for prescription drugs (close to $100 billion a year), for medical equipment and supplies, for doctors and other health care personnel. They also pay for hospital administrators, and in the case of for-profit hospitals, some of the money goes to profits. Also, in recent years a growing chunk of the money has gone to buildings, as many hospitals have sought to attract high-end patients by making themselves more upscale than a facility that exists primarily to provide health care.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • A Trump Impeachment Has Risks, But They Are Worth Taking

      In an ideal world, the thought of impeaching Donald Trump would warrant at least three cheers, along with some somersaults and a marching band (my preference would be for a New Orleans Second Line led by Trombone Shorty). Yet in an ideal world Donald Trump would be nothing but a bad dream. Our world is far from ideal. And so we have a deeply flawed and dysfunctional political system; an angry and credulous Republican base; a corrupted Republican Party in control of the Senate and much else; and Donald Trump in the White House, in control of a vicious bully pulpit and enabled by the vast quasi-state propaganda agency that is Fox News.

      And so there are risks for the Democrats to proceed to impeachment. Political risks. For it is obvious that no House-led impeachment proceeding, however well-orchestrated and compelling, can possibly result in a Senate conviction of Trump; the consistent conduct of Senate Republicans for over two years makes this clear. There is thus a risk that an impeachment could be framed as both “overreach” and “failure,” and thus could strengthen Trump’s hand in 2020.

      The risk is real. But it is not as great as it might seem. In addition, there are risks, great risks, associated with doing nothing — as Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer would seem to prefer — or proceeding with deliberate caution combined with cautious deliberation — as Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff would seem to prefer. At the same time, there are great opportunities associated with impeachment. Thus the two cheers.

    • States Are Trying to Stop Cities From Raising Minimum Wage

      Earlier this month, the New Orleans City Council took a big first step: It unanimously approved a resolution aimed at raising the city’s minimum wage. However, the resolution will be entirely symbolic unless Louisiana’s Republican state legislature gets out of the way. Instead of raising wages, the resolution urges legislators in Baton Rouge to change state law, which has prevented local governments from setting their own minimum wage since 1997.

      Conservative state lawmakers have blocked efforts to raise the statewide minimum ever since, leaving Louisiana cities and towns stuck with the rock-bottom federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. These cities are home to some of the nation’s highest poverty rates. In 2016, more than one in four Louisiana children were living in poverty.

      “It’s kind of like being in a bad relationship,” said Rep. Joyce Duplessis, a Louisiana state legislator who is cosponsoring legislation that would allow local minimum wage hikes, during a rally in New Orleans earlier this month. “You see, the state hasn’t been willing to do right by the cities.”

      Preventing towns and cities from passing their own reforms and regulations is broadly known as “state preemption,” and it has swept across conservative legislatures nationwide in response to local campaigns for affordable housing, better labor standards and higher pay. As of 2018, 28 states prevented local governments from raising the minimum wage, and 23 states had laws preventing cities from requiring employers to provide paid sick and maternity leave, according to the National League of Cities. A few states have longstanding provisions preventing local governments from raising the wage floor beyond the state minimum, but most preemption laws grew out of debates over “local control” in the past two decades.

      Louisiana became the first state to pass a minimum wage preemption law in 1997. Similar laws have since passed in 24 other states, including Alabama, Ohio and North Carolina, which passed minimum wage preemption laws in 2016 as movements to raise wages spread, making their way to ballot initiatives and city councils. At the time, calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 were reaching a fever pitch, thanks in part to the Fight for $15 movement and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

      The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that works closely with conservative state lawmakers, has circulated model legislation to preempt local minimum wage hikes since 2002. The National League of Cities reports that Alabama’s 2016 minimum wage preemption law “bore a striking resemblance” to ALEC’s model legislation.

    • Two-and-a-Half Cheers for the Mainstream Media

      Even in its redacted form, and even without the counterintelligence investigation material that was part of its task, the Mueller Report has largely vindicated the last three years of media coverage of Donald Trump’s and his presidential campaign’s connections to Russia.

      The report doesn’t contain much material that was not previously reported, at least fragmentarily, in the mainstream press. But it compiles it in one place, adds technical information otherwise unknowable (like the type of malware used to compress and transmit the DNC files – the press obviously can’t call the National Security Agency for details on that), and it corroborates previous reporting by examining witnesses (the media plainly cannot compel testimony under oath).

      This is not to say the press did not make mistakes along the way (some of them serious), and I certainly do not mean to whitewash the deep and chronic problems of the media. The consolidation of news reporting into a relative handful of corporate-controlled entities is a real concern, as are the evisceration of newsrooms and the disappearance of overseas bureaus. Perhaps even more problematic is the lack of a stable, moneymaking business model for serious, for-profit news organizations.

      They also have fallen into the cringe-worthy habit of running the publicity stunts of entertainers and attention-seekers under the rubric of legitimate news. Breathless reportage of the musings of bogus celebrities as if they were the observations of Nobel laureates is particularly cloying. It was this juvenile tendency that impelled the media to give so much free airtime during the campaign to Trump’s evil-clown act.

    • Seen as Face of Global Far-Right Extremism, Trump State Visit to UK Spurs Call for Mass Protest

      In response to news that U.S. President Donald Trump will be welcomed for a formal state visit to the United Kingdom in June, British progressives on Tuesday vowed to take to the streets to give the man they consider a leader of the global far-right the unwelcome greeting he has earned.

      The trip will mark Trump’s first state trip to the U.K.

      “A formal state visit to Britain in June must be met with widespread opposition,” Sabby Dhalu of the U.K.-based group Stand Up to Trump said in a statement. “All those that value peace and hope for a better world for the many must take to the streets and say clearly that Donald Trump is not welcome here!”

    • For more than a month, mock graves for Putin have been popping up around Russia. We talked to an activist leader about where they came from.

      Since March 2019, members of multiple activist groups in cities around Russia have been putting mock gravestones for President Vladimir Putin in public places. The activists have said that the trend has become a kind of national protest meant to show that “Putin has died in the eyes of Russian citizens.” So far, “headstones” have been spotted in no fewer than seven Russian cities, with Yekaterinburg joining the list most recently on April 21. In two of the cities, the protest movement Agit Rossiya claimed responsibility for the mock graves. Meduza spoke with the movement’s press secretary, Grigory Kudryavtsev, who was accused of installing a headstone in St. Petersburg in early April and spent nine days in jail as a result.

    • Democrats and Progressives Grapple With How Best to Vanquish Trump: Impeach, Bold Ideas, or Both?

      Some progressives urged House Democrats to immediately launch impeachment proceedings, arguing that anything less would be an abdication of constitutional responsibility.

      But others said Democrats must instead place their emphasis on soundly defeating Trump at the ballot box by focusing on healthcare, income inequality, and the climate crisis.

      Congressional Democrats and the party’s 2020 presidential contenders have come out in favor one or the other position—or some combination of the two—in the wake of Mueller’s findings, which are the product of a sprawling two-year investigation into Trump’s White House and businesses.

      “Just about every Democrat agrees that the Donald Trump presidency has been a nightmare, and that the sooner it ends the better. How we get there is less certain,” Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor of the socialist magazine Jacobin, wrote in a Guardian op-ed this week.

      A range of Democratic positions on the impeachment question was on full display during CNN’s town halls with five 2020 presidential candidates Monday night.

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unequivocally doubled down on her earlier call for the House to initiate impeachment proceedings and dismissed concerns about possible political backlash.

    • On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque

      On April 18, US Attorney William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the probe into “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The report cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign team of allegations that they conspired with the Russian government in that meddling. But on the question of “obstruction of justice,” Mueller punted in an eerily familiar way.

      Return with me briefly to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Specifically, July 5, 2016. As I wrote then:

      “FBI director James Comey spoke 2,341 words explaining his decision not to recommend criminal charges over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to transmit, receive and store classified information during her tenure as US Secretary of State. He could have named that tune in four words: ‘Because she’s Hillary Clinton.’ Comey left no doubt whatsoever that Clinton and her staff broke the law …”

      Mueller’s report likewise cites evidence of multiple attempts by the president to obstruct his investigation. “[T]he President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” he writes. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

      But before the evidence, the punt: “[W]e determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions’ in violation of ‘the constitutional separation of powers.’”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Like Clockwork After A Big Tragedy, People Rush In To Blame… Social Media

      Apparently the new reality is that following any sort of attack, people will quickly rush in to blame the internet and social media. We’ve seen it in various forms in the past, but it really took off with the Christchurch shootings last month. And, with the horrific and tragic suicide bombings in Sri Lanka last week, it didn’t take long for the same sort of thing to happen. Within hours after it happening, someone had jumped into a Twitter thread on content moderation to let me know that my views on content moderation were clearly invalid, given that the “failure” of social media companies to stop extremists in Sri Lanka was clearly to blame for the attacks. And, hours later, it was announced that the Sri Lankan government’s response to the bombings was to cut off Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp (all owned by Facebook). There was some confusion about this, with some people claiming they could still access Whatsapp, while others could not, and others saying that YouTube was also blocked.

    • Russian court fines Internet user hundreds of dollars for calling Vladimir Putin an ‘unbelievable fuckwit’

      A court in the Novgorod region’s Chudovsky District has fined a local man 30,000 rubles ($470) for violating Russia’s new law against insulting state officials on the Internet. The defendant, Yuri Kartyzhev, later uploaded a recording of the verdict being read out, where Judge Igor Ivanov says, “On March 31, 2019, at 6:45 p.m., Kartyzhev… shared on the social network VKontakte two notes with text that read ‘Putin is an unbelievable fuckwit,’ along with a graphic image of Russian President [Vladimir] Putin.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • California Assembly’s Privacy Committee Votes to Weaken Landmark Privacy Law

      The California State Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee today capitulated to industry complaints that our privacy is inconvenient for its bottom line. It voted to advance five bills opposed by privacy advocates that would undermine the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and put companies before consumers.

      Rather than stand up for Californians and their constitutional right to privacy, this Committee and its Chairman Ed Chau would not defend the CCPA, let alone strengthen it.

    • Digital Rights Defenders Sound Alarm Over Big Tech’s Efforts to ‘Erode’ California’s Landmark Privacy Law

      “Tech companies are saying that they support privacy yet still deploy their money and pressure to silence real privacy bills,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit civil liberties group, said in a statement. “We will not let them kill strong privacy bills in the dark.”

      Last June, state legislators passed and then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). As Common Dreams reported at the time, some observers charged that CCPA—which replaced a bolder ballot initiative—didn’t go far enough.

      Others, however, argued that with the law, “California could be the bellwether for the privacy movement” and set a new national standard.

      Lawmakers, voters, consumer advocates, experts, and business interests all seem to agree that some amendments are needed before the law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. However, warnings are mounting that—in the words of Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik—”big business is trying to gut California’s landmark privacy law.”

    • A Seamless Journey Awaits You On The Outbound Flights: All You Have To Give Up Is Your Face

      The DHS’s airport panopticon is rolling out slowly, but surely. And of course it’s being done with as little oversight or guidance as possible. Major international airports are already turning your face into your ID, giving travelers little option but to get their faces out if they don’t want to receive extra questioning.

      If you’re worried about adding your face to the government’s extra-large bin o’ biometrics, you’re welcome to opt out. The easiest way to avoid this is to not travel at all, which is exactly what the DHS suggests. There are other options, but by the time you know they’re available, you’ve likely already had your face scanned and matched against the DHS database by software known mostly for its failure rate.

    • Jonathan Dowland: Use the Twitter web view [Ed: The Twitter 'app' is technically #malware]

      I can open multiple windows with different tweets in them, if I want to keep a few around as reminders for something or other. I can switch between multiple tweets; or tweets, the timeline and something completely different, and not lose my views. I can follow a link from a tweet and not be bounced to a different app (or worse: an app-specific, built-in browser with none of my browser settings or sessions, a fresh round of hell clicking on the Cookie and Privacy Choices pop-ups), and clicking “Back” from such articles brings me back to where I came from.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ‘Should Send Chills Down the Spine of Anyone With a Conscience’: Trump Reportedly Considered Detaining Kids at Guantanamo

      The Trump administration earlier this year reportedly considered detaining migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, the 17-year-old U.S. prison in Cuba that human rights advocates have condemned as a horrific stain on American history.

      “The idea of incarcerating children at Guantánamo should send chills down the spine of anyone with a conscience,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted Tuesday. “This is what happens when our president is so racist that he sees migrant children as an ‘invasion’ and not vulnerable children to be protected.”

      The Trump administration’s proposal was first reported by the New York Times, which explained that Guantánamo “has a dormitory facility that has been used in the past to hold asylum-seekers.”

      Officials with the Department of Homeland Security “examined” the plan earlier this year, the Times reported.

    • Watchdog Says Australia’s Traffic Enforcement System Has Hits Hundreds Of Drivers With Bogus Fines

      That’s one of the possible outcomes of Fines Victoria mishandling its end of the complaint process: law enforcement showing up to seize property and auction it off to pay fines. All of this is set in motion automatically via date triggers. From the report, it appears Australian citizens can spend every day of their challenge periods on hold without ever reaching anyone who could help them with a resolution.

      Even the lucky few who manage to speak to a live person aren’t going to receive much help. The multiple failures detailed in the report received responses from Fines Victoria ranging from “not our fault” to “we’ll try not to screw so many people over in the future.”

    • Australia: Government Report Slams Erroneous Speed Camera Punishments

      At least 397 motorists in Victoria, Australia, lost their right to drive because the state government bungled the handling of speed camera fines. In a report released Wednesday, Victoria Ombudsman Deborah Glass blasted Fines Victoria, the agency responsible for overseeing the handling of citations. The report reviewed 605 complaints from members of the public about how this year-old state agency handled their situations.

      “Many complaints were about delay in the processing of nominations, completing reviews and implementing payment plans,” Glass said in a statement. “The impact of these issues should not be underestimated. People had their licenses wrongly suspended, or were treated as liable for substantial fines, when they had committed no offense.”

    • Russian court rejects lawsuit from pro-Navalny opposition activists whose social media data was given to security forces

      The Smolninsky District Court in St. Petersburg has rejected a lawsuit submitted by four supporters of the opposition politician Alexey Navalny against the social network VKontakte.

      Andrey Boyarshinov, Elvira Dmitrieva, Alexey Boyarov, and Mikhail Tikhonov, all of whom reside in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, demanded 100,000 rubles ($1,568) each in compensation for emotional distress they endured when VKontakte transferred their personal information to the region’s Center for Combating Extremism (Center E) without their permission.

    • CIA director called out for complicity in torture

      US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel was delivering a recruiting pitch to students at Auburn University in Alabama on Thursday where she was called out by an audience member for her participation in torture and other crimes.

      Towards the beginning of her speech, Hapsel began recalling “the thrill of being sworn in” as a CIA operative when the crowd member shouted if Haspel remembered the “thrill of the CIA black sites you tortured people in and the evidence you destroyed?”

    • CIA Director Gina Haspel Confronted over Torture During Rare Public Appearance

      And CIA Director Gina Haspel made a rare public appearance Thursday, delivering a speech to students at Auburn University in Alabama that many described as a recruiting pitch for the spy agency. A few minutes into her speech, Haspel was interrupted by a protester—just after she described the thrill she felt when she was first sworn in as a CIA officer.

    • ‘Tell Them Who You Tortured’: Gina Haspel Faces a Heckler, and Her Past

      Gina Haspel, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, made a rare public appearance on Thursday to give a nostalgia-laced recruiting pitch to students at Auburn University. But she was confronted instead by a heckler shouting about her role in torturing suspected militants in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

      Ms. Haspel was recounting the excitement she felt at the start of her own career when the heckling began. “Tell these young children, tell them who you tortured. You know their names — they’re still in Guantánamo Bay,” an unidentified man shouted.

      “You’re a decrepit human being,” he continued before being removed by security. “The only people you should be talking to is a prison guard in a jail cell.”

    • Is torture ever justified?

      The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating allegations of wrongdoing supposedly committed by American forces/personnel in Afghanistan. The allegations include war crimes and crimes against humanity dating as far back as 2003. And the investigation likely includes the possible use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      The United States is not a party state to the Statute of Rome, which established the ICC. However, Afghanistan joined the ICC in 2003, giving the court jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the war-torn country.

      “U.S. citizens who commit crimes abroad are already subject to the jurisdiction of foreign courts,” the website of Human Rights Watch notes. “Countries that ratify the Rome Statute are simply delegating their authority to prosecute certain grave crimes committed on their territory to an international court.”

    • Guantánamo Trials Grapple With How Much Evidence to Allow About Torture

      The military tribunals originally barred public mention of what happened at C.I.A. prisons.

    • Ex-Gitmo Prisoner on ‘Black Sites’ Interrogations: Strange Nobody’s Prosecuted

      The Metropolitan police have launched an investigation into the alleged role that British intelligence officers played in the interrogation of an al-Qaeda* suspect. Sputnik spoke to ex-Guantanamo Prisoner and Director of Outreach at CAGE, Moazzam Begg, in this report.
      Sputnik: Britain’s Metropolitan police have launched an investigation into the alleged role that British intelligence officers played in the interrogation of an al-Qaeda suspect. Scotland Yard has confirmed that are examining the role of UK intelligence officials during the questioning of Abu Zubaydah at CIA so-called ‘black sites’. How significant is this and is a prosecution to be expected?

    • Police investigating role of UK officers in torture of al-Qaida suspect

      Met looking at how much MI5 and MI6 knew of mistreatment of Abu Zubaydah after 9/11.

    • Accused Bali bombing ‘mastermind’ may never face trial in US due to torture
    • Khashoggi was just one victim of many in Saudi prince’s campaign to silence dissenters

      Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kidnapped, detained and tortured Saudi citizens for over a year before Jamal Khashoggi was killed…

    • It Wasn’t Just Khashoggi: A Saudi Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent
    • Guantanamo express: Scottish police finish probe into CIA ‘torture flights’ & rendition stopovers

      Police in Scotland have filed their final report into a probe of CIA “rendition stopovers” during the early years of the War on Terror, looking into at least six secret flights. The report’s contents remain secret, however.
      Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, Scotland’s chief public prosecutor, ordered the probe back in 2013. His successor James Wolffe has been asked by politicians to report on the investigation’s results.

      “The previous Lord Advocate had committed to investigating this matter. The current Lord Advocate must now outline where that investigation is – and where it is going,” said Liam Kerr, a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives.

    • US officials ‘could face prosecution’ after Scottish airport CIA ‘torture flights’ probe

      DETECTIVES investigating the use of airports by US officials in so-called rendition stopovers have now filed their final report.

    • Cops probing use of Scots airports for CIA ‘Guantanamo Express’ torture flights hand over files

      A final report into so-called rendition stopovers has been given to prosecutors more than five years after the investigation began.

    • UK spy agency under pressure to open up over support for CIA torture programme

      GCHQ’s support of the CIA post-9/11 is becoming clearer, but MEE understands plans for a new inquiry are being resisted.

    • Lawyers Slam Alleged CIA Leak of Info on 9/11 Suspect’s Torture to Filmmakers

      The Oscar-winning film Zero Dark Thirty, about the story of the years-long manhunt for the late number one terrorist, has faced harsh criticism for its highly realistic torture scenes, with torture allegedly having been used to find the location of Osama bin Laden’s hideout.

      The team of lawyers defending Ammar al-Baluchi, a suspect in the case of planning the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, is complaining that they had less access to the materials regarding the detention of their client and the torture he allegedly endured at a CIA “black site” than Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the filmmakers of Zero Dark Thirty.

    • CIA gave details of 9/11 suspect’s secret torture to film-makers, lawyers say
    • The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 1: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?

      In the first part of a special New Matilda investigative series, clinical psychologist Dr Lissa Johnson exposes the ‘science’ behind the hunt for Julian Assange, and the tactics those in power use to keep you in the dark.

      Next month rallies will be held in Sydney and Melbourne in defence of Julian Assange. Protesters will call upon the Australian government to uphold its obligations to its citizens and secure freedom for Assange, whose health is failing is in his ninth year of UN-declared arbitrary detention.

      Assange faces extradition to the United States and secret charges for his publishing activities should he step outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. This cross-border, extraterritorial persecution threatens not only Assange’s health, and possibly his life according to a recent UN statement, but poses grave legal risks both to journalism and dissent.

    • Turns Out There Were Two Separate CIA Torture Programs

      By scouring the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report and some declassified CIA documents…

    • Guantanamo Bay prisoner sues Lithuania over CIA ‘black site’
    • Lithuania faces second suit over CIA ‘black site’
    • Amazon Picks up CIA Torture Investigation Film ‘The Report’ [Ed: The biggest contractor of the CIA has bought a film that shapes the narrative around torture]
    • ‘The Report’ Is a Riveting Journalistic Response to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — Sundance Review [Ed: We live in dark times when Hollywood films about CIA torture turn out to have been a CIA collaboration with the film industry (known fact about ‘Zero Dark Thirty’) and 'journalistic' analysis owned by Bezos (CIA 'agent', or contractor).]
    • As Supreme Court’s Right-Wing Justices Indicate Siding With Trump, Opponents Denounce ‘Bald-Faced Attempt to Racially Rig’ US Census

      The court’s more liberal judges and a number of critics argued that the question would result in an inaccurate count of U.S. residents, with many in immigrant communities declining to respond for fear of the Trump administration’s aggressive anti-immigration agenda.

      “This case isn’t just about a line on a form,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, after addressing the court. “It’s about whether or not everyone in America counts. The administration’s own estimate is that if you put this question on the census, 6.5 million people won’t get counted.”

    • Conservative Justices Could Settle Census Citizenship Question

      No citizenship question has been included in the U.S. census since 1950 but—as with multiple norm-breaking actions in the Trump era, such as revoking a former CIA director’s security clearance, refusal to disclose tax returns and installing close family members in positions of power—there is a good chance the Trump administration will get away with adding one.

      On Tuesday, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in United States Department of Commerce v. New York, a case considering whether the administration should be permitted to include such a question on the 2020 census. As The New York Times’ Adam Liptak reports, “By the end of the arguments, which lasted 80 minutes instead of the usual hour, the justices seemed divided along the usual lines, suggesting that the conservative majority would allow the question.”

      In March 2018, the Department of Commerce announced that a citizenship question would be added to the 2020 census, following a request by the Justice Department. The department claimed that citizenship data would improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government purpose outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts,” according to a statement issued by the department.

    • Packing the Supreme Court

      The Supreme Court heard arguments today on the Trump administration’s decision to alter the 2020 Census to ask people if they are American citizens.

      In a former life, I argued cases before the Supreme Court. From what I gathered today, it looks as if the five Republican appointees to the Court have already decided this move by Trump is constitutional.

      But it’s not. The U.S. Constitution calls for “actual enumeration” of the total population for an explicit purpose: To count the residents – not just citizens, residents – of every state to properly allocate congressional representatives to the states based on population.

    • An Alienated Culture Grooms Women for Cults

      Maggie was born into a religious cult called the Christ Brotherhood. For the first 12 years of her life, the cult controlled her entire existence, including what she thought and knew, and how she was to behave. The precepts of Christianity and Judaism were both taught, and Christmas and Hanukkah were celebrated. Except for those holidays, however, life was a continuous struggle to get enough food to eat, and to avoid punishment for transgressions she never understood.

      The community consisted of about 150 people spread throughout the country. Maggie recalls that when the cult leader, Thomas Paterson Brown, was incarcerated for raping and sodomizing a 14-year-old girl—the daughter of a cult member—the children of the community were put into foster care. When Brown was released, his parole conditions forbade him from contact with children under 18. To avoid those restrictions, the community moved to the Canary Islands, near Spain. Maggie is still not clear how the children were released from foster care and returned to the cult.

      “My father was one of the founders, but the leader called the shots,” Maggie says. “Some of the girls were raped by the leader. While he was in prison, serving his time for having sex with underage girls, he invited some of the men he met in prison to come and join our church. One of the guys he brought home after his release molested the boys.”

    • Looming Sex Abuse Cases Put Boys Scouts in the Crosshairs

      The lawyers’ ads on the internet aggressively seeking clients to file sexual abuse lawsuits give a taste of what lies ahead this year for the Boy Scouts of America: potentially the most fateful chapter in its 109-year history.

      Sexual abuse settlements have already strained the Boy Scouts’ finances to the point where the organization is exploring “all available options,” including Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But now the financial threats have intensified.

      The reason: States have been moving in recent months to adjust their statute-of-limitations laws so that victims of long-ago sexual abuse can sue for damages. New York state has passed a law that will allow such lawsuits starting in August. A similar bill in New Jersey has reached the governor’s desk. Bills also are pending in Pennsylvania and California.

      In New York and elsewhere, lawyers are hard at work recruiting clients to sue the Boy Scouts, alleging they were molested as youths by scoutmasters or other volunteers.

      Plaintiffs’ lawyers “recognize that this is a very unique and lucrative opportunity,” said attorney Karen Bitar, who formerly handled sex-crime cases as a prosecutor in Brooklyn before going into private practice.

    • Kushner Talks of ‘Accountability’ for Crown Prince Just as Saudis Offer ‘Egregious Display of Brutality’ With Mass Beheadings

      Just as Jared Kushner answered questions about the close ties between the White House and Saudi Arabia in New York on Tuesday, the Middle Eastern kingdom beheaded 37 people in its largest mass execution in at last three years.

      The executions, of mostly Shiite men accused of terrorism related crimes, were part of what Washington’s Gulf Institute director Ali Al-Ahmed called “the largest mass execution of Shiites in the kingdom’s history.”

      Al-Ahmed identified 34 of the 37 victims as Shiite.

      According to reports, Saudi Arabian security services nailed one of the heads to a poll as a warning and one victim was crucified after his execution.

    • France Falls Behind as #MeToo Goes Global

      Yes, French women have begun to talk. Growing numbers are reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment to police, thanks in large part to the #MeToo movement. New legislation is addressing sexual harassment, and prominent campaigns are raising funds to support women’s rights groups.

      On Friday, the verdict in a high-profile case involving sexual harassment reflected the progress being made. A court dismissed a defamation case filed by Denis Baupin, the former deputy mayor of Paris. Baupin had sued six women who accused him of sexually harassing them over many years, and he had also sued two journalists who reported the harassment. In addition to dismissing the case, the court ordered Baupin to pay $1,120 (U.S. dollars) to each person he had sued.

    • Many Feet

      People’s feet have been pretty important around here lately. (No, I’m not referring to some new kind of fetish.) They’ve been used for walking, next to other people’s feet. On March 8 it was mostly (but not only) female feet – marching for women’s rights and against about 20 % less wages than male wages, plus many other kinds of discrimination. A big majority were young of age.

      For months now many even younger feet have been involved, all playing hookey! Every Friday afternoon thousands of kids have been walking out of their school rooms and demonstrating, with countless hard-hitting and witty posters and banners. The movement is called “Fridays for Future” and the main demands are an end to the use of fossil fuels – and that politicians move far, far faster with tough laws and measures against worsening damage to the world the kids want to inherit. On one Friday 25,000 took part in Berlin alone, more than 300,000 in 220 cities all over Germany and 2 million in 123 different countries. It all started last summer in Sweden with a little baby-faced and very talented speaker, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Supreme Court of the UK grants Huawei’s petition to appeal lower court’s claim to global FRAND jurisdiction in Unwired Planet case

      Generally, the UK enjoys an excellent reputation as a jurisdiction for patent infringement and validity cases. But no UK patent ruling has ever been even remotely as controversial as Justice Colin Birss’s 2017 holding in Unwired Planet v. Huawei that an injunction should issue against an implementer of a standard-essential patent (SEP) who declines to take a global portfolio license from a patent holder (in this case, a privateer asserting mostly former Ericsson patents). Justice Birss’s fundamentally flawed thinking was that only because SEP holders and SEP implementers in practice typically agree on worldwide portfolio licenses, Huawei was an unwilling licensee because it refused to take a worldwide portfolio license in order to avert a UK injunction over a single SEP deemed valid and infringed–never mind that Huawei generates only a tiny percentage of its global sales (maybe 1% or so) in the UK.

      There’s nothing wrong with companies agreeing on all sorts of things voluntarily. The problem here is that Justice Birss’s approach would effectively force companies (unless they can just forego UK revenues for some time) to let a UK court set a global FRAND rate (in order to determine whether a company is or is not a willing licensee). Under that line of reasoning, UK courts would assume jurisdiction over, U.S., German or even Vietnamese patents, without being equipped to actually assess whether the courts in those jurisdictions would, under applicable national law, deem a given patent valid and infringed (or what they would consider a FRAND royalty under their antitrust or contract laws).

      While the name of the England & Wales High Court (EWHC) suggests otherwise, it’s actually the lowest court for UK patent cases. But, shockingly, the Court of Appeal of England & Wales upheld Justice Birss’s global FRAND determination in October 2018.

      Huawei filed a petition to appeal with the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Such a PTA is the same in the UK as a petition for writ of certiorari (colloquially, “cert petition”) filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s not a given that the highest court of the land will take a look at a case.

      [...]

      About a week before the Supreme Court of the UK made this decision, a former judge of the UK Court of Appeal who has meanwhile been appointed to the UK Supreme Court, Lord Kitchin, defended the decisions of the two lower courts at a Munich conference (where Judge James L. Robart of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington noted that U.S. courts simply don’t rule on foreign patents, citing one case in which a U.S. district court declined to do so even though both parties asked for a determination involving a foreign patent.

      Lord Kitchin is not among the three Supreme Court judges hearing the case now. Chances are, however, that the “evangelism” he conducted at the Munich conference may also take place in London, in whatever shape or form.

      The Supreme Court will likely hold a hearing in the fourth quarter.

      I’m going to follow the Supreme Court proceedings closely and will also try to attend the hearing. This is about an extremely important FRAND-related issue. I hope the UK, as a patent jurisdiction, will regain everyone’s total respect when all is said and done in this context.

    • A Response to “Is there Any Need to Resort to a § 101 Exception for Prior Art Ideas?” by Prof. Joshua Sarnoff

      Mr. Doerre would be absolutely correct that we do not need to use Section 101 if Section 103 could do the job (of excluding uncreative applications of ineligible discoveries in the three categories of excluded subject matter – which are judicial interpretations of the meaning of “invention or discovery” and are not “judicial exceptions” to Section 101 subject matter). But Section 103 cannot do that job as current written, even though both provisions derived from the same statutory section under the pre-1952 Act. And that is because such ineligible discoveries are not among the categories of Section 102 prior art as applied to an applicant who is also the discoverer of that ineligible subject matter.

      As I have written before (see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1757272 and the briefs for amici law professors that I filed in Bilski, Mayo, and Myriad), the ineligible subject matter is often discovered by the applicant himself or herself, and thus does not qualify as Section 102 prior art for Section 103 obviousness analysis. If it did, then 103 in fact would be able to do the job, although given the tremendous uncertainty over what qualifies as a non-obvious advance under Section 103 we would still have roughly the same amount of uncertainty in the law. Further, no person who objects to using Section 101 to exclude categorically ineligible discoveries claimed as practical applications thereof would be the happier if we were to amend Section 102 to permit Section 103 to do the job now being performed (and only capable of being performed) by Section 101. This is because then we would just use obviousness law to have to make the difficult decisions as to whether the claim as a whole represents a non-obvious advance over the ineligible discovery while treating the discovery as prior art against the applicant. And as just noted, we don’t have a clear theory of how much creativity constitutes a non-obvious advance. Although the amicus brief I filed for law and economics professors in KSR sought to have the Court explicitly adopt a time and money threshold of ordinary creativity so as to create that clear theory, predictably the Supreme Court declined the invitation to make the law clearer (while still correcting the errors of analysis of the Federal Circuit in assessing what constitutes an “obvious” advance over the prior art of record).

      [...]

      In summary, Mr. Doerre is simply wrong that Section 103 can do the job as currently written. But if it could, he would be no happier with the state of the law, so long as inventive application remained the law for what constitutes an eligible (or a patentable) “invention,” and all without regard to “preemption.” Should legislation move forward to eliminate the requirement for inventive application, we will have to learn if it in fact is a requirement of constitutional stature in granting authority to “inventors for their discoveries” (or is simply like the dicta in Graham v. John Deere, 386 U.S. 1, 6 (1966), that Congress may not remove inventions that have entered the public domain by granting patents on them – which the Supreme Court subsequently rejected in the copyright context as a constitutional limitation on legislative power in Golan v. Holder, 565 U.S. 302, 323-24 (2012) (quoting Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 202 n.7 (2003)). But first, Congress would have to enact such legislation, and there are good reasons not to eliminate the inventive application requirement wholly without regard to the politics of which industries’ oxen will be gored thereby. And let’s hope that if Congress does go there, that Congress is careful not to thereby permit aesthetic creativity to provide the “practical application” that thereby authorizes the grant of a utility patent as novel and nonobvious subject matter (whenever the aesthetic contribution to the claimed invention functionally interacts with the substrate that forms the remainder of the “claim as a whole,” so that the printed matter doctrine will not apply and thus the aesthetic creativity will thereby prevent a finding of non-obviousness, so we will end up with a design patent on steroids issued as a utility patent).

    • How Smart is your Cleaning Robot?

      Back in 2017 iRobot (maker of the Roomba) complained to the USITC about infringing autonomous vacuums being imported into the US. The patentee won on some grounds, but lost on others.

      This appeal focuses on iRobot’s U.S. Patent 9,486,924 which allows for scheduling of the cleaning via mobile phone. After conducting its investigation, the ITC found no infringement. A divided appellate panel has affirmed.

      [...]

      On appeal, the Federal Circuit rejected that approach and instead held that “instructions” must be computer executable code. The patent here does not define “instructions” one way or the other and so perhaps this is an OK conclusion albeit somewhat narrow. The court notes that the claims at issue here are considerably narrower than those found in a parent application — those original claims did not include the “instruction” limitation. One problem not addressed here

      [...]

      At its core, the dispute between the majority and dissent is about the intelligence of the “cleaning robot.” If the device is an AI-enabled robot then Bryson’s opinion makes lots of sense because the device will be able to understand lots of commands. On the other hand, a lower-level electronic device may need more technical instructions in order to guide its progress.

    • All challenged claims for Vilox Techs patent held unpatentable; Motion to Amend denied

      On April 18, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Vilox Technologies, LLC, IPR2018-00044 holding as unpatentable all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,302,423 owned by Vilox Technologies, LLC (an NPE). The ’423 patent, was directed to a “search-on-the-fly” system and had previously been asserted against dozens of retail companies such as Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, Neiman Marcus, Buy.com, Costco and Walmart, among others.

    • How Does Patent Eligibility Affect Investment? [Ed: Michael Risch propping up Koch-funded trash (lies about patents – i.e. the usual from the Kochs)]

      David Taylor (SMU) was interested in how patent eligibility decisions at the Supreme Court affected venture investment decisions, so he thought he would ask. He put together an ambitious survey of 14,000 investors at 3000 firms, and obtained some grant money to provide incentives. As a result, he got responses from 475 people at 422 firms. The response rate by individual is really low, but by firm it’s 12% – not too bad. He performs some analysis of non-responders, and while there’s a bit of an oversample on IT and on early funding, it appears to be somewhat representative.

    • Trademarks
      • Corporate restructuring may strengthen cannabis marks

        Cannabis-related businesses are thriving in states where the substance is legal. But the drug’s classification under Schedule I on the FDA’s list makes federal trademark registrations impossible, according to the USPTO.

    • Copyrights
      • Another Week, Another Hollywood Company Files A Takedown Against TorrentFreak

        The news site TorrentFreak tends to get more false DMCA copyright notices than other sites, in part because of its name. It seems that people who don’t bother investigating anything jump to the wrong conclusion that because it has “Torrent” in its name, it must be a “piracy” site, rather than a news site that reports on news about copyright and filesharing. So last week, TorrentFreak got some attention after Starz not only sent a bogus DMCA takedown over a TorrentFreak news article about leaked TV shows, but then started DMCAing anyone who even tweeted that Starz was abusing the DMCA this way. Starz eventually admitted it had made a mistake and issued a pretty lame apology.

        You might think that others in Hollywood would at least pay a little attention to this sort of thing — but apparently not. This weekend TorrentFreak reported that yet another tweet of yet another of its stories was removed due to a copyright claim — this time from Warner Bros. Just like last time, where Starz utilized an awful third party service (The Social Element) to handle these takedowns, this time Warner Bros employed a company called Marketly, one of a few such companies who claim they’re in the “brand protection” business and go around issuing often dubious takedowns.

      • Emilio Estevez Uses Some Public Domain Footage In Film, So Universal Studios Forces Original Public Domain Footage Offline

        Yet another example of the awfulness of copyright filters. Back in 2006, librarian Michael Sauers posted a public domain film (a US government production) called “Your Life Work: The Librarian” to YouTube. If you don’t know, “Your Life Work” was a series of educational shorts that, according to the Internet Archive, were “meant to inspire young post-depression workers into specific new careers.” One of those careers? Librarian.

Supreme Court of the UK, Which Habitually Throws Out European Patents, May Overturn Troublesome Unwired Planet v Huawei Decision

13 hours 29 min ago

Bad news for patent trolls and their legal representatives (the likes of Bristows/Team UPC)


“But they’re GREEN monopolies! They’re GREEN!!!”

Summary: A lot of European Patents are facing growing scrutiny from courts (Team UPC, including Bristows, publicly complains about it this month) and “greenwashing” of the Office won’t be enough to paint/frame these patents as “ethical”

HAVING just covered the German Federal patent court's take on SPCs, weakening/limiting the breadth of some European Patents, let’s also consider the fact that Mayo may cause the USPTO to reject similar patents in the US (patents on food). Today’s EPO, under the leadership of António Campinos, is arguably more lenient than the USPTO. Some people from Team UPC have said that software patents are now easier to get in Europe than in the United States (where such patents originally came from, due to the Federal Circuit‘s decision/stance about half a century back). Owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (US Supreme Court), software patents are pretty much worthless in American courts nowadays; the same goes for patents on nature, owing for the most part to Mayo (there’s also Myriad). Weeks ago we saw the UK Supreme Court (highest British court) knocking down a European Patent on natural compounds (where the supposed innovation was a recipe).

Are we indeed seeing the Alpine avalanche of European Patents? Is it the beginning of the collapse? The rumbling of snow? Sooner or later it will come down and it will cover everything in its path.

Yesterday we caught this important new blog post from Florian, who we knew back then would be followed by a lot of ‘press’ coverage (authored and published by law firms, not actual journalists, i.e. the usual). It’s about the most infamous patent troll of Ericsson, whose legal wars in London posed a great threat to British software companies. The name of this troll keeps changing — pretty normal practice among trolls looking to dodge the negative past publicity. It’s currently known as “Unwired Planet” and we included articles about this latest development in yesterday’s (afternoon) daily links alongside this coverage by Rose Hughes for Richard Vary (Bird & Bird, Team UPC, FRAND zealots). We prefer not to link to it (published 35 minutes after Florian’s blog post) because that tends to promote lies of the FRAND lobby. This blog typically pushes such coverage (on this case and this topic in general) from “AmeriKat” (Bristows), but this time it’s their ‘sibling’ Bird & Bird. Expect Bristows to say much more (and complain) in blogs such as IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog in the coming days. To quote Bird & Bird: “As discussed on IPKat here, the Court of Appeal decisions in Unwired Planet and Conversant were significant. The Court found that the English courts have jurisdiction in considering and determining the terms of a global FRAND licence. The courts could not force Huawei to enter into a global licence. However, the court could prevent Huawei from using the technology to which the SEPs relate, unless they entered into a global licence.”

It would not at all surprise us if these patent trolls are Bird & Bird clients (without disclosure), i.e. they represent these parasitic, villainous trolls. The case in question relates to a patent troll of Microsoft, albeit indirectly. This troll is currently called “Conversant” (formerly MOSAID) and maybe it will rename again in the future. Their names are a dime a dozen and they don’t have any real operations. They don’t need a brand; they sell nothing.

The above case may serve to overturn a dangerous decision that threatens Free/libre software among many other things (including fair competition). When shifting to courts outside the UK, as they sometimes do, trolls want decisions that are more favourable to them (e.g. in Eastern Texas and its German equivalents). Thankfully, the UPC(A) seems to be permanently dead. More dead than ever. We’re past Easter now and there’s no sign of progress. Seeing the judges’ persistent ‘exile’ in Haar, the FCC in Germany won’t be impressed. The EPO cannot be trusted with anything. “The Convention watchdog” left this comment some days ago and hours ago it was belatedly (almost a week late) approved. It says:

As to geography:

To make it quite clear, the Landkreis München is not a broader area than the City of Munich but a different area. It comprises municipalities outside Munich but not Munich itself.

In this respect, the referring decision addresses an interesting point at Reasons, pt. 3.3. The Headquarters Agreement between the European Patent Organisation and Germany, concluded implementing Art. 25 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, contains in its Articles 11 and 12 provisions on the premises of the Organisation in Munich and of the Berlin sub-office. The Berlin sub-office has its legal basis in Section I, Article 3 a) of the Protocol on Centralisation which is part of the Convention pursuant to Art. 164 (1) EPC. The case of Rijswijk is governed by the corresponding Agreement with the Netherlands, defining in its Article 1: “branch” means the branch of the European Patent Office at The Hague (Rijswijk), in order to make clear that the existing premises of the IIB are covered by the Agreement and the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. In any case this shows that the legal situation for Berlin and Rijswijk is different from the situation for Haar. The competence in Article 7 EPC to create further sub-offices does not cover sub-offices for the departments of the EPO entrusted with procedural functions under the Convention.

Another person then wrote: “Why does the possible interpretation of “Munich” as “Landkreis München” have to be *exclusive* of the City of Munich? Would it not also be in keeping with the Vienna Convention to interpret “Munich” in Art. 6 EPC as meaning “a location within either of the City of Munich and Landkreis München”?”

Imagine what would happen if all patent cases were decided by the same system that kicked out these judges to Haar, probably in direct violation of the EPC. As an act of retaliation (or scare tactics) from Office management…

Today’s EPO lacks legitimacy and Campinos has done absolutely nothing to change that. It’s like “greenwashing” of the Office, a man with a smile who stabs you as soon as you turn around.

Speaking of greenwash, there’s this new article about the EPO’s PATSTAT. It’s about patent monopolies on “sustainable innovation”, i.e. things you are not allowed to do in order to combat climate issues. Here they go again with epic greenwash:

Green Tech DB uses patents in order to provide a database that offers a comprehensive overview of the developments of Green Technologies worldwide.

Researches use the PATSTAT 2016a database as their patent source; which is produced by the European Patent Office (EPO). “The main advantage of using PATSTAT, a database produced by the European Patent Office, is to have information about patent applications that covers more than 80 different countries. As a patent is a legal object, information available in different patent databases is similar, what differs is the coverage across time and countries, and PATSTAT has one of the best coverage.”

The EPO’s database of patents used to be a source of envy, but nowadays it is polluted by loads of bogus patents which would cost a fortune to invalidate.

German Federal Patent Court Curbs the Patent Maximalism of the EPO, Which Promotes Patents on Nature and/or Maths Every Single Day

Wednesday 24th of April 2019 06:06:23 AM

Those are not inventions at all

Summary: European courts are restraining the EPO, which has been trying to bypass or replace such courts (with the UPC); it certainly seems as though European Patents rapidly lose their legitimacy or much-needed presumption of validity

THE comments we are seeing around the Web aren’t positive if/when they speak of the European Patent Office (EPO). The reputation is in tatters. It is the fault of the management, not the examiners’ fault, as most of them are unwilling participants in this misguided and dangerous (to Europe and to the Office) agenda. The Frenchman António Campinos has done nothing different from his predecessor, who helped him get this job. It’s merely an attitudinal (outward/public-facing) reform, not a concrete or practical one.

“Of course the EPO will do anything to deflect and distract from reality. Such decoy is the hallmark of Battistelli, who even created a programme that will give money to scholars in exchange for propaganda that serves the toxic agenda of his management.”How much longer can the EPO carry on granting bogus patents? How much longer can the EPO carry on lying about the quality of such patents? “The German Federal Patent Court, in a recent decision, disallowed the extension of the supplementary protection certificates (SPC) regulation to an animal feed,” said this article yesterday. It is hardly the exception because illegitimate European Patents, promoted by maximalists for profit, are perishing in court. All these bogus patents prove to be worthless, whereupon they’re also nullified. SUEPO warned about it as recently as weeks ago. How many of these notorious European software patents stand a chance in court?

Of course the EPO will do anything to deflect and distract from reality. Such decoy is the hallmark of Battistelli, who even created a programme that will give money to scholars in exchange for propaganda that serves the toxic agenda of his management. Campinos continues this Battistelli tradition and over the past week we see it advertised almost every day. Here’s yesterday’s tweet: “Are you looking for funding for a research project on a patent-related topic? Apply for financial support from the EPO.”

As long as you commend the naked emperor, money will be up for grabs. Whose money? Don’t ask that question…

“Learn more about the patent system with these free-of-charge courses,” the EPO tweeted yesterday. “The first in this list,” I’ve responded, “teaches people to pursue fake patents by calling them “AI” even though they’re software patents national courts would reject. This isn’t education; it’s EPO propaganda/indoctrination…”

Neil Wilkof/Constance Leong (the former posting a guest post for the latter) meanwhile posted this IPOS puff piece; Singapore is still rushing examination of fake or worthless patents on software by riding a meaningless and misleading buzzword, “FinTech” (it’s a country of finance and tax evasion, from which it derives much of its heavily-centralised wealth). Since we’ve remarked on reports like this before (and this particular buzzword), we need not deconstruct it again but merely point how that those are mere algorithms pertaining to something “financial”. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dealt with such nonsensical patents in Bilski and Alice. From Wilkof/Leong:

The first year of Singapore’s fast track patent scheme, known as the FinTech Fast Track (“FTFT”), has progressed so well, it would seem, that the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) is extending it another year, until 25 April 2020.

An example of how FTFT has sought to deliver on its promise to accelerate innovation is a digital technology company based in the Philippines, being granted the first accelerated patent under the scheme. After the filing of the application for fast-tracking in May 2018, together with a request for a Search and Examination Report, the applicant received the Search Report and a Written Opinion just one month later–in June 2018. Within another three months, by September 2018, a full substantive examination had been completed and found the patent application to be eligible for grant.

[...]

While the inaugural FTFT experience for IPOS has been a steep learning curve, its new-found success may boost its confidence in fast-tracking other emerging technologies. IPOS’s April recruitment drive for more patent examiners in the field of information and communications technology (ICT), computer science and engineering is a telling sign that it has an appetite for greater volume without compromising on patent examination standards.

Despite this, other competing technologies are burgeoning and may grow to surpass FinTech in importance in the foreseeable future. Hence, it remains to be seen if FTFT will be prolonged much further, beyond its current extension.

A close relative of the “FinTech” buzzword is “blockchain” — a term which EPO has already admitted to be software patents. Yesterday the EPO tweeted: “If you work with #blockchain, this report from our conference on the topic might be of interest…”

Every single day the EPO promotes software patents at least once. In that regard, it’s even worse than it was under Battistelli.

Any ‘Linux’ Foundation Needs to Be Managed by Geeks, Not Politicians and PR People

Wednesday 24th of April 2019 05:11:08 AM

Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), which precedes the Foundation, was also led by a former Marketing VP


LF, Microsoft and GitHub years before the takeover (Source: Microsoft, via)

Summary: Linux bureaucracy has put profits way ahead of technical merits and this poses a growing threat or constitutes risk to the direction of the project, not to mention its ownership

LINUX, the world’s most widely used kernel, is a technical project. It has always been a technical project. It’s also professional and commercial, which the GNU GPL is not incompatible with (au contraire). In fact, about 8 or 9 out of 10 Linux developers are employed (i.e. salaried) to do so, based on the most recent statistics. “90% is kind of [a] guessed number but it’s above 80 percent,” oiaohm explained yesterday in our IRC channels.

If so many geeks (or programmers) make up the project, why aren’t geeks also managing it?

“We don’t mean political in the philosophical sense (like GNU) but rather commercial politics (like corporate political parties). It isn’t even hard to see it. “As we explained much earlier in this series, Linux had become political. We don’t mean political in the philosophical sense (like GNU) but rather commercial politics (like corporate political parties). It isn’t even hard to see it.

“At the recent 2016 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, we introduced a new open source project called moja global, supported by the Clinton Foundation,” said the Linux Foundation in its site a few years ago. One can see the Clintons alongside Mr. Zemlin on many occasions, e.g. [1, 2, 3] (we could see several more) and people told us that Mr. Zemlin kept promoting the Clintons, even pushing for a particular side in the US election in his capacity as Linux Foundation (LF) chief, whose supposed role — or so says Mr. Zemlin himself — was to pay Torvalds’ salary. This potentially alienates some people who support Linux, yet do not fully support his political viewpoints. The LF also hired political figures from a particular political party. This is why we call it a “PAC”.

“This isn’t about whether you support software freedom or not. It’s not about technical matters but aspects like diversity — which LF management lies about.”The political aspects of the LF are divisive and partisan. This isn’t about whether you support software freedom or not. It’s not about technical matters but aspects like diversity — which LF management lies about. These are sometimes used to wedge out actors based on parallel pretexts; it helps tilt development in favour of particular agenda or particular corporations, which may be pursuing lockdown, back doors and various malicious (anti)features.

We are currently waiting for some results to come from members and readers. One of them is assessing, statistically, the impact of the CoC on actual code. Another is investigating a new draft CoC (which is being circulated but cannot be made public just yet). We wrote about it yesterday in relation to coercion — a form of social engineering (wresting/acquiring greater corporate control over the project, which used to be a lot more community-centric).

“I can’t really share that CoC outline right now,” a source told us, “but I wish they would get done and publish already. I’m waiting. I have the first draft, if nothing comes out soon – for historical purposes.”

“Isn’t it time for the LF to consider leadership with technical literacy?”The shaping of these rules can greatly impact the way Linux is developed, who is allowed to participate and what code gets accepted/rejected. It will likely be motivated by corporate sponsors, not geeks. Or shareholders rather than developers.

It’s no secret that Mr. Zemlin does not understand code. He never wrote any. He has a career track record which is all about branding and PR, not technical matters. That makes it easier for shrewd — in the malicious sense — companies to manipulate the LF. He can speak Japanese, just like Darl McBride from SCO (also not from a technical background), but computer languages aren’t his thing. Isn’t it time for the LF to consider leadership with technical literacy?

Links 23/4/2019: Kodi ‘Leia’ 18.2 and DeX Everywhere

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019 11:56:18 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 19.1 Adds Workaround For Epic Games Launcher With OpenGL

        The latest change merged for Mesa 19.1 is a workaround so the Epic Games’ game launch correctly renders when using OpenGL.

        It turns out that the Epic Games Launcher, which is Windows-only at least for now, relies upon an OpenGL 4.4 core context but uses deprecated OpenGL functionality. Technically the software shouldn’t be using a core context but rather compatibility context if it needs to use deprecated GL functionality.

    • Benchmarks
      • A Look At The Intel Cascade Lake Performance For Windows Server 2019 vs. Linux vs. FreeBSD Benchmarks

        Since the Xeon Scalable 2nd Gen launch at the start of April we’ve been running many different benchmarks including the performance on different Linux distributions and tests on FreeBSD 12.0. Now for seeing how Windows Server fits into the mix, here are Windows Server 2019 Build 17763 as well as Ubuntu 18.04 running on WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) from that same Windows Server build.

        The same server was used for all testing that included two Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processors, GIGABYTE MD61-SC2-00 Storage Server. 12 x 32GB DDR4-2933 memory, and a Samsung 970 PRO 512GB NVMe SSD for storage. Besides Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2019 WSL, this comparison includes CentOS 7, Clear Linux 28660, openSUSE Leap 15.0, Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, and FreeBSD 12.0 (both with its default LLVM Clang compiler and when opting for GCC 8.3). The stock OS packages are used on each platform unless otherwise noted.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Announcing my Contract with Purism for an Adaptive Fractal UI

        Over the past year or so I have been a regular contributor to Fractal, a Matrix chat client for GNOME. My contributions have allowed me to take on a bigger role in the GNOME community, including the maintainership of a few apps. I am pleased to announce that over the next week I will be working to make Fractal’s UI adaptive for the Librem 5’s launch. This contract began last week, and I already have some results to show off.

  • Distributions
    • Strawberry

      There is a new tool available for Sparkers: Strawberry

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • Fedora
      • Fedora Docs Translations FAD Report

        Last week Jean-Baptiste Holcroft and Adam Šamalík met in Strasbourg for Docs Translations mini-FAD in order to prototype translations support for the Fedora Docs website. And we did a lot of work! This post is a report from the event, a status report, and a brief plan for how to move forward.

        Our goal was to make sure we’re both on the same page about how it’s all going to work, to do some coding and publish a functional prototype, and to write a set of requirements for a potential production deployment.

      • [Some] KDE Applications 19.04 also available in flathub

        The KDE Applications 19.04 release announcement (read it if you haven’t, it’s very complete) mentions some of the applications are available at the snap store, but forgets to mention flathub.

      • Fedora Community Blog: Fedora 30 Upgrade Test Day 2019-04-26

        Friday, 2019-04-26, is the Fedora 30 Upgrade Test Day!
        As part of this planned change for Fedora 30, we need your help to test if everything runs smoothly!

    • Debian Family
      • Sam Hartman is new leader of Debian GNU/Linux project

        After 19 years as a Debian developer, Sam Hartman has become the project leader, winning election to the post of leader and defeating three others in the process.
        A total of 378 developers out of 1003 voted in the election which was held over the last two weeks. Hartman, who is blind, was declared elected based on the Condorcet method which the project uses.

        Hartman’s term began on 21 April and will end on 20 April 2020. He has been a maintainer of the Kerberos software for Debian for many years.

        In his election manifesto, Hartman said he would like to keep the project as a fun place to be a developer.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Galaxy S9, S10, and Galaxy Tab S5e now have Linux on DeX

            Samsung’s latest flagships are so powerful you could almost use them as a portable PC. Actually, you already can if you don’t mind running Android in Samsung’s special DeX mode. But if you really wanted desktop applications, you’re mostly out of luck. Not unless you’re comfortable using Linux via Samsung’s still beta Linux on DeX. Fortunately, the company is now expanding support of that platform to its latest flagship smartphones and, surprisingly, its mid-range tablet as well.

          • Samsung brings Linux on DeX to more devices: Is your phone on the list?

            Samsung’s Linux on DeX is one of the coolest manufacturer initiatives around, bringing full-fledged Linux to the company’s desktop environment. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4 were the first devices to support the initiative, but the Korean manufacturer is expanding support this week.

            According to an official email sent to users, Linux on DeX is now available on the Galaxy S9 series, the Galaxy S10 range (including the Galaxy S10e and 5G model), and the Galaxy Tab S5e.

            This makes for a pretty big expansion, although the Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy Note 8, and the company’s new crop of A-series devices are left in the lurch. Still, you have to give kudos to Samsung for bringing Linux to DeX in the first place, especially when Huawei doesn’t have Linux via its desktop mode.

          • Now you can use more Samsung phones, tablets as Linux desktop PCs

            Samsung’s Linux on DeX software lets you use a Samsung smartphone or tablet as a Linux desktop computer by connecting an external display, mouse, and keyboard and running the app.

            When the software launched last year it was only compatible with two devices — the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4.

            Now Samsung has rolled out an update that brings support for a bunch of additional Samsung devices released over the past few years.

          • Linux Now Available on More Phones with Samsung’s Latest DeX Update

            With this feature, Samsung basically enables Linux to run on its DeX platform, which allows a smartphone to double as a PC when connected to a bigger screen with a dedicated adapter.

            While the standard DeX version is available for all latest-generation Samsung phones, the Linux on DeX project advances slowly, so only a handful of models are supported for now.

          • Linux on DeX now supports the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Tab S5e, and Galaxy Note 8, and hints at upcoming Galaxy Tab S5 support

            Samsung DeX turns flagship Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets into portable PCs. In its first iteration, released alongside the Galaxy S8, DeX required dedicated hardware in the form of the DeX Station. With the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4, DeX no longer required a special dock and instead worked with supported USB Type-C to HDMI dongles. (Dockless DeX later made its way over to the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note 8, and Galaxy S8 with the One UI/Android Pie update.) Samsung has done a good job improving DeX on supported devices, but one of Samsung DeX’s best features—Linux on DeX—was only officially supported on the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4. Now, the latest Linux on DeX beta update officially adds support for the Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S10/S10+/S10e/S10 5G, and Galaxy Tab S5e.

          • Linux on DeX is now compatible with Galaxy S9, S10, and Tab S5e

            Linux on DeX, announced at a developer conference last year, is a program that lets you run Linux (Ubuntu, in this case) on your Samsung smartphone or tablet, turning it into a full-fledged computer. Initially, it only worked on the Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4, but with today’s update, both Galaxy S9 and S10 families are now supported (along with, for some reason, the mid-range Tab S5e).

          • 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo”

            On the surface, new versions of Ubuntu aren’t as big as they used to be. Like in the days before Canonical created its own Unity interface, the Ubuntu experience is now functionally similar to what you get in alternatives such as Fedora and openSUSE.

            But there are a few big reasons to be eager for what Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” has to offer, with some additions demonstrating just how nice it is to have Ubuntu desktop developers spending more time working directly on GNOME.

          • Women and Nonbinary People in Information Security: Sophia Sanles-Luksetich

            Sophia Sanles-Luksetich: I am a rookie information security consultant. I currently perform bug bounty triage for companies which I am not allowed to name, but let’s just say most folks have heard of these companies.

            Before I got into information security, I was an IT generalist who dabbled in a bit of programming, Linux and privacy. Ubuntu was actually my first OS. It’s funny to think now that my decision as a 12-year-old could have impacted my career so much ten years later.

            KC: I must admit that it’s unusual that Ubuntu was your first OS. But that’s great! I use Kubuntu on my work desktop. Did that make you delve into Debian a bit?

            SSL: Oh cool! I have dabbled with Debian a bit, but not as much as most folks would expect. I think I learned a lot more soft skills using Ubuntu at a young age. Like when I couldn’t download my favorite game as a kid, I spent hours reading error logs, documentation and forums to figure out how to get the game working on my computer. Open Source Software (OSS) is also very modular compared to a lot of closed source software, so learning how software is built on other software was a big help. Now everything is miles down a supply chain that most people can barely scratch the surface of, at least in my opinion.

            [...]

            KC: Excellent. How did you get into Ubuntu computing initially?

            SSL: We had a family computer that stopped working. Rather than buy a new Windows disk to fix it, I asked around to my friends. Funny enough, one of my friend’s dad worked in information security, and I played board games with him and his son. I asked his son to give me a copy, and he messed it up by downloading it onto the CD rather than doing an image transfer. Lucky for me, I had a bit more a competent IT friend, Rikki, who ripped me a fresh CD. It’s funny, too; she was a lot more like me then, I thought. We both started in theater and ended up getting into computers just because they are resourceful and we were both people who loved the convenience for record keeping. I think what got me into OSS, to begin with, was the idea that I never had to pay for it. I am a cheapskate. I can think of a good chunk of my IT experience that I learned by trying to get something for free. I learned how to torrent, how to not screw up your computer on harmful sites. Always a fun time!

            [...]

            SSL: I think if I could give one piece of advice to new cybersecurity folks, I would tell them all to volunteer at conferences and talk to the attendees. You will learn a lot just by talking to people in the field. Oh, and of course, don’t discount soft skills and the fundamentals.

          • How developers are using Intel’s AI tools to make planet Earth a better place

            Biswas first gathered plant data from Google images, then used TensorFlow (widely-used machine learning framework in the deep learning space) and Open Vino (Intel’s neural network optimisation toolkit) to build an AI model. Once the images and videos of plants were captured the model is used to identify the cause of the disease, possible cures and preventive measures. To run these solutions, Biswas used Intel 7th Gen i5 NUC mini PC.

            [...]

            Ma took a digital microscope and connected it to a modestly powerful Ubuntu based laptop with Intel’s Neural Compute Stick connected to it. The entire system cost less than $500. The neural network at the heart of the system was able to successfully determine the shape, colour, density, and edges of the Escherichia coli (E. coli) and the bacteria that causes cholera.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 575
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 575
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Kubuntu 19.04 Ships with KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop, Experimental Wayland Session

              Featuring the same internal changes as Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), the Kubuntu 19.04 operating system is here to offers users an updated KDE experience powered by the KDE Plasma 5.15.4 desktop environment and KDE Applications 18.12.3 software suite, built against the Qt 5.12.2 application framework.

              Of course, several of the pre-installed applications have received updated versions as part of the Kubuntu 19.04 release, including Mozilla Firefox 66.0 as default web browser and LibreOffice 6.2.2 as default office suite. The Latte Dock 0.8.8, KDevelop 5.3.2, and Krita 4.1.7 apps are also available.

            • Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 Final Now Available for Download!

              In April 19th, 2019, We are glad to announce the official release of opensource operating system Ubuntu Kylin 19.04(Disco Dingo). In this version, OS stability is our first goal to obtain. In order to provide a better experience for users, a series of improvements are made on system kernel, basic service, desktop environment and specialized apps. In addition, other opensource distribution such as Ubuntu 19.04、Lubuntu 19.04 and Ubuntu Mate 19.04 are released in the same time.

            • Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 Adds a New Visual Experience, Latest WPS Office Suite

              Featuring the same internal improvements as the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system, Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 shops with a fresh and all-new visual experience through a unified style that revamps the boot animation, login and lock screens, adds a transparency effect to the applications menu, notification area, and taskbar, as well as other smaller enhancements.

              “We are bringing a whole new visual experience in this distribution, from system choice, boot up animation, log in program to system desktop, a unified style is presented. Amazing transparency effect is utilized on start menu, taskbar and notification area, give your desktop a sense of technology,” reads the release announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Hydroelectricity and transmission planning in Chile use open source geospatial tools

    From 2014 and 2017, I had the good fortune of working with a multidisciplinary team in Chile, building decision support tools to facilitate the planning of hydroelectric capacity as an alternative to fossil-fuel based thermoelectric capacity. Our job was also to aid in the design of transmission line corridors. Transmission lines carry “bulk electricity” from where the electricity is generated to where it is consumed. Those lines are strung from towers that are placed within transmission corridors, where vegetation and access are managed for safety. In many countries, the location of these corridors is carefully planned in order to take into account engineering feasibility as well as social, cultural, environmental and other economic factors.

    Earlier, I wrote about the hydroelectric capacity planning exercise, but the transmission corridor planning projects came along later, and in the context of those projects, we learned more about the valuation framework we used and about how open source software provided great solutions for scenario generation and testing and general trade-off analysis. I’ll revisit those details here.

  • The State of Neural Machine Translation for Asian Languages

    Open source for Asian language NLP is getting more and more active, but it would be useful to have more projects that are both frequently updated and popular. Sometimes, code licensing plays a negative role, because many old projects are GPL (General Public License). Jieba, Rakuten MA, KoNLPy are some frequently-used libraries for CJK (Chinese-Japanese-Korean) NLP. (Lucy Park is a KoNLPy developer.)

  • Will your organization change itself to death?

    Organizations, open or otherwise, cannot spend every moment changing themselves. For one thing, doing so would mean abandoning whatever mission they purport to have. As the saying goes, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” That adage, while most common in the context of political beliefs, is applicable here too.

  • Open source may be the future, but very few are writing it

    Open source may dominate the software we use to power the cloud, AI, and more, but a small percentage of developers do most of the coding. While it has long been true that for any given open source project, the vast majority of core contributions come from a cabal of committed developers, it seemed like the popularity of using open source would bleed into writing open source. Nope.

  • Events
    • Richard Stallman – “Free Software and Your Freedom” (Zurich, Switzerland)
    • SUSE CaaS Platform at Open Infrastructure Summit

      If you’re attending Open Infrastructure Summit this year and have in previous years as well, you might be noticing something a bit different; this year it’s not called OpenStack Summit. While we expect much of the talk will still be about OpenStack, we thought it might be a good idea to include other related technologies as well, like SUSE CaaS Platform, SUSE Cloud Application Platform – the two offerings that combine to form SUSE’s Application Delivery solution – and SUSE Enterprise Storage

    • Gearing Up for Linux Fest Northwest 2019!

      This next weekend (April 26-28th, 2019) I will be in Bellingham at Bellingham Technical College for Linux Fest Northwest to help at the Ubuntu table! I will be demonstrating Ubuntu Studio and my au…

    • Ubuntu Studio at Linux Fest Northwest 2019

      Council Chair Erich Eickmeyer will be in Bellingham, WA, USA this weekend for Linux Fest Northwest 2019, and will be bringing his audio setup to demonstrate Ubuntu Studio at the Ubuntu table. Check out the post on his personal blog!

  • Web Browsers
    • viewport and iphone reflow

      Something that’s annoyed me for some years is that all the web sites I build don’t work quite right with my iphone. Scroll down a page, visit a link, go back, and safari jumps back to the top of the page. Very annoying. Pretty much no other site I visit seems to have this problem, yet I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong since I’m barely doing anything at all. There are some support forum complaints about similar bugs, but mostly from several years ago, and mostly “solved: it works now” without explanation.

      Finally, figured out what seems to be the problem. The iphone introduces its own viewport meta tag, to define the screen dimensions, and control whether the user can zoom or not. A lot of sites abuse this to the point of unusability, so I very determinedly stayed clear. But without a viewport tag, safari is really dumb.

    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla VR Blog: VoxelJS: Chunking Magic

        A couple of weeks ago I relaunched VoxelJS with modern ThreeJS and modules support. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how VoxelJS works internally, specifically how voxels are represented and drawn. This is the key magic part of a voxel engine and I owe a tremendous debt to Max Ogden, James Halliday and Mikola Lysenko

        Voxels are represented by numbers in a large three dimensional array. Each number says what type of block goes in that block slot, with 0 representing empty. The challenge is how to represent a potentially infinite set of voxels without slowing the computer to a crawl. The only way to do this is to load just a portion of the world at a time.

      • AiC: Collaborative summary documents

        One of my goals was that we could, at least for a moment, disconnect people from their particular position and turn their attention towards the goal of achieving a shared and complete summary. I didn’t feel that we were very succesful in this goal.

        For one thing, most participants simply left comments on parts they disagreed with; they didn’t themselves suggest alternate wording. That meant that I personally had to take their complaint and try to find some “middle ground” that accommodated the concern but preserved the original point. This was stressful for me and a lot of work. More importantly, it meant that most people continued to interact with the document as advocates for their point-of-view, rather than trying to step back and advocate for the completeness of the summary.

        In other words: when you see a sentence you disagree with, it is easy to say that you disagree with it. It is much harder to rephrase it in a way that you do agree with – but which still preserves (what you believe to be) the original intent. Doing so requires you to think about what the other person likely meant, and how you can preserve that.

        However, one possible reason that people may have been reluctant to offer suggestions is that, often, it was hard to make “small edits” that addressed people’s concerns. Especially early on, I found that, in order to address some comment, I would have to make larger restructurings. For example, taking a small sentence and expanding it to a bullet point of its own.

        Finally, some people who were active on the thread didn’t participate in the doc. Or, if they did, they did so by leaving comments on the original GitHub thread. This is not surprising: I was asking people to do something new and unfamiliar. Also, this whole process played out relatively quickly, and I suspect some people just didn’t even see the document before it was done.

        If I were to do this again, I would want to start it earlier in the process. I would also want to consider synchronous meetings, where we could go try to process edits as a group (but I think it would take some thought to figure out how to run such a meeting).

        In terms of functioning asynchronously, I would probably change to use a Google Doc instead of a Dropbox Paper. Google Docs have a better workflow for suggesting edits, I believe, as well, as a richer permissions model.

        Finally, I would try to draw a harder line in trying to get people to “own” the document and suggest edits of their own. I think the challenge of trying to neutrally represent someone else’s point of view is pretty powerful.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!

        Bugfixes + enabling the new security feature for API keys.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Fauxpen source is bad for business

      Open source software is amazing. This emergent phenomenon of human collaboration, enabled by the internet, makes it possible for organizations of every size—including for-profit businesses—to get more done, faster, with less friction and with more predictability. It’s the foundation of our digital economy.

      Proprietary software is fine. It is what it is. Sure, it lacks the collaborative advantages of open source software, but at least it does what it says on the tin. Pay me this, I’ll give you that, and you can use it according to this specific license we negotiate.

  • BSD
    • Categorizing OpenBSD Bugs

      I thought it would be interesting to see if something similar were true of OpenBSD bugs. I went through two years of OpenBSD errata for the most recent four releases (6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4) and categorized each bug.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Apple Sued By New York Teen For $1 Billion For False Theft Charges

    Apple Sued” is a headline that made the rounds recently with the ongoing tussle between the iPhone maker and Qualcomm. However, this time an 18-year old teenager named Ousmane Bah has sued Apple for $1 billion over false theft charges.

    Ousmane Bah’s lawyer is taking the tech giant to court for continuous harassment from Apple, which allegedly wasn’t able to look at the photo and identify the person involved in a series of thefts in different Apple stores.

  • Apple Face-Recognition Blamed by New York Teen for False Arrest

    A New York student sued Apple Inc. for $1 billion, claiming the company’s facial-recognition software falsely linked him to a series of thefts from Apple stores.

    Ousmane Bah, 18, said he was arrested at his home in New York in November and charged with stealing from an Apple store. The arrest warrant included a photo that didn’t resemble Bah, he said in a lawsuit filed Monday. One of the thefts he was charged with, in Boston, took place on the day in June he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan, he said.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Most Horrifying Look at Monsanto Yet

      “Fear is the best weapon to awaken the reader,” says Samanta Schweblin, the acclaimed Argentine author of “Fever Dream.” “Fear is what makes you drop a book and run to your computer to Google what is happening, and think, ‘Can this happen to me? Is this really happening?’”

      “Fever Dream” certainly terrified readers across the globe after it was translated from Spanish into more than a dozen languages over the past few years. It was first published in English in 2017 and received ample critical acclaim, in part due to her considerable talent as a writer, but also due to the timeliness of the subject at hand: the horrors companies such as agrochemical giant Monsanto have inflicted on the planet and us all.

      In her novella, however, Schweblin never names Monsanto, but rather tells the spine-chilling tale of Amanda, a city-dweller, mysteriously dying during a vacation to the countryside. Where does this horror story take place? you may ask. The answer is anywhere, given the multinational company’s harrowing reach. On her deathbed, Amanda is visited by a child who attempts to lead her and, perhaps more importantly, Schweblin’s readers, toward the realization that is likely on the tip of many readers’ tongues as the seemingly fictional ailments and occurrences start to form a familiar pattern. Wake up, the ghostly David seems to tell us as we all lie on our laurels during the planet’s death throes. “That’s the story we need to understand […] Don’t get distracted,” the child repeats over and over.

      It is precisely as the global public begins to wake up, in large part thanks to young activists such as the courageous Greta Thunberg, to the barbarous damage done to the planet in the name of boundless greed that stories such as Schweblin’s can become an important tool in the fight against climate inaction. But this fever dream that feels inescapable currently is not just about climate change. According to writer Patricia Stuelke, “the recent resurgence of horror in feminist literary fiction in Argentina [and] the United States,” of which she considers Schweblin’s “Fever Dream” a prime example, is also undeniably a product of capitalism. Schweblin’s work,

    • The Coming Ebola Epidemic

      The Ebola epidemic in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 left more than 11,000 dead and panicked the American public when a few isolated cases turned up on U.S. soil. By the time the outbreak was contained, the international community had learned valuable lessons about how to combat the virus.

      Now, a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is testing that knowledge — and the political will of the global community to mount a robust response.

      With more than 830 deaths since August 2018, the epidemic in northeastern DRC is the second-largest recorded, behind the multi-country epidemic in West Africa. The DRC outbreak has not yet crossed international borders. Moreover, responders are applying new solutions, including a vaccine that has proved effective.

      But many health experts argue that the threat is underestimated, leading to a dangerously inadequate global response.

    • The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order

      In November 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry declared: “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” The reality of Obama administration policy did not entirely support this assertion; there was the executive order against Venezuela in 2015, support for the coup in Honduras in 2009, and ominously close ties with right-wing governments across the region. But with other more encouraging steps such as the normalization of relations with Cuba and the (belated) show of support for the Colombian Peace Process, there were at least some modest steps towards greater mutual respect for national sovereignty in the Hemisphere. Then came the unexpected election of Donald Trump. Though throughout his election campaign he expressed a preference for US isolationism and opposition to senseless war, once in office he appointed the very neoconservative war hawks he had earlier criticized for engineering such foreign debacles as the disastrous invasion of Iraq. His appointments to hemispheric policy posts have been the least encouraging, with figures such as the convicted criminal Elliot Abrams reemerging from obscurity to saber-rattle against traditional Latin American foes. Ever since Trump entered the White House, there has been a growing sense that the Monroe Doctrine is back. Now, that suspicion has been confirmed. On April 17, National Security Advisor John Bolton said: “Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.”

  • Security
    • Daniel Stenberg: curl + hackerone = TRUE

      There seems to be no end to updated posts about bug bounties in the curl project these days. Not long ago I mentioned the then new program that sadly enough was cancelled only a few months after its birth.

      Now we are back with a new and refreshed bug bounty program! The curl bug bounty program reborn.

    • Liz Fong-Jones on how to secure SSH with Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

      Liz mentions that by adding passphrase encryption, the private keys become resistant to theft when at rest. However, when they are in use, the usability challenges of re-entering the passphrase on every connection means that “engineers began caching keys unencrypted in memory of their workstations, and worse yet, forwarding the agent to allow remote hosts to use the cached keys without further confirmation”.

      The Matrix breach, which took place on April 11 showcases an example of what happens when authenticated sessions are allowed to propagate without a middle-man. The intruder in the Matrix breach had access to the production databases, potentially giving them access to unencrypted message data, password hashes, and access tokens.

    • Hacking With Kali Linux

      Before I talk about the series that I am going to start, let us briefly talk about who should follow this series.

      I know there are so many people out there who are very curious to learn hacking just to hack their partner’s social media account. Well, if you are such a person, please listen to me. Hacking is not about getting into somebody’s personal life and steal their information. It is illegal.

      Somebody well said – “We need to have a talk on the subject of what’s yours and what’s mine.”

      So you should not hack information that is not yours.

      ​But if you are a tech enthusiast who wants to make a career as a penetration tester or white hat hacker, this series can be really a good way to start. So for such enthusiasts, I am creating a page where you can follow the series. You can also follow our social media pages so you get a notification when a new informative article comes out.

    • Bug in French government’s WhatsApp replacement let anyone join Élysée chats

      Tchap is not intended to be a classified communications system—it runs on regular Android phones and uses the public Internet. But as the DINSIC, the French inter-ministry directorate for information systems that runs Tchap put it, Tchap “is an instant messenger allowing government employees to exchange real-time information on everyday professional issues, ensuring that the conversations remain hosted on the national territory.” In other words, it’s to keep official government business off of Facebook’s and Telegram’s servers outside France.

      Based on the Riot.im chat application from the open source project Matrix, Tchap is officially still in “beta,” according to DINSIC. And that beta test is getting off to a rough start. Within two days, French security researcher Baptiste Robert—who goes by the Twitter handle @fs0c131y (aka Elliot Alderson)—had tapped into Tchap and subsequently viewed all of the internal “public” discussion channels hosted by the service.

    • Reset Email Account Passwords After a Website Malware Infection
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-Supported Coup

      Calling ourselves the Embassy Protection Collective, we have been working in the embassy during the day, holding educational events every evening, making banners and signs, and sleeping on couches at night. The evening events have included seminars on Julian Assange, US foreign policy in Africa, the history of Venezuela, and update on Honduras and El Salvador. The night before we expect the embassy takeover to occur, April 24, we will have a talk by former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, who will give an insider’s view of US regime change operations.

      The Embassy Protectors also decorated the Embassy with signs and banners that are giving the Georgetown neighbors a good education. A large banner right above the Venezuelan flag says “End the Deadly Sanctions.” Two placards are bolted on the wall next to the stately building columns: One is an “imperial checklist” about how to orchestrate a coup, another shows the consequences of some of the past US interventions. Thirty-two signs are in the windows, giving a chronology of the attempted Venezuelan coup. The banner that evokes the most curiosity from passersby is the iconic “Eyes of Chavez” – a design representing Hugo Chavez’s piercing eyes that is painted on murals all over Venezuela.

      The Collective has good reason to believe the embassy is under attack. On March 18, representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took over the military attaché building on 2409 California St. in Washington DC, with the help of the DC Police and Secret Service. On that same day, they also took over the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City.

    • To Reassert Congressional War Authority, Sanders Demands Vote to Override Trump Veto on Yemen

      Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday called on his fellow members of Congress to come together and override President Donald Trump’s veto of the historic Yemen War Powers resolution.

      “The president’s action is a very serious challenge to congressional authority that demands a response,” the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender said in a dear colleague letter.

      The Yemen resolution aims to end U.S. complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. Its passage of the House and Senate marked the first time Congress has invoked the 1973 War Powers Act.

    • Lessons of the past

      As a history student years ago I remember our teacher explaining how past events are linked to what happens in the future. He told us human behaviour always dictates that events will repeat in a similar way as before. I remember we studied 20th century history and discussed World War I and the links to World War II.

      At this time, we were in the middle of the Cold War and in unchartered waters and I couldn’t really link past events to what was likely to happen next.

      Back then I guess like many I considered US presidents more as statesman. They talked tough on the Soviet Union but they talked peace too. So, the threat to humanity was very different then to now. Dangerous but perhaps a stable kind of dangerous.

    • North Korea Leader Kim to Meet With Putin in Russia

      North Korea on Tuesday confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un will soon visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. The summit would come at a crucial moment for tenuous diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear arsenal, following a recent North Korean weapons test that likely signals Kim’s growing frustration with deadlocked negotiations with Washington.

      The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency released a terse, two-sentence statement that announced Kim “will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation,” and that he and Putin “will have talks.” A date for the meeting was not immediately released, and it wasn’t clear if Kim would fly or take his armored train. There are some indications that the meeting will be held in the far-eastern port of Vladivostok, not too far from Russia’s border with the North.

      The Kremlin said in a brief statement last week that Kim will visit Russia “in the second half of April,” but gave no further details.

      Russia is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang covets Russia’s electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.

    • Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found

      The possibility exists that the Pentagon is being as honest here as it was about Iraqi WMDs, and that recruiters’ difficulties in recent years are not due to schools’ policies, but rather to the low unemployment rate and the unpopularity of participating in endless brutal wars that serve no clear purpose, increase hostility toward the United States, and leave participants at heightened risk of death, physical injury, brain damage, PTSD, moral injury, violent crime, homelessness, and suicide.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Appeals court turns down Manning appeal over contempt in WikiLeaks probe

      A federal appeals court has turned down former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s bid to overturn a contempt order that led to her jailing for refusing to answer questions from a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      Manning’s lawyers said a district court judge ignored her claims that she was subjected to illegal electronic surveillance after her conviction at a court-martial in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military reports to WikiLeaks.

    • In Rejecting Chelsea Manning’s Appeal, Court Essentially Ignores All Arguments For Release From Jail

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from Chelsea Manning, which challenged a district court’s order that found her in civil contempt.

      On March 8, a federal district court jailed Manning for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks. She was held in prolonged solitary confinement for around 27 days before authorities at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center moved her to general population.

      Judges for the appeals court offered no explanation [PDF] as to why they believed a lower court committed no error in finding Manning in civil contempt. They also provided no reasons for why it was justified to keep Manning in jail.

      “Appellant Manning argues on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion concerning electronic surveillance, failed to properly address the issue of grand jury abuse, and improperly sealed the courtroom during substantial portions of the hearing,” the appeals court acknowledged.

      “Upon consideration of the memorandum filed on appeal and the record of proceedings in the district court, the court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt,” the appeals court added. “The court also denies the appellant’s motion for release on bail.”

      Manning alleged the government engaged in “intrusive surveillance” against her “including surveillance vans parked outside her apartment, federal agents following her, and strangers attempting to goad her into an absurdly contrived conversation about selling dual-use technologies to foreign actors.”

    • “I Will Not Give Up”: Appeals Court Rejects Chelsea Manning’s Bid for Release

      Chelsea Manning remained in jail on Monday after a federal appeals court rejected her bid to be released and affirmed a lower court’s finding of contempt.

      The whistleblower was sent to jail March 8, and has spent part of the detention in solitary confinement for contempt due to her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      “Appellant Manning argues on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion concerning electronic surveillance, failed to properly address the issue of grand jury abuse, and improperly sealed the courtroom during substantial portions of the hearing,” the order from three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated.

      “Upon consideration of the memorandum briefs filed on appeal and the record of proceedings in the district court, the court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt. The court also denies appellant’s motion for release on bail,” it stated.

      The court order comes less than two weeks after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadoran embassy in London and arrested by British police. As The Hill reported, the two cases are intertwined.

    • Appeals Court Rejects Chelsea Manning’s Effort to Leave Jail

      A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to be released from jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

      The three-paragraph, unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejects both Manning’s argument that she was erroneously found in civil contempt of court and her request for bail while the contempt decision is litigated.

      Manning has been jailed at the Alexandria Detention Center since March 8 after refusing to testify to the Wikileaks grand jury.

      Since her incarceration, criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have been unsealed and U.S. officials have requested his extradition . Manning’s lawyers argued that her testimony is unnecessary in part because Assange has already been charged.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Way We Talk About Geoengineering Matters

      Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don’t yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.

      Models are representations of complex phenomena that are used to approximate outcomes. While they have limitations, they are an important tool to help scientists and decision makers understand potential futures based on scientific, technological and policy changes. With both potential and profound risks and uncertainties, we need more expansive modeling research on solar geoengineering techniques — not only to understand possible environmental impacts and risks, but political and social consequences as well.

    • 1,000+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Protests in London Enter Second Week

      Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.

      Police removed protesters from Oxford Circus Saturday, and from the roads Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge Sunday. The last person to be arrested clearing the bridge was a 70-year-old woman who had been arrested once before during the protests at Oxford Circus.

    • Dallas Goldtooth: Hold Banks Accountable for Financing Climate Chaos & Violating Indigenous Rights

      As millions celebrate Earth Day around the globe, we speak with organizer Dallas Goldtooth about indigenous-led anti-pipeline activism in the United States. President Trump signed two executive orders earlier this month to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate such projects. The move is intended in part to clear the way for permitting on the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has stalled after New York invoked the Clean Water Act to reject the project on environmental grounds. This comes as climate activists have filed a federal lawsuit with the ACLU challenging three South Dakota laws that they say violate the First Amendment rights of anti-pipeline organizers. Dallas Goldtooth is one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit and an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network.

    • Earth Day 2019: Our Planet in Peril

      Today marks the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day. This comes 50 years after the Santa Barbara oil spills which were instrumental in the declaration of the first Earth Day. The fate of our planet remains threatened by two inextricably connected threats, that of climate change and nuclear war. We cannot pretend to be concerned about our environment if we are not simultaneously concerned about the destruction of the planet by nuclear war.

      Fortunately, on this anniversary there are two bold initiatives attempting to deal with these simultaneous climate threats. These are the “Green New Deal” and “Back from the Brink” movements. Realizing the connection, what is necessary is the political will and courage to deal with these real and present dangers we face.

    • ‘Increase the Protests, Expand the Civil Disobedience’: The New Urgency of Earth Day

      It’s been nearly 50 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States, but the increasing urgency now at the heart of the global climate justice movement is making the once radical environmental holiday seem nearly quaint by comparison.

      The environmental movement has grown in recent years, driven by an urgency fueled by scientific warnings and a generation of inaction.

      In a Los Angeles Times op-ed Monday, Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the lessons of the past can help the modern environmental movement make a difference in more dire circumstances.

      “The effort Earth Day kicked off relied on grassroots citizen activism forged in the 1960s movements for civil rights, women’s rights and opposition to the Vietnam War,” said Suh. “It was about empowering people who’d not been heard to stand up, speak out and work for change.”

      “A half-century later,” Suh said, “we must listen again to the voices that have been silenced too long, from people of color, low-income communities, indigenous people and others who often pay the highest price for environmental hazard and harm.”

    • To Save Humanity and Planet, Says Climate Activist, ‘We Must Go Straight to the Heart of Capitalism and Overthrow It’

      While comedian and television host James Corden described the clip as “brilliant” when it first surfaced earlier this month, the salient message from author and activist George Monbiot about the need to radically upend and intensify the response to the climate crisis remains central to those around the world who have long recognized how the rapacious drive of capitalism has been a key accelerator of human-caused global warming.

      “What we have to do is big structural, political economic stuff,” Monbiot answered during his recent appearance on “Frankie Boyle’s New World Order,” a humorous news show in the UK, when asked what must be done to address the problem of a rapidly warming planet.

      According to Monbiot—who has recently championed the idea of harnessing nature’s power to not only stop but reverse the impacts of carbon pollution—ideas like getting consumers to change their light bulbs or end use of certain kinds of ear cleaners is not going to cut it.

      “We have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth,” Monbiot explained. “I mean since when was GDP a sensible measure of human welfare?”

      In conclusion, he says, there is simply no longer room for half measures or weak-kneed responses to the existential crisis of the climate emergency.

      “We’ve got to start ramping down all fossil fuel production and leave fossil fuels in the ground,” he declared. “There’s time, but we can’t do it by just pissing around at the margins. We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.”

    • Earth Day Under Trump: Nearly 50 Years Later, an Environment Movement Under Attack

      Current talk of the Green New Deal or the GOP alternative Green Real Deal notwithstanding, the political contrast between the first Earth Day in 1970 and this year’s Earth Day is stark. While some still debate Nixon’s environmental record, there is no ambiguity in president Trump’s. He is sounding the retreat, not leading the charge.

      When the first Earth Day was proclaimed in April of 1970, Nixon was working on the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and before the year was over, Nixon would sign the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970 into law. The Trump administration’s environmental outlook, however, is the mirror image opposite of Nixon’s.

      Last month, the UN’s sixth Global Environment Outlook report, or GEO-6 for short, warned that environmental degradation is “endangering the ecological foundations of society,” and called for “bold, urgent, sustainable and inclusive action.”

      At the White House, GEO-6 was dead on arrival, as the Trump administration was busy unveiling a budget proposal that would slash funds for fighting climate change and other environmental hazards.

    • Three Earth Day Lessons for Green New Deal Activists

      In April 1970, about 20 million Americans turned out for the first Earth Day, attending speeches, demonstrations and other community-based events in what the New York Times called “among the most participatory political actions in the nation’s history.”
      Nearly 50 years on, the movement spawned by that historic gathering is rallying around calls for a Green New Deal to embody the aggressive action required to fight global climate change, create good-paying jobs and advance a more just and equitable society.

      As Congress begins crafting legislation to turn those bold aspirations into law, the original Earth Day provides three key lessons.

      First, national movements are born of local concerns.

      In the year before the first Earth Day, industrial pollution was so bad in Ohio that the Cuyahoga River caught fire. An estimated 3.3 million gallons of oil spilled along the Santa Barbara coast killing thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals. Acid rain was taking out Adirondack forests. Every car in America was spewing lead into the air we breathed.

    • Extinction Aversion

      Man made climate change has appeared to me for three decades to be sufficiently proven, and it has that cardinal virtue of a scientific hypothesis, you can see the things which it predicts will happen, come to pass before your eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday.

      Direct action of the illegal kind is a very important weapon in the arsenal of protest. It represents a challenge to the state’s monopoly of force. While it may appear non-violent, in fact by imposing your body into a space and blocking it off, that is an assertion of physical force. What the Extinction Rebellion protests showed this week was the reticence of the Metropolitan Police in dealing with nice, middle class and largely white protestors. That reticence is to be welcomed; the fact that it is not extended to other groups is what is to be deplored. The alternative is to argue for everyone to get beaten up by Plod equally, which is not a sensible line to take.

      I broadly support the Extinction Rebellion protest. In terms of gatecrashing climate change on to the political agenda, they have had a good and entirely necessary effect. Their use of what was in effect force, certainly did some harm in restricting the movement of people around London, and in some cases will have impacted the ability of struggling people to earn their living. It also disrupted public transport systems which are a good thing. But these are minor items if you accept that climate change is whirling its way to becoming an existential threat – and that is a premise which I do accept. The disruption is outweighed by the intent to do a much greater good, in terms of the justification of the people doing the protesting. Whether it succeeds in prompting real action by government and achieving a balance of good, is a different question. I fear we have to get rid of the Tories first.

    • Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too

      As conceived so far, adaptive management implies adaptation by land management agencies such as the USDA Forest Service. By now, it’s clear as clear can be that, among others, the Forest Service simply must adapt to the new conditions of heat and drought driven by emissions from consumer and industrial combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas. Taken down to cases, the agency must adapt by recognizing which species are unlikely to persist under increasing emissions, and by shifting its management emphasis to species that might hang in there.

      At least some in the Forest Service “get it.” For example, consider this November 1, 2016 assessment by Randy Johnson, U.S. Forest Service Research and Development Program: “Forests are changing in ways they’ve never experienced before because today’s growing conditions are different from anything in the past. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate.” Johnson thus asks, “When replanting a forest after disturbances, does it make sense to try to reestablish what was there before? Or, should we find re-plant material that might be more appropriate to current and future conditions of a changing environment?”

  • Finance
    • Things Didn’t Go Well When Betsy DeVos Was Confronted With Her Department’s Charter School Fraud

      During a series of recent congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to respond to a recent report finding the U.S. Department of Education has been scammed for hundreds of millions of dollars by fraudulent or mismanaged charter schools. Her responses reveal not only her inability to counter legitimate concerns over the spread of charter schools but also the charter school industry’s resistance to honestly address a chronic problem with its schools.

      The report, which I co-authored with Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris, found that up to $1 billion awarded by the federal government’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) went to charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and fraud. Our calculation was that a least a third of the $4.1 billion spent by the CSP was wasted.

      Members of Congress repeatedly referred to these findings when questioning the secretary’s management of charter school grants and her proposal to increase funding for the program to $500 million annually. In response, DeVos first attempted to deny the problem, saying, “You are always going to have schools that don’t make it.”

      When Democratic representatives continued their questions, DeVos then tried to distract attention from the problem, arguing there was a need for “more” charters, “not less.”

      In the most recent exchange, DeVos pivoted to attacking the report authors personally rather than disproving their findings, saying, “The study was really funded by and promoted by those who have a political agenda against charter schools.”

      That final exchange in particular raised the hackles of my coauthor Burris, who quickly delved deeper into the data to find that incidents of financial fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the charter school grant program are likely worse than our first estimate.

    • Academia, Grassroots Organizations, and Debt

      What if the president of the United States, along with Congress, cancelled student debt and made public college tuition free? Just a few years ago, these goals would have seemed like the pie-in-the sky dreams of a marginal sect. Today, free public college is supported by major presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The idea of canceling student debt is also gaining traction, as several members of Congress have publicized their support for reducing or even eliminating a burden shared by more than 40 million people who are disproportionately black, brown, and poor.

      How did such a sea change occur in just a few years? While nominating and voting for candidates who support structural changes in the way we pay for and distribute public goods is important, organizing from the bottom up is critical to transformative change. Such work is a force that often goes unseen and undervalued until ideas generated in grassroots spaces emerge into mainstream discourse which has the effect of effacing their roots in a one-time radical fringe. In this piece, I want to focus on how activists and academics can come together to develop the capacities of grassroots organizing and thus bring such a vision closer to reality.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Social-Media Silence in Sri Lanka

      In the United States, a social-media blackout would be impossible and illegal. It would also be morally indefensible. In Sri Lanka—as in other places where speech is abridged—the standard defense is a threat to public order. Sri Lanka concluded its civil war, which killed one out of every 200 citizens, less than a decade ago, and the intercommunal violence could resume if the Bad Idea Factory of Facebook is allowed to ramp up production. When there is mass violence in the United States, we too risk stunning acts of retaliatory violence—torched churches, mass shootings. But the risks to Sri Lanka are much greater. You have not been stunned until you have been stunned by genocide.

    • The view from headquarters: How Zelenskiy’s and Poroshenko’s teams reacted on election night

      On April 21, several days before the official results of Ukraine’s presidential election are set to be announced, incumbent Petro Poroshenko admitted defeat and congratulated his rival, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on his victory. Now, the outgoing president is promising to build a powerful opposition for his successor while Zelenskiy’s supporters are divvying up cabinet posts to which they do not yet have a right. Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev reported from both campaigns’ headquarters on election day.

    • Face It, Repubs, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Way Smarter Than You Guys

      Memo to the Republican Party:

      You might want to stop messing with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

      She’s a freshman congresswoman with no significant legislative achievements, so it makes little sense that you spend so much time and energy on her. Besides, every time you do, you end up getting pantsed.

      You’d think you’d learn. Yet, like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football, you keep coming back for more.

      The latest example began when one of your rank-and-file, Rep. Sean Duffy, took aim at the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez’s wish list of social, economic and policy goals to stem the impact of climate change. He called it “elitist.”

      She responded forcefully. “You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist?” she said. “Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint, whose kids have their blood ascending in lead levels. … Call them elitist.”
      That speech prompted another of your members, Rep. Andy Barr, to issue a dare disguised as an invitation: “Come to Eastern Kentucky where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks,” he said. “… Go underground with me and meet the men and women who do heroic work to empower the American economy.”

    • The ‘Russiagate’ Conspiracy Theorists Just Can’t Let Go

      In the latest episode of “On Contact,” host and Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges sits down with Aaron Maté of The Nation to discuss the release of the Mueller report. Together, they explore how the liberal fixation on Russiagate has handed Donald Trump a massive gift ahead of the 2020 election, and how the Democratic Party has failed more broadly to offer a meaningful alternative to his political movement. Hedges also explains why Mueller’s findings “should end one of the most shameful periods in modern American journalism—one that rivals the mindless cheerleading for the Iraq War by most of the press.” Watch a video of their conversation above.
      COMMENTS

    • What the Mueller Report Tells Us About Campaign Finance Law and Foreign Interference

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election exposed vulnerabilities in our campaign finance system that extend beyond Russia. Neither foreign governments nor domestic billionaires are going to stop looking for ways to influence U.S. politics, and it is about time that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Congress step up.

      So what does the report tell us about our campaign finance laws, and how can these issues be addressed to protect the integrity of our elections?

      [...]

      Under current law, outside groups only have to report spending on digital ads when they expressly advocate for or against candidates. Most of Russia’s ads didn’t meet that standard. Even those ads that Mueller characterized as “overtly oppos[ing] the Clinton Campaign”—like one that pictured Clinton and read “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president, that day would be a real national tragedy”—may not be considered express advocacy by the FEC.

      If ads like this one had been run on TV, however, they would have been subject to legal disclosure requirements because they would have qualified as “electioneering communications.” Electioneering communications are currently defined by the FEC as broadcast—but not digital —ads run near an election that name a candidate, and are targeted to that candidate’s voters, even if they don’t expressly tell viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

      Russia was not alone in exploiting these digital ad disclosure loopholes. According to a peer-reviewed study by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Young Mie Kim, 25 percent of Facebook political ads that ran in the final weeks of the 2016 election mentioned candidates and would have been subject to disclosure as electioneering communications if aired on TV.

      Congress and the FEC failed to close these loopholes in the wake of 2016, so our system maintained the same vulnerabilities going into the 2018 midterms. And, indeed, groups looked for new ways to exploit them: Campaign Legal Center identified that the Democratic dark money group Majority Forward ran an online ad campaign targeted at voters in states with competitive Senate seats, but did so without reporting that spending to the FEC and without telling viewers that the ads were paid for by Majority Forward.

    • Mueller Went Looking for a Conspiracy, What He Found Was Conflict and a Cover-Up — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      The Mueller report puts the terms of Trump’s most infamous Trump Tower deal side by side with a failed prior deal with the family of Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. In doing so, it proposes an answer to why Trump chose to move forward with Rozov: he offered Trump a much better deal.

      In fact, Cohen said the tower overall “was potentially a $1 billion deal.” Under the terms of the agreement, the Trump Organization would get an upfront fee, a share of sales and rental revenue, and an additional 20% of the operating profit. The deal offered by the well-known Agalarov developers, in contrast, would have brought in a flat 3.5%. We’d tried to reach Rozov to talk about the deal for our earlier reporting. He never responded.

      For Trump, this agreement promised to be the deal of a lifetime.

    • GOP Donors Who Scorned Trump in 2016 Are Giving Him Big Bucks in 2020

      The Never Trumpers, those Republicans who pledged never to align themselves with the President, are jumping ship. An early April edition of a Gallup tracking poll found 89% of Republican respondents support Donald Trump. The trend continued this week, as Politico reported that a number of wealthy Republicans who declined to support Trump in the 2016 election “are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive that’s expected to dump tens of millions into his reelection coffers.”

      This fundraising effort, Politico writer Alex Isenstadt continued, involves former donors to George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. It is also modeled after the Pioneers network that helped lead Bush to victory in 2000, and will be formally announced on May 7, when, Isenstadt writes, “well-connected Republican fundraisers from around the country descend on Washington for a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides.”

      The fundraising push, Isenstadt observes, “illustrates how Trump, who once took a sledgehammer to rivals for their supposed fealty to big donors, has come to rely on a GOP establishment he once repudiated.” In addition, it also shows how much the top levels of the Republican fundraising world “has come to accept and accommodate a president it once scorned.”

      One prominent Republican fundraiser, Roy Bailey, told Politico that over 150 people have signed to the Trump Victory program, including funders who had previously, even vehemently, rejected Trump in 2016: “I’ve had a couple of people that in 2016, they just weren’t on board with candidate Trump at all and they said, ‘Look, Roy, he has won me over. I’m all in,’” Bailey added.

    • America Has Already Fired Trump!

      The question on everyone’s mind is whether Trump will be impeached. In other words, will America fire Trump?

      Well, I have news for you. America has already fired him.

      When the public fires a president before election day – as it did with Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover– they don’t send him a letter telling him he’s fired. They just make him irrelevant. Politics happens around him, despite him. He’s not literally gone, but he might as well be.

      [...]

      Even America’s adversaries just humor him. Kim Jong Unand Xi Jinping give him tidbits to share with the American public, and then do whatever they want.

      Action and excitement have shifted elsewhere – to Democratic challengers, even to a 29-year-old freshman congresswoman too young to run for president.

      Energy is now coming from the grassroots – from people all over the country who are determined to reclaim our democracy and create an economy that works for all.

      According to polls, most Americans want Medicare-for-All and higher taxes on the wealthy. And they don’t want a wall along the southern border.

    • Stomach-Churning and Not Welcome: Telling It Like It Is

      Even in the wake of the (albeit Barr-scrubbed) Mueller report documenting multifarious crimes, lies, scams, cons, hustles and acts of obstruction, an astonishing number of Democrats and media outlets continue to hem and haw and hedge on just how God-awful/ impeachable the Great Impostor’s offenses are/aren’t. Long after publications finally got around to deeming thousands of in-your-face lies not “falsehoods” or “misstatements” but, duh, lies, many have continued dancing around the brute truth that there’s no legal, moral or civil low he won’t go – and no malfeasance Republicans will lift an odious finger to stop. There have been brave exceptions, like Elizabeth Warren’s unequivocal call for a Constitution-mandated impeachment and the L.A. Times’ take-no-prisoners, use-no-euphemisms Mueller coverage; their latest headline, “Report Exposes All the President’s Liars” – cousin to Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” – prompted one fan to note, “That’s how you report the news.”

    • The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice

      The Mueller report is out and if we learned anything from it, three things are clear. One, the Report changed few minds. Two, there was never a chance that Mueller would indict Trump. Three, Trump is so inept he cannot even effectively obstruct justice.

      The Mueller report came out Thursday morning–all 458 pages, single-spaced. It is a dense, detailed study rich in facts and explanations of law. But within less than one hour the media was already reporting on its contents or, better, asking experts or partisans what they thought. Often reporting was pulling out one line here or there and discussing it. For the most part, all this reporting and reaction was useless. To comment on a report when you have not read it is irresponsible, and even simply reading the executive summaries–as mostly were reported on–was similarly bad journalism or commentary.

      But equally, the early evidence on the reaction to the Mueller report has been that it changed the minds of no one. If the narrative before the Report was that Trump and his associates were guilty or they were not, the Report’s findings have not changed anyone’s mind. Perhaps t his is related to the fact that almost no one will read the report and judge it themselves. It is not a total vindication of Trump, and it is not a total condemnation of his administration. It is more nuanced.

      But in reading the Report, it is also clear that there was never a chance the president. When Mueller began his investigation, he started with the legal premise that a sitting president cannot be indicted for a crime. This belief was based on several Justice Department and Office of Legal Counsel memoranda from the Nixon to the Clinton era investigations holding this position. The Muller Report, volume II, page one states: “[T]his Office accepts the OLC’s legal conclusion for the purposes of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction.” This is a major point largely missed by everyone.

      The opening pages of part II of the Mueller report explains its legal reasoning. It notes the heavy burden placed upon a sitting president were he to be indicted for a crime. Second, the Report noted also ( page 2) it wanted to avoid the Nixon situation where a report concluded the president committed a crime but could not be indicted, resulting in him being named an “unindicted co-conspirator” as Nixon had been labeled. There is, according to the Report, no way the President could clear his name, again leaving a cloud over the presidency that could not be cleared. Better to indict and let the adversarial process render a verdict, or not indict than leave it in limbo.

    • Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats

      I have a suggestion for PPMB, the right-wing consulting firm whose CEO is running for president–and also Crazy Uncle Joe, who is apparently going to announce his run next week.

      You nitwits think you can run on the “I’ll bring everyone together. We’re not blue states or red states– we’re the UNITED states” message?

      Good luck with that. The Rock has been trying to do that for nearly three months. He’s getting crushed.

      “Right now what this country needs is not people having a race to the gutter, not a party that’s going to show the worst of who they are, not when they go low we go lower, not fighting fire with fire,” he said.

      What voters are looking for is someone who lives by the rules Sean Connery lays down in THE UNTOUCHABLES.

      After eight years watching Bill Clinton hand Republicans what they wanted most (shredding regulations and the safety net) and then watching Barack Obama roll over on his back and expose his tummy– hoping Republicans would scratch it– nobody is in the mood for saying “We’re all in this together.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Denmark’s Blaspheming Mother

      “This is a nightmare. We’re in shock,” Jaleh Tavakoli says. Last month, the 36-year-old Iranian-Danish critic of Islam received notification from Danish social services that she is no longer fit to care for the 8-year-old child she’s fostered since birth. Why? Tavakoli, a columnist and author, says it is because of her politically incorrect views on Islam. Social services maintains it is looking out for the best interest of a potentially vulnerable child. Tavakoli lives under security precautions, has been threatened on the streets of Copenhagen, and even survived a jihadist attack in 2015. As she prepares for the most difficult challenge of her life, Danish society must contend with the unprecedented challenge of where to draw the line when radical Islam intersects with free speech and children’s rights.

    • Twitter Permanently Suspends (Then Unsuspends) Lawyer For Telling NRA Supporters To ‘Fuck Off’ And ‘Own The Death’

      For all the talk of how Twitter supposedly is banning conservatives left and right (it’s not), the company is actually dealing with the impossibility of handling content moderation at scale. Adequately determining which content is “good” and which is “bad” is an impossible task.

      Let’s take an example case, which — at the very least — should show that Twitter isn’t just banning conservatives. The pseudonymous defense lawyer known as “bmaz” is probably known to many readers here. He’s been a long-time co-author of the Empty Wheel blog with Marcy Wheeler. He’s also a prolific and emotional tweeter. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I do not. When I do not, he doesn’t shy away from letting me hear about it, often expressing his opinions strongly — which is something I’ve always appreciated about bmaz. He may not be polite, but he’s direct and doesn’t hide his true feelings.

      And as of last week he was gone from Twitter. According to Scott Greenfield, bmaz has been “permanently” banned from Twitter. Why? Because he told a bunch of NRA supporters his general feelings towards their position, with two of them being “Own the death you piece of crap” and “You too are a fucking idiot asshole. As are your whole 62 followers. Fuck off.”

    • Scribd’s Takedown Of The Public Domain Mueller Report Is A Preview Of The EU’s Future Under The Copyright Directive

      For years now, people who understand this stuff have been screaming from the rooftops that automated filtering leads to all sorts of legitimate content being taken down — and yet, the EU went ahead and approved the EU Copyright Directive and its mandatory filters anyway (and, if you’re still repeating the lie that it does not require filters, a quick reminder that multiple politicians who supported the Directive have now admitted that of course it requires filters, so don’t even bother).

      And it didn’t take long for a new example of why demanding filters for copyright purposes is incredibly stupid. Last Thursday, the DOJ finally released the redacted version of the Mueller Report. The document is obviously in the public domain as a work of the federal government — and tons of publishers rushed to get book versions on store shelves as they do with every big government report, often turning them into best sellers, despite their availability for free.

      Among the many places that the digital version of the report was made available was Scribd, the sort of Youtube-for-PDFs that remains annoying but very popular. And what happened? Well, of course, Scribd took the report down claiming it violated someone’s copyright.

    • Episode 24: Janice Domingo interviews Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III and Dr. Nolan Higdon

      On this very special episode of Along the Line, host Janice Domingo interviews here co-hosts Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III and Dr. Nolan Higdon about a litany of issues social media; Venezuela; Education; Journalism; Iraq War; September 11, 2001; Corporate Media; Post-truth; Orwell; Race Relations; and Media Consumption.

    • ‘Knock Down the House’: Netflix Drops Trailer Featuring Rise of Ocasio-Cortez

      An “inspiring” new documentary offers an inside look into the grassroots congressional campaigns of four progressive women who attempted to topple corporate-friendly Democrats in the 2018 primary elections.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was the only candidate featured in “Knock Down the House” who won her race despite long odds, defeating Wall Street favorite Joe Crowley in a landslide.

      Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia each came up short, but their campaigns offer compelling examples of working-class women taking on the status quo and fighting for progressive change, said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of advocacy group Justice Democrats.

      “The film does an amazing job portraying the blood, sweat, and tears involved in running a grassroots primary challenge when all the odds are stacked against you,” added Rojas. “I hope the footage from the early days of these campaigns encourages other leaders, especially progressive working-class women and women of color, to consider running for Congress. Even if it means taking on the machine.”

    • How anti-Putin graffiti triggered the first enforcement of Russia’s new ban on insulting the government online — and the ethical mess that followed

      For several days in April, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, blocked two of the most popular local media outlets in Yaroslavl: Yarcube and 76.ru. Both outlets’ editors had refused to comply with the agency’s unofficial request to delete a news story describing a police search for unknown individuals who painted the words “Putin is a fag” on the front of the region’s Internal Affairs Ministry building. The journalists believe that they were a kind of test case for Russia’s new law penalizing “disrespect toward the government,” which took effect less than one month ago. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev learned that the government agencies who blocked Yarcube and 76.ru made up their own wording to justify their demands as legal requests and that the editors-in-chief who rejected those requests thought at first that the entire thing was an April Fool’s prank.

      [...]

      It soon became clear that similar calls had been made to editors-in-chief of other Yaroslavl outlet that had posted stories about the graffiti case or photographs of the graffiti itself. 76.ru editor Olga Prokhorova recalled that on March 31, several regional Roskomnadzor employees called her within a short stretch of time. “The head of the branch called himself, and I could tell he was surprised and confused. I understood that this initiative was coming from higher up. We have a good relationship with the local RKN [Roskomnadzor]. I speak regularly with the official who’s responsible for media outlets, and she gives us advice. After the call, I met with Yevgeny Ofitserov and talked to him. You never know who might call you from an unknown number and ask you to take something down. I gave him the number, and he confirmed that it was his,” Prokhorova said. She added that during the phone conversation and during her in-person meeting with Ofitserov, which took place in mid-April, she was repeatedly asked to delete the story, but “they couldn’t clearly explain the reason why.” “There were hints: you know, the law on insulting the government is taking effect, the Prosecutor General’s office could get involved,” she said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • California’s Assembly Will Consider Only Industry Bills Meant to Strip Our Privacy Rights

      We are disappointed the California Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee will not hear A.B. 1760, which would have substantially strengthened the California Consumer Privacy Act.

      Tomorrow, the Privacy Committee will instead vote on several bills backed by Big Tech interests that will erode the CCPA and the promises this law made to give all Californians the privacy rights they want and deserve. California’s legislators must stop bills that erode our privacy and we will not stop fighting for strong privacy legislation.

      In coming weeks, we will work to pass S.B. 561, which will improve the enforcement of the CCPA by ensuring that people can sue the companies that violate their privacy rights, and strengthening the powers of the California Attorney General.

    • ‘So Overboard It Should Be Illegal’: Use of Facial Recognition in Airports Draws Anger

      A boarding technology for travelers using JetBlue is causing controversy due to a social media thread on the airline’s use of facial recognition.

      Last week, traveler MacKenzie Fegan described her experience with the biometric technology in a social media post that got the attention of JetBlue’s official Twitter account.

    • ‘Is that even legal?’: Companies may be sharing new credit or debit card information without you knowing

      Visa — and other major credit cards — have “updater” programs, that automatically provide updated customer credit card information to subscribing merchants, including account numbers and expiry dates.

      Companies automatically opt-in their customers to the service, whether they realize it or not.

    • Chinese courts have put on social-credit punishment list about 13.5 million people deemed untrustworthy

      By the end of March, people deemed untrustworthy had been blocked from buying 20.47 million air tickets and another 5.71 million high-speed rail tickets, the government said.

      The release of statistics comes as China works to set in place a social-credit system intended to assess citizens’ reliability and ultimately to govern their ability to participate in a wide range of activities, such as exporting goods, accessing government contracts, converting currency and receiving Communist Party promotions. That system is intended to govern “19 key areas of dishonesty,” including spreading online rumours and false information, committing financial fraud, delivering unlicensed medical treatment, evading taxes, cheating on tests and fixing sports matches.

    • Facebook has hired the Patriot Act’s co-author and “day-to-day manager” to be its new general counsel

      Jennifer Newstead helped craft the Patriot Act, a cowardly work of treasonous legislation foisted on the American people in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; later, she served as the Patriot Act’s “day-to-day manager” in Congress; today, she is Facebook’s general counsel.

    • Facebook taps lawyer who helped write Patriot Act as new general counsel

      Facebook has tapped a top State Department lawyer who was credited with helping to write the controversial 2001 Patriot Act as its new general counsel, beefing up its legal team as the company faces increasing regulatory and political pressure in the U.S. and around the world.

      Facebook announced in a press release on Monday that Jennifer Newstead, currently the legal adviser to the State Department, will be taking over for the departing Colin Stretch.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Google Walkout Organizers Say They’re Facing Retaliation
    • Reverse Warrant For Cell Site Location Info Results In Wrong Man Being Jailed

      Reverse warrants are the new regular warrants. Ever since law enforcement discovered most Americans carry tracking devices with them 24/7, they’ve been approaching cellphone providers with warrants targeting geographic areas rather than people.

      When a crime has been committed but cops don’t have any suspects, they ask Google and others to canvass the area for them. Officers hand providers a geofence and ask for everyone who wandered into the selected area during a certain timeframe. Once cops have everyone, they start looking for someone.

      It seems weird but it’s really not all that different than sending officers out to areas around crime scenes to ask anyone if they’ve seen anything. The difference here is cops are getting info about people’s movements in an area when they’re not suspected of any criminal activity. In addition, the areas covered by warrants often include high-traffic areas like businesses and multi-family housing, increasing the chance cops are going to zero in on the wrong suspect simply because someone lives or works near a crime scene.

      That’s exactly what happened in Phoenix, Arizona. Detectives investigating a shooting handed a reverse warrant to Google. This data was used to arrest the wrong person, as Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reports for the New York Times.

    • ‘Her Work Will Live On’: Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide Campaigner Polly Higgins

      Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.

      She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.

      “There’s a growing recognition that a lot of campaigning is not getting us where we need to go, and just saying fossil fuel extraction should stop is not enough. It has to be criminalized,” Higgins said to DeSmogBlog last month.

      Climate mobilization 350.org mourned her passing, writing, “Her legacy lives on in all those who continue the fight for #ClimateJustice.”

    • Russian senator argues that civil rights actually restrict freedom

      Notoriously conservative Russian Senator Elena Mizulina has offered her latest defense of the federal prohibitions adopted by the State Duma in recent years. Speaking at an Internet security forum, Mizulina argued that freedom is actually restricted by civil rights. The senator then explained that rights “are when you can act, but only according to the way it’s written in the law.” “The more rights you have, the less freedom,” she concluded.

    • Key Themes from the Citizenship Question Amicus Briefs

      When the Supreme Court sits for oral argument on April 23 in Department of Commerce v. New York, the Justices will have the benefit of three dozen amicus (or friend-of-the-court) briefs that have been filed in support of the plaintiffs challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

    • The Government Shouldn’t Keep the Public in the Dark Just Because Private Companies Ask It to

      While it may be a private entity’s prerogative to keep certain information secret, it can’t be the government’s.
      The government often relies on private entities to carry out its work. It has them running private prisons, designing location tracking technologies, and developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems that automate government decisions, such as determining our Medicaid benefits, bail, and even which children are purportedly at risk of abuse or neglect. Today the Supreme Court heard a case, FMI v. Argus Media, about whether working with private companies changes the government’s transparency and accountability obligations to the public. As we and several other organizations argued in a friend-of-the-court brief, it should not.

      The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the law at the center of the case, requires the government to disclose information to the public upon request unless such information falls within one of nine narrow exemptions. The exemption on the table, Exemption 4, allows the government to withhold “trade secrets” and “commercial or financial information” that is “privileged or confidential” and was not generated by the government.

      Under existing law, to successfully invoke Exemption 4, the government must show that public disclosure of that information would likely cause substantial competitive harm to a private entity. A business association, the Food Marketing Institute, is arguing that the court need only rely on a private party’s word that something is “confidential” in order to keep the requested information secret.

      That is the opposite of how FOIA is supposed to work.

    • City Of Marathon Hand-Waves Stupid Cease And Desist Sent By Councilman Over City Seal

      Earlier this month, we were discussing the odd (read: stupid) campaign by a City Councilman for the City of Marathon in Florida to get his city to trademark the city seal. The whole thing was frustratingly stupid for all kinds of reasons. For starters, trademark law is very clear that municipal governments can’t trademark their seals, full stop. Councilman Mark Senmartin wanted his own government to do something it couldn’t legally do. Cool. The city seemed mostly unaware of this at the time, instead refusing to bow to Senmartin’s demands since there had been virtually zero issues with people using the seal inappropriately elsewhere, with one minor issue during a local political campaign notwithstanding. And, to wrap the absurdity of it all in a nice little dumb bow, Senmartin proceeded to apply for the trademark himself and send his own city a cease and desist notice, apparently in an attempt to prove a point.

    • State Investigator Granted Immunity For Hours-Long Detention Of Doctor At Gunpoint During A Search For Medical Records

      How far can a law enforcement officer go to ensure an administrative search — one looking for records, rather than contraband — is carried out without interference? Pretty damn far, it appears.

      A case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals alleges Fourth Amendment violations during a search for medical records. Dr. Ikechukwu Okorie was on the receiving end of a search due to the state licensing board’s suspicion he was over-prescribing opioids. Okorie wasn’t facing criminal charges. The state board of licensing had suspended his license while it investigated. Okorie sought recertification. The board agreed to meet with him but also sought an administrative warrant to search his medical office for evidence it needed to make a determination on his recertification.

    • What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring

      Two very different political waves are sweeping through the Middle East and north Africa. Popular protests are overthrowing the leaders of military regimes for the first time since the failed Arab Spring of 2011. At the same time, dictators are seeking to further monopolise power by killing, jailing or intimidating opponents who want personal and national liberty.

      Dictators in Sudan and Algeria, who between them had held power for 50 years, were driven from office in the space of a single month in April, though the regimes they headed are still there. The ousting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, now under arrest, came after 16 weeks of protests. Hundreds of thousands continue to demonstrate, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule” and “we will remain in the street until power is handed over to civilian authority”.

      The protesters are conscious of one of the “what not to do” lessons of 2011, when mass demonstrations in Egypt got rid of President Hosni Mubarak, only to see him replaced two years later by an even more authoritarian dictatorship led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. A referendum is to be held over three days from this Saturday on constitutional amendments that will enable el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

      Given that he was re-elected president last year by 97 per cent of the vote – the remaining 3 per cent going to a last-minute candidate who did not campaign and enthusiastically supported el-Sisi – there is no doubt about the outcome of the poll.

      Fortunately, even hypocritical respect for democratic forms can backfire, as shown by recent events in Algeria. In February, it was announced that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, nominally in power for 20 years but apparently in a coma since 2014, would stand for a fifth term. This, like the Egyptian referendum, was an expression of contempt for any real popular mandate.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Millimeter-wave 5G will never scale beyond dense urban areas, T-Mobile says

      5G networks will use both low and high frequencies, but they’re supposed to offer their highest speeds on millimeter waves. Millimeter-wave spectrum is usually defined to include frequencies between 30GHz and 300GHz. But in the context of 5G, carriers and regulators have generally targeted frequencies between 24GHz and 90GHz. T-Mobile’s high-frequency spectrum includes licenses in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

      Millimeter waves generally haven’t been used in cellular networks because they don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. This has led us to wonder how extensive higher-speed 5G deployments will be outside major cities, and now T-Mobile’s top technology official is saying explicitly that millimeter-wave 5G deployments will just be for “small pockets” of highly populated areas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Texas cancer center ousts 3 over Chinese data theft concerns [iophk: "fails to mention patents, trademarks, or copyright by name"]

      The dismissals come amid heightened concern in Washington, D.C., that foreign governments including China have been using students and visiting scholars to pilfer intellectual property [sic] from confidential grant applications.

    • MD Anderson ousts 3 scientists over concerns about Chinese conflicts of interest

      The departures are the first to become known since Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, told a Senate panel earlier this month to expect related firings at institutions across the country soon. The panel and others in Congress have raised concerns about foreign theft of intellectual property [sic] at academic institutions.

    • Three Researchers Ousted from MD Anderson

      The NIH sent the letters to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in August 2018, reports the Chronicle. This was in parallel with a larger effort by NIH’s director, Francis Collins, who sent letters to over 10,000 institutions to warn against foreign nationals stealing intellectual property [sic] in “systematic” efforts, according to Science. Documents revealed that MD Anderson has been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate security issues for several years.

    • New PatentlyO Law Journal Essay: Is There Any Need to Resort to a § 101 Exception for Prior Art Ideas?

      In the wake of Alice, many observers have suggested that the implicit judicial exception to 35 U.S.C. § 101 for abstract ideas is now sometimes being used as a judicial or administrative shortcut to invalidate or reject claims that should properly be addressed under 35 U.S.C. § 103. This article notes that “the concern that drives this exclusionary principle [is] one of pre-emption,” and queries whether, given the Supreme Court’s “standard approach of construing a statutory exception narrowly to preserve the primary operation of the general rule,” the implicit statutory exception to 35 U.S.C. § 101 for abstract ideas should be narrowly construed to not apply for prior art ideas because 35 U.S.C. § 103 already ensures that claims do not “’disproportionately t[ie] up the use of [] underlying’ [prior art] ideas.”

    • The Cost of Novelty

      Patent law tries to spur the development of new, better, innovative technology. But it focuses much more on “new” than “better” — and it turns out that “new” carries real social costs. I argue that patent law promotes innovation that diverges from existing technology, either a little (what I call “differentiating innovation”) or a lot (“exploring innovation”), at the expense of innovation that tells us more about existing technology (“deepening innovation”). Patent law’s focus on newness is unsurprising, and fits within a well-told narrative of innovative diversity accompanied by market selection of the best technologies. Unfortunately, innovative diversity brings not only the potential benefits of technological advances, but also costs: incompatibility between different technologies; a spread-out, shallow pool of knowledge; and the underlying costs of developing parallel technologies that aren’t actually better. These costs matter.

      Biomedical innovation illustrates the high costs of divergence. Although pharmaceuticals are touted as a poster child for patents, the world is rife with me-too drugs that drive up costs with little to show. Biomedical innovation often suffers from a particular trap: Patent incentives push innovators toward “new,” but incentives from Food and Drug Administration approval and insurer reimbursement push innovators toward “not too new,” because products that are very different are harder to get approved and reimbursed. And in this space, artificially constricted markets do a poor job of selecting better technologies. The result is a proliferation of technologies that are “new for the sake of new,” giving us the costs of divergence without much in the way of benefits.

    • In-Text Patent Citations: A User’s Guide

      We introduce, validate, and provide a public database of a new measure of the knowledge inventors draw on: scientific references in patent specifications. These references are common and algorithmically extractable. Critically, they are very different from the “front page” prior art commonly used to proxy for inventor knowledge. Only 24% of front page citations to academic articles are in the patent text, and 31% of in-text citations are on the front page. We explain these differences by describing the legal rules and practice governing citation. Empirical validations suggest that in-text citations appear to more accurately measure real knowledge flows, consistent with their legal role.

    • AI & IP: Innovation & Creativity in an Age of Accelerated Change

      From a glimmer in the eye of a Victorian woman ahead of her time, AI has become a cornerstone of innovation that will be the defining technology of our time. Around 2016, the convergence of computing power, funding, data, and open-source platforms tipped us into an AI-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI can make a difference in accelerating disruptive innovation by bringing a data-driven approach to invention and creation. To do so, the law must embrace change and innovation as an imperative in a journey towards an ever-shifting horizon. AI both enables and challenges how we reward individuals whose ingenuity, industry, and determination overcame the frailty of the human condition to offer us inventions that make our lives more efficient and pleasurable. It will take a clear-eyed view to ensure that copyright and patent laws do not impede the very progress they were designed to promote.

    • Intellectual Property Disputes Threaten To Spread To New Venue

      The overwhelming majority of patents end up being literally worthless– creative dead ends or slight improvements on an existing patent that end up not worth commercializing. Most of these quietly wither away, unseen by anyone else.

    • IP plays a role in decolonising cultural heritage: over 100 experts warn France

      The Report’s absence of discussion on intellectual property rights is particularly problematic, because its authors recommend the systematic digitization of all objects returned and a “radical practice of sharing” allowing the free and open access of these images. Over 100 heritage and intellectual property specialists warned the French Government of this problem, in a written response to the Restitution Report submitted to the Ministry of Culture on 25 March 2019.

      Co-written by this Kat and Dr Andrea Wallace (University of Exeter), the response challenges the Restitution Report for its recommendation on systematic digitization, open access requirements and intellectual property rights. Put simply, the response stresses that if the French government recognizes that African cultural heritage is not theirs to keep, it should not be theirs to digitize and make available in open access either. Those decisions rest with the communities of origin, otherwise restitution and decolonisation cannot be fully achieved.

    • United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc. (D. Colo. 2019)

      Last week, in United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc., District Judge William J. Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado issued an order denying a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Defendant Pure Hemp Collective Inc., finding that Pure Hemp was not entitled to summary judgment on the record. Pure Hemp had filed an Early Motion for Partial Summary Judgement, arguing that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,730,911, which is owned by United Cannabis Corp. (“UCANN”), were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 (claims 10, 12, 14, 20–22, 25, 27, 28, 31, and 33 of the ’911 patent) or 35 U.S.C. § 112(e) (claim 31).

      UCANN had initiated the dispute between the parties by filing a complaint against Pure Hemp for infringement of claims 10, 12, 14, 20–22, 25, 27, 28, 31, and 33 of the ’911 patent. Pure Hemp responded by filing its motion for partial summary judgment, contending that all of the asserted claims were invalid.

    • Trademarks
      • The boot is on the other foot: French Supreme Court reconsiders the notion of informed user

        This dispute was all about shoes! It included both design infringement and unfair competition but this post focuses on the design issues only.

        The case was brought by Einstein Shoes BV, the holder of three Community designs covering footwear soles and Ferro Footwear BV, its exclusive licensee against Chaussea, a French shoe retailer. Chaussea added its supplier to the proceedings and brought a counterclaim arguing that the Community designs should be cancelled due to lack of novelty and individual character.

    • Copyrights
      • Werner Herzog: ‘Piracy Has Been The Most Successful Form of Distribution Worldwide’

        Always tuned-in to the true nature and potential of technology, the influential film director Werner Herzog supports cinephiles who want to pirate his films.

        Herzog shared his thoughts about piracy on Tuesday during the Visions in Nyon film festival in Switzerland. According to the Independent, after Ukraine producer Illia Gladshtein told Herzog he could only find the director’s film on illegal torrent sites, Herzog responded saying, “Piracy has been the most successful form of distribution worldwide.”

        The German director, who was at the festival to receive the Maitre du Réel lifetime achievement said he preferred when people paid him for his films but if someone can’t find his work on “Netflix or state-sponsored television, then you go and access it as a pirate.”

        Herzog, who has directed more than 60 films added, “If someone like you steals my films through the internet or whatever, fine, you have my blessing.”

        Research suggests that piracy may not be an issue for film sales. In 2015, a Dutch firm submitted a 304-page report to the European Commission that found there is no evidence that piracy hurts sales (the EU seemed to suppress the results of the study, despite paying about $428,000 for it). And another study by the University of Houston and Western University published in January even suggests that piracy can be beneficial for artists. It found that movies that are leaked online when the movie is still showing in theaters can stir buzz and increase box-office revenue.

      • Werner Herzog Joins Plenty Of Other Artists In Recognizing Piracy Isn’t The Problem

        It’s getting a bit silly to have to keep pointing this out, but contrary to the popular narrative, there are tons of artists who not only recognize that the narrative that “piracy is the problem” is false, but many who recognize that piracy actually has its advantages. And, now, apparently, we can add esteemed film director Werner Herzog to that list.

      • ACE Sees “Piracy Reduction” Efforts Pay Off, But Work is Not Done Yet

        The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the global anti-piracy coalition which includes the major Hollywood studios, plus Netflix, Amazon and others, is keeping the pressure on. The group recently managed to shut down another group of Kodi add-ons and builds. According to ACE, this is part of a broader “piracy reduction plan,” which is starting to pay off.

Code of Coercion

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019 05:39:27 AM

Real screenshot, taken days ago

Summary: Entryism is visible for all to see, but pointing it out is becoming a risky gambit because of the “be nice!” (or “be polite!”) crowd, which shields the perpetrators of a slow and gradual corporate takeover

A COUPLE of days ago we published a reader’s suggestion for the site. It’s a longtime reader, who has been rather sceptical of the Linux Foundation (LF), the OSI, and even the FSF. We too have had our rare disagreements with the FSF (in this particular case awarding a Microsoft apologist other than Miguel de Icaza, now a senior Microsoft employee).

One subject we continue to explore is the LF because we recognise the obscene lack of understanding. The name, for one thing, is misleading because it is neither a foundation (nonprofit) nor about Linux. It is morphing into a giant narrative-shaping monster that helps OSI ‘tame’ Free software (as envisioned by the FSF), making it more corporations-leaning if not led. Today’s OSI blog posts are sometimes composed by Microsoft staff.

“It is morphing into a giant narrative-shaping monster that helps OSI ‘tame’ Free software (as envisioned by FSF), making it more corporations-leaning if not led.”We’ve already issued a call for help in researching various LF matters. Some people look into it. We need answers regarding Linux Foundation insiders in the media* (coverage for sale) and more information about their “training” business model (corporate sponsorships play a role). It’s not what it seems; there’s more to it than one can see on the surface. The LF is contracting journalists, selling coverage (sponsorships in exchange for puff pieces), and engaging in what the PR conglomerates call “perception management” (this is where the LF’s chief comes from). In recent years the LF chaps have helped market obvious lies and falsehoods such as “Microsoft loves Linux”. Microsoft loves Windows, which it now calls "Linux". The trademark is being misused, but that doesn’t seem to bother the LF. Microsoft has a long and very extensive history trying to make its products sound like the competition or hijack the competition’s identity (e.g. “Office Open XML”).

I recently chatted with Richard Stallman about the LF’s CoC after I had heard that a similar thing was likely imposed on Stallman. We exchanged many messages on this subject and wondered whether Torvalds’ criticism of companies like Microsoft would be curtailed by the new CoC. It is a difficult thing to prove. Self-censorship is sometimes unknown to those who are subconsciously subjected to it because, for instance, speaking out against corporate overloads who pay one’s salary (or a portion of it) is politically unwise. In politics it’s known as “campaign contributions” — a form of ‘soft’ bribe which at the very least buys silence or passiveness.

“In recent years the LF chaps have helped market obvious lies and falsehoods such as “Microsoft loves Linux”. Microsoft loves Windows, which it now calls “Linux”.”We are meanwhile hearing of a new CoC “draft outline”.

“No one really wants a CoC,” told us a source, “but that one adopted by the LF and projects is horrible.” We will probably write about it in a future article (when this is no longer a draft).

A Techrights member has meanwhile taken a look at Gource LF. “Linux is a huge kernel,” he explained, “really enormous, and the amount of work being done is mind-boggling. Gource provides way too much information and visual analysis won’t provide much. Nor will any other kind of manual analysis. But here’s how it’s done:

git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git; cd linux-stable; $(gource --log-command git) > ../linux-project.log gource --start-date 2017-09-01 --time-scale 4 \ --fullscreen ../linux-project.log

As many people are aware, swear words and other (even less controversial) things are being removed en masse by people from companies like Intel, citing the new CoC as justification/motivation. Intel is the same company whose employees smear the most prominent Linux developers (calling them “rape apologists” and such). As for Microsoft? Remember that it put ‘BIG BOOBS’ inside Linux. Sexism at Microsoft is rampant, yet it has been trying to project this stigma onto Linux.

“It seems to be getting worse. “Morality” and “ethics” are being leveraged by large corporations that are hostile to Linux in order to gain a tighter grip on it.”“It takes a long time to build up to autumn 2018 even at high speed,” our member wrote about Gource. “Maybe that will give someone some ideas on what kind of analysis can be done easily to identify what kind of damage, if any, is visible from the CoC.”

Back when Torvalds was pressured to take a break (willful but due to shaming) we said we would refrain from commenting, but seeing some recent developments at the LF we feel like it’s important to research the matter. It seems to be getting worse. “Morality” and “ethics” are being leveraged by large corporations that are hostile to Linux in order to gain a tighter grip on it.
_____
* Take for instance The New Stack, which the LF last linked to just hours ago. It has various LF projects, including the LF itself, as sponsors. This page reveals that the editorial team includes Libby Clark, who was at the LF for a long time and is still based in Portland.

António Campinos Would Not Refer to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal If He Did Not Control the Outcomes

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019 04:12:54 AM

Trying to rubberstamp illegal practices

Summary: António Campinos and his ilk aren’t interested in patent quality because his former ‘boss’, who publicly denied there were issues and vainly rejected patent quality concerns as illegitimate, is now controlled by him (reversal of roles) and many new appointees at the top are "yes men" (or women) of Campinos, former colleagues whom he bossed at EUIPO (as expected)

THERE IS some separation of powers at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which habitually gets sued. There’s no immunity. But in Europe it’s more or less a joke. A bunch of people with connections to royal families are controlling the judges, who have openly complained that they don’t exercise freedom and independence. The judges too, in effect, are pressured to become “yes men” of the monarch. In Europe it is a former banker with questionable political pedigree.

“The judges too, in effect, are pressured to become “yes men” of the monarch.”Patents on life? Go for it!

“It is now official,” REGIMBEAU wrote in Lexology this week, “the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Antnio Campinos, has done what he said he would do…”

They can’t even spell the name of this Frenchman (António Campinos) right. Moreover, their title started with “Breaking News :” (bad grammar all over the place) and ended with an exclamation point. It’s not breaking news. It’s old news. The EPO is trying to brush aside the EU and instead rely on terrified judges (under its complete control) to greenlight patents on life/nature and software patents in Europe. SUEPO, as it reveals in its recent papers (like the one above), is concerned. It is doing a good job exposing the damage done to quality of patents at the European Patent Office (EPO), but where are the stakeholders? What about the public? Why is almost nobody complaining (as much as about the notorious copyright directive)? Is it primarily due to lack of public awareness? Is apathy caused by poor understanding of patent law? Europe will pay for this. A lot.

Links 22/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC6, New Release of Netrunner and End of Scientific Linux

Monday 22nd of April 2019 04:29:03 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • The Great GNU/Linux Division

    I have not abandoned the language of the purists altogether. For instance, I still refer to my distribution of choice as ?Debian GNU/Linux,? because that is what project members prefer. Similarly, if an FSF employee asks that I use their preferred term, I will usually agree if I think the story I?m covering is one in which people should know the difference.

    What has changed is my refusal to be overly-concerned about such matters of language. While language issues were worth discussing 20 years ago, the inability to move beyond them is obsessive and crankish today. If the purists really want to help free software, they would be more useful contributing to the project of their choice than clinging a cause that was lost years ago.

  • Desktop
    • The Linux desktop is not in trouble

      Or maybe not. Maybe we’re just looking at different parts of the elephant. sjvn’s core argument, if I may sum it up, is that fragmentation is holding back the Linux desktop. Linux can’t gain significant traction in the desktop market because there are just so many options. This appeals to computer nerds, but leads to confusion for general users who don’t want to care about whether they’re running GNOME or KDE Plasma or whatever.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • What’s New in Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Desktop Edition

      Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Edition is official Manjaro Linux flavour with Deepin Desktop Environment 15.8 as default desktop environment includes several deepin applications a free open source software.

      Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Edition is powered by the latest Long-Term Support of Linux Kernel 4.19, include pamac version 7.3. in manjaro 18.0, The Manjaro Settings Manager (MSM) now provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for installing and removing the many series of kernels. At the time of this release, eight kernel-series are available directly from manjaro binary repositories, from 3.16 series to the latest 4.19 release.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 142 – Hypothetical security: what if you find a USB flash drive?

      Josh and Kurt talk about what one could do if you find a USB drive. The context is based on the story where the Secret Service was rumored to have plugged a malicious USB drive into a computer. The purpose of discussion is to explore how to handle a situation like this in the real world. We end the episode with a fantastic comparison of swim safety and security.

    • Episode 64 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we got a lot of releases week. Ubuntu and all of the Flavours have released 19.04 versions along with an interesting update from the Ubuntu derivative Pop!_OS. The KDE Community announced the availability of a bunch of new versions of various KDE Applications.

    • Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 9

      Coming in hot (please save me from this heat) is the ninth episode of the Linux Gaming News Punch, your weekly round-up of some interesting bits of news.

      For regular readers, as always this might not be too helpful but for those who don’t visit too often this should help keep you updated.

    • Linux Action News 102

      Ubuntu 19.04 is released we share our take, OpenSSH has an important release, and Mozilla brings Python to the browser.

      Also WebThings is launched and we think it might have a shot.

    • GNU World Order 13×17
    • Talk Python to Me: #208 Packaging, Making the most of PyCon, and more

      Are you going to PyCon (or a similar conference)? Join me and Kenneth Retiz as we discuss how to make the most of PyCon and what makes it special for each of us.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux v5.1-rc6

      It’s Easter Sunday here, but I don’t let little things like random
      major religious holidays interrupt my kernel development workflow. The
      occasional scuba trip? Sure. But everybody sitting around eating
      traditional foods? No. You have to have priorities. There’s only so
      much memma you can eat even if your wife had to make it from scratch
      because nobody eats that stuff in the US.

      Anyway, rc6 is actually larger than I would have liked, which made me
      go back and look at history, and for some reason that’s not all that
      unusual. We recently had similar rc6 bumps in both 4.18 and 5.0.

      So I’m not going to worry about it. I think it’s just random timing of
      pull requests, and almost certainly at least partly due to the
      networking pull request in here (with just over a third of the changes
      being networking-related, either in drivers or core networking).

    • Linux 5.1-rc6 Kernel Released In Linus Torvalds’ Easter Day Message
    • Linux 5.2 Will Introduce The Fieldbus Subsystem
    • Thunderbolt Is Seeing A Lot Of Improvements For Linux 5.2

      Adding to the excitement of the Linux 5.2 kernel changes are a lot of Thunderbolt improvements expected to be introduced in this next kernel cycle.

      Mika Westerberg of Intel has been working on a lot of Thunderbolt connectivity improvements destined for Linux 5.2 and in recent days has begun staging this work in the thunderbolt-next tree ahead of the Linux 5.2 kernel merge window opening in May.

    • Dropped Linux Kernel Drivers Occasionally See Revival – FDOMAIN Gets Second Chance

      When drivers get dropped from the Linux kernel it’s generally due to hardware being no one cares about anymore that hasn’t been produced in many years and the code often falls into disrepair to the point that the only logical way forward is dropping the driver. That happened last year to the “FDOMAIN” driver but as does happen every so often (albeit rare) thanks to the code being still obtainable through Git and the nature of open-source, interested parties can step up and revive the code.

      The FDOMAIN Linux driver is for Future Domain 16-bit SCSI host adapters found in a variety of PCI boards. The code was removed in March of 2018 as the Future Domain drivers hadn’t seen any bug fixing in years and were relying upon SCSI infrastructure deprecated some fifteen years earlier. The supported PCI SCSI adapters haven’t even been produced in many years albeit can still be found from some after-market shops / eBay like the Adaptec AHA-2920A card that allows up to seven SCSI peripherals over PCI.

    • Graphics Stack
      • GStreamer Editing Services OpenTimelineIO support

        OpenTimelineIO is an Open Source API and interchange format for editorial timeline information, it basically allows some form of interoperability between the different post production Video Editing tools. It is being developed by Pixar and several other studios are contributing to the project allowing it to evolve quickly.

        We, at Igalia, recently landed support for the GStreamer Editing Services (GES) serialization format in OpenTimelineIO, making it possible to convert GES timelines to any format supported by the library. This is extremely useful to integrate GES into existing Post production workflow as it allows projects in any format supported by OpentTimelineIO to be used in the GStreamer Editing Services and vice versa.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 Brings More Performance Optimizations, DXVK Corruption Fixes

        AMD this morning released AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 as the newest tagged update to their open-source Radeon Vulkan Linux graphics driver.

        The AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 update is notable in that it has performance optimizations for Total War: WARHAMMER II, Talos Principle, and Thrones of Britannia. These were among the games we pointed out earlier this month in our recent RADV vs. AMDVLK driver benchmarking where previously AMDVLK performed much better but less so in that recent comparison. So it looks like the AMDVLK vs. RADV driver performance is back to some healthy competition.

      • MSM DRM Driver Bringing Zap Shader Support To Exit Secure Mode On Adreno 600 Series

        The Freedreno MSM DRM driver changes have been submitted to DRM-Next ahead of Linux 5.2. MSM provides the Direct Rendering Manager support around Qualcomm Adreno hardware and with this next kernel cycle is continuing to see better Adreno 600 series support.

        The primary addition to MSM with Linux 5.2 is zap shader support. A “zap” shader is a way for Adreno hardware to exit its secure mode via a series of specialized commands as accessing the registers directly for exiting the GPU secure mode is generally locked down by the bootloader.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Saw More System Settings Work While EGLStreams KWin Support Stole The Show

        Most exciting this week in KDE space was seeing KWin pick up support for the NVIDIA EGLStreams implementation for Wayland with this proprietary graphics driver. Beyond the EGLStreams KWin support were also many fixes and other improvements to the desktop landing this Easter week.

        Other KDE work this past week includes various system settings improvements, addressing a common Plasma crash case, an overhaul to the SDDM settings page, and other fixes.

      • Trusty 14.04 LTS end of life, and end of Kubuntu support for Xenial 16.04 LTS

        As the newly released Kubuntu 19.04 makes its way into the world, inevitably other things come to their end.

        Kubuntu 14.04 LTS was released in April 2014, and reaches ‘End of Life’ for support on 25th April 2019. All Kubuntu users should therefore switch to a newer supported release. Upgrades from 14.04 to a newer release are not advised, so please install a fresh copy of 18.04 or newer after running a backup of all your data.

        Kubuntu 16.04 LTS was released on 21st April 2016, and was supported for Kubuntu for a period of year 3 years.* Kubuntu 16.04 LTS support therefore ends 21st April 2019, and users are invited to upgrade to 18.04 LTS, or perform a fresh install of that or newer release.

        The Kubuntu team would thank users of both releases, especially for the amazing additional community support on IRC, forums, mailing lists, and elsewhere.

  • Distributions
    • The end of Scientific Linux

      Scientific Linux is driven by Fermilab’s scientific mission and focused
      on the changing needs of experimental facilities.

      Fermilab is looking ahead to DUNE[1] and other future international
      collaborations. One part of this is unifying our computing platform with
      collaborating labs and institutions.

      Toward that end, we will deploy CentOS 8 in our scientific computing
      environments rather than develop Scientific Linux 8. We will
      collaborate with CERN and other labs to help make CentOS an even better
      platform for high-energy physics computing.

    • Scientific Linux 6/7 Will Remain Supported But The Distribution Is Ending

      For those wanting a community-supported, free version in effect of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the two options have been CentOS with its close relation (and employment) by Red Hat or Scientific Linux that has been maintained Fermilab, CERN, and other research labs. Moving forward, however, these labs are going to be adopting CentOS 8 and they will not be developing a new version of Scientific Linux based on the upcoming RHEL8.

      Scientific Linux has now been effectively made end-of-life. Fermilab and other parties involved will continue supporting Scientific Linux 6 and Scientific Linux 7 based on RHEL6 and RHEL7, respectively, but moving forward they themselves are switching over to CentOS.

    • Reviews
      • Review: Alpine Linux 3.9.2

        Alpine Linux is different in some important ways compared to most other distributions. It uses different libraries, it uses a different service manager (than most), it has different command line tools and a custom installer. All of this can, at first, make Alpine feel a bit unfamiliar, a bit alien. But what I found was that, after a little work had been done to get the system up and running (and after a few missteps on my part) I began to greatly appreciate the distribution.

        Alpine is unusually small and requires few resources. Even the larger Extended edition I was running required less than 100MB of RAM and less than a gigabyte of disk space after all my services were enabled. I also appreciated that Alpine ships with some security features, like PIE, and does not enable any services it does not need to run.

        I believe it is fair to say this distribution requires more work to set up. Installing Alpine is not a point-n-click experience, it’s more manual and requires a bit of typing. Not as much as setting up Arch Linux, but still more work than average. Setting up services requires a little more work and, in some cases, reading too since Alpine works a little differently than mainstream Linux projects. I repeatedly found it was a good idea to refer to the project’s wiki to learn which steps were different on Alpine.

        What I came away thinking at the end of my trial, and I probably sound old (or at least old fashioned), is Alpine Linux reminds me of what got me into running Linux in the first place, about 20 years ago. Alpine is fast, light, and transparent. It offered very few surprises and does almost nothing automatically. This results in a little more effort on our parts, but it means that Alpine does not do things unless we ask it to perform an action. It is lean, efficient and does not go around changing things or trying to guess what we want to do. These are characteristics I sometimes miss these days in the Linux ecosystem.

    • New Release of Netrunner
      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Arch-based Linux distribution available for download

        Rolling release operating systems are really cool, because they are constantly being updated. This can ensure that the user is kept up-to-date without effort. Why is that good? Well, vulnerabilities are patched quickly, while the latest and greatest features of popular programs are regularly introduced. Of course, there is a potential downside too — it could introduce bugs that could lead to instability. Ultimately, the user must decide if as rolling release best meets their needs.

        One of the best such operating systems is Netrunner Rolling. I love this Arch/Manjaro-based operating system for several reasons, but mostly for its elegant implementation of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It is themed beautifully, providing a smooth user interface that is familiar to those switching from Windows. Not to mention, it comes pre-loaded with many excellent packages, making it a great “out of the box” Linux experience for newbies. Just in time for Easter, Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 becomes available for download — the first ISO refresh since August of last year.

      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Released With Updated KDE Desktop Bits

        The Netrunner Rolling Linux distribution that is based on Arch Linux / Manjaro (unlike the non-rolling release using Debian Testing) is out with a new release for this KDE-focused desktop platform.

        Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 is out this weekend and its desktop is powered by KDE Plasma 5.15.3, KDE Frameworks 5.56, KDE Applications 18.12.3, and Qt 5.12.2. While Netrunner is generally known as one of the great KDE Linux distributions, sadly the KDE Applications 19.04 didn’t make it into this update.

      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Delivers A Manjaro Linux-based Polished Desktop

        There are a few distros that boast of a great out-of-the-box KDE desktop experience. Just like KDE Neon, the Netrunner Rolling edition is also known for its visually pleasing and fluid KDE Plasma experience.

        Netrunner developers list the exclusive packages and under the hood patching as reasons to choose Netrunner Rolling over Manjaro Linux. Additionally, Netrunner packages get updated less frequently and they undergo more rigorous testing.

        Overall, it’s your choice and I’d advise you to try different distros to see what suits your needs. Also, keep reading Fossbytes and sharing your views with us.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • Fedora
      • 2 new apps for music tweakers on Fedora Workstation

        Linux operating systems are great for making unique customizations and tweaks to make your computer work better for you. For example, the i3 window manager encourages users to think about the different components and pieces that make up the modern Linux desktop.

        Fedora has two new packages of interest for music tweakers: mpris-scrobbler and playerctl. mpris-scrobbler tracks your music listening history on a music-tracking service like Last.fm and/or ListenBrainz. playerctl is a command-line music player controller.

      • TeleIRC v1.3.1 released with quality-of-life improvements

        On April 20th, 2019, the TeleIRC development team released TeleIRC v1.3.1, the latest version after the final development sprint for the university semester. This release introduces minor improvements in order to accommodate heavier work-balance loads on our volunteer contributors. However, it gave us an opportunity to reduce technical debt. This blog post explains what’s new in TeleIRC v1.3.1 and also offers a retrospective into how this last sprint went.

      • My Impressions of Fedora 30 so far (Beta Review)
    • Debian Family
      • Sam Hartman Is the New Debian Project Leader, Google Cuts Pixel 3 Prices for Project Fi’s Birthday, Linux Kernel v5.1-rc6 Is Out, Kdenlive 19.04 Released and KMyMoney 5.0.4 Now Available

        Congrats to Sam Hartman, new Debian Project Leader! You can read more details about the election here, and read Sam’s DPL 2019 Platform here.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Download Links of Ubuntu 19.04 and Official Flavors (with Direct Links, Torrents, and Checksums)
          • Linux on Dex comes to Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Tab S5e

            Linux on DeX is aimed to bring the seamless mobility of Samsung’s DeX platform for developers to code on the go. The app enables developers to work on both Android and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions anytime, anywhere. Other Linux distributions may also work, although Samsung isn’t offering official support for those yet. Also, Samsung is partnering with Canonical, the maker of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, to provide Linux on DeX users with a modified version of Ubuntu.

            As of now, Linux on DeX is only compatible with the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy Tab S4. However, with the new update, users of Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships from 2018 as well as 2019 get it too. The recently launched Galaxy Tab S5e also now supports Linux on DeX. The new version, which is currently in beta, also fixes the issue with Ubuntu image download on Google Chrome.

          • Linux on DeX app updated with support for more Galaxy devices

            Although DeX is available on all of Samsung’s flagship devices since the Galaxy S8/S8+, the Linux on DeX app has been limited to the Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4 so far. The Korean company is changing all that with a new update to the Linux on DeX app that adds support for the Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S10e/S10/S10+/S10 5G, and the Galaxy Tab S5e. The Galaxy Tab S5e’s addition may seem odd considering it’s not a proper flagship device, but it does pack high-end specs capable of powering Linux on DeX and is also the latest tablet with an AMOLED screen in Samsung’s tablet lineup.

            [...]

            Even as Android OEMs, including Samsung, continue to pack PC-level specs into their smartphones, they haven’t really found any compelling use-cases for the resources. Initiatives like Linux on DeX have the potential to fill this gap and transform the modern-day smartphone into a single, all-purpose computing device.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Final Release

              Those of you who follow the desktop Linux news will know that upstream MATE Desktop recently released version 1.22.

              Let’s rip that band-aid off and get this over quickly. Ubuntu MATE 19.04 is shipping with MATE Desktop 1.20. Albeit, the latest maintenance release of MATE Desktop 1.20 with some of the bug fixes and new features from MATE Desktop 1.22 included. In fact, the version of MATE Desktop being shipped in 19.04 is derived from the same MATE packages that will feature in the upcoming Debian 10 (Buster) release.

            • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Brings Improved Out of Box Nvidia GPU Experience for Gamers

              Powered by the stable and well-tested MATE 1.20.4 desktop environment with some improvements and new features from the MATE 1.22 release, which needs more testing to be eligible for inclusion in future Ubuntu MATE release, the Ubuntu MATE 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system adds major improvements for owners of AMD Radeon and Nvidia graphics cards.

            • Xubuntu 19.04 Drops Support for 32-Bit Systems, Ships with Xfce 4.13.3 Desktop

              Xubuntu 19.04 arrived as part of the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system series bringing some important changes to this lightweight official Ubuntu Linux flavor.

              Xubuntu 19.04 is here as the first release of the lightweight Ubuntu flavor based on the Xfce desktop environment to no longer offer 32-bit ISO images that would allow users to install the Linux-based operating system on computers from 15 or 20 years ago. Xubuntu 19.04 is now only supported on 64-bit systems.

              “In December, the team voted to discontinue 32-bit images for Xubuntu 19.04 and forward. If you want to continue using Xubuntu with 32-bit architectures, Xubuntu 18.04 is supported for 3 years, and the Xubuntu package set can be installed from the Minimal CD,” said the development team in the release notes.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 8 environment-friendly open software projects you should know

    For the last few years, I’ve been helping Greenpeace build its first fully open source software project, Planet 4. Planet 4 is a global engagement platform where Greenpeace supporters and activists can interact and engage with the organization. The goal is to drive people to action on behalf of our planet. We want to invite participation and use people power to battle global issues like climate change and plastic pollution. Developers, designers, writers, contributors, and others who are looking for an open source way to support environmentalism are more than welcome to get involved!

    Planet 4 is far from the only open source project focused on the environment. For Earth Day, I thought I’d share seven other open source projects that have our planet in mind.

  • 4 open source apps for plant-based diets

    Reducing your consumption of meat, dairy, and processed foods is better for the planet and better for your health. Changing your diet can be difficult, but several open source Android applications can help you switch to a more plant-based diet. Whether you are taking part in Meatless Monday, following Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6:00 guidelines, or switching entirely to a whole-food, plant-based diet, these apps can aid you on your journey by helping you figure out what to eat, discover vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and easily communicate your dietary preferences to others. All of these apps are open source and available from the F-Droid repository.

  • 9 ways to save the planet

    What can be done to help save the planet? The question can seem depressing at a time when it feels like an individual’s contribution isn’t enough. But, who are we Earth dwellers if not for a collection of individuals? So, I asked our writer community to share ways that open source software or hardware can be used to make a difference. Here’s what I heard back.

  • Events
    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: Financial Services

      The financial services industry is one that seems to be constantly changing – whether it be regulatory driven or market driven – and how consumers are accessing their banking and financial information is as dynamic as the technology industries that they rely on in their day-to-day life. Red Hat’s enterprise open source technologies can help financial firms and fintechs alike craft modern, innovative solutions designed to drive higher levels of returns and at scale. This year at Red Hat Summit, taking place in Boston May 6-9, we are offering a variety of financial industry focused breakout sessions and labs to help navigate the impact that open source technologies could have on your firm, and help you understand your options when it comes to getting the most from your investments.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Open Source Won’t Save A Subpar Product [Ed: Jono Bacon misses all the essential questions, e.g. pertaining to freedom. This is why we need to get back to "free software" and not "open source" (business terms only)]
  • BSD
    • NomadBSD 1.2 released!

      We are pleased to announce the release of NomadBSD 1.2! We would like to thank all the testers who sent us feedback and bug reports.

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 Rolls Out With Two Dozen Fixes

      While awaiting DragonFlyBSD 5.6 as the BSD operating system’s next feature release, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 has been released as the newest stable point release.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 provides just over two dozen fixes over the previous 5.4.1 point release from last December. Among the changes to find with DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 are updating the list of USB 3.0 PCI IDs from FreeBSD, fixing various panics, adding an AC256 sound quirk, adding /dev/part-by-label interface, updating the kernel’s ACPI code from FreeBSD, and a variety of other fixes.

  • Programming/Development
    • Stack Overflow Ranks Most Loved/Dreaded Programming Languages In 2019

      The Developer Survey results for 2019 by Stack Overflow are out now. Like every other year, the Q&A site for coding has conducted a survey for the most loved, dreaded and wanted programming languages this year too.

      Rust has been ranked as the most loved language whereas VBA had to take up the unpleasant position of most dreaded language in 2019. Meanwhile, Python, which continues to see a constant rise in its popularity, has been crowned the most wanted language by developers.

    • PyDev of the Week: Dane Hillard

      This week we welcome Dane Hillard (@easyaspython) as our PyDev of the Week! Dane is the author Practices of the Python Pro, an upcoming book from Manning. He is also a blogger and web developer. Let’s take some time to get to know Dane!

    • Interview: Dan Tofan for this week’s data science webinar
    • PySnooper: Never use print for debugging again
    • Tracking the weather with Python and Prometheus
    • Yet another man to epub converter

      Initial search seemed successful, but actually, none of the things I found worked correctly, or at least were not working for me. More precisely, I wanted something to generate a “book” with consistent internal links, so that I can jump from one page to another correctly. See the README for what I tried and gave up on.

      In Debian, there is of course the online manpages service, and there’s also The Linux man-pages project which do this very well. However, the UI and style for these seem to be designed for interactive browsing, whereas a simple output is better for offline browsing.

      So, after a bit of playing around with man -T html, mandoc and man2html, I settled on the later to write my tiny wrapper script. It’s a v0.0.1 release, but nevertheless works, so here it is: https://github.com/iustin/man2ebook.

    • Red Hat to maintain OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11

      Red Hat is taking over maintenance responsibilities for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 from Oracle. Red Hat will now oversee bug fixes and security patches for the two older releases, which serve as the basis for two long-term support releases of Java.

      Red Hat’s updates will feed into releases of Java from Oracle, Red Hat, and other providers. Oracle released JDK (Java Development Kit) 8, based on OpenJDK 8, in March 2014 while JDK 11, based on OpenJDK 11, arrived in September 2018. Previously, Red Hat led the OpenJDK 6 and OpenJDK 7 projects. Red Hat is not taking over OpenJDK 9 or OpenJDK 10, which were short-term releases with a six-month support window.

    • Red Hat Takes Over Maintenance of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 From Oracle
    • parallel @ Savannah: GNU Parallel 20190422 (‘Invitation’) released [stable]

      GNU Parallel 20190422 (‘Invitation’) [stable] has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      No new functionality was introduced so this is a good candidate for a stable release.

    • GStreamer’s Meson and Visual Studio Journey

      Almost 3 years ago, I wrote about how we at Centricular had been working on an experimental port of GStreamer from Autotools to the Meson build system for faster builds on all platforms, and to allow building with Visual Studio on Windows.

      At the time, the response was mixed, and for good reason—Meson was a very new build system, and it needed to work well on all the targets that GStreamer supports, which was all major operating systems. Meson did aim to support all of those, but a lot of work was required to bring platform support up to speed with the requirements of a non-trivial project like GStreamer.

    • OpenJDK 11 Now The Default Java For Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – Plus Some New OpenJDK Benchmarks

      Canonical has shifted the default Java of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from OpenJDK 10 to OpenJDK 11. Plus here are some fresh OpenJDK 8/11/12 benchmarks on this Ubuntu Long Term Support release.

      Ubuntu 18.04 has shifted from OpenJDK 10 to 11 since OpenJDK 11 is a long-term support release and thus better aligned with Ubuntu 18.04 being an LTS release itself than continuing to use OpenJDK 10 or the latest 12 release. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as February of last year we wrote how Ubuntu 18.04 LTS would likely ship with OpenJDK 10 and then transition to 11 when ready.

    • 10 Best Programming Languages to Learn Hacking

      We covered the Best 20 Hacking and Penetration Tools for Kali Linux and I am happy that our readers were excited at the new tools they came across. However, getting the tools is one thing and knowing how to use them properly is another.

      Hacking involves breaking the protocols of any system on a network and while this can be done by a plethora of applications available for free, being a hacker requires you to understand the languages that the software that you have in focus is written in and they are usually written in a range of common languages.

      Today, we bring you a list of programming languages that you should know if you want to build a career as a hacker.

    • How often do you contribute to open source projects?

      According to the most recent Stack Overflow survey results, more than 36% of respondents never contribute to open source projects. I wonder: Would we get different results in a Developer reader survey?

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Amid Trump’s Attacks, Planned Parenthood Broadens Health Care Focus

      The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its reproductive health agenda. It has rolled out changes to the Title X program, which funds family planning services for low-income people, that are designed to have a chilling effect on organizations that provide abortions or include this option in counseling. It also has nominated federal judges widely believed to support state-level abortion restrictions.

      Against that backdrop, Planned Parenthood, known as a staunch defender of abortion rights, is working to recast its public image. Under its president, Dr. Leana Wen, who took office in November, the nation’s largest reproductive health provider is highlighting the breadth of care it provides — treating depression, screening for cancer and diabetes, and taking on complex health problems like soaring maternal mortality rates.

      This strategy, analysts say, could buttress Planned Parenthood against the efforts by the White House and other abortion opponents. But it’s complicated. Even as the organization leans into its community health work, Wen isn’t abandoning the abortion-related services that have helped form the organization’s identity — and its opposition.

      “We cannot separate out one of our services. That’s not how medicine works,” Wen told Kaiser Health News.

    • Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply

      The timing of the announcement was curious. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal challenging the state of Hawaii’s exclusion of migrants from the Compacts of Free Association nations from its Medicaid program on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. By that afternoon the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced its intentions to remove patients who had been enrolled in Medicaid.

      The Hawaii Department of Human Services had a plan ready for rollout. Those 18 and under and pregnant women would continue to receive Medicaid. The aged, blind, and disabled would continue to receive state-funded benefits under a Medicaid-like plan. Those 19 through 64 years of age were moved onto private insurance plans via Affordable Healthcare Act mechanisms.

      Of note, Abercrombie was a lame duck by Nov. 3. He had lost in the Democratic Party primary to David Ige, who went on to defeat Republican James “Duke” Aiona and independent Mufi Hannemann the next day: Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

      What was the reason for the alacrity to announce the plan to remove COFA migrants from Medicaid rolls?

  • Security
    • Guess Who Fooled The Nokia9 PureView – A Pack Of Chewing Gum!

      We are all aware that smartphone security options such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition aren’t 100% secure. This has been proved further with the case of the Nokia 9 PureView, which appears to have been unlocked by a pack of chewing gum.

      As per a couple of tweets, the Nokia 9 PureView is reportedly getting unlocked via unidentified fingerprints of another user and a pack of chewing gum.

    • Linux Distributions Should Enhance how Sudo Asks for Passwords

      One thing to be noticed from the picture above is that the password is hidden. When users write anything at that time, nothing will be displayed on the screen, not even asterisks. They’ll have to trust that there’s something written in the terminal and just write their passwords and hit Enter.

      Historically, this is done for both ease of implementation and security reasons. It makes it difficult for people standing near your shoulder from knowing your password length. If they don’t know your password length, it would be harder for them to guess it. They can, of course, listen to the keystrokes you are hitting and try to guess how many characters did you hit? But that’s more difficult than just looking at the screen and counting the number of asterisks there.

      Also, when they see that your password is too long, they might not even try to use your computer and guess your password. But if your password is less than few characters, it will give them hope.

      Additionally, in terms of implementation, displaying an asterisk instead of the password character requires more code and work to do. In the terminal, when you write normal commands and you see them in the terminal, it’s because the “echo mode” is set to On, meaning that all characters will be displayed on your screen. In sensitive commands, however, such as sudo or passwd, “echo mode” is set to Off, which simply doesn’t take the extra step of printing those characters to the screen. So that’s less work and code to do, and it went on like that since the Unix days to simply hide the password characters

    • Top 10 Best Linux Password Managers In 2019

      If you are a Linux users and struggling to get a proper password manager then this post is for you. In this post, We have listed the best (at least for us) Linux password managers for you.

    • Your Netflix Bandersnatch Choices Can Be Tracked By Hackers

      Netflix took the video streaming industry by storm when it debuted Black Mirror: Bandersnatch last year. The “choose your own adventure” themed movie puts viewers in charge of the story and flow of the movie. The success of Bandersnatch even led to the creation of a second interactive show ‘You vs. Wild’ featuring Bear Grylls.

    • Proactively Identifying Compromised Passwords | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Malware Analysis With Valkyrie
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump’s Call to Libyan National Army Leader Increases Risk of ‘Protracted Urban Conflict,’ Experts Say

      A phone call from President Donald Trump to Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Haftar helped to escalate deadly violence in the Libyan capital of Tripoli this weekend, as well as undercutting the United Nations’ hope for a ceasefire in the country.

      A number of airstrikes, allegedly including strikes by armed drones, hit Tripoli in Sunday’s early morning hours, escalating Haftar’s assault on the city as he attempts to oust the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and take control of Libya. The Libyan National Army’s (LNA) attacks on Tripoli have now killed an estimated 227 people, injuring more than 1,000 and leaving at least 16,000 displaced.

    • Social media influencer plotted to take internet domain at gunpoint. It didn’t end well
    • After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken

      The moment the 54-year-old walks up to the car, it is obvious something is terribly wrong. The way he drags his feet, then stamps them on the ground and marches forward like a toy soldier, head lowered; then the way he looks up at you from beneath dark brows, in both greeting and concern. Taamy Wahab Mohamed al-Yasaari should have returned from the Isis battlefront to a land fit for heroes.

      For the Shia Muslims of southern Iraq, he counts among the heroes. When I ask him when he was wounded, he looks and stares at the wall in a distressed way, dark eyes framed by thick black hair but white beard. “Several times I was wounded,” al-Yasaari says. And you can tell that the bullets and shrapnel have framed a diary in his mind. “On 28 April 2015 at Bayji, on 3 July 2015, again at Bayji, on 5 May 2016 on the Makhoul mountains near Tikrit, then on 3 July 2017 at Khalidiya in Anbar province.” It was the last wound which did for him.

      “I was leading a company of the Ali Akbar brigade into an attack on the enemy, and an Isis sniper shot me in the head. His bullet hit me in the back of the brain.” And here al-Yasaari puts his left hand to the back of his head. “I lost part of my skull and words are very difficult for me now. My memories are very difficult. I regret nothing. I followed the fatwa of our leader [ayatollah Ali al-Sistani]. Look, here are my wounds.”

      And the staring eyes of al-Yasaari look at me as he rolls up his trousers to show scars and great searing cuts across his legs. There is a terrible mark on his calf, as if someone has sawed away at the flesh. He had paid the price of following Sistani’s fatwa – to fight a “defensive war” against Isis after the Islamist capture of Mosul in 2014 – and it is clear that today he thinks of little else.

    • The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel

      There is no more authoritative newspaper in the country, perhaps the world, than the New York Times. But when the Times gets it wrong, it is often a real doozy. In the 1930s, the Times’ man in Moscow, Walter Duranty, completely missed the Kremlin’s forced famine in the Ukraine that led to the death of six to seven million Ukrainians and Russians. Joseph Stalin’s KGB found Duranty to be a “useful idiot” in accepting Moscow’s denial of widespread famine and mass starvation. Incredibly, Duranty won a Pulitzer for his articles from the Soviet Union.

      Throughout the Cold War, the Times’ man at the Pentagon, Drew Middleton, accepted the threat assessments of the U.S. military, and thereby helped several administrations make their case for increased military spending. In the early 1980s, a Times’ stringer, Clair Sterling, repeated the disinformation of the Reagan administration, including the Central Intelligence Agency, and charged the Soviet Union with responsibility for the assassination attempt against the Polish Pope, John Paul II. More recently, Times’ reporters, particularly Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, bought the phony line of the U.S. intelligence community regarding so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, thereby helping the Bush administration make the case for war.

      In today’s world, the New York Times is helping the Trump administration’s “war cabinet” make the case for an increased security threat from both Russia and China. The efforts of Moscow and Beijing to be a stakeholder in such problem areas as the proliferation of weapons programs in Iraq and North Korea as well as the systemic domestic problems in both countries is ignored or downplayed. Their respective policies toward Syria and the South China Sea are typically exaggerated.

    • Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons

      The Huffington Post (“Substitute Teacher Fired After Bullets Fall Out Of Pockets In Pre-K Class,” April 15, 2019) reported the story of the substitute pre-kindergarten teacher at an elementary school in Millbury, Massachusetts who had been fired because he dropped loose bullets from his pocket in class. That incident prompted a search of his home that found unsecured guns.

      It seems unfathomable that a person could carry loose bullets around in a school environment (not illegal in Massachusetts) among young children without noticing, but given the benefit of the doubt, perhaps a busy schedule, or other issue, might have resulted in the oversight. It’s impossible to know. By the unnamed teacher’s own admission, he had been shooting at a facility the previous day and the loose bullets were left over from that experience.

      No reporting from media outlets in the greater Boston area added anything of substance to the incident. There was no mention of the history of school shootings in the U.S., the most notable shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and extending out in time to places like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and Marjory Stoneham High School in Florida. But this was not a school shooting incident, and the teacher brought no guns onto school premises in Millbury.

    • Dreaming in Miami

      After three months of threats and threats to a double stage – the State Department in Washington DC and a theater in Miami – the US Administration finally announced what it intends to do to intensify its economic war against Cuba.

      On the 17th, at the mid-morning in a brief ceremony, just a few minutes, in the capital, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it known that they will fully implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. He did not offer any further explanations, although he said that as of May 2, “Cuban-Americans” will be able to file claims before the US courts against those who use in any way the properties that they claim were theirs or their families’.

      There were no questions and no text was answered to answer the questions that such a decision must have been given among those who remember that for twenty-three years – Clinton, W. Bush, Obama and Trump himself – had adopted a position contrary to what is now being announced.

    • AFRICOM Calls for My “Elimination”

      If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or to bring this thought experiment into the modern age — if it happens in the forest, does it stay in the forest? I ask this question because it has a bearing on the article to come. Specifically, what if an article of mine on the U.S. military appears somewhere in our media world and that military refuses to notice? Does it have an impact?

      Before I explain, I need to shout a little: AFRICOM! AFRICOM! AFRICOM!

      Any media monitoring service working for U.S. Africa Command, the umbrella organization for American military activity on the African continent, would obviously notice that outburst and provide a “clip” of this article to the command.

      But just to be safe: AFRICOM! AFRICOM! AFRICOM!

      Now, there is no excuse for this article not to appear in AFRICOM’S clips, which are packaged up and provided to the Africa Command’s media relations office in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany, on weekdays as the “AFRICOM Daily News Review.” In fact, including Africa Command or its acronym 11 times in the first 200 words of this piece must be some kind of record, the sort that should certainly earn this article the top spot in tomorrow’s review.

      But no matter how often I mention AFRICOM’s name, I know perfectly well that’s not going to happen. Let me explain.

    • Amid Push for New Oil Sanctions, Pompeo Reportedly Jokes About Secret Coup Plot Against Iran

      With the Trump administration moving ahead Monday with punishing new sanctions against Iran with the goal of completely halting the country’s oil exports, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly joked about a secret White House plot to overthrow the Iranian government during a private meeting with Iranian-American “community leaders.”

      According to Axios, when asked last week whether the Trump administration has considered “the idea of a coup” in Iran, Pompeo responded: “Even if we did, would I be telling you guys about it?”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • A Fortnight

      This last couple of weeks have seen the build-up to Julian’s arrest, the event itself, and the coordinated campaign of lies and hate that have ensued. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also saw the publication of the breath-taking exercise in state dishonesty that is the Mueller Report. Simultaneously these events brought me into close contact with other good friends, who in different ways are also right now going through very difficult periods indeed, involving state conspiracy and injustice. Despite the heartening interlude of a dash to Rothesay to speak to a full and inspiring hall, I not only found myself working rather too hard on all these matters, I also contracted bronchitis and ended up in bed wheezing and a nasty blue colour. To add to all of which, my family are rightly not exactly chuffed with the abandonment of cherished plans for the Easter holiday and my subsequent disappearance and lack of support to them.

    • Julian Assange as Neuroses

      Julian Assange continues to ripple and roam as a cipher through the political and media scape of the world. Detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison, the sort of stately abode only reserved for the most dangerous of criminals, many with indeterminate sentences, he electrifies and concerns.

      The US political classes continue to simmer with an obsession that has gone feral. Some moderation can be found in the efforts of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), who is seeking a bartering solution. “I think he should be given immunity from prosecution in exchange for coming to the United States and testifying.” The question of causing harm or otherwise was less significant than what Assange had to offer in terms of information “probably pertinent to the hacking of the Democratic emails”.

      It is precisely the issue of harm that obsessives on the Hill fantasize about. Their rage is that of Caliban before the mirror, and rather than taking issue with US foreign policy, see Assange as an imitator. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaksof WikiLeaks and its “destructive role by directly interfering in democratic elections and referendums around the world, most troubling of which is WikiLeaks’ collaboration with Russia to directly interfere in the United States presidential election in 2016.”

      But Assange’s formalised incarceration has enabled some scrutiny to be cast over the indictment in question. Dell Cameron from Gizmodo is constructively quizzical, suggesting a few holes in the US case against the publisher. “Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he had ‘no luck so far’.” This raises two questions: Did he even venture to do so? If so, can that very fact be proven?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Dragonflies Make Epic Migrations, But Climate Change Could Foil Their Itineraries

      It’s that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.

      The great monarch migration always makes headlines, in part because climate change, along with our pesticides and agricultural monocultures, threatens to erase the natural spectacle, but also because this natural phenomenon is simply amazing. The trip of nearly 5,000 miles is an unlikely one for an insect, but these butterflies don’t have a monopoly on the massive, multigenerational migration game.

      It’s time to give some love to the epic feats of dragonflies.

      According to a study published by the Royal Society last fall, common green darners, which are found from Cuba to Canada, make a long, complex journey that takes three generations and spans a distance of more than 1,500 miles. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how they do it, but temperature seems to play a key role in telling the animals when to move. Unfortunately, this means climate change could well wreck the whole event even before we fully understand it. Worse, it would leave much of eastern North America without an important member of its food web.

    • ‘We Are the Ones Making a Difference’: Greta Thunberg Addresses Extinction Rebellion in London

      A day before countries around the world celebrate Earth Day, activist and leader of the School Strike for Climate Greta Thunberg addressed protesters in London who have been occupying a number of major landmarks for almost a week, rallying the demonstrators to continue their fight against the “existential crisis” brought about by climate change.

      “Humanity is now standing at a crossroads,” Thunberg told the protesters gathered at the Marble Arch. “We must now decide which path we want to take. How do we want the future living conditions for all species to be? We have gathered here today and in many other places around London and across the world too, because we have chosen which path we want to take and now we are waiting for the others to follow our example.”

    • Some Ways to Frame “Regeneration”

      Human activities have degraded ecosystems globally to the point that Earth is now in overshoot-and-collapse. We need to restore ecosystem functions in the coming decades in order to safeguard our collective future. This will require us to regenerate the environments on which we depend.

      I have been working with the Regenerative Communities Network to cultivate bioregional-scale projects that do this very thing. One of our challenges is that most people have not been trained in regenerative design practices — including how we frame regeneration itself.

      The purpose of this article is to lay out some of the ways that regeneration can be framed… helping us conceptualize what we are doing and communicate more effectively with our partners in the field. My intention is not so much to be comprehensive as it is to stimulate further discussion. We need to have conversations about the language we use to work together, especially when conflicts arise and it becomes necessary to navigating through diverse points of view.

    • Earth Day 2019: We Don’t Have Time

      Generally speaking, humans have demonstrated over and over a remarkable ability to cooperate in a crisis. The tragic fire at the beloved Notre Dame’s Cathedral was a case in point. Firemen and even members of the public rushed into the inferno, while millions of people around the world paced in front of their TV sets, wanting to jump in an help, anxiously waiting for the fire to be put out, and breathing a collective sigh of relief that there was hope for its survival. Donors rushed in behind first responders, generating a billion euros in financial support to rebuild within 24 hours.

      Humans have also aligned themselves around seemingly perpetual, slow burning crises to advance social and civil rights issues. Togher with governments, people have established a number of functioning democracies, have mostly abolished slavery, and in a remarkable show of global support, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change opened for signature on Earth Day on April 22, 2016. The Climate Agreement was a reminder of what can happen with the planets of science, people’s movements, bureaucracies, and economic interests come into alignment around a crisis.

    • Arctic leaks of laughing gas may add to heat

      US scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.

      Nitrous oxide, which chemists know also as laughing gas, is an estimated 300 times more potent as a climate warming agent than the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. It was present in data recordings at levels at least 12 times higher than all previous estimates.

      And it is long-lived: it survives in the atmosphere for around 120 years, according to a separate new study of the microbiology of nitrous oxide. And if it gets even higher, into the stratosphere, it can be converted by the action of oxygen and sunlight into another oxide of nitrogen, to quietly destroy the ozone layer.

    • Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary

      April 26 marks the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 radiation disaster at Chernobyl reactor Number 4 in Ukraine, just north of Kiev the capital. It is still nearly impossible to get scientific consensus on the vast extent of the impacts. The explosions and two-week long fire at Chernobyl spewed around the world something between one billion and nine billion curies of radiation — depending on whose estimates you choose to believe. The accident is classified by the UN as the worst environmental catastrophe in human history.

      Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout has been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acknowledges only 56 deaths among firefighters who suffered and died agonizing deaths in the disaster’s immediate aftermath. However, the IAEA’s officially chartered mission is “to accelerate and enlarge the contributions of nuclear power worldwide.” Because of its institutional bias, one can dispute nearly everything the IAEA says about radiation risk.

      Also on the low-end of fatality estimates is the World Health Organization which has to have its radiation studies approved by the IAEA! In 2006, the WHO’s “Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4,000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240,000 liquidators; 116,000 evacuees, and the 270,000 residents of the Strictly Controlled Zones).” The WHO added to this 4,000 the estimate that “among the five million residents of areas with high levels of radioactive cesium deposition” in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine” predictions suggest “up to 5,000 additional cancer deaths may occur in this population from radiation exposure…”

      Alternately, Ukraine’s Minister of Health Andrei Serkyuk estimated in 1995 that 125,000 people had already died from the direct effects of Chernobyl’s radiation. Serkyuk said a disproportionate share of casualties were among children, pregnant women and rescue workers or “liquidators.” Liquidators were soldiers ordered to participate in the removal and burial of radioactive topsoil, heavy equipment, trees, and debris, wearing no protective clothing, respirators or radiation monitors.

    • Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion

      The interconnected environmental catastrophe is the result of a particular lifestyle; a materialistic way of life relentlessly promoted by mass media and governments throughout the industrialized world and beyond. Consuming stuff, most of which is unnecessary, is the key ingredient; excess is championed, sufficiency scoffed at. Far from addressing need, satisfying desire is the driving impulse; the object of desire changes with every new fad of course, discontent is thereby ensured, unlimited consumerism maintained.

      This pattern of insatiable shopping is evident within the polluting world of fashion perhaps more than any other sector; when we should be buying less, more clothes are produced and sold year on year. Worldwide, almost 100 billion items of clothing are made annually (400% more than twenty years ago), a third of which end up in landfill, increasing at a rate of 7% a year.

      The global fashion industry is a major source of environmental contamination, as well as human exploitation. Every item of clothing that is produced carries with it an environmental cost in terms of energy, water, chemicals and land use. The choice of fabrics – natural or man-made – production methods, transportation, dyeing and printing, customer care, all are areas that cause pollution.

      According to the United Nations Climate Change, “around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGE’s) are churned out by the fashion industry, due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production.” The industry consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined. In search of greater profits most manufacturing is now undertaken in China and India, where labor costs are lower, coal-fired power plants predominate, GGEs are highest and, in many cases, employee rights are non-existent. By moving production to developing nations, western companies outsourced, jobs, as well as the pollution and environmental impacts, threatening the health of local people.

    • Woman caught on video tossing a plastic bag full of puppies near a trash bin

      (CNN)Seven puppies were found next to a dumpster in Coachella, California, and authorities say they are looking for the woman caught on camera leaving them.

      The woman is accused of leaving the newborn puppies in a plastic bag near a dumpster behind a NAPA Auto Parts store on Thursday afternoon, according to Riverside County Animal Services.

  • Finance
    • Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion.

      Many families in the Kansas towns, which have grappled with underfunded public schools and deteriorating test scores, initially embraced the change. Under Summit’s program, students spend much of the day on their laptops and go online for lesson plans and quizzes, which they complete at their own pace. Teachers assist students with the work, hold mentoring sessions and lead special projects. The system is free to schools. The laptops are typically bought separately.

      Then, students started coming home with headaches and hand cramps. Some said they felt more anxious. One child began having a recurrence of seizures. Another asked to bring her dad’s hunting earmuffs to class to block out classmates because work was now done largely alone.

      [...]

      Summit chose not to be part of a study after paying the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research to design one in 2016. Tom Kane, the Harvard professor preparing that assessment, said he was wary of speaking out against Summit because many education projects receive funding from Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan’s philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    • Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes

      Did you know that if you make less than $66,000 a year, you can prepare and file your taxes for free?

      No? That’s no accident. Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know.

      Intuit and other tax software companies have spent millions lobbying to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a “Free File” product to most Americans — but good luck finding it.

    • ‘When Workers Fight, Workers Win’: Union Declares Victory as Stop & Shop Strike Ends With Deal to Raise Wages

      “Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable healthcare, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success,” the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) said in a statement.

      The deal brings to an end the largest private-sector strike in years, which lasted 11 days and spanned three New England states. The walk-out began as a protest against Stop & Shop’s effort to slash benefits and increase employees’ healthcare costs.

      Union members—who are expected to return to work Monday—will soon vote on whether to approve the three-year agreement, which reportedly raises wages, preserves retirement and healthcare benefits, and upholds time-and-a-half pay on Sundays.

    • Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational

      At precisely 1:00 Eastern time on the afternoon of April 11th, 31,000 workers at 253 Stop and Shop grocery stores throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts walked off their jobs. The strike came after several months of failed negotiations in which Stop and Shop refused to retract an onerous set of demands for the elimination of premium pay for Sunday work, major cuts to pensions and dramatic increases in the amount workers would have to pay for health care.

      Most of the strikers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the rest are members of the Teamsters. Truck drivers both union and non-union have honored the picket lines by refusing to make their deliveries, according to strikers at four picket lines in Bridgeport and Fairfield, Connecticut. The workers at those stores also report that no union members have crossed the picket line. Most stores are open as supervisors and a small number of replacement workers have been stocking shelves and working cash registers but business has taken a big hit.

    • Pete Buttigieg Trivializes the Impact of Trade on US Job Losses

      The loss of relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs devastated whole communities, as many lost their major employer, with nothing to replace it. This devastation is seen even more clearly if we look at what happened to the number of unionized jobs in manufacturing over these years.

      The number of manufacturing workers represented by a union fell by more than 1.1 million from 2000 to 2007, almost 40 percent of the total. These were the better-paying jobs that typically allowed workers to enjoy a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

      Buttigieg’s efforts to trivialize this job loss by making the comparison to the jobs lost to automation would be like telling the Nebraska farmers that the recent flooding was no big deal, since the rains that caused the flooding were just a small fraction of the total rainfall in a year. That’s a true statement but entirely irrelevant to the damage caused by the flooding.

      While automation is (wrongly) seen as a sort of natural outcome of the progress of technology, trade is explicitly steered by government policy through trade deals.

      Specifically, the U.S. signed trade deals that opened domestic manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid Chinese workers. At the same time, we ensured that doctors and other highly paid professionals were protected from such competition.

    • ‘A Really Exciting Proposal’: Elizabeth Warren’s Education Overhaul Would Wipe Out Student Debt, Provide Free Public College

      Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel part or all student loan debt for 95 percent of Americans and make public college free for everyone—the latest, and perhaps most ambitious, policy proposal for the 2020 Democratic contender.

      Warren announced the policy in a Medium post Monday morning.

      The Massachusetts Democrat told readers that her own past as a waitress who was able to attend public college due to the school’s low cost is now unattainable for most Americans.

      But Warren aims to change that.

      “The first step in addressing this crisis is to deal head-on with the outstanding debt that is weighing down millions of families and should never have been required in the first place,” wrote Warren. “That’s why I’m calling for something truly transformational — the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook Signals Softer Stance on Ad Rules for EU Elections

      Clegg identified 19 EU institutions that the platform could exempt from the rules for a month leading up to the European elections, which run from May 23-26, according to the letter to Antonio Tajani.

    • The European Press Corps Cannot Cover the EU

      Seeking to project influence and unity, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, holds a daily news conference open to journalists from across the continent, and, in fact, the world. Yet most media coverage is stubbornly parochial. Reports from European news outlets have a national flavor, catering to local sensibilities. Whether a national leader won, lost, or tied, whether a representative was able to extract a concession to bring back home or capitulated to counterparts, is often more important than how members’ decisions affect the EU as a whole.

    • Comedian Headed for Landslide Victory in Ukraine Election

      A comedian whose only political experience consists of playing a president on TV cruised toward a huge landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday in what was seen as a reaction against the country’s entrenched corruption and low standard of living.

      Results from 25% of polling stations showed sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy receiving three times as many votes as President Petro Poroshenko — 73% to 24% — a crushing rebuke to Poroshenko’s five years in office.

      Even before results started trickling in, Poroshenko accepted defeat based on exit polls, saying: “I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics.”

      Zelenskiy, for his part, promised wide changes at the top echelons of government and said his No. 1 task would be securing the release of about 170 Ukrainian military members taken prisoner in the east or in Russia.

    • Accuracy at Heart of Census Question Before Supreme Court

      Justice Elena Kagan’s father was 3 years old when the census taker came to the family’s apartment on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, on April 10, 1930.

      Robert Kagan was initially wrongly listed as an “alien,” though he was a native-born New Yorker. The entry about his citizenship status appears to have been crossed out on the census form.

      Vast changes in America and technology have dramatically altered the way the census is conducted. But the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count is at the heart of the Supreme Court case over the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

      The justices are hearing arguments in the case on Tuesday, with a decision due by late June that will allow for printing forms in time for the count in April 2020.

    • Most Devastating of All: Mueller’s Indictment of Trump’s Character

      Democrats in Congress and talking heads on television will be consumed in the coming weeks by whether the evidence in the Mueller report, especially of obstruction of justice, merits impeachment.

    • Why I’m Glad Netanyahu Won

      In other words, Gantz might have been a “fresh face,” but, on the central issue of dealing with Palestinians and the occupied territories, he was no different than the prime minister he was seeking to replace.

    • Mueller Time? Not for Now

      The Mueller report does not exonerate Trump; it simply finds insufficient evidence of criminal conduct involved in Russian collusion.

      Mueller says he failed to find admissible or sufficient evidence proving criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt, that is, the standard of evidence involved in “making a traditional prosecutorial judgement”.

      At the same time, while using this standard, he concluded that “a statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts”.

      As such, his report still contains evidence that satisfies other criteria which might (in principle) meet the standard for, e.g., impeachment, such as “beyond a reasonable balance of probabilities”. Mueller himself urges Congress to explore this possibility.

    • What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics

      The latest bizarre twist in the “Irish Slaves” saga is that James Woods, the actor best known for his cameo as a Kwik-E-Mart employee in The Simpsons, has shared an historically inaccurate meme, the aim of which is to diminish the suffering of black slavery.

      Now, Woods’ meme is flagrantly wrong in that it states the Irish were “slaves”. Liam Hogan’s research has been important in distinguishing between the indentured servitude suffered by the Irish during the mid-seventeenth century and the chattel slavery suffered by Africans over a greater time span.

      However, strangely, in response to Woods’ post, one can witness the emergence of a counter-myth whereby the Irish did not suffer at all during the transportations which occurred in the wake of Oliver Cromwell’s conquest. Others even seem to suggest that no such thing ever occurred in Ireland.

      This is unsurprising and is the logical outworking of tit-for-tat identity politics, where instead of finding common cause and solidarity in a shared history of colonization, exploitation, and transportation, differences between the experiences of oppressed groups are accentuated.

    • Nothing Wrong With Help From Russians, Trump Lawyer Says

      President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted there was “nothing wrong” with the president’s 2016 campaign taking information from the Russians, as House Democrats pledged stepped-up investigations into campaign misconduct and possible crimes of obstruction detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report .

      Giuliani called the Trump campaign’s effort to get political help from representatives of the Russian government possibly ill-advised but not illegal.

      “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Giuliani said Sunday, referring to a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a lawyer linked to Russia. The Trump campaign was seeking harmful information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

      The Sunday news shows offered the latest back and forth following the long-anticipated release on Thursday of Mueller’s 448-page redacted report on his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign and made no decision on obstruction of justice.

    • Nearly three in four voters just made Volodymyr Zelenskiy the next president of Ukraine. So what’s next?

      Since declaring independence in 1991, Ukraine has elected six presidents. This weekend, voters chose their most recent leader: actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Once taking office, he will have to figure out how to cooperate with Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, where he has neither a majority nor his own faction. His team is reportedly considering the dissolution of the parliament, but this would be very difficult, and disagreements about the Rada could damage Zelenskiy’s early popularity.
      With 99.72 percent of all second-round ballots counted, the actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy has defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko with 73.22 percent of the votes — the largest victory margin in Ukraine’s history as an independent nation. In terms of absolute numbers, however, Zelenskiy received just 13.5 million votes — fewer than any of his predecessors, except Poroshenko in 2014 (who got 9.8 million, but won in the first round) and Viktor Yanukovych in 2010 (who received 12.4 million votes). The only region Poroshenko won this weekend was Lviv (in the first round, he’d also won in the Ternopil region). Additionally, it’s important to remember that neither Crimea nor the two separatists “republics” in the Donbas participated in Ukraine’s last two presidential elections. Roughly 6 million people live in these areas.

    • UKRAINE: WHY “OU” LOST BY A LANDSLIDE

      With the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky, who won 73 percent of the vote, the comedian will become the president of Ukraine. Understanding how this occurred becomes easy when people review US government documents published by Wikileaks about the outgoing president.

      Who is “OU”? Our Ukraine. In a classified diplomatic cable from 2006 released by Wikileaks.org, U.S. officials refer to Poroshenko as “Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko.” “Our Ukraine” has been in the pocket of the US government for 13 years.

      The US government knew he was corrupt. A separate cable also released by Wikileaks makes that clear. The May 2006 cable states “Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations, but wielded significant influence within OU; Poroshenko’s price had to be paid.” The US government knew he was corrupt, but allowing his corruption was a price the US was willing to pay to have Our Ukraine serving as president.

    • What Happens If Trump Breaks All the Laws?

      Since Donald Trump took the reins of power in January 2017, his ghastly team has been looking for ever more creative ways to make the lives of immigrants and would-be immigrants as miserable as possible. They have sought to use all the powers of the executive branch to limit not just undocumented immigration, but also legal immigration through curtailing the issuing of visas and shuttering overseas visa-processing offices; travel bans targeting people from Muslim-majority countries; ludicrously low caps on the numbers of refugees; and, over the past months, an all-out assault on asylum seekers. The administration has sought to shred Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections, which provide undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children some legal protections and the ability to work. It has also shredded Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections, which give temporary residency rights to immigrants who fled dire conditions in a number of countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has pushed to end the diversity lottery, which allots 50,000 green cards annually to residents of poorer, mainly southern hemisphere countries. And time and again, the administration has referred to immigrants as invaders and purveyors of crime and sickness, using a dehumanizing language reminiscent of other fascist and totalitarian regimes in recent history.

      So far, however, they have, albeit reluctantly, just about abided by court rulings. When the courts ordered the ending of family separation policies and the imprisoning of children in cages, the administration complied. When courts ruled DACA had to be continued, Trump fulminated against the judges on Twitter, but at the end of the day, the administration agreed to renew DACA status for the people under its umbrella. TPS recipients are, as a result of court rulings, also not currently being deported en masse.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Your Mental Health App Might Be Selling Your Data To Google Or Facebook

      With our increasing dependence on smartphones and other electronic gadgets to help us perform our daily chores in a more efficient manner, it makes sense to use them to assist us when dealing with depression and other mental health-related issues. However, a new study has found that such apps can’t be fully trusted — thanks to their shady privacy policies and incomplete disclosers.

      In a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the researchers found that out of 36 top apps for treating depression and smoking addiction, 29 were transmitting user data to advertising companies like Google and Facebook. Out of those 29, only 12 disclosed this data sharing agreement in their privacy policy.

    • Judge Tells Research Center To Give Back Facial Recognition Documents The NYPD Forgot To Redact

      The NYPD, that paragon of opacity, screwed up. And now it wants its stuff back.

      The Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology has been engaged in a public records lawsuit against the NYPD since 2017. It’s seeking records on the department’s use of facial recognition technology. The NYPD has fought hard, but has been forced to hand over almost 3,700 pages of relevant info to date. This after initially telling the Center it had “no responsive documents.”

      Contained in the steady drip of documents handed over to the Center was something the NYPD wasn’t supposed to release in unredacted form. It took almost a month for the department to realize it had screwed up. Rather than let uncensored bygones be bygones, the NYPD took it up with the judge presiding over the case. The NYPD’s legal rep wasn’t too thrilled with the department’s inadvertent transparency.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Justice For Lucca: This Is Your Country On Racist Brutality, Still

      In this season of hope and renewal, see two burly white thugs/cops in Florida set upon a 15-year-old, backpack-wearing black boy – who did nothing but retrieve for safety the cell phone of another kid under assault – then pepper spray him, throw him to the ground, repeatedly punch and slam his head into the pavement, and handcuff the now-blood-spattered boy on charges of – say what?! – resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. The fracas began when Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a reported fight at a shopping plaza near J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, where kids often hang out at a McDonalds. There, officers Christopher Krickovich and Greg LaCerra found, dropped and handcuffed one kid who they charged with trespassing. On now-viral video, with the first kid on the ground, Krickovich then suddenly grabs the second boy, reportedly named Lucca, sprays him in the face, hurls him to the ground, and begins beating him as LaCerra jumps on Lucca’s back and distraught kids standing around watch, film, and scream, “What are you doing?!? What are you doing?!? He’s bleeding! He’s bleeding!”

    • Another Attempt To Tie Twitter To Terrorist Acts And Another Dismissal With Prejudice

      “A series of lawsuits,” the court calls it. This is the ongoing work of 1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law — two firms that specialize in bringing losing lawsuits to federal courts. It’s a series of lawsuits and a series of losses. An unbroken string of dismissals at both the district and appellate levels — all in response to the firms’ attempts to hold social media companies responsible for the acts of terrorists.

      Mandy Palmucci — a victim of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France — filed an incredibly long lawsuit (121 pages!) last year with the assistance of these two law firms. She needn’t have bothered. This one joins the pile of rejected complaints passing through the federal court system. (h/t John Roddy)

      The only thing notable about this latest loss is how irritated Judge William H. Orrick seems to be with these lawsuits that keep landing in his court. Handling one of these lawsuits twice appears to have dug deep into Judge Orrick’s reserves of patience.

    • Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

      None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year [2017]—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

      Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

      Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

      Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

      The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense. We live in a two-tiered legal system, one in which poor people are harassed, arrested and jailed for absurd infractions, such as selling loose cigarettes—which led to Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City policeman in 2014—while crimes of appalling magnitude that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth are dealt with through tepid administrative controls, symbolic fines and civil enforcement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Warner Bros. Takes Down TorrentFreak Tweet Over Software Piracy?

        Twitter has informed TorrentFreak that another tweet from us has been removed. Apparently, a link to a news article was somehow making pirated software available. Strange, since the request was sent on behalf of movie studio Warner Bros. Apparently, there’s still room to improve the accuracy of these takedown notices

      • EC to launch a new directive repealing the copyright directive incl. articles 15 and 17

        As you are probably aware, a Copyright Directive was introduced in the European Union that will change our Internet forever.

        Article 11 and Article 13 (now called Article 15 and Article 17) will introduce an #uploadfilter and a #linktax. This is unacceptable to us.

        We ask the new European Commission to introduce a new directive repealing the current copyright directive including the widely criticized articles 15 and 17 (known previously as articles 11 and 13). How this is done is up to you, but we do not give our consent to launch ANY law that introduces the Internet censorship and forces the website owners to proactively monitor their services.

        To anyone who considers signing: between 23 and 26 May 2019 there will be new elections in the EU. This petition is to be delivered to the new EU Commission. Let’s give them a clear message that we want them to create a new directive that will invalidate the current Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that was adopted by the European Parliament on 26 March and approved by the Council of the European Union on 15 April 2019.

USPTO and EPO Both Slammed for Abandoning Patent Quality and Violating the Law/Caselaw in Order to Grant Illegitimate Patents on Life/Nature and Mathematics

Monday 22nd of April 2019 06:18:00 AM

Man with a mission (against mission statements, Constitution, courts etc.)

Summary: Mr. Iancu, the ‘American Battistelli’ (appointed owing to nepotism), mirrors the ‘Battistelli operandi’, which boils down to treating judges like they’re stooges and justices like an ignorable nuisance — all this in the name of litigation profits, which necessitate constant wars over illegitimate patents (it is expensive to prove their illegitimacy)

THE deplorable “2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance” from Iancu is thankfully backfiring. The vast majority of comments received so far strongly oppose it and the judges at the Federal Circuit fire back at Trump's 'circus clown' Iancu, seeing that this attorney tries to overrule all of their decisions with a stroke of a pen. He also weakens Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) — an issue not overlooked by anybody. Does he try to become an 'American Battistelli'? Certainly.

The Internet Association’s comments on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) eligibility guidance, according to this new tweet, say: “The Guidance appears to stretch too far beyond the Alice safe harbors when it extends eligibility to the mere use of a judicial exception.”

We’ve decided to take a look at the full thing and it’s a really good — if not at times strongly-worded — response. It’s blasting Iancu for his bias and attack on PTAB’s independence. I have read the entire thing and rewrote it as HTML (manually):

IN THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
________________________

2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance
________________________

Docket No. PTO-P-2018-0053
________________________

COMMENTS OF THE INTERNET ASSOCIATION
________________________

William G. Jenks
Jenks IP Law PLLC
1629 K ST NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006

March 8, 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS

[...]

I. Commenter’s Interest And Initial Statement

The Internet Association is the unified voice of the Internet economy, representing the interests of America’s leading Internet companies and their global community of users.1 The Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth, and empower users. The members of the Internet Association have extensive experience with the application of the abstract idea exception in patent examination, litigation, and post-grant review proceedings.

The Internet Association applauds the USPTO for its continued serious examination of the contours of patent eligibility. The Federal Circuit continues to develop caselaw that informs the eligibility inquiry. But the Office has “the primary responsibility for sifting out unpatentable material” through examination.2 It is fitting, therefore, that the Office periodically updates its guidance to better ensure that issued patents conform with the limits on eligibility set by the courts. The USPTO’s new Section 101 Guidance is a promising start that, with modification, will help the Office fulfill its role in the patent system.3

Structurally, the Guidance preserves the two-step test provided in Alice and Mayo. This structure is necessary if the Office is to maintain a strong correlation between the courts’ development of ineligibility law and the Office’s examination of patents under Section 101. But the Guidance also creates a structural bias against ineligibility rejections when the claims-at issue do not fit neatly into the categories provided. The Office should reconsider. There should not be any structural bias disfavoring (or favoring) a particular rejection. The merits of the individual case should singularly control any eligibility decision made by Office personnel.

Regarding substance, the Guidance incorporates lessons from some of the Federal Circuit’s leading cases but the Office should expand its approach to capture the full scope of eligibility law. In particular, the Guidance should (1) more fully explain how claims directed to data collection, manipulation, and display are to be treated and (2) better incorporate the caselaw’s reliance on improved technology in Step 2A. The Office should also reconsider its reliance on “hypothetical” examples. The Office would do better to build real caselaw into the Guidance.

_____
1 The Internet Association’s members include Airbnb, Amazon, Ancestry, Coinbase, DoorDash, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Eventbrite, Expedia, Facebook, Google, Groupon, Handy, HomeAway, IAC, Intuit, Letgo, LinkedIn, Lyft, Match Group, Microsoft, Pandora, PayPal, Pinterest, Postmates, Quicken Loans, Rackspace, Rakuten, Reddit, Snap Inc., Spotify, Stripe, SurveyMonkey, Thumbtack, TransferWise, TripAdvisor, Turo, Twilio, Twitter, Uber, Upwork, Vivid Seats, Yelp, Zenefits, and Zillow Group.

2 Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, 18 (1966).

3 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance Dkt. No. PTO-P-2018-0053, 84 Fed. Reg. 50 (Jan. 7, 2019) (“Section 101 Guidance” or “Guidance”).

II. The Section 101 Guidance Properly Relies On The Alice/Mayo Structure, But It Should Be Clarified To Better Show How The Substantive Caselaw Principles Are To Be Applied

The Guidance maintains the Office’s use of the Alice/Mayo two-step test.4 That is altogether fitting. The USPTO should resist any calls for changes to that basic structure. The Federal Circuit’s increased emphasis on what claims are “directed to” under Step 2A warrants the Office’s review and elucidation of that area. Commenters generally support the revised approach but suggest that the Office provide additional clarification in particular areas to reduce Examiner misunderstandings when applying the Guidance.

A. The Guidance should clarify and further elucidate the Office’s approach to claims reciting data collection, manipulation, and display under Step 2A

The Guidance limits the categories of “key concepts” that are “abstract ideas” to: (a) mathematical concepts, (b) certain methods of organizing human activity, which includes several subcategories, and (c) mental processes.5

The essential clarification needed is that data collection, manipulation, and display fall either within the mathematical concepts category or form a fourth abstract-ideas category. The “mathematical concepts” category, if interpreted in the strictest sense, may not capture the breadth of caselaw, which extends the abstract idea exception to “‘collecting information, analyzing it, and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis.’”6 These data claims appear in a large number of eligibility cases, and the Guidance should explicitly recognize that claims reciting data (or information) collection, manipulation, and display are also within the “groupings of subject matter” that have been “identified by the courts as abstract ideas.”7

In SAP America, for example, claims focused on “selecting certain information, analyzing it using mathematical techniques, and reporting or displaying the results of the analysis” were “directed to abstract ideas.”8 The Court explained that each of these aspects, “[i]nformation as such,” “collecting information,” “analyzing information,” and “presenting the results” without more, was directed to an abstract idea.9 McRO was distinguished because the “claimed improvement [in the McRO claims] was to how the physical display operated (to

_____
4 Section 101 Guidance at 50, col.3.
5 Section 101 Guidance at 52, cols. 1-3.
6 SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC, 898 F.3d 1161, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2018). (quoting Elec. Power Grp. v. Alstom S.A., 830 F.3d 1350, 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2016)).
7 Section 101 Guidance at 52, col. 1.
8 SAP America, 898 F.3d at 1167.
9 Id.

produce better quality images)” and not “to a mathematical technique with no improved display mechanism.”10

SAP America is not an isolated case. The principles therein have been invoked and followed in multiple, precedential, Federal Circuit decisions holding other data-manipulation claims to be directed to abstract ideas.11 These decisions include precedential cases not cited in the Guidance;12 and at least one precedential case issued after the Guidance.13 These principles should, therefore, be more fully explained in the Guidance—including identifying the appropriate category for such claims–to ensure that they are accounted for during examination.

B. The Section 101 Guidance should be modified to better reflect the caselaw’s emphasis on improved technology

The Supreme Court identified two potential categories of patent-eligible subject matter in its Alice decision: Claims that (1) “purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself” or (2) “effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field” could be more than a simple recitation of the abstract idea applied on a computer.14

The Guidance properly relies on the Supreme Court’s view to link eligible subject matter to improvement in the functioning of a computer or other technical field.15 But the Guidance appears to stretch too far beyond the Alice safe harbors when it extends eligibility to the mere use

_____
10 Id.
11 See, e.g., Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc., 896 F.3d 1335, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2018) (“In sum, the recited claims are directed to an abstract idea because they consist of generic and conventional information acquisition and organization steps that are connected to, but do not convert, the abstract idea—displaying a second set of data without interfering with a first set of data—into a particular conception of how to carry out that concept.”).
12 See, e.g., Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Capital One Fin. Corp., 850 F.3d 1332, 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (“We find that, under step one, the claims [at issue] are abstract. We conclude that the patent claims are, at their core, directed to the abstract idea of collecting, displaying, and manipulating data.”); FairWarning IP, LLC v. Iatric Sys., Inc., 839 F.3d 1089, 1093 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (Explaining that “the ‘realm of abstract ideas’ includes ‘collecting information, including when limited to particular content,’ ‘analyzing information,’ and ‘presenting the results … of collecting and analyzing information.’”); see also Two-Way Media Ltd. v. Comcast Cable Commc’ns, LLC, 874 F.3d 1329, 1338 (Fed. Cir. 2017), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 378, 202 L. Ed. 2d 288 (2018); Elec. Power Grp. v. Alstom S.A., 830 F.3d 1350, 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
13 Univ. of Fl. Research Foundation, Inc. v. General Electric Co., No. 2018-1284, slip op. at 10 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 26, 2019) (“[C]laim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of ‘collecting, analyzing, manipulating, and displaying data.’”).
14 Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. 208, 225 (2014).
15 Section 101 Guidance at 55, col. 1.

of a judicial exception “in conjunction with a machine or manufacture” or in “a transformation or reduction of a particular article.”16

The Guidance should more closely tie “practical application”—the lynchpin of eligibility analysis in the Guidance—to technological improvement, which is present in all or nearly all the Federal Circuit’s Step-2A cases. The Guidance cites Eibel Process and Diehr to support its additional eligible categories. Eibel Process is linked to use in conjunction with a machine; Diehr to use in a transformation of an article.17 In both cases, the eligible invention claimed improved the technology at issue. In Eibel, the claimed Fourdrinier machine made paper at a pace much faster than prior machines, and the claims, the Court noted, were “for an improvement on a machine.”18 Similarly, the Supreme Court has made clear that “the claims in Diehr were patent eligible because they improved an existing technological process.”19 Thus, mere incorporation of a machine or transformation in the claim does not justify a rule requiring the claims be eligible under the cases cited.

C. The Section 101 Guidance should recognize the legal distinction between claims reciting a result or function without specifying the mechanism that achieves that result or function and claims that recite a technological advance

The Supreme Court has long distinguished claims that merely recite a result achieved from those that specify the method and mechanism for achieving that result. For example, Samuel Morse famously invented and patented the telegraph. But one of his claims failed because it merely recited “electro-magnetism, however developed, for making or printing intelligible characters, letters, or signs, at any distances, being a new application of that power.”20 The claim was “void” because it covered “an effect produced by the use of electromagnetism, distinct from the process or machinery necessary to produce it.”21 The Supreme Court has relied on this key principle while determining subject matter eligibility for centuries.22

The Federal Circuit has repeatedly relied on the same distinction in its post-Alice eligibility analysis. Claims that merely recite a desired result are more likely directed to an abstract idea. For example, in Internet Patents, which is not cited or discussed in the Guidance, the Federal Circuit held ineligible a claim that merely recited a desired “effect or result

_____
16 Id. (punctuation removed).
17 Id.
18 Eibel Process Co. v. Minnesota & Ontario Paper Co., 261 U.S. 45, 55, 70 (1923). 19 Alice Corp., 573 U.S. at 223.
20 O’Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. 62, 86 (1853).
21 Id. at 120; see also The Telephone Cases, 126 U.S. 1, 534 (1888) (quoting Morse). 22 See, e.g., Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U.S. 593, 649 (2010); Mayo, 132 S. Ct. at 1301; Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 592 (1978); Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 68-69 (1972); The Telephone Cases, 126 U.S. at 534.

dissociated from any method by which [the result] is accomplished.”23 The “character of the claimed invention [was] an abstract idea” because the claim-at-issue contained “no restriction on how the result is accomplished.”24 Thus, the claim was “not directed to patent-eligible subject matter.”25

Multiple precedential Federal Circuit cases rely on this principle to show that claims reciting a mere result or function are more likely directed to abstract ideas.26 On the other hand, claims that recite both a result or function and “an improvement of an existing technology” are typically “directed to” the technological improvement.27

III.The Guidance Should Incorporate And Explain Caselaw

The Section 101 Guidance sets forth the basic steps of examination under caselaw principles. But it fails to incorporate this caselaw directly. The cases are relegated to footnotes with brief parentheticals. This does little to help Examiners understand the distinctions between what is and is not an eligible “practical application.” It is primarily claims that recite the use of abstract ideas to improve the use of machines or to improve industrial processes that are patent eligible in the cases cited.

Given the complexity of the subject matter, the Office can increase the utility of the Guidance by testing the claims and facts of actual cases against each step set forth in the

_____
23 Internet Patents Corp. v. Active Network, Inc., 790 F.3d 1343, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2015).
24 Internet Patents, 790 F.3d at 1348.
25 Id.
26 Smart Sys. Innovations, LLC v. Chicago Transit Auth., 873 F.3d 1364, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (Under Alice step one, courts “‘look to whether the claims … focus on a specific means or method that improves the relevant technology or are instead directed to a result or effect that itself is the abstract idea.’”) (quoting McRO at 1313); Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc., 842 F.3d 1229, 1244 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (“Generally, a claim that merely describes an effect or result dissociated from any method by which it is accomplished is not directed to patent-eligible subject matter.”) (internal marks and brackets omitted); Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC v. DIRECTV, LLC, 838 F.3d 1253, 1265 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (Under “the principles emerging from the developing body of law on abstract ideas under section 101, this court has noted that claims that are so result-focused, so functional, as to effectively cover any solution to an identified problem are frequently held ineligible under section 101.”) (internal marks omitted); Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp., 838 F.3d 1307, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
27 McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games Am. Inc., 837 F.3d 1299, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (“[C]laim 1 is directed to a patentable, technological improvement over the existing, manual 3–D animation techniques. The claim uses the limited rules in a process specifically designed to achieve an improved technological result in conventional industry practice. Claim 1 of the ’576 patent, therefore, is not directed to an abstract idea.”) (citations omitted); see also Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (claims “directed to a specific improvement to the way computers operate” eligible).

Guidance. It would also be helpful to explain how the arguments were presented by the parties and either accepted or rejected by the Court. The resulting case studies can then be an integral part of the Guidance and used in place of the “hypothetical” examples the USPTO has provided on its website.28

IV.Examiners Should Retain The Authority To Reject Claims As Ineligible Under Section 101 Without Seeking Director Approval

The Internet Association believes that one structural change—unrelated to the test for eligibility itself—is needed in the new Section 101 Guidance.

The Section 101 Guidance places too high a burden on Examiners that believe a claim is ineligible even if it does not fit neatly into the subject matter categories provided. Presented with such claims, the Examiner must seek out and receive the approval of their Technology Center Director before issuing a rejection.29 This is in addition to the ordinary, proper requirement that the Examiner provide justification supporting the invocation of the abstract idea exception.

Directors are generally multiple levels above an Examiner in the chain of command—and they face numerous demands on their time—making it difficult and time consuming for the Examiner to seek and receive their approval. Fulfilling such a requirement is much harder than, for example, seeking approval from a Supervisory Patent Examiner. There is also no indication that the Examiner will receive the requisite time needed to seek and obtain this approval. Without extra time and under the USPTO’s current press of business, this would add pressure on the examining corps to issue claims that they deem ineligible.30 At a minimum, the Agency should allocate so-called “other time” to ameliorate this bias.

Requiring Director approval thus creates an artificial bias in the examination process that favors not testing the eligibility of patent claims. To the extent a bias should be built into the system, it should favor testing the contours of eligibility law in the USPTO—where applicants have appeal rights both within the Office and to the courts—over issuing categories of potentially ineligible claims unchallenged. Such claims may, if issued, eventually be found ineligible by the courts but only after causing enormous damage through years-long litigation. As between the patent owner and the public, the patent owner is best situated and incentivized to

_____
28 See Subject Matter Eligibility Examples: Abstract Ideas, available at

https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/101_examples_37to42_20190107.pdf.

29 Section 101 Guidance at 57, col. 1.
30 See, e.g., Michael D. Frakes & Melissa Wasserman, Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents? Evidence from Micro-Level Application Data, Review of Economics and Statistics (forthcoming) 4, available at https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/faculty_scholarship/3646 (“Importantly, our findings demonstrate … that examiners appear to be operating at the point where time constraints indeed bind.”).

seek a definitive eligibility ruling in cases deemed ineligible through the ordinary examination process.

To be clear, the Internet Association is not suggesting a bias be added in either direction. But any structural bias—including the present bias against Examiner Section 101 rejections—should be removed. Finally, in a footnote, the Guidance suggests a similar burden heightening will be applied to the PTAB judges.31 Commenters likewise oppose the bias created by the process sketched out therein.

V. Conclusion

The Internet Association again applauds the USPTO for its continued serious examination of the contours of patent eligibility law. The Internet Association believes that the USPTO’s approach of considering all views will lead to clearer Guidance and thanks the USPTO for the opportunity to provide its views.

_____
31 Section 101 Guidance at 57 n.42.

It’s just pretty amazing how similar the situation is to the European Patent Office (EPO), where patents on life and nature are being granted in defiance of a directive (similar to Mayo in caselaw form) and António Campinos disguises European software patents using ludicrous buzzwords such as “AI” and “MedTech”. Just spectacular or astounding that he keeps getting away with it. Why is nobody holding him accountable? He does the equivalent of stomping on Alice, i.e. the highest court and 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Thankfully, EPO patent examiners know they’re being manipulated. Just cited by some Team UPC folks and also by SUEPO (even over the long weekend) was this thing we wrote about on Sunday — something on which several comments have been left including the following comment by “Nothing has changed at EPO since Battistelli’s departure” (the poster’s pseudonym on its own says a lot):

In the link below you will find a recent video (in French) about France Telecom scandalous HR practices and the soon to come prominent court case.

Many of the obnoxious HR techniques which were applied at FT – with the despicable effects on staff health reported upon broadly – were also applied at the EPO during Battistelli’s era.

With no surprise, the results of such policies at EPO were similar to those at France Telecom, see : https://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/

Obviously the issue of quality at EPO depends first and foremost on the kind of HR policies applied to staff, which presently continue to generate a very negative social atmosphere.

All HR top managers who were behind such despicable HR policies have been maintained in their positions since the arrival of Mr Campinos 10 months ago.

As long as management by pressure and fear goes on and put staff under undue pressure for more production vs. quality, nothing will change. The sweet story-telling of Mr Campinos is fooling no one since he takes no concrete actions to reverse the unhealthy work pressure.

Inevitably more social damages hence quality issues are thus in sight.

The prior comment speaks in length about erosion of patent quality — a subject long explored by SUEPO, which had warned about it for years and weeks ago said that tens of thousands of bunk European Patents are being granted each year.

IRC Proceedings: January 27th, 2019 – March 24th, 2019

Monday 22nd of April 2019 04:16:36 AM

IRC Proceedings: January 27th, 2019 – February 2nd, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: February 3rd, 2019 – February 9th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: February 10th, 2019 – February 16th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: February 17th, 2019 – February 23rd, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: February 24th, 2019 – March 3rd, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: March 4th, 2019 – March 10th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: March 11th, 2019 – March 17th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: March 18th, 2019 – March 24th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: December 2nd, 2018 – January 26th, 2019

Monday 22nd of April 2019 03:18:46 AM

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IRC Proceedings: December 9th, 2018 – December 15th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: December 16th, 2018 – December 22nd, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: December 23rd, 2018 – December 29th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: December 30th, 2018 – January 5th, 2019

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IRC Proceedings: January 20th, 2019 – January 26th, 2019

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Links 21/4/2019: SuperTuxKart’s 1.0 Release, Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader (DPL)

Sunday 21st of April 2019 04:38:46 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • The NULL TTY Driver Is Coming To The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      While initially some questions were raised over the usefulness and practicality of this driver when it was first proposed on the kernel mailing list, the NULL TTY driver is set to make its maiden voyage to mainline with the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel cycle.

      The NULL TTY driver is intended for use-cases where no console driver is present/enabled as intended or otherwise. For init scripts and programs attempting to access /dev/console, it will error out while attempts like linking the console device to /dev/null will cause issues depending upon usage since it doesn’t behave like a TTY.

    • A Set Of Obscure Drivers Out-Of-Tree Since Linux 2.x Will See Mainline For Linux 5.2

      Should you have any Daktronics scoreboards, video displays, or digital billboards, mainline Linux kernel support appears to be in the works.

      While shielded off by Kconfig build switches and not enabled by default, what some will surely point to the growing size of the Linux kernel and its laissez faire approach to accepting new drivers, a set of drivers that have been out-of-tree since the Linux 2.x kernel days are now on their way to the kernel’s staging area with Linux 5.2. Not only that, but the code quality is admittedly less than stellar, hence the staging route.

    • Intel i40e Driver Supporting Dynamic Device Personalization With Linux 5.2

      Intel’s i40e / XL710 Ethernet driver will begin supporting Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP) with the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel.

      The Dynamic Device Personalization allows the loading of profiles that allows altering the internal parser’s handling of frames. DDP profile can be loaded from user-space using Ethtool and with Linux 5.2 the i40e driver will support this functionality.

    • Oracle’s Ksplice Live Kernel Patching Picks Up Known Exploit Detection

      One of the areas of Oracle Linux and its “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel” that the company continues investing in and differentiating it from upstream RHEL and alternatives is around Ksplice as their means of live kernel patching while Red Hat continues with Kpatch and SUSE with kGraft.

      The newest interesting feature to Oracle’s Ksplice is known exploit detection. When patching kernel vulnerabilities with Ksplice, besides applying the live kernel patch it’s also becoming informed about the vulnerability at hand. In the future if Ksplice finds the system trying to be exploited through one of these now-closed vulnerabilities, it will inform you the user/administrator.

    • Using Ksplice To Detect Exploit Attempts

      Ksplice is a very cool technology. Ksplice allows you to patch important security updates to your system without a reboot. The in-memory code is patched as well as on-disk components, closing all the gaps for a security vulnerability. All the while, your applications keep running.

      A new feature of Ksplice is Known Exploit Detection. When you patch your system with Ksplice, not only is the security vulnerability closed, but also tripwires are laid down for privilege escalation vulnerabilities. If an attacker attempts to exploit a CVE you’ve patched, Ksplice notifies you.

      Ksplice is both protecting your system and alerting you to suspicious activity. Very cool.

    • Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation And Its Networking Superpowers

        I’ve written before about the Linux Foundation and the power of open, standards-based networking. Open source is having a significant impact in both the enterprise and with carriers around the globe. It’s also rubbing off on companies such as Cisco Systems, who are embracing a design philosophy that no longer locks customers into a specific networking stack. I recently had the opportunity to attend both the Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS) in Half Moon Bay and the Open Network Summit (ONS) in San Jose. I would like to share some of my thoughts and insights from both events.

      • The Zephyr Project Announces Major Technical Milestone with New Long Term Support Code Release

        The Zephyr™ Project, an open source project at the Linux Foundation that aims to build a secure and flexible real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT), today announced a technical milestone with the first Long Term Support (LTS) release. The Zephyr 1.14 LTS release, which has been developed by the diverse Zephyr community of almost 500 contributors, will offer vendors a customizable operating system that supports product longevity, security and interoperability.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Nvidia to publish open source version of Quake II RTX

        HEXUS shared the Quake II RTX video as an appendage to the news about real-time raytracing coming to the GTX 1060 or higher, back in March, during the GTC 2019 event. In brief, the video was presented by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during the opening keynote of GTC 2019. The demo’s real-time ray traced global illumination and reflections, HDR visuals, dynamic direct and indirect lighting effects, mimicked physical material light reflection properties, and volumetric lighting effects were met with rapturous applause by GTC attendees.

      • NVIDIA To Transform Quake II RTX Demo Into An Open Source Retro Gaming Classic

        Applause broke out from the crowd at GTC 2019 when NVIDIA showcased a modded version of Quake II with overhauled graphics featuring real-time ray tracing and HDR visuals. Quake II RTX, as it is called, looks almost like a completely different game than the original version that launched over two decades ago. It was an impressive demo for sure, but NVIDIA has bigger plans for the mod.

        “Our goal is to publish an open source version of Quake II RTX,” Principal DevTech Engineer and Quake II RTX’s lead programmer, Alexey Panteleev, told AusGamers in an interview.

      • NVIDIA To Release Open Source Version Of The Quake II RTX Demo In The Future

        Last month, during GDC 2019, NVIDIA showed an impressive Quake II RTX demo, which showed how ray tracing can improve even old games, and it seems like players will soon be able to experience it for themselves.

        Speaking with Aus Gamers, Alexey Panteleev, the lead programmer of the Quake II RTX demo, confirmed that an open source version of it will be released in the future.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Project Leader Election 2019 Results Hi, The winner of the election is Sam Hartman. The details of the results are available at: https://vote.debian.org/2019/vote_001 Stats for the DPL votes: |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------| | | Num | | Valid | Unique | Rejects | % | Multiple | | Year | DDs | Quorum | Votes | Voters | | Voting | of Quorum | |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------| | 1999 | 347 | 27.942 | | 208 | | 59.942 | 7.44399 | | 2000 | 347 | 27.942 | | 216 | | 62.248 | 7.73030 | | 2001 | ?? | ?? | | 311 | | | | | 2002 | 939 | 45.965 | 509 | 475 | 122 | 50.586 | 10.33395 | | 2003 | 831 | 43.241 | 510 | 488 | 200 | 58.724 | 11.28559 | | 2004 | 908 | 45.200 | 506 | 482 | 52 | 53.084 | 10.66372 | | 2005 | 965 | 46.597 | 531 | 504 | 69 | 52.228 | 10.81615 | | 2006 | 972 | 46.765 | 436 | 421 | 41 | 43.313 | 9.00246 | | 2007 | 1036 | 48.280 | 521 | 482 | 267 | 46.525 | 9.98343 | | 2008 | 1075 | 49.181 | 425 | 401 | 35 | 37.302 | 8.15356 | | 2009 | 1013 | 47.741 | 366 | 361 | 43 | 35.636 | 7.56155 | | 2010 | 886 | 44.648 | 459 | 436 | 88 | 49.210 | 9.76513 | | 2011 | 911 | 45.274 | 402 | 392 | 93 | 43.030 | 8.65836 | | 2012 | 948 | 46.184 | 436 | 403 | 72 | 42.511 | 8.72589 | | 2013 | 988 | 47.149 | 402 | 390 | 73 | 39.474 | 8.27170 | | 2014 | 1003 | 47.505 | 412 | 401 | 61 | 39.980 | 8.44117 | | 2015 | 986 | 47.101 | 364 | 353 | 39 | 35.801 | 7.49454 | | 2016 | 1023 | 47.977 | 286 | 282 | 74 | 27.566 | 5.87787 | | 2017 | 1062 | 48.882 | 327 | 322 | 57 | 30.320 | 6.58729 | | 2018 | 1001 | 47.457 | 343 | 333 | 53 | 33.266 | 7.01674 | | 2019 | 1003 | 47.505 | 389 | 378 | 59 | 37.687 | 7.95701 | |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------| Kurt Roeckx Debian Project Secretary
      • Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader, Aims To “Keep Debian Fun”

        While initially no qualified candidates stepped forward for the 2019 Debian Project Leader elections, following the extended nomination period and voting, Sam Hartman has been elected the newest leader of Debian.

        Sam Hartman is now the 17th Debian developer to serve as the project leader and will be taking the reigns from Chris Lamb who was first elected in 2017 and re-elected a year later. This is Sam’s first time serving as the DPL but he has been involved with Debian since 2000.

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2019
      • DPL elections 2019, congratulations Sam Hartman!

        The Debian Project Leader elections just finished and the winner is Sam Hartman!

        His term as project leader starts inmediately today April 21st and expires on April 20th 2020.

      • [Old] People behind Debian: Sam Hartman, Kerberos package maintainer
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 19.04 is here

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent updates from open infrastructure projects including OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

            Amazon published Greengrass for IoT on Ubuntu, as well as launching the AWS DeepRacer developer-centric model for autonomous ground vehicle community development, also running Ubuntu.

            The Edge X stack and a range of industrial control capabilities are now available for integration on Ubuntu based devices, with long term security updates.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Lands: Here’s What’s New

            Canonical has released Ubuntu 19.04, the latest iteration of the open source Linux distribution, with a range of infrastructure-focussed upgrades including improved life-cycle management for multicloud and on-prem operations; from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            Ubuntu 19.04 (dubbed “Disco Dingo”) also uses Linux Kernel 5.0 so users can expect better hardware support and performance improvement. It also supports the latest Kubernetes release for containers orchestration.

            (Notably, Canonical as of late March also offers full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.14 using kubeadm deployments, its Charmed Kubernetes, and MicroK8s, its popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.)

          • Are non-LTS Releases of Ubuntu Still Necessary?
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Pop!_OS 19.04 Is Here For An Ubuntu-based Functional Linux Experience

              Just recently, I updated our popular list of the best Linux distros for playing games. While Steam OS topped the list, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, System76’s Pop!_OS ended up in the second position. At first, I was skeptical to put it there, given the existence of dedicated options like Game Drift Linux, Sparky Linux – GameOver Edition, Lakka Linux, etc.

              However, the versatile nature and the ability to get things up and running on Pop!_OS without tons of effort convinced me. Making this already great computing experience even better, System76 has just released Pop!_OS 19.04 with tons of small-big changes sprinkled all across the distro.

            • Ubuntu Studio 18.04 Extended Support

              Back in April 2018, Ubuntu Studio 18.04 was released as a non-LTS (Long-Term Support) version, which limited its support cycle to end January 2019. This was due to a number of factors, from the involvement of the team members at the time to the number of team members.

              In January 2019, the team came up with the idea for a Backports PPA of certain software to eliminate certain bugs and update the main packages (the ones that make Ubuntu Studio what it is). It was officially announced in February 2019.

              As such, the Ubuntu Studio team no longer supports Ubuntu Studio 18.04 unless the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA is added. Adding the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA increases the support length of Ubuntu Studio 18.04 to 3 years total, with support ending in April 2021.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Ola Bini’s statement from arbitrary detention at El Inca Prison, Ecuador

    The leaders of the world are waging a war against knowledge. The case against me is based on the books I’ve read and the technology I have. This is Orwellian – ThoughtCrime. We can’t let this happen. The world will close in closer and closer on us, until we have nothing left. If Ecuador can do this, so can others. We have to stop this idea now, before it’s too late.

  • Open source use grows 68% as corporations buy into the software solution

    Developers don’t want a corporation’s influence on code, evidenced by the tension created over Google’s use of Java. The debate was brought on by Oracle after it acquired Java creator Sun Microsystems.

    Open source affords companies “genuinely better software” and a lower cost of ownership, according to the report. It also allows companies to embrace more agile approaches to solving issues, as opposed to relying on proprietary companies.

    The meshing of corporate culture with open source communities could also boost DevOps in organizations. Together open source and DevOps have the ability to co-create solutions while monitoring it and offering patches for security flaws

  • Enterprise Embrace of Open Source Quickens

    Not to worry, Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) asserts in its inaugural survey of enterprise open source development, concluding that open-source software has “permeated the technology landscape,” often replacing proprietary code via commercial Linux distributions like Red Hat’s.

    “Enterprise open source today can also take the place of proprietary software for many different purposes from virtualization to message buses to application servers,” Red Hat noted in blog post describing the survey findings.

    “Open source is also helping to define and shape new approaches to infrastructure from containerization to software-defined-storage,” the soon-to-be-IBM unit added.

  • Use of Enterprise Open Source Software is Surging

    Industry use of enterprise open source software will be close to parity with proprietary software use – which is waning – within just two years, according to a major new survey by Red Hat.

    The report found that 68 percent of businesses have increased their use of open source enterprise tools over the past 12 months. Fifty-nine percent plan to do so in the coming year.

  • Why open source software adoption is accelerating in the enterprise

    For business applications, open source software is quite often the first choice. While early proponents may have focused on lowering costs, an ecosystem of integrations and developer skill sets centered around open source solutions have solidified its importance in the enterprise. Some 69% of IT professionals indicate that open source software either extremely or very important, according to Red Hat’s first State of Enterprise Open Source survey, published Tuesday.

    Of the 950 IT professionals surveyed, only 1% indicated that open source software was “not at all important.”

    Adoption of open source is likewise expected to continue with equitable levels of enthusiasm. In the last 12 months, 68% of respondents reported an increase in the use of open source software, while 29% reported no change. For the next 12 months, 59% expect an increase, while 39% expect no change.

  • Open-source enterprise software slinger Red Hat bravely reveals that IT bosses love open-source enterprise software

    Red Hat, now a part of Big Blue, on Tuesday released its first annual survey on the State of Enterprise Open Source, a statistical snapshot of what IT leaders think about Linux, Kubernetes and the like.

    The upshot is entirely unsurprising, dare we say predictable, for a company that sells… open source software to enterprises. Asked to rate the importance of enterprise open source (EOS) as it pertains to their organization’s enterprise infrastructure software strategy, fully 69 per cent said it’s either extremely or very important. Only 1 per cent said it’s not important at all.

    About as many of respondents say open source usage has grown within their organization in the past 12 months. Some 68 per cent said as much, with 29 per cent anticipating usage will stay the same and only 3 per cent expecting a decline.

  • 6 Top open source team chat software for self hosted environment

    Verbal communication is in society since the inception of the period when humans found a way to express feelings in words/sound. This communication wasn’t only limited verbal mode it latter came on paper and then on computers. The value of good communication has its own significant place not only professional but in personal life too. However, here we only talk about professional.

    Now, the enterprises or business are not confined to only small space or tract, they are spreading their arms and legs in multiple directions to achieve targeted growth. In such a scenario, the chatting among company’s employees working on some particular project is either on email or some public chatting applications. But from the perspective of security and exchange of sensitive over a public chatting platform such as WhatsApp would not be a wised idea.

    The office team chat software should be in the control of businesses or teams using them for some project. Where they can add different features into as they required, such kind of needs can be fulfilled by the open source collaboration group chat platforms without the interface of any third party. However, while implementing self-hosted open source team chat servers or applications for the team make sure that they are behind a firewall for enhanced security.

  • UK grant for open source healthcare

    The UK government has awarded a GBP 790,000 (about EUR 990,000) grant to research and implement eObs, an open source digital healthcare observation solution that can identify patients who are deteriorating and alert medical specialists. The solution, which uses information gathered by handheld devices, also helps cut workloads in medical wards by reducing the length of time patients stay and minimising the number of transfers and referrals.

  • How OBS Is Helping Expand Broadcasting of Esports

    They dig into how big the team is that work on growing the open source software that is used for video recording and live streaming as well as the challenges of working on this type of project.

  • Assessment of Open Networking, Bare Metal Switches, White Boxes, and NFVi

    A new networking software industry, including open network operating systems (NOS’s) and open source software of all types, was expected to emerge to create options and choices in the type of network infrastructures which all service providers and IT enterprise customers could put together.

  • Open source virtualization expands VM hardware and OS options

    You don’t have to use proprietary virtualization software to run virtual machines. The open source community boasts offerings for all different virtualization needs, so you can assemble a program that has exactly the features you want without high upfront costs or tricky service-level agreements.

    Open source virtualization software can help you avoid the costs that come with proprietary software from vendors such as VMware. It also enables you to get updates more frequently, and you can change the source code when necessary.

  • Open-source vs. build-your-own: What to choose? [Ed: Contains plenty of the classic FUD, typically spread by Microsoft and its wings, against FOSS (things that apply equally or are worse in proprietary software).]
  • OpenStack Follows The Datacenter Out To The Edge

    It is difficult not to be impressed with the rapid adoption of OpenStack since the open source cloud infrastructure software platform was first released.

  • Paris’ open source platform for city services is being introduced at a West Baltimore community center

    A tech tool built for cities is going neighborhood level in Baltimore.

    Lutèce, developed by the City of Paris, is an open source platform designed to house city services and offers a base platform on which to develop web and mobile applications. For Paris, it’s the digital home for the 200 various functions city government performs.

  • Puppet CTO: an open source mindset is more than just a code dump

    The Computer Weekly Open Source Insider team spoke to Deepak Giridharagopal this week in his role as CTO at Puppet in an attempt to examine the true nature of open source openness.

    As defined in clear terms here, Puppet is an open source systems management tool for centralising and automating configuration management tasks relating to both hardware and software.

    Giridharagopal argues that the ‘open’ part of open source doesn’t just refer to making the code physically available to the masses.

  • Open-Source Software Making Museums More Accessible

    Oftentimes, the process of visiting a museum begins at an institution’s website, and not all of them are accessible to people with disabilities. In fact, several notable NYC institutions’ websites are not readable by visitors with loss of vision. Those museums should take a tip from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art whose open-source software—a tool that can be added to any website—”seamlessly integrates image descriptions into its online platform.” One feature is the “image description” option, which explains an artwork or artifact to the user. For example, “A work by Doris Salcedo is described as: ‘Four murky sepia-toned images of shoes embedded on a white wall by what appears to be surgical stitching.’” These descriptions can then be read aloud. Read more at Artsy.

  • This Open Source Software Could Make Museum Websites More Accessible

    A program developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago helps people with vision loss navigate art organizations’ websites.

  • Why the US Government Just Made Its Own Font

    ‘Public Sans,’ a sharp new typeface for interface design has been made freely available, courtesy of a somewhat unusual source: the United States federal government.

  • What to expect from DataStax Accelerate

    The Computer Weekly Developer Network and Open Source Insider team are off the nation’s capitol (we said capitol, not capital… it’s Washington DC) to witness the goings on at DataStax Accelerate.

    But before we get to the event, let’s sit back and remind ourselves who and what DataStax actually is.

    In the past, we have called DataStax a data platform provider — the company would no doubt more expansively refer to itself as: a provider of a hybrid cloud database built on Apache Cassandra.

    In more granular terms, DataStax technologies exist to provide an always-on active-everywhere distributed hybrid cloud database built on Apache Cassandra for real-time applications at scale.

  • Sole scientist uses open-source AI software to unlock protein folding

    A Harvard Medical school research fellow has used deep learning to predict the structure of any given protein based solely on its amino acid sequence.

    The advance—made using open-source software in the public domain—has the potential to transform virtually all facets of biomedical research, according to a study published online April 17 in Cell Systems.

    In coverage of the development by Harvard’s news division, the researcher, Mohammed AlQuraishi, PhD, said protein folding—the process by which a protein structure assumes its functional shape—has preoccupied biochemists over the last half century.

  • Sydney start-up Q-CTRL launches open source quantum error suppression library

    Sydney start-up Q-CTRL is releasing an open source library of error suppression controls for quantum computers.
    The library of controls integrates with IBM’s Qiskit programming framework for quantum computers and can be run on any quantum machine.
    “We’re removing barriers to the community’s use of these powerful techniques as we help bring the first commercially relevant quantum computers to reality,” said Q-CTRL CEO and founder Professor Michael Biercuk.

  • Making digital tissue imaging better

    The application is “open source” — or free for anyone to use, modify and extend.

  • Keeping the lights on when the grid takes a hit

    The open-source Severe Contingency Solver software can help government agencies better plan for power outages caused by extreme events.

  • HiveMQ Launches New Open Source MQTT Community

    HiveMQ, developers of the enterprise MQTT platform, today announced a new open source community to accelerate the adoption of MQTT and HiveMQ. The new open source community will initially host two open source projects: HiveMQ Community Edition (CE), a Java-based MQTT broker, and HiveMQ MQTT Client, a Java-based MQTT client. The community will provide high quality, professionally managed open source implementations of the MQTT standards to make it easier for IoT developers to experiment and innovate with MQTT and HiveMQ.

  • Banks can address Brexit uncertainty by choosing open source IT solutions

    As Brexit uncertainty continues to linger, EnterpriseDB’s Matt Peachey makes the case for open source banking software to solve IT professionals’ woes

  • CWI’s DIS group Releases Open Source Software Platform for Object-Based Broadcasting Production

    MMERSE, of which CWI’s Distributed and Interactive Systems (DIS) group is a member had, a successful final review meeting with the reviewers from the EU commission. The goal of the 2-IMMERSE project was to allow TV service providers to break free from the constraints of rendering a broadcast stream onto a single 16×9 frame. The final objective was to enable professionals to develop and deploy customizable interactive and multi-screen experiences that can adapt to the context of use. The results have been successfully demonstrated across multiple number of screens, multiple content genres (sports and drama), and multiple situations (home, schools and in public venues).

    In order to create new opportunities and sustain the project results, the core 2-IMMERSE platform and components are recently released under an open source license. In particular, the DIS group at CWI has contributed with several core platform components related to media synchronization and with a set of production tools for professionals that enable them to create new multi-screen and customizable experiences.

  • OpenFin Reaches Critical Mass [Ed: FOSS is in many way 'the' standard now, like it had been before the proprietary software wave of the 70s (ish). It's now a very bad business 'gamble' to go against FOSS, but the proprietary giants merely pretend to like FOSS. Lips service for PR.]

    Adam Toms, chief executive of OpenFin Europe, said the technology has become the standard operating system across capital markets as it is being used across nearly 200,000 desktops in 1,500 banks and buy-side firms.

    [...]

    The OpenFin desktop operating system is similar to the Android or iOS operating platform for mobile phones but was launched to provide standardisation across capital markets desktops so that the industry can deploy new applications more quickly and they will be interoperable.
    “OpenFin is on nearly 200,000 desktops across 1,500 unique firms, including 13 of the 15 largest investment banks, across a number of different areas,” added Toms.
    He continued that desktop numbers are expected to increase as OpenFin has a number of significant projects launching with clients this year.

    [...]

    Last year OpenFin contributed the FCD3 initiative to the Fintech Open Source Foundation. FINOS is an independent nonprofit organization promoting open standards and open source in financial services.

  • DPCI Announces Partnership with OpenKM for Open Source Document Management

    OpenKM is an open source Enterprise Document Management System licensed under the GNU GPL.

  • Open Broadcaster Software Adopts the SRT Streaming Protocol

    OBS Studio is a free open source tool that creators use to broadcast their content to the world through live streams and recordings. OBS Studio allows users to capture video from a variety of sources, such as cameras and computer screens, and composite them into professional productions that are used to entertain, teach, and inspire. It has formed the bedrock for creators to launch entire careers broadcasting to their audiences on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook and more.

  • Events
    • Shashank Kumar: Event report for DebUtsav Delhi 2019

      The Debian India Community in Delhi along with Mozilla Delhi/NCR community organized DebUtsav Delhi 2019 on 9 and 10 March, 2019.

      For those who are unware, DebUtsav is an Indian style version of a typical Mini Debian Conference.

      This was the first Debian related conference to be organized in the Northern region of India. We have had Mini Debian conferences previously in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and in different cities of state of Kerala. But this was the very first one in the Northern Region.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Looks Beyond the Browser With WebThings

        Mozilla is perhaps best known for its Firefox web browser, but that’s far from the only thing the open-source organization is working on. On April 18, Mozilla relaunched its open-source internet of things (IoT) platform Project Things as WebThings as the effort moves beyond its experimental phase.

        The IoT landscape represents a particular set of challenges for developers, users and vendors alike as there are multiple competing standards and approaches to connect and control different devices. The challenges of IoT connectivity have led in some cases to interoperability issues and closed systems that make it harder to both integrate and secure devices.

      • Mozilla relaunches open source IoT platform Project Things as WebThings

        For the better part of two years, the folks at Mozilla have been diligently chipping away at Project Things, an open implementation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web of Things standard for monitoring and controlling connected devices, and today, they reached a major milestone. Project Things is graduating from its experimental phase with a new name — Mozilla WebThings — and gaining a number of logging, alarm, and networking features.

        “The Mozilla IoT team’s mission is to create a Web of Things implementation which embodies those values and helps drive IoT standards for security, privacy and interoperability,” wrote software engineer Ben Francis in a blog post. “We look forward to a future in which Mozilla WebThings software is installed on commercial products that can provide consumers with a trusted agent for their ‘smart,’ connected home.”

        Mozilla WebThings consists of two core components: WebThings Gateway, a privacy- and security-focused software distribution for smart home gateways, and WebThings Framework, a library of reusable software components.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Cloudera: Plenty Of Upside As The Company Turns A New Page

      In light of how cheap Cloudera’s stock now is, it’s a good time for investors to review the bullish thesis for this stock. Recall that Cloudera’s all-stock merger with Hortonworks (HDP) closed earlier in January, and will start reflecting into Cloudera’s results next quarter. Aside from creating the most dominant, integrated vendor of Hadoop software in the market, the addition of Hortonworks’ revenues will also help mask Cloudera’s revenue deceleration into the mid-20s. Looking longer term, as data volumes explode and use cases evolve, complex data processing and management tools like Hadoop will only become more prevalent. In short, a combined Cloudera-Hortonworks has plenty of runway for growth.

  • LibreOffice
    • Libreoffice vs Apache OpenOffice: how to choose the right free office suite for you

      When it comes to free office software, there are two main choices: LibreOffice and OpenOffice (or, to give it its proper name, Apache OpenOffice). The two are remarkably similar, so how can you choose the right one for you?

      First, it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you need desktop office software at all. Provided you have an internet connection, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides might offer everything you need, without the need to install anything, and with the extra bonus that everything you create will be automatically saved to the cloud. No more lost documents, or having to email work to yourself.

  • CMS
    • Should Your LMS Be Open Source or Closed Source?

      When looking for a new learning management system, there are a multitude of questions that you must ask, starting with: What do I need my LMS to be able to do to allow us to reach our e-learning goals? One initial consideration that people often overlook is the type of technology an LMS uses. This is important to consider when evaluating whether an LMS will be able to provide the type of functionality you’ll need to meet your e-learning goals.

      When beginning the LMS evaluation process, you must first choose whether to use an open-source or closed-source learning management system. Let’s explore the differences between the two and highlight a few of the advantages of choosing an open-source LMS.

    • OIT team, students respond to recent Sakai outage

      Hoffman said that this outage is an anomaly.

      “IT professionals in the OIT completed performance improvements for Sakai in mid-December, following intermittent performance and availability issues last fall. These changes have resulted in improved reliability for Sakai in recent months, the recent unrelated Saturday evening outage not withstanding,” he said.

      The outage ended up affecting a number of students in its 9-hour duration.

      “I logged onto Sakai around 1 a.m. on Sunday to study for my psychology exam and noticed there was a “time out” message. I couldn’t do anything, so I just studied for another class,” said Diana Nguyen, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year.

    • 12 DevOps Tools for 2019 Worth Checking Out

      The merging of development and operations (DevOps) has introduced us to a whole new perspective regarding software development, from best practices such as continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to an entirely different cultural philosophy. As a result we’ve seen an array of DevOps tools come into the mix to help enterprises meet the needs of these new practices and cultural requirements.

      Here are the top DevOps tools, in no particular order, sourced from G2 Crowd’s compiled list of “popular continuous delivery and source code management tools used by DevOps professionals”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Blockchain
  • Google
    • 5 Key AI Announcements From Google Cloud 2019 & Why It’s Still The Big Friendly Open Source Giant [Ed: Google is not "Big Friendly Open Source Giant"; it's a proprietary software company (all the core things are proprietary) with 'surveillance capitalism' as the business model.]
    • Why You Should Consider Google AI Platform For Your Machine Learning Projects
    • Google Anthos reaffirms “managed open-source” as the future of hybrid cloud

      Google Anthos is a huge validation for Platform9’s approach to fully managed hybrid clouds powered by open-source technologies. In particular, the 5 tenets below that are at the core of the technology we’ve pioneered years ago are being used in production since 2015 by our enterprise customers across thousands of cloud deployments every today to power their business.

    • Google Cloud adds Confluent, MongoDB and other open-source projects as managed services

      Confluent, the company founded by the creators of the Apache Kafka streaming data platform, announced last week that its Confluent Cloud for Apache Kafka is to be available natively on the Google Platform.

    • Q&A: Advice from Red Hat aided Google Anthos’ open-source journey

      Even as Google has built one of the world’s most successful businesses on cloud computing, translating its innovations into enterprise-ready services has been a challenge in a competitive field. Now under new leadership and rebranded as Anthos, the contemporary Google Cloud Platform is the result of a series of decisions spanning open-source partnerships and storage technologies, layered with strong software support for a multicloud world.

      “I’ve been working with Google on their cloud efforts for almost 10 years now, and it started back when Google was about to get into the cloud business. They had to decide whether they were going to use KVM or Xen as their hypervisor, and we helped them do that,” said Mike Evans, vice president of technical business development at Red Hat Inc., noting his company’s role in aiding Google’s contemplation of open-source hypervisors for running their virtual machine services.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Capcom Home Arcade is a plug-and-play arcade stick with 16 games

      Capcom is getting in on the “classic” game bandwagon, announcing the Capcom Home Arcade, a €229.99 plug-and-play arcade system featuring support for two players and including 16 classic titles. If that price seems high to you, relative to emulator-based offerings from Nintendo, or even the FPGA-based solutions from Analogue, then … you’d be right. In exchange for roughly $260, you do get genuine Sanwa joystick parts, and emulation courtesy of the well-respected, open source FB Alpha emulator.

    • The Emulator In Capcom’s Home Arcade Is Stirring Controversy

      Its website markets the Capcom Home Arcade as an “authentic gaming” experience, in part because it utilizes the original arcade ROMs for games like Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting and Alien Vs. Predator and runs them with FB Alpha, an arcade emulator known for its snappy response times. As those in the emulation community were quick to point out, however, FB Alpha is open-source, and distributed under a license that strictly forbids people from trying to profit off of it.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Spectra open source biomedical imaging system affordable CATSCAN alternative

        Mindseye Biomedical has created a new open source biomedical imaging system called Spectra which is both safe and easy to use now available to preorder via the Crowd Supply website price from $299 for a Spectra Starter Kit. Spectra enables hackers and scientists to experiment with one of the technologies used in medical imaging electrical impedance tomography (EIT). Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the system that allows anyone to explore the fascinating world of medical physics from their own home, without a multimillion dollar CATSCAN.

        “Would you like to see imagery of your own lungs? Use impedance cardiography to monitor heart activity? Measure the dielectric spectrum of a bone, a tumor, or a strawberry? Are you interested in gesture-based user interfaces? Consider what you would do if you could easily and safely experiment with, and contribute to, the science of biomedical imaging. And what we could all do if there existed a Commons for health care technology.

  • Programming/Development
    • Ten industries using Python programming

      The report is part of ActiveState’s undertaking to better understand the needs and pain points of industry related to open source languages. ActiveState aims to decrease the costs and risks of managing open source languages and enable enterprises to maximize their related benefits.

      [...]

      Write and run code every step of the way, using Android Studio to create apps that integrate with other apps, download and display pictures from the web, play sounds, and more. Each chapter and app has been designed and tested to provide the knowledge and experience you need to get started in Android development.

    • Mozilla details Pyodide, which brings Python to browsers

      In a step toward its goal of building out a data science development stack for web browsers, Mozilla today detailed Pyodide, an experimental Python project that’s designed to perform computation without the need for a remote kernel (i.e., a program that runs and inspects code).

      As staff data engineer Mike Droettboom explained in a blog post, it’s a standard Python interpreter that runs entirely in the browser. And while Pyodide isn’t exactly novel — projects like Transcrypt, Brython, Skulpt, and PyPyJs are among several efforts to bring Python to browsers — it doesn’t require a rewrite of popular scientific computing tools (like NumPy, Pandas, Scipy, and Matplotlib) to achieve adequate performance, and its ability to convert built-in data types enables interactions among browser APIs and other JavaScript libraries.

    • Mozilla’s Open Source Browser Tool Iodide Can Be A Gamechanger For Data Scientists

      The last couple of years or so has witnessed the emergence of newer platforms for implementing Data Science projects. But the developers at Mozilla feel that these platforms couldn’t funnel in the potential of modern day browsers.

      To increase the ease of use and the way Data Analysis is done and communicated across the data science community, Mozilla launched a browser based platform Iodide for data science experiments.

      Iodide is a tool for data science experimentation and communication based on state-of-the-art web technologies. Notably, it’s designed to perform data science computation within the browser rather than on a remote kernel.

    • GitLab’s DevOps Plans Ride Growing Kubernetes Federation

      GitLab used the recent Google Next event to further tighten its embrace of the Google cloud ecosystem that it fully jumped into last year. That includes a deeper integration of Kubernetes into its DevOps processes.

    • Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

      Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expensive in terms of computational resources and time,” write Andrew Poon and Dhyanesh Narayanan on Google’s Research blog. “Approaches such as Neural Architecture Search and AdaNet use machine learning to search the design space in order to find improved architectures. An alternative is to take an existing architecture for a similar problem and, in one shot, optimize it for the task at hand.”

    • Google’s MorphNet optimizes AI models without sacrificing accuracy

      Machine learning algorithms have a fatal flaw: They’re costly to fine-tune (in terms of time and resources) from scratch for specific apps. Some automated approaches attempt to expedite the process by searching for suitable existing models, but researchers at Google’s AI research division have a better idea.

    • OpenJDK 11 replaces OpenJDK 10 as the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

      Canonical has announced that OpenJDK 11 has replaced OpenJDK 10 as the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Canonical recently released Ubuntu 19.04 which also uses OpenJDK 11 as default, the move to bump the version in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS means that users who don’t want to upgrade can enjoy the latest features from OpenJDK 11.

      OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java and is used by developers around the world to develop enterprise-grade applications.

    • JITLink Lands In LLVM 9.0

      Being merged into the LLVM code-base this Saturday is JITLink, a just-in-time linker for parsing object files and letting their contents run in a target process.

      The initial focus on JITLink is serving as a replacement to RuntimeDyld for dynamically linking Mach object files (Mach-O) for Apple/macOS platforms. But the plan is once the Mach-O x86_64 support is squared away to extend JITLink to also serve the likes of COFF/ELF object files and support other non-x86_64 architectures.

    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxiv) stackoverflow python report
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: code-server [Ed: This helps promote and spread Microsoft's proprietary software with surveillance]

      This week’s highlighted open-source project makes it easy for developers to use VS Code on the go.

      Code-server is a VS Code instance developed by Coder that runs on a remote server, enabling VS Code to be accessed through a browser. Coder open-sourced the solution in March.

      Because VS Code is being hosted on a large remote server, tests, compilations, and downloads are faster, the code-server team explained. It also removes the computation limitations of local machines.

      It’s particularly useful for developers on the go who may be running off their laptop battery. Because computations are performed on the server, devices battery life can be preserved, the team explained.

    • Open Source Visual Studio Code Without Trackers Launched [Ed: When Microsoft says "open source" it doesn't mean "not spyware"; its "open source" actually helps sell proprietary software (MSVS) and has surveillance (Calculator also)]
    • Open Source Atom Editor Eases Code Reviews [Ed: It is in NSA PRISM now.]
    • Goodbye Joe

      Joe Armstrong is mainly known as the father of Erlang, and the Erlang family has always been relatively small and closely knit. Anyone whose first Erlang conference (usually Erlang Factory, Erlang User Conference, or CodeBEAM) had Joe in the attendance would have a similar reaction. There was a feeling of awe about how accessible the community was. Here you were, and big names like Joe and Robert—who everyone knew by their first names—were right around the same room, friendly, and willing to talk to anybody. You’d feel like you were welcome no matter who you were.

      Today, we’ve learned of Joe’s passing away. I wasn’t a super close friend of Joe, but I have known him and talked with him at various conferences over the last ten years or so. He’s unsurprisingly been a huge influence in my career, and so I thought I should write this little post about him and his impact. My words can’t give justice to the man he was, but I felt I needed to write this up.

    • Best 20 Data Science Courses Available For Increasing Your Data Scientist Skills
    • Snek and a Balloon
    • Install Python Package
    • Loops in Python explained with examples
  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Science
    • Physics Is Pointing Inexorably to Mind

      In his 2014 book, Our Mathematical Universe, physicist Max Tegmark boldly claims that “protons, atoms, molecules, cells and stars” are all redundant “baggage.” Only the mathematical apparatus used to describe the behavior of matter is supposedly real, not matter itself. For Tegmark, the universe is a “set of abstract entities with relations between them,” which “can be described in a baggage-independent way”—i.e., without matter. He attributes existence solely to descriptions, while incongruously denying the very thing that is described in the first place. Matter is done away with and only information itself is taken to be ultimately real.
      This abstract notion, called information realism is philosophical in character, but it has been associated with physics from its very inception. Most famously, information realism is a popular philosophical underpinning for digital physics. The motivation for this association is not hard to fathom.
      Indeed, according to the Greek atomists, if we kept on dividing things into ever-smaller bits, at the end there would remain solid, indivisible particles called atoms, imagined to be so concrete as to have even particular shapes. Yet, as our understanding of physics progressed, we’ve realized that atoms themselves can be further divided into smaller bits, and those into yet smaller ones, and so on, until what is left lacks shape and solidity altogether. At the bottom of the chain of physical reduction there are only elusive, phantasmal entities we label as “energy” and “fields”—abstract conceptual tools for describing nature, which themselves seem to lack any real, concrete essence.

    • A novel data-compression technique for faster computer programs

      A novel technique developed by MIT researchers rethinks hardware data compression to free up more memory used by computers and mobile devices, allowing them to run faster and perform more tasks simultaneously.

      Data compression leverages redundant data to free up storage capacity, boost computing speeds, and provide other perks. In current computer systems, accessing main memory is very expensive compared to actual computation. Because of this, using data compression in the memory helps improve performance, as it reduces the frequency and amount of data programs need to fetch from main memory.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study

      Pre-school children spend an average of two-hours daily using screens. We examined associations between screen-time on pre-school behavior using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study.

    • Physical Activity Reduces Children’s Risk of ADHD Linked to Longer Screen Times

      People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.

      According to a new study from the University of Alberta, younger children who receive two or more hours of screen time per day were nearly six times more likely to have poor attention spans and other behavioral problems than their peers who spent just 30 minutes on a screen at most each day.

    • Vetoing Anti-Abortion Bill, North Carolina’s Governor Pushes Back Against Right-Wing ‘Propaganda’

      Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he was vetoing the so-called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” or Senate Bill 359 (pdf).

      “Laws already protect newborn babies and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients,” Cooper said in a statement. “This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist.”

      Applauding the governor’s decision, the state’s Democratic Party tweeted, “SB 359 is a partisan bill grounded in anti-choice rhetoric, not medical science.”

      Both national and local rights groups celebrated Cooper’s move.

      “Victory for reproductive freedom!” declared the ACLU of North Carolina.

      “Thank you to [Gov. Cooper] for vetoing this extreme legislation,” NARAL Pro-Choice America said on Twitter, “AND dispelling anti-choice propaganda!”

    • ‘Finally!’: Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids

      Citing unacceptable health risks for children, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000. However, farmers can still use the pesticide—which is also tied to nervous system problems in people and animals—on crops such as apples, broccoli, corn, and strawberries.

      The unanimous ruling (pdf) Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is the latest development in a drawn out court battle between the EPA—which blocked a planned agricultural ban on chlorpyrifos in 2017—and the anti-pesticide, environmental, and farmworkers organizations who disagreed with that decision.

      Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who represents the groups fighting to ban the pesticide from foods, commended the court for its ruling in a statement Friday.

  • Security
    • Someone is Leaking an Iranian Hacking Group’s Arsenal

      For the last few weeks, someone has been publishing the source code of the hacking tools used by a high-level attack team that’s been linked to the Iranian government. The tools belong to a group known variously as APT34 and OilRig, and whoever is dumping them appears to have some interest in not just exposing the tools but also the group’s operations.

      The leaks began in late March on a Telegram channel and have continued through this week. Researchers at Chronicle, a security company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have examined the leaked tools and confirmed that they are indeed the same ones used by the OilRig attackers. OilRig has been connected to a number of intrusions at companies and government agencies across the Middle East and Asia, including technology firms, telecom companies, and even gaming companies. Whoever is leaking the toolset also has been dumping information about the victims OilRig has targeted, as well as data identifying some of the servers the group uses in its attacks.

    • Google will examine new Android developer accounts more closely

      For the better part of two years, Google has made a concerted effort to improve control over data in Android apps, chiefly by introducing system-level changes in Android, refining its Google Play developer policies, requiring developers to disclose the collection and use of sensitive data, and restricting access to certain permissions (like those involving SMS and call logs). But it hasn’t always been fully transparent with about these changes, and toward that end, the Mountain View company today announced that it’s “clarifying” several of its rules and reviewing the way it handles noncompliant apps.

    • GrammaTech Releasing Binary Analysis and Rewriting Interface into Open Source
    • Adobe Flash security tool Flashmingo debuts in open source community [Ed: Just kill Adobe Trash. The sooner, the better. This one helps openwashing of that malicious proprietary software blob, courtesy of CBS.]
    • Open Source Tool From FireEye Automates Analysis of Flash Files

      Security company FireEye this week announced the release of an open source tool designed to automate the analysis of Adobe Flash files in order to identify malware and prevent infections.

    • Counting Vulnerabilities In Open Source Projects and Programming Languages [Ed: Microsoft partner and anti-FOSS front group WhiteSource is once again using FUD in order to promote its brand and its non-FOSS 'services'; they advertise by bashing FOSS. Microsoft proud.]
    • The latest Windows patch is breaking even more PCs with antivirus installed

      Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft halted updates to Windows PCs running Sophos and Avast’s security solutions, following user complaints that their machines were locking up or failing to boot. Since then, the list of known issues for the rogue update was itself updated to acknowledge compatibility issues with Avira and ArcaBit antivirus installed, with Microsoft temporarily blocking updates to those affected systems, too. Today, Ars Technica noticed that Microsoft is investigating compatibility issues for systems with McAfee antivirus installed, though it hasn’t started blocking the April 9 update from those PCs just yet.

    • ‘WannaCry Hero’ Marcus Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Making Banking Malware [iophk: “It looks like they squeezed malware tech with a “plea bargain”. So I would take reports of a guilty plea with a large grain of salt. They probably threatened him with 1000s of years in prison as an alternative. The plea “deal” is not mentioned in the summary, thus misleading the public about the situation.”]

      Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher known for helping stop the destructive WannaCry ransomware, plead guilty to hacking crimes on Friday.

      Hutchins was accused of writing a banking malware called Kronos in 2014, after he finished high school. The researcher was arrested in Las Vegas after attending the hacker conference Def Con in 2017. Days later, he plead not guilty in a Milwaukee courtroom. He was scheduled to be tried this summer.

    • Google will begin to block sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks in June

      Phishing — schemes to nab personal data with disguised malicious webpages and emails — constituted more than 70% of all cyber attacks in 2016, according to a Verizon report. In an effort to combat them, Google last year announced it would require users to enable JavaScript during Google Account sign-in so that it could run attack-detecting risk assessments, and today, the company said it’ll begin to block all sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks like Chromium Embedded Framework starting in June.

    • A deeper look into OpenVPN: Security vulnerabilities

      OpenVPN is the backbone of online security. It is supported in many popular virtual private network (VPN) providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and continues to receive frequent updates well into its 17th year in operation.

      It’s an unwritten rule of information technology, however, that popular security protocols will attract the largest contingent of hackers. As OpenVPN is open source, it is therefore much easier for hackers to locate and exploit security vulnerabilities within the software design.

      Nevertheless, the value of the open-source model is that it promotes open collaboration, thus encouraging other programmers to suggest changes to the design. This way, security vulnerabilities can be communicated directly to the developers, who then have the option to patch the software and eliminate the vulnerability.

    • DARPA’s New/Old Plan for a Hack-Proof Voting Machine

      The Pentagon’s top research arm is working to build a hack-proof voting machine by combining something brand new with something old – specifically, secure open-source hardware and software using advanced cryptography on one end, and good old paper on the other.

      The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded the tech company Galois a $10 million contract for the project, which grew out of a broader agency project to remedy hardware vulnerabilities, the snappily named SSITH, for System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware.

      Galois, which focuses on ensuring the trustworthiness of hardware and software, will design the system, which will start with a different approach used by established voting machine makers, who have come under criticism over the vulnerabilities in their systems, Motherboard reported. For one, it will use open-source software, rather than the proprietary systems used by companies such as Election Systems & Software. It also will use open-source hardware, built from designs developed under the SSITH program.

    • New Attacks (and Old Attacks Made New)

      This is shown again in Fortinet’s latest Global Threat Landscape Report for the fourth quarter of 2018, where we reported that exploits that targeted individual organizations — often variations of existing malware or the misuse of FOSS (free/open source software) security tools — continue to grow at a rapid pace: 10% over the quarter, while the number of unique exploits they experienced increased by 5%. This suggests that, despite some reports suggesting that malicious actors follow the same work routines as their victims, cybercriminals didn’t take much of a break over the holidays. And as you would expect, all of this malware — especially botnets — is becoming more complex and harder to detect.

    • Security flaw in French government messaging app exposed confidential conversations

      Tchap wasn’t built from scratch. The DINSIC, France’s government agency in charge of all things digital, forked an open-source project called Riot, which is based on an open-source protocol called Matrix.

      In a few words, Matrix is a messaging protocol that features end-to-end encryption. It competes with other protocols, such as the Signal Protocol that is widely used by consumer apps, such as WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger’s secret conversations and Google Allo’s incognito conversions — Messenger and Allo conversations aren’t end-to-end encrypted by default.

    • French Government’s ‘Secure’ WhatsApp Replacement Hacked In Just 90 Minutes

      In order to better protect official conversations, the French government developed its own secure instant messaging alternative to WhatsApp.

    • List Of World’s Most Hacked Passwords Is Here And It’s Embarrassing

      It comes as a no brainer that “123456” is the world’s most hacked password and 23.2 million people are still using it. Next in the list is the extended version of the first password – “123456789.” 7.7 million users use this as the password to keep their accounts safe.

      The third spot is grabbed by “qwerty” with 3.8 million users followed by “password” appearing 3.6 million times and the last password in the list of the world’s most hacked passwords is “111111” with 3.1 million using it.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?

      Depending on your age, people associate peace with protesting the Vietnam War, songs, movies and marches of the 1960’s, the time before 9/11, quiet getaway retreats, or their yoga class. So what does it mean to teach peace and howwould one do it? I think the whyis obvious.

      I have been teaching all my life – first more than a decade at the high school level and after that, college students. Most of my courses were writing, composition, and literature, but at a certain point in my career I heard about the field of Peace Studies, and I wanted to learn more. I went back to school, completed the most meaningful coursework I have ever undertaken, and began teaching peace. People frequently ask me what it means to teach peace, or even what specifically I teach.

      Here’s the short version. Conflict is not bad; conflict is necessary for all people to have a voice, but conflict is not the same as violence. Violent conflict is not inevitable. Just as people can be taught to kill in the armed services, they can be taught to use other methods of interaction. Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution includes concepts, history, and strategies so that people can learn to stop being violent. My goal is for people to stop killing each other.

    • My Unforgettable College Stabbings

      Violence can and does occur anywhere at any time to anyone. While our current mass shooting epidemic has thrust this fact of being alive into our daily consciousness, I learned this lesson long ago: First, when I was mugged and stabbed in the early 90s during my freshman year at Tufts University, a private liberal arts college in the suburbs of Boston; then later, during my senior year, when I lived off-campus with a mentally ill man who stabbed three girls, all students too, at a party; and finally, still much later, when I embarked on a career as a public defender, defending poor people charged with crimes, often violent ones.

      But let’s start with my own stabbing. It was a rainy Monday night when it happened. I’d just entered the campus on a footpath adjacent to my dormitory; on the other side of the path was a large, well-lit athletic field, which, when the weather wasn’t foul, was populated by people walking, jogging, or exercising their dogs. I was coming back from an assignment at a museum near Harvard for my art history class, and was hurrying to get out of the rain. I was wearing one of those once ubiquitous yellow Sony Sport-Walkmans and blasting “Burnin’,” one of my favorite Bob Marley albums, when I heard footsteps behind me.

      There were three of them. “Townies” was what the police called them: young men who resented and occasionally preyed upon the presumed (often correctly) affluent college students who came from near and far each year, infiltrating their town. They were a multi-racial crew, one black, one white, and the third Latino; all three wore puffy “Starter” athletic jackets that used to be in fashion and each had a bandana covering his face to his eyes – the first thing that tipped me off to the trouble I was in.

      Before I could react, the Latino guy grabbed me by the neck and the white guy pulled out a large Rambo-style Bowie knife which he waved menacingly close to my face. The black dude, a behemoth suitable to play linebacker in the NFL, stood in front of me, his arms folded, glaring. The white guy told me to “give it up,” but I told him I didn’t have anything. He said “empty your pockets,” and shaking, I pulled my keys and a few coins from my jeans before things turned violent.

      Raising his knife high, the white guy suddenly brought it crashing down, stabbing me right in my left thigh. I stumbled backward and it’s that stumble that probably saved my life, because that’s when the white guy tried to stab me in my chest. Later, at the hospital, the impression the knife-point made on my chest where it had failed to pierce the skin was a vivid reminder of my near-mortality – a hickey from the grim reaper himself.

    • Following a suicide attack on the FSB, Russia has cracked down on leftist activists nationwide, sweeping up more than a few random bystanders

      On Halloween last year, a 17-year-old anarchist set off a bomb inside the Federal Security Service’s office in Arkhangelsk, killing himself in the blast. An investigation into the terrorist attack has led to a sweeping crackdown on leftist activists across Russia, with many arrests, hundreds of raids, and some felony charges. Federal agents have taken a special interest in “Narodnaya Samooborona” (Popular Self-Defense), the country’s biggest anarchist organization, which the authorities blame for the Arkhangelsk bombing and more than 200 other “extremist actions.” Meduza special correspondent Pavel Merzlikin looks at the persecution of anarchists, following the attack on the FSB, and how the campaign has dragged in random bystanders.

    • Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone

      Recent US sanctions have been directed at the heart of Venezuela’s economy: the oil industry, an industry that has also been crippled by the continued sabotages on the electric power grid of the country.

      But when you think that enough suffering has been imposed on the people of Venezuela with all sorts of warfare actions taken out from the toolbox of a full scale Hybrid War, the US government strikes again with another hit. This time by preventing the sale of Venezuelan oil to Cuba, which amounts to killing the two proverbial birds with one stone.

      That is precisely the intention of the latest US sanctions against Venezuela targeting 34 oil tankers dedicated to transporting crude from Venezuela to Cuba. The measures against the Venezuelan cargo vessels owned by state-run oil company PDVSA are doubly illegal since they are also extraterritorial affecting two other firms: the Liberia-based Ballito Shipping Incorporated and the Greece-based ProPer In Management Incorporated.

      Venezuela has been the main supplier of crude to the island based on a joint economic agreement that guarantees preferential prices of oil to Cuba in exchange for medical and educational services to Venezuela.

      Cuba has been subjected to almost 60 years of relentless cruel economic and financial blockade by the US. At the beginning of this year, not coincidentally, the State Department issued a statement saying it would suspend Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act for 45 days only (starting on February 1) in order to conduct “a careful review”. After a further extension of 30 more days, John Bulton is expected to announce Trump’s full application of Title III with no exceptions, and no more waivers.

      So far successive US presidents suspended the lawsuit provisions for up to six months. This has been done since the beginning and Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump himself have signed this provision every six months as allowed by the law.

      Title III is the most insidious piece of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens who had properties nationalized by the revolutionary State of Cuba – including Cuban-Americans who were not US citizens at the time of nationalization – to file a suit in the United States against persons that may be “trafficking” in those properties.

    • Egypt Votes on Referendum Extending El-Sissi’s Rule to 2030

      Egyptians voted Saturday on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030 and broaden the military’s role — changes blasted by critics as another major step toward authoritarian rule.

      The referendum came amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years. El-Sissi’s government has arrested thousands of people, most of them Islamists but also prominent secular activists, and rolled back freedoms won in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

      Polls opened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT). Voting will stretch over a period of three days to allow maximum turnout.

      Outside a polling center near the Giza Pyramids, around two dozen people, mostly elderly women, lined up waiting to cast their votes. Heavy police and army security was reported at polling stations throughout the capital city.

      Haja Khadija, a 63-year-old housewife, said she came for the “security and stability” of the country. “We love el-Sissi. He did lots of things. He raised our pensions.”

    • Pentagon Spending Set to Hit Near-Record Levels, But ‘Establishment Says We Can’t Afford’ Progressive Policies

      In his 2020 budget request, Trump called for $750 billion in Pentagon spending. Democrats countered with a $733 billion offer, which would still represent a substantial increase over the Pentagon’s 2019 budget.

      Either number would bring U.S. military spending to “near-historic highs,” according to the Post.

      “Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office projected the United States would spend more than $7 trillion on defense over the next decade,” the Post reported, “which is in line with both the White House’s and House Democrats’ budget plans.”

      As Stein noted on Twitter, only a few progressive lawmakers are asking how the United States can afford such spending—a question frequently raised about bold progressive policies.

    • The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”

      After sponsoring juntas until well into the 1990s, the US went after Central and South America with “free trade” deals before once again working with extremists. The recent elections of Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro are major blows to socioeconomic and cultural progress. The recent decision of Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno to allow British police to arrest Julian Assange by dragging him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange was granted asylum, is a further indication of that country’s alignment to US elite interests.

      NOT TOO FAR LEFT…

      In the recent past, the US attempted to hook Latin America into the “free trade” paradigm. From the viewpoint of the US neoliberal project, a devastating turn of invents took place in the late-1990s to early-2010s. A number of left(ish) governments came to power in Central and South America, a region traditionally thought of by US elites as their “backyard.” The governments included: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Álvaro Colom of Guatemala, Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, Mauricio Funes of El Salvador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica, and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.

      Together, these representatives pushed backed against decades of US corporate and military domination.

    • France: Leaked military documents underscore need to end flow of arms to Yemen conflict

      Responding to leaked classified French military documents published today by investigative news site Disclose, highlighting the widespread use of French weapons in the conflict in Yemen, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said:

      “These leaked documents provide clear evidence that French military equipment supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being widely used in the conflict in Yemen.

      “Despite overwhelming evidence, Western arms supplied to the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led Coalition are being used to commit or facilitate possible war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, states such as France have shamelessly flouted their international obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

    • Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism

      President Donald Trump’s recent veto of a bipartisan resolution to force an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen reminds me of some words by V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidadian author. In his book “A Bend in the River,” Naipaul says, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”

      The war in Yemen has reached a level of barbarism as few wars in recent history. It has become a humanitarian nightmare that only a cessation of hostilities by Saudi Arabia and the provision of immediate assistance to the people in Yemen can help solve. The Trump administration, however, has chosen to continue supporting the Saudi regime.

      U.S. military assistance takes several forms. It goes from refueling Saudi and Emirati jets leading the bombing campaign in Yemen, to providing targeting and military advice to the Saudi forces, and providing fuel and armaments, including precision-guided missiles for use against the Yemeni Houthis.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: Vietnam, a U.S. Tragedy

      It is the war that never dies. Vietnam, the very word shrouded with extraordinary meaning in the American lexicon. For some it represents failure; for others guilt; for still more, anger that the war could have and should have been won. Americans are still arguing about this war, once the nation’s longest. For those who lived through it—the last war the U.S. fought partly with draftees—it was almost impossible not to take sides; to be pro-war or anti-war became a social and political identity unto itself. This tribal split even reached into the ranks of military veterans, as some joined antiwar movements and others remained vociferously sure that the war needed to be fought through to victory. Indeed, today, even the active-duty U.S. military officer corps is rent over assessment of the Vietnam legacy.

      Regarding America’s role in the Vietnam War, the myth-making began long before North Vietnamese tanks overran U.S.-backed South Vietnam in April 1975. Indeed, myths and exaggerations pervade the entire collective memory of this brutal war. Some believe that the politicians and antiwar protesters sold out the U.S. military. That a “liberal” press was complicit in this treason as well. Neither was the case. Others claim that with more military force, more bombing and more patriotic backing, the U.S. military would have marched away as the victor. This, too, is patently false. Without destroying North Vietnam in a genocidal fury and thereby risking world war with China and the Soviet Union, it is unlikely the U.S. Army and Marine Corps could have forced the communists to capitulate. The communists actually led a coalition of nationalists fighting a civil war that was ultimately about independence. Such wars are quite difficult to “win,” in any traditional sense. Then there’s the common belief that all veterans were treated terribly upon their return. While some indeed were abused, the historical record demonstrates that the scale and pervasiveness of the mistreatment have been exaggerated.

      Each of these myths carries political baggage and serves some political purpose. So divided was Vietnam-era American life that one’s stance on the war framed almost all social and political thinking. For some it still does. People on opposite sides of the debate also often draw conclusions and “lessons learned” from the Vietnam War and apply them to contemporary U.S. military and foreign policy. This has proved dangerous and disruptive. Starkly applicable “lessons” from the past rarely translate into coherent contemporary policy. Still, today, with the U.S. military again ensconced in seemingly never-ending armed conflict, the truth about America’s tragic foray into Vietnam is more vital than ever.

      A careful study of the informational sources and the works of the most respected historians of the conflict demonstrates some important truths: that the United States lost the Vietnam War both politically and militarily. That the U.S. may have been on the “wrong” side and acted far more like a European colonial power than most Americans are apt to admit. That the U.S. engaged in wanton destruction of a rather poor society in its fruitless quest for “victory” over the communists. That global communism itself was no monolith and that although Hanoi gladly accepted support from Russia and China, this remained very much a Vietnamese war. That the press, protesters and skeptics had not sold out their country, but, rather, were on the right side of history. The Vietnam War, in sum, should never have been fought—the distant country was never a vital national security threat to the United States; American intervention was, ultimately, a national crime and tragedy.

    • Revolutionary Journalism

      Journalist Wilfred Burchett at work at President Ho Chi Minh’s jungle headquarters in Thai Nguyen, March 1954.

      On 4 April this year, I was invited to attend the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Huỳnh Thúc Kháng School of Writing and Journalism. Set up on the instructions of President Ho Chi Minh on 4 April 1949, the school was housed in a simple bamboo hut on the shores of Núi Cốc Lake (Hồ Núi Cốc) in Thai Nguen province, some 80 kilometres north of Ha Noi.

      In 1949, the Resistance against French colonialists, backed by US Imperialists, was facing difficult times. From 4 April to 6 July 1949, 42 young students were trained by 29 lecturers, including General Vo Nguyen Giap, in Revolutionary journalism, so they could put their talents and newly acquired expertise at the service of the Revolution and contribute to their country’s struggle for Independence and Liberty. At the end of the course, they produced the first edition of their revolutionary newspaper, “Huỳnh Thúc Kháng”.

      President Ho Chi Minh was not able to visit the school, but, as a seasoned journalist, editor and publisher, he sent letters in which he outlined his advice to journalists.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange put through ‘hell’ at embassy, says former diplomat

      Julian Assange was always respectful but went through “hell” in the Ecuadorian embassy as officials tried to “break him down”, according to a former senior diplomat.

      Fidel Narvaez worked at the London embassy for six of the seven years the WikiLeaks figurehead lived there and says they became friends.

      Assange was evicted a few weeks ago after a change of government in Ecuador.

    • Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange

      Veterans for Peace has issued a press release in support of both Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, and East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162, want to talk to Congresswoman Barbara Lee about it. Opponents of US wars have idealized Lee, California’s District 13 Congresswoman, for her antiwar record, and might therefore expect her to defend Manning and Assange for exposing US war crimes.

      “Barbara Lee speaks for me” became a popular slogan both in and outside California’s District 13 after she voted against the Patriot Act and the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the “War on Terror,” right after 9/11. She has demanded a new AUMF every time the US has started a new war since, and she usually votes against military spending bills, as her constituents demand. However, she recently cast a deciding vote in the House Budget Committee to approve a bill with a $17 billion increase in military spending for next year and another such increase for 2021.

      I spoke to Daniel Borgstrom, a member of East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162.

    • Defending Julian Assange is the need of the hour

      Last week, the British police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. While some are arguing for his release, others are defending his arrest. Still others are asking, is Mr. Assange a journalist and WikiLeaks a news organisation?

      Whistleblower and former Central Intelligence Agency contractor Edward Snowden said that the charges pressed by the U.S. against Mr. Assange are incredibly weak. He tweeted that the arrest is “a dark moment for press freedom”. One of the leading thinkers of the world, Noam Chomsky, said “the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects”. He argued that WikiLeaks was “producing things that people ought to know about those in power”. In an interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Mr. Chomsky said: “People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”

      [...]

      Last week, the British police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. While some are arguing for his release, others are defending his arrest. Still others are asking, is Mr. Assange a journalist and WikiLeaks a news organisation?

      Whistleblower and former Central Intelligence Agency contractor Edward Snowden said that the charges pressed by the U.S. against Mr. Assange are incredibly weak. He tweeted that the arrest is “a dark moment for press freedom”. One of the leading thinkers of the world, Noam Chomsky, said “the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects”. He argued that WikiLeaks was “producing things that people ought to know about those in power”. In an interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Mr. Chomsky said: “People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”

    • Holy Week and WikiLeaks

      When Pilate can find no guilt, the crowds are influenced by temple agents to demand his crucifixion. Christ is duly tormented, humiliated and put to very public and agonising death on the cross, but with his last words, he pleads for his tormentors: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Meanwhile his followers go into hiding, terrified that they will be next.

      But what has this story got to do with us now? Although the cartoon depiction of Jesus doesn’t look much like Julian Assange, it provoked a thought exercise: imagine being witness to those events 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. There is something biblical about fleeing into exile for 7 years. One overarching parallel is the dominance of the Roman Empire akin to that of the American influence and the craven subjugation of the British Establishment – and other territories under Roman/American Rule. Many supporters of Assange have already labelled Lenin Moreno as Judas having sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver. (Note to Moreno: it didn’t end well for Judas).

      Imagine how the tabloids and MSM would treat Jesus today: “He mixes with lepers and is probably leprous himself”; “What about that long-haired Mary Magdalene who seems overly attentive to his needs?” “His hair looks like he just spent 40 days in the wilderness”. Meanwhile, the alternative media has become the voice in the wilderness, unsettling Herod’s peace of mind.

    • Assange – «The Persecution»
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • What Might a Green New Deal Look Like?

      “Before we can win a Green New Deal, we need to be able to close our eyes and imagine it. We can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

      That was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) expressing one of the messages behind an urgent video on climate change released Wednesday by The Intercept.

      The video, “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” was produced by The Intercept‘s Naomi Klein. Narrated by Ocasio-Cortez, the short film is presented as a look back to the present day from a future in which the Green New Deal passed Congress and reshaped America and the planet for the better.

    • Warren, Markey, and Pressley to Join Launch of Sunrise Movement’s 250-City Road to a Green New Deal Tour

      Three prominent Massachusetts Democrats will join community and labor leaders in Boston Thursday night to kick off the youth-led Sunrise Movement’s 250-city Road to a Green New Deal Tour.

      Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, are among many politicians and activists slated to speak at the tour’s eight major stops throughout April and May. Markey—who introduced the Green New Deal resolution with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in February—and Pressley will attend the launch at the Strand Theatre in Boston. Warren, a 2020 presidential hopeful, will join via video.

      As Common Dreams reported last month, the national tour, which is cosponsored and supported by several local climate groups, aims to make the Green New Deal a key focus on the 2020 election.

    • Trump Appointed Fossil Fuel Insiders to Federal Agencies. It’s Backfiring.

      President Trump enjoys broad support from conservative Christians because of his promises to attack reproductive rights and stack the courts in their favor, but thousands of anti-choice “evangelical environmentalists” lashed out at his administration this week. Their gripe? An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to gut the regulatory analysis behind pollution standards that have drastically reduced mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-burning power plants. Mercury, after all, can harm fetuses and developing brains.

      In a letter published in The Hill this week, the Evangelical Environmental Network became the latest group to speak out against an EPA that would heavily revise the cost-benefit analysis behind its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, which have required coal plants to invest in pollution controls that reduced the amount of mercury they spew into the air by up to 90 percent over the past decade. Progressive environmental groups, lawmakers in both parties and even electric utilities also came out against the proposed rule-making during a public comment period that ended this week.

      The unusual dissent from conservative evangelicals was the latest evidence that Trump’s plan to unleash fossil fuels production by stacking federal agencies with industry insiders and slashing regulatory oversight is backfiring. The president’s first picks to run the EPA and the Interior Department resigned in scandal, and their replacements are already mired in investigations and ethical concerns.

      Earlier this week, ethics watchdogs requested an internal investigation of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s involvement in the proposal to gut MATS, which are estimated to save $37 to $90 billion in public health costs each year by reducing thousands of asthma and heart attacks and cases of lung cancer. Wheeler was formerly a lobbyist hired by the Murray Energy coal mining company, which challenged the economic analysis behind the regulations and asked the Trump administration to throw them out as recently as 2017, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

    • In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump’s Attack on Public Lands

      Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.

      Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling late Friday stating that the Interior Department broke federal law when it lifted former President Barack Obama’s moratorium on coal mining in public lands.

      Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned last December due to multiple ethics scandals, did not order adequate studies of the environmental impact of coal, Morris said. The Trump administration had claimed the plan was “a mere policy shift” in order to avoid having to order such reviews.

      Morris refuted this claim, saying Trump had initiated a “major federal action” without taking the necessary precautions required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970.

    • Megacorporations Want More Ocean Farms. That’s a Huge Mistake.

      The world’s fisheries are on the brink of total collapse, and entire species of fish are threatened with being wiped out completely. But in spite of so much at stake for marine life and ecosystems, some policymakers and thought leaders believe we should transform our ocean waters into vast, floating farmlands.

      Fish industry groups and megacorporations are now calling on Congress to reintroduce legislation that would open federal waters to this practice of industrialized farming, known as “aquaculture.” But there are many reasons to be wary of this industry-backed effort. Foremost among them is that any attempt to open large swaths of our federal waters to aquaculture needs to address the urgent, connected issues of environmental impact and fish welfare. And there’s increasing evidence that ocean fish farming isn’t sustainable in any form.

      Aquaculture can create crowded, polluted, stressful conditions for fish that threaten our health and surrounding wild marine life. For the consumer, it may mean low-quality fish dinners produced from waters contaminated by waste and disease.

      Much of the country’s seafood is imported from large-scale fish farming: Aquaculture now accounts for about 50 percent of the world’s fish. Proponents for expanding marine aquaculture into federal waters point out that the U.S. ranks 16th in the world in aquaculture production. For the commercial aquaculture industry, the main barriers to opening federal waters to floating fish farms are a complicated permitting process and overlapping federal agency jurisdictions.

      While previous legislation aimed at opening federal waters to aquaculture made overtures to environmental impact, it did not address fish welfare, which is intimately linked to water quality. In typical ocean farm settings, fish are kept in pens, where overcrowding can lead to deteriorating conditions as animal waste accumulates. Chronic stress, aggressive behavior and susceptibility to disease also increases with poor water quality. Cramped floating farms, like those encouraged by the proposed legislation, may enrich companies’ bottom lines, but they rely on inhumane and unsanitary water quality.

    • How the White House is Spinning Earth Day

      This Earth Day, many of us will mark the occasion by joining a community clean-up or getting out and enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately, this year the Trump administration will be observing this celebration of our environment differently — by plotting to undermine critical safeguards that help keep our air and water clean.

      Most people aren’t familiar with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but it plays a critical role in keeping our communities and our environment healthy and safe.

      Signed into law in 1970, just a few months before the very first Earth Day, NEPA simply requires that the government take environmental, economic, and health impacts into consideration before going forward with any major project, and that the public have an opportunity to weigh in. The law empowers communities to access information about the decisions that affect their lives and ensures that their feedback on these decisions is heard.

      99 percent of the time, projects reviewed under NEPA move forward without much scrutiny or delay. But in the rare cases where a proposed project would pose a serious threat to communities, this safeguard is critical to protecting them from corporate polluters and their allies in government.

      One of the most high-profile examples of this is the Trump administration’s attempt to force through approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline based on an outdated review from 2014 that was the basis for President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline. Thanks to NEPA, a federal court rejected this reckless plan and required the government to go back and take a closer look.

    • Decrying ‘Toxic Alliance’ of Macron and Polluters, Climate Campaigners Stage One of France’s Largest Ever Acts of Civil Disobedience

      Peaceful demonstrators descended on La Défense to protest government complicity and companies fueling the global climate crisis.

      Carrying signs that condemned Emmanuel Macron as “president of polluters,” the protesters blocked access to the buildings of three major businesses and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

      The direct action was organized by Action Non-Violente (ANV) COP21 and the French chapters of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, but members of at least 14 climate groups reportedly joined the mass mobilization.

    • Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?

      The pangolin is a timid little creature going about its nocturnal ways, slurping up ants and termites with a tongue longer than its body. It has no teeth. Its defense when threatened is to roll up into a ball shielded by its scales — an armor plating that is the cause of its woes.

      Ranging in size from 3 to 73 pounds, there are eight distinct species of pangolin — their name originates in the Malay word ‘penggulung’ meaning the one that rolls up. In 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature redlisted all pangolins, classifying the four Asian species ‘endangered’ — of these, the Chinese and the Malay (Sunda) are critically so. Similarly threatened by decreasing numbers, the four African species were listed ‘vulnerable’.

      The principal reason for their plight is their defense mechanism, the scales, which in some cultures are claimed to hold magical properties. Thus in parts of Africa, a woman interested in a particular man is believed to be able to control him by burying a pangolin scale outside his front door. In China and East Asia, the scales are considered to have medicinal benefits.

      The meat is also considered a delicacy. They have long been hunted in Central Africa for bushmeat but the numbers lost are not easy to calculate. In 2018, an estimate of 400,000 to 2.7 million killed for food was reported by researchers using three different methods — hence the wide range. The lead author of the study, Daniel Ingram of University College London, expressed greater confidence in the lower number.

      The third Saturday in February, which fell on the 16th this year, is World Pangolin Day. Unfortunately, there was little cause for celebration as the following customs seizures from just the previous two months manifest.

    • As Youth-Led Campaign Kicks Off, Poll Shows Majority of Canadians Want a Green New Deal, Too

      Ottawa-based polling firm Abacus Data asked 2,000 Canadians whether they support or oppose “a massive government jobs program and investment in clean energy, green technology, and electrification” that “would aim to move Canada to 100 percent clean energy by 2030 and make it so Canada produces and consumes the same amount of carbon emissions by 2050.”

      Sixty-one percent of respondents said they support or somewhat support the proposal, recently popularized by a growing grassroots movement in the United States and progressive Democrats in the U.S. Congress. When pollsters asked Canadians if they would back a deal that “required corporations and the wealthy to pay higher taxes,” support for the proposal shot up to 66 percent.

      The survey was commissioned by North99, a Canadian nonprofit composed of “progressive people united by a concern about rising inequality and the increasing influence of the far-right.”

      Responding to the polling results (pdf) in a statement to The Toronto Star, North99 co-director Taylor Scallon said: “The conversation among politicians has revolved around pollution pricing, but climate change is an existential challenge and requires a solution that matches its scale. Canadians know we need a much broader mobilization against climate change.”

    • Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife

      Emblematic of his time and education, Aldo Leopold wrote during 1920 that predators were “the common enemy of both the stockman and the conservationist.” But, in one of Sand County Almanac’s classic essays, Aldo writes about a radical transformation that he underwent just a handful of years later. After shooting into a pack of wolves, he describes reaching “…the old wolf in time to watch the fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and the mountain. I was young then and full of trigger-itch: I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

      In another essay, Leopold describes Escudilla—a mountain massif in Arizona’s White Mountains—that was defined for him by the grizzly bear, “the outstanding achievement of… the pageant of evolution.” Leopold tells the tragic tale of how Old Bigfoot, one of the last grizzly bears in Arizona, was killed on Escudilla: “The government trapper who took the grizzly knew he had made Escudilla safe for cows. He did not know he had toppled the spire off an edifice a-building since the morning stars sang together… Escudilla still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of bears. It’s only a mountain now.”

      Challenging the ethos of domination, Leopold emerged as one of the first scientists in the twentieth century to assert that apex predators such as wolves and mountain lions both diversify and stabilize ecosystems. He became an advocate for saving all the pieces of ecological systems, a notion that would become the backbone of the Endangered Species Act passed 40 years later.

    • ‘We Will Occupy Until You Take Action’: Extinction Rebellion Plans to Shut Down Heathrow Friday on Fifth Day of Protests

      Onlookers praised the demonstrators’ commitment to non-violent protest. At least 460 demonstrators had been arrested as of Thursday evening, and police continued to make arrests at Parliament Square.

      On Thursday, three protesters were denied bail and sent to jail for a month, pending their upcoming trial in May. Cathy Eastburn, Mark Ovland, and Luke Watson had been arrested the day before for climbing on top of a train in East London. The same day, demonstrators had superglued themselves to train cars at Canary Wharf station, with Extinction Rebellion arguing that disrupting and inconveniencing the population may be the only way to force the U.K. to take meaningful action against the climate crisis.

    • U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary

      The U.S. Senate on April 11 voted 56-41 to confirm President Trump’s nominee David Bernhardt, former oil and gas corporation and Westlands Water District lobbyist David Bernhardt, to be the Secretary of the Interior.

      Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), as well as Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), joined Senate Republicans in voting for Bernhardt’s confirmation.

      Representatives of conservation, fishing and environmental justice organizations blasted the vote, with one group calling Bernhardt Trump’s “most conflict-ridden cabinet nominee.”

      ”After all of the clear documentation about his conflicts of interest and his apparent corruption, it’s really disappointing to seeing the Senate agree to make this guy the secretary with 56 votes,” said John McManus, President of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). “It seems to me that the Senate had all of the information to make a good decision and instead made a bad decision. I am fairly certain that we will be engaged for the next two years in fighting off aggressive federal government efforts to drain the Delta dry and export northern California water hundreds of miles to grow almonds instead of salmon.”

      “It’s another shameful day in Washington, DC as perhaps the most corrupt possible nominee for a cabinet position is confirmed by the Senate. The Interior Department is now fully captured by destructive industry and big money politics. I’m disgusted,” echoed Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

    • The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems

      Sometime in the near future it is highly probable that the Arctic will no longer have sea ice, meaning zero ice for the first time in eons, aka: the Blue Ocean Event.

      Surely, the world is not prepared for the consequences of such an historic event, which likely turns the world topsy-turvy, negatively impacting agriculture with gonzo weather patterns, thus forcing people to either starve or fight. But, the problem may be even bigger than shortages of food, as shall be discussed.

      Still and all, it’s somewhat consoling to know that the Blue Ocean Event is quite controversial within the scientific community. There are plenty of climate scientists that believe Arctic ice will be there beyond this century. One can only hope they are right because an ice-free Arctic will indubitably create havoc for life on the planet.

      However, disturbingly, the prospects for enduring sea ice don’t look good.

    • Gas Driller at Center of 2019 Pulitzer-Winning Book on Fracking Still Faces Legal Battles

      Eliza Griswold’s book Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America examines the impacts of fracking in western Pennsylvania, and on Monday it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

      Griswold’s book carefully refuses the birds-eye view of fracking’s impacts — readers will find few state or national statistics — and instead presents the detailed results of seven years of on-the-ground reporting. It traces the story of one extended family in western Pennsylvania, a small handful of neighbors, and eventually the two-person legal team that took on their case, now covered by a sealed settlement with natural gas driller, Range Resources, which still faces additional related legal battles today.

    • Sea creatures store carbon in the ocean – could protecting them help slow climate change?

      As the prospect of catastrophic effects from climate change becomes increasingly likely, a search is on for innovative ways to reduce the risks. One potentially powerful and low-cost strategy is to recognize and protect natural carbon sinks – places and processes that store carbon, keeping it out of Earth’s atmosphere.

      Forests and wetlands can capture and store large quantities of carbon. These ecosystems are included in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that 28 countries have pledged to adopt to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement. So far, however, no such policy has been created to protect carbon storage in the ocean, which is Earth’s largest carbon sink and a central element of our planet’s climate cycle.

      As a marine biologist, my research focuses on marine mammal behavior, ecology and conservation. Now I also am studying how climate change is affecting marine mammals – and how marine life could become part of the solution.

    • Puerto Ricans Are Resisting Policing as a Solution to Crisis

      In Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico, author Marisol LeBrón shows how Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship to the U.S. has shaped policing in the archipelago as a form of “colonial crisis management.” Her new book exposes the ways policing harms marginalized communities and deepens social inequality. In this interview, LeBrón discusses the legacy of punitive “solutions” and the various ways Puerto Ricans are challenging state violence and building alternative forms of justice.

  • Finance
    • US bitcoin trader could face death penalty over Thai ‘seastead’

      Insisting the six-meter platform was 13 nautical miles from Thailand and in international waters, the company accused the Thai authorities of acting as “judge jury and executioner of the historic very first seastead.” It hoped to resolve the issue “diplomatically,” it said.

      The Seasteading Institute, the organization backed by Thiel, is currently in negotiations with the government of French Polynesia to build a floating city in a semi-autonomous “seazone” within its territorial waters.

    • Yellow Vests Demonstrate in Paris as Notre Dame Donations Highlight Wealth Inequality

      The contrast between the French government’s and upper class’s response to Monday’s fire at Notre Dame and ongoing inaction to combat income inequality, was a primary driver of mass protests in Paris on Saturday.

      The Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, staged their first major protest since large portions of the historic cathedral burned, apparently due to an electrical short-circuit, to call attention to the €1 billion ($1.1 billion) that the country’s richest families have donated to help rebuild the church, months after the yellow vest movement began demonstrating against income inequality.

      “You’re there, looking at all these millions accumulating, after spending five months in the streets fighting social and fiscal injustice. It’s breaking my heart,” Ingrid Levavasseur, a founder of the movement, told the Associated Press.

    • Yellow Vest Anger Burns in France, Fueled by Notre Dame Fire

      French yellow vest protesters set fires along a march route through Paris on Saturday to drive home their message to a government they see as out of touch with the problems of the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

      Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to the government to “look at me — I need help too!”

      Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.

      The protesters were marking the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against economic inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business at the expense of ordinary workers. Protesters see themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers, students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

    • Notre Dame and the Fight for Sacred Lands

      In Chiapas, Mexico, I first considered the difference between the kind of society that builds monumental architecture in stone and the kind that nurtures great people in buffalo-hide tipis.

      I had arrived at Palenque on a chartered bus after spending a week in this place so far from the Great Plains and the Southwest, the homelands of my father’s people the Dakota and my mother’s people the Diné (also known as Navajo). I was with a busload of Indigenous representatives from Native nations across the Western hemisphere. Tall Lakota men from Alberta and South Dakota, sticking out among their much-shorter brethren, Maya from Guatemala and Mapuche from Chile and Kuna from Panama. We ventured down the trails of the National Park filled with towering temples. The Kuna and Inca come (from Peru) dressed in colorful dresses, speaking quietly but authoritatively in their languages as we set out.

      I stumbled upon two Puerto Rican women, one White and the other Black, leaning with their backs pressed upon the wall of the temple, eyes closed to the sun and hands pressed palms down to the stone. I watched them as they began to chant in Spanish, apparently trying to absorb some of the energy from the building.

    • When Americans Get Their Tax Refunds, They Go to the Dentist

      Megan, who currently lives in Pittsburgh, was hospitalized in September for pneumonia. It was just a one-day stay, and she had health insurance, but even so, the bills piled up, eventually totaling $6,500.

      The only thing that made paying them realistic, she said, was that she received a $4,200 tax refund this year.

      “I would have put off my medical payments [without the refund],” she told me via email. “Between rent and day to day expenses, I don’t have the income to pay both. … Even with insurance the numbers seemed insurmountable until I got my refund. If it wasn’t for that I would have had to reapply for payment plans with the risk of being sent to collections.”

    • I’ve Seen Goldman Sachs From the Inside. We Need Public Banks.

      For far too long, Wall Street has wreaked havoc on people’s personal financial stability and our economy as a whole. I should know. As a managing director at Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s, I witnessed firsthand how the banking industry lined their pockets at the expense of customers.

      Not much has changed since then. After the mortgage fraud crisis of 2007-08, the biggest banks were slapped with $216 billion in fines – a drop in the bucket for firms that raked in a cool $237 billion last year alone. Infamously, not a single banker went to jail. Today, Wall Street banks continue to commit fraud, enjoy front-row lobbying seats in Washington, write legislation on their own behalf, and maintain easy access to credit courtesy of the Federal Reserve.

      The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 placed some regulations on banks’ riskier bets. But, crucially, that reform failed to divide banks into two entities: one dealing with people’s FDIC insured deposits, and the other able to create complex securities and engage in derivatives trading using our deposits as collateral. Ten years after the financial crisis, our money is still very much at risk of being gambled away.

      This isn’t just about protecting individuals’ personal nest eggs. State and city governments deposit their funds in these banks, too. This means that our own tax dollars are underwriting Wall Street’s most reckless investments — from the oil companies warming our climate to the private prisons jailing our kids to the gun manufacturers who have turned our schools into free-fire zones.

      This is why it is more important than ever to create public banks tasked with using state and local funds for public good, not private profit. And my home state of California is leading the way. A new bill, AB 857, backed by the California Public Banking Alliance would give cities the freedom to start public banks accountable to the communities they serve. Based on North Dakota’s successful model – now celebrating its 100th year – these banks would reinvest public funds in their communities by offering low-interest business and student loans, investing in clean energy, and supporting local infrastructure projects.

    • Nurses Are Leading Strike Efforts — Where Are the Physicians?

      The U.S. healthcare “system” is completely and utterly broken. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. system ranks 37th in the world, all while spending dramatically more on healthcare than other wealthy countries. Tens of millions remain without any health insurance coverage. For many, medical bills can mean economic ruin—some surveys show that up to 66.5% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are a result of medical expenses. On the front lines of this system are nurses and physicians—individuals who, by and large, decided to go into the profession to help patients and communities—are becoming more frustrated by their inability to do just that, sometimes even causing providers to leave the profession. While many inside the U.S. medical industrial complex have had enough, nurses throughout New York City (NYC) are putting their collective foot down and showing us the way to fight for better outcomes for patients and better working conditions for providers.

      In March, members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at New York’s “big four” hospitals (Montefiore, Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian-Columbia and Mount Sinai West/St. Luke’s) voted by an overwhelming 97% margin to authorize a strike. The nurses’ fight centers around conditions for patient care, including safer staffing ratios inside hospitals so that nurses can adequately care for each patient. Throughout NYC, nurses are forced to work long shifts and are chronically understaffed. The nurses who recently threatened to strike recognize that these working conditions are part of hospital executives’ push to squeeze greater and greater profits out of workers at the expense of patient health—and they have had enough. New York nurses are fighting just as teachers across the country did earlier this year—including the tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers who struck last January for better conditions for in schools. They are discussing the strike option just as more than 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England are striking against cuts to healthcare benefits and pensions and the CAMBA Legal Services workers voted to walk off the job if their demands are not met. The nurses are also taking up the example of healthcare workers around the world, including the 40,000 Irish nurses who recently struck. Nurses are recognizing they have the power to fight and win better patient care. But while nurses across New York are standing up for themselves and their patients, a big question remains: Where are the doctors and why are they not threatening to strike together with nurses?

    • Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford

      The FAMILY Act was reintroduced in the 116th Congress by Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate and Rosa DeLauro in the House. It would provide workers with income when they need to take time off for their own health including recovery from childbirth, to care for a seriously ill family member or spouse, or to bond with a new baby or an adopted or foster child. One of the arguments against paid family and medical leave that opponents frequently use to try to discredit this popular social insurance program is that workers can’t afford it. The payroll deduction, technically a tax, is actually an insurance premium that finances these paid leaves.

      The money deducted from a worker’s paycheck goes into an insurance fund that can only be used for one purpose: to replace two-thirds of workers’ lost wages, up to a capped amount, for up to 12 weeks when they need to take a leave. Lower- and middle-wage workers would fall under the cap. The FAMILY Act covers workers in all companies regardless of the number of employees or whether the worker is employed full-time or part-time. It covers temporary workers as well as the self-employed.

      The cost of the program is modest and can be funded by small employee and employer payroll contributions, with each contributing two-tenths of one percent of monthly pay. Total cost is just 0.4 percent (0.004) of payroll.[1]

      To provide a context for understanding whether a payroll deduction of 0.2 percent of payroll places a large burden on workers, especially those earning low wages, we compare the required payroll deduction for paid family and medical leave for households in each quintile of the earnings distribution with what households in that quintile pay for auto insurance.

    • Fun Fictions in Economics

      Economists pride themselves on being the serious social science, the one most deserving of status as an actual science. I will let others make the comparative assessment, but there is an awful lot of nonsense that passes as serious analysis within economics. For cheap fun, I thought I would use a nice spring afternoon to highlight some of my favorites.

      [...]

      The job-killing robots story is sometimes diverted into a scenario that is just around the corner instead of being here today. Of course, we can’t definitely rule out that at some point in the future productivity will not accelerate sharply, but it is worth noting that this pickup does not seem to be on the immediate horizon. Investment is not especially high as a share of GDP, averaging 13.4 percent over the last three years. That compares to 14.2 percent from 1999 to 2001, and 14.4 percent from 1980 to 1982, its post-war peak.

      Investment is not even especially high in the more narrow categories of computers and information technologies, where we would expect the robots to live. This means that businesses are about to start a mass displacement of workers with robots, they don’t seem to be spending too much money on the process.

      Perhaps the most important point here is that there is no reason to assume that a pickup in productivity growth would be associated with mass unemployment and a collapse of wage income. The 1947 to 1973 Golden Age was a period of rapid wage growth, as were the years from 1995 to 2001, when the stock bubble collapsed and the economy fell into recession.

      Bad economic policy can prevent workers from sharing in the benefits of productivity growth (e.g. Peter Peterson-types demanding deficit reduction, thereby reducing output and employment), but it would be crazy to blame robots because Wall Street billionaires are slowing growth and pushing the economy toward recession.

    • Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly

      As Britain staggers from crisis to crisis, with the Brexit debacle rending the country apart, with its prisons in a “disgraceful” state, a knife crime epidemic, and the doctors of its Health Service at “breaking point” it might be imagined that the government would avoid playing futile military games and concentrate on trying to run the country. But national crises don’t matter to the would-be big-spenders of the UK’s Ministry of Defence whose titular head Gavin Williamson, the paintball strategist, announced on April 3 that Britain would “spearhead” a ‘Joint Expeditionary Force’ in a military mission called ‘Baltic Protector’. The anti-Russia manoeuvres are to involve 2,000 military personnel from the UK and a further thousand from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. (It is notable that NATO designates Sweden and Finland as “neutral countries”.)

      Williamson demonstrates his ineptitude all too frequently, and recently confirmed his confused mental state by stating that “As Britain prepares to leave the EU, our unwavering commitment to European security and stability is more important than ever. Deploying our world class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain’s leading role in Europe.” (In spite of NATO he considers Sweden and Finland to be allies of the UK.)

      Britain’s “leading role” depends on a defence force whose state of morale is at an all-time low, with “the proportion of personnel recording satisfaction with service life [having] fallen from 60% in 2010 to 41% last year.” The forces have been cut to the bone. Their strength in 1990 was 305 thousand. Ten years later this had sunk to 207 thousand and in 2010 it was 191 thousand. Today there are 135,000 people in uniform. Their equipment is out of date and they could hardly fight their way out of a paper bag.

      The Baltic Protector Mission is said by Britain’s defence ministry to underline “the importance of protecting Europe at a time of increased threat” which, most fortunately for Europe, and especially the UK, does not exist. There is no intention on the part of Russia to engage in military operations against the Baltic states or anyone else in Europe.

    • Stop & Shop Strikers Are Standing Up for All Grocery Workers

      The current New England grocery workers’ strike will likely have long-lasting national significance. The strike that started April 11 with 31,000 Stop & Shop grocery workers at about 240 supermarkets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut is about to enter its second week. It is the largest private-sector strike in the United States since 2017 and the largest strike in the U.S. retail sector since the Southern California grocery workers’ strike of 2003-2004.

      The strike is an important political event. Over the past few days, several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Corey Booker, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have expressed support for the strikers, with Warren, Biden and other state and national politicians, including a couple of Republican lawmakers, meeting with workers, who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, on the picket lines. On Thursday, Biden and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh headlined a rally for striking workers in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

      The striking workers have also gained support from other quarters of the labor movement. Almost 2,000 Teamsters who work as truck drivers for Stop & Shop or its vendors and suppliers are refusing to make essential food deliveries during the strike, leading to bare shelves, early closings and shuttered stores. Virtually no Stop & Shop workers have crossed the picket lines – local management and “striker replacements” are attempting to do their work — and formerly loyal customers are staying away in droves. Coming during the critical Easter holiday retail period, the Stop & Shop strike threatens to hurt the finances of the company, which generated $44 billion in sales from all its U.S. supermarket chains in 2018.

      The workers are fighting against sweeping contract concessions demanded by Shop & Shop (owned by the Dutch giant Ahold Delhaize, which was formed in July 2016 from the merger of two existing retailers). The outcome of the strike will have national implications: If the company succeeds in weakening the workers’ health care and pension plans, and lowering the rate for Sunday pay, it will try to impose concessionary contracts on its workers in other states (New York State has more than 200 Stop & Shop stores, and the company also owns the Giant and Food Lion grocery chains). A management victory would also give encouragement to other unionized food retailers seeking to reduce costs and boost profits by slashing employee benefits.

    • The Stop & Shop Strike Is Showing There’s Still Power in a Union

      Roughly 31,000 employees of the northeastern grocery chain Stop & Shop have been on strike for nearly a week across more than 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The workers, represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), walked out on April 11 after voting to authorize the strike in March. During what is reportedly the largest private sector strike in three years, talks continued Tuesday, with neither side able to make an agreement.

      Stop & Shop is owned by Ahold Delhaize, a retail company based in The Netherlands. Ahold Delhaize is a $44 billion company, and it’s saved millions thank to the corporate tax breaks implemented by the Trump administration. Workers say that, despite these numbers, Stop & Shop is attempting to cut employee pensions, raise the cost of healthcare and roll back overtime pay. They’re also concerned about the company’s rising use of automation, which many believe will lead to inevitable layoffs.

      The workers have received vast support throughout the community, while the stores have been forced to scrape by with temporary staff in many areas. An employee named Temika who works at a store in Providence uploaded a Facebook video detailing what the current state of the store. “I had a family member go in today and just take a look around,” she said, continuing, “It looked terrible. The prepared foods, the deli, the seafood department, the bakery—everything was shut down. The tables looked exactly the way they looked the day [everybody went on strike], which means they haven’t been rotating anything.”

      The current state of Stop & Shop should be a legitimate concern for the company. The Southern California grocery strike of 2003 to 2004 led to the establishment of new grocery chains and customers shifting their allegiances after they began shopping at different stores. The same trend could very well impact New England. Customer Gail Zulla told a local news station that she used to shop at a Providence location of Stop & Shop but had been picking up her groceries at the local rival Shaw’s. “It’s the busiest I’ve ever seen a Shaw’s in my life,” she said, “It’s like it’s a snow storm. There’s no bread, there’s nothing.” She said she’ll take her business elsewhere while the strike is underway, adding, “maybe I’ll stay at Shaw’s.”

    • The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience

      Amazon is a company that’s drunk on profits and market share.

      Last year, the online retail giant netted $11 billion in profits while paying $0 in taxes. The company controls nearly half of all online sales in the United States, and its Amazon Web Services division is the leader in providing cloud-based computing services, counting Netflix and the U.S. government among its major clients.

      You’d think that with all this money, Amazon would be a leader in tackling climate change, since it’s the biggest threat to our planet — and since Amazon uses massive amounts of energy. However, after taking some steps in the right direction on clean energy, Amazon has since made it clear that profits are the only thing that matters.

      A few years ago, Amazon had no commitment to using any clean energy. After damning reports from Greenpeace, campaigning by groups like Green America, and pressure from the company’s own shareholders, in 2014 Amazon made a quiet announcement that the company would eventually move to 100 percent renewable power to run its massive servers.

      Unlike many IT companies, Amazon set no firm timeline for reaching its goal.

      Since then, the company has slowly been adding clean energy to power its servers, finally hitting 50 percent in 2018. Recently, Amazon announced it will be adding three more wind farms (only one of which is in the U.S.), a couple of months after Greenpeace raised concerns that Amazon was backtracking on its clean energy commitments.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • China is using Facebook to build a huge audience around the world

      The Chinese Communist Party’s approach to Facebook is, ahem, two-faced. At home, to stop citizens sharing messages it cannot read, it blocks the site. Clever users can defy the ban, but only 3m do. It is easier to use WeChat or Weibo, local rivals that the state watches closely.

      Abroad, by contrast, China uses Facebook to dish up propaganda. Squillions of foreigners see its posts. The English-language page of CGTN, a state mouthpiece, has 77m fans—the most of any news site. China now runs five of the six media outlets with the biggest Facebook followings. None had more than 3m fans in 2014. If their current growth rates continue, by 2022 China Daily and CGTN will overtake the page of Cristiano Ronaldo, a footballer, who is Facebook’s most followed celebrity.

      This has given China a loud bullhorn. [...]

    • Your Check is in the Mail

      Yang’s campaign slogan is “Humanity First,” which reflects his big campaign issue: the fact that automation and robotics are displacing human labor throughout the economy. Jobs are a key issue across the country The solution may not be more jobs, but something entirely different, like Yang’s Freedom Dividend.

      Cutting labor costs enriches investor/owners, but it’s catastrophic for workers. Self-driving vehicles are going to put truck drivers out of business, just as scanners have reduced supermarket checkout clerks, and online purchasing has devastated retail outlets.

      Automation affects not just factory-line workers, but most wage-labor, even on a professional level. Doctors, lawyers, and tax preparers are being replaced by remotely controlled automated services, the way travel agents have been replaced by online booking, and teachers and college professors now compete with online courses. Certain service sectors–plumbers, electricians, contractors, waitresses–continue to resist automation, but they too are vulnerable.

      There are still jobs, of course, but they no longer provide the economic security they used to for the bulk of the population. Traditional wage-labor is a shrinking proposition, ever harder to achieve, leaving most of the population redundant, less and less able to support itself. The jobs that remain are all too often low-skill and low-pay, insufficient to support a family.

    • William Barr Is a Complete Tool. It’s Time for Robert Mueller to Testify.

      On October 20, 1973, shortly before he would be fired, Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox called a press conference to explain why he would not be taking President Nixon up on the latter’s offer to have Senator John Stennis vet the White House tapes.

    • Warren Becomes First 2020 Contender to Announce Support for Impeachment Proceedings Against Trump

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump on Friday.

      The Massachusetts Democrat decided to call on the House to move to impeach Trump shortly after reportedly reading the redacted Mueller report on Thursday.

      Warren pointed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that Trump may have obstructed justice as Mueller was investigating his campaign’s contacts with Russia, as a reason for bringing charges against the president.

      “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,” Warren tweeted.

    • Small donor support helps Trump campaign pull in unprecedented Q1 haul

      President Donald Trump’s campaign reported raising $30.3 million in campaign funds in the first quarter of the 2020 presidential race, according to FEC filings.

      With the eye-popping fundraising haul, Trump flirts with record-breaking numbers. Only Hillary Clinton collected more in the first quarter of a presidential campaign — $36 million in April 2007 — but $10 million of that came as a transfer from her Senate campaign. Trump’s contributions outpaced former president Barack Obama’s $26 million in 2007 first quarter earnings. Obama didn’t declare for re-election until April 2011.

      When combined with funds raised by the Republican National Committee, the president walks into the 2020 contest having raised $168 million since January 2017.

    • To Never Forget or Never Remember

      The act of “Never Forgetting” is being militarized against Muslims once again. And this is by a President who is popular because of his willful act of forgetting—that is nostalgia. On the heels of China’s use of Artificial Intelligence to track the faces of Muslims, Donald Trump continues his spectacular demonization campaign, seemingly much to the disgust of pro-love, pro-war Democrats.

      Donald Trump has in some ways radically shifted the configuration of American violence. Trump’s environmental violence, most notable through his deregulation and gutting of the EPA, will be his most lasting legacy. America’s violence is usually dumped in the Never Remember” category. The most forgotten violence in this country is the genocide of Native American sisters and brothers. Donald Trump changes the name of the game by openly inciting violence against the press, against his political opponents, against women, immigrants, Muslims and people of color.

      In this way Trump brings American violence into the center of discussion and opens up the floodgates for a cultural acceptance or even celebration of violence against those you disagree with or see as genetically inferior. This, in a word, has correctly been labeled as fascism. Trump crossed a line for the hopeless Democratic Party when he invited violence to be used against female black Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who rightfully (and hopefully not regrettably) labeled 9/11 as an event where people did some things and all our civil liberties were taken away. It is here where one can forgive Omar, who has legitimate reason to fear for her life, from backing down from this biting comment.

      Now I am of the opinion that there is no time too soon for a 9/11 joke (or too late for that matter). But Donald, if he had a sense of humor, made quite an uncharacteristically funny joke just hours after 9/11. The Guardian writes: “Trump, claimed, falsely, that one of his own buildings had been “the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan”, after the World Trade Center.

      “And now it’s the tallest,” he said.”

    • Trump Tried to Seize Control of Mueller Probe, Report Says

      Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump had tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.

      The report said that in June 2017, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call the acting attorney general and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest.

      McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.

      For all of that, Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction of justice.

      The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the report online Thursday morning, 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings.

      The two-volume, 448-page report recounts how Trump repeatedly sought to take control of the Russia probe.

    • Trudeau’s Long Winter

      As if Canadian winters and chilly spring weren’t enough, this year has been a season of scandal for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Charges of interference in the criminal prosecution of a powerful corporation have been piling up like transport trucks on an icy thruway, potentially trashing Trudeau’s fortunes in next October’s federal elections.

      Justin Trudeau’s winter of discontent began, last February 7, on the front page of Canada’s Globe and Mail. He and his closest advisors had reportedly been pestering then-Justice Minister/Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould (aka ‘JWR’) to strike a “deferred prosecution agreement” with Quebec-based engineering giant SNC Lavalin, over bribes allegedly paid to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi prior to his murder at the hands of NATO/Canada-backed rebels.

      Political interference charges were all the more damaging in the wake of the arrest of Chinese telecom CEO Weng Wanzhou, just two months earlier, in a Vancouver airport lounge, on a US extradition warrant. Canada is a “Rule of Law Country,” Ottawa insisted at the time, and had no choice. China didn’t buy the argument, and has been retaliating ever since, arresting a pair of Canadians for spying, threatening to execute another, and banning the import of Canadian canola, a ten-billion-dollar business for prairie farmers.

      Of course, Justin Trudeau steadfastly denies meddling in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, but the scandal drags on, scattering political wreckage in its wake: cabinet demotions; the resignation of intimate advisors; conflicting testimony by key informants before a packed Commons justice committee; a secretly recorded phone exchange, broadcast over public airwaves, sparking cries of foul and praise in equal measure, triggering JWR’s ouster from caucus, along with a female colleague. Now, Trudeau threatening libel charges against opposition leader Andrew Scheer.

    • How Congress Can Follow Up on the Incomplete and Redacted Mueller Report

      The release on April 18 of a redacted version of the Mueller report came after two years of allegations, speculation and insinuation – but not a lot of official information about what really happened between the Trump campaign and Russia.

      Nor had there been much light shed on whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign.

      The report prepared by special counsel Robert Mueller and issued by the Justice Department provided greater detail about those questions. And it offered more information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

      The Trump administration will want to argue that the release of the Mueller report is the end of investigating the Russia scandal.

      On the contrary, the version of the report released is only the start of wide-ranging and intensive House investigations.

    • Five Critical Takeaways From the Mueller Report

      After nearly two years of waiting, we have a redacted version of the report of special counsel Robert Mueller. A searchable copy can be found and examined here.

      The report is 448 pages long and is divided into two volumes. Volume I, in the words of the report, “describes the factual results of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign.” If you are concerned about allegations of conspiracy, cooperation or “collusion” (more on that misnomer ahead) between the campaign and persons associated with the Russian government, this is where you will find Mueller’s reasoning.

      Volume II “addresses the President’s actions towards the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters, and his actions towards the Special Counsel’s investigation.” If you are interested in learning whether the 45th president of the United States obstructed justice in connection with the Russian investigation, this is where you should focus your attention.

      Volume II discusses 11 alleged instances of possible obstruction, covering, among other subjects, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, and the president’s directive in June 2017 to then-White House counsel Donald McGhan to fire Mueller—an order McGhan refused to carry out, fearing another “Saturday Night Massacre.”

    • Turning to ‘Liars’: Outrage From Critics as Facebook Solicits Far Right Site for Fact-Check Help

      Facebook is partnering with an extreme right-wing website’s fact-checking arm, a move that is generating condemnation from both mainstream and progressive critics.

      Axios reported on Wednesday that Facebook would be working with The Daily Caller’s for-profit fact-checker website Check Your Fact to uncover bias and false statements in stories on the social media site.

      In a statement to The Wrap, Facebook downplayed its partnership with Check Your Fact, putting the new alliance in a broader context.

      “Since we launched our third-party fact-checking program in 2016, we’ve been working with partners around the world who share our goal of stopping the spread of misinformation on our platform,” Facebook’s head of news integrity partnerships, Meredith Carden, told The Wrap. “We now work with 47 partners around the world who fact-check content in 24 languages.”

    • Facebook Partners With Notorious Far-Right Site The Daily Caller on Fact-Checking

      The right-wing Daily Caller is the latest site to partner with Facebook on its controversial fact-checking platform, Axios reported Wednesday.

      CheckYourFact.com, a for-profit subsidiary of The Daily Caller, is, like all of Facebook’s fact-checking partners, including the Associated Press and PolitiFact, approved by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network.

      Still, the parent company, as The Guardian’s Sam Levin explained Wednesday, is “a rightwing website that has pushed misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content.” CheckYourFact.com, on the other hand, says it is “loyal to neither people nor parties.”

      Among other controversial coverage, The Daily Caller faced scrutiny for, as Levin writes, “the way it reported on a fake nude photo of the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Levin adds, “and its coverage of immigration and the White House has typically aligned with Trump’s agenda.”

    • Rejecting Barr’s ‘Whitewash’ of Mueller Report, Democrats Demand to Hear from Special Counsel Himself

      Democrats and public advocacy groups on Thursday demanded to hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself, even as President Donald Trump continued to claim he was fully exonerated by Mueller’s report.

      Trump’s claims came despite the report’s description of numerous instances in which he may have obstructed justice.

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement Thursday morning calling for Mueller to testify before Congress “as soon as possible.”

    • A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

      he Civil War which ended in 1865, demolished slavery and emancipated four million human beings. What happened next in the South remains largely unknown to most Americans. In a recent poll of high school graduates, only 20 percent had even heard of Reconstruction, in part because history classes about this period invariably end with the South’s surrender.

      During the short Reconstruction period from 1865-1877, the Federal state was empowered to act on behalf of freed black men and poor whites. Unprecedented changes followed, including new public hospitals, schools, aid to the poor and public programs offering a wide range of services that gave preference to the needs of those previously deprived of them. The beginning of meaningful democracy was exemplified by new Federal courts, replacing state governments and well-attended state constitutional conventions to Black suffrage, ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifthteenth amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, This mandate’s enforcement could rely on the full force and protection of Federal troops in five military zones.

      Political power was prodigiously evident as blacks were elected to state governments (600), the U.S. Congress (14) and Senate (2), and as judges, sheriffs and countless lower offices in the former slave states. Organizations like the Union League and the Southern Farmer’s Alliance appeared across the South to encourage and advise alliances between ordinary blacks and whites that would liberate both from economic bondage.

      It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that in 1865, African-Americans experienced exhilaration, pride and virtually limitless enthusiasm after two hundred and fifty years of enslavement. Paramount among these expectations was the prospect of owning one’s own land gained by the political power realized from the right to vote. If achieved, this would be the single most radical structural change in U.S. history.

      This astonishing political revolution is effectively portrayed via commentary by dozens of experts, interviews, documents and graphic, often heart rending visuals in the first two episodes of “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” a four-part series written and narrated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS. It links to Gates’s book, Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow. (New York: Penguin, 2019). The series makes for compelling, even compulsory viewing. As Eric Foner, the dean of living writers about this period, concluded in a 2015 essay, “freedom, rights, democracy” were at the apex of Reconstruction. All remain vexing issues today.

    • Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump

      The establishment Democrat Pelosi who wants to maintain status quo had no shame in claiming she is a progressive, too. On CBS’s program “60 Minutes” of April 14, 2019, Leslie Stahl asked for a response from Nancy Pelosi about the challenge she faces from the progressive group of Congresspersons. Pelosi shot back:

      “I am a progressive.”

      As the Speaker of the US Congress, Pelosi is the third most powerful person in the United States.

      The multimillionaire Pelosi who brazenly defends humongous inequality creating system of capitalism cannot be a progressive; a progressive would have agreed with the GND program or would have showed her willingness to discuss it.

      Who can make the corrupt queen Pelosi understand that green color in advertisements, bags, logos, buildings, clothes, cars, etc. does not make those things environmentally suitable. For that, ingredients, parts, materials used in those things should meet guidelines prescribed that are harmless to the environment.

      In the same way, declaring oneself a progressive does not make that person a progressive. In order to be one, the person has to fight and enact socially, politically, and economically progressive laws that benefit 100% of the population and not the top 1% to which she belongs.

    • The Strange Success of Russiagate

      It was the popcorn fart heard round the world. After two years of the vilest Russophobic hysteria seen since McCarthy was hauled off to a laughing academy in a straight-jacket, Robert Mueller, patron saint of butt-hurt Dems and indefinite Muslim detention, came to a conclusion on Russiagate only stunning to those of us who don’t live outside the bulletproof walls of stone blind denial. After 37 indictments for totally unrelated Beltway scumbaggery. After $26 million of the taxpayers pilfered dollars flushed down the fucking toilet. After five hundred thousand hours of unhinged sore losers like Rachel Maddow giving Alex Jones a run for his money screaming their bloody heads off about one grassy knoll after another. The results of the great Russian Inquisition of 2019 are bupkis, notta, zero, no collusion whatsoever between one Donald J. Trump and the Putin regime. You could have heard a pin-head drop at MSDNC.

      It was like the last scene of the Sopranos. Ivanka is struggling to park the Jag. Melania and Baron are popping onion rings. Putin heads for the bathroom with his hand shoved deep in his Members Only jacket. Journey swells on the jukebox. The bells on the door jangle. Donny’s big orange face looks up it’s “Don’t stop!….”. Lights out. And the pumped up kiddos in the #Resistance are smacking the side of the Sony until Robert Mueller’s name appears on the credits. There all screaming high-holy what-the-fucks while skeptical cunts like me struggle to hold back our hysteric laughter long enough to say I told you so. Long story short; No collusion, you imbeciles! A sexually aggressive cartoon character became president because you insisted on cutting corners for a bomb dropping Wall Street battle ax who the Rustbelt casualties in purple America couldn’t stomach voting for. You lose. You blew it. There are no boogeymen with long Slavic names to blame. You suck. Game over.

    • Trump Thought Mueller Would Be ‘the End of My Presidency.’ It Should Be.

      Buried on Page 290 of the long-awaited Mueller report into Russia’s 2016 election interference and questions of collusion and cover-up surrounding President Donald Trump was one of those rare peeks behind the curtain of our insane presidency — exactly why the 440-page report was so highly anticipated for so long.

      On May 17, 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to break the news to Trump that his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey — who was leading the probe into his election — meant there’d now be a special counsel investigation.

      Trump “slumped back in his chair, according to notes by a Sessions aide, and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’ ”

      Now, 23 months later, we finally have most of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in our hands — but only after an obsequious and fundamentally dishonest spin campaign from Sessions’ replacement as attorney general, William Barr.

      It turns out that Trump’s instincts in 2017 were very, very good. Mueller’s work should mark the beginning of the end of his presidency. Yet that denouement probably won’t happen before the 2020 election — not with politically calculating cowards running both parties in Congress.

      But consider the bizarre handling of the Mueller report by Barr, who slowly released the truth like a series of Russian nesting dolls. The AG who once pooh-poohed the Mueller probe then summarized the still-secret report not once but twice to put the president’s bogus “total exoneration” stamp on it, lied about why Mueller didn’t seek criminal charges on obstruction, and then held on to a redacted report for weeks to finally release it just hours before everyday Americans raced home to their Easter hams or Passover Seders where Team Trump was praying you’d forget all about it.

    • The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits

      I haven’t read the Mueller report yet. I’m writing this on the day of its release (with redactions) by US Attorney General William Barr. I’ll read it later, but I didn’t have to read it, or even wait for its release, to reach one conclusion from it: It’s time to amend the Constitution to limit the President of the United States to one term.

      No, not because I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t, but I didn’t like his 2016 Democratic opponent either, nor do I expect to like his 2020 Democratic opponent. As long as American voters continue to limit themselves to voting for Republicans and Democrats, I don’t care too much which of the two parties they vote for.

      Nor because I think term limits as such would usher in an era of “citizen legislators” and solve some of the systemic problems in American politics caused by political careerism (as my friend Paul Jacob, founder of US Term Limits, believes). It’s not that they’re a bad idea. It’s that they’re more of a distraction than a solution.

      But the presidency is an office of singular weight.

      We can afford, at least to some degree, to have members of Congress worrying about their own re-elections at the expense of doing the people’s business (however one defines that).

      But can we afford to have both the president and Congress worrying about almost nothing BUT the president’s re-election prospects, 24/7, for four years out of every eight?

      Let’s face it: That’s what the entire two-year (so far) “Russiagate” moral panic has mostly been about. Democrats want to either impeach Donald Trump and remove him from office or, failing that, destroy his prospects of re-election.

    • Hopes for Two-State Solution Dim in Wake of Israeli Election

      Is the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dead?

      After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coasted to another victory in this month’s Israeli election, it sure seems that way.

      On the campaign trail, Netanyahu ruled out Palestinian statehood and for the first time, pledged to begin annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank. His expected coalition partners, a collection of religious and nationalist parties, also reject Palestinian independence.

      Even his chief rivals, led by a trio of respected former military chiefs and a charismatic former TV anchorman, barely mentioned the Palestinian issue on the campaign trail and presented a vision of “separation” that falls far short of Palestinian territorial demands.

    • Mueller Documented Probable Cause That Trump Obstructed Justice

      After a nearly two-year investigation, culminating in a 448-page report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election but found insufficient evidence to prove the Trump campaign conspired with Russia. Mueller did not decide, however, if Trump obstructed justice.

      The special counsel detailed 10 acts that could constitute obstruction of justice. But based on a memo from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that says a sitting president can’t be indicted, Mueller refrained from concluding whether the evidence was sufficient to charge Trump with obstruction.

    • A Left Strategy for the 2020 Elections and Beyond

      As the 2020 presidential campaigns begin in 2019, nearly everyone on the left knows the stakes are high. The defeat of Donald Trump and the ejection of his right-wing and white supremacist populist bloc from the centers of political power is a tactical goal of some urgency not only for Democrats but also for leftists. The outcome of the upcoming election will have a direct effect on thwarting right-wing populism and the clear and present danger of incipient fascism and war.

      The removal of Trump’s bloc would also remove a stubborn obstacle to a range of urgent progressive reforms much needed at the grassroots — Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, no new wars and interventions, a $15 minimum wage, and so on. Given how unlikely Trump’s resignation or impeachment is, the election of the candidate running on the Democratic Party line seems like the likeliest path toward his removal.

      What would be the most effective way for the left, and especially the socialist left, to go about unseating the Trump bloc? The most fruitful strategy would not only accomplish that goal, but would also strengthen the left’s leverage in other upcoming rounds of class and democratic struggles, keeping the country on a socialist road.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Bangka Island: The WW2 massacre and a ‘truth too awful to speak’

      In addition, Ms Silver discovered that part of a page detailing what happened to the nurses in a key account had been ripped out, in what she believes was an act of censorship.

      The account was by Jean Williams, wife of Major Harold Williams, about investigations he conducted for the Australian War Crimes Section.

      [...]

      Ms Silver says she sees it as important to speak the “unsanitised truth” that Vivian Bullwinkel had wanted to tell in 1945 and 1946.

      “If I didn’t tell this secret, I’d be part of the culture of silence and the government clampdown, and protecting the perpetrators,” she says. “These nurses deserve to have their story told – that’s their justice.”

    • How Roskomsvoboda became the primary force standing between the Russian government and Internet censorship

      In the last seven years, the Russian government has drastically tightened its regulation of the Internet, and it has shown no signs of slowing down: on April 16, 2019, the State Duma passed a new law enabling the isolation of the Russian segment of the Internet from the World Wide Web. Opposition to the government’s onslaught of new laws has come primarily from small organizations and individual activists, and Roskomsvoboda has emerged as the most prominent group among them. The small-scale project, which was founded in 2012 by activists from the Pirate Party of Russia, has transformed itself alongside the growth of Russian censorship into a full-blown advocacy group. Now, Roskomsvoboda fights to unblock websites, soften the language of new bills, and beat back criminal cases against Web users. Meduza special correspondent Pavel Merzlikin took a look at how Roskomsvoboda is structured and asked whether the organization has a chance against the Russian government in the struggle for a free Internet.

    • Police raid Moscow newsroom in connection with billionaire’s defamation lawsuit

      Police officers raided the Moscow newsroom of the media outlet Rosbalt on Thursday, seizing three computer processing units that contain information about the “Young Shakro” case, Rosbalt Moscow editor Nikolai Ulyanov told the news agency Interfax.

      Officers examined all the computers in Rosbalt’s newsroom, powering on all devices in the office and searching each CPU for the word “Shakro.” Ulyanov says the three seized computers contained files mentioning this name.

    • Police: ‘New Breed’ of Terrorists in Northern Ireland

      Police in Northern Ireland arrested two teenagers Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of a young journalist during rioting in the city of Londonderry and warned of a “new breed” of terrorists threatening the peace.

      The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The men have not been identified or charged.

      Authorities believe one man pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support.

    • ‘Shocking Attack’ in Northern Ireland That Killed Journalist the Latest Incident of Escalating Violence

      A journalist whose work focused on Northern Ireland’s troubled past was killed Thursday night in the latest in a series of militant escalations that are increasing in frequency as the United Kingdom and Ireland reckon with Brexit.

      Clashes broke out Thursday in the Northern Ireland city of Derry as police forces attempted to raid suspected militant homes.

    • Russia’s federal censor reportedly says it’s now illegal to call Putin a ‘thief’ in the news media

      According to a report by the BBC Russian Service, federal officials recently met with leaders of Russia’s mass media. Representatives of the federal censor, Roskomnadzor, reportedly said that they consider the two phrases listed above to constitute illegal offensive speech. The agency’s spokesperson clarified, however, that each instance of either phrase appearing in the media will be considered in context, and the Attorney General’s Office will be responsible for this evaluation. The government-media meeting took place after Roskomnadzor blocked two news websites in Yaroslavl after they published photographs of graffiti reading, “Putin is a faggot.” The Russian authorities determined that this phrase constitutes an illegal insult directed at a state official.

    • YouTube will fight fake news in India by introducing more context through information cards

      With the advent of Reliance Jio and the onslaught of cheap-yet-capable Chinese smartphones, millions of Indians have come online for the first time in their lives. These netizens have not witnessed the Internet maturing/evolving over the years, and have been thrust directly into the world wide web with little knowledge of what to expect out of it. As such, their behavior seems gullible to others who have witnessed the evolution of the Internet and who know the dos and don’ts of the online experience. So it isn’t surprising when these first-time netizens consider video sharing community sites such as YouTube as absolutely credible sources of news information, without realizing the potential of misinformation creeping in and mixing along with the facts. YouTube recognizes this, and is thus taking more steps to fight fake news and misinformation on its platform.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Russian company plans to create a federal Internet of things network

      A company called GLONASS-TM that is controlled jointly by Igor Rotenberg, Rostekh, and GLONASS has announced plans to create a federal network using Internet of things (IoT) technology. IoT technology establishes remote connections among objects that would typically lack Internet access, enabling them to exchange data and be controlled remotely.

      RBC reported that, according to a presentation of the project, its construction is scheduled to begin in 2020. By 2024, the network is set to include more than 34,000 base stations that would enable the system’s users to model energy usage and individual behavior in public spaces. In its first five years, the plan is estimated to cost 53 billion rubles ($8.28 million).

    • ‘Unjustified and Unnecessary’: DHS Could Use Facial Recognition on 97% of Departing Airline Passengers

      The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that it expects to be able to use facial recognition technology to scan 97 percent of departing airline passengers within the next four years.

      The department’s facial recognition program, officially titled “Biometric Exit,” is run by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch of DHS.

      According to The Hill, the program “cross-references the images of departing passengers with a ‘gallery’ of images [and] photos from visa and passport applications. The matching service allows CBP to create a record of the passenger’s departure, which they can then use to figure out if the individual has overstayed their visa.”

      Biometric Exit has raised alarm among privacy advocates.

      Jeramie Scott, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told Buzzfeed in March that “it’s important to note what the use of facial recognition [in airports] means for American citizens.”

    • The CIA says that China’s security agencies provided funds for Huawei: report

      The paper cites an anonymous source in the UK that says that details were shared with “only the most senior UK officials,” which that the CIA “awarded a strong but not cast-iron classification of certainty. Huawei has consistently denied claims that it has ties to the country’s government, has said that it would “categorically refuse” any requests for data from the government, and “declined to comment on what it called unsubstantiated allegations.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Paypal and GoFundMe banned a militia group that detained migrants at the US border

      The number of paramilitary groups has grown in the US over the last couple of years, and in that time, their members have been making trips to the US southern border, saying that they’re there to support US Border Patrol agents. Following the recent reports, New Mexico State Attorney General released a statement on Thursday, saying that “these individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement,” while the Border Patrol issued a statement, saying that it does not “endorse or condone private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands.” On Saturday, the officials confirmed that the FBI had arrested a member of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins.

    • Tesla gets restraining order on short-seller who photographed employees

      Tesla has hit one of its prominent Twitter critics and short-sellers of the company with a restraining order — the same person who recently spotted and photographed a Model 3 being filmed by Tesla ahead of a planned “autonomy investor day” on April 22nd. The company was granted the temporary restraining order by the Alameda County Superior Court in California on Friday, which was first spotted by PlainSite.org. It’s not clear if the restraining order has been served.

    • Outlets Denounced as ‘Enemies of People’ Still Promote Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Narratives

      If you keep up with all the various xenophobic “crises” and “threats” propagated by corporate media—depicting the United States as an overwhelmed nation, besieged by teeming swarms of scheming foreigners intent on stealing jobs and seizing scarce public benefits from across the southern border—you’ll recall that the United States has apparently been under “invasion” for years now. Decades, even (Extra!, 1–2/95). The media have spread this contrived account even during periods where unauthorized immigration was continuously falling (FAIR.org, 12/1/13).

    • We Sued to End the Evils of Cash Bail in Michigan

      Money bail traps people of color in a maze that is not justice, and perpetuates mass incarceration and its racial disparities.

      Imagine being poor and being arrested by the police in Detroit. You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but with no money, you will remain in jail for up to 3 days before you can see a judge called a magistrate.

      That’s just the beginning of the harm visited on one of our clients in the 36th District Court in Detroit, Davontae Ross. He spent days behind bars because he couldn’t afford to pay $200 of bail relating to a 5-year old ticket for allegedly staying in a park after dark. He missed a job interview and a critical meeting with a government caseworker. His life has been turned upside down.

      This is not isolated to one client, or one court. Our named Plaintiffs are all Black—as is almost everyone who can’t afford bail in Detroit—and they’ve all spent days in jail simply because they can’t afford bail. When it comes to the criminal legal system in the State of Michigan, the problem is as pervasive as it is perverse.

      The system requires explaining, because it is complex. It is a microcosm of the maze of the criminal legal system that traps people of color every day in our nation. In Michigan, even when you do get to meet the magistrate, it’s not in person. She appears via a video connection from a courtroom downtown. The guards tell you not to ask any questions, and then you step in front of the camera. The magistrate is not interested in you or your situation. She talks so fast that you cannot even understand your case number, what you are charged with, or the penalty you face. Then she sets a court date. If you are lucky, you hear the court date, but she’s talking so fast you can’t be sure. She asks if you understand, but you are scared about making her angry (you’ve heard her snap at other people who tried to say something), so you say yes. Then she reads you your rights and asks if you understand. She said something about your having a right to a lawyer, but no one has provided a lawyer for you or any of the other dozens of people in jail with you who are being arraigned by video.

    • Georgia Police Made Me Remove a Protest Button Because it Had the Word “Fuck” On it

      I have a First Amendment right to express my anger about Georgia’s proposed abortion ban through peaceful protest.
      As a concerned citizen, I have visited the Georgia capitol many times to talk with our lawmakers about various issues. While recently advocating against a particularly harmful piece of legislation — House Bill 481, which would, if signed into law, effectively ban all abortion in Georgia — I found myself caught up in a debate over my First Amendment right to speak freely.

      On March 7, 2019, I was at the capitol to express my concerns regarding the bill. Planned Parenthood was one of the organizations advocating against it, and they provided buttons for advocates to wear. I chose a button that read, “Don’t fuck with us. Don’t fuck without us,” followed by a Planned Parenthood logo.

      But I was then approached by a Capitol Police officer and told to remove the button because it contained profanity. I was surprised and taken aback by this suppression of free speech. I was not doing anything disruptive. I was not chanting, yelling, touching anyone, or blocking anyone’s path. I immediately complied with the officer’s command.

      I was dismayed about this order, because this button perfectly exemplified my feelings about this bill. Far too often, a predominantly male legislature makes decisions about women’s health without consulting women. As a result, we are forced to spend time advocating against a clearly unconstitutional ban on abortion that could literally kill women by causing them to seek unsafe abortion care.

    • Bringing the border closer to home, one immersion trip at a time

      Many if not most Americans have never crossed the U.S. border with Mexico by land or spent any time in that region.

      This unfamiliarity can make it easy for politicians to distort what’s going on there and hard for immigration advocates and social movements to muster support for their primary goal: making U.S. policies toward undocumented people and asylum-seekers more humane.

      What can advocates for immigrants do about that? One solution is a form of awareness-raising I call “immersion travel.”

    • Chair of republic-wide people’s council becomes latest opposition elder arrested in Ingushetia

      Malsag Uzhakhov, the chair of Ingushetia’s Council of Teips, has been arrested in the republic’s Nazran district, Mediazona reported. Uzhakhov’s son said that a group of armed individuals took his father away in an unmarked vehicle.

    • How Women are leading the Sudanese Revolution

      Since December 2018, protests in Sudan that sparked over the tripled price of bread have turned into nationwide protests against the nearly three-decade rule regime of Omar Al Bashir.

      Finally, on Thursday, April 11, 2019, Bashir was forced to step down.

    • Thousands Join Ben & Jerry’s to Demand Criminal Justice Reform, Extending Benefits of Cannabis Legalization to Communities of Color

      The ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was among those on Saturday who sought to draw attention to inequities which have become increasingly apparent since more states began loosening cannabis restrictions—a shift which critics say has mainly benefited white and upper-class Americans.

      The Vermont-based company, which has been outspoken about progressive causes since it opened in 1978, circulated a petition late Friday, calling on Congress to extend the benefits of the growing destigmatization of marijuana to communities of color, who are disproportionately convicted of and incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

    • Marijuana Legalization is a Racial Justice Issue

      When it comes to legalizing weed, economic justice for communities of color must be our guiding principle.
      Marijuana has been a key driver of mass criminalization in this country and hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are Black or Latinx, have their lives impacted by a marijuana arrest each year. But the tide is turning against the remnants of a drug war targeted at Black and Brown people that was never meant to increase public safety in the first place. Legalization is an important step towards ending the war on drugs, and it cannot come soon enough.

      Legalizing marijuana must come with expungement, with reinvestment in the communities most harmed by enforcement, with limitations on how police can interact with people who they suspect of a marijuana offense, with legal nonpublic spaces for smoking marijuana for those who cannot smoke in their residence, with a prohibition on deportation for people with marijuana convictions, and with full inclusion of those most impacted by criminalization of marijuana in the new marijuana industry.

      Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia allow for recreational use among adults, while 31 states allow for medical use of marijuana. The laws reflect growing public support. Two out of three Americans are in favor of legalization, which has majority support in all age groups and political affiliations.

    • Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line

      After nearly a century of cannabis criminalization, U.S. voters — and a growing number of high-profile politicians — are demanding that marijuana policy move in a different direction.

      One in five Americans now live in states where the adult, recreational use of marijuana is legal. And the majority of us reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized.

      Many of these latter programs have been in place for the better part of two decades. And it’s plain to see the results have been better for public health and safety than criminal prohibition, because public and political support in for marijuana reform just keeps growing.

      According to the latest national polling compiled by Gallup, 66 percent of U.S. adults — including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans — believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal.

      Separate national surveys, such as the General Social Survey and the latest Pew poll, similarly show that public support for legalization is at a historic high.

      Voters’ support for legalizing and regulating cannabis isn’t born out of a presumption that the plant is altogether harmless. To the contrary, society has long acknowledged that cannabis is a mood-altering substance with some risk potential — particularly for young people or among those with a family history of mental illness.

      In fact, it’s precisely because marijuana use may pose potential risks that advocacy groups like NORML have long urged lawmakers to regulate it accordingly.

    • Right-to-Counsel Programs Prevent Evictions

      Even if you’ve never faced eviction proceedings, you can probably imagine they are stressful.

      Depending on the state, landlords may have a tremendous amount of power over tenants, who have limited recourse in some courts. Plus, because eviction is a civil (not criminal) legal matter, there’s no legally enshrined right to counsel. If you don’t have an attorney and cannot afford one, one will not be appointed for you. Instead, you have to go it alone.

      Dealing with the justice system can be an expensive and confusing proposition. And for low-income people, the challenges of navigating the system in cases like evictions are especially challenging, thanks to limited financial resources and a lack of understanding — one reason legal aid organizations exist. But these groups can’t meet all the need. In 2017, 62 percent to 72 percent of people who asked for legal aid couldn’t get it due to staffing shortages, limitations on the assistance available and other factors.

      That’s where the right to counsel movement comes in. Civil rights advocates argue that being poor shouldn’t be a crime — or grounds for being stripped of property and liberty. But often, the lack of an attorney means low-income people are treated unfairly in court. This is especially true with evictions. The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition says about 50 percent of evictions would be preventable with an attorney.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Google Search now supports signed exchanges, replacing AMP URLs with actual site addresses

      The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project, which was first announced by Google in 2015, is an open source framework designed to speed up mobile web pages. The search giant contends that it can cut load times to “less than one second” by balancing the likelihood of a user clicking on a result with device and network constraints, and it’s now used by hundreds of thousands of web domains across billions of pages. But it’s not quite perfect — AMP requires a modified URL to appear in browsers’ address bars and sticks a gray bar to the top of pages, which threatens to put a dent in sites’ traffic and revenue.

    • Unix Considered Harmful

      It’s sad, but true. Writing for the web has become more comfortable + easier for the developer, and it seems that with ever more development in the field of browser engines, “most” users don’t really care anymore how many megabytes of javascript are loaded and interpreted.

    • Telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban or restrict municipal broadband

      The figures on state laws blocking community broadband come from a report from Broadbandnow; it also documents how states voted to subsidize private-sector monopolists at the same time as they were banning cities from competing with them, resulting in worse offerings at higher prices.

    • Report: 26 States Now Ban or Restrict Community Broadband

      Many of the laws restricting local voters’ rights were directly written by a telecom sector terrified of real broadband competition.

    • Municipal Broadband Is Roadblocked Or Outlawed In 26 States

      The climate for municipal broadband has worsened significantly since our last report in 2018. There are now 26 states with laws on the books that either roadblock or ban outright municipally-owned broadband networks.

      These laws — some of them passed just last year — point to a growing tension between state lawmakers and municipal, county and local governments, whose interests seem often at odds with one another.

      The telecom industry’s lobbying efforts have had tangible ramifications on state laws governing municipal broadband. In fact, over $92 million was spent on lobbying in 2018 alone to protect business interests at the national and state level.[1]

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Omniverse Wants “Scandalous” Claims Removed From ACE’s Piracy Lawsuit

        Streaming TV provider Omniverse believes that any comparisons to ‘pirate’ streaming box vendor Dragon Box are scandalous. The company is asking the court to strike these from the copyright infringement complaint anti-piracy outfit ACE filed earlier this year. In addition, it wants ACE to clarify what the problem is exactly.

      • The Pirate Bay Lives On, A Decade After ‘Guilty’ Verdicts

        Ten years ago this week, four men were found guilty and sentenced to prison for running The Pirate Bay. At the time, Peter Sunde said that the site would continue, no matter what. A decade on he has been proven absolutely right and that in itself is utterly remarkable.

The EPO’s Use of Phrases Like “High-Quality Patent Services” Means They Know High-Quality European Patents Are ‘Bygones’

Sunday 21st of April 2019 11:58:27 AM

They are redefining “quality” in terms such as speed


Abacus: Sole means for EPO to assess patent quality (mere quantity or numbers)

Summary: The EPO does a really poor job hiding the fact that its last remaining objective is to grant as many European Patents as possible (and as fast as possible), conveniently conflating quality with pace

Yesterday we took a glance at this brand-new listing of “patents awarded” (in some local press in the US, as is typical). How many of these are bogus software patents and other abstract patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should never have granted (but did anyway, just to increase revenue)? Sadly, we nowadays must ask the same questions about the EPO because all it cares about is money and it externalises the costs to the European public (e.g. European businesses sued by patent trolls).

“Sadly, the EPO’s consultation is mostly with the likes of J A Kemp (proponents of patents on life and maths), Team UPC, CIPA etc. i.e. all those that seek to harm Europe for a quick buck (or euro).”The ‘new’ and ‘improved’ European Patent Office (EPO) pretends to be listening to the public. Questions such as software patentability in Europe aren’t even on the agenda because António Campinos does not give a damn about the EPC. Yesterday Kluwer Patent Blog wrote that the “EPO publishes draft Strategic Plan 2023 and holds a new consultation”; to quote:

The EPO published its draft Strategic Plan 2023 on 18 April 2019. It has invited all stakeholders to provide their views on the document. Those who want to provide input can do so here.

The new consultation will run until 10 May 2019 and the plan is to submit the final plan to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation for adoption in June 2019. According to the EPO, the plan ‘will outline our vision for the Office and its implementation will ensure that we continue to provide high-quality patent services that encourage innovation and contribute to growth’.

Notice again the term/s “high-quality patent services”; not the same as actual patent quality and this is intentional because they’re aware that patent quality collapsed. Yesterday we also noticed this “European Biotech Patent Law Webinar” (patents on a lot of nature and life, never mind the directive from the EU) and another new ad for a webinar on software patents at the EPO. Lessons from lawyers on how to use buzzwords and lies to portray software as something else and get bogus European Patents:

J A Kemp will be offering a webinar entitled “Inventive Step for Computer Implemented Inventions at the EPO” on April 30, 2019 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). John Leeming of J A Kemp will discuss the latest EPO case law on separating the technical from the non-technical and inventive step issues arising in specific areas of technology, such as machine learning and simulation.

Sadly, the EPO’s consultation is mostly with the likes of J A Kemp (proponents of patents on life and maths), Team UPC, CIPA etc. i.e. all those that seek to harm Europe for a quick buck (or euro).

A Reader’s Suggestion: Directions for Techrights

Sunday 21st of April 2019 11:16:11 AM

Summary: Guest post by figosdev

OUR site’s growing impact has not changed its focus. We carry on irrespective of temptations and I habitually reject invitations to interviews on TV if I distrust the channels that invite me. The site’s traffic almost doubled in the past half a decade and last week I was reminded of the impact when there was another SLAPP attempt from the former CEO of Novell. I never responded to his legal representative and instead did a story on Hovsepian's crocodile tears (basically, Novell’s last CEO cannot find a job). We’ve done a lot of Novell coverage (thousands of articles, with insiders’ tips included in these). In recent years we’ve been focused on the EPO — to the point where (within only months) the EPO’s management surrendered and went into panic, sending several law firms to harass me. For over 4 years the Web site Techrights has been banned in the EPO (blocked) for merely transmitting accurate information about the EPO, based on insiders and people close to the EPO. No site covers EPO affairs more than Techrights. Censorship of this kind is a timely warning about the EU’s “filters” agenda.

Yesterday a longtime reader sent me a 6-page document he had written about the site. It wasn’t originally intended for publication/dissemination, but he has agreed to make it public as follows.

Techrights began as Boycott Novell, a website dedicated to exposing and standing against corporate corruption in software and technology. When Novell was purchased, the rebrand to Techrights found the website exploring new directions — with a focus on bad patents.

Other themes of Techrights would include censorship, "openwashing", calling out propaganda and corporate/media lies, and companies pushing people away from free software towards bad compromises like "open core."

While the Open Source Initiative spent time cozying up to monopolies, calling out free software on being "arbitrarily" different from open source — when it was the latter that split off from free software, and "arbitrarily" different meant the very attitude towards monopolies that free software was founded to stand against — OSI at least spent some time talking about the problems for open-whatever in a world where Microsoft and Apple want to retain control over the user.

Now that all pretenses of being about openness or the user are dropped, the OSI-Linux-Ubuntu-whatever foundation seems more about how to get corporations to steal the free software ecosystem. And Techrights takes the advice of OSI-cofounder Bruce Perens, who resigned OSI a year later saying "Its Time to Talk About Free Software Again".

Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation is talking about "deals with the devil", acknowledging and partially accepting for the first time in years that many users simply aren’t going to go with a fully free system — if only because hardware OEMs haven’t gone in the direction of supporting free software. Instead, manufacturers have actually gone the other way towards standards designed to shut free software out (except where blessed in an "open" way by Microsoft, Red Hat, Google, etc.).

Open source has achieved every goal — to get all the big corporations to use free software, even if they adapt it towards use by monopolies who dont want the user to be free. It has packaged and sold free software to the very foes that made the free software movement necessary in the first place. The only thing left for OSI and the Linux Foundation to do now is take people’s money and do all the things that O’Reilly dreamed of, while selling out users.

Techrights is easily the #1 voice on the Internet for calling out shills and open source hypocrites, and brings you daily the sort of news that the FSF brings you on a monthly calendar. Although it speaks to open source fans, it doesn’t stand for the corruption and hypocrisy. At worst, it is "Open Source done right." At best, it is a constant reminder of how much we have lost (or stand to lose) in the fight for user freedom.

Without misplaced loyalty to any organisation, only to the truth, Techrights does what the tech press seldom does: journalism. But in these modern times when people know about the Snowden leaks and still open their phones with facial recognition and actual fingerprints, while Mark Zuckerberg puts tape over his laptop camera, we have to ask if journalism alone is enough?

To be certain, journalism is always important. But with the FSF failing (or at least being undeniably set back) in their mission for half a decade without even mentioning it, one might ask if a "Be The Change" direction is one that Techrights wants to take on. When it comes to the tech press, Techrights is the change — when ZDNet publishes its usual corporate pablum, Techrights puts things back into perspective. This by itself is very useful — most of all to people who already care about these issues.

The corporate world is uncompromising when it wants to change something — it lobbies for public education to tell things more exclusively from its side of the story, it buys its competitors, and it uses bogus patents to steal the work of others. We don’t need to be corrupt, but we do need to be relentless in our stand against the corruption.

The biggest enemy of all is apathy and lack of awareness. Journalism can make people more aware if they listen, but it can’t help them do anything if they don’t know what to do, if there are no practical solutions (practicality in the sense the FSF would mean — not being handcuffed is extremely practical) then people will go back to ignoring what they’ve learned about these companies. "What can we do except go back to bed?"

This is where activism and education can do more than journalism. Good journalism educates — but then it stops there and lets the rest take over. What if no one is taking over? Perhaps the best possible journalism would find the people trying to fix these problems and highlight their efforts and ideas on a regular basis. If that means that the journalism does a bit of editorialising, so does Techrights– probably for the better.

It’s good for an organisation to be partly neutral, just to be sure they aren’t becoming an unquestioning mouthpiece — but no journalism is purely neutral, it always leans a bit towards a certain kind of story. Techrights has a bias towards the user, and that’s very tolerable bias.

The main public-facing function of the FSF — both in what it asks of users and what it achieves — is to raise funds and create an army of free software mouthpieces. This is the area where the FSF is most lacking — because it has certainly done a great deal (more than any other organisation) to give freedom to the user, from developing the software open source then uses to capture and sell users back to former owners like Microsoft — to funding important software projects and offering server bandwidth to users all over the world.

By no means is propaganda the main function of the FSF. But it is the main public-facing function, because free software developers are pretty much always a smaller part of the userbase than "users," so the function FSF serves to developers is by nature less public-facing — most of the public doesnt know anything about it. Likewise, the number of developers who make use of the FSF’s infrastructure (Savannah, etc.) are even smaller. By far, the most public-facing aspect of the FSF is fundraising and training people to speak for them.

Where this is failing, in spectacular fashion — and a threat more grave to the FSF than WSL and Snap packages — is that they are using the mouths of their 5,000 active users while barely making use of those 5,000 minds. The FSF is a parrot training centre: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html

This may seem like a very unfair critique, but it’s entirely relevant and if you look at the results, it is not so unfair, untrue or unrealistic. At worst it is a slight exaggeration, but the FSF takes itself a little too seriously (regardless of whether it earns the right or not, which really isn’t the point) and expects other people to as well. A counter-argument goes "it’s a bit tongue in cheek" and so far as that’s true its completely alright. It becomes a problem when the actual result is 5,000 parrots — because parrots dont think very much about what they’re saying.

By comparison, Techrights has an ideologically diverse community without the typical open source antagonism towards freedom — such as people telling you that choosing software based on the licensing is stupid or that free software is arbitrary and obtuse for the sake of it — or Simon Phipps explaining how the problem is that Stallman is autistic. Open source promoters are the "cool kids" who go to the big parties, and "freedom" (it’s really a confusing word, folks!) is a nice idea, but its not "practical."

With Open Source you can talk about everything, except how Microsoft is doing something wrong — sort of like the mainstream media can talk about anything, but it can’t show you a clip of civilians being laughed at while they’re being murdered by remote control.

Maybe the elephant in the room is — what are we actually going to do with all of this information? Because the FSF isn’t even sharing it — they’re either quiet or in denial about the direction the war against free software has taken. Of course they’ve talked about it for longer than anyone else has — and perhaps that’s why they think nothing is really new. But those of us who just got here 10 or 15 years ago, have certainly noticed new problems — if the FSF is silent about some of that, then not being silent should be the first thing that free software advocates do. They’re trying to sound the alarm, and the FSF is almost plugging their ears.

Open source development does not have any protection from "ego-driven" destruction — when some ‘coding maniac’ hijacks the development and makes the system [unnecessarily] complex ,destroying the conceptual integrity of earlier, simpler versions: http://www.softpanorama.org/Commercial_linuxes/Startup_and_shutdown/systemd.shtml

“if you write your tools in a way that is pushy and monopolistic, which causes years of problems for the ecosystem to work around– you’ve advanced redix.” (https://freemedia.neocities.org/redix-watch.html)

When you are already talking about these things all the time, and it isn’t enough to help change the world, the next item on the agenda is to stagnate, give up or move into trying to change things. There’s no amount of reporting that Techrights can do that is going to accomplish far more than it is already doing — it’s a wonderfully relentless effort. The best it could do at this point is work smarter, not harder — perhaps "smarter" would mean helping people put their information to use.

At that point, it moves from journalism and editorialising to advocacy and education — not education in terms of schools — education in terms of OER and online learning.

Nor would it move to advocacy in terms of training parrots — but advocacy in terms of providing people with information and tools to become an active part of the development of ideas to win back our freedom. The Free Software Foundation might offer you that opportunity if you write software, but that alone isn’t enough anymore.

We really need to teach people how to become more journalistic — how to become savvier users — how to care about freedom, of course — and how to think critically and innovatively, and assist each other in terms of fighting new threats.

Eric Raymond is the lesser co-founder of OSI (at least in terms of his help towards making the user free) but he has achieved with the bazaar his aims that thwart the cathedral of the FSF. Sure, this is apples and oranges because the cathedral tried to give more power to the user, and the bazaar has sold the user back to corporations. So perhaps Raymond’s book title should have read, "The Cathedral, the Bazaar and the Wealthy Landowners."

Nonetheless, we may need a bazaar of ideas to win, because the cathedral of ideas is all tapped out.

Techrights can be a giant part of that bazaar, it can be the biggest group of tables — not because its goal is to be the biggest, but because most of the energy in the free software movement right now is flailing around in the throws of the very effective attacks from Microsoft, Red Hat and the many different sellouts who have helped us get to this awful place in free software history. Techrights is showing less wear and tear than the FSF or OSI — so whether or not the goal is to be large, it is the de facto state of Techrights — a steam locomotive that has outlasted both Groklaw and any pretense of OSI to care about users.

As much as this is about what can be done with its momentum, it is about what free software can do to harness (and continue to fuel) that momentum. We are at a stage in free software where many organisations are needed, and overlap was never a problem — overlap in organisations, as with posix in distributions, is where organisations are working together towards a common goal.

Like with distributions, different organisations work best for different people — they have slightly different audiences or needs. With regards to the current state of war, the FSF is floundering or crawling at an inch-per-years pace, more like ReactOS in its progress than Debian.

But Techrights could help people learn to code, it could provide a beginner-friendly atmosphere to bring in users, and it could be a voice for everyone fighting systemd, keeping a watch of the undeniably corporate effort to destroy posix and replace it with things like systemd and Azure — "But systemd didn’t start as a corporate thing" (neither did WebKit or the Linux kernel.)

The free software movement doesn’t have a war room anymore. It needs one. Techrights can be that war room, or it can be the next best thing. Either way, we need it — every resistance needs a voice, and Techrights is arguably doing more in that regard, at this point in time, than any other organisation.

Links 20/4/2019: Weblate 3.6 and Pop!_OS 19.04

Saturday 20th of April 2019 07:10:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Death by PowerPoint: the slide that killed seven people

      Edward Tufte’s full report makes for fascinating reading. Since being released in 1987 PowerPoint has grown exponentially to the point where it is now estimated than thirty million PowerPoint presentations are made every day. Yet, PowerPoint is blamed by academics for killing critical thought. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has banned it from meetings. Typing text on a screen and reading it out loud does not count as teaching. An audience reading text off the screen does not count as learning. Imagine if the engineers had put up a slide with just: “foam strike more than 600 times bigger than test data.” Maybe NASA would have listened. Maybe they wouldn’t have attempted re-entry. Next time you’re asked to give a talk remember Columbia. Don’t just jump to your laptop and write out slides of text. Think about your message. Don’t let that message be lost amongst text. Death by PowerPoint is a real thing. Sometimes literally.

  • Server
    • Video: A Greybeard’s Worst Nightmare (Updated)

      Trying to wrap one’s head around the paradigm changes happening in the industry can be difficult. Everything is just moving way too fast. Daniel Riek has been giving a talk for a while now entitled, “A Greybeard’s Worst Nightmare.” Here is a fairly recent iteration of his talk where he does an excellent job of providing both a historical context and a bridge to understanding the revolution and evolution that is happening. Unfortunately a lot of the progress has been coming from black box services provided by proprietary companies who don’t see lock-in as a problem. Daniel explains how the benefits that have been gained by adopting free and open source software don’t have to be abandoned in an effort to keep up with industry methodology shifts providing the most innovation and value. We can and are keeping up… but there is a LOT to learn.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Ang Takes a Punch – The Friday Stream

      A bunch of the crew get together and share a few stories, recap the week, and play a little music.

      This is a beta test of a community live event we are doing on Fridays at 2pm Pacific: http://jblive.tv

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.0.9

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.9 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.36
    • Linux 4.14.113
    • Linux 4.9.170
    • Linux 5.1 Picking Up Keyboard Mappings For Full-Screen, Toggle Display Keys

      Coming as a late addition to the Linux 5.1 kernel are some long overdue keyboard key mappings for different functionality.

      Linux Input subsystem maintainer Dmitry Torokhov sent in a pull request on Friday of input updates for Linux 5.1. Among the changes are adding of mapping for Expose/Overview, Keyboard Brightness Up/Down/Toggle, Full Screen, and Toggle Display keys within the kernel’s generic HID driver.

    • Linux 5.2 Is Introducing The Fieldbus Subsystem

      A new subsystem queued for introduction in the upcoming Linux 5.2 cycle is the Fieldbus Subsystem, which is initially being added to the staging area of the kernel.

      This newest subsystem for the Linux kernel benefits industrial systems. Fieldbus is a set of network protocols for real-time distributed control of automated industrial systems. Fieldbus is used for connecting different systems/components/instruments within industrial environments. Fieldbus is used for connecting facilities ranging from manufacturing plants up to nuclear energy facilities.

    • Panfrost DRM Driver Being Added To Linux 5.2 For Midgard / Bifrost Graphics

      Not only is the longtime Lima DRM driver for Arm Mali 400/450 graphics set to finally premiere with the Linux 5.2 kernel, but the Panfrost DRM driver is also being mainlined for the newer Mali graphics hardware.

      The Panfrost DRM driver is set to be added to the Linux 5.2 kernel. Panfrost is the open-source, reverse-engineered DRM/KMS driver for Arm Mali Midgard and Bifrost graphics processors where as the Lima driver focuses on the 400/450 series.

    • Graphics Stack
      • amdgpu drm-next-5.2
      • AMDGPU Has Another Round Of Updates Ahead Of Linux 5.2

        Feature work on DRM-Next for the Linux 5.2 kernel cycle is winding down while today AMD has sent in what could be their last round of AMDGPU feature updates for this next kernel release.

        Building off their earlier Linux 5.2 feature work are more updates. That earlier round brought new SMU11 enablement code for Vega 20, various other Vega 20 features, HMM preparations, and other code changes.

      • 2019 Election Round 2 voting OPEN

        To all X.Org Foundation Members:

        The round 2 of X.Org Foundation’s annual election is now open and will remain open until 23:59 UTC on 2 May 2019.

        Four of the eight director seats are open during this election, with the four nominees receiving the highest vote totals serving as directors for two year terms.

        There were six candidates nominated. For a complete list of the candidates and their personal statements, please visit the 2019 X.Org Elections page at https://www.x.org/wiki/BoardOfDirectors/Elections/2019/

        The new bylaw changes were approved in the first round of voting.

        Here are some instructions on how to cast your vote:

        Login to the membership system at: https://members.x.org/

        If you do not remember your password, you can click on the “lost password” button and enter your user name. An e-mail will be sent to you with your password. If you have problems with the membership system, please e-mail membership at x.org.

        When you login you will see an “Active Ballots” section with the “X.Org 2019 Elections Round 2″ ballot. When you click on that you will be presented with a page describing the ballot. At the bottom you will find a number of dropdowns that let you rank your candidates by order of preference.

        For the election: There is a pull-down selection box for 1st choice, 2nd, choice, and so on. Pick your candidates top to bottom in order of preference, avoiding duplicates.

        After you have completed your ballot, click the “Cast vote” button. Note that once you click this button, your votes will be cast and you will not be able to make further changes, so please make sure you are satisfied with your votes before clicking the “Cast vote” button.

        After you click the “Vote” button, the system will verify that you have completed a valid ballot. If your ballot is invalid (e.g., you duplicated a selection or did not answer the By-laws approval question), it will return you to the previous voting page. If your ballot is valid, your votes will be recorded and the system will show you a notice that your votes were cast.

        Note that the election will close at 23:59 UTC on 2 May 2019. At that time, the election committee will count the votes and present the results to the current board for validation. After the current board validates the results, the election committee will present the results to the Members.

        Harry, on behalf of the X.Org elections committee

      • It’s Time To Re-Vote Following The Botched 2019 X.Org Elections

        While there were the recent X.Org Foundation board elections, a do-over was needed as their new custom-written voting software wasn’t properly recording votes… So here’s now your reminder to re-vote in these X.Org elections.

        At least with the initial round of voting they reached a super majority and the ballot question of whether the X.Org Foundation should formally fold FreeDesktop.org into its umbrella worked and that X.Org + FreeDesktop.org hook-up passed so all is well on that front. But for the Board of Directors elections, that’s where re-voting is needed with the voting software that now correctly records the votes.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.05 Linux Driver Brings Vulkan Ray-Tracing To Non-RTX GPUs

        As we’ve been expecting from NVIDIA’s recent DXR ray-tracing support back-ported to Pascal/Volta GPUs, there’s now a NVIDIA Linux driver beta that offers VK_NV_ray_tracing for pre-Turing graphics processors.

        The NVIDIA 418.52.05 beta driver released on Friday now officially supports the company’s Vulkan ray-tracing extension going back to GeForce GTX 1000 “Pascal” graphics cards. The line-up going back to the GeForce GTX 1060, including the Volta-based Titan V and Turing GTX 1600 series now has the ability to utilize Vulkan-powered ray-tracing. This is nice for developers though for Linux end-users/gamers there isn’t any significant available yet utilizing Vulkan ray-tracing besides a few code samples and some early engine work for allowing the functionality; most of the ray-tracing activity has been on the Windows side and focused on DirectX 12, but hopefully that will change.

      • NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Install Docker Compose

        In our last blogpost NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit – Introduction we digged into the brand-new NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit and we did found out, that Docker 18.06.1-CE is already pre-installed on this great ARM board.

      • NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Upgrade Docker Engine

        In our last blogposts about the NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit – Introduction and NVIDIA Jetson Nano – Install Docker Compose we digged into the brand-new NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit and we know, that Docker 18.06.1-CE is already installed, but…

  • Applications
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • How do you say SUSE?

        SUSECON 2019 has come and gone and was definitely one for the books. Whether you were able to attend the event in person or not, you can still view plenty of videos and content that was shared at the event.
        One of my favorite videos from the week was “How do you say SUSE” -which comically reminded attendees how to properly say “SUSE.” Don’t quite know exactly how to pronounce SUSE? We’ve got you covered….Broadway musical style.
        The keynote videos from each day are not to be missed as well as the series of amazing music parody videos that have recently been created. One of the major take-a-ways this year was the recent announcement that as of March 15, not only did SUSE become an independent company, we are now the largest independent open source company in the industry.

    • Debian Family
      • New Features Coming to Debian 10 Buster Release

        There is no set release date for Debian 10 Buster. Why is that so? Unlike other distributions, Debian doesn’t do time-based releases. It instead focuses on fixing release-critical bugs. Release-critical bugs are bugs which have either security issues CVE’s or some other critical issues which prevent Debian from releasing.

        Debian has four parts in its archive, called Main, contrib, non-free and optional. Of the four, Debian Developers and Release Managers are most concerned that the packages which form the bedrock of the distribution i.e. Main is rock stable. So they make sure that there aren’t any major functional or security issues.

        This is necessary because Debian is used as a server in many different environments and people have come to depend on Debian. They also look at upgrade cycles to see nothing breaks for which they look for people to test and see if something breaks while upgrading and inform Debian of the same.

      • Jonathan Carter: Debian project leader elections 2019

        I mentioned internal turmoil at the beginning of the post, this was because up until a few days before my self-nomination, I’ve been very confident, and consistently so for a very long time, that I never want to run for DPL. The work that I care about and spend most attention on doesn’t at all require me being a DPL. Also, having more responsibility in areas that I’d rather let others take care of sounded a bit daunting. I’d much rather spend time on technical and more general community issues than very specific interpersonal problems or administrative tasks like reading and approving budget proposals, sending out developer certificates, etc. On top of that, I was aware that running for DPL and opening myself like that means that I open myself to a very wide array of critique, that people might put everything I say under a microscope and try to tear it apart, and that running for DPL means being prepared for that.

        Despite that turmoil, a small nagging part kept asking the questions “But what if?”, what if I were DPL, what would I do? What would I change? What would I do as DPL that would make Debian better, and better as a DPL than I just could as a normal debian developer? These questions helped form in my head what my platform would look like, why I wanted to run for DPL, and how the rest of my campaign would shaped up. This year is also unique for me compared to previous years in that I will actually have time over the next year to focus on DPL-like activities. That, combined with the plans that were shaping up that I’m very enthusiastic about, convinced me that it’s time to step up and proceed with my self-nomination.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • What’s New in Ubuntu 19.04?

            If you like shiny new software, you may already know that Canonical just launched a new version of Ubuntu. It may be exciting, but is it worth the upgrade? The same question applies if you’re one of those people that don’t care about new things. Your old(er) Ubuntu installation gets the job done. But does version 19.04 solve any problems you currently have?

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Release | Stephan Fabel – Director Of Product – Canonical Ltd

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent innovations from key open infrastructure projects – like OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud. OpenStack Stein brings AI and NFV hardware acceleration with GPGPU and FPGA passthrough. Ceph Mimic provides multi-site replication and the latest Kubernetes 1.14 enables enterprise storage and the new containerd direct runtime. Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

          • 开源基础设施,桌面和物联网开发者都聚焦在Ubuntu 19.04 [Ed: Canonical has been producing many articles like these lately. Aiming at new markets.]
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Pop!_OS 19.04 is here!

              It’s spring again! Leaves are budding and updates are blooming for Pop!_OS. Here’s what’s new in Pop!_OS 19.04:

              -The Slim Mode option maximizes your screen real estate by reducing the height of the header on application windows
              -Dark Mode gives your applications a relaxing ambience for nighttime viewing. Both Dark Mode and Slim Mode can be activated in the Appearance settings menu.

            • Pop!_OS 19.04 Run Through

              In this video, we look at Pop!_OS 19.04.

            • Fixing the icon regression in Pop!_OS 19.04

              After installing Pop!_OS 19.04 yesterday, my desktop experience became an eyesore as the previously consistent icon set was replaced with what I can only describe as icon vomit soup.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • State of enterprise open source: 5 telling stats

    For starters, open source plays a big role in three of the biggest intersecting trends in IT right now: Containers, cloud, and DevOps. Each has open source DNA (and each encompasses highly coveted IT talent skill sets). Kubernetes has become the highest-velocity project in open source history. In fact, IT leaders now see open source not only as agile but also as strategic, according to “The State of Enterprise Open Source,” a new report conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by Red Hat, which queried 950 IT leaders worldwide.

    What does that mean in practice for your peers? Is open source now connected to moving the business forward? How does security weigh in?

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 57
      • My 20 years of web

        Twenty years ago I resigned from my former job at a financial news wire to pursue a career in San Francisco. We were transitioning our news service (Jiji Press, a Japanese wire service similar to Reuters) to being a web-based news site. I had followed the rise and fall of Netscape and the Department of Justice anti-trust case on Microsoft’s bundling of IE with Windows. But what clinched it for me was a Congressional testimony of the Federal Reserve Chairman (the US central bank) about his inability to forecast the potential growth of the Internet.

        Working in the Japanese press at the time gave me a keen interest in international trade. Prime Minister Hashimoto negotiated with United States Trade Representative Mickey Cantor to enhance trade relations and reduce protectionist tariffs that the countries used to artificially subsidize domestic industries. Japan was the second largest global economy at the time. I realized that if I was going to play a role in international trade it was probably going to be in Japan or on the west coast of the US.
        I decided that because Silicon Valley was the location where much of the industry growth in internet technology was happening, that I had to relocate there if I wanted to engage in this industry. So I packed up all my belongings and moved to San Francisco to start my new career.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Meet the programmer-turned-drummer-turned-lawyer who’s helping open source startups stand their ground against Amazon’s cloud amid a ‘clash of ideologies’

      She’s made a name for herself as one of the top experts in the field, especially in the last year. Companies like MongoDB, Redis Labs, and Confluent turned to Meeker to help them write new, more restrictive licenses that prevent big cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, and Tencent from using their code freely.

      She calls 2018 a “watershed year” for these new licenses, which sparked fierce debate in the open source software community. The companies in question argued that while it’s completely legal for the big tech companies to take open source code and resell it as a commercial service for profit, it’s not especially fair — especially since Amazon, in particular, is seen as not contributing enough code back to the open source communities in return.

    • Long Lost ‘Zork’ Source Code Uploaded to GitHub, But Few People Understand It

      Using a compiler created by McGrew, the ZIL Facebook group is now testing the code—and it’s working. One user has got all three Zork games to compile. This leaves things open for ZIL enthusiasts to tinker with the code and test it in-real time, packing on additions and modding existing games. But the licenses here are tricky; Scott noted that these were given to him anonymously and “not considered to be under an open license,” he wrote in the repository notes. That’s because Activision owns the IP[sic].

  • BSD
    • docbook2mdoc-1.0.0 released

      After doing active development on it for about a month, i just released version 1.0.0 of the DocBook to mdoc converter, docbook2mdoc(1). The OpenBSD port was updated, too. In a nutshell, docbook2mdoc was brought from experimental status to an early release that can be considered mostly usable for production, though no doubt there are still many rough edges. That’s why i called it 1.0.0 and not 1.1.1.

      Lots of features were added including support for many new DocBook XML elements and for two kinds of file inclusion, formatting was improved in many respects, and several reorganizations were done with respect to internal code structure. The expat library is no longer needed, and no other dependency is required.

      See its homepage for all information about the utility and the release notes for details about this release.

      Thanks to Stephen Gregoratto for a number of patches and many useful reports.

      The rest of this article explains some important design and implementation decisions and mentions some use cases.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 13 new GNU releases!

      coreutils-8.31
      ddrescue-1.24
      dr-geo-19.2
      gnuhealth-3.4.1
      gnupg-2.2.15
      help2man-1.47.10
      librejs-7.19
      linux-libre-5.0-gnu
      mit-scheme-10.1.6
      nano-4.0
      octave-5.1.0
      parallel-20190322
      unifont-12.0.01

    • Meetup – with the FSF’s John Sullivan and Donald Robertson, III (Bellingham, WA)

      Free Software Foundation (FSF) executive director John Sullivan and licensing & compliance engineer Donald Robertson, III, will be hosting a meetup in Bellingham, WA, to show appreciation for your support of the FSF’s work and to provide you with an opportunity to meet other FSF members and supporters. They will give a brief update on what the FSF is currently working on and will be curious to hear your thoughts, as well as answer any questions you may have.

  • Programming/Development
    • Eclipse IoT Developer Survey 2019

      The Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Working Group has released the results of its 2019 IoT Developer Survey, an annual exercise intended to deliver valuable insight into programming languages, platforms, infrastructure and tools for building IoT solutions.

      This is the fifth year that this survey has been conducted and the number of participants this time, over 1700, had more than trebled from last year’s 500. Two-thirds of of respondents are currently working professionally on IoT projects, or are expecting to do so in the next 18 months. In all 80% if respondents were already actively involved in doing or learning about IoT, 30% of them outside work.

    • imapautofiler 1.8.0

      imapautofiler applies user-defined rules to automatically organize messages on an IMAP server.

    • Modern business logic tooling workshop, lab 3: Create a domain model

      Since starting to update my free online rules and process automation workshops that showcase how to get started using modern business logic tooling, we’ve come a long way with process automation. The updates started with moving from JBoss BPM to Red Hat Decision Manager and from JBoss BPM Suite to Red Hat Process Automation Manager.

      The first lab update showed how to install Red Hat Decision Manager on your laptop, and the second lab showed how to create a new project. This article highlights the newest lab update for Red Hat Process Automation Manager, where you’ll learn how to create a domain model.

    • AiC: Adventures in consensus

      In the talk I gave at Rust LATAM, I said that the Rust project has always emphasized finding the best solution, rather than winning the argument. I think this is one of our deepest values. It’s also one of the hardest for us to uphold.

      Let’s face it – when you’re having a conversation, it’s easy to get attached to specific proposals. It’s easy to have those proposals change from “Option A” vs “Option B” to “my option” and “their option”. Once this happens, it can be very hard to let them “win” – even if you know that both options are quite reasonable.

      This is a problem I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. So I wanted to start an irregular series of blog posts entitled “Adventures in consensus”, or AiC for short. These posts are my way of exploring the topic, and hopefully getting some feedback from all of you while I’m at it.

      This first post dives into what a phrase like “finding the best solution” even means (is there a best?) as well as the mechanics of how one might go about deciding if you really have the “best” solution. Along the way, we’ll see a few places where I think our current process could do better.

    • Quansight Labs Blog: MOA: a theory for composable and verifiable tensor computations

      Python-moa (mathematics of arrays) is an approach to a high level tensor compiler that is based on the work of Lenore Mullins and her dissertation. A high level compiler is necessary because there are many optimizations that a low level compiler such as gcc will miss. It is trying to solve many of the same problems as other technologies such as the taco compiler and the xla compiler. However, it takes a much different approach than others guided by the following principles.

    • The Human in Devops

      This week a mild epiphany came to me right after a somewhat heated and tense meeting with a team of developers plus project owner of a web project. They were angry and they were not afraid to show it. They were somewhat miffed about the fact that the head wrote them an email pretty much forcing them to participate to make our DevOps initiative a success. All kinds of expletive words were running through my head in relation to describing this team of flabby, tired looking individuals in front of me, which belied the cool demeanour and composure that I was trying so hard to maintain.

      It happened. In the spur of the moment I too got engulfed in a sea of negativity and for a few minutes lost site of what is the most important component or pillar in a successful DevOps initiative. The people.

      “What a bunch of mule heads !” I thought. It’s as plain as day, once this initiative is a success everybody can go home earlier and everything will be more predictable and we can do much much more than we could before. “Why are you fighting this ?!” I was ready to throw my hands up in defeat when it finally dawned on me.

    • Python Bytes: #126 WebAssembly comes to Python
    • Testing metrics thoughts and examples: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT with pytest-play

      In this article I’ll share some personal thoughts about test metrics and talk about some technologies and tools playing around a real example: how to turn lights on and off through MQTT collecting test metrics.

      By the way the considerations contained in this article are valid for any system, technology, test strategy and test tools so you can easily integrate your existing automated tests with statsd with a couple of lines of code in any language.

      I will use the pytest-play tool in this example so that even non programmers should be able to play with automation collecting metrics because this tool is based on YAML (this way no classes, functions, threads, imports, no compilation, etc) and if Docker is already no installation is needed. You’ll need only a bit of command line knowledge and traces of Python expressions like variables["count"] > 0.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Science doesn’t explain tech’s diversity problem — history does

      “Reducing female attrition by one-quarter would add 220,000 people to the highly qualified [science, engineering, and technology] labor pool,” says a 2008 Harvard Business Review research report.

    • What is ZIL anyway?

      The Infocom ZIL code dump has kicked off a small whirlwind of news articles and blog posts. A lot of them are somewhat hazy on what ZIL is, and how it relates to MDL, Lisp, Z-code, Inform, and the rest of the Golden-Age IF ecosystem.

      So I’m going to talk a lot about it! With examples. But let’s go through in chronological order.

    • Should I Resign From My Full Professor Job To Work Fulltime On Cocalc?

      Nearly 3 years ago, I gave a talk at a Harvard mathematics conference announcing that “I am leaving academia to build a company”. What I really did is go on unpaid leave for three years from my tenured Full Professor position. No further extensions of that leave is possible, so I finally have to decide whether or not to go back to academia or resign.

    • Is Email Making Professors Stupid?

      I can think of at least three strong arguments for why higher education should be that industry, significantly restructuring its work culture to provide professors more uninterrupted time for thinking and teaching, and require less time on email and administrative duties.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Sitting all day ruined my health. VR saved me.

      You probably don’t know me. I’m not a famous writer.

      But I have worked on some famous games, such as Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11. This story isn’t about writing fighting games, though. It’s about how my sedentary, workaholic writing habits made me overweight, and slower and weaker than I should have been. And how it rapidly went downhill from there.

      Then I’m going to tell you how I fought back.

    • Why Big Pharma Is Winning the Drug Price Wars

      Robin Feldman is a law professor at the University of California Hastings with a particular expertise in antitrust and patent issues. She is also one of those professors who are unusually good at explaining complex issues in terms laymen (like me!) can understand. Her 2012 book on how to fix the patent system, “Rethinking Patent Law,” is considered one of the more important contributions to the field in recent years.

      Feldman then turned her attention to the problem of skyrocketing drug prices. “Economically,” she says, “it doesn’t make sense. So I decided to look into it. It took years of research.”

      That research has culminated in a new book: “Drugs, Money and Secret Handshakes: The Unstoppable Growth of Prescription Drug Prices.” I spoke to her a few days ago about drug prices — and what might be done to halt their inexorable rise. What follows is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

    • John Oliver Has Famous Actors Act Out The Deposition Richard Sackler Is Trying To Hide

      One of the issues that we’ve discussed quite a bit on Techdirt over the years is the lengths that some people want to go to to hide court records and important public documents. The main story on this past weekend’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackled this issue in relation to Richard Sackler, the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, the company that developed and promoted Oxycontin. Much of the episode focused on questionable things said or done by Sackler, but towards the end, Oliver notes that Sackler has done an amazing job hiding from public scrutiny. There are very few pictures of him even online and no real videos they could find.

    • Anti-Vaxxers Are Just as Bad as Climate Deniers

      There have been at least 555 confirmed cases of the highly contagious measles virus since January alone, prompting officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call this sudden eruption the worst outbreak of the disease in nearly 20 years. The story about measles spreading across the U.S. is unfolding alongside a parallel and troubling trend of increased measles infection rates globally. The World Health Organization issued a report at the same time as the CDC, finding that measles cases worldwide have surged by nearly four times the average number in the first three months of the year.

      But the national and global trends spin a tale of two separate realities. An irrational fear of vaccines among well-educated and largely white Americans has fueled an utterly preventable and dangerous disease that had been considered “eliminated” by scientists. Reuters explained that “[a] growing and vocal fringe of parents in the United States oppose measles vaccines believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.” Michelle M. Mello, a professor of law at Stanford Law School and a professor of health research and policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine explained to me in an interview that while there have been pockets of low vaccination rates in minority communities—like Somali Americans in Minnesota or Orthodox Jews in New York City—“On a national level, overwhelmingly, the demographic is educated, relatively affluent white families” that are choosing not to vaccinate their children. The epicenters of measles outbreaks are in liberal states such as California, New York, Oregon and Washington.

    • ‘Prohibition Only Ends Once’: 421 For All Group Takes Aim at Cannabis Criminal Justice Reform

      A new group, 421 For All, aims to use the day after 4/20—a national day to enjoy marijuana products—to promote what organizer Sky Cohen, a New York-based event promoter and activist, called “equitable growth in the industry.”

      “Prohibition only ends once,” said Cohen. “We want to make sure that our intervention encourages policy that guarantees access to those who have been historically criminalized.”

      The push for a more equitable marijuana industry begins with the legalization process, 421 For All founder Cristina Buccola told Cannabis Now Wednesday, but shouldn’t end there.

      “Cannabis legalization all too frequently omits meaningful criminal justice reforms, fails to repair communities that have borne the brunt of prohibition, doesn’t require diverse economic, ownership and educational opportunities, and forgets to protect patients’ rights and our environment,” said Buccola.

      The group will kick off its inaugural fundraising event on April 21 at New York’s Chelsea Music Hall.

      “The event is going to be a mixture of spoken presentation from our beneficiary organizations and music from local talent,” said Cohen. “The event will be hosted by Mike Glazer and Mary Jane from Weed + Grub Podcast.”

    • In Anti-Choice Hands, Abortion Clinic Inspections Become a Weapon

      Like many gynecological offices, Falls Church Healthcare Center in Virginia offers a range of services from annual wellness exams to Pap smears and contraceptives. The center also provides abortion care, which means that since 2011, when the state of Virginia introduced new regulations, it has needed a facility license to operate.

      Although abortion care is extremely safe in the United States, it is regulated to a different degree than other health care. If it were a dermatologist’s office, the Falls Church Healthcare Center wouldn’t need a facility license. Not only is it medically unnecessary, but the license is redundant, given that other medical bodies already oversee the abortion clinic’s equipment and staff.

      But doctors or health professionals didn’t develop the licensing requirement; politicians did. And as part of that licensing requirement, inspectors from the Virginia Department of Health can visit the Falls Church Healthcare Center at any time, without notice. This is true of abortion clinics in at least 22 other states, according to the Policy Surveillance Program at Temple University.

    • Just After Sanders Revealed Fox Viewers’ Approval of Medicare for All, Trump’s Medicare Chief ‘Smears’ Program on Network

      Days after Sen. Bernie Sanders’s town hall hosted by Fox News revealed that many Fox viewers would support his Medicare for All plan, President Donald Trump’s appointee in charge of Medicare appeared on the network in an apparent attempt at damage control.

      Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday to claim that Sanders’s proposal would deliver worse health outcomes for Americans at a higher price than the current for-profit system—contrary to a number of studies from across the political spectrum.

      Media Matters labeled Verma’s interview an intentional “smear” of the Vermont Independent senator’s appearance and proposal.

      “What we’re talking about is stripping people of their private health insurance, forcing them into a government-run program,” Verma told host Brian Kilmeade, calling the proposal “the biggest threat to the American healthcare system.”

    • Study Shows Even ‘Moderate’ Consumption of Red and Processed Meat Increases Risk of Colon Cancer

      For over five years, experts at the University of Oxford, University of Auckland, and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the diets and cancer rates of people who voluntarily participate in the U.K. Biobank research project.

      The findings, published Wednesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology, align with previous research and subsequent warnings from public health experts about the risks of colon cancer, also known as bowel or colorectal cancer.

    • Food standards on the menu at U.S.-EU talks

      With the endorsement on April 15 by a majority of the heads of government of its member states, the European Union has finally taken the formal step needed to move ahead with trade negotiations with the United States. The talks may yet blow up over automobile tariffs, airplane subsidies or a dispute about the inclusion of agriculture in the negotiations. The EU says it never agreed to include agriculture; the Trump administration claims that agriculture is included, and powerful members of Congress have asserted there can’t be a deal without it.
      The U.S. negotiating objectives clearly intend to cover agriculture broadly. The trade negotiation mandate adopted by the EU has two parts, one of which addresses tariffs and the other, domestic regulatory changes. The negotiation instruction on tariffs is limited to industrial goods and specifically excludes “agricultural products.” The latter instruction on regulatory cooperation and compatibility, however, does not exclude agriculture.
      Thus, we can be sure that food and agriculture will be directly affected by an EU-U.S. trade deal, because any potential carve-out relates only to discussing tariff reductions. As in the New NAFTA, food and agriculture—including product labeling and oversight of food safety, chemical use and emerging technologies—will still be directly affected. This is because both the EU and the U.S. have committed to reducing so-called “non-tariff barriers” through regulatory cooperation measures, conformity assessments and mutual recognition agreements specifically aimed at public protections such as food safety oversight.

    • Private Health Insurance Stocks ‘In Free Fall’ as Medicare for All Gains Momentum

      With comprehensive Medicare for All legislation now introduced in both chambers of Congress and bolstered by surging grassroots support, health insurance stocks are “crumbling” as investors grow increasingly fearful that single-payer could eventually become a reality.

      “Together, the shares of hospitals and insurers lost $28 billion in market value on Tuesday,” Bloomberg reported. “The slide in hospital and insurance stocks continued Wednesday, wiping out billions of dollars more in market value from some of the biggest health companies in the U.S.”

      As Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur put it on Twitter, “Health insurance stocks are in free fall as Democrats introduce ‘Medicare for All’ legislation in Congress and Bernie Sanders pushes it on Fox News.”

    • Flint Residents ‘Will Get Their Day In Court’ After Federal Judge Rules They Can Sue EPA Over Water Crisis

      As Flint, Michigan, marks five years since the city’s deadly water crisis began, a federal judge ruled in favor of residents who want to sue the federal government for not acting promptly to ensure the city had clean drinking water.

      Residents filed suit against the EPA in 2017, demanding $722 million in damages and arguing that the agency was able to inform the city that its drinking water was contaminated months before it finally issued an emergency order.

      “These lies went on for months while the people of Flint continued to be poisoned,” Judge Linda Parker, an Obama appointee, wrote in her ruling Friday.

    • Fox Never Expected This—The Medicare for All Moment

      It was an unexpected teaching moment for Fox News — a lesson that all the fear mongering in your playbook doesn’t carry quite so far when you confront a mass movement for transformative change that will dramatically improve people’s lives.

      In a town hall April 15 with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Fox host Bret Baier threw out an anticipated gotcha question for the audience Fox likely presumed were Fox viewers.

      How many people “get their insurance from work, private insurance,” he asked. Most hands went up. How many, Baier then asked, “are willing to transition to what the Senator says a government run system?”

      To no doubt his shock, nearly all the hands stayed up, accompanied by wild cheers – for the Medicare for All proposal the Fox network, and the President who is their number one cheerleader, have spent months demonizing.

  • Security
    • Riccardo Padovani: Responsible disclosure: improper access control in Gitlab private project.

      As I said back in September with regard to a responsible disclosure about Facebook, data access control isn’t easy. While it can sound quite simple (just give access to the authorized entities), it is very difficult, both on a theoretical side (who is an authorized entity? What does authorized mean? And how do we identify an entity?) and on a practical side.

    • Integrating Password and Privilege Management for Unix and Linux Systems[Ed: More spammy pages under the guise of "whitepaper"]

      Unix and Linux build the foundation for most business-critical systems. Thus, they present target-rich environments for cyber-attackers. Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps to mitigate such risks. To succeed, security teams must follow an integrated approach, covering both privilege elevation and centralized management of shared account credentials.

    • How Not to Acknowledge a Data Breach

      My guess is that what Wipro means by “zero-day” is a malicious email attachment that went undetected by all commercial antivirus tools before it infected Wipro employee systems with malware.

    • Facebook stored millions of Instagram passwords in plain text

      Facebook says it stored millions of Instagram users’ passwords in plain text, leaving them exposed to people with access to certain internal systems. The security lapse was first reported last month, but at the time, Facebook said it only happened to “tens of thousands of Instagram users,” whereas the number is now being revised up to “millions.” The issue also affected “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users” and “tens of millions of other Facebook users.”

    • Update: Facebook passwords for hundreds of millions of users were exposed to Facebook employees

      Facebook confirmed March 21 that hundreds of millions of user passwords were being stored in a “readable format” within its servers, accessible to internal Facebook employees—including millions more Instagram users than previously thought. Affected users will be notified, Facebook said, so they can change those passwords.

    • Facebook ‘unintentionally’ uploaded 1.5 million people’s email contacts without asking

      This is how it unfolded: a security researcher spotted that Facebook was asking some users to put in their email passwords when they signed up with a new account to verify their identity. Business Insider then experimented with what would happen if you were brave/mad enough to do so and found that a message popped up saying it was “importing” its contacts without having the decency to check that was okay first.

      Apparently, 1.5 million people just accepted this as just one of those things, and the information was then used to build up Facebook’s uncanny ability to predict when you know somebody.

    • In new gaffe, Facebook improperly collects email contacts for 1.5 million

      Facebook’s privacy gaffes keep coming. On Wednesday, the social media company said it collected the stored email address lists of as many as 1.5 million users without permission. On Thursday, the company said the number of Instagram users affected by a previously reported password storage error was in the “millions,” not the “tens of thousands” as previously estimated.

    • Facebook says it ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent

      Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network, Business Insider can reveal. The Silicon Valley company said the contact data was “unintentionally uploaded to Facebook,” and it is now deleting them.

    • With Nation Distracted by Mueller Report, Facebook Admits Millions of Users’ Passwords Affected by Latest Privacy Breach

      On Thursday, Facebook added to a blog post from March 21 to let users know that instead of storing tens of thousands of Instagram passwords, as it had reported last month, the number of users affected by the privacy breach was in the millions. Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.

      “Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” wrote Pedro Canahuati, vice president of Engineering, Security and Privacy. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

      The stored passwords were found in January during a routine security check, according to Facebook. In March, when the breach was first announced, the company said the passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook.

    • In 2019, Most Linux Distributions Still Aren’t Restricting Dmesg Access

      Going back to the late Linux 2.6 kernel days has been the CONFIG_DMESG_RESTRICT (or for the past number of years, renamed to CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT) Kconfig option to restrict access to dmesg in the name of security and not allowing unprivileged users from accessing this system log. While it’s been brought up from time to time, Linux distributions are still generally allowing any user access to dmesg even though it may contain information that could help bad actors exploit the system.

      The primary motivation of CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT and an associated sysctl tunable as well (dmesg_restrict) is for restricting access to dmesg so unprivileged users can’t see the syslog to avoid possible kernel memory address exposures among other potentially sensitive information that could be leaked about the kernel to help anyone trying to exploit the system. But even with these options being available for years, most Linux distributions leave dmesg open to any user.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street

      The United States had intensified its bombing of both northern and southern Vietnam earlier in April. 1972. Nixon, Kissinger and their henchmen in the Pentagon called the campaign Operation Freedom Porch. The northern cities of Hanoi and Haiphong were carpet-bombed with wave after wave of United States Air Force B-52s dropping their explosives across both metropolises. Meanwhile, the US Navy was preparing to mine Haiphong Harbor.

      On April 20th, 1972 a rally against the US bombing northern Vietnam and the mining of its harbors took place in Seattle, Washington at the University of Washington. It was one of hundreds such protests against the US actions taking place that week around the world. I attended one in Frankfurt am Main, Germany that ended up being broken up by police with truncheons and water cannons. People I knew in Maryland and DC wrote to me about similar police attacks at protests in DC and at the University of Maryland. Following their stories about the bombing raids, the military’s daily newspaper Stars & Stripes (published for men and women stationed overseas) provided its readers with a brief summary of demonstrations against the latest US attacks. So did the International Herald Tribune and various European newspapers available at the newsstands in downtown Frankfurt.

      Anyhow, back to that rally in Seattle. One of the reasons for the protest there was unique to that city. It involved a student at the University who was being threatened with deportation because of his antiwar activities. That student’s name was to become the name of the street I opened this story with: Nguyen Thai Binh. Born in southern Vietnam, Binh was attending the university on a scholarship provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Now, despite the claims made by the agency and many of its staffers, USAID was (and is) essentially a branch of the CIA. It is the carrot that operates along with the stick; the good cop who works with the bad cop.

    • Sixth Circuit Court Dumps Lawsuit Seeking To Hold Twitter Responsible For The Pulse Nightclub Shooting

      Another one of 1-800-LAW-FIRM’s lawsuits has been tossed for a second time. After being shut down at the district level for attempting to hold social media companies responsible for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, the law firm asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at its dubious legal theories.

      The Appeals Court has taken another look and it doesn’t like what it sees any more than the district court did. The violent act committed inside the nightclub was horrible, but the court cannot provide a remedy for every wrong — especially not in a case where the plaintiffs are trying to hold a third party responsible for violent acts they neither encouraged nor committed.

    • Video evidence of Islamic cleric beheading 38-year-old mam emerges

      An Igbosere High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday admitted in evidence a video recording of a confessional statement of an Islamic cleric, Taofeek Adamu, charged with beheading a 38-year-old congregant.

      [...]

      Section 84 of the Evidence Act provides that a computer generated document shall be admissible as evidence of any fact stated in it of which direct oral evidence would be admissible and the period in which the document was generated, the computer was operating properly.

      The judge said that the prosecution was able to show that the computer from which the document was generated was working properly at the time the evidence was generated.

    • Saudi runaway sisters plead for help on social media

      Two Saudi sisters appealed for help Wednesday from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after fleeing their country, in the latest case of runaways from the ultra-conservative kingdom using social media to seek asylum.

      Using a newly created Twitter account called “GeorgiaSisters,” they identified themselves as Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25. Like other Saudi women who have fled and turned to social media, they posted copies of their passports to establish their identities.

    • Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches

      Recent US attacks on Venezuela have generated a widespread international response. Good willed people from all walks of life have come forward to express their solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution and their opposition to intervention. This is inspiring and leads one to conclude that there is generalized dissatisfaction with the global system and, together with it, a willingness to be critical and work for change.

      Naturally these defenses have focused on imperialism, intervention and interference. The overall consensus is “Hands off Venezuela.” This slogan is a good one, since every thinking person today defends democracy, and a condition for democracy is that nations maintain (or attain) their sovereignty. (Nothing could be more antidemocratic than having foreign powers interfere in a country and have them sponsor foreign-appointed pretenders such as Juan Guaidó).

      However, this focus on imperialist interference, correct as it is, has sometimes led to an apparent indifference to the content of the revolution and its internal dynamic. One might think that the oversight is actually for the better since internal affairs are “none of our business, but rather the responsibility of Venezuelans.” Yet I think that this sidelining of the internal dynamic and contents of the Bolivarian process is mistaken. Although it has been a pattern of internationalist behavior for some time, I believe it is not necessary and could be even harmful.

      From the start, the Venezuelan revolution skillfully interpellated people from all around the world. It said to them: Our struggle is your struggle, your struggle is our struggle. That is not just a tactically useful position but is actually scientifically correct.

      For this reason, the Venezuelan revolution declared from the beginning that the problems of neoliberalism, imperialism, and later capitalism, were not unique to Venezuela. They were challenges that peoples from all around the world faced, and it invited people to join in a common struggle.

    • Rosneft wants ‘Reuters’ news agency banned in Russia for report about Venezuela

      The Russian state oil company Rosneft says a recent report by the news agency Reuters contains “patently false” information that President Nicolas Maduro is funneling money from Venezuelan oil sales through Rosneft to evade U.S. sanctions.

      In a press release on April 19, the Russian energy giant called Reuters a “pseudo news agency” and accused its journalists of “spreading disinformation,” “legitimizing rumors,” and “inventing news opportunities” to damage Rosneft. The company says it plans to turn to Russian law enforcement agencies to stop the news agency’s “illegal activities.”

    • By not investigating the U.S. for war crimes, the International Criminal Court shows colonialism still thrives in international law

      On April 5, the United States revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for her attempts to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan. A week later, judges at the ICC rejected Bensouda’s request to open a probe into U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

      While rights advocates condemned this move as amounting to U.S. interference in the workings of the ICC, it’s more alarming than mere obstruction — and is rooted in the pre-existing hierarchy and embedded colonial structures in international legal order.

      Bensouda’s visa revocation underscores the existing systematic inequality in international legal order. This is rooted in the presumed hierarchy by a group of elite nations that have dominated international order from a position of assumed racial, cultural, political, historical, material, economic and legal superiority.

      These developments come in light of comments made by the Trump administration’s national security advisor, John Bolton, who delegitimized the role of the ICC in a speech he delivered in September 2018. He said that “the U.S. will take any means necessary” to overcome “unjust prosecution by this illegitimate Court.”

    • Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?

      When hijacked planes hit their targets on the morning of September 11, 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) sprang into action. Within hours, through its disaster response network the APA mobilized expert practitioners and worked with the American Red Cross to provide psychological support to families of the victims and to rescue workers. The APA’s public affairs office moved quickly as well to assist the public—and especially families, children, and schools—by developing and disseminating materials that provided psychological guidance about coping with fear and trauma.

      But with comparable urgency, the APA also ensured that the Bush Administration would view the association as a valued partner in the military and intelligence operations central to the new “war on terror.” Within days, the APA’s science directorate called upon research psychologists to identify how psychological science might contribute to counter-terrorism initiatives. Shortly thereafter, a newly established APA subcommittee on psychology’s response to terrorism directed its attention to “offering psychologists’ expertise to decision-makers in the military, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State and related agencies” and to “inventorying members’ expertise and asking government psychologists how agencies could put that expertise to use.”

    • As We Mourn Notre Dame, Let Us Remember Black Churches Also Matter

      When Notre Dame burned, I mourned. A beautiful cathedral, a destination, a sanctuary for quiet invocation, Notre Dame was also an architectural gem, a landmark for more than 850 years. The collapse of its beautiful spire was heartbreaking to see. I am glad that the world stopped, recognized that the fire that engulfed the cathedral roof was a significant loss to us all, and gathered, albeit virtually, to bear witness.

      While I felt sad as I watched news coverage of the Paris event, as a woman of color, I couldn’t help but also feel a certain indignation, a kind of anger, an unexpressed rage. The kind of unexpressed rage that, for over 400 years, Black folks have just swallowed like a communion wafer in pursuit of infinite grace.

      My sadness mixed with resentment partly because, stretching over a 10-day period in one rural Louisiana town just last month, three Black churches burned to the ground. Officials recently arrested a white man, Holden Matthews, the son of a parish deputy sheriff, and charged him with a hate crime. This one case is enough to spark sorrow, but it is not the sole reason for my consternation.

    • Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her

      Some have said that Notre Dame represented colonial oppression and feudalism. But indeed, the same could be said about the Imperial Palaces of China, the monasteries of Tibet, St. Basil’s in Moscow, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Akshardham in Delhi, even the ancient ruins of the Acropolis or Teotihuacan. All of them represent some kind of oppression, caste or injustice. And of course each of them should be understood beyond mere romanticism and in this historical context. Many of the colonial structures we see today were erected on the razed temples or cities of conquered peoples and were placed there erase that peoples history. A message of ruthless and brutal imperial supremacy. But there is often a tendency to reduce the power of place, that enduring spirit of loci, to fit places and their nuanced and complex meaning into neat and tidy narratives. What is lost is ambiguity, movement, and the very weight of human history itself.

    • Who Are the Real Terrorists in the Mideast?

      Back when I still wore the uniform of a U.S. Army officer, and well before many of my former brothers in arms labeled me a traitor, I taught freshman (“plebe”) history at West Point. I loved asking my cadets provocative questions, the sort of queries they never heard in high school Advanced Placement U.S. history courses. Consider just one. At the end of the class on World War II, I always asked: “What is the moral difference between flying three planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon—killing 3,000 civilians—and using hundreds of U.S. planes to firebomb Tokyo on March 9, 1945—killing some 90,000 civilians?” Suffice it to say that most cadets didn’t like this question at all.

      Nevertheless, let’s break that debate query down. The standard retorts of cadets ran something like this: “Well, Japan attacked us first,” or “It’s different—the U.S. had officially declared war on Japan!” Fair points, both. Still, an honest analysis complicates the standard American apologetics. Osama bin Laden and company would argue that actually, the U.S. had attacked (the Muslim world) first. After all, U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iraq caused the death of an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children from 1991 to 2003. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted as much on camera, callously declaring that “we think the price is worth it.” Indeed, bin Laden pointed to the Iraqi sanctions regime as one of his three core motives for attacking the U.S. homeland. Furthermore, I’d remind my cadets, bin Laden did publicly declare jihad on America on Aug. 23, 1996, more than five years before the 9/11 attacks.

      Now, I’m no fan of al-Qaida or bin Laden, or of any attacker of civilians. I grew up in a Staten Island neighborhood in New York where the avenues are named for dead firemen. I took 9/11 personally. Still, intellectual honesty demands a fair analysis of complex ethical issues in warfare—my profession of choice. Critical thinkers must be able to hold two seemingly opposing thoughts in their heads at the same time; in this case, that the 9/11 attacks were criminal and that American firebombings of Japanese women and children were lawless. One of the architects of that deliberate bombing—former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara—has admitted as much.

    • Trump Cracks Down on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela

      The Trump administration on Wednesday intensified its crackdown on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, rolling back Obama administration policy and announcing new restrictions and sanctions against the three countries whose leaders national security adviser John Bolton dubbed the “three stooges of socialism.”

      “The troika of tyranny — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — is beginning to crumble,” Bolton said in a hard-hitting speech near Miami on the 58th anniversary of the United States’ failed Bay of Pigs invasion of the island, an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

      The measures seem likely to hit hardest in Cuba, which is at a moment of severe economic weakness as it struggles to find cash to import basic food and other supplies following a drop in aid from Venezuela and a string of bad years in other key economic sectors.

    • Pompeo is “Setting the Stage for a War with Iran”

      Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the Trump administration would not rule out going to war with Iran even though there is no explicit authorization from Congress to do so. Pompeo said this in the context of being asked whether the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be used to attack Iran on the basis that Iran supported the 9/11 attacks and is connected to Al Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attack.

    • ICC Makes “Dangerous Decision” to Drop Probe into U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan After U.S. Pressure

      The International Criminal Court has announced it will not investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the United States and other actors in Afghanistan. The court suggested the U.S.’s lack of cooperation with the investigation was behind the decision. Earlier this month, the U.S. revoked the visa of the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. A 2016 report by the ICC accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. We speak to Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

    • We already know who will win the war in Libya – western arms dealers

      In the shadow world of the arms trade there is one business model that outshines all others: selling arms to both sides in the same war. Ideally it works best when weapons you have sold to one side destroy weapons you have sold to the other. Thus if one side uses air-launched precision-guided missiles to destroy the other’s aircraft (or tanks, armoured personnel carriers or whatever), then it will need to buy replacement missiles, will need to have your people service its aircraft and, if it ‘wins’ the war it will most likely buy new planes from you as it rearms. The other side will need to replace the materiel destroyed, will want to upgrade its weapons and also buy in heavily for the next phase of the conflict.

      All this is a matter of routine business and the results of a war will often be reflected in marketing afterwards. In 1982 the UK fought a short and bitter war with Argentina for control of the Falklands/Malvinas; in the months that followed military magazines carried full-page adverts for ship-based anti-aircraft missiles that had been successfully used to shoot down Argentine aircraft. The adverts were the same as those published before that war but for the words ‘combat proven’ stamped across them.

      There was bitter irony in this when it was learned that one such missile, fired from a British Type 42 destroyer, had shot down a British army helicopter by mistake, killing all four people on board. To add to the bitterness, two Type 42s had also been sold by Britain to Argentina before the war.

    • Libyan Humanitarian Crisis Worsens as Over 170 Killed, 18K Displaced in Warlord Assault on Tripoli

      At least four people died in heavy shelling on Tuesday in the capital city of Tripoli. According to the United Nations, over 170 people have been killed and 750 injured since a Libyan warlord launched an assault on Tripoli on April 5. The fighting pits the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord against a militia led by former Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who already controls much of eastern Libya. The Libyan government has accused the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt of funding and arming Haftar, who has dual U.S.-Libyan citizenship. Meanwhile, Qatar has called for the enforcement of an arms embargo against Haftar. The fighting has displaced nearly 18,000 people, but authorities fear the humanitarian crisis could quickly escalate if the fighting continues. We speak to Anas El Gomati, director of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, Libya’s first independent research organization.

    • We Are All Complicit in America’s War Machine

      You’ve probably heard that tired old trope. Whenever someone dares suggest that after eighteen years of fruitless wars perhaps it’s time for Uncle Sam’s losing war machine to de-escalate in the Greater Middle East, you can expect some version of the worn out platitude of “here” and “there” justification. Utterly simplistic and regularly debunked by existing evidence, the cliché remains ever so pervasive and (for some) persuasive. As a facile, fear-based rationalization it’s rather effective. It’s very superficiality seduces a populace that is utterly apathetic towards U.S. foreign policy – and make no mistake, the owners of this country count on that indifference to wage profitable (for shareholders and CEOs) forever wars in places few Americans could find on the map.

      Still, with three more US Marines killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan – all reservists from a Massachusetts-based unit (so much for that one weekend a month deal) – its time to tear down the intellectually dishonest rationalizations for America’s longest war. The Taliban – which is really a coalition of impoverished young nationalists dedicated to drive out the American occupier – simply is not heading to the US to kill your family anytime soon. There were no Afghans on the 9/11 planes and even though the Taliban regime had harbored Osama Bin Laden no Afghans had directly attacked America.

      The September 11th attack was a singular event. The catastrophic outcome – the towers collapsing – doubtlessly surprised even the Al Qaeda organization. Critical was America’s militarized response, the original sin of the war on terror, especially the decision to maintain the occupation of Afghanistan once the Taliban was deposed. Shifting gears from counter-terror to counterinsurgency and nation-building was the true turning point, the moment when any sort of American “victory” became impossible. (As if it ever truly was!)

      That decision was based upon a series of lies. The lie that if done “right” counterinsurgency can remake whole societies (faux military “intellectuals like that one in particular); that Afghanistan could be transformed into a Jeffersonian republic at the point of a foreign bayonet; that trapped inside every Afghan there’s an American just dying to escape. But the biggest lie is the notion that if the US doesn’t transform that country or keep our military in place indefinitely, the result would be another 9/11. Taliban fighters – think scruffy farm boys really – are highly unlikely to travel to America and attack our cities. They can’t read, hardly afford to travel, and inhabit a narrow world centered on village and district life. Their goals have always been much more circumscribed and limited to ruling Afghanistan. Anything else is grandiose fantasy. Taliban does not equal Al Qaeda, or ISIS, and it never has.

      Make no mistake, the Taliban movement is largely abhorrent and brutal. Still, this doesn’t mean they present a existential strategic threat to the Homeland. Nor does this mean they’re easily beatable since, like it or not, the Taliban is popular in large swaths of the country. That inconvenient fact must drive any sober assessment of the costs and benefits of perpetual US military intervention in Afghanistan. Is the US presence in the country making us any safer? What if our foreign occupation actually generates a nationalist backlash and drives young men into the ranks of the Taliban? These are the sorts of hard questions that sober strategists must consider before asking another young American soldier to fight and potentially die in a war with no end in sight.

      To its credit, the Trump administration is now attempting to negotiate with the Taliban, but such peace attempts have dragged on before (during the late Obama years) and, frankly, the Taliban holds the stronger hand. Don’t be surprised, then, if the Taliban ends up getting most of its demands, especially if the peace process is protracted. Which is a scary notion – because we’ve seen this before, in Vietnam.

    • Kim Jong-un to visit Russia in late April for first-ever meeting with Putin

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly accepted an invitation from Vladimir Putin to visit Russia. According to the Kremlin’s official website, Kim and Putin will meet in late April. It’s still unclear where the two leaders will meet, though the North Korean media has suggested it could happen in Vladivostok, near Russia’s border with China and North Korea.

    • Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’

      The only US president to complete his term without war, military attack or occupation has called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.”

      During his regular Sunday school lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter revealed that he had recently spoken with President Donald Trump about China. Carter, 94, said Trump was worried about China’s growing economy and expressed concern that “China is getting ahead of us.”

      Carter, who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979, said he told Trump that much of China’s success was due to its peaceful foreign policy.

    • Hell Mixed With Futility

      Oh, the normalcy of militarism! Our annual financial hemorrhage to this complex menagerie of institutions — from the Pentagon to Homeland Security to the Nuclear Security Administration to the CIA and its secret expenditures — must not be seriously questioned in the corridors of Congress, even though, all things considered, it comes to almost a trillion dollars annually.

      Call it the Defense budget, smile and move on.

      Even the current “liberal revolt” in the House of Representatives over the Dems’ proposed budget isn’t a serious questioning of the American way of war but, rather, a demand for “parity” between social and defense spending, which, if anything, further hardens the latter into an unquestioned reality. Yes, yes, America spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, but let’s make sure we have money available for healthcare too, OK?

      Norman Solomon called it the “toxic lure of guns and butter,” this creation of an America that has both the values of democratic socialism, a la Canada and Western Europe, and yet is the global cop extraordinaire, fighting (and creating) terrorism, bombing civilians, operating some 800 military bases in over 80 countries and maintaining a nuclear arsenal second to none (indeed, developing “usable” nukes). What’s wrong with that?

      The headache here for the Dem establishment is the “democratic socialism” part, which is often covered with disdain by the mainstream media, e.g.:

      “U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Tuesday canceled a planned floor vote on legislation to set federal spending levels for next year after the party’s left wing demanded more money for domestic programs,” Reuters reported last week.

    • U.S. Continues Supplying Kurds to Counteract Turkey

      The mass media has been widely covering the details of the disastrous humanitarian situation in Rukban refugee camp over recent months. By the way, the crisis in other sites deserves more considerable attention. Al-Hol refugee camp located in Al-Hasakah province and run by the Syria Democratic Forces is one of them.

      Every single day from 10 to 20 people, mainly women and children die due to the lack of drinking water, essential goods, and medicine. Only for the past two months, 250 children passed away in the camp. According to estimates, now more than 50,000 refugees reside there, although initially it was designed only for 25,000.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • On WikiLeaks Email Releases, Mueller Team Ignored Findings Of Former US Intelligence Officials

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on an investigation into alleged Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election does not confirm, without a doubt, that Russian intelligence agents or individuals tied to Russian intelligence agencies passed on emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks.

      Mueller’s team highlighted statements from WikiLeaks on Twitter about former Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff member Seth Rich, which seemed to relate to the alleged source of emails and documents the organization published. Yet, more explicit claims from WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange on the source of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were not addressed in the report.

      A group of former military and intelligence officials, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), conducted their own forensic tests that received a bit of attention in the United States press because they were some of the first people with prior backgrounds in government to question the central allegations of hacking into DNC servers. They asserted their examinations of the files showed DNC emails published by WikiLeaks were leaked, not hacked.

      However, the Mueller report makes no mention of the claims made by VIPS over the past two to three years—not even to debunk them.

    • From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State

      When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

      In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

      That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

      On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

      Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

      There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

    • Media Cheer Assange’s Arrest

      Julian Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11. The Australian-born co-founder of Wikileaks had been trapped in the building since 2012 after taking refuge there. He was immediately found guilty of failing to surrender to a British court, and was taken to Belmarsh prison. An extradition to the United States is widely seen as imminent by corporate media, who have, by and large, strongly approved of these events.

      [...]

      Both the United Nations and the ACLU have denounced Assange’s arrest, with the former condemning Sweden and the UK for depriving him of liberty and freedom, ordering them to pay compensation for the many years he was confined to the embassy. Despite this, establishment media have overwhelmingly described this situation with a euphemism: Mr. Assange’s “self-imposed isolation” (CNN, 4/11/19; USA Today, 4/11/19; New York Times, 4/11/19), a phrase that conjures a very different image of the situation and the responsibilities of the various parties involved. The Daily Beast (4/11/19) made this implication explicit, describing Assange’s predicament as “voluntary confinement.”

      Assange is a controversial character who originally took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy after England’s High Court ruled to extradite him to Sweden to face charges of rape. Yet most of the media coverage downplayed or even did not mention this (e.g., Bloomberg, 4/11/19; National Review, 4/12/19; Daily Beast, 4/11/19), suggesting they did not consider it relevant.

    • A Marriage of Conscience: Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

      No one should have been surprised by this despicable spectacle carried out in the noonday light for all to see, for the British government has not served as America’s jailer for the past seven years for no reason. It doesn’t take x-ray eyes to see that the British and the Moreno government in Ecuador are twin poodles on the American leash. After a phony display of judicial fairness, the British, as required by their American bosses, will dispatch Assange to the United States so he can be further punished for the crime of doing journalism and exposing war crimes.

      Assange has suffered mightily for American sins. The Anglo-American torturers know how to squeeze their victims to make old men out of the young. Abu Ghraib was no aberration. The overt is often covert; just a thin skin separates the sadists’ varied methods, but their message is obvious. No one who saw Assange dragged to prison could fail to see what the war-mongers, who hate freedom of the press when it exposes their criminal activities, can do to a man. Nor, however, could one fail to see the spirit of defiance that animates Assange, a man of courageous conscience cowards can’t begin to comprehend.

    • Nearly 100,000 Pentagon Whistleblower Complaints Have Been Silenced

      I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to be a whistleblower. I’d like to think I would. We all like to think we would, just like we all like to think we could catch the game-winning touchdown, triumph on “America’s Got Talent,” and fold a fitted sheet quickly and without cursing.

      But to blow the whistle on a huge organization with a lot of power, likely drawing that power to come crashing down on your head—that takes some serious spine-age. Now, imagine the organization you’re calling out is arguably the largest, most powerful, most secretive and most violent organization on planet Earth. I’m speaking, of course, of the U.S. Department of Defense.

      Yet thousands, even tens of thousands, of people have taken that step over the past five years. (More on this in a moment.)

      All the while our organized human murder machine continues its work around the world. Every day. Every hour. Never a moment of rest. Never pausing to clip their toenails or scratch their ass. Bombs dropped. Buildings blown up. People killed or imprisoned. No end in sight.

      By the way, that’s the term I like to use instead of “military”—Organized Human Murder Machine.

    • Assange and the Cowardice of Power

      Trump has never heard of WikiLeaks, the publishing organization whose work he repeatedly and unequivocally touted during the 2016 election campaign. “I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” he told reporters after Julian Assange was illegally arrested, after being illegally detained for seven years, in London. “It’s not my thing and I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange.”

      Moving past the Trumpian contradiction (he knows both “nothing” and “something” about WikiLeaks”), here’s a question for our dear leader: is your own Justice Department “your thing”? Because it was your Justice Department that filed the charges against a man who risked his liberty, and his life, to tell the truth about the most powerful criminal organization in the world—the American empire.

      Is Trump’s cabinet “his thing”? Was he golfing when his erstwhile attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, told the press that arresting Assange was “a priority”? How about when his secretary of state called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service”? Trump’s regime appears to have a remarkable level of interest in an organization about which he knows nothing.

      “The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking.” That was Edward Snowden’s reaction to the Justice Department’s indictment against Assange. He adds that one of the government’s principal allegations—that Assange attempted to help Manning crack a password in the interest of protecting her identity—has been public knowledge for nearly ten years. Also that Obama, no friend to whistle-blowers, refused to act on it, citing dangers to press freedom.

    • All Will be Punished

      The image of London police dragging Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy was so disturbing and resonant on so many levels, one hardly knows where to begin. First, this person, this Moreno, has disgraced and degraded himself beyond historical repair. His name will be forever synonymous with betrayal of the most abject, vicious, and cowardly sort. Paul Craig Roberts has called him Judas, and the comparison is apt. Indeed, to see Assange carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy was to witness a contemporary crucifixion, complete with smirking Centurion and a smattering of curious, if not bloodthirsty, onlookers.

      But another association comes to mind, and that is rape. As Harold Pinter famously noted in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, which should be required reading in US high school civics’ classes—it certainly would be in mine, if I were still teaching—the US (used to) carry out its imperial depredations with a kind of wicked panache, disguising its true predatory intentions with clever language and even a certain wit. But no more. With a brief, somnolent interlude for the reign of the smiling assassin (who, above all, was skilled in the arts of public relations, an exemplar of the Pinter model), we have had, since the reign of Bush the Lesser, unapologetic, snarling, in-your-fucking-face, imperial barbarity. Now, with our very own fascistic goon, our Mussolini (another comparison, between Assange and Gramsci, is also apt), we are taking it to new depths, reveling in (trumpeting!) our lawlessness and undisguised brutality. It is the savage cry of the rapist, the brute, the one who knows only naked aggression and force. It is us.

    • Assange: Between Gratitude and Betrayal

      Julian Assange was arrested in England on Thursday, April 11, and is feared to be extradited to the United States to face charges for his actions during the Obama administration.

      According to an editorial in the Washington Post in 2011, such a conviction “would also cause collateral damage to the liberties of the U.S. media so Washington should not attempt to do so with Julian Assange.

      The Post’s editorial of years ago is still relevant, given that Assange would be tried for a “crime” which took place almost a decade ago. What has changed since then is the public perception of Assange and, in a supreme irony, that of Donald Trump. At one point in Trump’s demagoguery, he proclaimed himself a fanatic twitter lover of WikiLeaks,. Now he has now been left as the ultimate beneficiary of public support for initiating a process that the Obama administration hesitated to push when he was President.

      The current accusation is the extension of a years-long effort, begun prior to Trump, to build a legal argument against those who release secrets the government finds embarassing.

      But much of the U.S. citizenry now sees the arrested founder of WikiLeaks through the lens of the 2016 elections, having been denounced as a Russian ally in favor of Trump’s election.

    • Why Academics Should Oppose Julian Assange’s Extradition

      The attempt to extradite Assange to the US sets a dangerous precedent for academics. Attacks on whistleblowers, the press and academics all aim to undermine the foundations of democracy. Each group seeks the truth and is a potential thorn in the side of governments attempting to hide their activities from the public.

    • ‘Stupid Brexit’ should hit UK fast & hard if Assange is handed over to US – German MEP

      The UK should get its “stupid Brexit” right now and face the hardest divorce deal possible if it extradites Julian Assange to the US, which is keen to cover up Iraq War crimes, a German MEP said in an emotive speech.
      The controversy over Julian Assange’s arrest in London seems to have spilled over into the European Parliament this week. Martin Sonneborn, a long-time contributor to Spiegel and ZDF, used his time to tell“a couple of words to the Brits who are likely to remain in the EU until Halloween.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Movement to Build National Support for Green New Deal Starts in Boston, ‘City of Revolutions’

      The past two years, 2017 and 2018, brought the U.S. two major youth-led movements. The first was borne out of the March for Our Lives, which saw hundreds of thousands rallying for gun violence prevention in D.C. and across the country. The second was the Sunrise Movement.

    • Critics Say Louisiana ‘Highjacked’ Climate Resettlement Plan for Isle de Jean Charles Tribe

      Albert Naquin, Chief of the Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe (IDJC), often loses sleep over his tribe’s fate as its historic island homeland continues to lose land at an alarming rate. His dream to relocate the tribe from Isle de Jean Charles with a federal grant has turned into a nightmare.

      After helping the Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD) win a $98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Tribe no longer wants to be associated with the State’s project, which included $48 million earmarked to relocate the IDJC Tribe.

    • South Dakota Can’t Silence Our Protest Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

      For Indigenous Peoples in South Dakota, the land is more than just the ground beneath our feet.

      We believe in and act upon the notion that people, nature, society and all living things are interconnected, in relation to one another, and operate as a system. Our Indigenous cultures have taught us through our languages, stories and life ways that our identity and very existence is directly connected to the land.

      First proposed in 2008, the 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline would carry as much as 830,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day from the Alberta, Canada, oil sands through South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., en route to Gulf Coast refineries. Though the proposed pipeline route does not go through federally recognized reservations in South Dakota, should there be an oil spill, it has the potential to seriously affect our land, our water, our environment and future generations.

    • It’s Time to Transform the Tax Code and Implement a Green New Deal

      One area where the two parties of the millionaires and billionaires put in place policies that favor the rich are tax laws. Tax policy has favored the wealthy under both parties, but the Trump-administration has brought this tax corruption to new levels. We need to transform tax policy to build the working class base of the economy, shrink the wealth divide, and confront the climate crisis. An honest analysis of the tax code calls out in stark detail the extreme injustice of the economy in the United States.

      The tax system favors the wealthy as low- and middle-income people are hit the hardest while big business and high-income people are subsidized. The most regressive tax of all is the FICA payroll tax at 15.3 percent for Social Security and Medicare. 15.3 percent includes the employer match. But employers include the tax in their labor budgets and it limits what they can pay their workers. The 12.4 percent Social Security share of FICA is outright regressive because it is capped for high-income earners at $128,400 in 2018.

    • Why Is Going Green So Hard? Because Our System Isn’t

      Every year around Earth Day, I’m reminded of papers I graded in an environmental sociology class. The assignment was to assess your values, explain how you thought you would live as an adult (about 20 years in the future), and then complete an online calculator to find out: If everyone in the world lived like you, how many planets would we need?
      The students were all young and idealistic, and most of them cared deeply about the environment. In their papers, they professed how they would live their lives in the most sustainable ways possible — eating vegan diets, avoiding car travel, growing their own food, and so on.
      Most were sure they’d find a way to make it work without sacrificing luxuries like international travel.
      Then they calculated how many planets would be needed to support everyone in the world living with their ideal lifestyle. Every single student required more than one planet. Most needed about three.
      That’s right: If everyone in the world lived like these idealistic, passionate environmentalists, we’d need three planets to produce enough resources for their needs.
      These papers hit me hard emotionally. When I was their age, I was them. Their dreams were my dreams — only for me, those dreams are dead.
      Even the most committed of them couldn’t get her environmental footprint down to what one planet can provide. There’s almost no way to live in the United States as it is now and be fully sustainable. Attempting to do so requires a constant, overwhelming amount of effort.

    • New Interior Chief Bernhardt Reportedly Held Secret Meeting Linked to One of His Predecessor’s Many Scandals

      It’s only been a week, but newly-confirmed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s conflicts of interests are already raising questions about his involvement in the very same scandals for which his predecessor is now under investigation.

      The Guardian reported Wednesday that Bernhardt, who was confirmed last week over the objections of climate action and conservation groups, met in 2018 with a lawyer for the Schaghticoke tribal nation of Connecticut, which opposed the operation of a new casino in the state by two other tribes.

      Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned in December after coming under scrutiny for a number of conflicts of interest, including allegations that he was involved in blocking the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ approval for the casino.

    • Bernie Sanders ‘Raises the Bar Even Further’ on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking, All New Fossil Fuel Projects

      Bernie Sanders won praise from environmental groups after releasing a climate platform that calls for a complete ban on fracking, a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, an end to oil exports, and a Green New Deal.

      “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet,” the Vermont senator and 2020 contender wrote on the climate page of his website, which was unveiled this week.

    • ‘You Cannot Ignore Science’: In Emotional Plea, Greta Thunberg Begs EU to Take Urgent Climate Action

      “My name is Greta Thunberg, I am 16 years old, I come from Sweden, and I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire.”

      That’s how the young climate activist began her address to members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Tuesday.

      In a 13-minute speech that equated civilization to “a castle built on sand” and was punctuated by applause from the chamber, Thunberg admonished the MEPs for inaction on the climate crisis and begged them to “wake up” and “unite behind the science.”

    • Children’s Moral Power Can Challenge Corporate Power on Climate Crisis

      The famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said to me that children have a distinct moral authority to change some of their parents’ habits or opinions. She gave use of seat belts and smoking cigarettes as examples.

      Indeed, most of us know instances when sons and daughters have looked into the eyes of their fathers and mothers and urged them to wear their seatbelts or stop smoking. They say in their own plaintive way that they want mommy and daddy around for them. Many mothers and fathers have had such experiences.

    • Walruses are jumping off cliffs to their deaths — yes, because of climate change

      The new Netflix series “Our Planet” documents the devastation wrought by humans on animals and their habitats. It’s heartbreaking. In fact, some scenes are so wrenching that Netflix last week tweeted a list of time stamps for scenes that “animal lovers may want to skip.”

      One of those scenes is in the second episode (“Frozen World”). It shows Pacific walruses, one after another, tumbling off 250-foot-high cliffs to their deaths.

      As a scientist who works to protect walruses and other species from the ravages of climate change, I dreaded watching this scene with every bone in my body. But I did. And I want everyone to watch it, especially “animal lovers.”

      There’s a difference between covering your eyes during the ending of “Old Yeller” and fast-forwarding through this walrus footage.

    • New Report Highlights Need for Clean Energy Transition That Doesn’t Rely on Dirty Mining

      The report, entitled Responsible Minerals Sourcing for Renewable Energy (pdf), was prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) for Earthworks, as part of the U.S. nonprofit’s new “Making Clean Energy Clean, Just & Equitable” initiative. It was released Wednesday.

      “As we scale up clean energy technologies in pursuit of our necessarily ambitious climate goals, we must protect community health, water, human rights, and the environment,” said Payal Sampat, director of Earthworks’ Mining Program.

      “We have an opportunity, if we act now,” Sampat added, “to ensure that our emerging clean energy economy is truly clean—as well as just and equitable—and not dependent on dirty mining.”

    • This Blessed Plot, This Earth

      This week, residents of a village in Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula saw this exhausted, emaciated polar bear – a species some consider the poster child for climate change – prowling for food over 500 miles from its native habitat. With the Arctic warming, the ice receding, the seals slowly disappearing and the ever-mindless, greedy cretins in charge still pushing to drill drill drill, enraged environmentalists, scientists and cognizant humans ask, “At what point are we going to take climate change seriously?”

    • A Climate Rebellion in Downtown New York

      On Wednesday, more than 100 activists from the New York chapter of Extinction Rebellion descended on City Hall to protest the extraction of fossil fuels and raise awareness about a crisis that threatens the very survival of humankind. Patch reports that police have arrested 62, with demonstrators laying down in the streets and climbing light poles to unfurl banners declaring a climate emergency. According to an April 14th press release, Extinction Rebellion has planned to “disrupt business as usual” in 80 cities across 33 countries, from India to Australia and throughout Europe and the U.S.

    • Perverse Housing Policy Perverts Forest Policy

      As many Americans know all too well, concerns about forest conservation and affordable housing have drawn increasing attention across the US. These topics are of special interest in regions where logging is primarily devoted to provided lumber for human housing.

      What may be less known is that the pairing of forest and housing policy has had a long and colorful history spanning the past 70 years.

      In his 1947 book, Breaking New Ground, Gifford Pinchot, an early head of the U.S. Forest Service, wrote that, “The rightful use and purpose of our natural resources is to make all the people strong and well, able and wise, well-clothed, well-housed…with equal opportunity for all and special privilege for none.”

      Back then, if only briefly, America’s political leadership was responsive to ordinary needs and dreams of being “well-housed.” In 1949, America passed its Housing Act, which stated that it is the policy of the United States to provide “…a decent home and suitable environment for every American family.”

      With this, Congress stated a clear end-use of forest products when logging delivers wood to the market.

    • Global Climate Rebellion Hits New York City (Photo Essay)

      On Wednesday, approximately 350 activists from the New York chapter of Extinction Rebellion descended on City Hall to protest the extraction of fossil fuels and raise awareness about a crisis that threatens the very survival of humankind. Patch reports that police have arrested 62, with demonstrators laying down in the streets and climbing light poles to unfurl banners declaring a climate emergency. According to an April 14 press release, Extinction Rebellion has planned to “disrupt business as usual” in 80 cities across 33 countries, from India to Australia and throughout Europe and the U.S. Truthdig’s Michael Nigro reports from downtown New York.

    • This Earth Day, Beware of Greenwashing

      This Earth Day, I’d like to warn you about “greenwashing.” That’s the practice of corporations branding their products “eco-friendly,” even when they actually pollute, to deceive environmentally concerned customers.

      Even if you’ve heard nothing about greenwashing, you’ve probably read about the Volkswagen emissions scandal, “Dieselgate.”

      A few years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many Volkswagen cars being sold in America had been outfitted with software that enabled their diesel engines to detect when they were being tested. This allowed the engines to improve emissions performance under controlled laboratory conditions.

      But out on the road, the engines were emitting 40 times above the nitrogen oxide pollutant levels allowed in the United States. The software was simply covering that up.

      Volkswagen apologized for the scandal and recalled its cars. But for customers who bought from the company thinking they were having a positive impact on the environment, the damage was already done. Volkswagen had successfully duped them — while also doing enormous environmental destruction.

      Unfortunately, Volkswagen is nowhere close to alone. Greenwashing has a deep history dating back to the start of the modern environmental movement in the 1960s. Since then, no industry has been immune to greenwashing.

    • Ways to Save the World

      With all the doom-and-gloom studies that have come out about climate change, you might be feeling a little guilty about your carbon footprint. Did you turn off the lights when you left for work this morning? Or leave the air conditioner running?

      Doing what you can individually to bring down greenhouse gas emissions is important to keep in mind this Earth Day, April 22, although this can only make so big a dent. If we really want to make a difference, we have to confront the problem at its source and euthanize the fossil fuel industry.

      The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, as is necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences, will require huge reductions in the use of coal, oil and gas by mid-century. Meanwhile, a recent analysis by Carbon Tracker found that 92 percent of top oil and gas companies directly incentivize growth in fossil fuel “production, reserves, or both.”

    • Watchdog Sounds Alarm Over Regulatory Capture as New Reporting Shows Nuclear Plants Unprepared for Climate Crisis

      New reporting highlights how the nation’s nuclear power plants are woefully unprepared to handle the growing impacts of the climate crisis.

      Despite that threat, says a watchdog, the industry’s regulatory capture means its interests are set to continue to take precedence over public health and safety.

      As Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle and Jeremy C.F. Lin laid out Thursday, in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tasked the roughly 60 operating plants in the U.S. with assessing what their flood risks were compared to what flood risks the plants were actually built to withstand.

      That was a logical step, given many of the American plants’ proximity to waterways, and the heightened risk of flooding in the face of the climate crisis.

    • The Iran Floods and US Sanctions: 10 Million at Risk, But Who Cares?

      You have certainly not heard much about this in the West. And it didn’t get a fraction of the media attention (and none of the hundreds of millions of Euro pledges by the perversely rich) that the Notre Dame fire did.

      However, if disastrous floods had hit 28 out of 31 provinces and affected 10 million people in some European country or in the US, I believe you would have heard about it from Day One.

      But now it is Iran. Only the Iranians.

      The situation is disastrous but not so much because thousands have died. Rather, because floods of this magnitude are likely to have terrible long-term consequences for agricultural and other production, infrastructure, energy production, transport and daily lives (see pictures below and on the links).

    • A political stalemate over Puerto Rican aid is leaving all US disaster funding in limbo

      Senate Democrats recently blocked US$13.5 billion in relief for Americans whose lives were disrupted by hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding and other natural disasters. The objections had to do with Puerto Rico.

      In addition to aid for Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, this bill included $600 million to cover six months’ worth of nutritional assistance requested by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But Democrats refused to back the bill because it lacked funds that would protect the island from floods and rebuild its electrical grid.

      The result is an impasse between a Congress that wants to assist a U.S. territory in distress and a hostile White House. As the daughter of Puerto Ricans who moved to the mainland and a policy analyst of racial inequities, I’m concerned that the Trump administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico is based in racial bias.

    • Noam Chomsky: The Green New Deal Is Exactly the Right Idea

      Supporters of the Green New Deal are launching a nationwide tour Thursday to build support for the congressional resolution to transform the U.S. economy through funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Democracy Now! spoke with Noam Chomsky about the Green New Deal and the lessons of the old New Deal in Boston last week.

    • 5 Ways to Celebrate National Parks Week

      Happy National Parks Week! This year, between April 20 and 28, escape to the beautiful national parks — either in person or in your imagination — and celebrate the amazing wildlife that calls these spaces home.

  • Finance
    • Getting Serious About Power

      t was 1971 and Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, who had been president of the American Bar Association and a member of the board of the giant tobacco company Philip Morris, had come to believe that American capitalism was facing a dire threat. Americans were angry about corporate abuse and corporate pollution; President Richard M. Nixon had responded by signing the National Environmental Policy Act and creating the Environmental Protection Agency through executive order. Across the country, activists marched for Earth Day, and Congress passed the first air pollution standards. Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates had successfully fought for safer cars and other products.

      [...]

      The Democracy Alliance, created in 2005, attempted to remedy that anarchy, with mixed success. It was launched with a smart PowerPoint elaborating on how the left should respond. But, as current Democracy Alliance president Gara LaMarche admits, “liberal values aren’t command and control. It’s a steep climb to get donors to consider collective aims. The right believes in long-term funding and general operating support while the left requires groups to perform against metrics in project grants and cuts them off after a short time to fund something new.”

      Progressives are unlikely to adopt the hierarchical approach that works on the right, but we do need something like a Powell Memo of our own, an overarching strategy that focuses on winning and maintaining power, not just on issues; one that recognizes the need for large-scale and long-term investment in progressive infrastructure—think tanks to generate ideas, media to disseminate them, lawmakers to enact them, and judges to uphold them. Right-wing foundations are indeed famous for long-term funding of core institutions. Liberal foundations tend to have short attention spans. For our ideas to take hold and remain strong, we need to understand that long-term victories will require locking in democracy with a small d: nonpartisan districts, broad access to the voting booth, and fair-minded judges.

    • Refused U.S. Visa Eight Times, Zoom CEO Is Now a Billionaire

      Yuan, Zoom’s chief executive officer, joins Alphabet Inc.’s Sergey Brin, Nvidia’s Jensen Huang and Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk as immigrants who became billionaires after helping create Silicon Valley companies. The U.S. is the favored country for more than three-quarters of wealthy Chinese looking to emigrate, according to the Hurun Research Institute and immigration adviser Visas Consulting Group.

    • Nuclear Lobbying Power: N.J. Utility Customers Will Pay $300M in Subsidies

      After a long, expensive lobbying effort over the fate of nuclear power in New Jersey, the energy company PSEG on Thursday secured $300 million in subsidies for the state’s aging nuclear plants.

      It was an important victory for PSEG, which had threatened to close the three plants, and for the nuclear power industry as it seeks to preserve its place in the energy market amid an abundant supply of natural gas.

      And in New Jersey, the vote by the Board of Public Utilities laid bare the effectiveness of the efforts, as board commissioners voted yes even as some of them expressed doubts about the need for subsidies.

      “The board is being directed to pay ransom, and the hostages are the citizens of New Jersey,” said Commissioner Bob Gordon, a former state legislator, who voted for the subsidy.

      Indeed, the 4-1 vote came despite findings by the board’s staff that the nuclear plants were financially viable and over the objections of the state’s chief advocate for utility customers.

    • U.S. to Allow Lawsuits Over Properties Seized by Castro’s Cuba

      The Trump administration on Wednesday opened the door for lawsuits against foreign firms operating on properties Cuba seized from Americans after the 1959 revolution.

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he won’t renew a bar on litigation that has been in place for two decades, meaning that lawsuits can be filed starting on May 2 when the current suspension expires. The decision could affect dozens of Canadian and European companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in compensation and interests.

      “Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement,” Pompeo said.

      Pompeo said the administration was acting because it recognized the “reality” that the bar on lawsuits, which has been in place since 1996, had not achieved the goal of pressing Cuba to enact democratic reforms or reining in what he called its export of oppression throughout the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Venezuela.

      “We see clearly that regime’s repression of its own people and unrepentant exportation of tyranny in the region has only gotten worse because dictators perceive appeasement as weakness, not strength,” he told reporters at the State Department.

    • Making Wall Street Pay for the Financial Crisis

      Last week, as Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., convened a House Financial Services Committee hearing, featuring the CEOs of Wall Street’s biggest banks, the financial watchdog group Better Markets released a stunning report on the banks’ criminal records: Wall Street’s Six Biggest Bailed-Out Banks: Their RAP Sheets and Their Ongoing Crime Spree

      The report profiled the records of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Detailing the staggering $8.2 trillion that was committed to bail out these banks when their excesses blew up the economy in 2008, the report laid out what it called their RAP sheets — the record of illegal activity for which they have been fined a cumulative total of $181 billion in over 350 major legal actions.

      The report concludes that these big banks “have engaged in — and continue to engage in — a crime spree that spans the violation of almost every law and rule imaginable. …That was the case not just before the 2008 crash, but also during and after the crash and their lifesaving bailouts. … In fact, the number of cases against the banks has actually increased relative to the pre-crash era.”

      The scope of the illegal activity is breathtaking — overcharging soldiers on their mortgages, conspiring to fix the price of credit card fees, massive improper foreclosure practices, billing customers for services never provided, rigging interest rates, violating sanctions against countries like Iran, and more. The large fines are, for these mega-banks, merely a cost of doing business. And so the crime wave continues.

    • Making American Schools Less Great Again

      Three weeks ago, I sat in a cramped conference room in the large public high school where I teach in Beaverton, Oregon. I was listening to the principal deliver a scripted PowerPoint presentation on the $35 million budget deficit our district faces in the upcoming school year.

      Teachers and staff members slumped in chairs. A thick funk of disappointment, resignation, hopelessness, and simmering anger clung to us. After all, we’ve been here before. We know the drill: expect layoffs, ballooning class sizes, diminished instructional time, and not enough resources. Accept that the teacher-student relationship — one that has the potential to be productive and sometimes even transformative — will become, at best, transactional. Bodies will be crammed into too-small spaces, resources will dwindle, and learning will suffer. These budgetary crises are by now cyclical and completely familiar. Yet the thought of weathering another of them is devastating.

      This is the third time in my 14-year-career as a visual arts teacher that we’ve faced the upheaval, disruption, and chaos of just such a budget crisis. In 2012, the district experienced a massive shortfall that resulted in the firing of 344 teachers and bloated class sizes for those of us who were left. At one point, my Drawing I classroom studio — built to fit a maximum of 35 students — had more than 50 of them stuffed into it. We didn’t have enough chairs, tables, or spaces to draw, so we worked in the halls.

      During that semester I taught six separate classes and was responsible for more than 250 students. Despite the pretense that real instruction was taking place, teachers like me were largely engaged in crowd management and little more. All of the meaningful parts of the job — connecting with students, providing one-on-one support, helping struggling class members to make social and intellectual breakthroughs, not to speak of creating a healthy classroom community — simply fell by the wayside.

    • Stop the Gucci and Prada Talk

      Western leftists are obsessed with this topic. They do not even realize how ridiculous, how racist their arguments actually are!

      China, with some 6,000 years long history, 1.3 billion inhabitants and the second largest economy in the world, has almost eradicated extreme poverty in the cities, and in the countryside. For the first time in modern history, people are moving from the urban centers to the villages. The great Ecological Civilization effort is demonstrating to the world how to save the environment, and the planet. The country is firmly back with its brilliant model of “Communism with the Chinese characteristics”. Its foreign policy is more and more internationalist.

      But the more progressive, independent-minded and kind to its people China becomes, the more it is attacked and antagonized by the West. The more is its Communist model scrutinized, under the microscope.

    • In a Time of Cheap Fossil Fuels, Nuclear Power Companies Are Seeking — and Getting — Big Subsidies

      The energy company PSEG had a simple message for the New Jersey Legislature as it weighed the fate of three nuclear plants in the state.

      “What’s good for New Jersey is what’s good for PSEG,” Ralph Izzo, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, told the Legislature at a December 2017 hearing in Trenton. “What’s bad for New Jersey is bad for PSEG.”

      And with rock bottom natural gas prices, costly safety upgrades looming and energy usage flat, the outlook for the plants was bleak, he said. Within two years, the Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek nuclear plants in South Jersey would be “cash negative” and the company would have to close them, Izzo said.

      Hundreds of people would lose their jobs. And the state would lose a source of cleaner energy generation, forcing it to rely more heavily on natural gas. But the Legislature could avert that, Izzo said. To keep the plants open, PSEG would need about $300 million in subsidies over the next three years.

      It would be a “safety net” for the company’s nuclear operations in New Jersey, Izzo said. It would not, he emphasized, be “a bailout.”

      On Thursday, regulators in New Jersey are scheduled to decide whether PSEG has shown that it needs the subsidies, which would be paid for through a surcharge on all customer bills in the state. If the Board of Public Utilities approves the requests, New Jersey would join two other states, Illinois and New York, in giving nuclear power plants hundreds of millions of dollars in order to stay competitive in the wholesale energy market.

    • ‘Women Take Home Less Money Than They’ve Rightfully Earned’ – CounterSpin interview with Deborah Vagins on the gender pay gap

      Designating April 2 the day when US women’s salary “catches up” to men’s of the previous year, is a device, of course, a way to illustrate the gap that persists between what women and men are paid. Equal Pay Day is not, as The Root’s Maiysha Kai put it, a day to celebrate, but to educate, coordinate and advocate. Media can help or hinder that effort, and they do some of both.

    • A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide

      The gap between America’s ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is growing dramatically as wealth continues to concentrate at the top at the expense of the rest of us. One major symptom of this economic rift is the racial wealth divide, which is greater today than it was nearly four decades ago.

      The median Black family today owns $3,600 — just 2 percent of the $147,000 of wealth the median white family owns. At the extreme top, the Forbes 400 richest Americans own more wealth than all Black households, plus a quarter of Latinx households, combined.

      When analyzing the racial wealth divide, it’s important to note that this is a systemic issue — a result of policies, not individual behavior.

      Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State, emphasizes that the key ingredient of how successful you’ll be in America isn’t how hard you work individually — it’s how wealthy your family is.

    • What the Teapot Dome Scandal Has to Do With Trump’s Tax Returns

      There have been a lot of comparisons between President Donald Trump and President Richard Nixon, but Warren G. Harding’s 1920s administration — and the Teapot Dome scandal that tainted his presidency — may actually be a better guide to what’s going on right now. The scandal also helps address the question of whether Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal (D-MA) can lawfully request Trump’s tax returns from the IRS.

      This request takes on extra urgency in light of the news that Trump’s sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry recently retired from the federal bench, thereby ending an inquiry into her taxes. Both siblings stand accused by the New York Times of allegedly violating tax laws for years.

      On April 3, Chairman Neal asked the IRS to provide Trump’s personal tax returns and the tax returns of several of his business entities. As the debate unfolds over whether Congress has the authority to obtain the president’s tax returns, it’s worth considering two outcomes of Teapot Dome: (1) Congress has the authority to obtain the president’s tax returns and (2) Congress can compel testimony from hostile witnesses.

    • Amazon—and 56 Other Corporations—Took Your Tax Dollars

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, Bernie Sanders, castigator of the one percent, is a millionaire now. So are Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Big whoop. There’s a crucial difference between these candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and the super wealthy – particularly 60 gigantic, massively profitable U.S. corporations. The candidates faithfully pay federal taxes. The corporations don’t.

      That’s right. Sixty profitable corporations paid no federal taxes in 2018, twice the number that typically paid nothing in the years before the 2017 tax breaks took effect. In fact, it’s worse than that. Fifty-seven of these corporations demanded rebates from the government – which means taxpayers like you and me paid them to exist. These are corporations on the dole. They claim to hate socialism if it means Medicare for All, but they sure as hell love socialism when it’s welfare for them.

      Sanders, Harris, Warren and other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination paid their taxes because they are patriots. Most working Americans pay a fair share to support their country. True citizens pay so that their nation can thrive. They pay so that the United States can afford to educate its citizens, pave its roads, operate its courts, care for its vulnerable and sustain its military. They pay because they understand they have a duty to the country that nurtured them, that protects them and that they love.

      But too many U.S. corporations, which the U.S. Supreme Court has anointed with human rights, refuse to acknowledge their concomitant obligations. Corporations and the super wealthy pushed hard for the tax breaks Republicans bestowed on them in 2017. Fat cats paid untold tens of millions to dark money groups that served as cash cows for GOP candidates who, once elected, shepherded those tax breaks.

    • Two Russian brothers started a video game company and got onto Bloomberg’s billionaire list. Here’s their first long interview.

      In April, Bloomberg added Igor and Dmitry Bukhman to its list of U.S. dollar billionaires. The brothers, born in the northwest Russian city of Vologda, founded a video game company out of their hometown in 2004. Now, Playrix, which employs more than 1,000 employees and entertains about 30 million users every day with popular games like Homescapes and Township. The Bukhmans made their first games out of their Vologda apartment and almost immediately started raking in a profit. Now, Igor is 37 years old, Dmitry is 34, and each is said to have a net worth of $1.4 billion. We spoke with the Bukhmans about how they started making more money off their games, why they no longer live permanently in Russia, and what’s going on in the country’s domestic video game market today.

    • ‘Oppressed Labor’ Not Backing Down as Stop & Shop Strike Enters Second Week

      The New England Stop & Shop strike entered its eighth day Friday as the grocery store’s parent company continued to refuse to honor the union’s demand for a fair contract.

      At the heart of the dispute is an inability for Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch grocery conglomerate that owns Stop & Shop, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) to reach an agreement on a new contract. The sticking point is Ahold Delhaize’s refusal to back down from its demand that the grocery store’s workers take a cut in benefits—even as the parent company is reporting billions in profits.

      “We want our pension to be left the way it is, our healthcare not to be taken away from us, to keep our time and a half,” Watertown, Mass., striker Chris Pacitto told Hell World’s Luke O’Neil. “Everything that we fight for every day.”

      It’s the largest strike in at least three years for a private company and comes on the heels of two years of public school teacher strikes that have transfixed the country from West Virginia to Oakland, California.

      The strike, which affects 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, has closed “several dozen” stores—and the ones that are open, according to The Boston Globe, are struggling to keep fresh products in place.

    • Democrats Battle Over How to Raise the Minimum Wage

      The call for a $15 minimum wage is getting louder, and more people are hearing it. The Fight for $15 has won numerous victories, as states (including California and New York) and localities have passed their own laws to institute a $15 minimum wage—or even higher. In January, Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced the Raise the Wage Act (RTWA), which would make $15 the national wage floor by 2024. As of now, 31 Democratic senators and 205 House Democrats have signed on to the proposal.

      But Democrats need to persuade a few more members to ensure they can pass the bill in the House (it will go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate)—if all House members vote, the Democrats need 218. In early April, however, new legislation to raise the minimum wage was introduced by Democratic Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama. Instead of a universal minimum wage, this legislation calls for differing minimum-wage levels across the country, varying by region and cost of living. Only about a dozen Democrats have yet signed on to this legislation, and some who have signed on are also co-sponsors on the RTWA.

      Sewell’s act, as she said in a statement, “establishes a regional minimum wage structure that provides all minimum wage workers with a much-needed raise while protecting jobs, giving every community the flexibility to grow their economy and taking into account that the cost of living in Selma, Alabama is very different than New York City.” Regional wage proposals have been discussed over the past several years as an alternative to a national wage floor.

    • Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy

      The dominant American ideology has long claimed that capitalism is about democracy. It isn’t – and one need not be an anti-capitalist “radical” to know better. My old copy of Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines capitalism as “the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution … are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions: it has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth and, [in] its latter phase, by the growth of great corporations, increased government controls, etc.”

      There’s nothing—nada, zero, zip—about popular self-rule (democracy) in that definition. And there shouldn’t be. “Democracy and capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of power,” liberal economist Lester Thurow noted in the mid-1990s: “One [democracy] believes in a completely equal distribution of political power, ‘one man, one vote,’ while the other [capitalism] believes that it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of business and into extinction. … To put it in its starkest form, capitalism is perfectly compatible with slavery. Democracy is not.”

      Thurow might have added that capitalism is perfectly compatible with fascism, racism, nativism, sexism, militarism, and imperialism among other authoritarian and anti-democratic forces and formations. More than being merely compatible with slavery, moreover, U.S.-American capitalism arose largely on the basis of the Black cotton slave system in the nation’s pre-Civil War South. This is demonstrated at length in historian Edward Baptist’s prize-winning study The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

      “We must make our choice,” onetime Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is reputed to have said or written: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” This statement (whoever made it) was perhaps unintentionally anti-capitalist. Consistent with Webster’s(above), the historically astute French economist Thomas Piketty has shown that capitalism has always been inexorably pulled toward the concentration of wealth into ever fewer hands.

    • Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter

      Type the word “manslaughter” into any news search engine and up will come a series of stories of ordinary Americans charged with killing others through criminal negligence or recklessness.

      One such case that came up this month involved a Pennsylvania man who plead guilty to manslaughter. The man was accused of texting while driving and as a result killed a 12-year old girl walking on the side of the road. The driver obviously didn’t intend to kill the 12-year old girl. But due to his recklessness, he did. And he will now spend time in jail.

      If manslaughter charges can be brought against ordinary American citizens, why not against powerful American corporations and their executives?

      Two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets have crashed within five months leaving 346 dead. Early evidence of Boeing’s wrongdoing in the design of the 737 Max 8 and the company’s failure to train pilots to handle its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) warrants a criminal manslaughter prosecution of both the company and the responsible executives.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups

      In the past decade, people, companies and unions have dispensed more than $1 billion in dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The very definition of that phrase, to many critics, epitomizes the problem of shadowy political influence: Shielded by the cloak of anonymity, typically wealthy interests are permitted to pass limitless pools of cash through nonprofits to benefit candidates or political initiatives without contributing directly to campaigns.

      Such spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names — as long as politics isn’t the organization’s “primary activity.” The Internal Revenue Service has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard.

      But the IRS’ attempts to police this class of nonprofits have almost completely broken down, a ProPublica investigation reveals. Since 2015, thousands of complaints have streamed in — from citizens, public interest groups, IRS agents, government officials and more — that C4s are abusing the rules. But the agency has not stripped a single organization of its tax-exempt status for breaking spending rules during that period. (A handful of groups have had their status revoked for failing to file financial statements for three consecutive years.)

    • Trump raged at former White House counsel Don McGahn for taking notes about their conversations

      People familiar with Trump’s thought process said he was particularly incensed about McGahn’s contemporaneous notes, The Post reported.

    • Mueller identified ‘dozens’ of US rallies organized by Russian [astroturfer] farm

      Special counsel Robert Mueller in his highly-anticipated report said his team identified “dozens” of U.S. political rallies organized on social media by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian [astroturfer] farm that was later indicted for attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

    • Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”

      There are a number of things that stand out as the most relevant and interesting in Robert Mueller’s Special Council report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which was released in redacted form on Thursday. After consuming as much of the report as a person can without going blind or insane (I’m attempting to save you the trouble), here are what I see as the more alluring Mueller finds. Please note: save your harassment for someone else that Mueller got it all wrong, that Russia didn’t hack, that Assange was used etc. I’m only reporting and commenting on what Mueller claims to have found, not that he got it right. A few of these “findings” were already part of the public record and they are listed in chronological order, not by order of importance.

    • After Mueller Report, Progressives Say ‘Begin Impeachment Hearings Now’

      After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report detailed numerous instances in which President Donald Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice, progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups on Thursday made the case that it is the duty of Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

      “Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the president,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “As such, I’ll be signing onto Rashida Tlaib’s impeachment resolution.”

      Formally introduced last month, Tlaib’s resolution directs the House Judiciary Committee to immediately begin investigating whether Trump “committed impeachable offenses.”

    • Mueller Went Looking for a Conspiracy, What He Found Was Conflict and a Cover-Up — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      On Thursday, the “Trump, Inc.” team gathered with laptops, pizza and Post-its to disconnect — and to read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

      What we found was page after page of jaw-dropping details about the inner workings of the administration of President Donald Trump, meetings with foreign officials and plots to affect our elections. But we also found rich details on how Trump ran his business dealings in Russia, itself the subject of