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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 25 min ago

Indifference or Even Hostility Towards Patent Quality Results in Grave Injustice

8 hours 53 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 hours 29 min ago

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

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

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

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

  • Server
    • Why Chefs Collaborate in the Kitchen

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

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

      [...]

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

    • CentOS 8 Status 17-June-2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Nvidia pushes ARM supercomputing

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

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

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

    • Red Hat welcomes Oracle to the oVirt community

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

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

    • IBM-Powered Supercomputers Lead Semi-Annual Rankings
  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.1.11

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.11 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • A beginner’s guide to Linux permissions

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

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

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

      • Radeon Software for Linux 19.20 Brings RHEL 8.0 Support

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

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

  • Applications
    • How to use MapTool to build an interactive dungeon RPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Keen to learn more?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • PyGamer open source handheld gaming starter kit $59.95

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

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

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

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

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

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Konsole and Wayland

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

  • Distributions
    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Stable Release is out now and Check what’s new

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

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

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

      • PCLinuxOS 2019.06 latest Stable Release is ready for Download

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • DJI spices up Matrice drones with 2nd Gen Manifold computer running Ubuntu with snaps

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

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

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

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

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

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Cloudflare’s new open-source project helps anyone obtain truly random numbers

    Randomness sits at the heart of everything we do online

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

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

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

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

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

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly BSD 5.6

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

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

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

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

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

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • You Wouldn’t Download A Nuclear Reactor, But Could You?

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

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

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

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

    • Extending Wing with Python (Part Two)

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

    • Robbie Harwood: Receiving Code Review

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

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

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

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

    • Best Free Books to Learn about CoffeeScript

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Qt 5.12.4 Released with support for OpenSSL 1.1.1

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

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

    • Qt 5.12.4 Released with support for OpenSSL 1.1.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Five Tech Companies Discuss Golang Advantages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Water is a public good and belongs in public hands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Skyrocketing Drug Prices Have Americans Taking Desperate Measures

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

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

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

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

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Secret tripartite summit in Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Iran Speeds Up Uranium Enrichment as Mideast Tensions Mount

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

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

    • The Broader View Reveals the Ugliest of Prospects

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

    • Dominoes, Hegemonies and the Future of Humanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Some worry that wars may follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Ousted President Morsi Dies in Court During Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • John Pilger: Extradition Process a ‘Very Long Uphill Road’ for Assange

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

    • Sources: US to question Assange pal jailed in Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Two protesters arrested at Melbourne rally in defence of Assange

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

    • Freeing Julian Assange: Part Two

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

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

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

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Why Everybody Is So Excited About 23 Salmon

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

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

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

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

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

    • Landmark Coal Ash Bill Signals Hope for Midwest Communities

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

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

    • How These Farms Are Working to Fight Food Waste

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

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

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

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

    • G20 environment ministers agree to tackle marine plastic waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Divers set world record for cleaning debris from ocean floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Heat wave could sizzle Bay Area through Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Current Farm Crisis Offers Opportunity For Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Paris treaty would cut US heat peril

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Global Inequality in a Time of Climate Emergency

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

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

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

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The most unpopular presidential election winner ever could win again in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

      Experts accused the White House of escalating its war on science after President Donald Trump issued a Friday executive order slashing federal advisory committees by at least one-third.

      “It was death by a thousand cuts, now they are taking a knife to the jugular,” said Gretchen Goldman, a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

      “Make no mistake,” added volcanologist Jess Phoenix. “This is an all-out assault on science.”

      Trump’s order sets a September 30 deadline for each agency to make the cuts to the bodies formalized under 1972′s Federal Advisory Committee Act.

    • GOP Mutters, Quietly, as Trump Sidesteps Senate for Top Aides

      President Donald Trump’s latest anointment of an acting head of a major federal agency has prompted muttering, but no more than that, from Republican senators whose job description includes confirming top administration aides.

      Their reluctance to confront Trump comes as veterans of the confirmation process and analysts say he’s placed acting officials in key posts in significantly higher numbers than his recent predecessors. The practice lets him quickly, if temporarily, install allies in important positions while circumventing the Senate confirmation process, which can be risky with Republicans running the chamber by a slim 53-47 margin.

      The latest example is Ken Cuccinelli, who last week was named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He is an outspoken supporter of hard-line immigration policies and his appointment was opposed by some key Senate Republicans.

      Definitive listings of acting officials in Trump’s and other administrations are hard to come by because no agency keeps overall records. Yet Christina Kinane, an incoming political science professor at Yale, compiled data in her doctoral dissertation, “Control Without Confirmation: The Politics of Vacancies in Presidential Appointments.”

      Kinane found that from 1977 through mid-April of this year — the administrations of President Jimmy Carter through the first half of Trump’s — 266 individuals held Cabinet posts. Seventy-nine of them held their jobs on an acting basis, or 3 in 10.

    • A soccer player and an actor explain why they suddenly decided to join the same Moscow City Duma race as a high-profile opposition activist

      On June 15, the well-known Russian hospice advocate Nyuta Federmesser announced her decision to drop out of the race for a Moscow City Duma seat in the capital’s downtown. She had been planning to run in the city’s 43rd District, where she would have faced one of the area’s most prominent opposition activists: Lyubov Sobol is an attorney for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which is run by opposition politician Alexey Navalny. Sergey Mitrokhin, the former chairperson of the opposition-leaning Yabloko party, is also running in the same district, but he is viewed as a more likely collaborator for Moscow City Hall than Sobol. Alexey Navalny had publicly called on Federmesser not to run for the seat so as not to draw votes away from Sobol, and Federmesser’s decision to run also met with harsh criticism on social media. Immediately after the palliative care advocate withdrew from the 43rd District race, however, two new candidates entered it: former soccer player and Russian national team member Dmitry Bulykin and actor Andrey Sokolov. We asked both why they have decided so suddenly to run for this particular Moscow City Duma seat.

    • Microsoft & Pentagon are quietly hijacking US elections (by Lee Camp)

      Good news, folks! We have found the answer to the American rigged and rotten election system.
      The most trustworthy of corporations recently announced it is going to selflessly and patriotically secure our elections. It’s a small company run by vegans and powered by love. It goes by the name “Microsoft.” (You’re forgiven for never having heard of it.)

      The recent headlines were grandiose and thrilling:

      “Microsoft offers software tools to secure elections.”

      “Microsoft aims to modernize and secure voting with ElectionGuard.”

      Could anything be safer than software christened “ElectionGuard™”?! It has “guard” right there in the name. It’s as strong and trustworthy as the little-known Crotch Guard™ – an actual oil meant to be sprayed on one’s junk. I’m unclear as to why one sprays it on one’s junk, but perhaps it’s to secure your erections? (Because they’ve been micro-soft?)

    • Trump Wasn’t the Only Candidate to Test Our Campaign Laws

      By now, anyone who pays the slightest attention to politics knows that Donald Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an Oval Office interview last week that he would “take” opposition research on his 2020 election rivals, even from a foreign source like Russia, China or (eyeroll) Norway. Trump also said that he might not notify the FBI about his receipt of such information, and that FBI Director Christopher Wray was “wrong” to suggest in a recent Senate hearing that the law requires the bureau to be alerted.

      Trump’s remarks sent howls of “collusion” across the landscape of cable news and the mainstream press. Pundits asked if the president had forgotten the lessons of 2016 and the Mueller probe. Had Trump gone, in the words of New Yorker columnist Susan B. Glasser, from proclaiming “no collusion” to admitting that he was, after all was said and done, “pro-collusion?”

      In a rare display of unity, leading Democrats and Republicans assailed the president for apparently opening the door to a new round of election meddling. Even Lindsey Graham—Trump’s most loyal congressional enabler—gave the president a thumbs down. Asked by reporters if he would take foreign opposition research, Graham replied: “A foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no.”

      Graham was quick to add, however, that Democrats were just as culpable for paying ex-British spy Christopher Steele to prepare his much-ballyhooed dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia. “I hope my Democrat colleagues will be equally offended,” Graham said, “by the fact that this actually did happen in 2016 where a foreign agent was paid for by a political party to gather opposition research. All those things are wrong.”

    • ‘Virginia Voters Are Finally Getting Fair Maps’: Rights Advocates Celebrate US Supreme Court Ruling on Racial Gerrymandering

      Voting rights advocates celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday ruling on a racial gerrymandering case that, as Common Cause put it, “means Virginia voters are finally getting #fairmaps!”

      “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is an important victory for African Americans in Virginia who have been forced since 2011 to vote in racially gerrymandered districts that unfairly diluted their power,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), said in a statement Monday.

      “With a new, fair map in place, all Virginians will now—finally—have the opportunity this fall to elect a House of Delegates that actually represents the will of the people,” added Holder. An NDRC affiliate, the National Redistricting Foundation, supported voters in the case.

      In a 5-4 decision (pdf), the justices dismissed a challenge to a 2018 ruling (pdf) by a panel of federal judges from the Eastern District of Virginia which determined that 11 state legislative districts drawn after the 2010 census were racially gerrymandered by Republicans and must be redrawn by a nonpartisan expert for the 2019 election.

    • Wall Street Donors Are Swooning for Mayor Pete. (They Like Biden and Harris, Too.)

      Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him. These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.

    • Wall Street Has Its Top Democratic Hopefuls All Picked Out

      The Iowa caucus is still more than six months away and the Democratic Party has yet to hold its first primary debate, but Wall Street is already zeroing in on its favorites for 2020. To the surprise of nobody, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are conspicuously absent from its list of preferred candidates.

      According to The New York Times, the financial industry is throwing its support behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as well as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden. The article notes that the same New York donors have also given to the campaigns of local politicians Sen. Kirtsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

      “Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him,” writes the Times’ Shane Goldmacher. “These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.”

      Goldmacher’s findings follow a separate Times report from April that revealed “long-time party financier” Bernard Schwartz had hosted a series of Democratic dinners in New York and Washington in which members of the party’s corporate wing actively discussed how to slow Sanders’ momentum. (At the time, the Vermont senator had raised more than $18 million from individual donors, and there was a “growing realization” among strategists that he could “end up winning this thing.”) Those gatherings included such prominent names as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Buttigieg himself.

    • In Barcelona, Being a Fearless City Mayor Means Letting the People Decide

      Losing Barcelona. That was the headline on the story in Jacobin this week. A local vote in a far-off city; had I not just returned from Barcelona, I might have left it at that. possibilitiy

      The truth is, US media give us so little coverage of goings-on elsewhere, and so little context as to why Americans should care, there’s little incentive to keep up; but Barcelona’s different. For close to a decade now, it’s been what my friend Sol Trumbo Vila calls a beacon for the possibilities of transformative change at the city level.

      [...]

      But Losing Barcelona? Maragall and Colau actually stood neck and neck in council seats when the Jacobin article appeared. They were both left of center parties. Colau could have teamed up with him to stay in government but lose the Mayor’s post, or she could have partnered with more left-of-center winners—Pedro Sanchez’s socialist party (PP), which came in second after a high profile surge in national elections earlier in the month. In the end, Colau was re-elected mayor by the city council with the support of the Socialists and the backing of former French prime minister, Manuel Valls.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • EFF’s Recommendations for Consumer Data Privacy Laws

      We have long sounded the alarm against federal legislation that would wipe the slate clean of stronger state privacy laws in exchange for one, weaker federal one. Avoiding such preemption of state laws is our top priority when reviewing federal privacy bills.

      State legislatures have long been known as “laboratories of democracy” and they are serving that role now for data privacy protections. In addition to passing strong laws, state legislation also allows for a more dynamic dialogue as technology and social norms continue to change. Last year, Vermont enacted a law reining in data brokers, and California enacted its Consumer Privacy Act. Nearly a decade ago, Illinois enacted its Biometric Information Privacy Act. Many other states have passed data privacy laws and many are considering data privacy bills.

      But some tech giants aren’t happy about that, and they are trying to get Congress to pass a weak federal data privacy law that would foreclose state efforts. They are right about one thing: it would be helpful to have one nationwide set of protections. However, consumers lose—and big tech companies win—if those federal protections are weaker than state protections.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Daily Dose of Protest: Killer Whale and Sadfluid – Dark Smith

      The white supremacists rallying cry expresses a paranoia that the white male Christian power structure is under attack. Racists, homophobes and misogynists want to preserve the oppressive status quo, which benefits them at the expense of the marginalized.

      The Seattle-based queer dreampunk band Dark Smith tackles these narrow-minded bigoted views on their latest album Degressive.

      Two tracks that challenge these racists and patriarchal power structures are “Killer Whale” and “Sadfluid.”

      “Killer Whale” directly addresses the “You will not replace us” crowd with the counter-point argument, “I’ve got a message for the master race. You’re about to be replaced.”

    • ‘Everybody Has the Right to Live’: The Visionary Budget at the Heart of Our Moral Uprising

      As we have traveled around these yet to be United States of America, from Appalachia to Alabama, California to the Carolinas, Mississippi to Maine, the delta of the south to the coal miner’s home in Kentucky, we have seen the pain and heard the cry of every race, creed, color, and sexuality that our moral values and economic policies are out of sync. Indeed, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has suggested, our state and national budgets prove that many of our elected leaders and their lobbyists treasure the military, corporate tax cuts, and welfare for the wealthy while they give rugged individualism, shame and blame, unfair wages, and a shredded social safety net to the poor.

      This is a willful act of policy violence at a time when there are 140 million poor and low-income people – over 43.5% of the population – in the richest country in the history of the world. This includes 39 million children, 74.2 million women, 60.4% or 26 million Black people, 64.1% or 38 million Latinx people, 40.8% or 8 million Asian people, 58.9% or 2.14 million Native and Indigenous people, and 33.5% or 66 million White people. Increasing the harm on these 140 million, since 2010, there has been an onslaught of attacks on voting rights in state legislatures: racialized voter suppression and gerrymandering have helped to smuggle state leaders into office, who then turn around and pass policies that hurt the poor and marginalized. Life-giving social programs are being eviscerated to make way for increased spending on war, militarizing our border, and tax payouts to Wall Street.

    • “16 Shots”: Chicago Police Killing of Laquan McDonald Exposed a System Built on Lies

      The documentary “16 Shots” examines the 2014 murder of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald in Chicago and the attempt by the city’s police department to cover up the events. McDonald, who was 17, was shot 16 times by former police officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was found guilty in 2018 of second-degree murder and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for McDonald’s murder. He was also found guilty on 16 counts of aggravated battery—one count for each of the 16 bullets he fired at McDonald. The film is screening on Showtime. We speak with Rick Rowley, director of “16 Shots.”

    • Teens in Cage Protest Trump Immigration Policies Outside UN, Demanding Action From Human Rights Council

      While an audio recording of detained migrant children crying played in the background, teenagers in T-shirts that read #ClassroomsNotCages stood in a metal cage outside the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva Monday to protest the Trump administration’s “cruel” immigration policies.

      The action was part of a demonstration that aimed to draw attention to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s consideration of a complaint (pdf) filed last year by unions, faith organizations, and human and civil rights groups about the “inhumane [U.S.] policy of tearing immigrant children from their families who come to our borders seeking asylum and protection.”

    • Report: ORG Regulation Report II

      There is a legacy of Internet regulation in the UK that does not comply with due process, fairness and fundamental rights requirements. This includes: bulk domain suspensions by Nominet at police request without prior authorisation; the lack of an independent legal authorisation process for Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) blocking at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and in the future by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), as well as for Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) notifications to platforms of illegal content for takedown. These were detailed in our previous report.

      The UK government now proposes new controls on Internet content, claiming that it wants to ensure “the same rules online as offline”. It says it wants “harmful” content removed, while respecting human rights and protecting free expression.

      Yet proposals in the DCMS/Home Office White Paper on Online Harms will create incentives for Internet platforms such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to remove content without legal processes. This is not “the same rules online as offline”. It instead implies a privatisation of justice online, with the assumption that corporate policing must replace public justice for reasons of convenience. This goes against the advice of human rights standards that government has itself agreed to and against the advice of UN Special Rapporteurs.

    • Crying Children In Cages: This Is Not Somewhere Else

      Over 3,000 poor, brown children remain penned like animals in cages, sleeping alone under 68-cent blankets in freezing cells thanks to this regime’s “purposefully cruel” family separations. In recent days, as protesters from Florida to Geneva called for an end to the barbarity and the cretins in charge considered the new atrocity of replicating Japanese internment camps “layered in trauma,” things got real in New York City: Last week, immigrant rights advocates put up two dozen startling guerrilla art installations in two dozen carefully chosen landmark locations featuring a chain-link cage, a foil-wrapped “child,” and harrowing audio of real-life kids sobbing. The kick-in-the-gut art project by ad agency Badger & Winters, about 10 street artists and RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, is part of the group’s No Kids In Cages campaign. Arguing that “walking by is no longer an option,” RAICE’s campaign homepage urges viewers to “SHARE their stories online. ACT by telling Congress to pass Bill HR-541 – Keep Families Together Act. And SUPPORT organizations that are fighting to save and reunite children separated at our border. “This is not history,” they write. “This is happening now.”

    • Appeals Court To Cops: There’s Nothing Inherently Suspicious About Running From The Police

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just handed down a refresher [PDF] on a few legal issues, most notably what is or isn’t “reasonable” when it comes to suspicion. Police officers thought an anonymous tip about a man carrying a gun and someone running away from them created enough suspicion to chase down Daniel Brown, stop him at gunpoint, and search him for contraband.

      Contraband was found, leading to Brown’s motion to suppress. The lower court said this combination — an anonymous report of a gun and Brown’s decision to run when he saw the police cruiser — was reasonable enough. Not so, says the Ninth Circuit, pointing out the obvious fact that a person carrying a gun can’t be inherently suspicious in a state where carrying a gun in public is permitted.

    • ‘Brink of Catastrophe’ as Trump Muslim Ban Keeps Refugees in Limbo

      President Donald Trump’s near-total ban on immigration to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries, known colloquially as the “Muslim ban,” is having widespread negative effects on refugees in the Middle East, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

      In the new report, The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us, Amnesty interviewed nearly 50 refugees stuck in Lebanon and Jordan due to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Hundreds of families from war-torn regions of the Arab world, from Sudan to Syria, are “locked in an impossible limbo” waiting for the U.S. government to act either way on their asylum applications.

      “These are families who put their trust in the United States at their most desperate hour, and now find themselves on the brink of catastrophe through absolutely no fault of their own,” Amnesty researcher Denise Bell said in a statement.

      One refugee interviewed by Amnesty, named in the report as “Malik,” has been waiting to go to the U.S. from Beirut after fleeing Baghdad with his family for fear of religious persecution due to their Christian faith.

    • Massive Hong Kong Protests Demand Withdrawal of Extradition Bill, Leader’s Resignation

      As many as 2 million protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. Protesters also called for the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and other top officials who pushed for the extradition bill. Lam has apologized for her handling of the legislation and indefinitely delayed a vote on the bill; however, the bill has not been fully withdrawn. Critics of the extradition bill say it would infringe on Hong Kong’s independence and the legal and human rights of Hong Kong residents and visitors. Just a few days ago, police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray at tens of thousands of demonstrators. We speak with Nathan Law, a pro-democracy activist who helped lead the Umbrella Movement, and Minky Worden, director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

    • After Serious 911 Mishaps, Rhode Island Will Now Pay for Better Training

      Rhode Island lawmakers are moving forward on a spending plan that includes money to train all 911 call takers to respond to cardiac arrests and other medical emergencies.

      The $220,000 earmarked in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins July 1, follows an investigation by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica that raised questions about whether the lack of training for the state’s 911 call takers is costing lives.

      The funding would, among other things, pay to train all 911 call takers to provide guidance over the phone on how to perform CPR on a person whose heart has stopped. The House Finance Committee approved the full budget by a vote of 12 to 3 shortly before midnight Friday, and it will be taken up by the full House later this week.

      “It’s gonna save peoples’ lives, without question,’’ said Dr. Joseph R. Lauro, an emergency physician and member of the Rhode Island chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which helped lead the push to improve training.

    • [Older] Request for Names of CIA Torturers Gets Boost From Ninth Circuit

      A Freedom of Information Act request for the identities of CIA agents who engaged in torture isn’t dead yet, the Ninth Circuit said May 1.

      The district court originally said it didn’t have jurisdiction over Stephen Yagman’s request because he didn’t reasonably describe the records requested. But in 2017, the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the lower court to give Yagman a chance to work with the CIA to craft an accurate request.

    • [Older] Guantánamo lawyers see issues in torture exhibit at spy museum

      Defence lawyers and critics say Washington museum’s display on US use of torture in wake of 9/11 sanitises the punishments.

    • [Older] Guantanamo defence lawyer calls Spy Museum torture exhibit ‘CIA propaganda’

      Last week, a group of defence lawyers working on the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay visited a new exhibit at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., about the use of torture by the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

      It wasn’t a fun field trip.

      “In what seems to be an effort to provide a balanced account of an issue that doesn’t require balance … I believe the Spy Museum has tilted way too far to include CIA propaganda about the torture program,” defence lawyer Alka Pradhan told As It Happens host Carol Off.

      The Spy Museum did not respond to As It Happens’ request for comment.

      Pradhan represents Guantanamo prisoner Ammar al-Baluchi, who has been charged with helping facilitate the Sept. 11 attacks. The torture he has faced in Guantanamo has been widely publicized.

      She first heard about the Spy Museum’s new exhibit on social media. After attending the exhibit in person, her concerns were not assuaged.

    • [Older] Theresa May told to ask Donald Trump for CIA torture flights report

      Theresa May is facing calls to ask Donald Trump for Scottish investigators to be given access to a classified intelligence report that may hold the key to whether secret CIA flights broke UK laws against torture.

      Police Scotland has spent six years examining whether planes used Scottish airports to transport terror suspects to be tortured or held at Guantanamo Bay.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Write more accessible Markdown images with this one simple trick

      Sometimes the people we exclude are the ones we did not realize were there. Screen readers are an essential tool for blind and visually-impaired people to use software and browse the Internet. In open source projects and communities, Markdown is a lightweight markup language used to format text. It is also used in many other places. Often you need to embed an image into whatever you are writing (a picture, a diagram, or some useful visual aid to get your point across). One of the lesser-known and used features of Markdown are alt tags for images.

    • Shockingly, Cable TV and Broadband Customer Satisfaction Is Still The Worst In America

      Every few years or so, giant cable and broadband companies like Comcast will proclaim that they’ve finally seen the light, and will be spending time shoring up their terrible customer service. Like a few years ago, when Comcast proclaimed it had hired a “Customer Experience VP” who would finally make addressing the company’s historically terrible customer service a top priority. CEO Brian Roberts also can be found at least once a year claiming that the company is going to finally address the problem by hiring better people, improving support systems, and generally revisiting the company’s policies.

      But year after year, big cable and broadband companies fail to deliver. Case in point: the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index was recently released, and ISPs and cable providers continue to see the worst customer satisfaction scores in America. These companies are so bad at what they do, they’re routinely bested by even everybody’s favorite punching bag: the IRS.

    • The 9 Best Search Engines to Explore the Invisible Web

      Can we imagine a life without Search Engines? Think about it for the next two minutes.. you still will have no answer! The fact is that only because of Search Engines our life has become smoother and the internet has become dearer!

      But, here comes a twist! Would you feel betrayed when I tell you that these search engines, in fact, show you a very small percentage of data that is dumped on the web! Well, that’s right, the data that is visible to us is called the Surface Web and that which is not visible is called the Invisible Web.

      Invisible Web is also known as Deep Web and they are not easily accessible through the normal Search Engine.

    • Comcast Forgets To Delete Evidence It’s Using Evil Fansubs In Its Streaming Service

      The war on fan-made subtitles waged by the entertainment industry has been going on for a long, long time. While fansubs could, and probably should, be viewed as a potential boon to the entertainment industry, allowing those in far-flung lands to suddenly enjoy its products, fansubs have instead been painted as an aid to pirated content overseas or, in some cases, as copyright infringement themselves, given that they essentially copy parts of the content scripts.

      If nothing else is clear as a result of this introduction, it should be that major industry players absolutely hate fansubs.

      … Except when they can make use of them, apparently, as Comcast-owned Swiss broadcaster Sky had been found using fansubs in its streaming service in the dumbest way possible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Patent case: Bauteilverbindungsvorrichtung, Germany

      The Federal Court of Justice held that introducing only selected features of an example into a claim is allowable if the resulting combination in the claimed generality is derivable from the application as originally filed. Further, a general incentive from the prior art does not render the specific embodiment of an invention obvious.

    • Huawei Now Using Patent Claims To Demand $1 Billion From Verizon, As The US Tries To Chase Huawei Out Of The US Market

      This one combines a few stories that we’ve covered a lot over the years, showing how they’re intersecting. For some time now we’ve been covering the US’s evidence-free attacks on Huawei, the Chinese telco equipment giant. Basically, for years, there have been stories insisting that Huawei is too closely linked to the Chinese government, leading to fear mongering stories saying that the company should be effectively barred from the US. However, multiple attempts to find security flaws in Huawei’s products have failed to show any kind of backdoors, and the fact that US-based Huawei competitors often seem to be making the loudest noises about the Chinese giant should raise some eyebrows.

      The other story we’ve covered a lot is around China and patents. For years and years, US companies (and policymakers) would go on and on about how Chinese companies didn’t respect US patents, and demanding that China “must respect our IP.” As we’ve highlighted for years, the Chinese government realized a decade or so ago that since the US kept trying to apply diplomatic pressure to “respect patents,” China realized it could just start using patents as an economic weapon. The number of patents granted in China started to shoot up, and (surprise surprise) suddenly in legal disputes, Chinese companies were using patents to block American competitors. And the US couldn’t really complain since it was the US that demanded China “respect patents” so much.

    • Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Holds Hearings on Proposed Revisions to 35 U.S.C. § 101 [Ed: The patent maximalist (he profits from patent lawsuits) Michael Borella promotes the rigged ‘panels’ that merely discredited Senate]

      On June 4, 5, and 11, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held hearings on its recent proposal to revise 35 U.S.C. § 101, and in particular the current draft bill to do so. Chairman Tillis and Ranking Member Coons (with an occasional third senator in the room) heard testimony from 45 individuals representing a broad swathe of patent expertise including industry executives and groups, inventors, a former Federal Circuit judge, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials, and law professors. Notably absent were representatives of high-tech companies, though a software industry association representing many of these organizations sent an envoy.

      The motivation behind the bill and these hearings was the widespread understanding that a series of Supreme Court decisions in the last decade (most recently Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l) had “made a hash” of patent eligibility. The intent behind the draft bill was to offer clarity with regard to what technologies and scientific discoveries are eligible for patenting.

    • Trademarks
      • The slow disappearance of disclaimers: the CJEU decision in Hansson, C-705/17

        As readers might remember, a disclaimer consists of a note recording a statement of waiver which accompanies the registration of a trade mark when it is composed of more elements and it contains descriptive or general words. The aim of the disclaimer is to make it clear that the descriptive element is not covered by exclusive rights.

        The European trade marks system has permitted the use of disclaimer until the repealing of Regulation 207/2009 (as for 23 March 2016). According to the Study on the overall functioning of the European Trade Mark System, only few national trade marks systems envisage(d) [read on] disclaimers. More precisely, Sweden, Ireland and Latvia have (had) them.

    • Copyrights
      • Once More With Feeling: There Is No Legal Distinction Between A ‘Platform’ And A ‘Publisher’

        Amusingly, this actually reminded me of articles I had written over a decade ago, talking up why Google and Facebook needed to become a new kind of internet platform — which I meant in the same manner as Madrigal describes above and which most people talking about “platforms” meant in the mid-aughts. It meant a system on which others could develop new applications and services. I have to admit that I don’t know quite how and when the world switched to calling general internet services “platforms” instead, and I’m just as guilty of doing so as others.

        I have two quick thoughts on why this may have happened before I get back to Madrigal’s piece. First, many of the discussions around these big internet companies didn’t really have a good descriptive term. When talking about the law, things like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act refer to them as “interactive computer services” which is awkward. And the DMCA refers to them as “service providers,” which is quite confusing, because “internet service provider” has an existing (and somewhat different) meaning, as the company who provides you internet access. Ideally, those company should be called “internet access providers” (IAPs) rather than ISPs, but what’s done is done. And, then of course, there’s the equally awkward term “intermediary,” which just confuses the hell out of most non-lawyers (and some lawyers). So “platform” came out in the wash as the most useful, least awkward option.

        And if Madrigal’s piece had just stuck with that interesting historical shift, and maybe dug into things like I did in the previous paragraph, that might be really compelling. Unfortunately, Madrigal goes a step or two further — and one that goes right up to the line (though it doesn’t totally cross it) of suggesting that there’s some legal significance to calling oneself a platform. This is something we’ve seen too many reporters do of late, spreading a false impression that internet “platforms” somehow get magic protections that internet “publishers” don’t get.

        As we’ve explained there is literally no distinction here. Usually people are making this argument with regards to CDA 230′s protections, but as we’ve discussed in great detail that law makes no distinction between a “platform” and a “publisher.” Instead, it applies to all “interactive computer services” including any publisher, so long as they host 3rd party content. Madrigal’s piece doesn’t call out CDA 230 the way others have, but, unfortunately, his piece absolutely can be read in a misleading way to suggest that there is some magical legal distinction here that matters. Specifically this part:

      • The ‘Platform’ Excuse Is Dying

        Technology companies have long had a simple answer to anyone who did not like what was happening on, in, or through them: Services like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were platforms, which merely provided the tools for free expression, and not publishers or broadcasters responsible for the content they distributed. It was in that spirit that the head of policy at Facebook, Monika Bickert, defended leaving up a misleadingly altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” Bickert said.

        In the same vein, YouTube initially defended the YouTuber Steven Crowder’s ability to post videos taunting Carlos Maza, a Vox video producer who is gay, with homophobic slurs. “As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone—from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts—to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site,” YouTube’s official account tweeted. “Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint.”

      • Polish Government’s Legal Challenge To EU Copyright Directive’s Article 13/17 Remains Shrouded In Mystery, But Details May Not Matter

        The awful Article 13/17 of the EU’s Copyright Directive only seems to have passed thanks to some MEPs voting for it by mistake. But the European Parliament was not the only arm of the European Union where there was strong resistance to the awful ideas contained in the upload filter proposal. Some individual governments were also against aspects of the law. For example, right at the end of the legislative process, in April 2019, no less than seven EU nations expressed their serious concerns.

        [...]

        Those criticisms are made even more pointed by the reference to ACTA — the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that Polish citizens played an important part in helping to defeat in 2012. Using the hashtag #ACTA2 is a clear attempt to frame the Copyright Directive as more of the same bad stuff — with the hope that it will suffer the same fate.

        And yet despite that tantalizing tweet, the Polish government failed to provide any more details about what exactly its legal challenge against the Copyright Directive at the EU’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, (CJEU), involved. We do know that the complaint has been submitted, because the action has been assigned an official case number, C-401/19, but with all the fields containing placeholders at the time of writing.

        Tomasz Targosz, from the Institute of Intellectual Property Law, Jagiellonian University Kraków, has written an interesting post on the Kluwer Copyright Blog about the Polish move. In it, he provides invaluable information about the political context for this unexpected development. He points out that the failure to publish the official complaint may indicate that the argument it employs is weak, and unlikely to stand up to expert scrutiny. B

      • Sharing community and breaking the fast: CC Jordan’s 2019 Iftar

        Just last month, Muslims all over the world celebrated the holy month of Ramadan, the month of prosperity, sharing and spiritual healing. Since 2010, Arab world–based Creative Commons communities have celebrated Ramadan by organizing “Creative Commons Iftars” (CC Iftar) across the region.

        A CC Iftar is a social event, organized by the CC chapter’s community members, where members gather to break the fast, share the table and food, engage in conversations and discuss innovation, technology, and their community’s role as a CC Chapter. The Iftars are built around the basis of CC’s vision of sharing and giving from the community to the community. The Iftar has different goals depending on the chapter’s priorities, but the main objective of the CC Iftar is to share a meal with the CC community, friends and partners.

      • Prenda Mastermind Gets 14 Years In Prison, Told To Pay Back Just $1.5 Million

        The process may have taken forever, but Paul “welcome to the big leagues” Hansmeier, who was the apparent mastermind behind the Prenda copyright trolling scam has finally been sentenced to 14 years in prison, and told to repay $1.5 million to 704 victims of his scam. We’ve been covering the actions of Hansmeier and his partner in crime, John Steele, going back many, many years now. None of us have the time to recount all of the many scams they’ve pulled, but they took copyright trolling to new lows. They tried using Florida’s “pure bill of discovery” rules to try to abuse the system to get names to shakedown based on IP addresses. They sent totally unqualified and unprepared “associates” into courts to try to hide their own involvement in cases, they abused the CFAA by pretending movies they uploaded themselves were “hacked” in an attempt to get around restrictions on copyright trolling, they got someone they threatened to sue to basically take a dive in order to get access to other people to shake down (and then they went after that guy anyway). Oh, and then there was the whole thing about setting up their own fake movie production house, creating their own porn films to upload themselves, and then pretending in court that they were not the owners of the company in questions. And we don’t even have much time to get into the time Steele tried to forge the signature of his housekeeper to pretend he was the actual officer of one of those fake shell companies.

      • After RIAA Targets DJ & Producer Site Mixstep, Site Shuts Down

        A site created to allow DJs and producers to upload their work has shut itself down after being targeted by the RIAA. The operator of Mixstep informs TorrentFreak that despite banning errant users, tackling allegedly-infringing uploads is too much for the no-profit service.

      • Namecheap ‘Suspends’ Domain of File-hosting Service Nofile.io

        Namecheap has suspended the domain of file-hosting service Nofile.io. The suspension follows a few weeks after the RIAA targeted the site and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the music group’s inquiry directly or indirectly spurred the domain registrar into action.

      • ‘Pirating’ Cox Business Subscriber Can Remain Anonymous, Court Rules

        ISP Cox Communications recently agreed to identify thousands of business subscribers accused of sharing pirated material. The disclosure, part of the piracy liability lawsuit filed by several music labels, was protested with success by a lone business subscriber. The identities of thousands of other subscribers who didn’t object will be revealed nonetheless.

‘AI Taskforce’ is Actually a Taskforce for Software Patents

Tuesday 18th of June 2019 06:54:16 AM

Published Sunday:

Summary: The mainstream media has been calling just about everything “HEY HI!” (AI), but what it typically refers to is a family of old algorithms being applied in possibly new areas; patent maximalists in eastern Asia and the West hope that this mainstream media’s obsession can be leveraged to justify new kinds of patents on code

W

e have recently published several articles about how the European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) leveraged a bunch of meaningless buzzwords and misnomers to bypass whatever barriers exist to software patenting. It happened again in Korea last week [1, 2]. António Campinos still promotes software patents in Europe using the “AI” hype like Battistelli did and sometimes the nonsense that is “4IR” or “Industry 4.0″ or whatever the media fancies (or paid to fancy; the EPO paid some publishers to promote these terms and the money was disguised with the veneer of “study” or “research”).

“The EPO facilitates such patents mostly through buzzwords; it doesn’t care what European courts say.”Earlier this week D Young & Co LLP’s Arun Roy and Jonathan Jackson wrote about misusing the "blockchain" hype wave to get illegal software patents (that actual courts would throw out). Other law firms have just mentioned that ludicrous “AI taskforce” — a Trojan horse by which to enable software patents worldwide, in clear defiance of courts, using the “HEY HI!” hype wave (see the new paper from Prof. Clark D. Asay, entitled Artificial Stupidity).

To quote:

On June 13th 2019, the heads of the five largest patent offices in the world held their annual meeting in Incheon, Korea. The five patent offices, commonly known as the IP5 consist of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These offices are said to handle over 85% of the world’s patent applications. Apart from the five heads of the IP5, the meeting was attended by the Director of WIPO, Francis Gurry and chaired by KIPO Commissioner, Park Wonjoo. Representatives of the IP5 held discussions on various subjects including classification of emerging technologies, enhanced work sharing and harmonization of patent practices between the Office’s. Talks were also held in order to bring improvement to the Global Dossier services. The highlight of the event was the decision to collaborate with each other in order to launch a New Emerging Technologies and AI Taskforce that’s aims to establish initiatives to harness global technological developments. The next Annual meeting of the IP5 will take place in 2020 at CNIPA.

So the low-quality (patent quality) Chinese patent office will be next to lead? It’s the only patent office (among the large ones) that explicitly permits software patents, right? The EPO facilitates such patents mostly through buzzwords; it doesn’t care what European courts say. EPO officials don’t even appear in court when summoned to participate (over allegations of their corruption in Zagreb). It’s worth noting that Topić IP, Željko Topić‘s private outfit, is still marked as “under construction” (the English page). He left half a year ago, so now he’s ‘monetising’ a career of abuse in Croatia and the EPO (Munich, Germany). Above the law? Certainly. Would anyone look for legal advice from such people? Asking such people to advise on law is like asking pedophiles for child daycare recommendations.

Patent Maximalism is Dead in the United States

Tuesday 18th of June 2019 05:52:08 AM

Summary: Last-ditch efforts, or a desperate final attempt to water down 35 U.S.C. § 101, isn’t succeeding; stacked panels are seen for what they really are and 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn't expected to change

THE latest (this morning's) daily links contain a lot of good news under “Intellectual Monopolies”. SCOTUS keeps declining Alice-like challenges (for the 43rd time), University of Minnesota proxies cannot invoke immunity/exemption from Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), prioritised examination is being scrutinised and so on. The patent maximalists aren’t saying much anymore; their blogs have become increasingly inactive and each month that goes by they have less and less to say. They’re becoming irrelevant. The USPTO‘s Director, Mr. Iancu, has been virtually invisible for months.

“The very purpose of these Senate hearings was very clear and those who organised these didn’t want anything balanced…”Gene Quinn of Watchtroll left as editor half a year ago. He now acknowledges (in “The Only Way to Counter False Claims on Patent Reform is to Enter the Debate”) that the patent hearings in the US Senate were rigged, or quite simply stacked. He admits there was an absence of voices in support of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and suggests that the problem is lack of participation by the lied-about side.

Is that so? No. Not really. The very purpose of these Senate hearings was very clear and those who organised these didn’t want anything balanced (these were designed for imbalance and were far from objective). People from groups such as CCIA and EFF pointed this out.

Links 18/6/2019: Linux 5.2 RC5 and OpenMandriva Lx 4

Tuesday 18th of June 2019 02:45:17 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Exclusive: Zorin OS And Star Labs Team Up To Offer A Beautiful Linux Laptop Experience

      It’s no secret I’m impressed with Zorin OS 15. The polished and user-friendly distro is worth paying attention to, especially as a gateway for beginners into the world of desktop Linux. In what, until today, would have been a totally unconnected observation, I’m also thrilled that Star Labs has popped up on my radar. The UK-based Linux laptop company has a worthy challenger to the Dell XPS 13, and Star Labs is beginning to make waves in the dedicated Linux hardware space. As someone who appreciates the efforts of both these entities, I’m thrilled to exclusively report that they’ll be joining forces.

      Beginning this Friday June 21 at 3pm UK time, Star Labs will begin offering Zorin OS 15 as a pre-loaded option on their entire range of laptop, which currently consists of the Star LabTop Mk III and Star Lite. Zorin OS compliments existing OS options of Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

    • Lenovo ThinkPad P Laptops Are Available with Ubuntu

      Dell may be the best-known Linux laptop vendor right now, but Lenovo is looking to muscle in on the pre-installed Linux machine market.

      All of Lenovo’s refreshed ThinkPad P series laptops will be available to buy with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS preinstalled when they go on sale in the US later this month.

      Oddly, Lenovo doesn’t mention Linux availability in their press release introducing the new ThinkPad P series laptops, but eagle-eyed Linux users spotted the additional OS option on when investigating the laptop’s ‘tech specs’ on the Lenovo website.

      The company says its refreshed P-series ‘portfolio’ is “…is designed to meet the ever-changing power and portability needs of modern professionals across industries – both in the office and beyond without sacrificing our legendary engineering know-how, reliability and security.”

    • Lenovo shipping Ubuntu Linux on 2019 ThinkPad P-series models

      Lenovo’s newly-announced 2019 ThinkPad P-series mobile workstations can be purchased with Ubuntu, according to the ordering page on Lenovo’s website. ThinkPads have often been the laptop of choice for Linux users, as Lenovo historically does certify ThinkPad models for Linux use, though prior to this change, buyers were stuck paying the Windows tax for the unwanted bundled license of Windows.

      Applicable models can be configured with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and will be available this month. Though not offered as a preloadable option, the P-series is also certified for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    • Hack Computer review

      I bought a hack computer for $299 – it’s designed for teaching 8+ year olds programming. That’s not my intended use case, but I wanted to support a Linux pre-installed vendor with my purchase (I bought an OLPC back in the day in the buy-one give-one program).

      I only use a laptop for company events, which are usually 2-4 weeks a year. Otherwise, I use my desktop. I would have bought a machine with Ubuntu pre-installed if I was looking for more of a daily driver.

  • Server
    • Enhanced OpenShift Red Hat AMQ Broker container image for monitoring

      Previously, I blogged about how to enhance your JBoss AMQ 6 container image for production: I explained how to externalise configuration and add Prometheus monitoring. While I already covered the topic well, I had to deal with this topic for version 7.2 of Red Hat AMQ Broker recently, and as things have slightly changed for this new release, I think it deserves an updated blog post!

      This post is a walk-through on how to enhance the base Red Hat AMQ Broker container image to add monitoring. This time we’ll see how much easier it is to provide customizations, even without writing a new Dockerfile. We will even go a step further by providing a Grafana dashboard sample for visualising the broker metrics.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Building Ceph As Linux Of Storage: SoftIron Founder Phil Straw

      During Kubecon + CloudNativeCon in Barcelona TFIR Publisher & Editor, Swapnil Bhartiya sat down with Phil Straw, founder and CTO of SoftIron.

      SoftIron has built server appliances based on Ceph open source project. Their goal is to obstruct everything (hardware and software) and enable users to simply reap the benefits of Ceph.

    • Going Linux #370 · Run your business on Linux – Part 4

      After we discuss Bill’s latest adventure in distro hopping, we continue our series on Linux applications for running a business. This time, the we are discussing the business of being a writer. From applications to word processors to desktop publishing and graphic creation, Linux has applications for it all.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 150 – Our ad funded dystopian present

      Josh and Kurt talk about the future Chrome and ad blockers. There is a lot of nuance to unpack around this one. There are two versions of the Internet today. One with an ad blocker and one without. The Internet without an ad blocker is a dystopian nightmare. The actionable advice at the end of this one is to use Firefox.

    • Episode 70 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ve got a jam packed episode with new releases of applications and distros, new hardware, new games coming, and so much more. KDE announced the release of Plasma 5.16. AMD wasn’t finished yet, they announced new CPUs and GPU hardware at Computex. Matrix.org announced the milestone release of Matrix 1.0 and the Matrix.org Foundation. We also saw some releases from OBS, PeerTube, LMMS, and more. In Distro News, we’ll check out Crux, Endless OS and Enso OS. We got some interesting news from the Pine64 team about the PinePhone and then we’ll round out the show with some Linux Gaming News from Steam, Atari and a skateboarding birds game on Kickstarter. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

    • Linux Action News 110

      Elders in the community show us how to properly build services, Huawei is reportedly working on a Sailfish OS fork and Apple joins the Cloud Native club.

      Plus Facebook wants you to use their cryptocurrency, and CERN launches “The Microsoft Alternatives project”

    • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Weekly News #135
    • Podcast.__init__: Algorithmic Trading In Python Using Open Tools And Open Data

      Algorithmic trading is a field that has grown in recent years due to the availability of cheap computing and platforms that grant access to historical financial data. QuantConnect is a business that has focused on community engagement and open data access to grant opportunities for learning and growth to their users. In this episode CEO Jared Broad and senior engineer Alex Catarino explain how they have built an open source engine for testing and running algorithmic trading strategies in multiple languages, the challenges of collecting and serving currrent and historical financial data, and how they provide training and opportunity to their community members. If you are curious about the financial industry and want to try it out for yourself then be sure to listen to this episode and experiment with the QuantConnect platform for free.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.2-rc5

      “It’s Sunday afternoon somewhere in the world”.

      In fact, it’s _barely_ Sunday afternoon back home, where I’ll be later
      today. But not quite yet, and I continue my slightly flaky release
      schedule due to my normal release time being spent on an airplane once
      again.

      In fact, that will happen the _next_ two weekends too due to yet more
      travel. So the releases will not be quite the clockwork they usually
      are.

      But the good news is that we’re getting to the later parts of the rc
      series, and things do seem to be calming down. I was hoping rc5 would
      end up smaller than rc4, and so it turned out. There’s some pending
      stuff still, but it all looks quite small and nothing seems to be
      particularly scary-looking.

    • Linux 5.2-rc5 Released As The End Of The Cycle Is A Few Weeks Away
    • Linux 5.3 Could Finally See FSGSBASE – Performance Improvements Back To Ivybridge

      The FSGSBASE instruction set has been present on Intel processors going back to Ivy Bridge processors and while there have been Linux kernel patches for this feature going on for years, it looks like with the Linux 5.3 kernel cycle is this support for merging. Making us eager for this support is the prospect of better performance, especially for context switching workloads that already have been suffering as a result of recent CPU mitigations.

      The FSGSBASE instructions allow for reading/writing FS/GS BASE from any privilege. But the short story is there should be performance benefits from FSGSBASE in context switching thanks to skipping an MSR write for GSBASE. User-space programs like Java are also expected to benefit in being able to avoid system calls for editing the FS/GS BASE.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KBibTeX 0.9 released

        Finally, KBibTeX 0.9 got released. Virtually nothing has changed since the release of beta 2 in May as no specific bugs have been reported. Thus ChangeLog is still the same and the details on the changes since 0.8.2 as shown on the release announcement for 0.9-beta2.

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 75

        Week 75 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative is here! It’s a little lighter than usual because we’re all feverishly preparing for the dual Plasma and Usability & Productivity sprints nest week in Valencia, Spain. I’ll be there, as well as the whole Plasma team, a bunch of VDG people, and a number of folks who have stepped up to work on apps for the U&P initiative. Sprints like these promise the kind of face-to-face contact needed for big projects, and should be a fantastically awesome and productive time! I’d like to offer a special thanks to Slimbook (makers of the KDE Slimbook II laptop) for hosting the sprint!

      • KDE Frameworks 5.60 Bringing More Baloo Optimizations

        Making KDE’s Baloo file indexing/searching framework really efficient appears to be a never-ending task. Baloo is already much less bloated recently than it’s been hungry for resources in the past and with KDE Frameworks 5.60 will be slightly more fit.

        Baloo’s indexing process with KDE Frameworks 5.60 will now pay attention to when extended attributes on folders change, no longer does unnecessary work when a folder is renamed, is faster now at un-indexing files, and is less intensive running on laptops with battery power. All of these Baloo improvements will be in the next KDE Frameworks monthly update.

      • International number formats

        KMyMoney as a financial application deals with numbers a lot. As a KDE application, it supports internationalization (or i18n for short) from the very beginning. For accuracy reasons it has internal checks to verify the numbers a user can enter.

        The validation routine has a long history (I think it goes back to the KDE3 days) and we recently streamlined it a bit as part of the journey to use more and more Qt standard widgets instead of our own.

        This led to the replacement of the KMyMoneyEdit widget with the newer AmountEdit widget. Everything worked great for me (using a German locale) until we received notifications that users could only enter integer numbers but no fractional part. This of course is not what we wanted. But why is that?

        The important piece of information was that the user reporting the issue uses the Finland svenska (sv_FI) locale on his system. So I set my development system to use that locale for numbers and currencies and it failed for me as well. So it was pretty clear that the validation logic had a flaw.

        Checking the AmountValidator object which is an extension of the QDoubleValidator I found out that it did not work as expected with the said locale. So it was time to setup some testcases for the validator to see how it performs with other locales. I still saw it failing which made me curious so I dug into the Qt source code one more time, specifically the QDoubleValidator. Well, it looked that most of the logic we added in former times is superfluous meanwhile with the Qt5 version. But there remains a little difference: the QDoubleValidator works on the symbols of the LC_NUMERIC category of a locale where we want to use it the LC_MONETARY version. So what to do? Simply ignore the fact? This could bite us later.

      • The state of Terminal Emulators in Linux

        Now it has more developers and more code flowing, fixing bugs, improving the interface, increasing the number of lines of code flowing thru the codebase. We don’t plan to stop supporting konsole, and it will not depend on a single developer anymore.

        We want konsole to be the swiss army knife of terminal emulators, you can already do with konsole a lot of things that are impossible in other terminals, but we want more. And we need more developers for that.

        Konsole is, together with VTE, the most used terminal out there in numbers of applications that integrate the technology: Dolphin, Kate, KDevelop, Yakuake, and many other applications also use konsole, so fixing a bug in one place we are helping a lot of other applications too.

        Consider joining a project, Consider sending code.

      • KDE launches the latest version of its desktop environment, Plasma 5.16

        Plasma 5.16 comes with a rewritten notification system. With Do Not Disturb mode, you can mute notifications, and the list of previous notifications now shows them grouped by app. Critical notifications appear even when applications are in fullscreen mode.

        In addition, this release adds the much-awaited feature to display notifications for file transfer jobs. System Settings app allows you to configure everything related to notifications.

        Following the footsteps of most of Linux distros development, the standard wallpaper of Plasma 5.16 was chosen for the first time through a competition that everyone could participate and present their original art. The winning wallpaper – the work of an Argentinian talented artist.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.34’s Sleek New Desktop Background

        The upcoming GNOME 3.34 release is sure to ship with a stack of improvements, new features and core app updates — but it will also come with a brand new default wallpaper!

        GNOME designer Jakub Steiner is, once again, diligently designing a new desktop drape for the revered free desktop to use by default.

        And although the intended design is not final-final, it’s almost done! So here’s your first look at the brand new GNOME 3.34 wallpaper…

  • Distributions
    • EndeavourOS Is Hoping To Be The Successor To Antergos – Convenient To Use Arch Linux

      Details are light up to this point but in fifteen days EndeavourOS will be announced as a new Arch-based Linux distribution aiming to continue where Antergos Linux left off.

      For those that missed it, last month the Antergos Linux developers discontinued their OS due to a lack of time to devote to their open-source project. There’s now a new development team spearheading work on a new initiative called “EndeavourOS” that hopes to be its spiritual successor.

    • Reviews
      • Review: OS108 and Venom Linux

        Every so often I like to step outside of the distributions I know, the ones I tend to see and use year after year, and try something different. Sometimes trying a new project introduces me to a new way of doing things, as Bedrock Linux did earlier this year. Other times trying a project that is just getting started is a reminder of just how much infrastructure, time and resources go into the big-name projects. At any rate, this week I want to talk about two young projects that grabbed my attention for different reasons.

        The first is OS108, which caught my eye because it is a desktop flavour of BSD, which is relatively rare. Specifically, the base operating system is NetBSD. OS108 reportedly wants to be a replacement for Windows and macOS and features the MATE desktop environment. The website did not offer much more information than that. I was able to learn OS108 is available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines only, which I suspect undercuts the usefulness of having a highly portable operating system, such as NetBSD, as the base.

        The ISO file I downloaded for OS108 was 1.5GB in size. The file had no version number associated with it, so I assume this is the project’s first release. The project’s download page says we should install OS108 just as if it were regular NetBSD, then run a script to set up the MATE desktop. Optionally, there is another set of instructions we can follow to set up wireless networking.

        Booting from the OS108 media brings up an installer which guides us through a series of text-based menus. We are asked to select our keyboard layout, choose whether to install a fresh copy of the operating system or upgrade, and then select which hard drive will hold OS108. We are also asked to confirm our hard drive’s geometry and whether we want to manually partition the disk or let OS108 take over the whole drive. The installer recommends we set aside at least 5GB of space on the drive. Personally, I found more space was required as the default package selection, including the MATE desktop, consumes about 6GB of disk space.

        We are next asked if we want a full install, a mostly full install without the X.Org display software, a minimal install, or a custom selection of packages. I went with the full option since it was the default. We can then select where the source packages are located (on the DVD, in this case) and the packages are quickly copied over to the hard drive. A minute later I was asked to perform more configuration steps. These included enabling networking, setting a root password, and turning on optional network services from a list of daemons. We can also create a regular user account and optionally download the pkgsrc ports framework. I skipped installing pkgsrc.

    • New Releases
      • Zorin OS 15 Core Released with Download Links, Mirrors, and Torrents

        ZorinOS 15 Core has been released on 5 June 2019. To be clear, the released edition now is the Core and Ultimate, gratis and paid versions, while the Lite and Education editions has not been released yet. It’s released with an awesome video online. Here you can see what download sources available plus SHA256SUM and torrents.

      • PCLinuxOS KDE Full Edition 2019.06 Release

        Kernel 5.1.10
        KDE Applications 19.04.2
        KDE Frameworks 5.59.0
        KDE Plasma 5.16.0

        This ISO comes with the standard compliment of KDE applications plus LibreOffice.

      • FreeBSD 11.3-RC1 Available, Lenovo ThinkPad P To Come With Ubuntu Pre-Installed, Star Labs Now Offers Zorin OS On Laptops, Remote Monitoring Software Pulseway v6.3.3 Released, PCLinuxOS KDE Full Edition 2019.06, Linux Kernel Update

        PCLinuxOS KDE Full Edition 2019.06 is now out boasting a Linux 5.1.10 kernel, KDE Applications 19.04.2, KDE Frameworks 5.59.0, KDE Plasma 5.16.0 and more.

      • Linspire 8.0 Maintenance Release 1 RELEASED

        Today our development team is pleased to announce the release of Linspire 8.0 Maintenance Release 1. MR1 is part of our bi-annual strategy to make sure Linspire is kept as secure as possible for our customers and users. Proving once again, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Linspire is the best commercially supported Linux-based operating system on the market today. With all of the features modern PC users expect from their computing experience, Linspire continues to rise above and shine over all other commercial Linux desktop solutions.

      • Yes, It’s that time again! Kwort 4.3.4 is out

        Really nice release this time, I like it.
        We included pulseaudio which is now very stable (last stable relase is from almost a year old) and it has been working very well, including with bluez5 (which by the first time has also been included in this new release). So let’s jump now to the technical highlights of this release:
        Linux kernel 4.19.46 (sorry folks, there’s no longterm relase of 5.x branch yet).
        New toolchain including: glibc 2.28, gcc 8.3.0 and binutils 2.32.
        kpkg 130.
        Latest browsers including: Google Chrome: 75.0.3770.90 and Mozilla Firefox 67.0.2. Brave 0.68.50 is available in the mirror.
        Kwort-choosers package has been replaced with kwort-tools including the old browser and custom xdg-open and the new kwort-mixer to support both sound backends (alsa and pulseaudio). There’s documentation on how to configure these tools here.
        New UI shortcuts are now fully documented here.
        We found a good graphical music player called Museeks which is now included in the system.

        As usual, I would like to thank the people who helps making Kwort on every step they help:
        The infrastructure maintainers, PGHosting (this site and master server) and Ricardo Brisighelli for the package mirror at UNR.
        Andreas Schipplock who is our domain sponsor.
        Gonzalo Navarro for contributing extensively in Kwort 4.3.3 with packages. Best wishes on the new path, sir!
        Ctrl-C club for facilitating a packages mirror (KBD available here).
        The CRUX folks for developing it, as it’s Kwort’s base.
        And of course, the people who develop every project Kwort makes use of. THANK YOU!

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • The best, until OpenMandriva does better: released OMLx 4.0

        Exciting news!
        Shortly after the release candidate we are very proud to introduce you the fruit of so much work, some visible and much more behind the scenes and under the hood.

        OpenMandriva Lx is a cutting edge distribution compiled with LLVM/clang, combined with the high level of optimisation used for both code and linking (by enabling LTO, and profile guided optimizations for some key packages where reliable profile data is easy to generate) used in its building.

        OMLx 4.0 brings a number of major changes since 3.x release…

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Released With AMD Zen Optimized Option, Toolchain Updates
      • OpenMandriva Lx 4 is finally here!

        Great news today that, around here, we celebrate Father’s Day: OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 has been released!

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Linux distro is here, and there is a special AMD-only version

        Most interestingly, there is a build that is optimized for modern AMD processors only — it will not work with Intel chips. If you do have an AMD CPU, The OpenMandriva Team claims you will see improved performance by using this version.

        “Hardware support has been improved a lot. In addition to the usual round of driver updates (including the Mesa 19.1.0 graphics stack), OMLx 4.0 now includes complete ports to aarch64 and armv7hnl platforms. A RISC-V port is also in progress, but not yet ready for release. We have also built a version specifically for current AMD processors (Ryzen, ThreadRipper, EPYC) that outperforms the generic version by taking advantage of new features in those processors (this build will not work on generic x86_64 processors),” says The OpenMandriva Team.

    • Arch Family
      • Cylon – The Arch Linux Maintenance Program For Newbies

        Recently switched to Arch Linux as your daily driver? Great! I’ve got a good news for you. Meet Cylon, a maintenance program for Arch Linux and derivatives. It is a menu-driven Bash script which provides updates, maintenance, backups and system checks for Arch Linux and its derivatives such as Manjaro Linux etc. Cylon is mainly a CLI program, and also has a basic dialog GUI. In this guide, we will see how to install and use Cylon in Arch Linux.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 5 Beta 1
      • A demo based introduction to SUSE Cloud Application Platform

        At the recent SUSECON conference in Nashville, Peter Andersson and Peter Lunderbye from SUSE demonstrated SUSE Cloud Application Platform, including pushing your first app, buildpacks: what are they and how they can be utilised, scaling and how easy the platform makes it, and how to improve resiliency and availability of your app.
        SUSE has posted all recorded talks from SUSECON on YouTube. Check them out if you want to learn more about what SUSE has to offer. We’re not just Linux anymore! I’ll be posting more SUSE Cloud Application Platform talks here over the coming days.

      • Enabling Discoveries with AI and HPC (and the Rise of Helium)

        This week I am attending the International Supercomputing conference in Frankfurt, and I am in awe of the scientists and researchers that are here and their ability to dig in and understand super complex problems in very specialized areas. While I am humbled by the world-changing work represented at a conference like this, I am also honored to be playing a small part in their success. With the next iteration of SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing 15 SP1, we’ve expanded and refreshed our bundle of popular HPC tools and libraries that we make available along with every subscription to our SLE HPC operating system.

    • Fedora
      • Event Report – Fedora Meetup 15th June 2019, Pune, India

        We started planning for this one month back. Since we are doing this meetup regularly now, most of the things were known, only execution was required.

      • Outreachy with Fedora Happiness Packets: Phase 1

        It’s been around 20 days that I have been working on an Outreachy internship project with The Fedora Project. I have been working on some of the pending issues, miscellaneous bugs and cleaning up code in Fedora Happiness Packets. This month has been quite fun, which includes great learning through the entire process

    • Debian Family
      • Move to pay Debian devs for project work rears its head again

        The idea of paying developers to work on Debian GNU/Linux packages has reared its head again, with senior developer Raphael Hertzog proposing that project funds be used for the purpose.

        Hertzog made the suggestion in a reply to a post on one of the project’s mailing lists which was part of a thread on the subject “Why do we take so long to realise good ideas?”

        “Use the $300,000 on our bank accounts?”, he wrote, adding that he had heard of another US$300,000 donation made by Google to the project though he was unable to find any publicly accessible reference to it.

        The idea of paying developers for their work on what is a community project was raised 13 years ago by former project leader Anthony Towns, with the reason being the speeding up of development so that releases could take place sooner. The idea did not prove very popular as it was meant to be run outside the project proper and was meant to pay core members for their work.

      • The State Of RISC-V For Debian 10 “Buster”

        Debian’s RISC-V support has been coming together but how’s the state of affairs for the imminent Debian 10.0 “Buster” release?

        The RISC-V 64-bit port of Debian GNU/Linux has been building more than 80% of the massive Debian package-set. Or if accounting for architecture dependent packages, the RISC-V port is seeing around 90% of packages building.

        The main blockers in the RISC-V ecosystem from getting the remaining Debian packages built and allowing for a nice experience revolve primarily around Rust and LLVM support. Once the LLVM compiler stack has good support for RISC-V, that should unblock many other packages like Rust-dependent librsvg and Firefox, among others.

      • Debian GNU/Linux riscv64 port in mid 2019

        As it can be seen in the first graph, perhaps with some difficulty, is that the percent of arch-dependent packages built for riscv64 (grey line) has been around or higher than 80% since mid 2018, just a few months after the port was added to the infrastructure.

        Given than the arch-dependent packages are about half of the Debian['s main, unstable] archive and that (in simple terms) arch-independent packages can be used by all ports (provided that the software that they rely on is present, e.g. a programming language interpreter), this means that around 90% of packages of the whole archive has been available for this architecture from early on.

      • A Quick Look At The Debian 10.0 Buster vs. Debian 9.9 Performance

        With Debian 10 “Buster” due to be releasing in early July, I’ve begun testing the near-final Buster images on various systems. Here is a look at a common Intel Core i7 system comparing the current performance of Debian 10.0 to the current stable 9.9 release.

        On the Core i7 8700K system, Debian 9.9 vs. 10.0 were benchmarked with the same hardware under test and each Debian release being cleanly installed and kept to its default settings.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, May 2019

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Virtual Labs presentation at the HubLinked meeting in Dublin

        We have participated to the HubLinked workshop in Dublin this week, where I delivered a presentation on some of our efforts on Virtual Labs, in the hope that this could be useful to the partners designing the “Global Labs” where students will experiment together for Software Engineering projects.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Developers Devising Plan To Ship Newer NVIDIA Drivers On Ubuntu Stable Releases

            Currently NVIDIA’s packaged drivers on Ubuntu can get a bit stale on Ubuntu stable releases since they aren’t updated in-step with the latest driver releases. But a new stable release update (SRU) policy/exception similar to the Firefox approach is being made for Ubuntu so that new releases will end up working their way into currently supported Ubuntu series.

            The Canonical developers working on Ubuntu are really ramping up their support for NVIDIA’s proprietary driver. On top of Ubuntu 19.10 to bundle the NVIDIA binary driver into the operating system’s ISO image, they are working out the SRU details for shipping newer NVIDIA driver releases on existing Ubuntu stable releases.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Differences between Four Linux Mint Editions

              If you look at the web, it’s rare to find a resource to explain the differences between all 4 Linux Mint editions (Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE, and Debian). If you are looking for such explanation, then this brief article is for you. I hope you will find edition you love the most from GNU/Linux Mint.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • Information stalls at Linux Week and Veganmania in Vienna

      The information stall at the Linux weeks event in May was somewhat limited due to the fact that we didn’t get our usual posters and the roll-up in time. Unfortunately we discovered too late that they had obviously been lent out for an other event and hadn’t been returned afterwards. So we could only use our information material. But since at this event the FSFE is very well known, it wasn’t hard at all to carry out our usual information stall. It’s less about outreach work and more of a who-is-who of the free software community in Vienna anyway. For three days we met old friends and networked. Of course some newbies found their way to the event also. And therefore we could spread our messages a little further too.

      In addition, we once again provided well visited workshops for Inkscape and Gimp. The little talk on the free rally game Trigger Rally even motivated an attending dedicated Fedora maintainer to create an up-to-date .rpm package in order to enable distribution of the most recent release to rpm distros.

  • Web Browsers
    • 4 best browsers that don’t save your history and personal data [Ed: Microsoft Windows advocacy sites cannot recommend Microsoft anything for privacy]

      Tor is another great browser heavily focused on user privacy and security. It’s available for Windows, MacOS, and GNU/Linux in 32-bit and 64-bit versions that are constantly updated.

      Its main focus is on anonymity. Based on a modified Firefox ESR, it contains things like NoScript and HTTPS-Everywhere.

      The browser works in a network that promises to protect a user‘s browsing history, location, messages, and any online personal data from people or bots that perform network traffic analysis.

      Tor network is a web of servers operated by volunteers. Their aim is to keep browsing data as secure as it can be. With Tor, you don’t have to worry about browsing history, saved passwords or auto-completion data.

      Also, it’s worth mentioning that Tor is the only browser that uses onion services. This means that users can publish websites and other services without revealing the location.

  • LibreOffice
    • Office Suites for Ubuntu 18.04

      Today we are looking at different office suites for Ubuntu 18.04. LibreOffice is the default LibreOffice suite for Ubuntu but it is by all means not the only one. In this article, we will look at different office suites for Ubuntu and all of its pros and cons.

      All these Office Suites are available for at least all Ubuntu based distros, and the installation method is the same for all the Ubuntu based distros.

    • Week 3 Report

      I continue working on Rewriting the logger messages with the new DSL grammar:

    • Microsoft Powerpoint Alternatives For Linux

      This post is for you if you are looking for the best alternative to Microsoft powerpoint alternatives for Linux operating systems. Microsoft’s office suite is one of the most popular software after Microsoft Windows and there won’t be any objection if we say that Windows is popular because of the MS office suite.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Substitutes are now available as lzip

      For a long time, our build farm at ci.guix.gnu.org has been delivering substitutes (pre-built binaries) compressed with gzip. Gzip was never the best choice in terms of compression ratio, but it was a reasonable and convenient choice: it’s rock-solid, and zlib made it easy for us to have Guile bindings to perform in-process compression in our multi-threaded guix publish server.

      With the exception of building software from source, downloads take the most time of Guix package upgrades. If users can download less, upgrades become faster, and happiness ensues. Time has come to improve on this, and starting from early June, Guix can publish and fetch lzip-compressed substitutes, in addition to gzip.

  • Programming/Development
    • GCC 10 Lands Support For Targeting TI’s 32-bit PRU Processor

      New to the GCC 10 compiler code-base this week is a port for the Texas Instruments Programmable Real-Time Unit (PRU) processor found on various boards, including the likes of the BeagleBone Arm SBCs.

      The TI programmable real-time unit (PRU) is a processor on some TI boards that offers two 32-bit cores running at 200MHz. The PRU offers single-cycle I/O access and full access to the system’s internal memory and peripherals. Texas Instruments has offered a proprietary toolchain for writing Assembly code to run on the PRU while now an independent developer has landed the GCC port for targeting this unique processor.

    • Clang-Scan-Deps Lands In Clang 9.0 For Much Faster Dependency Scanning

      Landing this week in the LLVM Clang 9.0 development code-base is the new clang-scan-deps tool for much faster scanning of files for dependencies compared to the traditional pre-processor based approach.

      Development of clang-scan-deps was led by Apple’s compiler team and delivers up to around ten (10) times faster performance for scanning of dependencies/modules before compiling compared to the pre-processor-based scanning.

    • R.T. Russell’s Z80 BBC Basic is now open source

      As part of the work I’ve been doing with cpmish I’ve been trying to track down the copyright holders of some of the more classic pieces of CP/M software and asking them to license it in a way that allows redistribution. One of the people I contacted was R.T. Russell, the author of the classic Z80 BBC BASIC, and he very kindly sent me the source and agreed to allow it to be distributed under the terms of the zlib license. So it’s now open source!

    • Python Community Interview With Marlene Mhangami

      We are joined today by Marlene Mhangami. Marlene is a passionate Pythonista who is not only using tech to facilitate social change and empower Zimbabwean women but is also the chair of the very first PyCon Africa. Join me as we talk about her non-traditional start in tech, as well as her passion for using technology to create social change for good.

    • PyDev of the Week: Meredydd Luff

      This week we welcome Meredydd Luff (@meredydd) as our PyDev of the Week! Meredydd is the co-founder of Anvil and a core developer for the Skulpt package.

    • New Style Signal/Slot Connection

      Yes, I know. The last post on the assistants is rather boring. And yet these days I have been working on the snapshot docker, though it still seems a little (just a little, you see) unfinished as Dmitry is said to experience a relatively high delay when switching between snapshots. However this is not what I can reproduce on my older laptop, so I am really waiting for his test results in order to further investigate the problem.

      But there is something interesting happening just when I am randomly testing things. From Krita’s debug output, I saw QObject::connect() complaining about the arguments I passed, saying it is expecting parenthesis. “Okay,” I thought, “then there have to be something wrong with the code I wrote.” And that was quite confusing. I remember having used member function pointers in those places, got a compile-time error since KisSignalAutoConnectionsStore did not support the new syntax, then switched back to the SINGAL() and SLOT() macros. KisSignalAutoConnectionsStore is a helper class to quickly (dis)connect a group of connections. One can use the addConnection() method to add a connection, and use clear() to remove all connections made before.

      Well, everything good, apart from the fact that I missed the parenthesis, which I did not discover until I looked into the debug output. So I asked Dmitry why not add the new syntax to KisSignalAutoConnectionsStore, and he said we should.

    • Arm Developer Provides More Glibc Optimizations – Memem & Strstr

      Arm’s Wilco Dijkstra landed some more optimizations this past week in the Glibc development code for the upcoming GNU C Library 2.30 release.

      Memmem is now faster on AArch64 by up to 6.6x times thanks to implementing a modified Horspool algorithm.

    • Learn PyQt: Gradient

      This custom PyQt5/PySide2-compatible widget provides a gradient designer providing a handy interface to design linear gradients in your applications. A new gradient can be created simply by creating an instance of the object.

      gradient = Gradient()
      The default gradient is black to white. The stop points are marked by a red box with a white line drawn vertically through it so they are visible on any gradient.

    • Building Apache Kafka Streams applications using Red Hat AMQ Streams: Part 1
    • What’s your favorite “dead” language?
    • Which Is A Better Programming Language For Data Science? Python Or R
    • Introduction to OpenCV with Python
    • AI Paris 2019 in one picture
Leftovers
  • Science
    • We Need Evidence-Based Decision Making

      Imagine for a moment that political discussions can assume the same evidence-based knowledge as active components in decision making as treatment pathways do when responding to illness and disease. The impact of care is studied out of a need for protecting and preserving quality of life. Politics should also serve these same ends, but, indeed, politics carries a burden healthcare does not: different values. Forgetting that there are legitimate differences in values—like I prioritize equality over security or others prioritize fiscal responsibility over freedom–let’s briefly return to the idea of truth as a foundation for politics and policy.

      Ignorance presents a challenge to truth. After all, there is no way to accommodate good decision making when there are serious gaps in information. Medical professionals make diagnostic tests in order to figure out what’s wrong, the same as mechanics do when the check engine light comes on in your car. Drinking water, for example, will help alleviate a headache caused by dehydration but is unlikely to help much for a headache caused by meningitis.

    • Artificial Stupidity

      Artificial intelligence is everywhere. And yet, the experts tell us, it is not yet actually anywhere. This is so because we are yet to achieve true artificial intelligence, or artificially intelligent systems that are capable of thinking for themselves and adapting to their circumstances. Instead, all the AI hype — and it is constant — concerns rather mundane forms of artificial intelligence, which are confined to performing specific, narrow tasks, and nothing more. The promise of true artificial intelligence thus remains elusive. Artificial stupidity reigns supreme.

      What are the best set of policies to achieve true artificial intelligence? Surprisingly, scholars have paid little attention to this question. Scholars have spent considerable time assessing a number of important legal questions relating to artificial intelligence, including privacy, bias, tort, and intellectual property issues. But little effort has been devoted to exploring what set of policies are best suited to helping artificial intelligence developers achieve greater levels of innovation. And examining such issues is not some niche exercise, since artificial intelligence has already or soon will affect every sector of society. Hence, the question goes to the heart of future technological innovation policy more broadly.

      This Article examines this question by exploring how well intellectual property rights promote innovation in artificial intelligence. I focus on intellectual property rights because these are often viewed as the most important piece of United States innovation policy. Overall, I find that intellectual property rights, particularly patents, are ill-suited to promote radical forms of artificial intelligence innovation. And even the intellectual property forms that are a better fit for artificial intelligence innovators, such as trade secrecy, come with problems of their own. In fact, the poor fit of patents in particular is likely to contribute to heavy industry consolidation in the AI field, and heavy consolidation in an industry is typically associated with lower levels of innovation than ideal.

      I conclude by arguing, however, that neither strengthening AI patents rights nor looking to other forms of law, such as antitrust, holds much promise in achieving true artificial intelligence. Instead, as with many earlier radical innovations, significant government backing, coupled with an engaged entrepreneurial sector, is at least one key to avoiding enduring artificial stupidity.

    • 5 transferable higher-education skills

      As a developer jumping head-first into technology after years of walking students through the process of navigating higher education, imposter syndrome has been a constant fear since moving into technology. However, I have been able to take heart in knowing my experience as an educator and an administrator has not gone in vain. If you are like me, be encouraged in knowing that these transferable skills, some of which fall into the soft-skills and other categories, will continue to benefit you as a developer and a professional.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why the Demand for Black Bone Marrow Donors Is High — and Awareness Is Low

      Every week for the past five years, Destiny Worthington has sat in a chair watching donated blood pump through narrow plastic tubing into her body. At the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles County, she spends up to six hours every week getting blood work done followed by blood and platelet transfusions.

      When she was 15 years old, Worthington went to a required routine physical for her softball team. At the time, she had a lot of bruising on her body, so doctors ran blood tests for leukemia, various types of anemia, and other blood disorders.

      “I actually wasn’t diagnosed back then. They just knew that something was wrong,” said Worthington, whose bruising and lack of energy was eventually explained by a diagnosis of severe aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which a person’s body stops producing enough new blood cells.

      Worthington, 30, wakes up most days feeling tired and experiences fatigue and exhaustion when she does physical activities like hiking. She is one of thousands of patients looking for bone marrow donors through Be The Match, a registry operated by the nonprofit organization National Marrow Donor Program. Every year in the United States, about 12,000 people up to age 74 need bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants for survival.

      Bone marrow donors go through one of two procedures when they’re found to be a match: a peripheral blood stem cell process, where the donor has a needle inserted into an arm that collects stem cells; or a surgical procedure, where the donor is put under anesthesia and then has bone marrow extracted from the lower back region. Most donors go through the first process. Each process often leaves the donor slightly bruised, but that’s about the worst of it.

      The likelihood of a person matching with an available donor on the Be The Match registry ranges from 19 to 80 percent, depending on their ethnicity, according to worldwide data from the organization.

    • Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation?

      For the first time in 16 years, Michigan elected a Democrat as their Attorney General and Dana Nessel’s first major decision was to dismiss all pending criminal charges against the state and city officials responsible for Flint Michigan’s polluted drinking water this past weekend. Mainstream media commentators were critical of her decision as well as Flint residents, who saw this move as further evidence that no justice would be pursued for the toxic water conditions which exposed up to 42,000 children under 2 years of age to lead poisoning. Nayyirah Shariff, a Flint resident who is the director of the grassroots group Flint Rising, told the Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan. that the announcement came as “a slap in the face to Flint residents” and “it doesn’t seem like justice is coming.”

      But in reading through Egan’s article, additional pieces of this puzzling decision hinted that the coverup, by the accused officials, may actually have continued to the extent of endangering the investigation. In other words, there may be a legitimate reason for redoing the criminal charges. Although new cases will cost additional public money, Nessel says she made this decision precisely to save tax payer’s money from being wasted on faulty work by the former Republican State Attorney General, Bill Schuette. She said, his cases “have gone on for years and have cost the taxpayers of this state millions of dollars. It’s time for resolution and justice for the people of Flint.”

      Schuette was overseeing the investigation and he has not been sympathetic to Flint residents in the past. In 2017, he had been admonished by an Eastern District of United States of Michigan Judge for opposing the State of Michigan supplying bottled water to Flint residents who lack tap filters to protect them from the toxic drinking water. The judge suggested he had engaged in “superficial posturing” in being concerned about Flint’s water contamination.

      That opinion of Schuette, was mild in comparison to the findings of Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who is currently handling the criminal cases, and is the first Muslim Solicitor General in US. She found that not all evidence was pursued by Schultte and his special prosecutor Todd Flood, who was a prominent donor to then Republican Governor Rick Snyder. In addition, Schuette and Flood wrongly allowed private law firms representing Snyder and other defendants to have “a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement.”

      [...]

      The next step in pursuing a new set of charges against those responsible for Flint’s water contamination and health hazard will take place June 28 in a Flint “community conversation” with Solicitor General Hammoud. She will explain Nessel’s decision and answer questions. Community activists are the ones who uncovered this travesty and demanded prosecution of those responsible. They will be present at the meeting and will hold Hammoud and Nessel to their promise to seek justice and not abandon it.

    • Ugandan medics now tackling Ebola say they lack supplies

      The isolation ward for Ebola patients is a tent erected in the garden of the local hospital. Gloves are given out sparingly to health workers.

  • Security
    • Common Hacker Tool Hit with Hackable Vulnerability [Ed: This is very difficult to exploit and may require tricking developers, but the media framed this as a total and utter disaster]
    • Week in review: DevSecOps readiness, human bias in cybersecurity, Linux servers under attack [Ed: Actually, it's Exim -- not Linux -- under "attack" and it's only effective if one neglected to patch the bug for over a week]
    • Microsoft warns Azure customers of Exim worm [Ed: Microsoft should also warn "customers" of Windows back doors for the NSA, but it does not (this one was patched ages ago; the Microsoft back doors aren't). Shouldn't Microsoft ask its proxies and partners, as usual, to come up with buzzwords and logos and Web sites for bugs in FOSS, then talk about how FOSS is the end of the world?]
    • Microsoft Warns about Worm Attacking Exim Servers on Azure
    • The Highly Dangerous ‘Triton’ [Attackers] Have Probed the US Grid [Ed: It’s Windows]

      Over the past several months, security analysts at the Electric Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) and the critical-infrastructure security firm Dragos have been tracking a group of sophisticated [attackers] carrying out broad scans of dozens of US power grid targets, apparently looking for entry points into their networks. Scanning alone hardly represents a serious threat. But these [attackers], known as Xenotime—or sometimes as the Triton actor, after their signature malware—have a particularly dark history. The Triton malware was designed to disable the so-called safety-instrument systems at Saudi Arabian oil refinery Petro Rabigh in a 2017 cyberattack, with the apparent aim of crippling equipment that monitors for leaks, explosions, or other catastrophic physical events. Dragos has called Xenotime “easily the most dangerous threat activity publicly known.”

    • A Researcher Found a Bunch of Voting Machine Passwords Online

      A little more than a week ago, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it was going to forensically analyze computer equipment associated with part of the 2016 elections in North Carolina in association with questions about Russian hacking. The news prompted an information security researcher to announce that he’d found evidence of other election security issues in North Carolina last fall, which he’d kept quiet until now.

      Chris Vickery, the director of cyber-risk research at UpGuard, a cybersecurity services firm, tweeted June 7 that he had found an unlocked online repository that contained what he said were passwords for touchscreen voting machines. The repository, he said, also contained other information, including serial numbers for machines that had modems, which theoretically could have allowed them to connect to the internet.

      Vickery said that after he found the open repository in September 2018, he immediately told state officials, who locked the file. State officials have told Mother Jones that the passwords were nearly 10 years old and encrypted—a claim disputed by Vickery and a Democratic technology consultant in North Carolina—but admitted that the file shouldn’t have been publicly available online.

    • TPM now stands for Tiny Platform Module: TCG shrinks crypto chip to secure all the Things [Ed: Misusing the word “trust” to obliterate computer freedom and general-purpose computing]

      The Trusted Computing Group (TCG), a nonprofit developing hardware-based cybersecurity tools, has started work on the “world’s tiniest” Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

      TPMs are silicon gizmos designed to protect devices by verifying the integrity of essential software – like firmware and BIOS − and making sure no dodgy code has been injected into the system prior to boot.

      These are widely used to protect servers. Now TCG wants to adopt the technology for devices that are so small that the inclusion of a full TPM chip might be impractical due to cost, space and power considerations.

      The first tiny TPM prototype, codenamed Radicle, was demonstrated last week at a TCG members’ meeting in Warsaw, Poland.

      [...]

      We have to mention that for years, TCG and its TPMs were criticised by the open-source software community, which suspected the tech could be used for vendor lock-in – GNU father Richard Stallman called trusted computing “treacherous computing”, but it looks like his worst fears have not come to pass.

      That doesn’t mean TPMs haven’t seen their share of dark days: back in 2017, it emerged that security chips made by Infineon contained a serious flaw, with experts estimating that 25 to 30 per cent of all TPMs used globally were open to attack.

    • What Is a Buffer Overflow

      A buffer overflow vulnerability occurs when you give a program too much data. The excess data corrupts nearby space in memory and may alter other data. As a result, the program might report an error or behave differently. Such vulnerabilities are also called buffer overrun.

      Some programming languages are more susceptible to buffer overflow issues, such as C and C++. This is because these are low-level languages that rely on the developer to allocate memory. Most common languages used on the web such as PHP, Java, JavaScript or Python, are much less prone to buffer overflow exploits because they manage memory allocation on behalf of the developer. However, they are not completely safe: some of them allow direct memory manipulation and they often use core functions that are written in C/C++.

    • Any iPhone can be hacked

      Apple’s so called secure iPhones can be turned over by US coppers using a service promoted by an Israeli security contractor.

      Cellebrite publicly announced a new version of its product known as a Universal Forensic Extraction Device or UFED, one that it’s calling UFED Premium. In marketing that update, it says that the tool can now unlock any iOS device cops can lay their hands on, including those running iOS 12.3.

      Cellebrite claims UFED Premium can extract files from many recent Android phones as well, including the Samsung Galaxy S9 but no-one ever called them secure and safe.

      What is unusual is that Cellebrite is making broad claims about turning over Apple gear. This is not a cat-and-mouse claim where they exploit a tiny flaw which one day might be fixed. It would appear that Cellebrite has its paw on a real howler.

    • Cellebrite Claims It Can Unlock ‘Any’ iPhone And iPad, 1.4 Billion Apple Devices Hackable

      Israel-based Cellebrite has announced a new version of its system Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) — UFED Premium — which is capable of unlocking any iPhone, high-end Android device, or an iPad.

      The forensics company has suggested that UFED Premium is meant to help the police in unlocking iPhones and Android smartphones and getting data from locked smartphones.

    • Web-based DNA sequencers getting compromised through old, unpatched flaw

      DnaLIMS is developed by Colorado-based dnaTools. It provides software tools for processing and managing DNA sequencing requests.

      These tools use browsers to access a UNIX-based web server on the local network, which is responsible for managing all aspects of DNA sequencing.

      A simple Google search shows that dnaLIMS is used by a number of scientific, academic and medical institutions.

    • Generrate Cryptographically Secure RANDOM PASSWORD
    • DMARC, mailing list, yahoo and gmail

      Gmail was blocking one person’s email via our list (he sent that using Yahoo and from his iPhone client), and caused more than 1700 gmail users in our list in the nomail block unless they check for the mailman’s email and click to reenable their membership.

      I panicked for a couple of minutes and then started manually clicking on the mailman2 UI for each user to unblock them. However, that was too many clicks. Suddenly I remembered the suggestion from Saptak about using JavaScript to do this kind of work. Even though I tried to learn JavaScript 4 times and failed happily, I thought a bit searching on Duckduckgo and search/replace within example code can help me out.

    • Security updates for Monday

      Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (chromium and thunderbird), Debian (php-horde-form, pyxdg, thunderbird, and znc), Fedora (containernetworking-plugins, mediawiki, and podman), openSUSE (chromium), Red Hat (bind, chromium-browser, and flash-plugin), SUSE (docker, glibc, gstreamer-0_10-plugins-base, gstreamer-plugins-base, postgresql10, sqlite3, and thunderbird), and Ubuntu (firefox).

    • Self-Audits | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      As you can see, the security audit can be tailored based on any security controls you have/need. NIST provides the 800-53A (“A” is for audit or assessment) and provides different file formats to use. This is a great place to start creating your own audit document.

      To sum it up, embracing self-audits and the benefit they provide will reduce risk and save time. The longer a security control remains in a failed state, the more time threats have to exploit a vulnerability. Protect yourself and add security by prioritizing audits.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Iran’s Game

      The evidence is far from conclusive, but on balance Iran probably is behind the attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf last month and two more last Thursday. Those attacks carefully avoided human casualties, so if they were Iranian, what was their goal?

      If it was Iran, the answer is obvious. Iran would be reminding the United States that it may be utterly out-matched militarily, but it can do great damage to the tankers that carry one-third of the world’s internationally traded oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

    • Bringing Police Torture in Chicago to the Full Light of Day

      Flint Taylor’s new book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago, is one of those remarkable works that won’t fit under any one category. It’s at once a history of civil and human rights battles in Chicago with national and global reach, a text of modern urban sociology, an example of critical legal theory, a long polemic against white and class privilege, a literature of political exposure, a manual of strategy and tactics, and last but not least, for Flint himself, an autobiography. In its pages, Chicago’s top lawyer of the left also shares with us the intense and determined commitment, with all his highs and lows, that lasted through five decades of his personal life to the present day.

      The narrative begins with Taylor as a young man, teamed up with other young radical lawyers fresh from passing their bar exams. They had been working with Chicago’s Black Panther Party and were among the first on the scene just after Fred Hampton was murdered in his bed. As the cops pulled out, the young lawyers managed to take over and secure the site, and pulled in the media and community leaders to examine the scene before any evidence was altered or disappeared. The reaction sent shock waves through Chicago, since it was clear there was no “shoot-out,” as authorities had claimed, but cold-blooded assassination by Chicago police, with an assist from the FBI. To make a long story short, Hampton’s killers were never tried and walked free, but Taylor and his fellow legal team won a substantial wrongful death settlement from the City of Chicago for Hampton’s family in 1982. In the spirit of the times, the young lawyers took their share of the settlement and used it to help sustain the People’s Law Office (PLO), dedicated to fighting police brutality and other injustices in the greater Chicago area, which they had founded in 1969.

      To this day, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has never stopped supplying the PLO and other progressive lawyers with a constant source of new clients seeking justice. Whether by mistreating young people of color on the streets, trying to suppress free speech and protest, abusing people in prison, attacking the LBGTQ community, or warping the courts with false evidence and accusations, the CPD, with the backing of City Hall and the State’s Attorney’s office, have carried out a decades-long reign of terror diametrically opposed to their stated mission: “We Serve and Protect.”

    • Air-traffic control is a mess

      The cost of this is huge. Eurocontrol estimates that the delays and cancellations caused by air-traffic-flow problems cost the European economy €17.6bn ($20.8bn) last year, up by 28% on 2017. Holding planes in the air and making them fly farther wastes fuel. More efficient air-traffic control could bring fuel savings of 5-10% per flight, reckons Graham Spinardi of the University of Edinburgh. Moreover, public confidence has been shaken by several near-misses. In 2017 an Air Canada jet carrying 140 people misunderstood the controllers’ instructions and nearly landed on a taxiway where four aircraft were parked. In 2016 an Eva Air flight from Los Angeles flew perilously close to a mountain peak after an air-traffic controller’s instructions confused right with left.

    • Boeing Admits ‘Mistake’ in Max Jet Disasters That Killed 346

      The chief executive of Boeing said the company made a “mistake” in handling a problematic cockpit warning system in its 737 Max jets before two crashes of the top-selling plane killed 346 people, and he promised transparency as the U.S. aircraft maker tries to get the grounded model back in flight.

      Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told reporters in Paris that Boeing’s communication with regulators, customers and the public “was not consistent. And that’s unacceptable.”

    • ‘Blatant Theft’: Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named ‘Trump Heights’ in Occupied Syrian Territory

      In what critics denounced as an obscene celebration of land theft and a violation of international law, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday showed his appreciation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory by unveiling a new illegal settlement named “Trump Heights.”

      As Common Dreams reported, Trump’s recognition of the occupied Syrian territory as Israeli property in March was widely condemned by international observers.

      “This is a historic day,” Netanyahu said after dramatically uncovering the “Trump Heights” entry sign, emblazoned with large gold letters.

      [...]

      “Blatant theft: with no legal jurisdiction whatsoever and in flagrant violation of international law, Israel re-names part of Syria after Trump,” tweeted activist Sarah Wilkinson.

    • Why ‘Trump Heights’ Is the Perfect Name for Israel’s Stolen Colony

      In a publicity stunt Trumpian in its iniquity and emptiness, the government of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu put up a sign in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, saying “Trump Heights.”

      There isn’t really any settlement there yet, just a sign, just as there isn’t any reality to Trump more generally, just an empty suit.

      Given that Trump is a narcissistic fraud, it is appropriate that his name be attached to the illegal Israeli theft of Syrian territory. In fact, we should just call the Occupied Palestinian Territories in general Trumpland, a fraud and form of robbery like his “university” and “steaks” and “airline.”

      One of the pretexts that the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq was that they maintained Iraq had not complied with UN Security Council resolutions on disarming. We now know Iraq did destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons and mothball its feeble nuclear research, but the Bush people would not accept these assertions and said they invaded to enforce the will of the United Nations Security Council. This, even though the UNSC of 2003 declined to authorize any such thing.

    • Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle

      The New York Times International Edition has decided to no longer publish political cartoons. The decision follows a scandal about a cartoon that appeared last April in which a blind President Donald Trump is holding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – depicted as a guide dog – on a leash. Trump is wearing a yarmulke; Netanyahu has a Star of David around his throat. Some critics deemed the cartoon offensive and anti-Semitic, the Times apologized, and the responsible editor was sanctioned. Now the paper of record – “All The News That’s Fit To Print – has decided to stop publishing political cartoons.

      [...]

      What is the role of humor and satire “in the insane world we live in”? The United States has had great political humorists. When the stodgy former President Calvin Coolidge died in 1933, Dorothy Parker asked, “How did they know?” The actor, humorist and columnist Will Rogers ran for president in 1928. Since he thought all campaigning was bunk, he ran as the “bunkless candidate,” promising that if elected he would resign. On election night, he declared victory and resigned. Mort Sahl, wearing his cashmere sweater and with a newspaper in hand, made outstanding barbs during the Kennedy era.

      But Parker’s, Rogers’ and Sahl’s humor was not railing against an “insane world.” When Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his role in ending the Vietnam War, the songwriter and satirist Tom Lehrer said, “When Kissinger won the Nobel peace prize, satire died.”

    • Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran

      That’s the name of the U.S. Navy warship that shot down an Iranian airliner with missiles in 1988, killing all 290 people aboard that airplane.

      That shootdown, where 60 children perished, was an accident, according to the U.S. Navy’s official report. However, many, including military personnel, considered that report a whitewash.

      That U.S. military attack on a civilian airliner occurred during a time when the administration of then U.S. President Ronald Reagan was all but openly supporting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who had launched a war of aggression against Iran – the nation now in the crosshairs of the President Donald Trump Administration.

      The Vincennes incident is instructive as the Trump Administration is seemingly searching for a ripe moment to launch a war against Iran, an action long sought by right-wing forces in the United States along with U.S. Middle East allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      Similar to U.S. anti-Iran stances in the 1980s when the U.S. pressured Iran as part of its tilt toward the invading but quickly battered Iraqis, the Trump Administration is waging an economic war against Iran through economy-crippling sanctions. The goal is to bludgeon Iran after Trump unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear non-proliferation treaty that had Iran’s full compliance.

      The July 3, 1988 Vincennes incident is also instructive because it vividly displayed of how things can go horribly wrong really quick and how the U.S. government will brazenly lie to evade liability for its criminal misconduct.

      With the U.S. playing a ‘Top Cop’ role in the Persian Gulf – today as in the 1980s ostensibly to contain Iran – it’s interesting that the U.S. Navy’s defense of that indefensible 1988 airliner shootdown contained components of excuses utter persistently by American police in instances of fatal shootings of unarmed civilians.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Ivan Golunov vs. Julian Assange: A Quest for Journalistic Solidarity

      A Russian investigative journalist, Ivan Golunov, who has been writing primarily about corruption within the government, got arrested earlier this month on drug charges in Moscow.

      The circumstances of his arrest and the pieces of information released to the public were dubious, to say the least, so the Russian public backlashed at the government. We saw a mass uproar on social media AND the mainstream media (even my apolitical Russian friends have been sending me links related to the story).

      Three major Russian newspapers, Kommersant, RBK, and Vedomosti, came out with identical front pages in his support, saying “I/We Are Ivan Golunov”.

      Virtually all journalistic community rallied behind him. TV-news personas, such as Irada Zeynalova of NTV (a federal channel that has a reputation of being blatantly pro-government), were making statements on air in end-of-the-week news programs, saying that Golunov’s case is a “test for all of us”.

    • The Coming Show Trial of Julian Assange

      On Friday morning I was in a small courtroom at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Julian Assange, held in Belmarsh Prison and dressed in a pale-blue prison shirt, appeared on a video screen directly in front of me. Assange, his gray hair and beard neatly trimmed, slipped on heavy, dark-frame glasses at the start of the proceedings. He listened intently as Ben Brandon, the prosecutor, seated at a narrow wooden table, listed the crimes he allegedly had committed and called for his extradition to the United States to face charges that could result in a sentence of 175 years. The charges include the release of unredacted classified material that posed a “grave” threat to “human intelligence sources” and “the largest compromises of confidential information in the history of the United States.” After the prosecutor’s presentation, Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, seated at the same table, called the charges “an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights.”

      Most of us who have followed the long persecution of Assange expected this moment, but it was nevertheless deeply unsettling, the opening of the final act in a Greek tragedy where the hero, cursed by fortuna, or fate, confronts the dark forces from which there is no escape.

    • Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics

      The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom did his thing, which was little in the way of disagreement. The superpower has issued a request; the retainer would comply. This week, the US Department Justice Department formally sought the extradition of Julian Assange. The process was certified by Sajid Javid, a man rather distracted of late. He is, after all, seeking to win the hearts of the Conservatives and replace Theresa May as Prime Minster. Boris Johnson, not Wikileaks and press freedom, is on his mind.

      The WikiLeaks front man had failed to satisfy Javid that there were exceptions warranting the refusal to sign off on the request. A spokesman explained the matter in dull terms. “The Home Secretary must certify a valid request for extradition… unless certain narrow exceptions to section 70 of the Extradition Act 2003 apply.” Robotic compliance was almost expected.

      The exceptions outlined in the section note that the Secretary may refuse to issue a certificate in circumstances where it may be deferred; where the person being extradited is recorded as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Convention; or where, having been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, Articles 2 or 3 of the Human Rights Convention would be breached if removal of the person to the extraditing territory would take place.

      The European Convention on Human Rights expressly prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, with Article 3 also prohibiting the extradition of a person to a foreign state if they are likely to be subjected to torture.

      Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, is certain that the Wikileaks publisher will suffer grave mistreatment if extradited to the United States. “The British government must not accede to the US extradition request for Julian Assange as he faces a real risk of serious human right violations if sent there.” This will further add substance to the potential breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention, a point reiterated by Agnes Callamard, Special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions. Ecuador, she argues, permitted Assange to be expelled and arrested by the UK, taking him a step closer to extradition to the US which would expose him to “serious human rights violations.” The UK had “arbitrary [sic] detained Mr Assange possibly endangering his life for the last 7 years.”

    • UPDATE – Assange hearing: UK must not be complicit in extradition of Wikileaks publisher

      Freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19 has urged the UK courts not to extradite Wikileaks founder and publisher to the US, where he faces charges related to his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

      The UK’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed on the BBC’s Today programme that he had signed a request for Assange’s extradition to the US. The decision of whether or not to extradite will now be made by the courts. The hearing will start tomorrow, Friday June 14.

      Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, Thomas Hughes said:

      “If extradited to the US, Julian Assange would be prosecuted and potentially imprisoned for exposing human rights violations committed by the US Government and military.

      “It would be the first time that the Espionage Act has been used in the United States to prosecute a journalist for publishing information that was truthful and in the public interest.

      “The UK should not be complicit in this assault on press freedom, which would set a dangerous precedent for investigative journalists and whistleblowers in the UK, US and beyond.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Another Deceptive Letter Bashing the Electric Car Tax Credit Circulating Congress, Courtesy of FreedomWorks

      A West Virginia Republican is gathering signatures from fellow members of Congress for a letter opposing any extension to the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. Representative Alex Mooney is getting an assist in his efforts from FreedomWorks, the major conservative advocacy center that helped launch the Tea Party movement.

      In an email sent Monday to Congressional staffers and reviewed by DeSmog, FreedomWorks’ Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Jason Pye, “urges your boss to sign the letter against an expansion of the electric vehicle tax credit.” The “Draft Anti-Electric Car Tax Credit Letter” repeats a number of easily discredited and false talking points that have been echoed repeatedly by opponents of the tax incentive.

    • Tens of Millions in South America Without Power as Energy Grid Collapses

      A massive blackout left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on Sunday after an unexplained failure in the neighboring countries’ interconnected power grid. Authorities were working frantically to restore power, but a third of Argentina’s 44 million people were still in the dark by early evening.

      Voters cast ballots by the light of cell phones in gubernatorial elections in Argentina. Public transportation halted, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators.

      “I was just on my way to eat with a friend, but we had to cancel everything. There’s no subway, nothing is working,” said Lucas Acosta, a 24-year-old Buenos Aires resident. “What’s worse, today is Father’s Day. I’ve just talked to a neighbor and he told me his sons won’t be able to meet him.”

      By mid-afternoon, power had been restored to most of Uruguay’s 3 million people. But in Argentina, only 65% of the nation’s grid was back up and running as of 5 p.m. local time, the national news agency Telam reported.

    • The DNC Strategy Will Defeat Climate Voters, Not Trump

      One can’t mention the Green New Deal without a chorus of people asking, “How will we pay for it?” But when it comes to a crowded field of more than 20 Democratic presidential contenders, few bother to ask, “Who’s footing the bill for this horse race?”

      That’s because the reason is obvious. With a few exceptions, large donors and Wall Street interests back nearly every contender.

      In a time when democratic values and policies are shredded daily, will the unprecedented Democratic strategy of crowding the field and the upcoming debate stage with a surplus of largely Wall Street-funded candidates really deliver defeat to Trump?

      True, the number of personalities available may briefly enliven voters beaten down into learned helplessness through following the daily Trumpian barrage of horrors, which is only worsened by the Democratic leadership’s inert responses.

      Meanwhile, given the narrowing window for effective climate action, helping voters to identify any candidates beholden to fossil fuel money will ultimately determine the outcome of the climate crisis, as well as the future of U.S. democracy. Although less obvious from the outset, the Democratic Party’s strategy to run a wide array of candidates may be less small “d” democratic than initially appeared.

      This becomes most obvious when we think ahead to the upcoming debates.

    • US Attacks Russia’s Power Grid; Trump Kept in Dark

      The New York Times is reporting that the United States is cyber attacking Russia’s electric power grid and other targets—and that President Donald Trump is being kept out of the loop.

      “The American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.”

      Trump has not been briefed on the operation because of “the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.”

    • U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid

      The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

      In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

      Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

      But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

      The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

    • Arctic Death Spiral – A Short Film
    • Names and Locations of the Top 100 People Killing the Planet

      Just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. The guys who run those companies – and they are mostly guys – have gotten rich on the backs of literally all life on Earth. Their business model relies on the destruction of the only home humanity has ever known. Meanwhile, we misdirect our outrage at our neighbors, friends, and family for using plastic straws or not recycling. If there is anyone who deserves the outrage of all 7.5 billion of us, it’s these 100 people right here. Combined, they control the majority of the world’s mineral rights – the “right” to exploit the remaining unextracted oil, gas, and coal. They need to know that we won’t leave them alone until they agree to Keep It In The Ground. Not just their companies, but them. Now it’s personal.

      Houston tops this list as home to 7 of the 100 top ecocidal planet killers, followed by Jakarta, Calgary, Moscow, and Beijing. The richest person on the list is Russian oil magnate Vagit Alekperov, who is currently worth $20.7 billion.

      The map is in the form of a cartogram which represents the size of countries by their cumulative carbon dioxide emissions since industrialization.

      This map is a response to the pervasive myth that we can stop climate change if we just modify our personal behavior and buy more green products. Whether or not we separate our recycling, these corporations will go on trashing the planet unless we stop them. The key decision-makers at these companies have the privilege of relative anonymity, and with this map, we’re trying to pull back that veil and call them out. These guys should feel the same personal responsibility for saving the planet that we all feel.

    • Fenced in: A Surprising Threat to Coral Fish and Biodiversity

      A 15-year study of traditional fishing techniques has revealed a surprising threat to coastal ecosystems in the tropics: fish fences.

      What’s a fish fence, you ask? They’re massive structures of mangrove wood and nets used to funnel and trap hundreds of species. The technique has been used for centuries, but the new research reveals that they’re actually quite damaging.

      “These fences — which are common across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans — are so large they can be seen from space using Google Earth,” said Richard Unsworth from Swansea University, co-author of the study. “Because they are unselective, they catch more than 500 species, many as babies or which are of conservation concern. It’s not surprising that these fisheries are having a disastrous impact on tropical marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangroves and coral reefs.”

    • Hydrogen can replace natural gas by 2050

      The UK government, which has just declared it aims to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, has been told by Britain’s leading engineers that hydrogen can safely be used to replace natural gas in the country’s gas grid.

      Since 85% of homes in Britain use gas for cooking and heating and 40% of electricity is currently generated by gas, this would be a major leap towards cutting emissions − and it could be done in the next 30 years.

      It is an important development for all countries striving to reach zero emissions, because replacing gas central heating in homes and offices has always been described as one of the most difficult technical problems to overcome in order to attain a low-carbon future.


    • Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited

      Harper’s Magazine published this bucolic scene of camping in New York’s Adirondack Mountains captured by up-and-coming artist Winslow Homer in 1874. It’s one of many illustrations he turned out in competition with Currier & Ives in the mid-to-late 19th century for magazines and newspapers, most depicting Americans comporting themselves out-of-doors in cities, towns, villages, and hinterlands, in an age unmarred by automobiles, aircraft, telephones, and digitalia.

      But even by then, the accelerating pace of progress had decimated the vast Adirondack region in its voracious demand for lumber, paper, and charcoal. In the mid-1880s, after much environmentalist agitation and corporate opposition, New York’s legislature designated much of the area as a forest preserve. Ten years hence, after the preserve’s stewards were exposed as corrupt, the state constitution was amended to protect the 6.3M-acre region (almost the size of Vermont) “forever.

    • Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery

      The enthusiasm expressed for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposed grizzly bear advisory council promises to enhance coexistence efforts at a time when, with each new year, grizzly bear deaths shatter records. But Montana’s efforts must be nested within a larger national framework of grizzly bear recovery.

      The grizzly is an iconic species of global concern. Families from across America and the world are flocking to Yellowstone and Glacier hoping to see a grizzly bear. Montana recognizes the public’s passion for grizzlies and other wildlife — and their economic contribution to numerous communities — evident in widespread promotion of our state animal.

      In giving grizzly bears Endangered Species Act protections, the federal government long ago recognized that state management was inadequate. The Fish and Wildlife Service has played a vital role since 1975 in reversing the decline of grizzly bear populations in the Northern Rockies, a decline states had perpetuated with trophy hunts. By banning hunting, setting high fines to deter poaching, and establishing tough regulations to keep human foods away from bears, the FWS, along with the Forest Service, National Park Service and states, has improved the health of Montana’s grizzlies.

      Progress has been slow. Low reproductive rates exacerbate the continued excessive rates at which grizzlies die. Yellowstone and Glacier bear populations have flat-lined during the last 15 years and could even be in decline — contrary to inflated claims of government biologists. States can continue to make a positive difference, but only under oversight by a federal government charged with protecting the interests of all Americans.

      Twenty years ago, governors of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming set up a “round table” process similar to the current advisory council. Unfortunately, it proved to be little more than a vehicle for promoting premature delisting and limiting grizzlies to isolated island ecosystems — despite overwhelming scientific evidence that lasting recovery can only be achieved by reconnecting grizzly bear ecosystems. In the aftermath, Montana undertook a costly and unsuccessful fight to grab power from the federal government, reduce grizzly populations and disenfranchise the national public.

      [...]

      People outside Montana cannot and should not be ignored. During the last 20 years, citizens from around our country have overwhelmingly and consistently supported stronger protections for grizzlies through comments on more than a dozen federal and state decisions. Nearly 1 million people commented on the 2016 draft rule to remove ESA protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies. More than 99.99% supported stronger, not weaker, protections. They deserve a seat at the table.

      Meaningful recovery of grizzlies can only be achieved through a combination of local, state and national efforts. With 150 applicants for 15 seats on the Grizzly Bear Council, Montanans have shown a keen interest in constructive progress. The challenge now is to frame that work within an effective and coordinated national effort. The FWS must wake up and engage — on behalf of all of us.

  • Finance
    • Want to Be a Principled Billionaire? Stop Being a Billionaire.

      MacKenzie Bezos, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has signed the “Giving Pledge,” promising to donate at least half of the fortune she received after her separation from Jeff to charity. This is many billions more than the $2 billion Jeff, literally the richest person in the world, has pledged to give to charity. It’s also not nearly enough.

      Big Philanthropy is simply plutocracy, “an exercise of power by the wealthy that is unaccountable, non-transparent, donor-directed, perpetual, and tax-subsidized,” Stanford professor Rob Reich, one of the faculty directors of the university’s Center for Ethics in Society, told The Atlantic. But let’s give Bezos, like we give Bill and Melinda Gates, the benefit of the doubt: Let’s believe that she’s a humanitarian, and that she’s trying to help humanity. Then why isn’t she giving more?

      It’s true that half of $37 billion is more money than I’ll ever give to charity in my life, and that I’m unlikely to donate half my net worth anytime soon. But I’m not a capitalist; I don’t exploit workers; and I’m not a billionaire. Statistically speaking, none of us are. Billionaires are simply illogical. Money loses coherency at that level — not to mention numbers themselves.

      We’re not even talking about the comparatively “impoverished” 1 percent, the millionaires. A billionaire like Jeff Bezos — who hasn’t signed the “Giving Pledge” himself — could lose over 99 percent of their wealth and still have over a billion dollars. Try to imagine how much of a difference an extra $1,000 a week would make for you — either to receive or to lose — and then realize that even with only $1 billion, Bezos could spend $1 million a week for 20 years before going broke. And that’s without taking into consideration interest.

    • Behind the curve: why Europe is stuttering in the global tech race

      The EU is often blamed for holding back disruptive businesses and has gained a reputation for interfering and being overly bureaucratic. Certainly, the way in which it engages with US tech firms supports this view, with Google, Apple and Facebook all having clashed with European regulators in the past few years. When it comes to the European landscape, though, it seems the EU is not doing enough.

      Fragmentation remains a major obstacle to the creation of world-class European businesses, with the different regulations, taxes and industry standards found across the union providing obstacles to cross-border investments. These are areas where the EU could do more to encourage uniformity, particularly with regards to R&D expenditure. While the likes of Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Germany all spent more than three percent of GDP on R&D in 2017, eight member states recorded an R&D intensity of below one percent.

    • Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO, Talks Up Company’s Nascent Crypto Development Team

      For the record, not every technician considers Bitcoin a “pure” product of a healthy subculture.

      Blockchain skeptic, author and Unix system administrator David Gerard, for example, has famously called Bitcoin an “apocalyptic death cult” and “pile of shit.”

      Gerard’s blog posts regularly savage the leading edge in crypto and offer a poison-penned antidote to the vigorous market-spiel that otherwise characterizes the coverage in “the space,” as it were.

    • “Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)

      An unnaturally tan woman with metallic blond hair and garish makeup has hit a bonus. Automated applause, bells, whistles, whoops, and all manner of artificial sounds ring out. Flashing in the acrid, recycled air, pixelated explosions of light refract off of the woman’s painted face, glistening and oily underneath all that goop.

      Sighing, smiling with crooked and stained teeth at no one in particular, the woman reaches into her worn but still violently red leather handbag. Effortlessly freeing a cigarette and pulling it to her lips, she lights it, and swiveling in her chair, takes in the swath of the casino floor. Not seeing anything or anyone that can save her, she takes a deep drag, and reflexively pulls her machine’s lever. Not a winner (this time), she still smiles – sickly sweet, still at no one – and exhales.

      Mechanically, maniacally, a nearby machine exclaims (and explains?) to the woman, and to anyone else who’ll listen: “Wheel! Of! Fortune!”

      Two giggly and pale swim-suited young women with high-pitched foreign accents, a swan-headed swim ring encircling their lithe, still-dripping bodies, stumble by. They’ve had too many jello shots. Happily, nimbly, seeming to notice no one and no one seeming to take any notice of them, they do an exaggerated shimmy down the gleaming, just-shined imitation-marble floor. Later, at night, they’ll sell their flesh, but it’s daytime still despite the dreary, omnipresent nighttime feel of the casino.

      Nearby at the entrance to the richly appointed “high limit slots” room, a middle-aged Latina woman looks up at them knowingly from the floor. Made to look matronly in her uniform’s unflattering cut, she’s possessed of a proud and regal bearing even now, on her hands and knees; she’s extracting gum or candy mashed in the carpet she’s responsible for keeping spotlessly clean – cheerfully and efficiently, eight to ten hours each day, six days a week, for minimum wage, maximum stress, backbreaking toil, and no benefits. This woman survived civil war, crushing poverty, violent crime, all manner of physical and mental abuse, while single-handedly raising five children. Her eldest son lost a leg fighting for the United States in combat. Still, just last week, her legal aid lawyer gave her the news: She might be deported soon. “And there’s nothing I can do,” he said.

    • ‘Everything You Need to Know’: With Warren and Sanders Not an Option, Wall Street Abuzz Over Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg

      Having already determined that two of the top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination—Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders—are completely unacceptable and must be stopped at all costs, Wall Street financiers have reportedly begun to narrow down their list of 2020 favorites as candidates’ fundraising efforts reach a “fevered peak” ahead of the June filing deadline.

      As the New York Times reported on Sunday, “three candidates are generating most of the buzz” among powerful Wall Street donors: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • FOX News Poll: Bernie Sanders Would Beat Trump By 9 Points

      A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing Senator Bernie Sanders, 49 percent to 40 percent among all registered voters nationwide.

      The Fox poll also showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent. Also beating Trump in the poll were Senators Elizabeth Warren (43%-41%) and Kamala Harris (42%-41%), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (41%-40%) of South Bend, Indiana.

      Also, support for impeachment is up five points among Democrats since June 2018 (69 percent vs. 74 percent now) and up 15 among independents (25 percent to 40 percent today). About 9 in 10 Republicans have consistently opposed impeachment.

      The Fox poll was conducted June 9-12, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,001 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.

      Sanders acknowledged on Sunday that “polls go up and polls go down” but insisted that the survey showed he was the strongest candidate to defeat Trump.

      “I think we can win in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan and some of the other battleground states,” Sanders said on “Fox News Sunday.”

    • Bernie Sanders’ Radical New Proposal Could Transform America

      Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

      Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.

      “Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”

      Sanders cited figures of vast wealth disparity in the United States, where “the top 1 percent of people own more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.” He said there is higher income and wealth inequality today than at any time since the 1920s. And, Sanders stated, “despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average wage of the American worker in real dollars is no higher than it was 46 years ago and millions of people are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.”

      He also noted, “in America today, the very rich live on average 15 years longer than the poorest Americans.”

    • Wife of Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu convicted of using public money to order takeaways

      An Israeli court on Sunday convicted the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fraudulently using state funds for meals, under a plea bargain which saw her admit to lesser charges.

      While the ruling cut short a high-profile trial, the Netanyahu family’s legal woes are far from over: the veteran premier himself faces possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the coming months.

    • Despite sociological tweaks, Kremlin pollsters find Putin’s trust rating is still declining

      The state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) has recorded another, albeit small decline in Vladimir Putin’s national trust rating. According to polling between June 3 and 9, the president’s trust score fell to 71.7 percent — down from 72.4 percent, a week earlier.

      Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Meduza that weekly and even monthly fluctuations in Putin’s trust ratings are immaterial, arguing that only a “longer-term” perspective is worth considering.

    • If Donald Trump Is the Symptom…

      Don’t try to deny it! The political temperature of this country is rising fast. Call it Trump change or Trump warming, if you want, but grasp one thing: increasingly, you’re in a different land and, whatever happens to Donald Trump, the results down the line are likely to be ever less pretty. Trump change isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s distinctly global. After all, from Australia to India, the Philippines to Hungary, Donald Trumps and their supporters keep getting elected or reelected and, according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans think Trump himself will win again in 2020 (though, at the moment, battleground-state polls look grim for him).

      Still, whether or not he gets a second term in the White House, he only seems like the problem, partially because no president, no politician, no one in history has ever gotten such 24/7 media coverage of every twitch, tweet, bizarre statement, falsehood, or fantasy he expresses (or even the clothes he wears). Think of it this way: we’re in a moment in which the only thing the media can’t imagine saying about Donald Trump is: “You’re fired!” And believe me, that’s just one sign of a media — and a country — with a temperature that’s anything but 98.6.

    • Democracy Faces a Global Crisis

      If you’re a supporter of Donald Trump — or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or Matteo Salvini in Italy — you probably think that democracy has never been in better health.

      Recent elections in these countries didn’t just serve to rotate the elite from the conventional parties. Voters went to the polls and elected outsiders who promised to transform their political systems. That demonstrates that the system, that democracy itself, is not rigged in favor of the “deep state” or the Bilderberg global elite — or the plain vanilla leaders of the center left and center right.

      Moreover, from the perspective of this populist voter, these outsiders have continued to play by the democratic rules. They are pushing for specific pieces of legislation. They are making all manner of political and judicial appointments. They are trying to nudge the economy one way or another. They are standing up to outside forces who threaten to undermine sovereignty, the bedrock of any democratic system.

      Sure, these outsiders might make intemperate statements. They might lie. They might indulge in a bit of demagoguery. But politicians have always sinned in this way. Democracy carries on regardless.

      You don’t have to be a supporter of right-wing populists to believe that democracy is in fine fettle. The European Union just held elections to the European Parliament. The turnout was over 50 percent, the highest in two decades.

      True, right-wing populists increased their share from one-fifth to one-fourth of the chamber, with Marine Le Pen’s party coming out on top in France, Salvini’s Liga taking first place in Italy, and Nigel Farage’s Brexit party winning in the UK. But on the other side of the spectrum, the Greens came in second in Germany and expanded their stake of the European parliament from 7 to 9 percent. And for the first time, two pan-European parties ran candidates. The multi-issue progressive Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM 25) received more than 1.4 million votes (but failed to win any seats).

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Oberlin Helped Students Defame a Bakery, a Jury Says. The Punishment: $33 Million.

      The bakery’s complaint said Dr. Raimondo, had helped hand out fliers saying: “Don’t Buy. This is a racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.”

      But the college and the police had no record of prior complaints about racial profiling, the complaint said. Rather, local merchants suffered from students shoplifting, according to court papers, and a college publication had written about how shoplifting was a rite of passage.

    • Freed journalist Ivan Golunov is granted witness protection

      Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov has been granted witness protection in the drug dealing case in which he was previously a suspect, the journalist’s lawyer, Sergey Badamshin, told MBKh Media. On Saturday, June 16, investigators at Moscow’s police headquarters questioned Golunov as a witness in the case. Badamshin says the case is now effectively a fact-finding mission to review the actions of the police.

      According to MBKh Media, the same protection was granted to journalists Tatyana Felgenhauer (after she was attacked in October 2017) and Oleg Kashin (after an attempt on his life in November 2010).

    • Russian social network blocks community, as state officials crack down on Internet comments, following ethnic violence in Penza

      The Russian social network VKontakte has blocked the community Chemodankovka v Ogne (Chemodanovka in Flames) over posts related to violence in Chemodanovka, a town in Russia’s Penza region. Trying to access the group now leads users to a message that says it’s been “blocked for inciting violent acts.”

      On June 17, spokespeople for Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, told reporters that all information regarding the events in Chemodanovka “that the Attorney General’s Office has recognized as unverified” has been removed from social media. Officials have not clarified exactly what information has been banned.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • In Stores, Secret Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move

      Most people aren’t aware they are being watched with beacons, but the “beacosystem” tracks millions of people every day. Beacons are placed at airports, malls, subways, buses, taxis, sporting arenas, gyms, hotels, hospitals, music festivals, cinemas and museums, and even on billboards.

      In order to track you or trigger an action like a coupon or message to your phone, companies need you to install an app on your phone that will recognize the beacon in the store. Retailers (like Target and Walmart) that use Bluetooth beacons typically build tracking into their own apps. But retailers want to make sure most of their customers can be tracked — not just the ones that download their own particular app.

      So a hidden industry of third-party location-marketing firms has proliferated in response. These companies take their beacon tracking code and bundle it into a toolkit developers can use.

    • Credit Scores Could Soon Get Even Creepier and More Biased

      According to a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study, 45 million Americans fall into the category of credit invisible or unscoreable—that’s almost 20 percent of the adult population. And here again we can see a racial divide: 27 percent of Black and Hispanic adults are credit invisible or unscoreable, compared to just 16 percent of white adults.

      To bring these “invisible” consumers into the credit score fold, companies have proposed alternative credit. FICO recently released FICO XD, which includes payment data from TV or cable accounts, utilities, cell phones, and landlines. Other companies have proposed social media posts, job history, educational history, and even restaurant reviews or business check-ins.

    • Tired of #$%& passwords? Single Sign-on could be savior

      So how is single sign-on more secure, if Facebook is in charge? It’s not, say security experts. “They’ve shown they can’t be trusted with our information,” says Rudis.

    • Are SSO Buttons Like “Sign-in With Apple” Better Than Passwords?

      Apple recently announced a new product that could prevent users from giving away their email ID to every other site on the internet. It’s expected to launch sometime later in 2019.

      Called “Sign-in with Apple,” it is similar to other Single Sign-on services provided by Google and Facebook. The button lets you login to websites without creating a new user account every time.

    • App Makers Are Mixed on ‘Sign In With Apple’

      But other app makers have mixed feelings on what Apple has proposed. I spoke to a variety of developers who make apps for iOS and Android, one of whom asked to remain anonymous because they aren’t authorized to speak on behalf of their employer. Some are skeptical that Sign In with Apple will offer a solution dramatically different from what’s already available through Facebook or Google. Apple’s infamous opacity around new products means the app makers don’t have many answers yet as to how Apple’s sign in mechanism is going to impact their apps. And one app maker went as far as referring to Apple’s demand that its sign-in system be offered if any other sign-in systems are shown as “petty.”

    • Chinese Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters

      “This case was not an exception,” he wrote.

      The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with 20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the protest site.

    • Security News This Week: Telegram Says China Is Behind DDoS

      As protests erupted in the streets of Hong Kong this week, over a proposed law that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, the secure messaging app Telegram was hit with a massive DDoS attack. The company tweeted on Wednesday that it was under attack. Then the app’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov followed up and suggested the culprits were Chinese state actors. He tweeted that the IP addresses for the attackers were coming from China. “Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception,” he added. As Reuters notes, Telegram was DDoSed during protests in China in 2015, as well. Hong Kong does not face the strict [Internet] censorship that exists in mainland China, although activists have expressed concern about increased pressure from Beijing on the region.

    • Nextcloud signs public letter, opposing German plan to force decryption of chat
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Myanmar doctor-turned-model hits back at ban over revealing photos

      A Myanmar doctor and model who had her medical licence revoked for posting lingerie photos of herself blasted the government for “interfering” with personal freedoms, vowing on Saturday (June 15) to appeal against the medical council’s decision in a deeply conservative country.

    • A Father’s Day Gift for Myself: Activism

      News about climate change has been so spooky for so long that it can feel like background noise. We find a way to carry on like normal, even when the news is disquieting.

      Well, let me tell you I’m having a moment when it’s hard to do that.

      For me the trigger was a recent report by Australia’s Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration, which warns of “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization.”

      How near-term? “The scale of destruction” by 2050, they wrote, “is beyond our capacity to model — with a high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end.”

      In 30 short years, everything modern humans have built could be rent apart by an ecological catastrophe of our own making. Sorry, but that prediction’s too specific — and too near — to tune out.

      Donald Trump and his science-denying cohort have the luxury of being dead by then. But I’m in my early 30s. In 2050 I won’t even be eligible to draw down the modest retirement savings I finally started setting aside (and am already wondering if it’s worth it).

      Most terrifying of all, my two-year old will have barely reached the age I am now. That realization is taking a toll.

    • On Father’s Day, Let’s Promise Our Children We Will Not Stop Hoping

      There’s a picture on the wall above the little shelf where my wife stows her bag when she gets home from work. It’s a photograph of my daughter taken the day after she was born. Her little head is resting in the palm of my hand, her wee fist balled by my seemingly beam-sized thumb, and it would all be seamlessly adorable but for the look on her face.

      A full day after the deal went down, she was still visibly pissed about being born. Her expression was a cross between Grumpy Cat and a Notre Dame gargoyle. It’s my favorite picture because I love her and the moment it captured, but everyone who sees it always says something along the lines of, “Damn, she’s mad.”

      After listening to her father rant and rave about the world from the safe confines of her mother’s womb, she may have had an idea of what she’d landed in the middle of, and was not thrilled. A few days later, in what I assume was a calculated act of vengeance, she threw up into my mouth right after we gave her a bath. Take that, Dad.

      It was a vomit sniper shot delivered just as I was articulating a vowel (the “o” in “what’s wrong?” to be precise), and it gave me the first good inkling that I might have what it takes to do the fatherhood thing, because I didn’t fling her out of pure reflex when she filled my mouth with barely-digested breastmilk. It’s the little things.

      On Friday, my daughter will finish kindergarten, and my wife and I are very calm puddles about the whole situation. A few minutes ago, she was fitting snugly into my hand and barfing into my gob, all of seven pounds and about the size of a cordless telephone. Suddenly, she’s half my height and asking to wear my Patriots hat to school. (Yes, I inflicted my membership in that detested fan base upon her. Her mother the Steelers fan tried her best, but Daddy won that round, at least for now.)

      You think you’re scared when they’re first born because you don’t know anything, but you’re not really scared. You’re just a rookie who has never faced a major-league fastball. I remember being petrified when the doctor handed her to me for the first time; I had almost no practical experience with babies, and was certain I would flub the whole operation.

      [...]

      People have asked me how my wife and I can justify bringing a child into such a crowded, polluted, violent world. I always answer the same way: People made this mess, and people will be needed to fix it. I’m not consigning my daughter to a life of activism, mind you. Her path is hers to choose, and for all I know she will grow up to be a petroleum broker on Wall Street. I doubt it, though; she likes flowers too much.

    • Sorry Means Sometimes Having to Admit You’re Racist

      Not long ago, a few southern newspapers offered apologies for having vociferously opposed the civil rights movement. The newspapers that were around in the 1910s and 1920s offered mea culpas for condoning lynching, Klan terrorism and the routine indignities of Jim Crow.

      Much of this public soul-searching was prompted by staff journalists rummaging through archives looking for information about their region’s sordid past. It wasn’t difficult to find evidence of their own newspapers’ conveniently forgotten complicity with evil.

      As it turns out, the rich and powerful media barons who owned newspapers during that era usually aligned themselves with the most reactionary forces, including lynch mobs.

      Even so, a few newspapers have correctly figured out that they’ll never have moral credibility with readers without dealing forthrightly with their racist pasts. The sting of contrition was mediated by the fact that apologizing for editorials written in the 1920s felt like an exercise in abstraction.

    • The Labor Movement Comes to Virtual Reality: Unionizing Digital Media

      Kim Kelly’s first “real” job—outside of dishwashing, retail sales, and touring with metal bands as a merchandise person—was at Vice Media. Even that started out, she says, as “permalance” rather than full time. Her coworkers reached out to her about their union drive even before she had become a full-time employee and says, she was immediately on board. Two weeks later, they had signed union cards with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and shortly after, in 2015, they went public. Kelly found herself on the bargaining commit- tee, working on a first contract. “Here we are and I am a union mom three and a half years later,” she says.

      Vice is just one of over twenty media outlets that have unionized with either the WGAE or the NewsGuild–Communications Workers of America (NewsGuild-CWA) since 2015, including Gawker, Al Jazeera America, the New Yorker, Mic.com, the Los Angeles Times, Jacobin, Fast Company, The Onion, Vox Media, Slate, HuffPost, the Intercept, MTV News, and the latest addition, as of this writing, the fashion site Refinery29. These outlets are not all digital-only, but digital has shaped their structure in recent years as the news industry has whipsawed back and forth between crisis fueled by the continuing loss of advertising money, to boom times as big investors look to cash in on digital hype, and quick layoffs when their investors realize they are not going to strike it rich. Media jobs these days are characterized by precarity, low wages, always-on work cultures, low benefits, and the constant threat of mass firings—all while being required to live in the world’s most expensive cities. The union drives have been sparked by internal issues at each publication, but they have also fed off one another, creating industry-wide momentum that has not slowed with layoffs and even shop closures and has been a spot of rare good news for the labor movement as a whole. Unions

    • The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence

      Pictures of Daniel Ezzedine show him to be a fresh-faced 17-year-old with a warm cheerful smile. His parents are Lebanese but he was brought up in Germany where he had just left school. His teachers brought him to celebrate his graduation on a trip to Canterbury, where he was assaulted and beaten half to death by a gang of youths in what local people are convinced was a racist attack.

      It took place at 6pm on 6 June in Rose Lane in the centre of the city about 250 yards from Canterbury Cathedral. Daniel received a merciless beating from his numerous attackers, which left him close to death. Rushed to hospital in London by helicopter, he is still in a coma and doctors initially gave him only a 30 per cent chance of surviving. Seven people were arrested – six of them teenagers – but none have been charged.

      The family had difficulty at first in getting visas to enter Britain to see their son because they are not German citizens, though they have lived in Germany for 30 years. “I pray and ask Allah for mercy and that you will soon be on your legs again my little brother,” wrote Bassam, one of Daniel’s five brothers. “You don’t deserve the dead!”

      I live in Canterbury and often pass the spot near Tesco, Marks and Spencer and HSBC where Daniel was set upon. Details of what happened are sparse because the police are not saying what they know and Daniel remains in a coma. But it is telling that the gang chose a Lebanese Muslim to target out of all the passers-by in this well-frequented part of Canterbury.

      The attack took place close to a pretty little park called Dane John, which in recent years has become a notorious haunt for gangs selling drugs. I asked one young man if he walked through the park at night. “I do not like to walk through it in day time,” he replied. He said that gangs there are often looking for victims and might easily target a Muslim or anybody different from themselves. A well-attended march against racism took place through the city on Wednesday.

      The fate of Daniel Ezzedine is evidence that Britain is becoming a more racist country since the Brexit referendum. Pro-Brexit politicians like Michael Gove deny this, but a poll by Opinium found that overt ethnic abuse and discrimination reported by ethnic minorities has risen from 64 per cent at the beginning of 2016 to 76 per cent today.

    • Gay man tortured in Chechnya says man missing in open murder case was actually imprisoned with him

      Maxim Lapunov, the only individual to have openly identified himself as a victim of the homophobic purges in Chechnya, told the Radio Liberty project Kavkaz.Realii that a man from Volgograd Region thought to have been missing since March 2017 was in fact imprisoned in Chechnya with him.

    • Women and Non-Binary Rideshare Drivers Face Harassment and Violence

      Women make up 20 percent of the drivers for more established companies like Lyft and Uber. Many rideshare drivers entered the gig economy due to a lack of job opportunities and systemic oppression. Many people have had to stay in these jobs longer than expected. Katrina Noell began driving primarily for Uber in Asheville, North Carolina after she lost her retail job. Employment discrimination and ableist workplace policies that make it difficult or impossible for employees to have the flexibility they need to schedule around medical appointments and illness have pushed many with disabilities into driving for these services, such as Kristina C. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Kristina began driving due to the flexibility that she’s been unable to find in other employment. Meanwhile a single Nepalese mom now living in the East Bay in California, who asked to remain anonymous, reported that she drives for Uber because she needs to drop off and pick up her child from school during the standard workday, and traditional employers weren’t flexible.

    • Putin reportedly asks for nationwide electronic visa system to begin in 2021

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested that a new electronic visa become available beginning January 1, 2021, to foreigners hoping to enter Russia, according to Kommersant.

      The newspaper reported that the visa would be single-use and short-term, allowing its holders to visit Russia once for up to 16 days. The visa would cover tourist, business, and humanitarian purposes as well as visits to friends or family. However, only citizens of a limited number of countries will likely have access to the new electronic visas. That list includes China, South Korea, Japan, all Schengen Zone countries, and potentially New Zealand but not the UK, Canada, or the US.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Supreme Court Denies 43rd Petition for Cert on 101 Grounds in Villena v. Iancu [Ed: These patent nuts lose their minds over software/nature patents. Alice is here to stay; deal with it.]
    • Regents of the University of Minnesota v. LSI Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2019) [Ed: Patents are not immune from scrutiny, even if you pretend to have some magical immunity (for fake patents you abusively exploit)]

      The Federal Circuit handed down its decision in Regents of the University of Minnesota v. LSI Corp. on Friday, and perhaps not surprisingly (in view of its decision last summer in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.), held that State sovereign immunity does not preclude institution of inter partes review proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The panel decision was extensive and the Court relied heavily on its St. Regis decision’s reasoning, but in doing so, likely increased the chances (to near certainty) of Supreme Court review sometime next year.

      To recap, the Regents of the University of Minnesota, an “arm of the state,” sued separately LSI Corp. (a semiconductor chipmaker) and customers of Ericsson Inc. (a telecommunications company that intervened on its customers’ behalf) for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,859,601 (’601 patent; LSI)) and 7,251,768 (’768 patent), 7,292,647 (RE45,230 patent), 8,588,317 (’317 patent), 8,718,185 (’185 patent), and 8,774,309 (’309 patent; Ericsson), and each defendant separately filed inter partes review (IPR) petitions against each asserted patent. Before the Board instituted the IPRs, the University of Minnesota filed a motion to dismiss on State sovereign immunity grounds. The PTAB, in an expanded panel, ruled that while State sovereign immunity applied, Minnesota had waived the immunity by filing suit. This was a parsimonious, limited decision that, if merely affirmed by the Federal Circuit, likely would not have roiled patent jurisprudence waters, would have smacked of fairness (and provided a simple dichotomy between immune and non-immune situations), would have immunized States from political pestering from gadflies, and would have avoided what is almost certain to be Supreme Court scrutiny.

      [...]

      Every State in the Union has one or more (and in larger states, several) state universities that, like the University of Minnesota, are “arms of the state.” Since enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, Federally funded research at these universities (which comprises the overwhelming majority of such research) has resulted in robust patent portfolios that are actively licensed and hence valuable and attractive targets for challenge by IPRs. These States constitute an active constituency certain to make their views on this decision known to the Supreme Court when Minnesota, almost certainly, petitions for certiorari. The Question Presented will be one that addresses a fundamental question of the States’ status as a sovereign entity under the Constitution, and as such is unlikely not to pique the Court’s interest. Add to that the Court’s recent penchant for taking patent cases and that the decision is from the Federal Circuit, and it is extremely unlikely that the Court will not grant cert, and in about twelve months we will learn whether State sovereign immunity extends to IPR proceedings before the PTAB.

    • State Sovereign Immunity does Not Apply in Inter Partes Review proceedings. [Ed: Poor patent maximalists. All the patent scams they use to support fall on their sword in courtrooms.]

      Although the terms of the 11th amendment appear to be directed to Article III court activities, immunity has also been found in administrative cases that the courts finds to be “similar to court adjudications.”

      In its setup for this decision, the Federal Circuit walked through the patenting process — noting the many flaws and high likelihood that non-patentable claims are allowed to be patented. That foundation then highlights the need for further administrative action in fixing those bad patents — first reexaminations and reissues, and now inter partes review. Because this deeper look is costly, it makes sense to only target cases under dispute — fix the important patents and don’t worry about the rest. In other words, IPR proceedings should be seen as an extension of the examination process, not a court proceeding. The court explains briefly that “IPR represents the sovereign’s reconsideration of the initial patent grant.”

      In the Allergan case, the Federal Circuit previously held that Native American tribal immunity does not protect tribal-owned patents from IPR challenges. Here, the court concluded that “the differences between state and tribal sovereign immunity do not warrant a different result than in Saint Regis. We therefore conclude that state sovereign immunity does not apply to IPR proceedings.”

    • Prioritized Examination and its Impact on Commercialization of Patents

      Patents play an important role in facilitating transfers of knowledge, and enable commercialization of innovative ideas by reducing information asymmetry between potential buyers and sellers on the market for technology. The crucial question, however, is how quickly innovative ideas can be patented. Previous research has shown that the probability of commercialization for pending applications peaks immediately after the patent allowance event (Gans, Hsu & Stern, 2008). But does the length of pendency of an application at a patent office also affect the overall saleability of a technology and create some frictions on the market for technology? In this paper, we exploit the introduction of the USPTO’s Prioritized Examination (Track One) Program to capture the impact of shortened pendency on the likelihood that a pending or granted patent will be commercialized via the transfer of property rights. Using the difference-in-differences approach, we compare the average saleability of patents, which we assign into three groups according to their predicted propensity for prioritization before and after the program start date. We find that introduction of the Track One program has significantly increased the probability of commercial reassignment of applications that were more likely to be prioritized. Our results suggest that the policy implemented by the USPTO and shortened pendency of applications, in general, may reduce frictions on the market for technology and facilitate commercialization of innovations.

    • Samsung Patent Shows Rollable Phone Displays

      Samsung is still figuring out how to release its futuristic Galaxy Fold, which is plagued with durability issues and without a release date. But that hasn’t stopped it from dreaming up new phone designs, including a compelling patent for a phone with a rollable display.

      This patent discovered by Let’s Go Digital (via Gizmodo) shows off a phone that appears fairly traditional at a first glance. But it’s actually hiding a secret rollable display inside, and the top housing containing the selfie camera and earpiece seems able to extend outward from the phone, making for a screen that’s going off the charts when it comes to aspect ratio.

    • High Court Shuts Patent Office Door on Government Challenges

      The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked federal agencies from challenging patents at the Patent and Trademark Office, in a decision that attorneys say will have a far-reaching impact.

      The justices overturned a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision that the U.S. Postal Service could challenge a patent at the agency. The ruling sets a precedent by clarifying that the government isn’t a “person” eligible to use administrative patent challenge proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA).

      The 6-3 decision in Return Mail Inc. v. United States Postal Service “prevents any government agency from trying to go to the PTO to invalidate a patent they may not like,” Beth Brinkmann, a Covington & Burling LLP partner who argued before the high court for Return Mail, said.

      The Department of Health and Human Services or the Food and Drug Administration can’t challenge a pharmaceutical patent at the patent office, for example, under the decision, Matt Rizzolo, an intellectual property litigation partner at Ropes & Gray LLP, said.

      The ruling also applies to state governments and their agencies that may want to file the most common administrative challenge, an inter partes review, Rizzolo said.

      “We’ve seen a lot of attorney generals from various states make drug pricing a major issue,” Rizzolo said. “If a state attorney general potentially wanted to bring an IPR or threaten to bring an IPR in an attempt to force the prices of drugs down, this would foreclose that, at least in so far as the IPR was filed by the state itself.”

    • Tesla’s battery research group files new patent that could help prevent cell failure

      Tesla’s battery research group in Canada has filed a new patent application for a way to analyze an electrolyte in a lithium cell, which could help prevent cell failure.
      The patent was filed through Tesla’s battery research group led by Jeff Dahn in Halifax.

      Jeff Dahn is considered a pioneer in Li-ion battery cells. He has been working on the Li-ion batteries pretty much since they were invented. He is credited for helping increase the life cycle of the cells, which helped their commercialization. His work now focuses mainly on a potential increase in energy density and durability.

      In 2016, Dahn transitioned his research group from their 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new association with Tesla under the newly formed ‘NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research’.

    • Trademarks
      • There is No Substitute for a Porsche – Except another Porsche? [Ed: 'Owning' shapes because billionaires in the car industry bribed politicians for protectionist laws]

        As a general rule, if the freedom of design is limited, small differences can lead to distinct overall impressions. These design limitations can derive from several sources. Take, for example, the effect on the freedom of design due to certain legal requirements: all cars need to have headlights and rear-view mirrors. Porsche added that, in the case at hand, the freedom of design was strongly limited by the expectation of the public that, in short, “wants a Porsche to look like a Porsche”. The General Court disagreed. The relevant test is the freedom to design a car, not the freedom to design a Porsche (or any other specific product).

      • Monster Energy Suing Raptors over Clawed-Up Basketball Logo

        The biggest court battle for the Toronto Raptors might not be against the Golden State Warriors, but instead Monster Energy.

        The energy drink company has filed legal action with the U.S. Patent Office, claiming the logo the Raptors have used since 2014 is too similar to its own, according to the Canadian Press (via CBC).

        “[Monster] has sold billions of dollars worth of goods under [its] mark,” the company said, describing its logo featuring three gashes that was created in 2002.

    • Copyrights
      • MP3hub: An Online Tool for Downloading Any Video and Audio Files

        No, it’s not just for music! There are many audio content available on the internet today that can entertain you, of course, but can also help you on a daily basis, whether cooking tutorials, or language lessons for example or reposting a video without sharing the sources. If you continue your studies, there are even chances to support your courses with resources posted by fans in all areas.

      • Kim Dotcom enters final fight to avoid extradition to US

        A five-day appeal hearing on the extradition of Kim Dotcom got underway Monday in New Zealand’s Supreme Court .

        It represents Dotcom’s final attempt to avoid extradition to the United States, where he faces criminal charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.

      • Megaupload: US says copyright charges can be swapped out for criminal when seeking Kim Dotcom extradition

        They say the US approach, if enshrined in legal precedent, would have “mums, dads and the kids” potentially facing criminal charges for breaches of copyright.

      • Dotcom extradition: Copyright breaches could still be criminal conspiracy, Crown says

        However, the men’s lawyers have argued that, at most, their behaviour might amount to civil breaches of the Copyright Act and therefore should be dealt with under that act.

        Their legal team has said that the US has not even presented sufficient evidence to show there was a civil breach.

        New Zealand can only extradite people to face criminal allegations.

      • Just Six Percent of Finns Say They Illegally Stream Movies or TV Shows

        An annual survey carried out in Finland has revealed interesting attitudes towards piracy. The majority of respondents believe that any form of piracy is unacceptable, with only 3% completely in favor. Overall, just 6% of Finns admit to streaming movies or TV shows from illegal sources.

      • Google Caught ‘Red Handed’ Stealing From Lyrics Site ‘Genius’ [Ed: No, copying is not stealing and “Genius” just copied those words from the original performers.]

        You must have come across song lyrics displayed directly on Google’s search results pages. While this feature is handy, lyrics website Genius.com says that Google is using underhanded tactics to steal its content and display it on its pages.

        Genius claims that its traffic is dropping because Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, and some of them are lifted directly from the website.

      • DSM Directive Series #6: ‘hyperlinking’ in the press publishers’ right

        Among other things, the protection granted under Article 15(1), that is the right of EU-based press publishers to control the reproduction and making available for online use of their press publications by information society service providers, “shall not apply to acts of hyperlinking” (Article 15(1), subparagraph 3).

        Recital 57 substantially states the same thing, by providing that “[t]he rights granted to publishers of press publications should not extend to acts of hyperlinking.”

        [...]

        As readers may know, the exclusion of linking from the scope of the right was also motivated by political reasons, as those opposing the directive and what is now Article 15 dubbed this proposal ‘link tax’ early on in the process.

        Unlike the original version, the final version of Article 15 appears to exclude all acts of hyperlinking from the scope of the press-publishers’ right, irrespective of whether they amount to communication to the public under the InfoSoc Directive.

        What remains unclear, however, is why EU legislature employed the technologically-specific term ‘hyperlink’ rather than, eg, the more technologically-neutral term employed by, first, the referring court and, then, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Svensson, that is ‘clickable link’ (or ‘Internet link’).

Weaponising Russophobia Against One’s Critics

Monday 17th of June 2019 06:45:47 AM

Summary: Response to smears and various whispering campaigns whose sole purpose is to deplete the support base for particular causes and people; these sorts of things have gotten out of control in recent years

MOMENTS ago we wrote about photo ops (the above photo is real by the way, only the text was added) and their longterm ramifications, such as guilt by association. We don’t think that the terrible management of the EPO is some kind of conspiracy to undermine the European Patent Office (EPO). This awful leadership is actually beneficial to patent trolls with low-quality patents such as software patents (which both Campinos and Battistelli support).

It’s frustrating to see just how self-harming the Administrative Council has been, perhaps in expectation of funds, such as massive amounts of ‘cooperation’ money. Why else would they be harming Europe (unless there was personal gain)? Why would they allow the injustices to persist? Why would they fail to acknowledge the collapse in patent quality and the measurable brain drain?

“It’s frustrating to see just how self-harming the Administrative Council has been, perhaps in expectation of funds, such as massive amounts of ‘cooperation’ money.”Over the years I’ve learned the patterns of smears against people who expose corruption. I used to speak with Julian Assange before he was arrested on behalf of the United States, which he ‘embarrassed’. Then, several years ago (it happened only once), I saw some anonymous fool trying to insinuate I was connected with “Daesh” or Russia. This is how nonsensical rumours start and grow feet. People with connections to Hillary Clinton manufactured lies about Assange being a pedophile — a subject rebutted here and elsewhere. A couple of years ago I saw Team UPC spreading false rumours about the UPC complainant (that someone must be secretly funding him). They didn’t say anything publicly; they had defamed him through the grapevine, so to speak (a malicious whispering campaign). This is pretty serious. They try to belittle people who raise or simply highlight serious and legitimate constitutional violations.

“My goal was always to fix the EPO, not to ruin it.”Throughout the years I’ve always supported the EPO and gave coverage to their staff protests (even going back more than a decade). I myself could probbaly be a patent examiner. My goal was always to fix the EPO, not to ruin it. If one wanted to crash the EPO, then one would put an incompetent, corrupt politician in charge.

I strongly object to the idea that those merely talking about the corruption at the EPO try to make it less stable; the target is always the irresponsible management, whom even examiners loathe. This is why they nearly went on strike — a strike ballot for later this month (it was likely just postponed).

My disclosures have always been abundantly apparent (in my personal Web site, which goes 18 years back). I’m not an ‘agent’ or a ‘shill’ or anything like that. In fact, I rarely associate with anything or anybody. I know the risk of abundant affiliations. I’m also extremely careful who I respond to online.

“My disclosures have always been abundantly apparent (in my personal Web site, which goes 18 years back).”Russian TV channels like RT and Sputnik invited me to interviews several times; not only did I decline, I didn’t even respond to their invitations. Never.

If people want to question this site’s motivations, instead of nitpicking style or typos, go for it. They won’t get far. Later this year we’ll probably publish our 26,000th blog post and longtime readers know that we rarely need to issue corrections; we stick to just a handful of topics that we understand very well. Over the past half a decade one of those topics was the EPO. This and only this is why we ‘obsess with’ or focus on it. Other sites barely cover it. It’s a blind spot.

When the EPO is Run by Politicians It’s Expected to Be Aggressive and Corrupt Like Purely Political Establishments

Monday 17th of June 2019 05:45:03 AM

“Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”

–Edmund Burke

Summary: António ‘Photo Op’ Campinos will have marked his one-year anniversary in July; he has failed to demonstrate morality, respect for the law, understanding of the sciences, leadership by example and even the most basic honesty (he lies a lot)

THERE used to be a time (for decades) when Europe’s second-largest institution was run by people with a scientific background. They could explain complex concepts to people; they were jacks of many trades and maybe masters of some, but this is no longer the case. Nowadays they’re posers. Posers and liars.

Shaking hands with people may seem like a clever idea, especially when a photo gets taken. But the liability is too great, whether it’s a Linux Foundation handshake with Microsoft (see our Linux Foundation series) or EPO criminals (such as Battistelli) shaking hands with classic dictators in autocratic nations. We’ve noticed that António Campinos, as the European Patent Office’s (EPO) President, maintains this tradition of Battistelli, whom he also did photo ops with. It’s pretty incriminating because Battistelli reportedly (based on insiders) rigged the recruitment process to secure this job for him. How illuminating.

Then there’s the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who promotes software patents in defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101 (like Campinos supports software patents in Europe in defiance of a lot of things). Iancu’s photos with Trump don’t help considering their past business relationships.

Handshakes are tribalist, ape-like gestures that establish association one does not necessarily need. It can lead to guilt by association. How about this photo op that connected Battistelli to a relatively new (at the time) IP Kat staffer? Does that explain why IP Kat quit covering EPO scandals?

The EPO needs people whose job skills involve more than signing papers and taking photo ops; people whose background includes actual practice of science, not banking. People who toil rather than drink, or those who pursue jobs based on their qualifications, not their connections. A fortnight from now Campinos completes a year at the Office; he has thus far been a complete and utter disaster, who barely or narrowly escaped a strike everywhere (it may still happen soon). Last week he did some photo ops in Korea; these won’t salvage his credibility, but maybe they’ll help him find another bureaucratic job after his term at the EPO ends.

Links 16/6/2019: Tmax OS and New Features for KDE.org

Sunday 16th of June 2019 04:19:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Tmax OS Releases Open Source OS as an Alternative to MS Windows

      Tmax OS will release the Open Edition (OE) of the Tmax Operating System (OS), an open source version of the Tmax OS that anyone can freely use. This will create an ecosystem for an alternative OS to Microsoft’s (MS) Windows.

      The Tmax OS OE has the same functionality as the existing Tmax OS commercial version, except that it limits some functions for the enterprise environment. Users can use a variety of applications such as Linux-based apps as well as its self-developed office program Two Office and the web browser Two Gate.

      Tmax emphasized that it can provide stable and continuous Tmax OS OE upgrade and technical support as it has more than 400 professional researchers and technical personnel. Its graphical environment makes it easy for new MS Windows users to use the Tmax OS OE.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.1.10

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.10 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

    • Linux 4.19.51
    • Linux 4.14.126
    • Linux stable tree mirror at github [Ed: Greg Kroah-Hartman giving Microsoft more control over Linux]

      It differs from Linus’s tree at: https://github.com/torvalds/linux in that it contains all of the different stable tree branches and stable releases and tags, which many devices end up building on top of.

      So, mirror away!

      Also note, this is a read-only mirror, any pull requests created on it will be gleefully ignored, just like happens on Linus’s github mirror.

      If people think this is needed on any other git hosting site, just let me know and I will be glad to push to other places as well.

    • Linux Foundation
      • AT&T, Nokia open up the radio’s edge to third party apps [Ed: Openwashing to dominate the standards and interfaces (with patents) through the "Linux" Foundation]

        AT&T and Nokia have developed a radio edge cloud (REC) appliance that the two companies plan to release into open source via the Linux Foundation. The REC will make it possible for third parties to develop apps and get access to the radio access network (RAN).

        [...]

        Murphy said that it is not easy to predict all the use cases for REC but added that having an open source edge cloud with open interfaces to the RAN control will allow operators to have more options.

      • Accord Project to develop open source framework for smart legal contracts [Ed: They're promoting and spreading proprietary software and proprietary formats of Microsoft]

        One of the main purposes of Accord Project is, therefore, to provide a vendor-neutral “.doc” format for smart legal agreements.

      • Apple joins the open-source Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        Apple, in typical fashion, isn’t commenting on the announcement, but the CNCF notes that end-user memberships are meant for organizations that are “heavy users of open source cloud native technologies” and that are looking to give back to the community. By becoming a CNCF end-user member, companies also join the Linux Foundation .

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • NetherWorld, an impressive looking and weird narrative pixel-art action game is coming to Linux

        Currently in development by Hungry Pixel, NetherWorld has a pretty impressive pixel-art visual style that will mix insane action with narrative elements and it’s coming to Linux.

        The actual plot of the game sounds pretty wild, starting with a marriage crisis as your wife decides to leave you and so you head to the local Bar to drown your sorrows. One thing leads to another with some unexpected turns, as you go on some sort of twisted journey as you explore the darkest corners of the land of NetherWorld.

        Discovered thanks to IndieDB, the developer recently confirmed to me that it will be supporting Linux.

      • Dota Underlords from Valve is already quite addictive and they’re improving it quickly

        With Dota Underlords available for testing, I’ve now taken a look at it (thanks Scaine!) and so far I’ve been quite impressed.

        Valve have essentially rewritten the rules of “Valve Time”, considering how quickly they’ve made it available and how promptly they’ve been responding to feedback. They’ve already adjusted it so you can switch between a Mobile and PC style for the user interface, fixed up the Linux version nicely (it runs beautifully!), removed the odd character outlines from the PC version and so on. Honestly, I’m genuinely surprised at how fast Valve are reacting with it.

        Since this is apparently the next big thing, it’s nice to see that Linux gamers can jump on in right away thanks to Valve. As a reminder, the original creator of the mod is making a stand-alone version for the Epic Games Store and the League of Legends developer Riot are also doing their own.

      • DXVK 1.2.2 released with performance improvements and bug fixes

        DXVK, the incredible project that provides a Vulkan-based layer for D3D11 and D3D10 games run with Wine has another release now available. DXVK 1.2.2 is quite a small point release but as always, it still brings with it some nice changes.

        This time around Team Sonic Racing has a bug fix to help some startup issues and Planet Coaster should also see less startup issues, although Planet Coaster does need “additional wine patches” as of Wine 4.10.

        Also in this release are some CPU overhead optimizations, improved compute shader performance on Nvidia GPUs in some games with Nier: Automata being one that was noted and minor bugs were solved that caused wine test failures.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • New features for kde.org

        The application page now contains some additional metadata information. This can help search engines to better understand the content of the webpage.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Released
      • Meet Kdenlive: Free Open Source NLE That Aims for Professionals

        As the battle of the NLEs continues between the big four (Premiere Pro, FCPX, Avid, and DaVinci Resolve), there are a few underdogs that aim to conquer the market. One of them is Kdenlive.

        It’s important to mention that this NLE is not new. The project was started by Jason Wood in 2002 and is now maintained by a small team of developers. Being an open source project constitutes as a significant advantage since it’s backed up by a massive community of contributors that have the privilege of improving and making the software to be more sharpened from an R&D point of view.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: Calendar management dialog, archiving task lists, Every Detail Matters on Settings (Sprint 2)

        This was a long-time request, and something that I myself was missing when using To Do. Since it fits well with the product vision of the app, there was nothing preventing it from being implemented.

        Selecting this feature to be implemented during the week was a great choice – the task was self contained, had a clear end, and was just difficult just enough to be challenging but not more than that.

        However, I found a few issues with the implementation, and want to use the next round to polish the feature. Using the entire week to polish the feature might be too much, but it will give me some time to really make it great.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • [ANN] CRUX 3.5 Released! Greetings! The CRUX team is happy to announce the release of CRUX 3.5! Notable changes include glibc 2.28, gcc 8.3.0 and binutils 2.32. CRUX 3.5 now also ships with PAM. We've made it as transparent as possible and it will be a good stepping stone for users wanting 2-factor authentication and other fun stuff. Breaking changes include the move of dbus configuration from /usr/etc to /etc, so back up your configs before updating! Another potential headache may be various projects' move from autotools to newer build systems. glib may cause some problems here and dependent ports will need to be rebuilt. Release notes: http://crux.nu/Main/ReleaseNotes3-5 Handbook: http://crux.nu/Main/Handbook3-5 Changelog: https://crux.nu/gitweb/?p=system/iso.git;a=blob;f=ChangeLog;h=118bc92d7be4b22bedd8294bc1d4893ad0e6b172;hb=refs/heads/3.5 For download links see: http://crux.nu/Main/Download The ISO is available via BitTorrent: http://crux.nu/files/crux-3.5.torrent (Note: The HTTP/FTP mirrors will take some time to update.) Enjoy! Regards, Matt (for the CRUX team)
      • CRUX 3.5 Released, which comes with a multilib toolchain

        Matt Housh has proudly announced the new release of CRUX 3.5 on 11 June, 2019.

        CRUX 3.5 comes with a multilib toolchain which includes glibc 2.28, gcc 8.3.0, binutils 2.32, Linux 4.19.48, Xorg 7.7 and xorg-server 1.20.5

        Linux-PAM has been added to the core ports of CRUX 3.5 and important packages like shadow and sudo depend on it now, but normally the user should not even notice the new dependency.

        Linux-PAM will be a good stepping stone for users wanting 2-factor authentication and other fun stuff.

        Configuration of dbus has been moved from /usr/etc to /etc. This is a intrusive change because other ports like wicd, networkmanager and others are affected.

        Another potential headache may be various projects’ move from autotools to newer build systems. glib may cause some problems here and dependent ports will need to be rebuilt.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Microsoft shrugs off CERN’s planned “Microsoft Alternatives” transition to open-source software after price hike [iophk: "how did Microsoft even get into CERN in the first place?"]

    “While the Microsoft Alternatives project is ambitious, it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that building core services can be done without vendor and data lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its partners by collaborating around a new range of products,” he wrote.

  • Large Redmond Collider: CERN reveals plan to shift from Microsoft to open-source code after tenfold license fee hike

    Last year, anticipating an end to its discount, the lab, perhaps best known for the Large Hadron Collider, set in motion plans to shift toward open-source software to better control its computing costs.

    As such, CERN has been quietly working on a project called Microsoft Alternatives (MAlt) to develop migration paths away from the commercial software offered by Microsoft and like-minded vendors.

    In a memo issued Wednesday officially announcing the existence of MAlt, Emmanuel Ormancey, system architect at CERN, said Microsoft recently rescinded CERN’s academic designation. Following the conclusion of its previous contract with the software giant in March 2019, CERN was presented with a new contract based on user numbers that increased its licensing costs more than tenfold.

    CERN said while it has negotiated a gradual fee increase over the next decade, the higher costs simply aren’t sustainable.

  • CERN, the famous scientific lab where the web was born, tells us why it’s ditching Microsoft and helping others do the same

    For 20 years, Microsoft has been one of CERN’s major IT suppliers, but earlier this week, CERN announced in a blog post that, thanks to a tenfold price hike by Microsoft, CERN was yanking out all of its Microsoft software, a project it calls the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt). CERN employs about 2,500 people and collaborates with more than 12,200, and Microsoft told CERN it must pay increased per-user software pricing.

    [...]

    And he said CERN has every intention of showing other organizations how to replace Microsoft software with alternatives.

  • CERN want to see if it can operate with mostly open source software to “take back control”

    And a recent decision of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) certainly seems to be lending its seal of approval to the conclusion that Linux has won this protracted David and Goliath software battle. Not only on technical merit – or because of ethics – but also on cost.

    What happened here is that the Switzerland-based CERN – who run such massive scientific projects as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – has been declared by Microsoft as “not an academic institution” – a decision designed to make CERN pay a full price for Microsoft products.

  • CERN turns to open source software as Microsoft increases its fees
  • CERN is looking to adopt open source software because Microsoft is too expensive [Ed: They mean proprietary software, not "commercial"]

    The research institute has therefore decided to explore ways of reducing or even eliminating its dependency on commercial [sic] software by employing open source alternatives.

  • CERN is going open source after Microsoft upped its licensing fees [Ed: This is how proprietary software works; it locks you in and then the cost skyrockets (when you're stuck).]

    Foreseeing this issue, the fancy folk at CERN started the Microsoft Alternative project (MAlt), last year, in an effort to figure out what alternative, open source software could be turned to their needs. More than likely, this also means moving to Linux systems, after almost 20 years of using Microsoft. It’s not a small thing, especially when particle physics is involved.

    Microsoft gets a lot of money from providing licenses for governmental and educational institutions, but if CERN can make the jump to open source, it might embolden others to do the same.

  • CERN to move away from Microsoft because license fees have skyrocketed

    Windows may still be the operating system on desktops and laptops, by choice or not, but Microsoft’s biggest profit comes from the wholesale licensing of the OS on enterprise, government, and educational computers. Those, however, are slowly losing ground especially with the latter two categories. That has mostly been because of the increasing costs of Windows licenses. That has caused not only governments but even CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, to move away from Windows and proprietary software at large.

  • The Open Source Cookbook: A Baker’s Guide to Modern Application Development

    Let’s begin our cookbook by selecting our recipe. I’ve had some phenomenal baked goods, and I’ve had some not-so-phenomenal baked goods (there is rarely a bad baked good). But I’ve been surprised before, by a croissant from a diner that didn’t taste like the one from the local French bakery, or by a buttercream frosting at a supermarket that just didn’t have the same delicate touch as the one I make at home. In each case, I expected the same as I had before – by title – yet encountered a much different experience. When selecting your recipes, it’s important to understand which type of a particular food you are expecting to make, or you may be met with a different taste when you finish than you were hoping for when you began.

    [...]

    As with cooking, when incorporating open source components into applications, it’s important to understand origin and evolution of what you’re baking into your software. Carefully review your open source component versions, and evaluate the community’s activity in order to have the greatest chance possible to predict the possible technical debt you may inherit.

  • Jack Dorsey answers our questions about Square’s plans for Bitcoin

    Square is a company best known for its disruptive card payment technology. Founded in 2009 by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the company sells affordable mobile-based point-of-sale systems. But beyond the world of traditional fiat currencies, the firm is making cautious steps into the fast-paced world of cryptocurrency.

    Back in March, Dorsey tweeted that Square was actively recruiting a modest team of cryptocurrency developers and designers to work on open-source contributions to the ecosystem. In the months that followed, Square’s kept quiet about its progress.

  • Jack Dorsey’s open-source Bitcoin initiative makes its first hire

    Jack Dorsey’s open-source Bitcoin initiative, Square Crypto, brings on a former Google project manager as its first hire.

  • Nash Prepares to Launch Beta Version of Decentralized Exchange

    With a mission of “bringing distributed finance to everyone,” five open-source blockchain developers have come together to form a distributed finance platform using blockchain technology that allows for decentralized and non-custodial cryptocurrency trading.

  • Target open sources a blockchain solution called ConsenSource; plans to contribute to Hyperledger Grid framework

    Retail behemoth Target has been working on a blockchain proof of concept since mid-2018, the company’s vice president of architecture Joel Crabb wrote in a blog post. The blockchain solution called ConsenSource, which has been recently open-sourced, was developed to manage the certification of Target’s suppliers in the manufacturing of Target-branded paper products.

  • US Retailer Target Unveils Open Source Blockchain for Supply Chain Tracking
  • The Graph: An open-source query protocol for blockchains, using GraphQL

    Anyone who’s ever tried to build distributed applications (dApps) on the (Ethereum) blockchain would concur: Although blockchains are conceptually quite close to databases, querying databases feels like a different world entirely compared to querying blockchains.

  • Letter of Recommendation: Bug Fixes

    I wouldn’t expect a nonprogrammer to understand the above, but you can intuit some of what’s going on: that we don’t need ImageMagick to scale images anymore, because the text editor can scale images on its own; that it’s bad form to spell-check hex values, which specify colors; that the bell is doing something peculiar if someone holds down the alt key; and so forth.

    But there’s also something larger, more gladdening, about reading bug fixes.

    My text editor, Emacs, is a free software project with a history going back more than 40 years; the codebase itself starts in the 1980s, and as I write this there are 136,586 different commits that get you from then to now. More than 600 contributors have worked on it. I find those numbers magical: A huge, complex system that edits all kinds of files started from nothing and then, with nearly 140,000 documented human actions, arrived at its current state. It has leaders but no owner, and it will move along the path in which people take it. It’s the ship of Theseus in code form. I’ve probably used Emacs every day for more than two decades. It has changed me, too. It will outlive me.

    Open source is a movement, and even the charitably inclined would call it an extreme brofest. So there’s drama. People fight it out in comments, over everything from semicolons to codes of conduct. But in the end, the software works or it doesn’t. Politics, our personal health, our careers or lives in general — these do not provide a narrative of unalloyed progress. But software, dammit, can and does. It’s a pleasure to watch the code change and improve, and it’s also fascinating to see big companies, paid programmers and volunteers learning to work together (the Defense Department is way into open source) to make those changes and improvements. I read the change logs, and I think: Humans can do things.

  • The Top 17 Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Tools

    Choosing the right network monitoring solution for your enterprise is not easy.

  • Hedge-fund managers are overwhelmed by data, and they’re turning to an unlikely source: random people on the internet

    Alternative data streams of satellite images and cellphone-location data are where managers are now digging for alpha, as new datasets are created every day. And hedge funds have been spending serious cash searching for those who can take all this information and quickly find the important pieces.

    Now, as margins shrink and returns are under the microscope, hedge funds are beginning to consider a cheaper, potentially more efficient way to crunch all this data: open-source platforms, where hundreds of thousands of people ranging from finance professionals to students, scientists, and developers worldwide scour datasets — and don’t get paid unless they find something that a fund finds useful.

  • TD Ameritrade Is Taking Its First Steps Towards Major Open Source Contributions

    STUMPY is a python library to identify the patterns and anomalies in time series data. STUMPY has benefited from open source as a means to shorten development roadmaps since the early 2000s and it represents a new opportunity for TD Ameritrade to give back to the developer community.

  • The Future of Open Source Big Data Platforms

    Three well-funded startups – Cloudera Inc., Hortonworks Inc., and MapR Technologies Inc. — emerged a decade ago to commercialize products and services in the open-source ecosystem around Hadoop, a popular software framework for processing huge amounts of data. The hype peaked in early 2014 when Cloudera raised a massive $900 million funding round, valuing it at $4.1 billion.

  • No Easy Way Forward For Commercial Open Source Software Vendors

    While still a student in 1995, Kimball developed the first version of GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) as a class project, along with Peter Mattis. Later on as a Google engineer, he worked on a new version of the Google File System, and the Google Servlet Engine. In 2012, Kimball, Mattis, and Brian McGinnis launched the company Viewfinder, later selling it to Square.

  • 6 Reasons Why Developers Should Contribute More To Open Source

    Even by fixing minor things like a bug in a library or writing a piece of documentation can also help the developers to write readable or maintainable code. They can independently suggest to the community and generally tend to stick by the rules of writing a code that is easy to understand. The fact that the code will be exposed to everyone naturally makes them write focus on making it readable.

  • WIDE Project, KDDI develop router with open-source software, 3.2T-packet transmission

    The WIDE Project has adopted a router developed by Japanese operator KDDI. The router runs open-source software, and will be used with the networks operated and managed by the WIDE Project. The router will use open-source software with up to 3.2T-packet transmission.

    For this project, KDDI plans to start tests this month to verify the practical utility and interoperability of these routers when put to use in the actual service environment. The WIDE Project will be in charge of network administration and definition of requirements for router implementation.

  • Lack of progress in open source adoption hindering global custody’s digitisation

    Custody industry is lagging behind the rest of the financial services sector for open source projects, according to industry experts.

  • TNF: Industry should be focusing on open source development

    According to O’Shea, open source and the community are helping firms to find and attract experienced technology talent “uber engineers”.

  • Google Open Sources TensorNetwork , A Library For Faster ML And Physics Tasks

    “Every evolving intelligence will eventually encounter certain very special ideas – e.g., about arithmetic, causal reasoning and economics–because these particular ideas are very much simpler than other ideas with similar uses,” said the AI maverick Marvin Minsky four decades ago.

    Mathematics as a tool to interpret nature’s most confounding problems from molecular biology to quantum mechanics has so far been successful. Though there aren’t any complete answers to these problems, the techniques within domain help throw some light on the obscure corners of reality.

  • Open source to become a ‘best practice’

    There are many magic rings in this world… and none of them should be used lightly. This is true.

    It is also true that organisations in every vertical are now having to work hard and find automation streams that they can digitise (on the road to *yawn* digital transformation, obviously) and start to apply AI and machine learning to.

    Another key truth lies in the amount of codified best practices that organisations now have the opportunity to lay down.

    One we can denote a particular set of workflows in a particular department (or team, or group, or any other collective) to be deemed to be as efficient as possible, then we can lay that process down as a best practice.

  • 10 Open-Source and Free CAD Software You Can Download Right Now

    Many CAD software products exist today for anyone interested in 2D or 3D designing.

    From browser tools to open-source programs, the market is full of free options available for hobbyists or small companies just starting out.

  • Events
    • Open Source Answer To Dropbox And OneDrive: Meet Frank Karlitschek

      During the OpenSUSE Conference in Nurnberg (German), Nextcloud founder Frank Karlitschek appeared on “Let’s Talk’ to talk about the importance of fully open source file sync and storage solutions for enterprise customers. As one of the early contributors to desktop Linux he also talked about the reasons why desktop Linux has not succeeded.

    • Load-Bearing Internet People

      Some maintainers for critical software operate from a niche at a university or a government agency that supports their effort. There might be a few who are independently wealthy.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Robert Helmer: Vectiv and the Browser Monoculture

        So, so tired of the “hot take” that having a single browser engine implementation is good, and there is no value to having multiple implementations of a standard. I have a little story to tell about this.

        In the late 90s, I worked for a company called Vectiv. There isn’t much info on the web (the name has been used by other companies in the meantime), this old press release is one of the few I can find.

        Vectiv was a web-based service for commercial real estate departments doing site selection. This was pretty revolutionary at the time, as the state-of-the-art for most of these was to buy a bunch of paper maps and put them up on the walls, using push-pins to keep track of current and possible store locations.

        The story of Vectiv is interesting on its own, but the relevant bit to this story is that it was written for and tested exclusively in IE 5.5 for Windows, as was the style at the time. The once-dominant Netscape browser had plummeted to negligible market share, and was struggling to rewrite Netscape 6 to be based on the open-source Mozilla Suite.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Why cloud is the best defense against AWS [Ed: Adobe keeps sending its stooge Mac Asay to support turning FOSS into de facto proprietary software (sometimes Adobe even pays the publishers to do this])
    • Software below the poverty line [Ed: Overlooks the fact that a lot of proprietary software is not profitable, is a failure, goes bankrupt faster due to high expenditure]

      Most people believe that open source sustainability is a difficult problem to solve. As an open source developer myself, my own perspective to this problem was more optimistic: I believe in the donation model, for its simplicity and possibility to scale.

      However, I recently met other open source developers that make a living from donations, and they helped widen my perspective. At Amsterdam.js, I heard Henry Zhu speak about sustainability in the Babel project and beyond, and it was a pretty dire picture. Later, over breakfast, Henry and I had a deeper conversation on this topic. In Amsterdam I also met up with Titus, who maintains the Unified project full-time. Meeting with these people I confirmed my belief in the donation model for sustainability. It works. But, what really stood out to me was the question: is it fair?

      I decided to collect data from OpenCollective and GitHub, and take a more scientific sample of the situation. The results I found were shocking: there were two clearly sustainable open source projects, but the majority (more than 80%) of projects that we usually consider sustainable are actually receiving income below industry standards or even below the poverty threshold.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • My personal journey from MIT to GPL

      As I got started writing open source software, I generally preferred the MIT license. I actually made fun of the “copyleft” GPL licenses, on the grounds that they are less free. I still hold this opinion today: the GPL license is less free than the MIT license – but today, I believe this in a good way.

      [...]

      I don’t plan on relicensing my historical projects, but my new projects have used the GPL family of licenses for a while now. I think you should seriously consider it as well.

    • The fight to keep open source truly “open” ⁠— open source providers need to stand up

      However, as more projects get embedded into profitable business applications, we are beginning to see new trends in the space. Powerful vendors are pushing their own marketing agendas and monetising what should be freely available, leading open source providers to build walls around their code, limiting the extent to which companies can enrich, police and contribute to any given project, in a vicious cycle. This is the case with Amazon, for instance, which was able to profit from Redis Labs’ software without giving back to its open source community. In response, Redis Labs created a new software license that dictated clear restrictions on what could and could not be done with its software.

      [...]

      With more companies catching on to the ability to monetise open source by selling add-on support and enterprise services, huge technology players are scrambling to get into the scene. To demonstrate just how critical open source is to the software industry, in 2018 alone GitHub was bought for $7.5 billion, Salesforce purchased Mulesoft for $6.5 billion, and — the largest deal of them all — IBM took over Red Hat for $34 billion.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • How We Helped Our Reporters Learn to Love Spreadsheets

      But, some people did learn. At The New York Times and elsewhere, coder-journalists have mashed databases to discover wrongdoing, designed immersive experiences that transport readers to new places and created tools that change the way we work.
      Even with some of the best data and graphics journalists in the business, we identified a challenge: data knowledge wasn’t spread widely among desks in our newsroom and wasn’t filtering into news desks’ daily reporting.

      Yet fluency with numbers and data has become more important than ever. While journalists once were fond of joking that they got into the field because of an aversion to math, numbers now comprise the foundation for beats as wide ranging as education, the stock market, the Census and criminal justice. More data is released than ever before — there are nearly 250,000 datasets on data.gov alone — and increasingly, government, politicians and companies try to twist those numbers to back their own agendas.

    • The New York Times has a course to teach its reporters data skills, and now they’ve open-sourced it

      The New York Times wants more of its journalists to have those basic data skills, and now it’s releasing the curriculum they’ve built in-house out into the world, where it can be of use to reporters, newsrooms, and lots of other people too.

    • Open Source Headset With Inside-Out Tracking, Video Passthrough

      The folks behind the Atmos Extended Reality (XR) headset want to provide improved accessibility with an open ecosystem, and they aim to do it with a WebVR-capable headset design that is self-contained, 3D-printable, and open-sourced. Their immediate goal is to release a development kit, then refine the design for a wider release.

    • Open-Source Bionic Leg Aims to Rapidly Advance Prosthetics

      Scientists at University of Michigan have created an open-source leg in hopes of expediting the development of smart prosthetics.

    • Open-Source AI Bionic Leg Offers a Unified Platform for Prosthetics

      Open-source design and programming could accelerate scientific advances by offering a unified platform to prosthetics research efforts.

    • Bringing Pneumatics To The Masses With Open Source Soft Robotics

      Physicist and engineer [tinkrmind] wants to change that. He has been developing an open source soft robotics tool called Programmable Air for the past year with the aim of creating an accessible way for the hacker community to work with pneumatic robotics. We first came across [tinkrmind]’s soft robotics modules at World Maker Faire in New York City in 2018 but fifty beta testers and a wide range of interesting projects later — from a beating silicone heart to an inflatable bra — they are now being made available on Crowd Supply.

    • Open Data
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • GreatFET One open source hacking tool

        Electronic enthusiasts, hobbyists, hackers and makers may be interested in a new open source piece of hardware called the GreatFET One, which has been designed to provide a “significant step up” in capabilities from GoodFET while making the design manufacturable at a lower cost than GoodFET.

        “Whether you need an interface to an external chip, a logic analyzer, a debugger, or just a whole lot of pins to bit-bang, the versatile GreatFET One is the tool for you. Hi-Speed USB and a Python API allow GreatFET One to become your custom USB interface to the physical world.” The GreatFET One by Great Scott Gadgets is now available to purchase priced at $79.95 directly from the Adafruit online store.

      • Imperas and Metrics Collaborate to Jump Start RISC-V Core Design Verification Using Open Source Instruction Stream Generator
      • X-FAB Silicon Foundries tapes-out open-source RISC-V MCU

        Together with crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless Corporation, X-FAB Silicon Foundries has announced the first-silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V System on Chip (SoC) reference design.

        This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools. The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz.

        The open-source top-level design uses X-FAB proprietary analog IP and is created with an open-source design flow. This hybrid open-source design brings the power of open innovation and at the same time protecting significant investment in proprietary IP.

      • X-FAB and Efabless Announce Successful First Silicon of Raven, An Open-Source RISC-V Microcontroller

        X-FAB Silicon Foundries, the leading analog/mixed-signal and specialty foundry, together with crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless Corporation, today announced the successful first-silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V System on Chip (SoC) reference design. This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools. The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has successfully bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz.

      • X-FAB and Efabless Deliver Open Source Mixed-Signal SoC

        Mixed signal foundry X-FAB Silicon Foundries and crowd-sourcing IC platform Efabless Corp. have announced silicon availability of a RISC-V based mixed signal system-on-chip (SoC) reference design. The open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools.

      • X-Fab and Efabless announce Raven open-source RISC-V microcontroller

        X-Fab Silicon Foundries, an analog/mixed-signal and specialty foundry, and crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless, has announced the silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V system on chip (SoC) reference design. This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools, they said.

        The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has successfully bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz, they added.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Science
    • Adobe’s prototype AI tool automatically spots Photoshopped faces

      The world is becoming increasingly anxious about the spread of fake videos and pictures, and Adobe — a name synonymous with edited imagery — says it shares those concerns. Today, it’s sharing new research in collaboration with scientists from UC Berkeley that uses machine learning to automatically detect when images of faces have been manipulated.

    • Chinese Citation Factory

      RetractionWatch published in Feburary 2018 an article titled “A journal waited 13 months to reject a submission. Days later, it published a plagiarized version by different authors”, indicating that in the journal Multimedia Tools and Applications (MTAP) may have been manipulated in the editorial process.

      Now, more than a year later, Springer apparently has retracted additional articles from the journal, as mentioned in the blog For Better Science. On the downside, Elsevier has been publishing many of these in another journal now instead…

      I am currently aware of 22 retractions associated with this incident. One would have expected to see a clear pattern in the author names, but they seem to have little in common except Chinese names and affiliations, and suspicious email addresses (also, usually only one author has an email at all). It almost appears as if the names may be made up. And these retracted papers clearly contained citation spam: they cite a particular author very often, usually in a single paragraph.

      [...]

      Now this is a surprisingly clear pattern. In 20 of the retracted papers, L. Zhang was cited on average 19.25 times. In these papers, also 60% of the references were co-authored by him. In one of the remaining two papers, he was an author. The next authors seem to be mostly in this list because of co-authoring with L. Zhang earlier. In fact, if we ignore all citations to papers co-authored by L. Zhang, no author receives more than 5 citations anymore.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • You are what you eat? Most people ingest a credit card’s weight in plastic every week

      People worldwide could be ingesting five grammes of microscopic plastic particles every week, equivalent in weight to a credit card, researchers said Wednesday.

      Coming mostly from tap and especially bottled water, nearly invisible bits of polymer were also found in shellfish, beer and salt, scientists and the University of Newcastle in Australia reported.

    • Noise can adversely affect human health and quality of life

      There’s a serious public health threat that most Americans are exposed to every day. According to the World Health Organization, the health effects of even short-term exposure include sleep disturbance, stress and anxiety, while long-term impacts include increased risk of ischemic heart disease, cognitive impairment among children, stress-related mental health risks and tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears).

      It’s not a contagious disease nor the result of unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. The problem is noise and its twin challenges are whether we can reduce it at the source while minimizing the degree to which it adversely affects human health and quality of life.

    • IRC responds to news of Ebola spread to Uganda
    • Prosecutors drop criminal charges in Flint water scandal

      The OSC entered into agreements that gave private law firms that were representing the accused a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement, according to the release.

    • Why Did Michigan Just Drop All Charges in the Flint Water Crisis?

      This is an unusual strategy, but it’s not unheard of, said Peter Hanning, a professor of law at Wayne State University who’s been closely following this case. The prosecutors were smart in dismissing the charges now versus after their cases went to trial because, at that point, they would’ve been unable to retry the case. Double jeopardy, baby. And Hanning can understand where they’re coming from, entering a trial they didn’t start.

    • Supreme Court denies Flint officials’ request to block lawsuit over water crisis

      The civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal cases. On Thursday, Michigan prosecutors dropped all pending charges against a group of state and local officials accused of a variety of crimes arising from the water crisis.

    • Flint Water Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges, With Plans to Keep Investigating

      Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency managers who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by state prosecutors of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Seven had already taken plea deals. Eight more, including most of the highest-ranking officials, were awaiting trial.

      On Thursday, more than three years after the first charges were filed, the Michigan attorney general’s office, which earlier this year passed from Republican to Democratic hands, abruptly dropped the eight remaining cases. Prosecutors left open the possibility of recharging some of those same people, and perhaps others, too.

    • Magic mushrooms, illegal in most places, may have therapeutic uses

      There are plenty of psychedelics researchers could work on, but the focus is on psilocybin. That is partly because nobody has heard of it, so, unlike LSD, it does not raise hackles. It is also relatively easy to synthesise. Since 2006, when the results of the first of the new wave of studies was published, there have been a dozen papers showing that it may be a useful treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, tobacco addiction, alcoholism, depression and the anxiety that so often afflicts people when they are approaching death.

    • Correction: Flint Water story

      In a story June 3 about the criminal investigation of Flint’s water crisis, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of current and former state employees whose mobile devices or hard drives were seized from government storage with search warrants. It was 67, not 66.

    • Elevated lead levels found in drinking water of Pequannock homes

      Drinking water in several Pequannock homes has tested high for elevated levels of lead, prompting township officials to send out a notice telling residents how to reduce their exposure.

      Lead levels rose to 28 parts per billion, almost double the federal standard, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Pequannock had registered only 3 parts per billion in the last round of testing, which ended in 2016.

    • FDA food sampling finds contamination by PFAS ‘forever chemicals’

      The Food and Drug Administration’s first broad testing of food for a worrisome class of nonstick, stain-resistant industrial compounds found substantial levels in some grocery store meats and seafood and in off-the-shelf chocolate cake, according to unreleased findings FDA researchers presented at a scientific conference in Europe.

      The FDA’s disclosure is likely to add to concerns raised by states and public health groups that President Donald Trump’s administration is not acting fast enough or firmly enough to start regulating the manmade compounds, called “forever chemicals.” A federal toxicology report last year cited consistent associations between very high levels of the industrial compounds in peoples’ blood and health risks but said there was not enough evidence to prove the compounds as the cause.

  • Security
    • Industry Watch: Of open source, data breaches and speed [Ed: And proprietary software is a lot less suitable for security and privacy purposes because there are surveillance 'features' disguised and back doors too]

      Open-source software helps developers work faster and smarter, as they don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ every time create an application. They just need to be sure the license attached to that software allows them to use the component the way they want. They also need to stay on top of that application, so if the component changes, or an API changes, their application isn’t affected and they are still in compliance.

      Data protection is also something organizations must get serious about. While the GDPR only affects users in the European Union, it’s only a matter of time before those or similar regulations are in place in the U.S. and elsewhere. Companies should get a jump on that by doing a thorough audit of their data, to know they are prepared to be compliant with whatever comes down from the statehouses or from Washington, D.C.

      On the speed side, the benefits of Agile and DevOps are clear. These methodologies enable companies to bring new software products to market faster, with the result of getting a jump on the competition, working more efficiently and ultimately serving your customers.

      Unfortunately, these efforts are usually done by different teams of developers, database administrators and security experts. If the Equifax and Facebook breaches have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t expect developers to be security experts, and you can’t expect DB admins to understand the ramifications on the business when data is misunderstood.

      It will take a coordinated approach to IT to achieve business goals while not leaving the company — and its IP and PII data — exposed.

    • VLC patches critical flaws through EU open source bug bounty program

      More than 30 security issues have been fixed in VLC, the popular open source media player, with developers praising an EU-funded bug bounty program for helping produce its most secure update yet.

      VLC media player, created by the software non-profit VideoLAN, was found to have 33 vulnerabilities within various versions, including two that were considered critical.

      An out-of-bounds write was one of the severe vulnerabilities found to affect all VLC versions, and a stack buffer overflow was also discovered in VLC 4.0.

      Less severe vulnerabilities consisted of out-of-band reads, heap overflows, NULL-dereference, and use-after-free bugs.

      An updated version, VLC 3.0.7, has since been released for users to download.

    • VLC Player Gets Patched for Two High Severity Bugs
    • Asigra FreeNAS plugin brings open source data protection [Ed: Some openwashing of proprietary software]

      Asigra is trying to capture FreeNAS users with a free-to-try plugin version of its backup software.

      The Asigra FreeNAS plugin released this week allows customers to turn their iXsystems FreeNAS storage systems into backup targets. It encrypts and deduplicates data before it is sent to the FreeNAS system. The plugin also detects and quarantines malware and ransomware so that it doesn’t get backed up.

    • TrueCommand Brings Single Pane of Glass Management to TrueNAS and FreeNAS Fleets
    • WSO2 and Ping Identity Partner to Provide Comprehensive, AI-Powered Cyber-Attack Protection for APIs
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Houthis kill imam, 9 worshippers for following Saudi Eid al-Fitr moon sighting

      Yemenis on Monday were deeply divided over when the first day of Eid would be, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

      In the southern port city of Aden, the legitimate Yemeni government declared that Tuesday would be the first day of Eid, while the Houthi militias, who control the capital Sanaa and other northern Yemeni provinces, declared that Wednesday, June 5 would be the first day of Eid.

      This is the first time the country was divided over the moon sighting marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, despite years of deadly conflict between Yemen’s government and the Houthis.

    • An American woman held hostage by the Taliban for 5 years says abusive husband to blame

      Caitlan Coleman, an American woman who was held hostage with her husband by the Taliban for five years, says she and her husband were in Afghanistan because her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle was a Taliban sympathizer.

    • Will the Real Bombers Please Stand Up

      Who is attacking oil tankers in the Gulf between Oman and Iran? So far, the answer is still a mystery. The US, of course, accuses Iran. Iran says it’s the US or its local allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      Magnetic mines are blamed for the damage, though there have been claims of torpedo use. Last month, four moored tankers were slightly damaged, though none seriously. This time the attacks were more damaging but apparently not lethal.

      A few cynics have even suggested Israel may be behind the tanker attack in order to provoke war between Iran and the United States – a key Israeli goal. Or maybe it’s the Saudis whose goal is similar. The Gulf is an ideal venue for false flag attacks.

      One thing appears certain. President Donald and his coterie of neocon advisers have been pressing for a major conflict with Iran for months. The US is literally trying to strangle Iran economically and strategically. By now, Israel’s hard right wing dominates US Mideast policy and appears to often call the shots at the White House and Congress.

    • Big Media Get Big Things Wrong on Venezuela

      Big media have got some big things wrong on Venezuela. Who can forget CNN’s May 5 claim that “pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down, following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaidó over him for president”?

      As Dave Lindorff noted for FAIR.org, six reporters were credited for the story that contained this line. And none of them, or their editors, evidently knew that Guaidó was not a candidate in presidential elections, which took place in May 2018, not January 2019; and which Nicolás Maduro won with 68 percent of the vote—an observer-endorsed, and credible, total, given the opposition’s boycott of the balloting.

      Guaidó was a member of the National Assembly—which has been suspended by the Venezuelan Supreme Court—and he was chosen as president by himself, and ultimately by the Trump administration. As for “pressure…mounting on Maduro,” Lindorff called that a “dubious reading of the post-coup attempt political terrain”—a view borne out by events.

      A fortiori, elite media’s fervent transmission of the dramatic story that Maduro was heartlessly blocking a bridge to turn away truckloads of much-needed foreign aid. “Humanitarian Aid Arrives for Venezuela—But Maduro Blocks It,” was NPR’s tagline; NPR was far from alone in not telling listeners that the bridge (with Colombia) described as blocked had never been open; that the Red Cross and UN, among others, had explicitly asked the US not to engage in these types of PR stunts; and that the Venezuelan government has a very rational reason to suspect the US would use humanitarian aid as a cover to smuggle in weapons to foment armed conflict, which is that the person running quarterback for Trump on the current Venezuela operation, Elliott Abrams, literally did just that 30 years ago.

      Venezuela coverage suggests journalistic rigor is taking a backseat to whatever alchemy of profit protection and state fealty motivates elite media and, with valuable exceptions, shapes their presentation of events. But not just in these big, overt screwups, but in the drip drip drip of everyday coverage, the constructions used in ostensibly neutral accounts.

      FAIR contributor Joe Emersberger recently engaged with Reuters about a May 22 article, “Venezuela Turns to Russia, Cuba, China in Health Crisis,” which included the statement, about shortages of medicine and medical equipment, that the opposition blames that on economic incompetence and corruption by the leftist movement in power for two decades, but Maduro says US economic sanctions are the cause.

    • There is Nothing ‘Neo’ about the Colonialization of West Papua

      But in the case of West Papua, blatant colonialism is easy enough to spot. The Indigenous peoples of West Papua were not consulted in who would be their sovereign power. They have been massacred for decades by the Indonesian army, who used the most brutal means to justify its ends: to control the colonized. West Papuans have been forced from their ancestral lands to create space for agribusiness to move in and reshape the island to serve as the ‘Food Basket’ of Indonesia.

    • UN chief waffles over West Papuan human rights violations

      The most serious deforestation, the most serious ecological trouble, as well as the most serious human rights abuses in the whole Pacific are happening in West Papua, Bohane said.

      Shouldn’t the UN be doing more to try and stop the human right abuses, and the ecological disaster that is unfolding there?

      [...]

      At the moment, all international media is banned. Again, shouldn’t the UN be doing more to open up West Papua?

    • Faith on a Wing

      Today, 80 years hence, I find myself debating not with the radicals but the liberals about face veils being a matter of choice. I am all for free will. Yes, sir, I am. But is it really free? Being a woman, I can tell you that it is either indoctrination or force. My good friends give me parallels of Sikh turbans and Jewish caps. I agree that wearing symbols of religion or not having alcohol or avoiding perfume or even not watching the telly or listening to music are a matter of choice, even though they may stem from conditioning. But covering your face lifelong because you’re a woman? Not entering kitchen during your periods? Women undergoing genital mutilation on grounds of religion? Sati? That is not religion; that is an “exasperating farrago of distortions” in the name of faith.

    • Alleged islamization agenda: Christian elders fire back at Islamic group

      However, in a statement signed by the Forum’s Secretary, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, NCEF described as unfortunate that Muslim groups would make such claims of “prank to score cheap political points” against Christian Elders as no member of NCEF is either a politician.

      The statement added, “The claim is divisive, which rather than contribute to the efforts of the Christian Elders to find a peaceful and lasting solution to current national crisis, and ensure Nigeria can benefit from the gains of democracy, like other advanced democratic countries around the world, is trying to cause disaffection amongst the people”, the rejoinder said.

      “It should be repeated here for emphasis that the root or main cause of the crisis in Nigeria, as stated by the NCEF, has nothing to do with Christianity or Islam, neither is it about North against the South, East against West, nor is it Farmers and Herders clash as some call it, and neither is it a clash of personalities or political parties. All these are symptoms.

      “The Nigerian crisis is caused by the dual conflicting ideology of Sharia against Democracy as practiced in Nigeria, and is now enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and here it is being downplayed and simply called Islam against Christianity by these Muslim groups; no, it is not.

    • Violence against Christians on the rise in Africa

      Mörsbacher believes that the situation is worsening overall, but said the reasons for it vary by country: In Burkina Faso, for example, he explained that the violence there is about the expansion of a conflict already known from Mali.

      “There it’s less about a war of religions than about a conflict between different currents of Islam,” Mörschbacher said.

      Wahabism, a strict traditionalist interpretation of Sunni Islam that is most powerful in Saudi Arabia, plays a special role and it continues to spread, he added.

    • Outrage Over Swedish Church’s Support Concert for ‘Daesh Children’

      A church in Gothenburg’s Högsbo parish has arranged a support concert in order to raise money for several dozen Daesh children with a connection to Sweden left in refugee camps across the Middle East, national broadcaster SVT reported.

    • America’s ISIS Members Are Coming Home

      So far, the handling of returnees has been far different from what Donald Trump promised during the Presidential campaign. In 2016, Trump vowed to use Guantánamo Bay—the prison camp opened in Cuba to house enemy combatants from the Afghanistan war—for captured isis fighters. “We’re going to load it up with bad dudes,” he said. In his first State of the Union speech, in 2018, he announced a new executive order to keep Gitmo open, reversing President Barack Obama’s policy. “Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil,” Trump said. “When possible, we have no choice but to annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: terrorists are not merely criminals, they are unlawful enemy combatants.”

      Instead, the Justice Department has opted to try isis returnees in U.S. courts and even to release or resettle some of them. But the process is still in its early stages. “The United States is committed to taking responsibility for its citizens who attempt to travel or did travel to support isis,” Marc Raimondi, the Justice Department spokesman, told me last week, in an e-mail. “We have prosecuted over 100 cases against individuals who tried to travel to support isis and have brought charges against several who have returned, including as recently as earlier this year.”

    • Why Islamic State Recruitment Is Thriving on Telegram

      New research coming out of George Washington University today provides one of the most exhaustive looks yet at the vast and complex network of self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) supporters permeating Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform.

    • How To Make Sure Terrorists Like John Walker Lindh Don’t Stay A Threat After Release

      The May 23 release from federal prison of John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban” captured on a smoking Afghanistan battlefield right after 9/11, put as much chill in the air as the unchaining of serial killers Ted Bundy or Charles Manson would.

      His release into American society amid reports that Lindh had, during his 17-year penance behind bars in Indiana, preserved his commitment to violent Islamist jihad, raised an obvious question: What have American homeland security and law enforcement done to ensure Lindh won’t use his newfound freedom to act on his religious commitment to kill infidels?

    • Egypt: War Crimes in North Sinai

      The 134-page report, “‘If You Are Afraid for Your Lives, Leave Sinai!’: Egyptian Security Forces and ISIS-Affiliate Abuses in North Sinai,” provides a detailed look into an underreported conflict that has killed and wounded thousands of people – including civilians, militants, and members of the security forces – since fighting escalated in 2013. [...]

    • Sweden: Several injured after explosion at apartment buildings in Linkoping

      At least 25 people were injured in an explosion that damaged two adjacent apartment buildings in the southern Swedish city of Linkoping on Friday, police said.

    • It’s Time for Sweden to Admit Explosions Are a National Emergency

      It is the kind of news we usually associate with war zones, but this bombing took place in Linköping, a peaceful university town in southern Sweden. Remarkably, it was not the only explosion in the country that day; another, seemingly unrelated, blast was reported in a parking lot in the city of Gothenburg earlier in the morning. Three explosions have been reported in Malmö since Tuesday morning. As of this writing, no arrests have been made.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Bangalore Metro now allows you to take foldable bicycles on your trip

      After receiving complaints from the Bengaluru cyclists, the Namma Metro has directed its security official to allow foldable bicycles on the metro which can pass through the luggage scanner.

      Recently a online petition was created asking to Allow Cycles on the Namma Metro. More than 800 people had signed the petition. Chief Public Relations Officer, BM Yashavanth Chavan, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), said, “Earlier also we were allowing the foldable bicycles in the metro. This bicycles should fit in the luggage scanner and them cyclist should use the last compartment of the metro to keep his foldable bicycle without causing any problems to fellow passengers”.

    • Environmental Experts Find New Way To Remove Trillion Tons Carbon Dioxide

      Merely planting trees won’t get the world very far. Large and slower-growing trees can sequester more carbon than smaller plants, but the world faces dramatic deforestation and has enormous agricultural needs. Farming seems like a practical focus for how to mitigate growing atmospheric carbon.

      Whether they can get to one trillion tons of carbon is unknown, Perry says, but this represents one of the largest agricultural experiments lately, with software and satellite tools available to every farmer who signs up. The goal is to find out which crops, practices and geographic locations have the ability to drive more carbon into the soil.

    • Slaughter In San Diego

      I’ve seen this several times before when a bee-keeper was called in to capture the swarm. It’s a fairly simple process: put them in a bag or box and move them to a bee-hive somewhere.

      Instead San Diego called in an exterminator who killed the bees with insecticide in front of thousands of fans in the stadium and perhaps millions in TV-land. It was mass-murder of a valuable species endangered by insecticides, diseases, loss of habitat etc. They are pollinators, for Goodness sake. Why kill them?

    • Ballast water management plan and Evergreen Line’s actions to comply with the regulation

      Ballast water is taken onboard by ships to adjust the ships stability and trim. The water usually contain thousands of marine microorganisms, plants and animals, which are carried across the globe onboard the ships. Untreated ballast water released at the ship’s destination can introduce a new invasive marine species, which effects the marine ecosystems and can be harmful to the ecological balance.

    • ‘We All Owe Al Gore An Apology’: More People See Climate Change In Record Flooding

      That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to convince people about the causes of climate change, he says. In some cases, it might be just as important to convince people and community leaders that they’ll need to adapt.

    • Explained: How severe is the water crisis in Maharashtra? What measures has the government taken?

      Until June 3, residents of 5,127 villages and 10,867 hamlets were solely dependent on tanker water supply for their daily needs. Between May 20 and June 3 alone, 512 villages and 728 hamlets were added to the list of areas being catered.

    • The Most Delicious Foods Will Fall Victim to Climate Change

      The high-nutrient, high-flavor crops are incredibly fickle. Coffee is a great example of a crop that needs very specific conditions to succeed. There are, I think, nine major coffee-producing countries in the world. And there are countries like Vietnam, where there’s now huge, large-scale coffee production, which is fairly new. But the single-origin artisanal coffee crops are very threatened. Stone fruits, for example, and vineyards are threatened, as are places where you can’t re-crop every year or every season. It takes six years to plant a new olive tree and get it back online. The impacts on fruits, particularly stone fruits and tree fruits, were really alarming to me, and it wasn’t just here comes a storm and wipes out all the blossoms and devastates the harvest. It was actually subtle changes in seasons, because this tree gets confused and thinks it’s spring and summer in February or January, and so it blooms. Then a normal freeze comes and wipes everything out.

    • Australia approves vast coal mine near Great Barrier Reef

      The vast open cut mine is slated to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year, boosting Australia’s already vast exports by around 20 per cent.

      Coupled with the construction of a railway link, it could open up a swathe of Queensland to further exploitation and new mining projects.

      [...]

      While the Queensland state approval will permit preliminary construction, the firm must obtain some federal approvals before it can begin extracting coal.

    • Real-life characters in HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ on the moment they found out about the world’s worst nuclear-power-plant accident

      With a few exceptions, most of the characters in the series were based on people in the real-life accident. Some lived to tell their tales, and others did not.

      A few of those who survived were willing to recall the moment when they either found out about the explosion or witnessed it with their own eyes. Here are their firsthand accounts, told in the years since.

    • Concern rises about possible uranium mining near Grand Canyon

      The departments’ decisions have raised the concern of those who oppose mining in the region, who worry the administration may use the moves to justify modifying or rescinding the Department of Interior’s 2012 decision that largely blocked mining on more than 1 million acres near the national park for 20 years. That 2012 decision, which was made to give the US Geological Survey time to study the unique impacts of uranium mining there, was upheld by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.

      “Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region is an unnecessary threat to our tourism-based economies and the people who depend on the Grand Canyon,” Amber Reimondo with the Grand Canyon Trust recently told a House subcommittee.

      Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s current position on the ban is that he sees “no reason” to lift it, department spokeswoman Molly Block said Wednesday.

      Neither the Commerce Department nor the White House responded to requests for comment on this topic from CNN.

    • Overfishing has put five species at risk yet they continue to be caught: NGO

      After conducting an audit of the fishing industry in Mexico, the ocean conservation organization Oceana said that red snapper, grouper, bluefin tuna, sharks and octopus are all endangered due to overexploitation.

      The NGO said the failure to update the National Fishing Charter (CNP), a document that details which species are at risk, has allowed the endangered species to continue to be caught in large quantities when their fishing should have been restricted.

      The National Fisheries Institute (Inapesca) has updated the CNP only six times since the year 2000 when it should have been updated annually, Oceana said.

    • Duterte’s Chinese-Funded Dam Will Displace Indigenous Communities

      Corral described how residents fish and farm for food, growing cassava and sweet potatoes in the valley’s temperate climate, and harvest rattan, a palm used to make furniture. His community believe the spring water flowing from the mountains can heal illnesses—but with heavy construction slated to begin at any moment, that’s at risk.

      According to Corral, government officials have not visited his community to discuss their fate once the dam project comes to life, which could happen as early as this summer. Officials insist that only 46 households will be affected by the dam, which is intended to give the water-starved Manila metro area a much-needed lifeline. Meanwhile, environmental groups say that when the three planned dams flank the riverbank, they will put up to 2,000 at risk of displacement, along with thousands more in communities further downstream.

    • Remember Last Year’s Brutal Summer Heatwaves? They’re Coming Again

      A study published this week in the journal Earth’s Future concludes that this heat wave epidemic “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change.”

      The alarming part? There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer – signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.

    • Study: Plant Species Lost at Alarming Rate

      Compiling data from the literature, international databases, and museum specimens, Vorontsova and her colleagues surveyed more than 330,000 species to document the losses. That’s more than 10 times the number of species included by any other survey, Duke University conservation scientist Stuart Pimm tells Nature. “[The] results are enormously significant.”

    • Plant extinction ‘bad news for all species’

      Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University found that 571 plant species had disappeared in the last two and a half centuries, a number that is more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct (a combined total of 217 species).

      This data suggests plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than what would be expected normally, if humans weren’t around.

      The researchers believe even these numbers underestimate the true levels of ongoing plant extinction.

    • Danes top in Europe in terms of food safety awareness

      According to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Danes know more about food-related risks that the average European.

      The report (here in English) revealed that 77 percent of Danes had a very high awareness of food risks based on responses regarding 15 topics such as hygiene, antibiotics and pesticide residue in food, chemical pollution and additives.

    • Canada bans whale, dolphin captivity

      The federal bill — which was approved in the House of Commons on Monday after first being introduced in the Senate in 2015 — now requires only royal assent to become law.

      Under the new law, the practice of holding whales, dolphins and porpoises will be phased out, though animals currently in captivity will remain. It also bans the capture of wild dolphins and whales, or cetaceans, as well as the practice of captive breeding and the import and export of such animals.

      There are currently only two facilities that keep captive cetaceans: Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

    • 30,000 homes will use electricity generated by new solar plant

      Yucatán predicted to be self-sufficient in renewable energy in 3-4 years

    • European election results: Green parties surge as ‘Green Wave’ hits EU

      Europe’s green parties have made major gains across the continent in this week’s EU elections in a “Green wave”, according to results released overnight on Sunday.

      In Germany, Die Grünen jumped into second place with 20 per cent, solidly beating the historically dominant social democrats, while in France, Les Verts came from nowhere to pull off a surprise third place behind Emmanuel Macron’s outfit.

    • At 48⁰ C, Delhi shatters all records for June

      “The Palam Observatory recorded an all-time high of 48 degrees Celsius Monday. The factors that led to this are dry westerly winds, no effect of a western disturbance in the plains and intense heating in the month of June,” said India Meteorological Department regional weather forecasting chief Kuldeep Srivastava. “Southwesterly winds on Tuesday may cause the temperature to drop by one or two notches. However, the heat wave will persist,” he said.

    • Delhi sizzles at 48 degrees as temperature peaks to all-time high

      In large areas, a heatwave is declared when the mercury touches the 45-degree mark for two consecutive days and a severe heatwave is when the temperature soars to 47 degrees Celsius for two days on the trot, according to the India Meteorological Department.

    • US Scientists Predict Near-Record-Level ‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf of Mexico

      NOAA said in its news release Monday that the prediction for a large dead zone is because of an “abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed,” which led to high amounts of fertilizer downriver.

      The fertilizers feed algae, which then die on the sea floor, and as they decompose use up oxygen in the Gulf.

      The size of the average Gulf dead zone is about 15,000 square kilometers. (5,800 square miles) U.S. federal and state officials have previously pledged to reduce its size to less than 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles).

    • Will ‘Flygskam’ (Or Flight Shame) Be The Buzzword Of This Year’s Summer Holiday?

      In all of this, Swedes are (or used to be) frequent flyers. According to a report commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, in 2017 Sweden’s total aviation sector accounted for 1.1 tonnes of emissions per person, five times the global average of 0.2 tonnes per person.

      If you factor in Sweden’s ambitious plan to be carbon neutral by 2045 and its fame as one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries, it’s easy to understand why the term “flygskam” was coined in the land of ABBA and Ikea.

    • Airlines scramble to overcome polluter stigma as ‘flight shame’ movement grows

      A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is spreading to other European countries, creating a whole new vocabulary, from “flygskam” which translates as “flight shame” to “tågskryt,” or “train brag.”

      A number of famous Swedes have stopped flying, including opera singer Malena Ernman, the mother of teenage activist Greta Thunberg who has thrust climate change into the spotlight.

    • Flygskam: What is the flight-shaming environmental movement that’s sweeping Europe?

      This Swedish word literally translates as “flight shame”. It’s the name of an anti-flying movement that originated in Sweden last year, which encourages people to stop taking flights to lower carbon emissions.

      [...]

      “And then people started to change their travel habits, and it became shameful to go by plane because it’s so devastating for the environment and for the climate.”

    • Low prices, floods and trade wars plague American farmers, putting their survival at risk

      Rain and flooding that began in March have kept farmers from planting a major portion of their crops during the normal mid-April to mid-May season in states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Michigan. As of Sunday, 39% of soybean acres have been planted in the 18 largest producing states, compared with an average 79% over the past five years, Agriculture Department figures show. Sixty-seven percent of corn acres are in the ground, vs. an average 96%. Such delays are unprecedented, Newton says.

      Projected yield shortages have provided at least some boost to long-depressed prices. Contract corn prices for July delivery have risen from $3.57 a bushel in late April to about $4.15. Soybean futures have edged up from $8.41 to about $8.70. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has announced it will provide $16 billion in aid to farmers this year to partly offset the price shortfall resulting from the China trade fight.

    • Air pollution kills more people each year than smoking — but it’s not the only dangerous pollutant you encounter on a daily basis

      Here are 19 different types of pollution that impact the environment — and human health— every day.

    • How many more will die in US heatwaves as world warms?

      The emissions cuts pledged so far in the international Paris Agreement in 2015—if followed through—would limit global warming to the neighborhood of 3°C. That won’t prevent an increase in deaths due to heatwaves, but just how much worse is 3°C than the international goals of stopping warming at 2°C or event 1.5°C?

      To find out, a team led by Eunice Lo at the University of Bristol analyzed the relationship between extreme summer temperatures and deaths for 15 US cities with data: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington DC.

    • Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C could prevent thousands of deaths in the U.S.

      Having the world meet a more stringent goal to limit global warming may prevent thousands of heat-related deaths in 15 major U.S. cities, a study shows. The projections illustrate the high risk from climate change faced by urban populations.

      Under the Paris Agreement, participating countries have pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of limiting warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial times by 2100 (SN: 1/9/16, p. 6). Keeping warming to 2 degrees C could mean 75 to 1,980 fewer deaths in an especially warm year in these 15 cities, compared with a scenario in which the world warms by 3 degrees, researchers report online June 5 in Science Advances.

      Limiting warming to a more stringent 1.5 degrees, however, could spare 114 to 2,716 more U.S. city-dwellers from death in an especially warm year than the 3 degree scenario, the team reports.

    • Tiny plastic debris is accumulating far beneath the ocean surface

      Using remotely operated underwater vehicles, researchers sampled microplastics in Monterey Bay at depths from five to 1,000 meters. The team also measured pollutants in the guts of 24 pelagic red crabs and eight mucus filters from giant larvaceans — both of which eat organic particles about the same size as microplastics (SN Online: 8/16/17).

      The concentration of particles 1,000 meters deep was roughly the same as it was five meters deep, averaging about three particles per cubic meter. Plastic in water from 200 to 600 meters deep was more concentrated, with 10 to 15 particles per cubic meter.

    • The Trump Administration Is Targeting Pipeline Protesters With a Proposed Crackdown

      According to Politico, the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a proposed addition to existing law that threatens fines and up to 20 years in prison for some protests of pipelines; the proposal seeks to add to the law “vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting or inhibiting the operation of” existing pipelines or projects “under construction.”

      If that reads like it could be vaguely interpreted, you’re right. Critics say the proposed change could make the existing law dangerous for protesters.

    • It’s Time to Rebel Against the Existential Threat of Climate Change

      The environmental crisis, though, is transgenerational and global in scope: It will affect virtually everyone around the world for hundreds of generations to come, assuming the human race exists that long. The sheer enormity of the problem boggles even the most capacious minds, a problem that the education scholar Christopher Williams refers to as “brain lag.” Quite simply, our brains lag behind the times: They’re evolutionarily incapable of comprehending the consequences of present human actions, nor are they able to muster the moral sympathy needed to change our behaviors to avoid catastrophic harm to people in the far future.

    • Why haven’t genetically engineered crops made food better?

      In fact, the technology does have that potential, and a couple of efforts have been made to do exactly this. Yet, decades into the GMO era, all of the engineered crops on the market provide enhanced productivity and other benefits to farmers but nothing for the people who ultimately end up eating the results. So why the huge gap between potential and reality? The huge number of problems involved is the subject of a review in Nature Plants.

    • 1 Billion Acres At Risk For Catastrophic Wildfires, U.S. Forest Service Warns

      As we head into summer, with smoke already drifting into the Northwest from wildfires in Alberta, Canada, Vicki Christiansen said wildfires are now a year-round phenomenon. She pointed to the hazardous conditions in forests that result from a history of suppression of wildfires, rampant home development in high-risk places and the changing climate.

    • New Report Suggests ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ Starting in 2050

      The paper argues that the potentially “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are often far more probable than conventionally assumed, but almost impossible to quantify because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”

      On our current trajectory, the report warns, “planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”

      The only way to avoid the risks of this scenario is what the report describes as “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”—but this time focused on rapidly building out a zero-emissions industrial system to set in train the restoration of a safe climate.

    • Climate Undermined by Lobbying

      All told, the total lobbying by these companies reduced the bill’s chances by 13 percentage points, from 55% to 42%, representing $60 billion (2018 dollars) in expected climate damages due to the lowered chance of enacting U.S. climate policy.

    • Rebelling against extinction: ‘It really is a climate crisis’

      In an interview a few hours before her talk, Green acknowledged that with the dire reports that keep coming out about the trajectory the planet is on, it’s a scary situation and it’s time to act.

    • After coal, forest-rich Finland will need to import biomass to keep warm

      Estimates shown to Reuters by Poyry consultancy – which advises the government on energy, industry and infrastructure needs – calculate that Finland will need 64 terawatt hours (TWh) worth of biomass in 2030 just for energy production, up from 38 TWh currently.

      Domestic supply of biomass on the other hand, is forecast to grow by only 8 TWh between now and 2030, according to Poyry.

  • Finance
    • How Americans Became Poor People in a Rich Country

      So what kind of rich society can’t feed its own kids…lunch at school? What does it say when a society legitimizes hunger for kids? When it calls giving a kid lunch at school “theft”? A capitalist one. Hidden in this strange tale is also the story of how capitalism came to wreck and devastate American life.

      I often point out that America is the kind of society which can’t provide the most basic of basics to its people anymore. Hence, it’s destabilizing, collapsing, turning on itself. When a society can’t provide the basics of life to people anymore, affordably, at least, its days are numbered. Yes, I mean that. People will turn to all kinds of alternatives, usually violent ones, usually regressive, toxic ones — like fascism and authoritarianism and theocracy, all of which are rising in America by the day. It’s not a coincidence America’s collapsing into theocracy, fascism, and authoritarianism at the precise moment it can’t provide the basics of life to people anymore: it’s a causal relationship.

    • Rats at the police station, filth on L.A. streets — scenes from the collapse of a city that’s lost control

      The good news is that two trash-strewn downtown Los Angeles streets I wrote about last week were cleaned up by city work crews and have been kept that way, as of this writing.

      The bad news is that I didn’t have to travel far to find more streets just as badly fouled by filthy mounds of junk and stinking, rotting food.

      Then there was the news that the LAPD station on skid row was cited by the state for a rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions, and that one employee there was infected with the strain of bacteria that causes typhoid fever.

      What century is this?

    • Europe’s Dream: Escaping the Dictatorship of the Dollar

      The problem for U.S. allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere that are seeking a way around U.S. financial muscle is that it is proving extremely tough to unwind more than seven decades of dollar dominance. The U.S. financial system remains the central nervous system for the bulk of financial transactions. That gives U.S. policymakers the ability to squeeze other countries that is simply unmatched anywhere else, despite decades of sporadic efforts by countries like Japan, China, and others to make their currencies and banking systems an alternative.

    • Uber and Lyft are trying to make an end-run around unionization

      Then they show their hand: “It’s also no secret that a change to the employment classification of ride-share drivers would pose a risk to our businesses.”

    • Facebook’s cryptocurrency to debut next week backed by Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and others: WSJ

      Facebook has secured the backing of over a dozen companies for its upcoming Libra cryptocurrency set to be announced next week, The Wall Street Journal reports. These companies include major financial organizations like Visa and Mastercard, and internet darlings like PayPal, Uber, Stripe, and Booking.com. Each will invest around $10 million to fund development of the currency, and will become part of the Libra Association, an independent consortium that will govern the digital coin independently of Facebook.

    • Bernie Sanders Delivered the Most Profound Speech Since We Lost MLK

      It is not hyperbole to suggest that Senator Bernie Sanders’s June 12, 2019 Democratic Socialism Speech was as profound as any delivered by either of the two men who Sanders frequently quoted: President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a speech in which the Vermont senator revealed that his campaign, and accompanying “political revolution”, offer a unique vehicle for societal transformation—from what President Jimmy Carter described as “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” to the realization of the promise offered by President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address: “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

      Sanders brilliantly coupled a condemnation of the tyranny of capitalist oligarchy with FDR’s recognition that democracy and freedom are unattainable in the absence of economic security. That message was so powerful that all three major corporate-owned cable networks—Fox “News”, CNN and MSNBC—abruptly terminated their live coverage mid-speech. They did so before Sanders outlined what he described as a “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights”.

      Bernie noted that income and wealth inequality have soared to levels not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. “Three families,” he said, “control more wealth than the bottom half of our country, some 160 million people.”

      That was actually an understatement. As of 2017, America’s three richest “individuals”—Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet—own as much wealth as the bottom 160 million, according to a report released by Institute for Policy Studies. “If left unchecked,” Josh Hardy, the study’s co-author observed, “wealth will continue to accumulate into fewer and fewer hands.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Escalating Its War on Federal Workers

      Claiming over 650,000 members in the United States and overseas, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) stands as the nation’s largest federal and D.C. government employee labor union. The union represents employees who provide care and support for veterans, the elderly and disabled, and people in need of housing through the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with other federal agencies.

      A statement on the AFGE website describes these employees as the “vital threads of the fabric of American life.” Now, the AFGE contends, its members are under attack, thanks to recent actions by the Trump administration.

      The AFGE is currently in contract negotiations with the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of more than 250,000 employees who work for the agency. In the process of these negotiations, AFGE District Office Manager Matt Muchowski says that VA management is attempting to undo labor rights that have been won by the union since its founding in 1932.

      To better understand the nature of these affronts, Muchowski argues, it is important to look at three executive orders signed by President Trump on May 25, 2018. While the orders have since ostensibly been ruled in violation of labor law by a U.S. District Court in August 2018, Muchowski says that sections of the orders which limit time spent during the work day on union activities (known as “official time”) as well as due process are being pushed into the contract by VA negotiators.

      This approach is “making it difficult for federal workers to do what they do,” by seeking to alter key elements of the contracts negotiated between AFGE members—including Veterans Affairs workers—and management, he says. Further, Muchowski notes, this strategy has already been employed during negotiations over the Social Security Administration contract earlier this year, which resulted in major concessions for workers. He says the Trump administration’s approach to the AFGE negotiations “represents an escalation of its anti-union tactics.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Fact Check: No, this is not a photo of Cyclone Vayu

      AFWA did a reverse search of the photo and found that it is an old one. We located the photo on Shutterstock.com. Tushar Kharabe, whose Shutterstock ID is 1143454223, had uploaded the photo on the website on November 16, 2018.

    • Hong Kongers alarmed by Google translation gaffe

      Hong Kong social media lit up on Friday when protesters noticed Google’s translation software was briefly churning out a rather odd suggestion during a week that has seen the worst political violence to hit the city in decades.

      Eagle-eyed Google users discovered that when people entered the phrase “I am sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” the suggested translation in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese converted the word “sad” to “happy”.

    • Supreme Court Ruling on Census Could Deal Grave Blow to Democracy

      The Supreme Court is poised to decide two cases that could prove devastating to the right to vote — the very foundation of a democracy. One case will review the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The other will consider whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. They are related because the citizenship question would “allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats,” the New York Times reported.

      “It’s hard to overstate the significance of the census and partisan gerrymandering cases,” according to Professor Leah Litman of UC Irvine School of Law, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times. “Upholding the addition of the citizenship question and foregoing any judicial oversight of partisan gerrymandering would allow Republican minorities to entrench their political power for decades.”

      Moreover, Thomas Hofeller, a GOP strategist and architect of the citizenship question plan, was known as the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering.” Hofeller’s expertise in drawing partisan political maps “cemented the [Republican] party’s dominance across the country,” Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times.

      The census is used to determine the number of representatives each state will have in the House, how electors are distributed in the electoral college, and how $880 billion in federal funds will be allocated between the states.

    • Don’t Accept the “New Normal” — Keep Outrage Alive

      All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to. — Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye
      On Tuesday, after Donald Trump blew kisses at North Korea when it was revealed the regime had assassinated a CIA “asset” by spraying VX nerve agent in his face in the middle of a crowded airport, a friend asked me: “Is your capacity for shock as burned out as mine?”

      The asset, by the bye, was Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of Kim Jong Un. You may remember when this very public killing in the Kuala Lumpur airport happened back in 2017. The barrage of Trump-related horrors was still somewhat new and fresh, and we were all yelling “This is not normal!” to maintain some semblance of perspective. We were saying that to others, and to ourselves, because it was a lifeline to reality in a world that had gone positively surreal.

      Two years later and four years nearly to the day since Trump rode his golden escalator into presidential infamy, I’m having conversations with friends about shock burnout … and that was Tuesday, which was before Wednesday, which was the day Trump spent denying even the existence of internal polling that showed Democratic frontrunners beating him in 2020 matchups. The polls had been reported on by virtually everyone in the media. “They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist,” he frothed on Twitter pretty much first thing in the morning.

      Leave aside the fact that he’s saying this because his base will believe it and his base is all that matters to him, because that’s the kind of political calculation one cobbles together in a world where mathematics make sense. The president of the United States is lying in public about the non-existence of things that tangibly exist, again. This should be flatly terrifying.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Telegram Traces Massive Cyber Attack to China During Hong Kong Protests

      Hong Kong protesters have grown increasingly concerned about legal repercussions as Beijing tightens its influence over the former British colony and the local government prosecutes demonstrators. They’ve relied on encrypted services to avoid detection. Telegram and Firechat — a peer-to-peer messaging service that works with or without internet access — are among the top trending apps in Hong Kong’s Apple store.

      Many protesters masked their faces to avoid facial recognition and avoided using public transit cards that can be voluntarily linked to their identities. An administrator of a large local Telegram group was arrested Tuesday for allegedly conspiring to commit a public nuisance, the South China Morning Post reported.

    • Yle reporter suspected of defaming famous film director

      Police are conducting a preliminary investigation into whether Yle reporter Sara Rigatelli defamed film director Aki Louhimies when she published a story in which she detailed actors’ claims of his humiliating and degrading behaviour.

    • France’s Le Pen to go on trial for tweeting gruesome IS images

      A judge in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre ordered that the National Rally leader stand trial on charges of circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity” and that can be viewed by a minor.

    • J-K: Four journalists allegedly roughed up by police while covering encounter in Pulwama

      Four photo and video journalists were allegedly beaten and their cameras were snatched by J&K Police personnel when they were covering an encounter which broke out in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Friday morning.
      Advertising

      The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) has condemned the police action.

    • Kochs’ Dark-Money Network Bankrolls Right-Wing “Free Speech Crisis” on Campuses

      Over the last few years, right-wing groups have cried that there is a “free speech crisis” on campuses and have pushed state governments to pass legislation that many professors and civil liberties advocates argue only makes the situation worse.

      Speech First is the latest group to arise to challenge university speech policies. Launched in late 2017, it claims to be a “membership association of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens,” but is in reality managed by a right-wing operative and funded by the Koch brothers’ dark money network, a joint investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Corporate Genome Project (CGP) has found.

      While other organizations, such as the Christian Right hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, have been challenging campus speech policies for years, Speech First is the only group to be specifically set up for this purpose. Its aim is to show universities that “shutting down unwanted speech will no longer be tolerated,” says founding executive director Nicole Neily.

    • Despite being innocent, Asia Bibi was forced out of her country – this is the dark truth about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws [Ed: The concept of "blasphemy" persists even in the EU and its highest court]

      In truth, and contrary to the statement of the Pakistan Foreign Office, Bibi had entirely lost her freedom – as had her family. Certainly they did not have the freedom to live their lives like any ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

      Wherever they might have gone in their own country, the sword of blasphemy would have continued to hang over their heads for the rest of the lives in a society which is not ready to have any kind of reasoned debate about the misuse of religious laws.

    • Insider’s perspective: The full story of Asia Bibi [Ed: Even the legal representatives are at risk from radicals]

      It was dangerous for anyone to speak out – for instance the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by one of his bodyguards for speaking in her defence in 2011. Mr Taseer was shot 27 times.

    • Fanatic vows ‘terrible death’ and ‘hell’ for Christian Asia Bibi [Ed: Pakistan has a major problem in its hands if it lets aggressive radicals steer policy and civil discourse, even if by threats and assassinations]

      Bibi fled to refuge in Canada earlier this month but religious fanatics don’t appear ready to let the matter die.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Moldovan passport offer lures investors to Dubai’s Seahorse Villas

      UAE-based European real estate developer Kleindienst Group announced that investor interest in its floating Seahorse Villas homes at The Heart of Europe had increased following its decision to offer Schengen visa-free citizenship through the Moldovan Citizenship by Investment (MCBI) programme wherein investors paying more than $1.3m (AED5m) in the project’s first or second phases will be eligible for the scheme.

    • Investors in Dubai’s Heart of Europe to qualify for Moldovan passports

      Investors who buy property worth more than AED 5 million in UAE developer Kleindienst Group’s Heart of Europe project this summer will automatically qualify for Moldovan citizenship, the company announced on Wednesday.

      With a Moldovan citizenship, investors would be able to travel visa-free across the Schengen area and 121 countries around the world.

    • What Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” Tells Us Now

      This piece was adapted from a lecture delivered in April, in Indianapolis, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

    • Linda Fairstein Is Still Trying to Take Down the Central Park Five

      In real life, Fairstein appears to be an even worse person than she is portrayed to be. You’d think Fairstein would be inconsolable, ashamed, or just plain embarrassed when she learned that her actions not only put five innocent boys in jail but also allowed the real perpetrator to go on raping people for that much longer. But, no, she’s not humiliated—she is defiant.

      This week, The Wall Street Journal gave her editorial space to attack the Central Park Five again. It’s so very on-brand for the Journal to allow a disgraced prosecutor to make a soliloquy against people of color. That’s the kind of news we need so we can determine whether to hang onto our “unrepentant white supremacy” stocks for another day.

    • Canada: Deaths of indigenous women were ‘genocide’

      A 1,200-page report was released Monday detailing a Canadian government inquiry into thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It concluded that the deaths and disappearances of the women in recent decades constituted a “national genocide.”

      The report, titled “Reclaiming Power and Place,” was the result of a national inquiry commissioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016.

    • ‘Hold China accountable’ for fentanyl, Andrew Scheer says

      Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the federal government needs to “hold China accountable” for the illicit fentanyl that has fuelled Canada’s opioid crisis.

      Speaking to municipal leaders at a convention in Quebec City, the opposition leader said opioid addiction and overdoses are both a health problem and a public-safety problem, and part of the solution is to restrict the supply.

    • Here’s the new police list of trouble suburbs in Sweden: fewer vulnerable areas

      Swedish police on Monday hailed positive developments within the nation’s 60 so-called ‘vulnerable areas’. But there’s both good news and bad news.

      In an update to a list first introduced in 2015, police reduced the number of areas defined as “especially vulnerable” from 23 to 22.

    • Sweden’s Self-Inflicted Mess: The Scared Girls of Uppsala; Children of ISIS Terrorists

      In response, officials from Uppsala apparently told the Swedish press, “We usually encourage girls who feel insecure to think about what they need to do to feel safe, such as not walking alone, making sure they get picked up and anything else that can reduce their sense of insecurity.” In other words, the authorities are leaving the responsibility for dealing with this critical security issue to the girls themselves.

      The scared girls in Uppsala are only a small part of the entire picture. According to the latest National Safety Report, published by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande Rådet or Brå), four out of 10 women are afraid to walk outside freely. “Almost a quarter of the population chooses a different route or another mode of transportation as a result of anxiety about crime… Among women aged 20-24, 42 percent state that they often opted for another route or another mode of transportation, because they felt insecure and worried about being subjected to crime. The corresponding proportion among men in the same age group is 16 percent…” according to Brå.

    • Muslim mob vandalises petrol pump, beat up staffers because some were getting late for Namaz and didn’t want to wait in queue

      When OpIndia contacted Malad Police, they corroborated the TOI report and added that the two bike-borne men were getting late to offer their namaz. It is for this reason that they jumped the queue leading to a spat with the petrol pump staff. They subsequently summoned a group of 15-20 men and thrashed the petrol pump staffers there.

    • Bikers break queue, then bones at Malad fuel point

      Less than an hour later, a mob armed with lathis arrived at the pump. They did not say a word to anyone and went about bashing up the staff. Around a dozen men entered a glass cabin and smashed its door and tables inside. They also smashed two POS (point of sale) swiping machines and a fuel reading meter. Among the staff, Shrikant Vishwakarma suffered arm and leg fractures. Ashish, Singh and their colleagues, Kamal Mishra, Kaushal Yadav, Vikas Yadav and Dheeraj Sharma, suffered injuries to the head, back, arm, leg and face. Some of the accused were masked.

      The Malad police were informed. Based on information provided by witnesses, the police registered a case of assault and rioting, among other charges. Later, the petrol pump management went through their cash counter and found that Rs 35,000 had been looted. The police then added the charge of dacoity.

    • Tunisia: Café Owner Jailed Over Ramadan Hours

      On May 18, police visited the Damascus café and checked the identity cards of all customers who were there. They asked Zaghouani to promise in writing to remain closed, which he refused to do, he told Human Rights Watch. The next day, they returned, asked the customers to leave, and arrested Zaghouani, he said. On May 20, Zaghouani appeared before a prosecutor, who ordered him held in pretrial custody.

    • Cabinet may take up a fresh triple talaq Bill today [Ed: Banning Talaq-e-biddat and separating states from dogma or superstitions]

      According to sources aware of the matter, a bill to ban Talaq-e-biddat may be discussed by the Union Cabinet, which may grant its approval for the government to bring the bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament starting on June 17.

    • German Court Fines 7 Men Who Claimed to Be ‘Sharia Police’

      The group took to the streets of the western city of Wuppertal in 2014, dressed in orange vests bearing the words “Sharia police” and handing out leaflets declaring the area a “Sharia-controlled zone” where alcohol, music and pornography were banned under Islam’s Sharia law.

    • German court orders fines for self-declared ‘sharia police’

      Seven men patrolled streets of the city of Wuppertal in uniforms, warning Muslims not to visit cafes or drink alcohol

    • German court fines 7 men who claimed to be ‘Sharia police’

      At the time of the “sharia police” patrol, the men were led by one of Germany’s best-known fundamentalist preachers, Sven Lau, a 38-year-old convert to Islam.

      He was himself sentenced in 2017 to a five-year jail term in a separate case, after being found guilty of “supporting a terrorist organization” by recruiting potential militants to travel to Syria.

    • Child marriage ban takes effect in Finland

      The Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark have all banned underage marriages in recent years. The National Church Council has long said that legislation should be used to prevent child marriages and overturn the exemption rule.

    • It’s Time for Progressives to Protect Women Instead of Pronouns [Ed: One can protect both; a false dichotomy leveraged by right-wing zealots and chauvinists to pretend they care about women whereas liberals do not]

      Before we took the stage, speakers were given an hour-long briefing by the university’s security team. We were told what would happen if the stage were stormed by protesters, or if it became necessary to vacate the venue. This is what it now means to advocate publicly for women’s rights.

    • Hong Kong Protests: Council Delays Debate on Extradition Law

      Ms. Tsang, 25, said she had come in hopes of a drawing international attention to the bill, and said that she hoped global condemnation could force the government to back down from presenting the bill for a second reading in the local legislature.

      “Hong Kong is a civilized city but they don’t listen to the citizens,” Ms. Tsang, who had worn sunglasses and a surgical mask to guard against pepper spray, said of the authorities. “It’s quite ridiculous.”

    • The Latest: Hong Kong Session Delayed as Protest Gathers

      A vote on the amended laws is scheduled for June 20.

    • ‘Million march’: Huge Hong Kong protest against China extradition law

      Organisers said more than a million people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of the financial hub’s main island in a noisy, colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned extradition law.

      The demonstration was the biggest the international finance hub has experienced since it was returned to China by Britain — beaten only by a 1.5 million-strong rally during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen protesters.

    • Hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong to protest China extradition bill

      U.S. and European officials have issued formal warnings – concern matched by international business and human rights lobbies that fear the changes would dent Hong Kong’s rule of law. The former British colony was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997 amid guarantees of autonomy and various freedoms including a separate legal system, which many diplomats and business leaders believe is the city’s strongest remaining asset.

    • Hong Kong protests: Leader Carrie Lam defiant after massive protest

      Organisers estimate that one million people took part in Sunday’s march, however police put the figure at 240,000 at its peak.

      If the organisers’ estimate is confirmed as correct, it would be the largest demonstration in Hong Kong since the territory was handed over to China by the British in 1997.

    • Hong Kong Leader Delays Extradition Bill Amid Mass Protests

      Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam sought to quell public anger Saturday by shelving an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted apprehension about relations with mainland China, but opponents of the measure said it was not enough.

      Activists said they were still planning a mass protest for Sunday, a week after hundreds of thousands marched to demand Lam drop the legislation, which many fear would undermine freedoms enjoyed by this former British colony but not elsewhere in China.

      The battle over the proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow some suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts has evolved into Hong Kong’s most severe political test since the Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city’s civil liberties and courts.

    • Why the UAW Lost Again in Chattanooga

      It was a bad sign. On the day voting began at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the shift change suddenly turned blue.

      Throngs of workers were passing through the factory turnstiles in both directions, as the day shift ended and the night shift began. On the preceding days, handfuls of union supporters in bright green shirts were there to hand out flyers and banter with their co-workers.

      But on Wednesday, instead of bustling union activists, a sea of workers passed quietly through the turnstiles wearing the blue anti-union “One Team: I Am Volkswagen” shirts provided by the company.

      Only a few workers were wearing the United Auto Workers shirts. Union supporters were visibly outnumbered by as much as 20 to 1.

      This scene was a warning of what was to come. On Friday night, the votes were counted and the union lost in another heartbreaking close vote, 776 yes to 833 no. Ninety-three percent of eligible workers cast ballots.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: “We’re Going to Fight to Repeal the Hyde Amendment”

      Hyde, passed in 1976, bars federal funds from being used for abortion care except in the cases of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger.

      Last week, Ocasio-Cortez blasted former vice president Joe Biden’s Hyde Amendment position: “That’s not a progressive position. And you know what? If your pride is being a moderate, centrist candidate, then go out and say that.”

      Biden’s campaign for president confirmed on June 5th that the Delaware Democrat still supported the controversial, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, a revelation that generated intense criticism from rights groups. One day later, Biden did a flip-flop and announced a reversal course on his longstanding position on Hyde.

      Ocasio-Cortez , speaking with The Young Turks show “Rebel HQ” in an interview posted June 6th, said that “record is important because it shows a consistency in values in beliefs.”

      She was responding to interviewer Emma Vigeland mentioning Biden’s previous declaration that he’s the “most progressive candidate” and Ocasio-Cortez choosing to not endorse any of the Democratic hopefuls yet.

      “I think we need a progressive president,” Ocasio-Cortez told Vigeland.

    • Pakistan Christians beaten by mob after mosque accuses them of blasphemy: report

      The London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association reports that two Christian families in the Arif Wala Tehsil district of Punjab province were forced to flee from their homes after the attack last Wednesday by a mob of about 40 Muslim men and children with weapons.

      According to BPCA, which is providing financial assistance to the community, the mob was incited by a local mosque that claimed over its loudspeakers that the Christians had insulted Islam.

    • Muslim surgeon accused of sterilising non-Muslim patients without their knowledge or consent

      The 42-year-old surgeon was arrested by Kurunegala Police last week for amassing unusually large sums of money and assets. According to reports, police will be investigating whether the money was obtained from a terrorist organisation.

      Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health has launched a special committee to investigate the allegations, comprised of gynaecologists and representatives of the Sri Lanka Medical Council.

    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns of Islamic anti-Semitism [Ed: She is making a career by helping people like Netanyahu]

      Islamic anti-Semitism is of a “scale and scope” that most people in the West do not understand and is therefore all the more insidious, the controversial critic of the Muslim religion, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, told a capacity audience at the Jewish Public Library (JPL) in Montreal on May 13.

    • Terror in Burkina Faso: how insurgents brought chaos to the once-stable Francophone state [Ed: The real threat is extremism in all its form, the accumulation of power and vanity that accompanies it]

      Abdoulaye is an alias he uses due to ongoing threats against his life. The young teacher has not worked since leaving his community, and struggles with the cost of living in the capital, Ouagadougou.

      Violence has displaced more than 150,000 people in this poor West African country over the last two years alone.

      [...]

      Currently, more than 145,000 children are out of school and 1,000 educational establishments have closed their doors due to extremist threats.

      But as it turned out, the school attacks were just the beginning.

    • Islamist migrants [Ed: The right wing in Israel apparently has no strategy left other than inciting Europe against Muslim immigrants, hoping to deflect distrust if not hate]

      The millions of Muslims rapping on the doors of Europe over the last few years come from failed, war-torn states, rife with unemployment, neglect and despair. They are in search of a secure environment, honorable employment, education for their children, a roof over their heads and safe, fulfilling lives. Once they achieve economic stability in their host state, many also integrate culturally and become part of the society in which they have found themselves. They break their ties to Islamic tradition, eat whatever is put on their plates and drink whatever is poured into their cups.

      In contrast, however, there are millions of Muslims settled in Europe who have a clear objective: Staying loyal to their religious tradition while strengthening its status in Europe. They make demands whose goal is turning the host country into an even more welcoming one: They see to the availability of Halal foods sans alcohol and pork, courts acting according to Islamic Sharia law instead of local statutes, non-marking of Christian holidays, eliminating Holocaust education that includes the genocide of the Jews, the establishment of a banking system according to Islamic law, and allowing Muslim women to wear the niqab covering their faces in the public sphere. They want their women treated by female medical personnel and not by males, as well as many other demands whose objective is to turn the host country into a place that will attract more Islamist migrants.

    • Indonesia riots: Islamic teachers linked to defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto told teens to take part, human rights chief says [Ed: If teachers incite violence, then it doesn't matter what their rationale may be; they break the law.]

      Initial investigations by the country’s National Commission on Human Rights found religious teachers incited students to take part

    • ‘A Regular Woman’: Remembering honor killing victim Hatun Sürücü [Ed: People who are an impediment to assimilation and integration cause harm and may cost many people their lives]

      She left her abusive husband, however, and returned to Berlin, pregnant.

      At first, the young, independent and strong woman lived with her family, but in hopes of a self-determined life, she moved with her son to a hostel for single mothers, despite great resistance from her family. The young mother moved on to an apartment, she consulted a therapist, went back to school to finish her degree, took off her headscarf and began an apprenticeship as an electrician.

      At the age of 23, almost done with her training and ready to move to Freiburg to continue her education, one of her brothers shot her in the head three times at a Berlin bus stop.

      The gruesome murder triggered a heated debate about forced marriages and values in Muslim families in Germany.

    • Bill 21 Is Québec’s Renewed Attempt at Legislative Intolerance

      Though Québec, Canada, has the tendency to portray itself as a progressive and open society, the popular obsession with curtailing the rights of marginalized groups clearly undermines this image. Having made headlines in 2017 following the horrific killing of six Muslims in a Québec City mosque, the province is once again facing scrutiny for the proposed adoption of Bill 21, a new law aimed at restricting public sector workers from displaying religious symbols at work. This revived attempt to legislate religious and civil rights has attracted much criticism, most recently by the United Nations special rapporteurs on religious freedom, racial discrimination, and minority issues.

      As Truthout previously reported, the debate on state secularism in Québec has occupied much of the public and political discourse. In 2017, the province’s then-liberal government tried unsuccessfully to ratify Bill 62, a law prohibiting access to public services to those who covered their faces. The bill was rapidly denounced as a discriminatory measure against Muslim women who chose to wear a niqab or burqa. This issue is, unfortunately, not new in a province that has been debating the meaning of state secularism (laïcité) — particularly as it applies to Canada’s Muslim community — since the early 2000s. In 2007, a commission headed by prominent philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérard Bouchard examined the question of religious accommodations and concluded that it was the state’s responsibility to encourage tolerance and to uphold individual religious freedoms.

    • Forced Conversions, Marriages Spike in Pakistan

      Every year, thousands of Hindu and Christian girls and young women are kidnapped in Pakistan and forcibly married, disappearing from their families. And while these forced conversions have been going on for decades, a recent surge in reported cases has brought the issue back into the limelight.

      Around 1,000 cases of Hindu and Christian girls being forced to convert were estimated in the province of southern Sindh alone in 2018, according to the annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

    • Ugly reality: Forced conversions ‘not seen as a crime’ in Pakistan

      According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), only five other countries see more children abducted and forcibly married than Pakistan. Once they have converted to Islam, the religion affords their spouse and relatives-in-law the legal protection to conduct this controversial practice.

    • Pakistani Christian teen ‘raped, forcibly converted to Islam’

      According to Neha’s family, police were initially reluctant to register their complaint, but they were able to lodge a case on May 13 with the help of others including Pastor Ghazala Shafiq of the Church of Pakistan.

      The pastor said Neha’s marriage was illegal because she was only 15.

      “Girls under 18 years of age are considered minor and those doing this are punishable according to Pakistan’s Penal Code. We will fight her case in court,” she said.

    • Islam and Prison: Why Are So Many Inmates Converting?

      An estimated 40,000 inmates in U.S. prisons are converting to Islam every year. At the outset, it is important to note that religious conversion to Islam – or any religion — is not by itself an indicator of future extremism, violent or otherwise.

    • Muslim gangs in UK jails beating prisoners until they convert to Islam

      Muslim gangs in UK jails are forcing prisoners to convert to Islam with threats and beatings, according to a new Ministry of Justice report.

      “The tactic they use is to befriend someone when they come in. If they don’t convert, they will then start spreading rumours about them, that the person is a snitch (informer), so that they will be ostracised. Then the beatings follow,” said a non-Muslim inmate.

    • Muslim gangs ‘beat prisoners’ who will not convert to Islam

      The gangs operated under the guise of religion, with a hierarchy of leaders, recruiters, enforcers, followers and foot soldiers, the report by the Ministry of Justice said. One non-Muslim inmate said: “There is an underlying pressure for people to convert and join the gang.

    • Outrage as Eid al-Fitr Replaces National Day Feast in Swedish Municipality

      The municipality then called its plans a “misunderstanding” and effectively abandoned its integration attempt, deciding to only mark Eid al-Fitr, despite the fact that Ramadan this year officially ends on 4 June, and relegating the National Day celebrations to a less prominent location.

    • Pakistani cleric complains about minister in ‘moon-lighting controversy’

      A cleric in Pakistan has lodged a complaint with police accusing a federal minister of violating Islamic tradition by introducing a moon-sighting website and an official lunar calendar. In the complaint, Mufti Inam-ul-Haq said Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry had perpetrated an “un-Islamic act.”

    • Ex Tehran Mayor Confesses To Killing His Wife On Iranian State TV

      But Najafi, a former mayor of Tehran, was there to make a confession. He said he had killed his wife, Mitra Ostad, ,the night before after threatening her with a gun because she refused to grant him a divorce.

      [...]

      “So far, [this case] is not a criminal investigation, even by the standards of the Iranian judiciary,” Tehran-based lawyer Shady Sadr said on Twitter.

    • Germany is failing to prosecute IS foreign fighters, Yazidis accuse

      Members of the Yazidi minority in Germany are taking the federal government to court. They say Berlin isn’t doing enough to bring German “Islamic State” supporters captured in Syria to justice.

    • Islamic scholar calls for ‘separation of mosque and state’, gets death threats

      Following the scholar’s interpretation of the Quran, under which he suggested that fasting was not compulsory, Saïd Djabelkhir received numerous death threats. A hate campaign was initiated, with TV programs broadcast to vilify him.

      A facebook page went as far as publishing a call to murder him. The administrator of the page provided the address of the scholar in the municipality of Blida, inviting people to attack him “We must deal with it today, not tomorrow“.

    • ‘A gross violation’: UK must demand an end to Indonesian military’s invasive virginity testing, say experts

      The “two finger test”, in which medics check whether a woman’s hymen is still intact, has no basis in science and is used as a humiliating threat to keep women from progressing in the country’s security apparatus.

    • Mauritanian Cleric Muhammad Al-Hassan Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqiti Says Muslims Must Strive To Obtain Nuclear Weapons, Agrees They Should Achieve ‘Balance Of Terror’

      Mauritanian cleric Muhammad Al-Hassan Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqiti said in an interview broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas-Gaza) on May 22, 2019, that the Muslims have a duty to strive to obtain nuclear weapons because there is a threat that nuclear weapons might be used against them and it is the “only way to deter the enemies.” He gave the example of Pakistan, which he said stopped being “harassed” by its neighbors once it obtained nuclear weapons. Al-Shanqiti also said that the recent “rush” to normalize relations with the Zionists is caused by a lack of faith in Allah and by the fact that the Zionists possess a nuclear weapon while the Arabs do not. He added that Muslims must not use such a weapon unless it is used against them. The interviewer said that there should be a “balance of terror.”

    • Don’t Blame the Surge of European Anti-Semitism on the Populists

      So when a German federal official recently advised Jews to avoid wearing a kippah or religious head covering in public so they wouldn’t be targeted for violence, most foreign observers concluded that it was right-wing anti-Semites who have been attacking Jews, given that right-wingers have been making gains in elections, including in the recent European Parliament election.

    • At least 95 killed in attack on Mali village [Ed: The brutality seen in some parts of Africa is unspeakable by most standards; sometimes to steal cattle (food)]

      Ninety-five charred bodies had been counted among the village’s 300 residents, the major said. Fulani men attacked the village last week but only stole cattle, he said.

      The Dogon and the Fulani have clashed in the past over access to land and water. Armed men in March killed 134 people, including women and children, during an attack on a village in central Mali, the United Nations said at the time.

    • Rape and Sudan’s revolution: ‘They were crying and screaming’

      A feared unit of Sudan’s security forces raped women as they dispersed pro-democracy protesters camped outside the military’s headquarters 12 days ago, witnesses have told the BBC.

    • Sudan crisis: Call for civil disobedience after arrests

      The umbrella group leading Sudan’s pro-democracy movement has called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience, days after a bloody military crackdown left dozens dead.

    • Arab States Foment Sudan Chaos While U.S. Stands By

      More than 100 people were killed on Monday, according to civilian groups, when Sudanese military forces destroyed the country’s protest site and rampaged through Khartoum. Videos showed civilians walking through the streets and then being attacked by soldiers. Forty bodies were pulled from the Nile River, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, a professional association affiliated with the protest, after reports that soldiers from Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces paramilitary unit threw them in. One video showed bodies with rocks tied to their feet to make them sink in the river. There was no regular internet access in Khartoum on Wednesday, the third day of a web blackout.

    • Sudan Pro-Democracy Groups Vow to Continue Protests After Deadly Crackdown

      At least 108 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds of others wounded since security forces stormed a protest camp in Khartoum on Monday. Pro-democracy groups have vowed to continue peaceful protests that gathered momentum after the ouster in April of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir until the ruling military council is removed and those responsible for the deaths this week are brought to justice.

    • Valedictorian Says School Cut Off Mic During Speech Due to the Topics

      She and her family immigrated from Iran when she was just 12-years-old, after facing religious persecution.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Japan IP High Court rules standard for calculating damages in patent infringement case

      Then, the court said that the licensing royalty rate in this case should not be less than 10%, considering that the average royalty rates in recent years in the technology field of the patented inventions are 5.3% in the questionnaire results of domestic companies and 6.1% in the judicial decision, and also there was a case in which the patent holder settled a patent infringement dispute in the same technology field by receiving 10% of sales of the infringing products.

      As described above, the court made a decision in favor of the patent holder by indicating standard for calculating damages, especially defining the deductible expense as “the expense which is additionally required by production and sales of infringing products and which is also directly related to such production and sales of infringing products”.

      Recently, the government has been trying to promote the development of IP dispute resolution system in favor of patent holders, although it has not progressed as expected, which we featured before.

    • Copyrights
      • ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

        Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys behind the controversial law firm Prenda, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. In addition, he must pay his victims $1.5 million in restitution. The attorney was one of the masterminds behind the fraudulent scheme in which Prenda created and uploaded porn movies to extract settlements from alleged pirates. The Pirate Bay played a crucial role in the case.

Stuffed/Stacked Panels Sent Back Packing After One-Sided Patent Hearings That Will Convince Nobody, Just Preach to the Choir

Sunday 16th of June 2019 02:08:00 PM

“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. [...] Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.”
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Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Almost a week ago the ‘world tour’ of patent lobbyists in US Senate finally ended; it was an utterly ridiculous case study in panel stacking and bribery (attempts to buy laws)

THE NEW Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not like 35 U.S.C. § 101, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He has already crafted some poor guidelines and it doesn’t change how judges decide cases. To make matters worse, the USPTO got bombarded with very negative comments, perhaps 90% of all the comments, based on some estimates we saw. The patent maximalists try to blame it on the EFF, which means that the EFF is doing something right (rallying supporters who actually support technology rather than litigation).

“The EFF was there, but it was surrounded by dozens of think tanks and lobbyists of litigators.”Sites of patent trolls (sponsored by them) tried hard to amplify this month’s Senate hearings, knowing these hearings were grossly biased, one-sided, and therefore misleading. The EFF was there, but it was surrounded by dozens of think tanks and lobbyists of litigators. It was so profoundly ridiculous that we couldn’t help but respond, repeatedly, even though we said that we’d try focusing on the European Patent Office (EPO) instead.

“Apple is a constant target of high-tech patent assertions, with 58 cases filed against it in the US last year (Lex Machina),” Battistelli‘s friends at IAM write at the moment. But actually, Apple itself is a patent aggressor and bully. Hardly the victim. Taking into account the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX), the EFF has just told this story of trolls whose targets include Apple. To quote:

For years, the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) has been a magnet for lawsuits filed by patent trolls—companies who make money with patent threats, rather than selling products or services. Technology companies large and small were sued in EDTX every week. We’ve written about how that district’s unfair and irregular procedures made it a haven for patent trolls.

In 2017, the Supreme Court put limits on this venue abuse with its TC Heartland decision. The court ruled that companies can only be sued in a particular venue if they are incorporated there, or have a “regular and established” place of business.

That was great for tech companies that had no connection to EDTX, but it left brick-and-mortar retailers exposed. In February, Apple, a company that has been sued hundreds of times in EDTX, closed its only two stores that were in the district, located in Richardson and Plano. With no stores located in EDTX, Apple will be able to ask for a transfer in any future patent cases.

In the last few days those stores were open, Apple was sued for patent infringement four times, as patent trolls took what is likely their last chance to sue Apple in EDTX.

This month, as part of our Stupid Patent of the Month series, we’re taking a closer look at one of these last-minute lawsuits against Apple. On April 12, the last day the store was open, Apple was sued by LBS Innovations, LLC, a patent-licensing company owned by two New York patent lawyers, Daniel Mitry and Timothy Salmon. Since it was formed in 2011, LBS has sued more than 60 companies, all in the Eastern District of Texas. Those defendants include some companies that make their own technology, like Yahoo, Waze, and Microsoft, but they’re mostly retailers that use software made by others. LBS has sued tire stores, pizza shops, pet-food stores, and many others, all for using internet-based maps and “store location” features. LBS has sued retailers that use software made by Microsoft, others that use Mapquest, some that use Google, as well as those that use the open-source provider OpenStreetMaps.

So it has become a serious problem for Free/Open Source software, even directly. Thankfully, nowadays it’s easier to tackle the underlying patents these trolls leverage. Will any of that change? Not any time soon. We doubt it.

Regardless, the EFF’s Joe Mullin wrote the following some days ago:

xperts Warn Congress: Proposed Changes to Patent Law Would Thwart Innovation

It should be clear now that messing around with Section 101 of the Patent Act is a bad idea. A Senate subcommittee has just finished hearing testimony about a bill that would wreak havoc on the patent system. Dozens of witnesses have testified, including EFF Staff Attorney Alex Moss. Alex’s testimony [PDF] emphasized EFF’s success in protecting individuals and small businesses from threats of meritless patent litigation, thanks to Section 101.

Section 101 is one the most powerful tools patent law provides for defending against patents that never should have been issued in the first place. We’ve written many times about small businesses that were saved because the patents being used to sue them were thrown out under Section 101, especially following the Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision. Now, the Senate IP subcommittee is currently considering a proposal that will eviscerate Section 101, opening the door to more stupid patents, more aggressive patent licensing demands, and more litigation threats from patent trolls.

Three days of testimony has made it clear that we’re far from alone in seeing the problems in this bill. Patents that would fail today’s Section 101 aren’t necessary to promote innovation. We’ve written about how the proposal, by Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons, would create a field day for patent trolls with abstract software patents. Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the other potential effects of the proposal, none of them good.

This will hopefully be our last post in this subject (we have already published about half a dozen). Over the past week we’ve kept an eye on Twitter (sadly, a lot of input goes into those social control media sites instead of proper news sites) and here’s what we can report as concisely as possible.

“So it has become a serious problem for Free/Open Source software, even directly.”First of all, the hearings were full of buzzwords. They were, as usual, misusing/misapplying buzzwords like “HEY AI” (AI) to promote fake patents on software. It isn’t just done in Europe but also in the US and in Israel [1, 2] (we mentioned this the other day; that same article has been reposted everywhere they could fling it).

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) quoted and said: “the ILPO adopted the “technical effect” test used in the EU jurisprudence” while there is no European Union involved, only rogue EPO administrative tribunals…”

That’s based on a purely promotional piece, more or less marketing and lobbying by law firms, but it’s still worth entertaining again because we see the same buzzwords brought up in the hearings. As one person put it: “Senate Judiciary Committee on 101: Laurie Hill (Genentech); Genentech pioneers biologics; Under 101/Alice/Mayo, many of these inventions are unpatentable; AI/bioinformatics/biology is the future of medicine but is not patentable.”

“They were, as usual, misusing/misapplying buzzwords like “HEY AI” (AI) to promote fake patents on software.”There it is: “AI”. And again here: “The SCP (Standing Committee on the Law of Patents) at @WIPO has just published a revealing document on AI and Patentability under the title “Background document on patents and emerging technologies”.”

Of course WIPO too participates in the “HEY AI” (AI) hype; that’s just done in order to grant fake patents on maths — no doubt patents that would be rejected if tested by courts.

Henrion also said (having watched these dull hearings): “Till and Coons strongly motivated to restore software patents, citing buzzwords such as “AI”, “quantum computing”, or “5G”…”

He found this tweet: “The AI hype is pervasive and everybody wonders when the bubble will burst, but it is true this technology poses some challenges to patentability…”

It links to this blog post by Leopoldo Belda Soriano. He says “AI” many dozens of times.

“Of course WIPO too participates in the “HEY AI” (AI) hype; that’s just done in order to grant fake patents on maths — no doubt patents that would be rejected if tested by courts.”On the rogue composition of the panels, as expected, much has been said as well. Here’s the list of people. Stacked panels. Very stacked. Patent zealots were (at the time) linking to things like “Final Panelists at Senate 101 Hearing Stress Real-World Effects of Status Quo, Tillis Signals Changes to Draft Text” from Watchtroll’s Eileen McDermott and other blogs like Patently-O.

Henrion took note of IBM’s role in these hearings when he wrote: “Senate hearing: IBM has also used super low quality software patents such as a diff between 2 contact lists to extract money from Groupon [] Qualcomm says they want to patent encoding algos such as OFDM, you could infringe them with a pen and paper https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthogonal_frequency-division_multiplexing … [] At least americans are pretty clear about software patents, and not this CII mess…”

Henrion carried on speaking about IBM: “Nokia and IBM thanks Tillis and Coons for an “open legislative process”, while the interventions are all stacked by the patent community [] Not inviting small companies nor software developers “reminding those present that they had specifically invited Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Dell, who declined to come in favor of being represented by industry associations.”

Jan Wildeboer, who will soon be an IBM employee, expressed concerns about policies that are actually supported by IBM: “51 pages on so-called #FRAND licensing of Standard Essential Patents (SEP) by CEN/CENELEC. And they manage to completely avoid the simple question of how such schemes would work for #OpenSource implementations (Hint: it’s not possible IMHO). https://www.cencenelec.eu/news/workshops/Pages/WS-2019-014.aspx …”

“On the rogue composition of the panels, as expected, much has been said as well.”All these patents on maths are highly problematic. They oughtn’t be granted. On went Henrion: “Michael Blankstein of Scientific Games wants to restore software patents for games, and wants US to avoid copying the European Patent Convention, which explicitely bans computer programs, and rules for playing games [] Cyborg patents logic to compress data, wants to see Alice abolished https://cyborg.co/tech/intellectual-property [] John D. Vandenberg says Alice is not a mess, says the proposed bill will restore software patents…”

Alice actually restored order. How is elimination of fake patents not a positive thing? For patent trolls it certainly isn’t… but should they count?

The CCIA’s main patent person soon weighed in as well, followed by Henrion: “The “innovation” is using existing data mining techniques on data sets to determine a correlative relationship. Is that what we want to promote with patents? [] [Spot the disconnect: Tillis/Coons, op-ed: “We have no intention of overruling that central holding of the Myriad decision.” Tillis/Coons, bill: ‘No implicit exceptions to subject matter eligibility shall be used and all cases regarding those exceptions are abrogated.” [] Also, Tillis made it a point to complain that tech didn’t come. Given that the 4-1 stacked panels today on other issues, is it any wonder those companies didn’t want to show up?”

“That’s just political corruption (check who’s bribing Coons for this bill).”The funding of Coons (over a million bucks from lawyers and liars) means that lying is part of the show. As Henrion explained: “Lawyers always win when they own the “patent reform”, law firms sending donations to Senators @ChrisCoons , I guess “Small Businesses” don’t donate enough…”

That’s just political corruption (check who’s bribing Coons for this bill). It’s quite blatant and obvious.

“ACLU popping up a banner against genes patents at the senate hearing on the patent maximalist bill,” Henrion added, “where are the protesters against software patents?”

Here’s a photo of it.

On the other hand we could also quote some patent maximalists, to whom these stacked hearings were a festival of joy; one of them said: “Senate Judiciary Committee on 101: Sean Reilly (Clearing House); Financial Services Industry has strong interest in strong patent system; 101/Alice has killed low quality patents; Clearing House opposes any changes to status quo.”

“The sponsors called these initiatives of theirs “bipartisan” to give an illusion of widespread consent, but what they really meant was, they got a couple of politicians from two ‘opposing’ (corporate) parties inside their pockets.”Another one quoted “George, Invitae (1:11:00): “As you consider legislative proposals, instead of abrogating 150 years of precedent case law [e.g. fixing 101], I believe the right approach is to start where the law is correctly working…” https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/the-state-of-patent-eligibility-in-america-part-iii …”

Working for who? Lawyers? Trolls? Science? Anyway, these hearings are now nearly a week behind us. As we’ve said right from the very start, we don’t expect these to change anything. The sponsors called these initiatives of theirs “bipartisan” to give an illusion of widespread consent, but what they really meant was, they got a couple of politicians from two ‘opposing’ (corporate) parties inside their pockets. So much for ‘public’ support…

2019 H1: American Software Patents Are as Worthless as They Were Last Year and Still Susceptible to Invalidation

Sunday 16th of June 2019 12:36:20 PM

End of spring, end of software patents

Summary: With a fortnight left before the second half of the year it seems evident that software patents aren’t coming back; the courts have not changed their position at all

THE YEAR 2019 was supposed to be all about the European Patent Office (EPO) and GNU/Linux — the latter topic we’ve neglected in recent years and are gradually catching up with (e.g. concerns about the Code of Conduct). One single aspect we still watch at the USPTO is 35 U.S.C. § 101, which we hope remains in tact for many years to come. Last year and the year before that it became abundantly clear that suing with software patents in the US was a losing bet, especially if appeals were to reach the Federal Circuit. SCOTUS kept declining to even revisit the subject and last year it reaffirmed the status of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and inter partes reviews (IPRs). Nothing has really changed since then. In our daily links we include stories about cases that support this claim; as we shall show later, even attempts to bypass or change the law will most likely fail. As Janal Kalis put it the other day: “In re Gitlin (Fed. Cir. 2019) The CAFC upheld the PTAB’s holding of patent ineligibility under 101/Alice; The CAFC ignored the USPTO eligibility guidelines: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/18-1461.Opinion.6-13-2019.pdf …”

“The Federal Circuit remains stubborn and strong in the face of smears and strong-arming by patent maximalists.”Rightly so; that’s just more of the usual. Courts refuse to be sort of manipulated if not bullied by the likes of Battistelli and Campinos, who not only lobby for software patents in Europe but also abuse judges who stand in their way.

Eileen McDermott, this year’s new editor of Watchtroll, published “Federal Circuit to University of Minnesota: No State Sovereign Immunity For You” (we omit all links to Watchtroll this year).

Again, as above, that’s just more of the same. Patents cannot be shielded from justice using such ‘scams’. I got threatening letters from facilitators of these 'scams' as recently as last year.

So here we are in the middle of 2019 (two weeks left). The Federal Circuit remains stubborn and strong in the face of smears and strong-arming by patent maximalists. Former chief judges cannot quite change Sharon. Sharon Prost is the Chief United States Circuit Judge. She has done splendid work since taking over, whereas those former judges became little more than lobbyists — a matter we’ve criticised many times before. So did Benjamin Henrion (FFII) and few other people, who can differentiate/tell apart judge-bashing from reasonable things, e.g. highlighting ethical breaches like those which forced removal/resignation of Sharon’s predecessor (IAM wanted him appointed at to top again).

“Patent maximalism is warning in the US.”The way things stand, we see no reason to spend entire weekends covering US patents (as we did in past years). Patent maximalists’ sites such as The National Law Review and JD Supra reflect upon the new status quo; many US patents are presumed invalid and it takes a lot of effort to just keep these “alive” (the term they use, equating them with organisms); these patent law firms/lawyers, who author these pieces, obviously address their clients, trying to persuade them to get fake patents, avoid delays, and then keep these “alive”; they want more money to keep these fakes “alive” (e.g. for blackmail purposes):

Patentees may obtain additional PTA if the USPTO’s calculation of “applicant delay” includes a period of time during which the patentee could have taken “no identifiable effort” to avoid. However, the onus is entirely on the patentee to identify and correct the USPTO’s error.

This is one aspect among several that weaken US patents and at some stage these law firms will need to ‘come clean’ and admit to clients that the patent bubble has burst and their services aren’t worth the high price anymore. The number of US patents granted last year was a decrease compared to the prior year (we’re not sure about the number of applications), which may suggest that the Office too is aware of that. Patent maximalism is waning in the US.

As European Patent Office Management Covers up Collapse in Patent Quality Don’t Expect UPC to Ever Kick Off

Sunday 16th of June 2019 05:24:05 AM

Hiding from the truth

Summary: It would be madness to allow EPO-granted patents to become ‘unitary’ (bypassing sovereignty of nations that actually still value patent quality); it seems clear that rogue EPO management has, in effect, not only doomed UPC ambitions but also European Patents (or their perceived legitimacy, presumption of validity)

THE previous post focused on the EPO‘s promotion of software patents in the whole world, including eastern Asia and the USPTO. António Campinos is just like Battistelli in that regard. Later this weekend we’ll remark on the American status quo (35 U.S.C. § 101 in particular), showing that courts continue to reject software patents, no matter what Iancu says. There’s more stuff to that effect in our daily links.

In Europe, with almost no exception, software patents perish in courts. A great number of European Patents also perish in courtrooms, for a variety of reasons other than patent scope. It seems clear that patent quality has collapsed. Even the Office knows it. It suppresses discussion about this as if censoring truth is a longterm strategy rather than procrastination and exacerbation of the crisis.

For a number of years (almost a decade) the EPO hoped to just change standards of patenting (hijacking the role of legislator, in effect diminishing separation of powers). It didn’t go too well when constitutional complaints were filed, stalling if not altogether killing the UPC. With these inherent structural deficiencies a court system outside national control would be profoundly unconstitutional. Ask Hungary, which deemed that to be the case. Germany may soon follow.

“It seems clear that patent quality has collapsed. Even the Office knows it. It suppresses discussion about this as if censoring truth is a longterm strategy rather than procrastination and exacerbation of the crisis.”We are disappointed but not surprised that Team UPC keeps spreading falsehoods. It wants a Europe (or EU) of litigation, not of science and wellbeing. It’s about money; theirs.

Sniffing around the news at the end of last week we saw establishment of a Greek “Academy” for parasitic elements that sue and harass engineers in Europe. “The above-mentioned Academy,” said the promotional posting, “is established as a service of “OBI”, and will be situated in Athens. The purposes of its establishment, except for the training and certification of “patent attorneys”, include, for example, the development and harmonization of education and training in the field of Greek, European and International industrial property law, the promotion of equal access to educational opportunities in this field, the support of initiatives for the cooperation between “certified patent consultants” (“patent attorneys”) and lawyers specialized in intellectual and industrial property, the cooperation with international organizations, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), as well as with Greek and foreign universities, etc.”

There’s that word again: “harmonization”.

‘Who’s Who Legal’, another publication of law firms, took note of the EPO’s role in parasitic litigation in Ireland (which the law firms profit from). “Current trends in Patent Litigation in Ireland,” according to them:

While Ireland is a common law jurisdiction with fewer cases than most European jurisdictions, there have been a number of recent cases that provide useful guidance on a number of interesting aspects of Irish patent law, in particular, preliminary injunctions, stays pending EPO proceedings and discovery.

[...]

As mentioned previously, patent litigation in Ireland is often one piece of a much broader pan-European litigation strategy. In such circumstances, it is common for related proceedings to be ongoing before the European Patent Office (EPO) in addition to other national courts.

In July 2018, the Irish High Court stayed the hearing of patent revocation proceedings between Eli Lilly and Eisai pending the determination of EPO opposition proceedings concerning the patent the subject matter of the proceedings. However, contrary to previous case law on the subject, the Court did not stay the proceedings in their entirety and instead allowed the parties to proceed with the exchange of pleadings and trial preparations, only the hearing would be stayed. In other words, the parties would go to the effort and expense to prepare the case for trial but the trial itself would not proceed during the stay.

This decision is noteworthy as, in effect, the public interest in bringing the matter on for trial was not considered to outweigh the potential wasted costs if the patent was revoked centrally at the EPO. The court acknowledged the risk of wasted costs in circumstances where the matter may be resolved before the EPO. The court also noted that a strong public interest existed in ensuring that the risk of any delay in supplying a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease should be minimised. Earlier case law was distinguished on the basis that it did not concern potentially ground-breaking treatment. These considerations were found to significantly outweigh the plaintiff’s concerns as to costs in preparing for a trial that may not proceed.

As readers may recall, Ireland was about to have a referendum question about UPC/UPCA ratification, but that never happened. It may be eternally ‘postponed’. What’s noteworthy above is the Irish High Court’s position on public interest. They ‘get’ it. So does the English/British High/Supreme Court (it’s called the UK High Court, the equivalent of SCOTUS in the US), which keeps throwing out European Patents on algorithms.

Has patent quality in Europe already hit rock bottom, just like in the US? Are patents to be presumed invalid? How about this case summary from 3 days ago?

Although at first instance the patent was found to lack inventive step without using the problem-and-solution approach, the use of the PSA by the Court of Appeal did not make a difference to the outcome in the present case.

We are seeing more and more such outcomes. Patents that the EPO insisted deserved a patent turn out to be rubbish.

This is clearly a problem for Team UPC. What good are patents one cannot successfully enforce in courts? So they obviously try to just bypass these courts, replacing them with plaintiff-friendly kangaroo courts.

Here comes Asma Abbarova, author/deputy research editor at the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM. We took note of nonsense like this earlier this month. Here they go again. To quote:

The saga of the Unitary Patent System and Unified Patent Court’s implementation – and the effect of Brexit on this – has created uncertainty for practitioners across Europe. This has had an impact on the advice they provide to their clients and the way in which they staff, train and resource their litigation departments.

Who cares about these so-called ‘practitioners’, who practice nothing but threats and litigations? Moreover, there’s no “uncertainty” per se; it’s looking pretty certain that the UPC isn’t happening. As Mr. Henrion put it the other day: “The debate around “Intellectual Property” yesterday ended by “Prozac for everybody!”. If the UPC goes through, I need to order some more #depression #patents …”

Henrion was apparently influenced by tweets like this (in French): “Pour le brevet unitaire on va dire qu’ils prennent leur temps. (Par contre si brevet unitaire il y avait, ça risquerait de foutre aux orties la JP française sur la question du brevet logiciel, et la JP OEB pèserait plus.)”

“When French courts rejects [sic] software patents,” he said, “the patent industry route around it and get them back with the Unitary Patent Court: “les brevets délivrés par l’OEB ne seront plus jugés dans chaque pays, mais par la juridiction unifiée du brevet” https://www.village-justice.com/articles/Brevet-logiciel-France-justice,20334.html …”

They’re unlikely to succeed however; they’ve tried for many years and failed. Over the past half decade they kept saying this was just around the corner; where are we now? Here’s a new take that shows RWS is totally delusional and is spreading, probably deliberately, fake news:

Addressing the long-awaited and controversial Unitary Patent, RWS said that “we now anticipate that the proposed European Union Patent (“the Unitary Patent”) will come into effect in Q2 2020 at the earliest.”

When it does hit, patent applicants will be able to choose whether to use the current system or adopt the new Unitary Patent, RWS said, since both systems will run in parallel.

What are these estimates based on? Also, have they not paid attention to the fact that many barriers exist? Apparently not. Facts just don’t seem to matter.

António Campinos — Unlike His Father — Engages in Imperialism (Using Invalid Patents)

Sunday 16th of June 2019 03:23:37 AM

Recent: The EPO is a Threat to Software Developers Everywhere, Not Just in Europe

Corruption at the EPO is a Threat Not Only to Europe But to Every Continent in the World

Summary: Despite some similarities to his father (not positive similarities), António Campinos is actively engaged in imperialistic agenda that defies even European law; the EPO not only illegally grants patents but also urges other patent offices to do the same

THE European Patent Office (EPO) under the leadership of António Campinos is arguably far more dangerous than the USPTO with Iancu. Why? Because Iancu can still be sued and he is being challenged, unlike Campinos. The US doesn’t play fast and loose with institutional immunity, at least not at the patent office.

The US, on the patent quality front, has 35 U.S.C. § 101. Many patents fall at the altar; if not at the Office/PTAB, then in courts. The EPO, contrariwise, is ignoring the law and intimidating judges (not national ones but the ones it has access to). We’ve been writing about this since 2014, i.e. for half a decade. It’s not a new issue.

A growing problem that we mentioned several times last month is that the EPO seeks to influence (or lobby) other nations/entire continents to adopt its dubious practices; EPO management says it bluntly (see links and image at the top, right from the horse’s own mouth).

“A growing problem that we mentioned several times last month is that the EPO seeks to influence (or lobby) other nations/entire continents to adopt its dubious practices…”Just before the weekend Ben Wodecki (IPPro Magazine) wrote that “IP5 agree to launch AI and emerging tech task force” (similar to the EPO’s headline, which we’ll come to in a moment). To quote: “Present at the meeting was KIPO commissioner Park Wonjoo, who chaired proceedings; EPO president António Campinos; JPO commissioner Naoko Munakata; CNIPA commissioner Shen Changyu; and USPTO director and under secretary of commerce for IP Andrei Iancu. [...] The next IP5 heads of office meeting will be hosted by the CNIPA in 2020.”

Really? CNIPA? With its notoriously low patent quality? What on Earth is going on? Watch who’s taking over patent offices (the leadership positions in particular). It’s like “vendor capture”. Wodecki wrote what he did after the EPO had published this (warning: epo.org link) about the meeting in Incheon (headline was “World’s five largest patent offices agree on joint task force for emerging technologies and AI”). There was also this tweet about it (with a photo): “World’s five largest patent offices ( #CNIPA @kipoworld @JPO_JPN & @uspto ) agree on joint task force for emerging technologies and AI…”

Yes, CNIPA. The National Intellectual Property Administration in China, probably the only office where software patents are still allowed.

The EPO was ‘beaten to it’ by Korean media, as we noted the other day. What’s common is the “AI” hype. The EPO is lying to the public using buzzwords such as these; it’s hoping to promote abstract patents on algorithms, pushing software patents in Europe and elsewhere under the guise of “AI”. So do the maximalists at the UN/WIPO; they’re just striving to make up as many patents as possible, irrespective of any economic or scientific basis (patents for the sake of making their job seem relevant). In the EPO’s own words (repeating the term “harmonisation” thrice in one paragraph): “Meanwhile, the heads of office endorsed the final results of work on the three sub-projects in the area of patent practice harmonisation – unity of invention, citation of prior art and written description/sufficiency of disclosure – which aim to alleviate the burden on applicants and increase work efficiency. They acknowledged that the tangible outcomes of IP5 patent practice harmonisation have brought substantial benefits to users. They also recognised the need to select new harmonisation topics, which are in line with the IP5 vision, to be discussed in the future.”

The term “harmonisation” was thrown about quite a lot when Campinos and Battistelli pushed for the UPC, formerly “community” and “EU” patent. Words like “harmonisation” and “unity” (or “unified” or even “unitary”) are hard to antagonise because they sound so soothing. We’ll say more about the UPC in our next post. And speaking of “harmonisation”, the incestuous relationship between EPO and EUIPO seems to have deepened even further (‘fixing’ job appointments, based on nepotism and favours). Archambeau now heads the EUIPO (after his EPO career) and the EUIPO’s chief became the EPO’s. Just before the weekend the EPO published (warning: epo.org link) another piece of the puzzle. There was a Friday tweet about it (one of many like it) which said: “The likelihood of experiencing a high-growth period is 9% higher for SMEs that have filed for at least one #patent. More key findings about the IPR profile of high-potential SMEs in Europe here: http://bit.ly/HGFfull cc @EU_IPO #IPforSMEs pic.twitter.com/en4nAa4nSn”

This is what their latest “news” says:

The new MoU, which was signed by the EPO President and the EUIPO’s Executive Director, Christian Archambeau and follows an earlier one from May 2011, provides an extensive and flexible framework to foster even closer collaboration between the EPO and EUIPO. It aims to increase the consistency of activities involving both offices and their users in existing networks, and successfully support the transformations envisaged in the EPO and EUIPO strategic plans, likely to be adopted in the coming months.

Under the MoU the two offices will share information and align their European and international co-operation projects, especially in light of the complementarity of their activities (EPO responsible for patents, EUIPO for trade marks and designs); they will work to provide joint high-quality IP training activities, and raise awareness of the IP system, supporting business’ use of IP in the development of their innovation strategies, and informing policymakers of the socio-economic impact of IP in Europe.

The MoU will be accompanied by annual work plans detailing the joint projects to be carried out over the year.

The EPO can keep insisting that EU law and authorities mean nothing to it (because it predates them), but it’s pretty clear that the connection gets stronger over time. Yet the EPO continues to ignore or defy EU directives, granting loads of software patents in gross violation of these directives. This includes patents on life.

Days ago it carried on retweeting Qualcomm and writing its own promotional tweets about likely fake, bunk, invalid, bogus patents on algorithms (any mathematics patent would be thrown out by courts). The EPO wants to give actual awards for these. Another example involves algorithms dressed up as “AI”; this one too the EPO offers to reward (with special honours), as it did by retweeting the company and then adding: “Driving is safer than ever thanks to Amnon Shashua & his team at @Mobileye whose invention uses a single-lens camera & cutting-edge AI to spot & avoid traffic hazards in real time.”

“AI” just means navigation by computer code; these things are not patentable, but the EPO just doesn’t care. Just keep saying “HEY HI!”(AI) and it will sound novel.

António Campinos Takes EPO Waste and Corruption to Unprecedented Levels and Scale

Saturday 15th of June 2019 04:19:41 PM

Months ago: Battistelli Trashed 223 Millions (of Stakeholders’ Euros) on a System That Destroyed the European Patent Office and Made Few Private Corporations a Lot Richer

A month ago: Did Battistelli ‘Steal’ ~$100,000,000 Euros From the EPO?

Summary: The “B” word (billions) is thrown around at Europe’s second-largest institution because a mischievous former EUIPO chief (not Archambeau) is ‘partying’ with about half of the EPO’s all-time savings, which are supposed to be reserved for pensions and other vital programmes, not presidential palaces and gambling

“Urgent needs”, really?

So says an insider from the European Patent Office (EPO), who is concerned about what happens at his/her employer. These concerns are certainly shared by the vast majority of EPO staff, but how much of the media actually covers these scandals? Almost none. Only a few blogs do.

The recent financial study, according to this insider, says: “we have no money and we must cut staff pensions and social benefits to be safe”.

“Is Mr. Campinos requesting a billion EUR of applicants’ money for other luxury projects such as the ISAR top-floor suite? Or is it for other (unclear) purposes?”
      –Anonymous insider“At the very same time,” the insider notes, “Mr. Campinos asks for one BILLION for utterly unclear buildings projects!

“At EPO no one is aware of any “urgent needs” to spend so much applicants’ money and as you may imagine, surely to enhance transparency (the very transparency Mr Campinos trumpet in each of his story-telling piece – the staff representatives were once more not consulted upon this folly.

“Is Mr. Campinos requesting a billion EUR of applicants’ money for other luxury projects such as the ISAR top-floor suite? Or is it for other (unclear) purposes? CUI BONO?”

The financial report he 'orders' from Mercer is considered to be a "hoax" (by the staff representatives) and someone has sent us 41 more photos from the ‘deck’ of António Campinos; we presume that our criticism of this gross misuse of EPO funds, presumably masked behind a Dutch (unrelated) project, makes it Fair Use (as per the doctrine). The designer tried hard to hide these and even took down the photos from his site; he had done that before media republished these, proving the Streisand Effect. Let’s amplify that effect a little (below).

Links 15/6/2019: Astra Linux in Russia, FreeBSD 11.3 RC

Saturday 15th of June 2019 03:31:12 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Astra Linux-based mobile devices to get introduced in Russia

    A smartphone and two tablets based on the Astra Linux OS will be introduced in Russia, reports Vedomosti citing a joint statement put out by Mobile Inform Group, the producer of the devices, and of the Astra Linux group. The devices will be aimed at use in extreme conditions. Booking will become possible in September.

    The MOG C55AL smartphone will feature a 5.5-inch screen, and the MIG T8AL and MIG T10AK tablets 8 and 10 inch screens, respectively. State institutions, the military, power, oil and gas companies, mining, industry and transport companies are expected to take up the devices.

  • Desktop
    • Linux-powered System76 Gazelle laptop allows users to avoid the Windows Tax

      The relationship between Linux users and portable computing has long been a fraught one—although it remains easy to build your own desktop computer, buying a laptop from vendors like Dell, HP, or Lenovo typically requires paying the “Windows Tax,” as licenses of Windows are essentially compulsory. System76, a Colorado-based vendor, offers laptops with either Ubuntu, or their custom Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS distribution pre-installed.

      System76′s Gazelle line is their higher-power desktop replacement, available in 15.6″ or 17.3″ versions, powered with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, a 45W, six-core, twelve-thread CPU with 2.6 GHz base and 4.5 GHz turbo clock speeds. The Gazelle can be configured with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti, paired with either 32 or 64 GB DDR4 RAM, respectively. Storage options are quite expansive, with two M.2 2280 PCIe-linked slots, and one 7mm 2.5″ slot, allowing for a potential 8TB of SSD storage.

  • Server
    • Building IT Transformation Architecture with Red Hat OpenShift

      In the era of mobile applications, business challenges to the enterprise IT organizations are more dynamic than ever. Many enterprises have difficulties responding in time because of the inherent complexity and risk of integrating emerging technologies into existing IT architectures. In this article, I will share my experience on how to utilize Red Hat OpenShift as a “Middle Platform” (中台) for enterprises to construct its bimodal IT architecture with agile, scalable and open strategy.

      In the past year, I have discussed with many corporate customers–especially in the financial services industry–the challenges of digital transformation, and the solutions. Most of their difficulties are coming from “core systems” which have been working for more than 10 years.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Plumbers Conference: Open Printing Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Open Printing Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! In today’s world much is done online. But getting a hardcopy is still very much needed, even today. Then there’s the case of having a hardcopy and wanting to scan it to make it digital. All of this is needed to be functional on Linux to keep Linux-based and open source operating systems relevant. Also, with the progress in technology, the usage of modern printers and scanners is becoming simple. The driverless concept has made printing and scanning easier and gets the job done with some simple clicks without requiring the user to install any kind of driver software. The Open Printing organization has been tasked with getting this job done. This Microconference will focus on what needs to be accomplished to keep Linux and open source operating systems a leader in today’s market.

    • The Newest Wacom Intuos Pro Small Drawing Tablet To Be Supported By Linux 5.3

      Wacom’s second-generation Intuos Pro Small digital drawing tablet will be supported by the upcoming Linux 5.3 kernel.

      Wacom drawing tablets continue to see improved Linux driver support and for this next cycle is support for this newest version of the Intuos Pro Small, a smaller tablet version coming in at about six inches by four inches (approximately 15 x 10 cm). While small, it still commands a premium at around $250 USD.

    • ZFS On Linux 0.8.1 Brings Many Fixes, Linux 5.2 Compatibility Bits

      Released at the end of May was the huge ZFS On Linux 0.8 release with many new features like native encryption, TRIM/discard support for SSDs, device removal, Python 3 compatibility with its tooling, pool check-points, and much more. Out today is now the first maintenance release following that big release.

    • /proc/pid/arch_status Is Coming To Show Architecture-Specific Details Of A Given Task

      To be exposed via /proc/[pid]/arch_status is a new interface for exposing architectural-specific information for a given Linux process.

      When CONFIG_PROC_PID_ARCH_STATUS is enabled, there will be this new arch_status file to expose any extra architecture specific information for a given task. At this point, it’s just exposing the elapsed time since last using AVX-512.

    • Systemd Is Now Seeing Continuous Fuzzing By Fuzzit

      In hoping to catch more bugs quickly, systemd now has continuous fuzzing integration via the new “Fuzzit” platform that provides continuous fuzzing as a service.

      New this week to systemd is the continuous fuzzing integration where every pull request / push will see some quick checks carried out while on a daily basis will be fuzzed in full for all targets.

    • Graphics Stack
      • DXVK 1.2.2 Brings Minor CPU Overhead Optimizations, Game Fixes

        In time for those planning to spend some time this weekend gaming, DXVK lead developer Philip Rebohle announced the release of DXVK 1.2.2 that will hopefully soon be integrated as part of a Proton update for Steam Play but right now can be built from source.

        While certain upstream Wine developers express DXVK being a “dead end” and are optimistic in favor of piping their WineD3D implementation over Vulkan, for Linux gamers today wanting to enjoy D3D11 Windows games on Linux the DXVK library continues working out splendid with great performance and running many Direct3D games with much better performance over the current WineD3D OpenGL code.

      • Intel 19.23.13131 OpenCL NEO Stack Adds Comet Lake Support

        We’ve seen the Intel Comet Lake support get pieced together in recent months in the different components making up the Intel Linux graphics stack while the compute-runtime is the latest addition. Comet Lake as a refresher is a planned successor to Coffeelake/Whiskeylake and expected to come out this year as yet more 9th Gen hardware. But Comet Lake should be interesting with rumored 10-core designs. Though with being more processors with Gen9 graphics, the Comet Lake Linux support basically boils down to adding in the new PCI IDs.

      • AMD Wires Its New Runtime Linker Into RadeonSI Gallium3D

        RadeonSI Gallium3D has already shifted over to using this new linker. Making use of the .rodata should help with efficiencies throughout the driver (more details in this forum thread) but at this point is mostly laying the groundwork for more improvements to be made moving forward.

    • Benchmarks
      • Initial Benchmarks Of Microsoft’s WSL2 – Windows Subsystem For Linux 2 On Windows 10 Is A Mixed Bag

        Since the release of WSL2 as a Windows 10 Insider Preview update this week, we’ve been putting the new Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 under some benchmarks compared to WSL1 and bare metal Linux. While WSL2 has improved the I/O performance thanks to the new Hyper-V-based virtualization approach employed by WSL2, the performance has regressed in other areas for running Linux binaries on Windows 10. Here are our preliminary benchmark results.

        In this comparison is a look at the Windows 10 WSL1 performance against that of the new WSL2 when using the same Windows 10 Insiders build as of this week that introduced the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 support. The Ubuntu 18.04 LTS WSL instance was used for testing with its default packages. In addition to looking at the WSL1 vs. WSL2 performance of Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS itself was also tested bare metal on the same system for looking at the raw performance of Ubuntu on the Intel desktop being tested. Additionally, Clear Linux 29920 was also tested for what has largely become a “gold standard” for Linux performance in showing what Intel systems are capable of achieving performance-wise under Linux, so that is being used in this comparison as a reference point.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Jonathan Riddell: KDE.org Description Update

        The KDE Applications website was a minimal possible change to move it from an unmaintained and incomplete site to a self-maintaining and complete site. It’s been fun to see it get picked up in places like Ubuntu Weekly News, Late Night Linux and chatting to people in real life they have seen it get an update. So clearly it’s important to keep our websites maintained. Alas the social and technical barriers are too high in KDE. My current hope is that the Promo team will take over the kde-www stuff giving it communication channels and transparancy that doesn’t currently exist. There is plenty more work to be done on kde.org/applications website to make it useful, do give me a ping if you want to help out.

      • Done with boost

        One of the so called pillar of the c++ world, boost, sucks a lot when it comes to documentation, I wouldn’t have to write more than one blog post if they had their documentation in place. It has been almost a month that I have started working on the Magnetic Lasso and I wasted most of the time fighting with boost instead of working on my algorithm. Okay, fine I am getting paid for it, I shouldn’t complain.

      • Meet KDE in València

        During the next days, we’ll be having several sprints in València.

  • Distributions
    • Enso OS Makes Xfce Elementary

      The most impressive aspect of Enso OS is the tweaked desktop that combines a somewhat modified Xfce environment with key elements from Elementary OS. The result could be a better alternative to Xubuntu, depending on your computing preferences.

      For an early beta release of a relatively new Linux distribution, Enso OS has much going for it. This distro also has numerous areas where the developer must grow the infrastructure.

      Enso OS is clearly a distro that bears watching over the next few releases.

    • Best lightweight Linux distro of 2019

      Modern Linux distros are designed to appeal to a large number of users who run modern hardware.

      As a result, they have become too bloated for older machines, even if you manually delete files. Without a healthy dollop of system memory and an extra core or two, these distros may not deliver the best performance.

      Thankfully, there are many lightweight distros, trimmed and tweaked by expert hands, which can be used to breathe new life into older hardware.

      But there’s one caveat to bear in mind when working with lightweight distros – they usually manage to support ancient kit by cutting away just about everything you take for granted, such as wizards and scripts which make everyday tasks easier.

      That said, these lightweight distros are fully capable of reviving older hardware and can even function as a replacement of your current operating system, if you’re willing to adjust to their way of working and install extra programs as necessary.

    • How To Test Drive 200+ Linux Distributions Without Ever Downloading Or Installing Them

      Basically you browse or search for the Linux distro you want to test (you can also filter the site by the very newest releases) and then click Start. The equivalent of booting up the Live ISO or installer image is streamed to your browser in a separate window via NoVNC, but you can also connect to the system on a locally installed VNC client — the server’s IP address and port are provided after you start your session.

      I found I only needed to wait a few seconds for each distribution to load, and occasionally you may enter a queue to manage the server side’s bandwidth load. Then you’ll have a full two hours to treat the distro as your own. Add or remove software, tweak configuration files, partition and format hard drives, whatever you desire. Once you shut it down, the system is wiped clean.

      You’ll get a faster and smoother experience running these on your own hardware — or even from locally installed Virtual Machine software — but first impressions are everything, and DistroTest is a brilliant way to acquire that first impression!

    • Reviews
      • An Overview to deepin 15.10 GNU/Linux

        For users who want to know latest deepin 15.10 before downloading it, this article is for you. In this version, deepin once again fulfills its commitment to be pretty and user friendly, as it brings a lot of new improvements in shapes and performance. Nw it introduces Auto Merge on desktop, along with new control for Sound Effects. The file manager got Advanced Search. It even got a new window manager, called dde-kwin, modified from KDE Kwin. And now it is rebased to Debian Stable instead of Unstable, for the users to get more timely security updates. I hope this short overview gives you enough information to finally try deepin 15.10.

    • New Releases
      • Q4OS 3.7 Centaurus, testing

        We are entering the final phase of the Q4OS 3 Centaurus development, so it’s now officially frozen. On this occasion we have released a brand new 32bit Q4OS Centaurus installation media designed for older computers, as well as 64bit media cumulative update. Users can now easily deploy the Q4OS 3.7 testing release, if they want to become early adopters or just help with the testing. Please download 64bit, as well as 32bit iso images on the dedicated Testing releases webpage.

        Please note, there is also a Q4OS for Windows installer on the downloads page available for users who want to install Linux from within Windows as easy as an application, even without need of partitioning.

      • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 133 ready for testing!

        it is time for the next Core Update. Number 133!

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • Fedora
      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-24

        Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week. Elections voting is open through 23:59 UTC on Thursday 20 June.

        I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

      • Copr’s Dist-Git

        In Copr, we use dist-git to store sources as well. However, our use case is different. In the past, Copr only allowed to build from URL. You provided a URL to your SRC.RPM and Copr downloaded it and built it. This was a problem when the user wanted to resubmit the build. The original URL very often did not exists anymore. Therefore we came with an idea to store the SRC.RPM somewhere. And obviously, the dist-git was the first idea.

    • Debian Family
      • Utkarsh Gupta: GSoC Bi-Weekly Report – Week 1 and 2

        The idea is to package all the dependencies of Loomio and get Loomio easily installable on the Debian machines.

        The phase 1, that is, the first 4 weeks, were planned to package the Ruby and the Node dependencies. When I started off, I hit an obstacle. Little did we know about how to go about packaging complex applications like that.

        I have been helping out in packages like gitlab, diaspora, et al. And towards the end of the last week, we learned that loomio needs to be done like diaspora.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical’s Linux Snap Store Adds 10 Distro-Specific Installation Pages For Every App

            Canonical’s Snap Store — a fairly distro-agnostic solution for easily installing a wide variety of apps — is loaded up and ready to go in Linux distributions like Zorin OS and Ubuntu. It’s also supported on dozens of others including Arch, Linux Mint, Manjaro and elementary OS, provided you install the Snapd service first. Now it looks like Canonical is striving to make the entire experience more user-friendly by serving up distro-specific landing pages for every single app in the Snap Store.

            They look pretty slick, too.

            For example, if you want to install something like Telegram, the Snap Store is ready to serve up a unique page, complete with an appropriately colored and logo-laden background explaining how to install both the required Snapd service and the app for the distro you’re using. In the screenshot below, you’ll notice commands to pull Snapd from the AUR (Arch User Repository), enable the service and then install Telegram Desktop.

          • Development in LXD

            Most of my development is done in LXD containers. I love this for a few reasons. It takes all of my development dependencies and makes it so that they’re not installed on my host system, reducing the attack surface there. It means that I can do development on any Linux that I want (or several). But it also means that I can migrate my development environment from my laptop to my desktop depending on whether I need more CPU or whether I want it to be closer to where I’m working (usually when travelling).

            When I’m traveling I use my Pagekite SSH setup on a Raspberry Pi as the SSH gateway. So when I’m at home I want to connect to the desktop directly, but when away connect through the gateway.

          • Snap Store Is Available for Ubuntu!, How to Install It?

            Snap is a software used to install software packages that can run on various Linux distributions. This time Snap Store can be installed and used like using the Software Center (on Ubuntu), or GNOME Software. This application was created specifically to make it easier for users when installing software packages on Snap.

            Actually, the Ubuntu Software Center and GNOME software can add the url of a software package and install it. But both of these applications will mix search results that are snap, flatpak and others.

          • Use Font Finder to Install Google Fonts on Ubuntu

            If you are in search of finding and using some pretty fonts for your Ubuntu desktop, applications, and web pages, Font Finder is there for your help.

          • An OpenJPEG Surprise

            My previous blog post seems to have resolved most concerns about my requests for Ubuntu stable release updates, but I again received rather a lot of criticism for the choice to make WebKit depend on OpenJPEG, even though my previous post explained clearly why there are are not any good alternatives.

            I was surprised to receive a pointer to ffmpeg, which has its own JPEG 2000 decoder that I did not know about. However, we can immediately dismiss this option due to legal problems with depending on ffmpeg. I also received a pointer to a resurrected libjasper, which is interesting, but since libjasper was removed from Ubuntu, its status is not currently better than OpenJPEG.

            But there is some good news! I have looked through Ubuntu’s security review of the OpenJPEG code and found some surprising results. Half the reported issues affect the library’s companion tools, not the library itself. And the other half of the issues affect the libmj2 library, a component of OpenJPEG that is not built by Ubuntu and not used by WebKit. So while these are real security issues that raise concerns about the quality of the OpenJPEG codebase, none of them actually affect OpenJPEG as used by WebKit. Yay!

          • Call for testing: chromium-browser deb to snap transition

            The chromium browser has been available as a deb package for all supported Ubuntu releases and as a snap since version 60, and the time has come to start transitioning away from the debs.

          • Canonical Announces Embedded Computer Manifold 2 for Drone Developers, Request For Help Testing Snap Package, PHP v7.4.0 Available, PyCharm 2019.2 EAP3 Released, Talks To Port Over Microsoft’s Chromium-Based Edge browser To Linux

            Yesterday, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu announced the availability of Manifold 2, a high-performance embedded computer offered by leading enterprise drone manufacturer, DJI. This availability will allow developers access to containerized software packages (e.g. Snaps), allowing for infinite evolution and functionality changes.

            It looks as if Ubuntu is transitioning the Chromium Debian package to a Snap one. The community behind this effort is asking for assistance in testing the Snap package.

          • Give Ubuntu a Bold New Look with the Qogir Theme

            The background imagery in the Nautilus file manager (the effect also apparently works with Nemo, but I haven’t tested it) is the most visually striking element in the Qogir theme.

            It’s a love it/hate it gimmick, which explains why it’s rarely used. Personally I enjoy the visual flourish it adds (though it certainly helps if your desktop wallpaper compliments it).

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Regolith Linux is the i3 Ubuntu Spin You’ve Been Waiting For

              Okay, okay. If you are sat there mouthing “what is i3?” at me with a confused, borderline-desperate look on your face, I’ll fill you in:

              i3 is a tiling window manager created for X11 (the display manager most Linux distros use, including Ubuntu). i3 supports traditional horizontal vertical window tiling — think window snapping, but arranged and resized automatically — as well as stacking and tabbing.

              The differences don’t end there, though.

              Like me, you’re probably used to managing app windows with a mouse, but the i3 window manager is largely keyboard driven. The idea is that you use keyboard shortcuts to move, manage and arrange open apps and windows (though you can use a mouse too).

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Vijay Prashad: My friend is in a prison in Ecuador

    My friend Ola is a kind-hearted vegetarian who languishes in Ecuador’s prison system. Special Rapporteurs from the UN and the Organization of American States have written to Ecuador on May 7 to express their concern about Ola’s arrest and detention; no one has responded to them.

    David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression said that “nothing in this story connects Ola to any crime.” There is a large net thrown by U.S. intelligence around human rights defenders — people like Ola. They are being treated as criminals because they do not accept the deterioration of humanity in our world.

    “The world is full of horrible things,” Ola wrote earlier this year.

    One of them is his unjust imprisonment.

  • Ola Bini Was Friends with Julian Assange. He Has Spent Two Months in Jail Without Charge in Ecuador

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared before a magistrates’ court in London Friday, saying his life was “effectively at stake” if the U.K. honors an extradition request from the United States, where he faces 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. Meanwhile, a friend of Assange’s, Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, is still in prison in Ecuador, after being arrested April 11, the same day Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and has been jailed ever since without charges. We speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and a friend of Ola Bini.

  • LibreOffice
    • Annual Report 2018: LibreOffice Conference

      The LibreOffice Conference is the annual gathering of the community, our end-users, and everyone interested in free office software. Every year, it takes place in a different country and is supported by members of the LibreOffice commercial ecosystem. In 2018, the conference was organized by the young and dynamic Albanian community at Oficina in Tirana, from Wednesday, September 26, to Friday, September 28, the eight anniversary of the LibreOffice project. Here’s a quick video recap – read on for more details…

  • BSD
    • FreeBSD 11.3-RC1 Now Available

      The first RC build of the 11.3-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • FreeBSD 11.3 Release Candidate Brings Different Fixes

      FreeBSD 11.3 is lining up for release in July while this weekend the first release candidate is available for testing.

      Following the weekly betas the past few weeks, the first RC is out. FreeBSD 11.3 has brought Bhyve updates, the latest CPU vulnerability mitigations like Zombieload/MDS, driver updates, hardware support improvements, and a random collection of other fixes/enhancements for those still on the FreeBSD 11 series.

  • Programming/Development
    • How to generate a usable map file for Rust code – and related (f)rustrations

      Cargo does not produce a .map file, and if it does, mangling makes it very unusable. If you’re searching for the TLDR, read from “How to generate a map file” on the bottom of the article.

    • Converting a Python data into a ReStructured Text table

      This probably exist but I couldn’t find it. I wanted to export a bunch of data from a Python/Django application into something a non-coder could understand. The data was not going to be a plain CSV, but a document, with various tables and explanations of what each table is. Because ReStructured Text seems to be the winning format in the Python world I decided to go with that.

    • Python Anywhere: Using MongoDB on PythonAnywhere with MongoDB Atlas

      Lots of people want to use MongoDB with PythonAnywhere; we don’t have support for it built in to the system, but it’s actually pretty easy to use with a database provided by MongoDB Atlas — and as Atlas is a cloud service provided by Mongo’s creators, it’s probably a good option anyway

      If you’re experienced with MongoDB and Atlas, then our help page has all of the details you need for connecting to them from our systems.

      But if you’d just like to dip your toe in the water and find out what all of this MongoDB stuff is about, this blog post explains step-by-step how to get started so that you can try it out.

    • Toward a “Kernel Python”

      Prompted by Amber Brown’s presentation at the Python Language Summit last month, Christian Heimes has followed up on his own earlier work on slimming down the Python standard library, and created a proper Python Enhancement Proposal PEP 594 for removing obviously obsolete and unmaintained detritus from the standard library.

      PEP 594 is great news for Python, and in particular for the maintainers of its standard library, who can now address a reduced surface area. A brief trip through the PEP’s rogues gallery of modules to deprecate or remove1 is illuminating. The python standard library contains plenty of useful modules, but it also hides a veritable necropolis of code, a towering monument to obsolescence, threatening to topple over on its maintainers at any point.

      However, I believe the PEP may be approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Currently, the standard library is maintained in tandem with, and by the maintainers of, the CPython python runtime. Large portions of it are simply included in the hope that it might be useful to somebody. In the aforementioned PEP, you can see this logic at work in defense of the colorsys module: why not remove it? “The module is useful to convert CSS colors between coordinate systems. [It] does not impose maintenance overhead on core development.”

    • EuroPython: EuroPython 2019: Warning – Spoiler alert!

      The device was created and designed by Radomir Dopieralski, a long time EuroPython regular and enthusiastic Python device and robotics builder.

      The PewPew is a simplified game console, programmable with CircuitPython, a variant of MicroPython. It comes with a 64 LED display and a set of small buttons to drive the console.

      We will have one device per attendee with training or conference ticket and plan to give them out together with the badges.

    • sphinxcontrib-spelling 4.3.0

      sphinxcontrib-spelling is a spelling checker for Sphinx-based documentation. It uses PyEnchant to produce a report showing misspelled words.

    • Run-Length Encoding
Leftovers
  • Science
    • Free school decision driven by ideology not evidence, says Green Party education spokesperson

      Vix Lowthion, Green Party education spokesperson, has described the announcement today by Damian Hinds of 22 new free schools as a decision based on “ideology not evidence”.

      Vix, a secondary school teacher, said: “Free schools have not raised attainment. They have consumed vast financial resources and are not accountable to their local communities. Their creation is driven by ideology, not evidence.

      “They are not being put where they are needed, whilst too many of our community schools are bursting at the seams.

      “The government must end this privatisation ideology and allow councils to plan for and deliver the educational needs of their communities.”

      The announcement came as the failures of the school inspection system were exposed by a report showing that more than 80% of schools that had been top-rated by Ofsted were downgraded on their latest inspection, with inspections being conducted after a hiatus of up to a decade.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • ‘Debate in The Netherlands about medicine prices is too polarized’ [Ed: Decent people say, let ill people have medicine to survive. Lawyers and patent extremists day debate in The Netherlands about medicine prices is too polarized!!!!!!!]

      The focus in The Netherlands on the option of compounding medicines as a means to circumvent the use of (expensive) authorised medicinal products of pharmaceutical companies and to pressurize them into lowering their prices, is confusing and possibly misleading and not necessarily good for patients. Attorney-at-law Hanneke Later-Nijland, also a trained pharmacist and a former Inspector for Healthcare, has said this in an interview with Kluwer IP Law.

      In the Netherlands, a new provision of the Dutch Patent Act 1995 came into force on 1 February 2019, allowing pharmacists to prepare patented medicines, on a small scale, for patients. This attracted quite a lot of attention. Can you explain why?

      “The new provision* is not remarkable or exceptional in itself. It is based on European legislation and surrounding countries have had this option for many years. But in The Netherlands it was never implemented, it didn’t have any priority. This probably changed due to the report Development of new medicines – Better, faster, cheaper of the Council on Public Health and Society (November 2017), in which compounding of medicinal products was proposed as an efficient instrument to curb the cost of medicines.”

    • New York State Ends Religious Exemptions for Vaccines

      New York state has joined California, West Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi and Maine in ending religious exemptions for parents who prefer not to vaccinate their children, The New York Times reported.

      The bill passed both the state Assembly and Senate Thursday, and was immediately signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, citing a measles outbreak that has sickened 1,022 people in 28 states since January, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. That is the highest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.

    • Measles Outbreak: N.Y. Eliminates Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations

      Lawmakers in New York, the epicenter of the nation’s measles outbreak, voted on Thursday to end religious exemptions for immunizations, overcoming opposition by vaccine skeptics and others who said the measure infringed on religious and constitutional rights.

      Calling it a public health emergency, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo immediately signed the bill, adding New York to a small handful of states that do not allow exemptions on religious grounds, including California, Arizona, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine.

      The issue is particularly acute in New York, where many measles cases have originated in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and in Rockland County, where so-called vaccine symposiums have featured speakers who encouraged people to shun immunization.

      The tension over the issue was readily apparent in the Capitol on Thursday as hundreds of angry opponents — many with young children and infants — pleaded with lawmakers to reject the bill, sometimes invoking the will of God, other times their rights as parents. The show of raw emotion affected even supporters of the bill.

    • Michigan Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges Against Officials Involved in Flint Water Crisis

      Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.

    • Prosecutors drop criminal charges in Flint water scandal

      Nearly four years since the City of Flint declared a state of emergency over the state of its water — and three years after the first criminal charges were filed against government officials — prosecutors on Thursday dismissed all pending criminal cases, pledging to start the investigation from scratch.

      Prosecutors said that they had grave concerns about the investigative approach and legal theories embraced by the former Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that oversaw the investigation, according to a press release issued by the Michigan Department of Attorney General. The OSC was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette.

      The OSC entered into agreements that gave private law firms that were representing the accused a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement, according to the release.

    • Pramila Jayapal, Motivated by Wave of Right-Wing Attacks on Reproductive Rights, Draws Praise for Sharing Her Abortion Story

      “I have never spoken publicly about my abortion,” the congresswoman writes, several years after her procedure. “In some ways, I have felt I should not have to, because it is an intensely personal decision. But I have decided to speak about it now because I am deeply concerned about the intensified efforts to strip choice and constitutional rights away from pregnant people and the simplistic ways of trying to criminalize abortion.”

      This year alone, legislators in nine states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah—have passed extreme restrictions on abortion that are intended to provoke a court battle that forces the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that affirmed the constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

      Those developments motivated Jayapal to share her story—which begins with the birth of her child Janak, who was unexpectedly born in India at just 26.5 weeks. Janak subsequently “went through multiple blood transfusions and was unable to eat because their internal organs were not developed enough to take in or process milk.”

      In the months and years that followed, Janak experienced “endless trips to the emergency room because of weak lungs and repeated pneumonia, a seizure, and delays in speaking,” and Jayapal endured both postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her doctors warned about the high risks of future pregnancies, and years later, she made the “excruciating” and “heartbreaking” decision to have an abortion, despite wanting more children.

    • Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive

      Residents of Minden, West Virginia and surrounding Fayette County have been fighting for more than three decades to get government officials to clean up extremely toxic industrial chemicals that experts have linked to the death of an unusually large number of residents in the old coal mining town.

      Even though the toxic contamination was first detected in 1984, state and federal government officials have failed to protect the people of Minden, who are still getting sick and dying at unusually high rates. Minden’s population continues to decline as people move out or die. Currently, 250 people live in the community. Since 2014, about 160 people have been diagnosed or have died of cancer in the town.

      Minden residents, frustrated by 35 years of ineptitude by the government, are once again banding together to ensure state and federal officials do the cleanup right this time.

    • Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India

      In February 2010, the Indian government placed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. Prior to this decision, numerous independent scientific experts from India and abroad had pointed out safety concerns regarding Bt (insecticidal) brinjal based on data and reports in the biosafety dossier that Mahyco, the crop developer, had submitted to the regulators.

      The then Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had instituted a unique four-month scientific enquiry and public hearings. His decision to reject the commercialisation of Bt brinjal was supported by advice from renowned international scientists. Their collective appraisals demonstrated serious environmental and biosafety concerns, which included issues regarding the toxicity of Bt proteins resulting from their mode of action on the human gut system.

      Jairam Ramesh pronounced a moratorium on Bt brinjal in February 2010 founded on what he called “a cautious, precautionary principle-based approach.” The moratorium has not been lifted.

      In India, five high-level reports have advised against the adoption of GM crops. Appointed by the Supreme Court, the ‘Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report’ (2013) was scathing about the prevailing regulatory system and highlighted its inadequacies and serious inherent conflicts of interest. The TEC recommended a 10-year moratorium on the commercial release of all GM crops.

    • Echoes of Flint in ‘Chernobyl’

      On May 30, toward the end of its five-week run on HBO, author Stephen King tweeted that the mini-series “Chernobyl” is impossible to watch without considering our feckless and incompetent president. “Like those in charge of the doomed Russian reactor,” King wrote, “[Donald Trump] is a man of mediocre intelligence in charge of great power—economic, global—that he does not understand.”

      [...]

      In 2014, Michigan state officials told Flint residents that although their water was disconcertingly odorous and discolored, tasted of copper and appeared to be giving people skin rashes, it was perfectly safe to drink. This insistence from government officials that there is no cause for alarm is echoed in “Chernobyl,” when, in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown, plant higher-ups and Soviet officials inform employees and the people of nearby Pripyat that its nuclear explosion is merely a fire. The town and its environs are eventually evacuated, but not before thousands are exposed to deadly radiation. At virtually every turn, the government’s efforts to contain what Zharkov (Donald Sumpter) calls “the spread of misinformation” end up exacerbating the crisis.

      The similarities between these two incidents don’t end at institutional inaction, unfortunately. In Flint, as in Chernobyl, the state acknowledged that warning signs were ignored after the worst-case scenario had come to pass. And in both disasters, officials only took responsibility for their negligence after the knowledge of what had happened spread outside the affected regions.

      Perhaps the most haunting parallel between the Chernobyl and Flint debacles, however, is that their true perpetrators have largely gone unpunished. While we learn in the show’s epilogue that a trio of Russian scientists were sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for their crimes, the Soviet bureaucracy that enabled them escapes indictment. And just this week, prosecutors dropped criminal charges against eight officials in the Flint water scandal, pledging to begin their investigation anew. It appears that one of the warnings of Chernobyl—that the powerful are rarely held accountable in a major disaster—has largely gone unheeded.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Contradicting Trump Claim of Iranian Mine Attack, Owner of Japanese Oil Tanker Says ‘Flying Object’ Likely Caused Explosions

      During a press conference just hours after the U.S. released video footage that purported to show an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of an oil tanker, the Japanese owner of that vessel said Friday that the ship was likely damaged by a “flying object” and called claims of a mine attack “false.”

      “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that operates the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo.

      Katada’s account of the attack appeared to contradict the Trump administration’s suggestion that Iranian mines were responsible for the explosions that damaged the Kokuka Courageous and one other oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

      As Common Dreams reported Friday, major American media outlets uncritically propagated the U.S. military’s video footage and accompanying claims, despite widespread skepticism from independent critics and other nations.

    • Vijay Prashad: U.S. Rushes to Blame Iran for Tanker Attacks as Much of World Pushes for Diplomacy

      Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are again ratcheting up as the Trump administration accused Iran of orchestrating an attack Thursday on Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denied any involvement and accused the Trump administration of trying to sabotage diplomacy. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly accused Iran of attacking the oil tankers, and the U.S. released video of what it claimed was Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese oil tanker that was attacked. However, the president of the Japanese company that owns the ship said it was not attacked by mines but two flying objects. He also said he doesn’t believe any objects were attached to the side of the ship. We speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

    • Trump Must Not Be Allowed to Use Gulf of Oman Incidents as ‘Pretext for Illegal War With Iran’: Bernie Sanders

      Sen. Bernie Sanders responded on Friday to president Donald Trump’s assertion that Iran was behind Thursday’s suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman with a call for restraint against pursing what he said would be a dangerous and “illegal” war against the country.

      “Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman are unacceptable and must be fully investigated,” the Vermont Independent and 2020 president hopeful said in a statement. “But this incident must not be used as a pretext for a war with Iran, a war which would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region, and the world.”

      “The time is now for the United States to exert international leadership,” Sanders continued, “and bring the countries in the region together to forge a diplomatic solution to the growing tensions.”

      The Trump administration late Thursday released video footage that it claimed proved that Iran was behind the alleged attacks, though the Japanese owner of one of the tankers on Friday appeared to contradict the White House narrative.

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday also claimed, without evidence, that Iran was behind not only Thursday’s alleged oil tanker attacks but other “recent similar… attacks on shipping.”

      In his new statement, Sanders appeared to confront Pompeo’s reported assertion in a closed door meeting with lawmakers that the 2001 AUMF provides legal grounding for a war with Iran.

      “I would also remind President Trump that there is no congressional authorization for a war with Iran,” said Sanders. “A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.”

    • Trump Blames Iran for the Tanker Attacks. But Let’s be Skeptical of his Administration’s Pro-War Bluster

      The Trump administration was quick to point fingers at Iran after explosions on two oil tankers from Japan and Norway in the Gulf of Oman.

      Undoubtedly, Iran is a plausible suspect. It has repeatedly threatened to strangle the flow of Persian Gulf oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq and the UAE if the U.S. embargoes Iranian oil. But the presence of a potential motive does not amount to the presence of evidence, and the owner of the Japanese tanker is already contesting the U.S. explanations.

      But, if anything, the speed in which the Trump administration officially blamed Iran should give us pause, given John Bolton’s long history of fabricating intelligence in favor of war. The mere process of gathering evidence — let alone conclusive evidence — of how the attack on Thursday was conducted and who was behind it would take days and weeks, not hours.

    • Warnings of Effort to ‘Maneuver the US Into a War’ as Trump Officials Rush to Blame Iran for Attacks on Gulf Tankers

      The alleged attacks, which set a Japanese-owned tanker ablaze, came as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an attempt to reduce dangerous military tensions between the Iran and the U.S.

      As Common Dreams reported last month, the recent escalation between Iran and the U.S. was sparked by the Trump administration’s belligerent threats and naval activity in the Persian Gulf.

      Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that Thursday’s attacks could have been carried out by “actors in the region and beyond who want to maneuver the U.S. into a war.”

      “With [national security adviser] John Bolton seeking to maneuver the U.S. into a war with Iran,” said Abdi, “the sabotage of more oil tankers underscores the increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East as the Trump administration pursues its maximum pressure approach toward Iran.”

      “The fact that the sabotage occurred amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to Iran—where he is believed to have communicated a message from Trump to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—underscores that the likely motive of the attackers is to prevent any easing of tensions,” Abdi added. “For Congress, these attacks are yet another warning sign that Trump and his team are leaning into a disastrous war in the Middle East.”

    • Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0

      President Trump has threatened China’s President Xi that if they don’t meet and talk at the upcoming G20 meetings in Japan, June 29-30, the United States will not soften its tariff war and economic sanctions against Chinese exports and technology.

      Some meeting between Chinese and U.S. leaders will indeed take place, but it cannot be anything like a real negotiation. Such meetings normally are planned in advance, by specialized officials working together to prepare an agreement to be announced by their heads of state. No such preparation has taken place, or can take place. Mr. Trump doesn’t delegate authority.

      Trump opens negotiations with a threat. That costs nothing, and you never know (or at least, he never knows) whether he can get a freebee. His threat is that the U.S. can hurt its adversary unless that country agrees to abide by America’s wish-list. But in this case the list is so unrealistic that the media are embarrassed to talk about it. The US is making impossible demands for economic surrender – that no country could accept. What appears on the surface to be only a trade war is really a full-fledged Cold War 2.0.

    • Whoever Hit the Gulf Tankers, Pompeo was Wrong to Finger Iran before Evidence Was In

      The mysterious mines that blew up two tankers, one of them Japanese-owned and operated, on Wednesday, sent a frisson of fear through the Gulf, since it was clear that Trump warmongers would blame Iran and then use the incident as a springboard to war.

      Despite the confident pronouncements of “Benghazi Mike” Pompeo at his brief news conference, the fact is that US intelligence hasn’t had time or access to come to a firm conclusion about the author of the mine attack.

      Pompeo’s people put out grainy video of some sort of small ship coming alongside one of the tankers and then leaving peacefully. Since this doesn’t look very much like an attack, they are alleging that the Iranians were taking away an unexploded mine. That doesn’t make any sense at all, and the video again needs to be carefully analyzed.

      Pompeo alleged that only the Iranians had the expertise to deploy these mines.

    • Pompeo Gulf of Oman Narrative Torpedoed by Vessel’s Japanese Owner

      The Japanese owner of the vessel maintains that there were no mines — or torpedos — involved, denying that such could have been the case because the damage to the ship was above the waterline. He went so far as to call the whole U.S.-pedaled notion of mines being responsible “false.”

    • Lies Liberals Tell Themselves About the Second Amendment

      You’ll have heard it said by many liberals and even progressives that the Second Amendment centers on arming militias in a post-colonial America. But the reality behind the legal statute that enshrined gun rights in the Constitution is more nuanced, and far more sinister. As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz notes in her book, “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,” the arming of state militias (which ultimately became the National Guard) was already noted elsewhere in the Constitution, so why was there a need to stipulate the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights, which pertains to individuals? That’s because, according to Dunbar-Ortiz, the Second Amendment can be traced directly back to settler colonialism.

      “Basically, the Second Amendment is about killing Indians, taking their land and, increasingly, slave patrols,” Dunbar-Ortiz tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” The author lays out the genocidal genealogy of the right to bear arms, and explains that, at its root, it ensured the ability of white men to oppress people of color in order to steal or keep stolen land, and to control slaves through slave patrols. To top it off, she goes on to argue, our current police forces are essentially just modern-day slave patrols.

    • Study Linking US Sanctions to Venezuelan Deaths Buried by Reuters for Over a Month

      It would indeed have been impossible for a Reuters reporter to be aware of the study if they depended only on Reuters articles to keep informed. The news agency hadn’t mentioned the study since it was released, never mind written an article about it.

      I asked a contact I have at Reuters about this, and he was also surprised that Reuters hadn’t even mentioned the study. He suggested I query some of Reuters’ Venezuela-based reporters, which I did a few days later.

      In my email to them, I passed along a list of news articles since August 2017, when Trump first dramatically intensified economic sanctions, that described worsening economic conditions. I also noted that though the Sachs/Weisbrot study was ignored by Reuters, it had been intensely debated in public by Venezuelan opposition economists (i.e., the kind of people Reuters and other Western media actually pay attention to on Venezuela).

    • Think US Media Won’t Help Lead Nation Into War With Iran Based on Flimsy or False Intelligence? Looks Like They Already Are

      If there were any lingering hopes that the corporate media learned from its role in perpetuating the lies that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and would never again help start a Middle East war on the basis of false or flimsy evidence, the headlines that blared across the front pages of major U.S. news websites Thursday night indicated that such hopes were badly misplaced.

      The U.S. military late Thursday released blurry, black-and-white video footage that it claimed—without any underlying analysis or further details—showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, one of the oil tankers damaged in attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

      [...]

      Just taking a random sample of screenshots after the news broke Thursday night, major outlets largely did the Pentagon’s dirty work by posting uncritical headlines that took the claims at face value.

      The Washington Post used the word “purported” in its headline, but erroneously reported that the video was taken “before” the explosion on the vessel, not after. The headline was later changed, but was made no more critical of the military’s claim…

    • Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns

      Since the Second World War, governments across the world have increasingly relied on aerial bombardment in order to achieve strategic and/or political objectives. However, with the aim to reduce exposure to risk, the leaders that employ these measures without any ground support risk merely extending the misery visited upon the enemy but not achieving any decisive breakthrough.

      The largest air force in the world, unsurprisingly, is the United States Air Force. The second largest is the United States Navy. Combined with the allied forces that make up NATO, the transatlantic alliance has an aerial capacity that is unmatched. Despite this overwhelming force, they are surprisingly impotent. It took NATO 78 days to subdue little Yugoslavia in 1999. It took eight months in the case of Libya, an even more stunning figure when one considers that the Libyan military had already been denuded of all meaningful capabilities for years itself. Why does it take so long? Aerial warfare can be divided into two predominant forms of assaults: attacks on military infrastructure and general bombing campaign. The former, naturally, requires pre-existing targets, which in the face of a materially superior enemy is quickly depleted. As such, those who launch air wars quickly shift their efforts over towards a much more generalised effort that lacks purpose.

      Vietnam is perhaps the clearest example of a disastrous and catastrophic implementation of area bombardment. When President Johnson, at the urging of those who had two decades earlier masterminded the flattening of the German and Japanese landscapes, initiated Operation Rolling Thunder in 1965, a strategic aim beyond the degradation of enemy morale was lacking. Yet, like during the Blitz, aerial bombing had the unintended consequence of producing a sense of resilience. This is not to mention that aside from Hanoi’s ability to effectively evacuate large portions of its civilian population (upwards of 80%) and the questionable morality of the campaign, North Vietnam had little industry worth targeting in the first place.

      Financially, air campaigns have a rather low return on investment. Due to the absence of any real parity in terms of weaponry, the fighting naturally turns into an asymmetric conflict. As such, it only took a couple of (relatively) cheap stingers in the hands of rural Afghans to take down Soviet helicopters. In the case of the Gaza Strip, Hamas knows well that their so-called ‘rockets’ (arguably glorified fertiliser fireworks, considering their effectiveness) cannot penetrate Israeli air defence system so they resort to balloons with burning coal, much cheaper than any multi-million dollar missile found in the arsenals of strong militaries.

    • The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition

      The Indian subcontinent got partitioned in 1947 when the British colonial rule came to an end. India was divided into two new independent states: India and Pakistan. The reason for the division was the Indian National Congress’ (INC’s) adamant refusal to share power with the Indian Muslim League (IML) headed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was himself a non-practicing Muslim with a secular vision. Muslims represented over 25% of the then total Indian population.

      The partition was gory and bloody; in excess of a million people were killed. Also, millions of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and Muslims in India, migrated to areas cohabited by their coreligionists.

    • Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book

      Thom Hartmann has long written and spoken on the topic of guns in the United States, along with many other topics. Of those topics he’s dealt with that I know anything about, I have not always agreed with him on every detail, but on most I’ve found him highly informative and persuasive. His new book, The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment, is possibly the best book I’ve ever seen on its topic, both to read, and to pass along to anyone in the United States, whatever their current opinion on guns and gun laws may be, as well as to share with anyone else on earth who may be trying to understand why the United States seems to be allowing its own ongoing slaughter, with guns the second-leading cause of death among children in the United States.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange’s U.S. Extradition Hearing Is Set for February

      A British court on Friday set February 2020 as the date for the full extradition hearing on whether Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, should be sent to the United States to face a slew of charges, including several under the Espionage Act.

      Mr. Assange, 47, appeared by video link from Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London for his first hearing since the United States formally requested his extradition. He had skipped a previous hearing because, his lawyer said, he was too ill to appear. Some experts, including a United Nations official, said he had exhibited signs of a deteriorating physical and mental condition.

      Mr. Assange’s hearing came days after Britain’s home secretary, Sajid Javid, signed the extradition request from the United States and expressed his support for Mr. Assange’s detention.

      “He’s rightly behind bars,” Mr. Javid told BBC’s Radio 4.

      Protesters holding signs that read “Hands off Assange” outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday denounced Mr. Javid’s decision and demanded Mr. Assange’s release. If the court rules in the United States’ favor, the extradition process is expected to be a long and complicated one.

    • Assange to Face 5-Day Extradition Hearing in February 2020

      A decision on whether Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act will not come until the end of February 2020 at the earliest, the Westminster Magistrate’s Court ruled on Friday.

      [...]

      The WikiLeaks publisher told the court that “175 years of my life is effectively at stake,” according to Sky News. He addressed the judge as Lady Arbuthnot, saying: “WikiLeaks is nothing but a publisher.” Mark Summers, a lawyer representing Assange, told the court there are a “multiplicity of profound issues” with the extradition case, Sky News reported.

      “We say it represents an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights,” he said.

      Assange spoke to the court via video link from Belmarsh prison where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail on a Swedish sexual assault investigation. Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 to avoid onward extradition from Sweden to the United States. He was arrested on April 11 when Ecuador allowed British police to enter the embassy.

    • Facing Serious Charges, Judge Sets ‘Long Timetable’ For Assange To Prepare Defense Against Extradition

      In the United States government’s extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, his attorneys agreed to a “long timetable” so he may prepare his defense against “incredibly serious charges, which impact upon typical newsgathering activities.”

      Judge Emma Arbuthnot set a five-day hearing over the extradition request that will take place in late February 2020. One of the first major filings in the case will come from the U.S. government in July.

      Assange faces 17 counts of allegedly violating the Espionage Act for publishing classified information from Chelsea Manning and one conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge related to the publication.

      During brief proceedings at the Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange appeared via video from Belmarsh prison, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for violating bail conditions when he sought political asylum from Ecuador. His attorneys are appealing his sentence.

      “We are very concerned about his health,” declared Jen Robinson, one of Assange’s attorneys. “He remains in the health care ward of Belmarsh, and he is under a huge amount of pressure and in very difficult circumstances.

      “He’s facing a significant complex case of huge size and scale. And that is an incredible pressure to be placed on someone who’s already suffered significant health impacts as a result of his continued confinement inside the embassy and now inside prison,” Robinson added.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘The Changes Are Really Accelerating’: Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt

      The climate crisis is rapidly warming the Arctic, and the effects are being felt from Alaska to Greenland.

      The northernmost point on the planet is heating up more quickly than any other region in the world. The reason for this warming is ice–albedo feedback: as ice melts it opens up land and sea to the sun, which then absorb more heat that would have been bounced off by the ice, leading to more warming. It’s a vicious circle of warmth that’s changing the environment at the north pole.

      In Alaska, the crisis led this year to the warmest spring on record for the state; one city, Akiak, may turn into an island due to swelling riverbanks and erosion exacerbated by thawing permafrost and ice melt. Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Center scientist Susan Natali told The Guardian that what’s happening in Akiak is just an indicator of the danger posed to Alaska by the climate crisis.

    • Protesting Against Air Pollution Crisis, Extinction Rebellion Stalls Rush-Hour Traffic in London

      Dozens of students, parents, teachers, and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London’s southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.

    • Prisoners, Grassroots Activists Halt Construction Of Federal Prison On Former Coal Mine

      Federal prisoners and grassroots activists defeated plans by the United States government to embark on the most expensive prison construction project in the country’s history.

      The plans for a federal prison and labor camp in Letcher County, Kentucky, would have cost at least $444 million and resulted in serious and longstanding negative consequences for the environment and public health.

      The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) initially released a “record of decision” in March 2018 for the 800-acre site. It was to be built atop a highly toxic former coal mine and mountaintop removal site located nearby an active mine and coal sludge pond.

      On June 5, 2019, the BOP withdrew the plans after years of sustained opposition and in spite of the agency’s efforts to subvert numerous federal safety and transparency requirements for construction projects. The agency also failed to prove the project was necessary to reduce prison overcrowding in the region.

      Twenty-one federal prisoners were named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit [PDF] against the plans. Each of the prisoners were at high risk of transfer to Letcher County, and they were prevented by the BOP from participating in the public comment period in violation of federal rules.

      The Abolitionist Law Center and Friends of Lilley Cornett Woods and North Fork River Watershed pursued the lawsuit as well.

    • Our Post-Carbon Future Depends on Electric Vehicles—Our Congress Controls Their Economic Lifeline

      There are a few competing electric vehicle-related bills kicking around Capitol Hill right now. One, a bipartisan bill aptly titled the Driving America Forward Act, would keep the country moving in the right direction to address the worldwide climate crisis. Another, dubbed the Fairness for Every Driver Act, would slam us into reverse.

      The forward-looking bill proposes to extend a tax credit—currently pegged at $7,500—for electric vehicles (EVs) that currently phases out once an automaker has sold 200,000 of them. Tesla and General Motors have already exceeded the cap. Introduced in April, the legislation would raise the cap to 600,000 vehicles per manufacturer, providing a $7,000 tax credit to purchasers after the original 200,000-unit threshold is met. It is sponsored by two Democrats from Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine.

    • Allergy Season Is Bad This Year. Thank Climate Disruption.

      If you think allergy season this year is especially severe, you are not wrong. Even people who do not normally deal with pollen allergies are suffering, and those with serious allergies or other respiratory issues are under siege by a marauding army of windblown dots of pollen. This is on top of the smoke pouring into the U.S. from Canadian wildfires. As with so much else today, the stark reality of climate disruption is playing a part in our misery.

      More than half the states in the continental U.S. are enduring pollen counts ranging from “High” to “Very High.” Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas are an inland sea of allergens, and every Southern state from Mississippi to South Carolina and up through Virginia are painted yellow and orange with the misery-inducing spores. The story is the same out West from Washington State to California, and from Idaho to Arizona and New Mexico. Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois are likewise feeling the sting.

      Harsh allergy seasons are nothing new in the human experience, and I am certainly not trying to pull a Reverse Inhofe by claiming climate disruption is to blame for your car looking like someone slathered it in cake batter every morning. The science here, however, is entirely straightforward.

      “For the first time in human history, on May 13, Earth’s concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 415 parts per million (ppm). Before the 19th century’s industrial revolution, the CO2 concentration was at about 280 ppm,” writes Dahr Jamail for Truthout. “The current dramatic rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is unparalleled in Earth’s history dating back hundreds of thousands of years, based on ice-core data.”

      Put plainly, C02 is plant food. The more plant food there is in the air, the more pollen trees and other plants will produce. Combine that with the historically wet spring season felt by the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest, and all the ingredients for a pollen explosion are in place.

    • ‘This Exchange Cuts to the Heart of Our Crisis’: Watch DNC Chair Hide Behind Party Rules to Argue Against Climate-Focused Debate

      “Humans can change human-made rules, we can’t change the laws of nature.”

      That’s how author and activist Naomi Klein responded to a video posted to Twitter Wednesday evening that shows an activist with the youth-led Sunrise Movement challenging Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez on his refusal to hold a 2020 primary debate on the climate crisis and candidates’ proposed solutions, despite pressure from many presidential hopefuls and voters.

    • Climate crisis raises risk of conflict

      If the world warms by 4°C this century, the climate factor becomes more dangerous – five times more dangerous, according to new research, which predicts a 26% increase in the risk of conflict, just because of climate change.

      Even if the world sticks to a promise made in Paris in 2015, when 195 nations vowed to contain global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, the impact of climate on the risk of armed conflict will double. The risk will rise to 13%.

      US researchers report in the journal Nature that they quizzed a pool of 11 experts on climate and conflict from a range of disciplines. There is no consensus on the mechanism that links a shift in average temperatures and ethnic bitterness, migration, violence and outright civil war within any single nation. But there is a simple conclusion: whatever the process, climate change raises the risk of conflict.

      And the study comes just as the latest publication of the Global Peace Index warns that 971 million people now live in areas with what is termed high or “very high climate change exposure”, and 400 million of these people already live in countries with “low levels of peacefulness.”

    • New California Bill Could Revolutionize How the U.S. Tackles Plastic Pollution

      The ubiquity of plastic in our lives is leaving a mark — on the geologic record, in remote regions of the Earth, in the bodies of 90 percent of seabirds. Our oceans are a toxic soup, swirling with an estimated 50 million tons of plastic waste. But the tide is changing.

      Mounting global pressure to curb plastic pollution is gaining steam. A significant leap came last year with the European Union’s vote to ban single-use plastic items by 2021 and boost bottle recycling 90 percent by 2025. On June 10 Canada announced it would follow Europe’s lead.

      In the United States, efforts to reduce plastic waste have so far been piecemeal — bans on specific items, like plastic bags, and only in certain municipalities. But California could help the country take a massive leap forward.

      At the end of May, the California Senate passed S.B. 54, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, introduced by Senator Ben Allen and modeled after the European effort. A day later, the state’s assembly passed identical legislation, A.B. 1080, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. If the bills clear opposite houses and earn the governor’s signature, it will be groundbreaking.

    • How ‘Freeway Revolts’ Helped Create the People’s Environmental Law

      In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, “White man’s roads through black men’s homes.”

      Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation’s capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

    • US Poised to Approve Shipping LNG by Rail for Export With No New Safety Rules

      On June 6, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced that the company Energy Transport Solutions LLC had applied for a special permit to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in unit trains 100 cars long and for the express purpose of moving LNG to export facilities. The notice in the Federal Register starts a comment period, ending July 8, for the public to weigh in on the proposal, which represents a new mode for transporting LNG and includes no new safety precautions.

      The permit documentation and environmental assessment from PHMSA suggest that federal regulators — instead of learning from the deadly mistakes of the essentially unregulated oil-by-rail boom — are poised to allow the fossil fuel and rail industries to repeat the same business model with LNG, with potentially even higher consequences for public health and safety.

    • After Losing a Similar Case, BLM Sued Again Over Climate Impacts of Oil and Gas Leases

      An environmental group based in New Mexico is suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) related to climate change. It’s the second lawsuit the agency has faced over its approval of oil and gas leases on public lands in recent years.

      WildEarth Guardians has filed a lawsuit against BLM and the Department of Interior, asking a federal court in New Mexico to vacate 210 oil and gas leases approved between 2017 and 2018. The leases cover over 70,000 acres of public land in the southeastern portion of the state, just a few miles away from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and within the Permian Shale, a hotbed for fracking.

    • U.S. Forest Service aims to speed up logging, infrastructure projects

      The U.S. Forest Service, which manages millions of acres of national forests and grasslands, on Wednesday proposed “bold” changes for how it carries out environmental reviews of logging, road building and mining projects on public land, a move that raised red flags for environmental groups.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service published proposed changes for how it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a decades-old law that requires detailed analysis to be conducted before approving projects that could significantly affect the environment.

    • Forest Service Wants to Fast-Track Logging Without Environmental Review

      The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

    • Time to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

      Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it’s a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

      The Pollinator Partnership created Pollinator Week and the U.S. Senate designated National Pollinator Week in 2007. The intention was to draw attention to the protecting pollinator habitats, since they are in steep decline due to human activity, according to Transmission & Distribution world.

    • How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions

      Each year, human beings release an increasing amount of carbon dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere; at present, around 40 billion tons per annum. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, 8.4 billion tons are attributed to the burning of fossil fuels; primarily coal, gas and oil. The European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency lists the most polluting countries (including the EU as a whole and each of its member states). They are China, the US, the EU, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada and Brazil. When measured in terms of per capita emissions, the US and Canada are the biggest culprits, with each Canadian and American emitting an average of >15 tonnes of CO2 per annum (“carbon footprint”). This is a result of commuting, consumption, domestic energy use, leisure and travel.

      CO2 accounts for approximate 76 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that combustion (of coal, gas and oil) is the main human activity that releases CO2. Electrical production, which uses coal combustion for its generation, accounts for 32.9% of US CO2 emissions. Transport accounts for 34.2%, which is where oil comes in, as most transport (cars, trucks, planes and ships) relies on petroleum. Industry is responsible for 15.4% of emissions and residential/commercial for 10%.

      One barrel consists of 42 gallons (159 liters) of oil. Each day, 96 million barrels of oil and liquid fuels are consumed worldwide. This equates to 35 billion barrels a year. Vehicles are significant C02 emitters. The majority of vehicles run on oil. There are 800 million cars in the world. According to Automotive Industry Solutions, there are 253 million cars and trucks in use in the US. There are 234 million cars on the roads of Western Europe in a sector that employs 13 million people. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that half of all carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides and a quarter of aromatic hydrocarbons, released each year can be attributed to transport. The Union further notes that much of the pollution could be easily reduced by clean vehicle fuel technologies. It’s not just the use of vehicles which causes pollution. The Union also points out that from design, to manufacture, to disposal, vehicle-related pollution is significant.

    • The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal

      The information blockade starts with the military itself. The military purposely restricts information plus its immense size and bureaucratic complexity means that it is so hard to grasp that political leaders cannot themselves understand the institution they are supposed to command.

      You want proof? Just try reading the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2016 report which could not figure out just how much oil the military burns. The GAO concluded: “[C]ongress does not have full visibility over the amount of fuel volume the military services require on an annual basis for their activities…”

      This should not come as a surprise. Since its inception in 1950 or so the modern military has resisted any accounting of costs in violation of Article I, Section 9, of the US Constitution. In 2018 the Pentagon failed its first ever audit. It’s not just about the missing 6.5 trillions dollars, (although that really matters too) it’s that the opaque accounting system is armor — a defensive weapon used to neutralize anyone that wants to understand, let alone oppose, the US government.

      This massive fraud is just the financial side of the serial political con committed by the US government. Article 1, Sec. 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution clearly gives Congress, and only Congress, the right to declare war — but that has never stopped the Pentagon or the President or the Congress or the Courts from betraying their duty to defend the Constitution.

      Not only can’t the government regulate corporations it cannot regulate itself in line with what is supposed to be the highest law of the land— the US Constitution.

      But shift your vantage point to see the merger of the corporation and the state and then you see a military perfectly regulated in keeping with a corporate empire that equates profit with power and actively promotes both without limit. The liberal state is no more.

      For example, the War on Terror increased the Pentagon’s appetite for power and secrecy at the cost of environmental justice. According to legal scholar Hope Babcock,

      “[O]ne response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 has been a significant erosion of basic civil liberties. Congress has given unprecedented power to the President and his law enforcement agencies to wage this war against terror….The military has sought, and largely received, permission from Congress to weaken environmental and public disclosure laws as part of the arsenal of “tools” it needs to fight this war.”

      If weakening “environmental and public disclosure laws” is a weapon of war — then “destroying the planet to save it” is the outcome.

    • The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?

      About a century ago the American chestnut tree was attacked by the introduced fungal pathogen (Cryphonectria parasitica). This fungus drove the chestnut to functional extinction. Now, scientists at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) claim to have created, through biotechnology, a resistant American chestnut variety. They aim to petition the required regulatory agencies (USDA, FDA, EPA) for deregulation of their genetically engineered chestnut in the near future, with the stated goal of “restoring” the species to nature.

      If it is deregulated, the GE chestnut would be the first GE forest tree species to be planted out in forests with the deliberate intention of spreading freely. Monitoring or reversing their spread, once released, would likely be impossible. Performing valid risk assessments of the potential impacts of GE American chestnut on forests, wildlife, water, soils, pollinators or people, is hampered by our lack of knowledge about both the ecology of the American chestnut and forest ecosystems. Furthermore, since American chestnuts can live for more than 200 years, risk factors may change over the tree’s lifetime in unpredictable ways.

    • Sandy Cioffi on Nigerian Oil, Riki Ott Looking Back at Exxon Valdez Spill

      The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened from the spring through the fall of 2010. The blowout of the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people, and countless animals, on its way to becoming the worst marine oil spill in history. It seemed to take that protracted disaster on the US coast to generate a New York Times front-page story on June 16, 2010, about oil industry ravages in Nigeria’s delta region, which, the article noted, “has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years, by some estimates.” CounterSpin had a powerful conversation that week with filmmaker and video artist Sandy Cioffi, whose film, Sweet Crude, looks at the oil industry in Nigeria, and the way it is covered in the US. We’ll hear that conversation today.

    • Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis

      Plastic pollution is everywhere, it litters beaches, clogs up oceans, chokes marine life, is ingested by seabirds that then starve to death, and has even been discovered embedded in Arctic ice. It’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink (bottled and tap), and last year plastic was found in human stools for the first time. Friends of the Earth report that, “recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.

      According to the United Nations Environmental Agency the world produces around 300 million tons of plastic each year, half of which is single-use items, food packaging mainly. Of this colossal total a mere 14 percent is collected for recycling, and only 9 percent actually gets recycled; 12 percent is incinerated releasing highly poisonous fumes. The rest – nearly 80 percent – ends up in landfill, or worse still, is illegally dumped or thrown into the oceans; around eight million tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans annually, and while some of the environmental damage plastics cause is clear the full impact on marine and terrestrial ecosystems is not yet apparent.

      Plastic recycling rates are appalling and considerably lower than other industrial materials; recycling of steel aluminum, copper and paper e.g., is estimated to be 50 percent, and plastic doesn’t disappear it just gets smaller and smaller, reducing over hundreds or even thousands of years into tiny micro-plastics and nano plastics.

    • Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons

      As far as I know climate change (CC) computer models include the variations of insolation (i.e., sunspot cycles, and the Milankovitch Cycles set by solar-earth alignments and angle changes over time) as part of the external radiation driving function (i.e., solar radiation falling on Earth over time). IPCC is an agency that reviews peer reviewed science publications by research scientist/modelers calculating estimated resulting average (and regional) global temperatures of the biosphere over time. Said researchers then try to compare their calculations with experimental data / field observations of CO2, CH4 and air/ocean temperature measurements (current and fossil from: tree rings, ice cores, mineral deposits).

      Also, it has long been known to the scientists that the amount and distribution of water vapor and droplets in the atmosphere — clouds, fog, mist, humidity — is/are the most difficult parameter (parameters) to include in the computer models because such atmospheric moisture is so rapidly transient and localized, and so intimately entwined with local temperature and wind patterns (weather). Water vapor has always been known as the major gas/vapor storage medium of atmospheric heat. Also, clouds have a significant effect on the magnitude of the albedo (sunlight reflection coefficient, hence a localized cooling effect, similar to that of snow and ice caps)

    • Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation

      A wise old political adage says, “When you’re ‘splainin’, you ain’t gainin’.” We need a new, ad hoc version to wake up “climate kid” supporters of an existentially crucial Green New Deal, now sitting politely bored—as through their principal’s speech—while Democrat elders crowd them off stage with their heated-but-trivial Mueller-based debate on whether or not to impeach Trump. I propose this: “When they’re ‘splainin’, you ain’t gainin’.” It’s frankly depressing to see passionate, idealistic kids hold still like respectable middle-aged Rotarians while adults with shallow, juvenile agendas waste civilization’s ever-more-precious time and dominate the floor.

      Hey, climate kids, it’s time to act like kids and get seriously rowdy. This is one “adult” conversation you desperately need to disrupt. And not merely disrupt but actually hijack. The future of the Green New Deal—and therefore of civilization itself—may depend on you remembering that you’re still kids and therefore totally smashing up what the old farts had planned. You’ve already earned your maturity street creds by your incredibly sane, responsible climate activism; it’s time to have some delinquent, disruptive, old-fart-torturing fun.

      As an old fart who never quite grew up—what the Sunrise climate kids more politely call a “Young at Heart” supporter—I’ve already started fracking with the old folks’ minds like someone a fraction of my age. In fact, not just once but twice. But see, I can’t do this alone; after a few hours of “delinquent” head-butting with fellow AARP types, I desperately need a nap. And juvenile delinquency—however urgently needed—can quickly look a little pathetic when not perpetrated by actual juveniles. Still, I do a pretty decent job, and the seriously pissed-off comments under the Nation of Change versions of my two “delinquent” articles (see here and here) show I’ve gotten deeply under Democrat geezers’ sagging skins.

    • “Freedom Gas” Will Be Used to Justify Oppression at Home and Abroad

      The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) made a recent foray into unintentional self-parody when it began describing natural gas as “molecules of U.S. freedom.” While amusement and ridicule are perfectly reasonable reactions to this spectacle, all of us who care about freedom (for people, not molecules) and a livable future need to think about the terrifying potential uses of this language.

      The new term came in a press release boasting that the Trump administration was green-lighting the expansion of a natural gas export terminal in Texas so it could sell more fracked gas overseas.

      Just two days later, Oil Change International published a report demonstrating that continuing development of known gas reserves alone will make it impossible to keep the global temperature increase above pre-industrial levels to within 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the scientifically determined upper limit to avoid planetary catastrophe. The report also showed that investments in any new natural gas infrastructure — such as pipelines and export terminals — locks in planet-warming emissions for years, since these facilities are expensive and designed to last for a long time.

      In other words, the U.S. government is using outlandish self-congratulatory language to brag about approving natural gas infrastructure that will threaten the future of humanity if it’s allowed to operate over the entirety of its expected lifetime. It’s also a colossal waste of resources, the report shows, because a combination of renewable energy, battery storage, and demand-responsive electric grid management is cost-competitive with natural gas and addresses any concerns about grid reliability.

      Why, then, does the government persist in expanding natural gas and other fossil fuel extraction, use and export? Because of crony capitalism, pure and simple.

    • The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage

      With the ravages created by the climate emergency including flooding in the Midwest, wildfires in the West, cities going underwater on the coast of Florida, and extreme heat, we might begin to look at our public lands as carbon storage sites.

      One of the misconceptions guiding public forest policy is the assumption that logging/thinning can preclude large high severity fires, which is assumed to result in tremendous amounts of carbon emissions.

      The timber industry and some agencies try to suggest that cutting trees to “restore” forest ecosystems and/or to turn these trees into “wood products” stores carbon and at the same time will reduce wildfires.

      There are two things wrong with this assumption.

      The first problem is that extreme fire weather is responsible for nearly all massive wildfires. Under extreme fire weather conditions of drought, high temperatures, low humidity and in particular, high winds, nothing stops the fires. Indeed, there is even evidence that by opening up the forest to drying and wind penetration, thinning can sometimes exacerbate fire spread.

      The second problem is that in the process of logging/thinning emits a tremendous amount of carbon.

    • United Nations Agency Criticizes Carbon Offsets

      The United Nations drew attention this week for an article published by its environment program that criticized carbon offsets, a strategy the UN has supported for two decades. The headline: “Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail free card.”

      It came three weeks after ProPublica published a widely discussed investigation into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings and instead have given polluters a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO₂.

      “Scientists, activists and concerned citizens have started to voice their concerns over how carbon offsets have been used by polluters as a free pass for inaction,” the UN article said.

      Niklas Hagelberg, a senior program officer at the Nairobi, Kenya-based UN Environment Programme, said ProPublica’s investigation contributed to the questions raised over offsets, capturing key challenges such as how to accurately monitor trees in protected areas and how to fund livelihoods for forest communities that don’t involve cutting down trees.

    • USDA Employees Turn Backs on Sonny Perdue as USDA Head Announces Moving of Research Agencies

      Over a dozen USDA employees stood and turned their backs on Sonny Perdue Thursday as the U.S. agriculture secretary detailed the relocation of two of the federal agency’s key research offices out of Washington, D.C.

      Purdue was speaking at an “all hands meeting” of employees of the two agencies in question: the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which both recently unionized to protest the reorganization. ERS and NIFA, as Union of Concerned Scientists economist Rebecca Boehm recently wrote, perform work “which directly supports farmers while protecting our food.”

      At least three agency employees, a video of the protest from CNN shows, shook their heads when Perdue said their primary concern about the imminent move was how it would be a “personal disruption.” The Hill has video of a portion of the protest as well.

    • Trump Official Consulted Climate-Change Rejecters, Emails Show

      A Trump administration national security official has sought help from advisers to a think tank that disavows climate change to challenge widely accepted scientific findings on global warming, according to his emails.

      The request from William Happer, a member of the National Security Council, is included in emails from 2018 and 2019 that were obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund under the federal Freedom of Information Act and provided to The Associated Press. That request was made this past March to policy advisers with the Heartland Institute, one of the most vocal challengers of mainstream scientific findings that emissions from burning coal, oil and gas are damaging the Earth’s atmosphere.

      In a March 3 email exchange Happer and Heartland adviser Hal Doiron discuss Happer’s scientific arguments in a paper attempting to knock down climate change as well as ideas to make the work “more useful to a wider readership.” Happer writes he had already discussed the work with another Heartland adviser, Thomas Wysmuller.

  • Finance
    • Pork is Not the Problem

      The federal government plans to spend more than $4.5 trillion in 2019. Those earmarks constitute a whopping one third of one percent of that total.

      Critics of earmarks point out, correctly, that they’re used by members of Congress to direct federal spending to their own districts, not always with much “public good” justification (cue complaints about $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum, $7.5 million for golf education, etc.)

      True, all of it — but it’s baked into any political process. Whether formal earmarks exist or not, politicians will support bills that spend money in their districts, oppose bills that don’t, shill for their favored projects, and make deals to bring home the bacon.

      And, it should be mentioned, earmarks do not directly increase total spending. They simply require that if Congress appropriates $10 billion for Purpose X, $1 million of that $10 billion be spent on Project Y.

      The problem in that hypothetical isn’t the $1 million earmark, it’s the $10 billion appropriation.

      The problem with the real numbers isn’t $15 billion in earmarks, it’s $4.5 trillion in federal spending.

      If Congress has $9 million to spend on a fruit fly quarantine program and $3 million to blow on bad loans to ship buyers (among 2019 earmarks), Congress has too much money to spend on, respectively, Agriculture and THUD (Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development).

    • Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved

      The ongoing trade war between the United States and China, and the rhetoric surrounding it coming out of the White House, has served to reinforce the idea that China is “stealing” jobs from the United States. The reality, however, is that if we are seeking the responsible party, our attention should be directed toward U.S. corporate boardrooms.

      The internal logic of capitalist development is driving the manic drive to move production to the locations with the most exploitable labor, not any single company, industry or country. For a long time, that location was China, although some production, particularly in textiles, is in the process of relocating to countries with still lower wages, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam. (The last of those is already a long-time source of highly exploited cheap labor for Nike.) It could be said that China is opportunistic in turning itself into the world’s sweatshop. And that it constitutes a colossal market is no small factor.

      Low wages and the inability of Chinese workers to legally organize are crucial factors in the movement of production to China. The minimum wage in Shanghai is 2,420 renminbi per month, which equals US$349. Per month. And Shanghai’s minimum wage is the country’s highest rate and “roughly double the minimum wage in smaller cities” across China, reports the China Labour Bulletin. That does not translate into a living wage for Chinese workers.

    • China and Russia in Strategic Alliance

      The Russian magazine of the Strategic Culture Foundation (FCE) published on 7th June an important editorial dedicated to highlighting the strong contrast between the strategic alliance for the 21st century that is being consolidated between China and Russia and the situation of enmity and confrontation that can be seen among Western leaders.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin received his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Moscow this week for a three-day state visit.

      The meeting not only enhanced the personal affection cultivated among them in nearly 30 meetings over the past six years. President Xi referred to Putin as a close friend and a great international ally.

      Even more important is the fact that the two nations are solidifying a strategic alliance that could define the geopolitics of the 21st century, the FCE editorialist considers.

      Putin and Xi – who also recently attended the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg – signed a series of bilateral trade agreements there that will boost Eurasian development and, indeed, global development.

      Of particular importance is the continued drive by Moscow and Beijing to conduct international trade in national currencies, thus avoiding the use of the US dollar as a means of payment in international transactions. This is a crucial step in countering Washington’s purported hegemonic control of the global financial system.

    • Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative

      The foreign and domestic policies of the US Administration appear to be guided by a combination of financial greed, the desire to exploit weakness for the sake of doing so, a partiality for malevolence, and determination to be spiteful. In no manner, domestically, has the last been more effectively demonstrated than by Trump’s treatment of the children of illegal immigrants.

      On June 5 the Washington Post reported that in its most recent persecution of migrant children “The Trump administration is cancelling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide.” One shelter employee spoke for all civilised people when he said that “educational classes and sports activities are crucial to maintaining physical and mental health while the children are in custody” but this means nothing to Trump and his followers, so many of whom seem to be bigots who actually take pleasure in making life disagreeable and distressing for people who have done them no harm but have in some fashion displeased them.

      The hostility of members of the Washington Establishment to those considered to be non-conformist extends world-wide, being displayed in the main by the massive US military presence in all parts of the globe. The aim appears to be world domination, and it is therefore not surprising that a major target is China’s Belt and Road initiative, about which the Council on Foreign Relations observed that “in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road infrastructure development and investment initiatives that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. The project, eventually termed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) . . . is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived.” It is intended to facilitate international trade and improve the economies of participating nations.

    • Huawei to Countries: Welcome Us In and We’ll Invest Big Time

      The U.S. Justice Department has also indicted Huawei for theft of trade secrets and is pursuing a criminal case against the company’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, alleging that she conspired to defraud banks into unwittingly clearing transactions linked to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

    • The American Dream Is Alive and Well—in China

      Home ownership has been called “the quintessential American dream.” Yet today less than 65% of American homes are owner occupied, and more than 50% of the equity in those homes is owned by the banks. Compare China, where, despite facing one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, a whopping 90% of families can afford to own their homes.

      Over the last decade, American wages have stagnated and U.S. productivity has consistently been outpaced by China’s. The U.S. government has responded by engaging in a trade war and imposing stiff tariffs in order to penalize China for what the White House deems unfair trade practices. China’s industries are said to be propped up by the state and to have significantly lower labor costs, allowing them to dump cheap products on the U.S. market, causing prices to fall and forcing U.S. companies out of business. The message to middle America is that Chinese labor costs are low because their workers are being exploited in slave-like conditions at poverty-level wages.

    • How to Clean Up the “Hot Mess” That Is Chicago’s Ticketing and Debt Collection Practices — According to a City Task Force

      Did you know that Illinois is the opposite of Alabama? At least, that’s what one New York Times writer suggested in a piece this week examining America’s growing divisions, as most states are now under the control of a single political party. But maybe our states have more in common than it seems? Plenty of people agree that both Illinois and Alabama are among the most corrupt in the country … ha.

    • Making Sense of NAFTA and Its Replacement

      “I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” Trump has said. His gut instinct said NAFTA was bad. Unfortunately, gut instinct is typically simplistic, often impulsive, and by definition not strategic or coherent.

      We need to think of our domestic policy and trade policy together. Tariffs, like trade deals, make sense only as tools within a larger coherent strategy. Trade policy should reinforce the principles in our domestic policy. If trade policy is not working, it’s a fair bet that our underlying domestic policies aren’t either.

      Since 1980, the prevailing political message has been, “Markets will solve all our problems. Government is the problem.”

      The term for this is neoliberalism. “Neo” means new. In the language of economics, “liberal” means “liberated” or free from regulation. Neoliberalism “frees” markets by shrinking government, dismantling social programs, and cutting investment in education and research-and-development.

    • UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth

      Beginning on Wednesday and extending through Friday, approximately 1,700 employees at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will be asked to vote on whether or not to join the United Auto Workers (UAW).

      The outcome of this landmark vote is being carefully watched not only by the Mandarins at Solidarity House, in Detroit, and by auto executives and economists throughout Europe and Asia, but by American companies unrelated to the auto industry. A pro-union vote in Chattanooga can revitalize the whole labor movement.

      Which is to say, there is a great deal riding on this. Way more than simply a bunch of workers choosing whether or not to affiliate. For if VW workers do, in fact, become the first big-time auto plant in the Deep South (which historically has rejected anything having to do with organized labor) to go union, it will send a clear message to companies like Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes, et al.

      It will suggest to foreign automakers that the decades-long gravy train—where these companies could treat American workers worse than they would dare treat their own workers back home—is finally over.

    • When Will Presidential Candidates Propose Ending the Criminalization of Poverty?

      Multiple Democratic presidential candidates have staked their campaigns on promises to fight for economic justice and protect low-income people from ruin. So it’s mysterious and frustrating that none of these candidates have proposed to end our justice system’s criminalization of poverty — at least beyond the occasional nod to ending money bail.

      These candidates are missing an opportunity. The incomes of people in U.S. prisons and local jails are overwhelmingly low, and one in two American adults has had a close relative incarcerated, meaning that a candidate who understands the criminalization of poverty could propose transformative reforms and speak to a huge number of voters. In particular, candidates are missing an opportunity to speak to Black voters, who are hit hardest by policies that punish poor people.

      To be sure, many Democratic candidates have alluded to economic inequality in connection with criminal justice reform — and Bernie Sanders even uses the phrase “criminalizing poverty” on his campaign website — but I’ve seen no indication that any of the candidates can speak to either the specifics or the scale of this problem. Candidates must go beyond criticizing money bail, and promise to end the unequal treatment of poor people at every stage of the justice process:

    • Women in Switzerland Strike Over Pay, Harassment

      Women across Switzerland walked off the job, burned bras and blocked traffic Friday in a day of demonstrations to demand fairer pay, more equality and an end to sexual harassment and violence. It was the first such protests in the Alpine nation in 28 years.

      Discontent over sexism and workplace inequality in prosperous Switzerland underpinned the women’s strike. Many protesters were also demanding more pay specifically for domestic workers, teachers and caregivers — jobs typically held by women.

      Swiss female lawmakers — mostly decked out in purple, the movement’s color — streamed out of parliament Friday in the capital of Bern, where several thousand women were demonstrating, public broadcaster RTS reported.

    • ‘Eye-Popping’: Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion

      Matt Bruenig, founder of the left-wing think tank People’s Policy Project, broke down the Federal Reserve’s newly released “Distributive Financial Accounts” data series and found that, overall, “the top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets.”

      The growth of wealth inequality over the past 30 years, Bruenig found, is “eye-popping.”

      “Between 1989 and 2018, the top one percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion,” Bruenig wrote. “The bottom 50 percent actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over the same period.”

    • “Chernobyl” Undermines True Socialism at a Time When We Need It Most

      The old man with the cane is a reference to a party ideologue within the show that, through his adherence to the party line, guarantees the unfolding calamity that Chernobyl will become. Thus, Mazin sides with King, asserting that the show should be interpreted not only as a condemnation of the Soviet Union’s brand of totalitarianism, but more universally, and does indeed apply to the Trump administration (the man whose portrait Bongino worships) — in particular around its denial of pending catastrophic climate change.

      You can change the figurehead, but if the system is maintained, its crises will be perpetuated.

      If we read the tweets closely, something becomes apparent. Notice the right-wing critique is against a system — socialism. Notice also that Bongino defined socialism as “the govt owning the means of production.” Here, Bongino links Chernobyl to an ideological and flawed definition of socialism, essentially redefining what the term actually means. In reality, socialism means socializing the means of production, with the workers themselves directly owning the means of production.

      In seeming opposition, the “left” critique is about a person, an individual. It is not a systemic critique. It is a critique of President Trump, not a critique of capitalism, per se. The logic of the criticism is that if we remove Trump and had a Democrat in power, all would be fine. The problem is not with the system, but with who is its figurehead.

    • Retail Workers Nationwide Are Forming a Coalition to Demand a Just Economy

      Toys ‘R’ Us workers won a crucial severance pay victory last year after the company closed its U.S. stores. Private equity firms KKR, Bain, and Vornado had bought up the legendary toy store just a decade before, saddled the company with debt, and left the 33,000 laid-off employees without access to the millions they were owed in severance.

      But rather than letting private equity vultures enrich themselves on the backs of employees who’d been with the store for decades, workers fought back, taking creative actions across the country and pushing legislators and pension funds to get on board — and eventually won a $20 million severance fund. Their victory was part of a broader movement — one that’s been fighting for justice for retail workers for years. Under the umbrella of United for Respect, retail workers from corporations like Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears, and Walmart are joining together to demand a just economy.

      United for Respect made headlines just last week by filing a resolution at a Walmart shareholders meeting to allow workers on the company’s corporate board. While the resolution didn’t pass, the news — alongside the appearance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was invited by Walmart workers — was a welcome addition to the conversation about the role of workers in corporate decision-making.

      In addition to the waves made by worker organizing, talk around shifting power on corporate boards is growing as Democratic presidential candidates elaborate on their labor proposals. The Sanders campaign has announced it’s working on a plan to require corporations to give workers a share of corporate board seats, as well as a proposal that would require large businesses to direct a portion of their stocks into a worker-controlled fund. And Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act — which would require companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to allow workers to elect at least 40 percent of board members — last year before announcing her presidential run.

    • Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism

      In Cormac McCarthy’s consummate work of apocalyptic dread The Road, about a perished world, the narrator dreams of life with his former bride, a mere memory come to haunt his cold nights. Yet rather than embrace such crepuscular balms, he finds them suspicious. “He mistrusted all of that. He said the right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of langour and of death.”

      I imagine this is how neoliberals think about socialism. As a call of langour and death. Fearful of being gulled by fantasies, they resist idealistic barnstormers with the same intensity with which they reject base fascists. There must be some deep inbuilt bias against reachable idealism in some, and against unpleasant truths in others. But the latter seem more numbersome. And yet so much of the world we inhabit, in all its gray capitalist drudgery, in all its gaudy pomp, its tatty circumstance, its bricolage culture, is a product of our acquiescence. The notion of the unreachable distance of the ideal may represent more a failure of collective imagination than a material impediment. How many of us are convinced that there is no alternative to capitalism? How many have ingested that neoliberal narcotic of foreclosed imaginations?

      Then, as a nation of small minds, we accept the tutelage of small men. We acquiesce to the dimmed horizons of candidates like Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose cheaply bought lunchpail posturing is a transparent farce to anyone with a passing knowledge of his record. His like is a metastasizing presence on a crowded campaign trail. The elder Biden is flanked by moderate Republican Beto O’Rourke, doing his best to be Obama-lite, a young, idealistic avatar of hope, full of windy platitudes and a believer’s mien; Elizabeth Warren, whose latest brainstorm is to make the violent hegemonic armed forces more environmentally friendly, a kind of last consolation on the downslope to extinction; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose cheery multiculturalism faintly veils a familiar and spineless centrism; self-absorbed Kathleen Harris, who giggles at jailing truants; and friend-of-the-people, friend-of-Pharma, Cory Booker. Yet the half of the electorate that remains engaged in the roiling fraud of elections quickly fall to debating the manifold vices and minor virtues of these candidates, petitioners all for the role of caretaker of the public weal.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry

      Beyond Common Sense, most Americans know little about Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Few know that at the end of Paine’s life, he had become a pariah in U.S. society, and for many years after his death, he was either ignored or excoriated—the price he paid for The Age of Reason and its disparagement of religious institutions, especially Christianity.

      Early in The Age of Reason, Paine attacks the hypocrisy of religious professionals: “When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury.”

      If alive today, Paine may well have been even rougher on psychiatrists. Paine revered science, and he would have been enraged by professionals who pretend to embrace science by using its jargon but in fact make pseudoscientific proclamations that purposely deceive suffering people. “To subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe” is exactly what many modern psychiatrists are routinely guilty of—this by their own recent admissions. Before detailing this “perjury,” a little bit about Paine and his compulsion to confront all illegitimate authorities.

      Beginning in 1776, both Common Sense and then The American Crisis made Thomas Paine a hero for insurgent American colonials. Following the successful American revolt against British rule, the globetrotting revolutionary Paine returned to England where his Rights of Man enraged William Pitt. Narrowly escaping arrest by Pitt’s goons, Paine fled to revolutionary France, where Paine then narrowly survived the disloyalty of his “friend” George Washington—a betrayal that kept Paine (a victim of the Jacobins-Girondins gang war) rotting in Luxembourg Prison. Only with great luck would Paine avoid Robespierre’s guillotine so as to return to the United States.

    • Trump 2020 campaign ad payments hidden by layers of shell companies

      The Trump 2020 campaign funneled money to a shell company tied to ad buyers at the center of an alleged illegal coordination scheme with the National Rifle Association (NRA) as recently as May 2019, according to new government records analyzed by OpenSecrets.

      The previously unreported ad buys for Trump’s re-election campaign routed through a secretive limited-liability company known as Harris Sikes Media LLC were revealed in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) records in OpenSecrets’ political ad database.
      The Trump campaign stopped reporting payments to ad buyers at American Media & Advocacy Group following allegations that the company facilitated illegal coordination between the campaign and the NRA through American Media’s affiliates National Media Research, Planning & Placement and Red Eagle Media Group. The companies share a storefront and employ many of the same individual ad buyers.

    • To St. Petersburg With Love

      I’m on the 250 km/hour train hurtling from Moscow to St Petersburg when it suddenly clicks in my mind. My apologies for being so stupid, but despite regular trips to Russia over many years I have only suddenly got it – I too have been brainwashed about Russia by Western politicians, media and authors, like nearly everyone else.
      What I noticed in Moscow and what I’ve seen in St Petersburg on previous trips is that, yes, I am, indeed I am, in a normal Western big city environment. Both cities are grand in different ways.

      St Petersburg, with its museums, palaces, great churches, canals and river, its rich store of art (probably second only to the Louvre) and its musical life (the Marriinsky theatre is the epicenter of world ballet) is arguably the most beautiful and imposing of all the world’s cities.

      Moscow has the Kremlin, the most majestic seat of government in the world. Although beset by too much traffic despite a dense metro system built by the orders of Stalin using near-slave labour, which made mini palaces of major stations, it’s full of little parks, good old architecture and interesting streets.

    • Elizabeth Warren overtakes progressive rival Bernie Sanders in trio of recent polls

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pulled ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thus far her chief rival for the mantle of progressive alternative in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, in a trio of recent polls.

      The first result comes from a recent Economist/YouGov poll, which finds Warren ahead of Sanders by a margin of 16 percent to 12 percent nationwide. Thus far, Warren has been trailing Sanders in national polls as both candidates grapple for the same base of progressive voters. If this trend breaks, it will be a sign that Warren could be winning over that key demographic. Both candidates still continue to trail former Vice President Joe Biden.

      A second poll — this one involving an early nominating state rather than the nation as a whole — also showed Warren pulling ahead of Sanders. In the Monmouth poll of Democrats likely to participate in the Nevada caucuses, which is scheduled to follow the Iowa causes and New Hampshire primary next year, Biden is leads with 36 percent, followed by Warren with 19 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.

      And that was not the only good news for Warren. A new UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll of California found Biden again ahead with 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, but he was closely followed by Warren with 18 percent and Sanders with 17 percent.

    • Elizabeth Warren’s Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics—And a Bad Sign for Billionaires

      Now Warren is the beneficiary of positive headlines, all cheering a recent rise in the polls—on average, she’s jumped about 6 points overall since hitting a low of just over 4 percent in February. The substance of these stories is preposterous, and I’ll get to why in a moment. But first, it’s worth talking about the real reasons Warren is doing well.

      The strength of Warren’s campaign is a series of detailed policy proposals aimed at correcting a series of corrupting inequities in American life. The first major proposal she released, on January 24th, was aimed at perhaps the biggest problem in American society: the wealth gap.

      While working people almost all live off highly-taxed “income,” high net worth individuals mostly live off other revenue streams: carried interest, capital gains, inheritance, etc. Warren’s plan would create a net worth calculation that would hit households worth between $50 million and $1 billion with a 2% annual “ultra-millionaires tax.”

      She has a similar plan for corporate tax, one that would wipe away the maze of loopholes big companies currently use, and force any firm that makes over $100 million in profits to pay a new 7 percent tax. “Amazon would pay $698 million instead of zero,” she says. “Occidental Petroleum would pay $280 million … instead of zero.”

      Other proposals include a Too Big To Fail breakup program for Silicon Valley that would designate internet firms that “offer an online marketplace” and have annual revenues of $25 billion or more as “Platform Utilities.” Under the plan, “Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart,” and “Google Search would have to be spun off as well.”

      Warren has also unveiled ambitious plans for cancelation of student debt and free college, universal child care and a new corporate accountability plan that would force high-ranking corporate executives to certify they’d conducted a “due diligence” inquiry, making it easier to prosecute them for misdeeds conducted under their watch.

    • It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers

      Friends often ask me why I spend so much time reading print versions of newspapers. I respond with the usual general reasons about learning what is happening, worsening or improving, in the world. I also point out that I send people helpful clippings.

      Unfortunately, responses do not get many people to expand their print newspaper reading time. Some recent topics that caught my attention might encourage you to revisit the printed version of your newspapers:

      “It’s the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?” The Washington Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler says this is not true. With his screen off, he showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled his data in a single week. Shame Apple and CEO Tim Cook. You lied.

      “Take a Page From Kids Who Care” – The Washington Post’s Christina Barron starts with the now famous Greta Thunberg’s weekly protests on climate disruption before the Swedish Parliament and goes on to reference eight new books “in which kids engage, in ways big and small, to better the world.”

      “Why I’m Swearing off Trump’s Nicknames,” by Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post. About time a writer did this. When will reporters stop being Trump’s bullhorn for his scornful, ugly nicknames, without printing rebuttals or nicknames coined by Trump critics– like “Draft-dodging Donald,” or “Lying Donald,” or “Corrupt Donald,” for example.

    • Lineup for First Democratic Debate Set at 20 Candidates

      The two Democratic presidential front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, will appear together on the second of NBC’s two debate nights later this month.

      Twenty candidates in all will debate in two, two-hour sessions on June 26-27, televised by NBC News. The network announced the pairings on Friday.

    • Capitalism Versus Democracy

      It was always just a matter of time before the reemergence of establishment Democrats reminded people why they were booted from power in 2016. As ugly as Donald Trump is and as not constructive as his tenure in the White House has been, the Democratic establishment would rather lose with establishment candidates and retrograde policies than loosen its grip on its service to the oligarchs.

      Phrased differently, if Democrats cared about ‘defeating Trump,’ they would offer programs that people want. But they are so firmly in the grip of corporate interests and the oligarchs that they won’t do so. The Republicans are just as beholden, but they offer fewer (manufactured) illusions. They represent the interests of capital. This transparency provides political clarity for those who oppose their policies.

    • It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC

      Sinclair Lewis’s widely read and semi-satirical 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here resonates chillingly with current events in the United States. Published as fascism rose to power in Germany, the dystopian novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a bombastic and “populist” demagogue elected President of the United States in 1936. Windrip’s campaign combines a pledge for sweeping social reform with calls for a return to patriotism and “traditional” values. It is crafted by a shrewd and sinister newspaperman named Lee Sarason. Sarason believes in propaganda, not science, facts, and truth. He argues that real information “is not fair to ordinary folks — it just confuses them [and tries]…. to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people.”

      Sarason ghost-writes Windrip’s widely read volume Zero Hour, a jeremiad against national decline and a call to Nativist action on behalf of “real Americanism.” Zero Hour upholds an idealized notion of a lost, betrayed and (supposedly) idyllic patriarchal and white-supremacist national past.

      Windrip’s campaign channels white male hatred of racial minorities, Mexicans, uppity women, and liberal and Left “elites.” These ugly sentiments inform his election platform, labeled “Fifteen Points of Victory for the Forgotten Man.”

      After he’s inaugurated, Windrip creates a paramilitary auxiliary to the United States Army called the Minute Men. The Minute Men arrest the Supreme Court and most of Congress. They suppress protests and arrest dissidents while the new “corpo” government passes draconian measures that oppress women, Blacks, and Jews.

      Most U.S. citizens initially approve of Windrip’s authoritarian measures, thinking them necessary to restore American “greatness,” power and prosperity. Others dislike Windrip’s “corporatism” but take assurance in the comforting idea that fascism can’t really “happen here” – not in the “democratic” and “republican” United States, the land of liberty.

      It Can’t Happen Here’s main protagonist is a liberal social-democrat and upper middle-class journalist named Doremus Jessup. As Windrip implements his agenda, leading to the incarceration of Jessup and many others, it dawns on the journalist that he and his fellow liberal elites are largely responsible for the national nightmare. “It’s my sort, the Responsible Citizens who’ve felt superior because we’ve been well-to-do and what we thought was ‘educated,’” Jessup reflects, “who brought on the…Fascist Dictatorship… I can blame no Buzz Windrip, but only my own timid soul and drowsy mind…Forgive, O Lord. Is it too late?”

      Jessup and his and his fellow comfortable New Deal liberals’ main mistake is their failure to respond with adequate seriousness and alar, to the threat posed by the outwardly clownish Windrip. Jessup “simply did not believe that this comic tyranny could endure.” Jessup and his ilk don’t fight back soon or hard enough because they are certain Windrip’s popularity will sputter. They underestimate the depth and the degree of popular anger and resentment Windrip exploits. By the time Jessup and other liberals and leftists catch up to the existential gravity of the American-fascist peril it’s too late.

    • Is Pompeo Angling to Interfere in British Politics?

      Apparently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had quite a lively, candid conversation in a recent closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders. Among the invited guests, someone recorded Pompeo’s comments, and they were quite revealing.

      The Washington Post, which was given the tape, reported last week that Pompeo had conceded Trump’s “deal of the century” was perhaps “unexecutable” – wonk-speak for DOA.

      The Trump official was being candid, while also telling his audience what many of them wanted and expected to hear. Unlike the rank-and-file of American Jewry, the communal leadership is almost uniformly right-wing and pro-Likud.

      Israel certainly doesn’t want a peace deal—at least not one that any self-respecting Palestinian leader could accept—so maintaining the status quo is far preferable.

    • Report: Response to the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation Call for Evidence Consultation on online targeting

      The main potential benefit and harm of online targeting is its ability to affect individual behaviour, and thereby at a macro level effect societal change. However, whilst practitioners of online targeting have a vested commercial interest in consumers and businesses thinking that it is an effective way to change individual views or behaviour, we have found little documented evidence to support this as a reality. Studies report varying degrees of efficacy in targeting achieving its objectives, and gains are often marginal: one recent study notably found that targeted behavioural adverts generated a mere 4% more revenue for advertisers than non-targeted equivalents. [1]

      There is some evidence that shows narrowly targeted online political advertising is contributing to the polarisation of democratic discourse in a harmful manner. Political actors seeking votes have always aimed to identify their audience and direct information and adverts accordingly, but online targeting ratchets this up to new levels of segmenting and individuality. When parties’ messaging will only be seen by people already most likely to vote for them, it becomes less important to try and build consensus; instead, messaging becomes increasingly geared towards riling up supporters in order to drive them to the ballot box. A study by Demos has evidenced how this “riling up the base” approach can then be used to fuel a decidedly nasty kind of political engagement. [2]

    • After Exposing ‘Corrupted’ Brazilian Government, Journalist Glenn Greenwald Faces Deportation Warning and Death Threats

      Journalist Glenn Greenwald and his family are receiving death threats over reporting from The Intercept on Brazilian corruption.

      The “grotesque” threats came days after Greenwald and his colleagues published leaked chats from government officials that appear to show justice minister Sérgio Moro was involved in a plot to keep former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, from entering the country’s 2018 presidential race. The reporting has already caused controversy in Brazil and forced Moro to answer difficult questions from the public.

      In addition to physical harm, Greenwald, who is American but lived in Brazil for many years, says powerful members of the Brazilian government are also threatening to have him deported because of his journalism.

      Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, is a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party, and was elected to Brazil’s National Congress last year.

      In comments to AFP, Greenwald said his family would not be intimidated by the threats and would not leave Brazil.

      “We have taken all the measures that we feel like we should take for our legal and physical security,” said Greenwald. “After that you have to go about and do your work.”

    • Whither The Trump Paradox?

      That Donald Trump is a vulgar, self-aggrandizing narcissist was obvious decades before that day of infamy in 2015 when he and his well-preserved trophy bride descended the Trump Tower escalator to kick off his presidential campaign.

      His strategy then was clear: stir up nativist animosities by calling immigrants and asylum seekers from south of the border rapists, drug dealers, and gang members.

      Also: rev up America’s ambient Islamophobia, “dog whistle” support for the “alt-right,” pander to Evangelicals, and give crony capitalists anything and everything they want. In Trumpland, crony capitalists are capitalists who pay homage to Trump and who act as if they owe him fealty.

      Trump’s strategy has evolved only slightly since then, mainly to take account of changing circumstances and evolving business opportunities.

    • “Not Founded On Anything”: The Epitaph for the Sarah Huckabee Sanders Era

      At Politico’s “Women Rule” event in late 2018, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who President Trump announced Thursday would soon be leaving her position as White House press secretary, said that she hoped her legacy would be as a person who was, “transparent and honest throughout that process” and did “everything I could to make America a little better that day than it was the day before.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Report: Analysis of BBFC Age Verification Certificate Standard June 2019

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

      As society goes digital we wish to preserve its openness. We want a society built on laws, free from disproportionate, unaccountable surveillance and censorship. We want a society in which information flows more freely. We want a state that is transparent and accountable, where the public’s rights are acknowledged and upheld.

      We scrutinise and critique the policies and actions of governments, companies, and other groups as they relate to the Internet. We warn the public when policies — even well-intentioned ones — stand to undermine the freedom to use the Internet to make a better society.

      [...]

      The fact that the scheme is voluntary leaves the BBFC powerless to fine or otherwise discipline providers that fail to protect people’s data, and makes it tricky for consumers to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy providers. In our view, the government must legislate without delay to place a statutory requirement on the BBFC to implement a mandatory certification scheme and to grant the BBFC powers to require reports and penalise non-compliant providers.

      The Standard’s existence shows that the BBFC considers robust protection of age verification data to be of critical importance. However, in both substance and operation the Standard fails to deliver this protection. The scheme allows commercial age verification providers to write their own privacy and security frameworks, reducing the BBFC’s role to checking whether commercial entities follow their own rules rather than requiring them to work to a mandated set of common standards. The result is uncertainty for Internet users, who are inconsistently protected and have no way to tell which companies they can trust.

    • ORG report: BBFC age verification standard is pointless, misleading and potentially dangerous

      “On July 15, millions of Internet users in the UK will have to make a decision about which age verification providers they trust with data about their personal pornography habits and preferences.

      “Due to the sensitive nature of age verification data, there needs to be a higher standard of protection than the baseline which is offered by data protection legislation.

      “The BBFC’s standard is supposed to deliver this. However, it is a voluntary standard, which offers little information about the level of data protection being offered and provides no means of redress if companies fail to live up to it. Its requirements are vague and a ‘tick box’ exercise. This renders it pointless, misleading and potentially dangerous as advice to consumers seeking safe products.”

    • Moscow mayor’s office approves Libertarian Party’s permit request for June 23 protest to support Ivan Golunov

      A protest in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, this one organized by Russia’s Libertarian Party and the Union of Journalists, has received a government permit to take place June 23 on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospect, Interfax reported.

      Organizers petitioned for the permit on June 10, when Golunov was still under house arrest on fabricated charges of attempted drug distribution. They estimated that 20,000 people might attend. Reports had previously emerged that City Hall turned down the petition.

    • Ivan Golunov names police officer who beat him in custody

      Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov has identified the police officer who beat him after he was arrested on fabricated charges. During a live online interview with media personality Ksenia Sobchak, Golunov said the officer was named Maxim Umetbayev.

    • TikTok announces decision to cooperate with Russian government after censors began searching the app for child porn

      The mobile video sharing app TikTok has announced that it plans to cooperate with the Russian government and follow Russian law, Mediazona reported. Representatives of the highly popular app said they made the decision to collaborate with Russian authorities in order to create a “positive environment” for Russian users, adding that they would develop strategies to “eliminate inappropriate content.”

    • Ivan Golunov tells ‘Meduza’ about life as an investigative journalist in Russia today and being framed for drug dealing

      On June 11, Russia’s Interior Ministry closed the criminal case against investigative journalist and Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov, after police officers charged him with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Golunov’s arrest triggered an unprecedented outpouring of public and professional solidarity, as well as a sustained protest outside Moscow’s police headquarters. After four days of support and demonstrations, the charges were dropped, and Ivan went free. Golunov spent the next few days with family and friends, and now he’s spoken to Meduza colleague Ilya Zhegulev about his remarkable experiences over the past week.

      [...]

      Golunov is uncomfortable with the publicity that has followed him out of house arrest. He told Meduza that he’s even taken to hiding under a hat and behind sunglasses, when venturing outside. When he was in jail and told that “Golunov” was getting more news coverage than “Putin,” he thought it was a prank.

      Ivan says he wanted to join Wednesday’s march in Moscow, where police arrested hundreds of demonstrators, to show his thanks to the public and support for persecuted journalists, but he was ultimately persuaded that his attendance would be unsafe for him and everyone else. (Friends pointed out that the crowd would likely gather around him, creating a bottleneck and obstructing traffic, which could have prompted an additional police response.)

    • Green MEP Magid Magid calls for justice for Orgreave

      The Green MEP for Yorkshire and Humber Magid Magid today will join the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign 35th anniversary rally.

      He said: “Last year, as Lord Mayor of Sheffield, I was proud and honoured to dedicate one of my monthly campaigns towards demanding an immediate enquiry into this injustice from home secretary Sajid Javid. This year I will be joining thousands at the rally on Saturday to wholeheartedly reiterate that demand.

      “Thirty five years after the grave abuse of state power and injustice of Orgreave, I commend everyone joining the community today to march for justice.

      “The Green Party backs campaigners’ calls for an independent inquiry into the police brutality on that day.

    • The Flipside To Figuring Out What Content Do You Block: Cloudflare’s Project Galileo Focuses On Who It Should Protect

      There has been so much discussion lately about the impossibility of doing content moderation well, but it’s notable that the vast majority of that discussion focuses on what content to ban or to block entirely. I do wish there was more talk about alternatives, some of which already exist (from things like demonetization to refusing to algorithmically promote — though, for the most part, these solutions just seem to annoy people even more). But there is something of a flipside to this debate which applies in perhaps somewhat more rare circumstances: what content or speakers to specifically protect.

      [...]

      I was particularly interested in how Cloudflare chose which organizations to protect, and spoke with the company’s CEO, Matthew Prince last week to get a more in-depth explanation. As he explained, they partnered up with a wide variety of trustworthy organizations (including EFF, Open Technology Institute, the ACLU, Access Now, CDT, Mozilla, Committee to Protect Journalists and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, among others), and would let those organizations nominate organizations which might be at risk or if organizations approached Cloudflare about being included in Project Galileo, Cloudflare could run their application by those trusted partners. What started with 15 partner organizations has now nearly doubled to 28.

      [...]

      For what it’s worth, this is also quite important as more and more politicians around the globe are gearing up to “regulate” content moderation in one way or another. It’s one thing to say that social media sites should be required by law to block certain accounts (or to not block certain accounts), but think about how any of those laws might also apply to services like Project Galileo, and you can see why there should be caution in rushing in with regulatory solutions. The approach taken with something like Project Galileo ought to be entirely different than the process of determining whether or not a platform has decided to remove Nazi propagandists. But it’s doubtful that those proposing new regulations are thinking that far ahead, and I worry that some new proposals may sweep up Project Galileo in a manner where it may become more difficult for Cloudflare to continue to run such a program.

      Still, in this era when everyone is so focused on the bad stuff online and how to stop it, it’s at least worth acknowledging a cool project from Cloudflare to note the good stuff online and how to protect it.

    • Russia To Ban VPN Providers That Refuse To Aid Censorship

      Back in 2016 Russia introduced a new surveillance bill promising to deliver greater security to the country. Of course, as with so many similar efforts around the world the bill actually did the exact opposite — not only mandating new encryption backdoors, but also imposing harsh new data-retention requirements on ISPs and VPN providers. As a result, some VPN providers like Private Internet Access wound up leaving the country after finding their entire function eroded and having some of their servers seized.

      Last March Russia upped the ante, demanding that VPN providers like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and HideMyAss help block forbidden websites that have been added to Russia’s censorship watchlist. Not surprisingly those companies balked at the request, and now Russia’s moving on to what was the goal from the start: banning these companies from doing business entirely.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • The US wants to copy Europe’s strict data privacy law – but only some of it

      One year ago, Europe’s landmark privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) put big tech on the defensive.

      Now, with their companies under unrelenting scrutiny over how they handle user data, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have called for similar “comprehensive privacy legislation ” on a federal level in the U.S.

      Privacy legislation has become a rare bipartisan topic on Capitol Hill, and some states have swiftly forged ahead with their own versions of the EU law.

      While CEOs and policymakers pile on the praise for GDPR, they are also quick to point out its flaws.

      “As lawmakers adopt new privacy regulations, I hope they can help answer some of the questions GDPR leaves open,” Facebook’s Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post in March.

    • Episode 32: The Facebook Scandals

      On this episode of Along the Line, Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III, Dr. Nolan Higdon, and Janice Domingo outline Facebook’s history and analyze the tech-giant’s various scandals. ATL’s Creative Director is Jorge Ayala. ATL’s Assistant Creative Director is Dylan Lazaga. Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

    • Todd Weaver on Digital Trends Live

      I have just had a wonderful conversation with Greg Nibler, from Digital Trends Live, about all kinds of different ways these issues are being tackled. Greg started by asking me to introduce Purism, and why we do what we do.

      Well, we started around 2014 as a Social Purpose Company: we advance social good over maximizing profit. We build laptops, a secure token called a Librem Key, and we are also coming out with the Librem 5: a smartphone that doesn’t run on Android nor IOS, but our own operating system PureOS (the same you get on our laptops). These are available today, with the Librem 5 phone (on pre-order now) coming out in Q3 of this year. Our services—chat, email, social media, VPN—are all standardized protocols, decentralized, with no data retention and end-to-end encrypted. We are going to continue to put out more and more hardware, software, and services as we progress.

      I’m kind of a hardcore geek, both in the hardware and software side—but I also am a digital rights activist, making Purism my dream come true by combining hardware, software and services together, in one convenient package. What is awesome is that our entire team is excited about the exact same thing: making convenient products that respect people. Hardware is a little bit more security-minded and privacy-focused, it is where the hardcore audience is: it really gets down to a trust and verified model. The same happens with software: it all needs to be released.

    • Congress Should Pass the Protecting Data at the Border Act

      Under the bipartisan Protecting Data at the Border Act, border officers would be required to get a warrant before searching a traveler’s electronic device. Last month, the bill was re-introduced into the U.S. Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). It is co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and the House companion bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Cal.).

      The rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution don’t fade away at the border. And yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserts the power to freely search the electronic devices of travelers before allowing them entrance into, or exit from, the United States. This practice will end if Congress passes the Protecting Data at the Border Act.

      Think about all of the things your cell phone or laptop computer could tell a stranger about you. Modern electronic devices could reveal your romantic and familial connections, daily routines, and financial standings. Ordinarily, law enforcement cannot obtain this sensitive information absent a signed warrant from a judge based on probable cause. But DHS claims they need no suspicion at all to search and seize this information at the border.

    • The Omnipresent Surveillance State: Orwell’s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction

      1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”

      We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

    • Amazon hit with two lawsuits alleging Alexa ‘illegally’ records kids

      By doing so, Amazon is violating laws that require the informed consent of all parties to a recording, regardless of age, in at least eight states – Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington — the suit claims, according to the Seattle Times.

    • UK gov’s porn block is a privacy disaster waiting to happen, says new report

      With just a month to go until the government (maybe?) rolls out porn blocks for under 18s and tug tokens for over 18s that still want to enjoy the less fine things of life, a new report from the Open Rights Group (ORG) has highlighted yet more problems: this time in BBFC age verification certificate standards and data protection.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Bridging the Internet’s Digital Language Divide

      There are thousands of different tongues spoken around the world, but most of the content on the web is only available in a select few, primarily English. More than 10 percent of Wikipedia is written in English, for example, and almost half the site’s articles are in European dialects. Getting one billion more people online is often held up as the next major milestone, but when they log on for the first time, those users may find the internet has little to offer in the primary languages they speak.

      “Approximately 5 percent of the world speaks English at home,” said Juan Ortiz Freuler, a fellow at the World Wide Web Foundation, during a panel at the RightsCon conference in Tunisia Wednesday, but around “50 percent of the web is in English.” Freuler argued the internet has facilitated “cultural homogenization,” now that the majority of its users rely on Facebook and Google, and communicate in the same dominant languages. But the problem “is not because of changes in technology,” said Kristen Tcherneshoff, community director of Wikitongues, an organization that promotes language diversity. Corporations and governments largely didn’t provide the resources and support necessary to bring smaller languages online.

    • Chiranjeevi’s Son-In-Law Allegedly Harassed On Instagram, Case Against 10

      The police said a case has been registered against the accused for using objectionable language against Mr Dhev on photo-sharing app Instagram.

    • Pinterest Is Latest Tech Company Drawn Into U.S. Culture Wars

      An effort by the social media company Pinterest to limit the spread of medical conspiracy theories has blocked one of the most prominent anti-abortion groups in the U.S. from sharing its content on the site. And it’s put the social media company squarely in the middle of today’s culture wars.

    • The Armed Bureaucracy

      This is hardly a surprise: A recent study by the Missouri attorney general’s office shows that black drivers are at least twice as likely — in some towns, much more than that — to be stopped by police as white drivers.

      And a few days before the study came out, something called the Plain View Project hit the news. The project, an exhaustive, two-year analysis of social media posts by some 2,800 police officers and 700 former officers, from police departments across the country, revealed another non-surprise: a racist subculture permeates American police forces.

      The researchers “found officers bashing immigrants and Muslims, promoting racist stereotypes, identifying with right-wing militia groups and, especially, glorifying police brutality,” according to the Associated Press.

      Thousands of such posts — from officers’ personal Facebook pages (and thus public) — can be seen at the Plain View website. The comments, such as the one at the top of this column, are raw and unconstrained by political correctness. Other examples:

      “It’s a good day for a choke hold.”

      “Death to Islam.”

      “If the Confederate flag is racist, then so is Black History Month.”

    • Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate

      The recent protest outside Philadelphia’s Police headquarters – triggered by yet another instance of police racism – had an emphasis distinctively different from similar demonstrations during past decades against recurring police misconduct in the city that preens as the Birthplace of Democracy in America.

      While protestors demanded disciplinary action against the 328 individual officers responsible for social media postings that oozed violent racist and Islamophobic commentary, protesters repeatedly emphasized the need to end the ‘institutional culture’ within the city’s criminal justice system that has enabled bigotry and brutality to persist among police, prosecutors and judges.

      A dramatic example of the institutionalized racism in the Plain View revelations is the offending posters include high-ranking Philadelphia Police Department members: one inspector, six captains and eight lieutenants.

      “I was not surprised by those Facebook postings. This has been the culture of the Philadelphia Police Department for years,” the Rev. Gregory Holston said at the protest where he recounted a list of brutal, racist policing incidents in Philadelphia dating back to the vicious November 1967 police nightstick assault on black high school students peacefully protesting against wretched conditions inside their public schools.

    • Police Report Deems Firing 55 Shots In 3.5 Seconds At A Sleeping (Black, Duh) Man “Reasonable”

      The choice by six crazed racist cops to pump 55 shots into Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old Bay Area rapper, for the crime of falling asleep in his car at a Taco Bell was “reasonable,” argues a newly released report by a paid “expert” and former cop who called the gruesome killing “in line with contemporary training and police practices” – which is the damn problem, say many Americans weary of dead black bodies in the streets. The Vallejo police officers turned up last February for – bitter irony alert – “a wellness check” after a worried Taco Bell employee called to say there was an unresponsive man in his car in the drive-through lane. Police found McCoy asleep at the steering wheel with a gun in his lap. Inexplicably for officers of the law supposedly trained to serve and protect and think on their feet, it evidently didn’t occur to them to do a normal human thing like try and wake McCoy by honking or shining lights at him, perhaps from a safe distance in case he was startled. Instead, they took the gun narrative, and ran with it: They reported “a confrontation with an armed man,” said they “gave loud verbal commands” McCoy didn’t follow, and were forced to fire out of “fear for their own safety” after McCoy reached for his gun.

      In fact, body-camera footage released following pressure from the family and the community showed McCoy sound asleep for several minutes as officers frantically pointed guns at his head; it also revealed police remarking McCoy’s gun didn’t have a magazine in it, one cop bragging, “I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass,” and McCoy simply, slightly stirring in his sleep to scratch his arm before the explosion of gunfire – 55 shots in 3.5 seconds. He was reportedly hit about 25 times; his family said he was unrecognizable, his face, chest, throat, arms and body riddled with bullets in an “execution by firing squad.” The family’s attorney John Burris used the same term, adding, “This young man was shot to pieces.” Another attorney: Police wanted “to ensure that this human being does not survive.” “They killed him in his sleep,” charged his cousin David Harrison after seeing the footage. “He scratched his arm…and they murdered him.” As a black man in a town with a long ugly history of police brutality, racism and misconduct, this was not Harrison’s first rodeo: McCoy was the 16th person to die at the hands of Vallejo cops since 2011 – the highest rate of police killings per capita in Northern California, resulting in the second highest rate of civil rights lawsuit settlements. Says Harrison, “We’re being slaughtered in the streets.”

    • Chicago Police Tortured Victims With Electric Shocks, Burns and Beatings

      Flint Taylor, a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, has spent almost 50 years defending some of the most vulnerable people within the criminal legal system. In his new book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago, Taylor describes the history of systemic violence running rampant within the Chicago Police Department. It’s a history he knows all too well from his work with the Fred Hampton assassination case, among many others. This excerpt recounts some of the torture unleashed by police in Chicago during the 1980s, under Police Commander Jon Burge. During this time, Burge led officers in a manhunt following the deaths of two police officers. The following is a graphic account of the torture endured by Andrew Wilson and other Black men at the hands of the racist Chicago police.

      Just months before we finally settled the Hampton case, Chicago was rocked by a series of fatal shootings of police officers in broad daylight. On February 9, 1982, two uniformed CPD officers, Richard O’Brien and William Fahey, were shot and killed during a routine traffic stop on Chicago’s south side. They had just attended the funeral of a Chicago police officer who had been shot only days before. Two Black men fled the scene in a brown Chevy, and mayor Jane Byrne and her police superintendent, Richard Brzeczek, mandated what would become the most massive manhunt in the City’s history. Brzeczek designated lieutenant Jon Burge, who headed up the Violent Crimes Unit at Area 2, to direct the search for the killers. The geographical area policed by Area 2, which covered most of Chicago’s predominantly African American far south side, became the main focus of the manhunt.

    • Activists block the Moscow Beltway, protesting the construction of another unwanted garbage dump

      In the town of Likino-Dulyovo, outside Moscow, local residents blocked off the Moscow Beltway (Route A108) to stop forest clearing in preparation for a new landfill site. Activists told the television station Dozhd that riot police responded to the demonstration with force, reportedly breaking one woman’s rib. According to oppositionist Dmitry Gudkov, who shared videos of the police response on Twitter, officers arrested 15 people.

      Protests and clashes with the police in Likino-Dulyovo have continued since the spring. Residents oppose the construction of a waste treatment and incineration plant at a local wet peatland forest, which they say is home to endangered species and feeds several nearby rivers.

    • New York Activists Are Leading the Charge on Sex Work Decriminalization

      The struggle for sex workers’ rights is ramping up around the U.S. Over the winter, the Decrim NY coalition came together in New York City to win sex workers the right to survive and not be harassed by state law enforcement. In May, 100 current and former sex workers, trafficking victims and advocates who were part of the coalition traveled to Albany, where they spoke to legislators about how the existing laws governing the industry enable the profiling of trans people for allegedly selling sex. They also pushed for expanding relief for those with criminal records.

      This week, Albany lawmakers introduced additional legislation that would decriminalize sex work between consenting adults while maintaining existing anti-trafficking laws. The Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act would end the criminalization of both sex workers and buyers across the entire state. The bill would also strike down restrictions on sex workers working together, either in person or online, which is a crucial part of staying safe in the industry. If passed, New York would become the first state in the country to decriminalize sex work.

      This has been the culmination of years of organizing.

      Activists saw some hopeful signs, though the fight is far from over. In late January, the state legislature began discussing a bill that would prevent police from using loitering as a pretext for making prostitution-related arrests. In early May, legislation that would expand the number of offenses trafficking victims can have vacated from their records advanced to its third reading.

    • Journalists track down Slovakian property belonging to family of FSB officer with ties to Russia’s corrupt funeral industry

      The family of Russian Federal Security Service Lieutenant Colonel Marat Medoev owns villas and companies in Slovakia, according to a new investigation by Novaya Gazeta and the Investigative Center of Jan Kuciak (ICJK). Sources previously told the website Proekt that Medoev “could be a stakeholder in funeral business projects” about which Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov has reported.

      Journalists learned that Marat Medoev’s mother and father have owned a country house in an affluent district outside Bratislava since 2011. Real-estate experts estimate that the couple’s home is worth between 250,000 and 600,000 euros ($281,975 and $676,735). The real-estate management company “Medeva” is also registered in the name of Medoev’s mother.

    • Diary: The Black Body in LA

      In Henry Taylor’s figurative paintings of Los Angeles, the event is the black body in Los Angeles, the event to be or to exist in relation to. Born in Oxnard California, Henry Taylor has witnessed the black body in Los Angeles as outsider and insider, with the cultivated freedom to make this body central to his art. He asks us first to see this body, a body often not as important as the Colossus, the city itself. As fellow witnesses of the black body, he compels us to act.

      Is he asking us to love the black body, or just to see the black body (a body that he does not only paint in black color)? Taylor never seems to be arguing anything about the black body other than about the presence of the black body. Is he then asking us to love the presence of the black body, and to make this love central to our thoughts and citizenship, or how we go about attempting to shape our collective life? Perhaps he is asking us to witness the black body, the extent of both a triumph and a catastrophe and to, to quote Fannie Lou Hamer, not have a minute for hate. The colossus that is Los Angeles has waged a war on drugs, and is a pole of the New Jim Crow in a way that very few cities are. Presently, as Taylor paints, this black body is often poor and plunged into a life of time conditioned by this poverty and space in which to program or strategize one’s blackness. It’s a shame what LA has done to black persons (39 percent of the homeless, now only 9 percent of LA city) and it’s the same case for LA county.

      What are Taylor’s black bodies waiting on? A comparison to Edward Hopper’s paintings points us in the direction of quiet, solemness, and survival strategy. Here there isn’t the vibrancy of for example Romare Bearden’s Harlem or Robert Colescott’s south. Instead very few bodies are found on Taylor’s frames navigating background, in other words “being black in America” and attempting to survive as such.

    • Can Society Survive Without Empathy?

      As anyone who keeps a household budget can attest, the unexpected happens all the time. A refrigerator evaporator fan motor fails. Some part on your car you never realized existed breaks down. A loved one passes away and you have to — you want to — be at the funeral 1,000 miles away.

      “Unexpected” expenses like these will, sooner or later, hit all of us. But not all of us, says new research out of the Federal Reserve, can afford them.

      In fact, nearly 40 percent of Americans “would have difficulty handling an emergency expense as small as $400,” the Fed says.

      A fifth of American adults, it adds, had major unexpected medical bills last year. An even larger share “skipped necessary medical care in 2018 because they were unable to afford the cost.”

      Meanwhile, 17 percent of American adults can’t afford to pay all their monthly bills, even if they don’t experience an unexpected expense.

      What these stats like these mean in human terms? If you live in a place like Northern California’s Bay Area, you need only look around to see.

    • Sanders, Cummings Demand DOJ Investigate Pharma Giants for ‘Sick and Disgraceful’ Price-Fixing Conspiracy

      After 44 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit accusing some of America’s largest generic drug manufacturers of a sprawling “multi-year conspiracy” to hike prices on life-saving medicines—in some cases by over 1,000 percent—Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday demanded that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the companies’ price-fixing scheme and their alleged efforts to obstruct congressional probes.

      “It is sick and disgraceful that generic pharmaceutical executives, who should be making medicines affordable for the American people, were instead busy coordinating a cover-up scheme to hide the truth about their price-fixing conspiracy when we asked about their skyrocketing prices,” Sanders said, referring to letters he and Cummings sent in 2014 to inquire about soaring drug costs.

    • Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica

      The island of Jamaica has achieved international notoriety as a space of unbridled violence and as one of the main hubs for the trans Caribbean and trans-Atlantic drug networks within the illicit global economy. These features of Jamaican society developed rapidly after 1980 when Edward Seaga, became the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica. As the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) 1974 to 2005, Seaga was associated with the refinement of a mode of politics that garrisoned poor Jamaicans into areas controlled by political contractors. Seaga was born in Boston in 1930 and died peacefully in Miami, Florida in May 2019. In the ensuing 89 years, his insecurity as to his identity and his wish to be accepted as part of the Jamaican ruling oligarchy sent him into a career to be an expert on Jamaicans of African descent. Edward Seaga and the JLP mobilized Jamaican workers against their own interests in organizations that guaranteed his success as a political entrepreneur. One organization that has been linked to Edward Seaga was the deadly Shower Posse that wreaked murder, violence and drug running in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. The historical record now attests to the fact that this organization was integrated into the networks of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States when the USA moved to destabilize Jamaican society in the 1970’s.

    • Study Shows Asset Forfeiture Doesn’t Fight Crime Or Reduce Drug Use

      The lies law enforcement tells about civil asset forfeiture are just that: lies. They may not be intentional lies in some cases. Many law enforcement officials may actually believe the bullshit they spill in defense of taking property from people without convicting them of crimes. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s bullshit.

      If law enforcement was serious about crippling drug cartels, they wouldn’t be watching the roads leading out of their jurisdictions for drivers to pull over and shake down for cash. They’d be watching roads leading into the state to seize the drugs before they can be sold. But that’s not how it’s done. Drug busts are rare. Cash seizures — especially small ones — happen all the time.

    • Scott Noble’s History of Resistance

      Scott Noble has been making documentary films for close to a decade. His films are consistently thoughtful and never superficial. Reminiscent of Chris Marker’s documentary work in style and approach, Noble’s films remind us that history is important. They also provoke a sense that it might still be possible to wrest the world away from those who would destroy it in the name of their profits. Of course, in a capitalist culture like that of our current situation, films with this message are not going to receive press notes in that culture’s media. After all, Noble’s films do not feature superheroes, champion imperial war or capitalist con men. Instead, they show the viewer an alternative anti-capitalist history; a history of resistance.

      Most recently, Noble released a film titled Subterranean Fire. It is the fifth installment of a series he has titled Plutocracy. In short, the series is a working-class history of the United States. The first four films of the series can be viewed for free at the Metanoia Films website. The most recent chapter—Subterranean Fire—covers the years of the Great Depression through the anti-leftist witch hunts of the 1950s. Noble’s film combines historical film footage, still photographs and interviews. The addition of a superb soundtrack and a concise yet descriptive narration makes this film a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking. Even a detached viewer (like a student in a required high school or college history class) would find themselves emotionally and intellectually involved as the essence of the film revealed itself. Having seen all of Noble’s works, it seems fair to state that each of his films continues to surpass the previous one.

      The fact that he does this work on a shoestring somehow makes it even more valuable. Indeed, he finances his film through donations. His interview subjects are activists, academics, organizers and writers. Some are known mostly to those they work with while others are considered famous. Noble’s choices of interviewees and questions reflect an understanding of how to simultaneously steer the film’s narrative forward and develop a deeper analysis of the subjects being discussed. Consequently, the interviews enhance the seamless flow of the film instead of interrupting it..

    • How to support the news outlets and human rights projects that support Russians when they need it most

      The drug case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was shut down after an unprecedented solidarity campaign led by other journalists, and attorneys from nonprofit human rights projects have been a fixture of Golunov’s legal defense. In the week after Golunov was arrested, about 150 people signed up for regular donations to Mediazona, a news outlet that specializes in reporting on Russian law enforcement agencies and court cases. Meanwhile, OVD-Info, a project that sheds light on arrest proceedings and offers resources to arrestees, received more donations than it usually does on average in an entire month. Nonetheless, more regular donations are necessary for these organizations to continue providing objective coverage of the Russian legal world and effective aid for those who find themselves facing the system alone. Meduza explains how you can (and should!) support those who supported Ivan Golunov and would support you as well if the Russian government began prosecuting you illegally.

    • How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account

      Fifty years ago, this June, the Students for a Democratic Society held its last united National Convention. It was torn apart by ideologically driven factions, each claiming to have the only correct approach for saving America. Ironically, SDS was initiated by the anti-authoritarian, but socialist oriented, League for Industrial Democracy. Al Haber, SDS’s first president, encouraged it to work with any group that was seeking social change.

      It may be unpopular to say, but extremism from within SDS destroyed it, not the government or the rightwing. Sure, they would have liked to see that happen, but in the end the leftist SDS leadership was demanding their supporters to conform to a party line as they embraced rightwing Senator Barry Goldwater’s advice from 1964, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

    • Horror on the Border: Slew of Recent Incidents Highlight Human Rights Crisis

      The New York Times reported Friday that the youngest child taken from his parents at the southern border over the past three years under the Trump administration’s separation policy is four month-old Constantin Mutu, from Romania. Constantine and his father, Vasile, were apprehended in Texas by border patrol agents. Vasile, who has a criminal record, was detained and deported to Romania while Constantin was sent to live with a fister family in Michigan.

      Eventually, the family was reunited—mother Florentina and the couple’s four year-old son got lost in Mexico and returned to Romania to join the couple’s other three children ahead of Vasile and Constantin—but the case shows how the administration isn’t bound by age in separating families and raises questions about who else is in custody.

    • Complaints Intensify Over Migrant Detention Conditions

      The Trump administration is facing growing complaints from migrants about severe overcrowding, meager food and other hardships at border holding centers, with some people at an encampment in El Paso being forced to sleep on the bare ground during dust storms.

      The Border Network for Human Rights issued a report Friday based on dozens of testimonials of immigrants over the past month and a half, providing a snapshot of cramped conditions and prolonged stays in detention amid a record surge of migrant families coming into the U.S. from Central America.

      The report comes a day after an advocate described finding a teenage mother cradling a premature baby inside a Border Patrol processing center in Texas. The advocate said the baby should have been in a hospital, not a facility where adults are kept in large fenced-in sections that critics describe as cages.

      “The state of human rights in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is grave and is only getting worse,” the immigrant rights group said in its report. “People are dying because of what is happening.”

    • Homan’s Appointment as Trump ‘Border Czar’ Will Continue the Administration’s Cruel Border Policies

      Homan was one of the architects of Trump’s family separation policy.

      President Trump announced today that former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan will return to his administration as “border czar,” a new post he described during an interview with “Fox & Friends.”

      The news comes immediately after we’ve learned even more shocking revelations about the treatment of migrant families and children in U.S. custody, including along the border. But Homan’s appointment will likely intensify the cruelty of the administration’s border policies.

      Homan was one of three administration officials, including current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who signed a memo to now-former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen which paved the way for the family separation policy. The memo stated that DHS could “permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted.” It also recommended that the department “pursue prosecution of all amenable adults who cross our border illegally, including those presenting with a family unit, between ports of entry.” Thousands of parents and children continue to suffer the consequences of this viciously cruel decree.

      While Homan was the one who recommended the policy of family separation, he tried to blame everybody but himself. He claimed that “you’d have to put the blame on the parents” for family separation and echoed Trump’s false talking point that Democrats in Congress were the ones responsible for the policy. In reality, it was a decision made and put into practice by none other than the Trump administration itself.

    • ‘Civilizing’ Perpetual Foreigners

      The horrendous experiences of Chinese immigrant women and children who were smuggled into prostitution and child slavery in the United States during the late 1800s are, for the most part, widely unknown. Julia Flynn Siler’s book on the subject, “The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown,” begins promisingly: “A ghost story led me to the edge of Chinatown. On a crisp morning in 2013, I dodged the crowds in Union Square and walked past a pair of stone lions up a hill. I had an address—920 Sacramento Street—and a description. I was looking for a five-story structure built with misshapen red bricks—some salvaged from the earthquakes and firestorms that razed most of the city in 1906.” But the allure of her introduction almost immediately evaporates into a litany of horror stories told without empathy.

      Siler’s central story circles the lives of two women who enjoyed an intense friendship that endured for over half a century. One was Donaldina Cameron, whose life work was as a Christian missionary in San Francisco, rescuing Chinese prostitutes and child slaves brought from China and thrown into lives of unspeakable terror. The other woman was Cameron’s assistant, Tien Fu Wu, a former household slave sold by her father to pay his gambling debts. The women and children Cameron and Wu worked to save were usually stolen or sold by their fathers, a practice not outlawed in China until 1928. Prostitution was not illegal in the United States at this time. The smugglers often held auctions of Chinese women openly on the docks. As San Francisco began to lose some of its roughness and more white women began to settle there, these meat market auctions were moved to private locations.

      The feats attempted by these two women were spectacular. Cameron and Wu often tangled with the police who frequently stood to benefit from the trafficking, fought the courts for custody of the rescued women and girls, and were continually threatened by the Chinese “tongs,” gangs of violent underworld thugs who ran human trafficking rings while warring over territory and power.

    • Oppose Inequality, Not Cops

      Even people doing their best to improve the world make mistakes. This was evident in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last month during a public clash on the town’s Peace and Justice Plaza between defenders of Confederate statuary and anti-racist activists.

      Before the police arrived to insulate the two groups, mutual yelling had begun to escalate into pushing and shoving. After the police erected a plastic barrier, the outnumbered neoConfederates stepped back and took an ear-beating as their opponents chanted, “Go home, racists!” and “Nat Turner, John Brown, anti-racists run this town.”

      The chanters had it right. Most Chapel Hillians, a more-liberal-than-average bunch, would have gladly echoed their message: Racists go home, and take your benighted statues with you. It’s a hopeful message being sent by progressives in communities across the South. But there were other chants, ones that cost the anti-racist activists the moral high ground. These were chants aimed at the cops on the scene.

      The antipathy that local activists feel for the police is understandable. Police here, as elsewhere, are seen as too ready to use violence to assert their authority, especially against people of color. They’re seen as acting without sufficient public accountability. They’re seen as protecting society’s unjust hierarchies of wealth, status, and power. This is hardly a fringe analysis; anyone who has been paying attention in recent decades will recognize the truth in these perceptions.

    • Bigoted Cops Show True Colors in Online Hate Groups

      Hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers from across the United States are members of Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook, a Reveal investigation has found.

      These cops have worked at every level of American law enforcement, from tiny, rural sheriff’s departments to the largest agencies in the country, such as the Los Angeles and New York police departments. They work in jails and schools and airports, on boats and trains and in patrol cars. And, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting discovered, they also read and contribute to groups such as “White Lives Matter” and “DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER.”

      The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes. Some are openly Islamophobic. And almost 150 of the officers we found are involved with violent anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.

      More than 50 departments launched internal investigations after being presented with our findings, in some cases saying they would examine officers’ past conduct to see if their online activity mirrored their policing in real life. And some departments have taken action, with at least one officer being fired for violating department policies.

      U.S. law enforcement agencies, many of which have deeply troubled histories of discrimination, have long been accused of connections between officers and extremist groups. At the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, marchers flew a “Blue Lives Matter” flag alongside anti-Semitic and white supremacist messages. In Portland, Oregon, police officers were found to have been texting with a far-right group that regularly hosts white supremacists and white nationalists at its rallies. A classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept, warned that white supremacists and other far-right groups had infiltrated American law enforcement.

      It can be difficult to determine how deep or widespread these connections run. Researchers recently found numerous examples of police officers posting violent and racist content on their public Facebook pages. Reveal’s investigation shows for the first time that officers in agencies across the country have actively joined private hate groups, participating in the spread of extremism on Facebook.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • There Are Lots Of Ways To Punish Big Tech Companies, But Only A Few Will Actually Help Improve The Internet

      I’ve pointed out a few times now that most calls to break up or regulate these companies fail to explain how these plansactually solve the problems people highlight. Companies are callous about our privacy? Will regulating them or breaking them up actually stop that? The GDPR has proven otherwise already. The companies algorithms recommend bad things? How will breaking them up stop that?

      Too much of the thinking seems to just be focused on “company bad, must punish” and don’t get much beyond that.

      And that’s a pretty big problem, because many of the ideas being passed around could ultimately end up harming the wider internet much more than they end up damaging the few big companies anyway. We’ve already seen that with the GDPR, which has served to further entrench the giants. The same will almost certainly be true when the EU Copyright Directive goes into effect, since the entire plan is designed to entrench the giants so that the big entertainment companies can negotiate new licensing deals with them.

      In a new piece for the Economist, Cory Doctorow warns that many of these attempts to “harm” the big internet companies through regulation will actually do much more harm to the wider internet, while making the biggest companies stronger.

    • For the interoperability of the Web’s giants: an open letter from 70 organisations

      La Quadrature du Net, along with 70 civil liberties organisations, professional bodies, ISPs and hosting providers, demands that the government and legislative take action to require that the big online platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter…) become interoperable with other Internet services.

    • Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts

      On June 11th, the House Judiciary Committee launched an investigation into the market dominance of the four leading “big-tech” companies — Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who oversees the subcommittee hearing, proclaimed, “these are monopolies,” warning that they dominate the digital marketplace and it might be time for new legislation to increase competition. “We know the problems; they’re easy to diagnose,” Cicilline said. “Shaping the solutions is going to be more difficult.”

      Congress’s action parallels actions by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade of Commission (FTC) to conduct investigations into, respectively, Apple and Google, and Facebook and Amazon. In addition, attorney generals in Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Washington, Colorado and Washington, DC, are taking aim at one or more of the big-tech companies.

      These actions follow a May 13th Supreme Court decision to allow an eight-year-long antitrust case against Apple to proceed. The case, Apple Inc. v. Pepper, was originally brought in 2011 by Robert Pepper and three other iPhone users. They accused Apple of causing harm to them and other Apple users by requiring them to buy apps from the Apple App Store. Apple argued that Pepper and his associates had no standing to sue Apple because customers buy from a third-party seller and “have no direct purchasing relationship with Apple. …”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Huawei Seeks More Than $1 billion from Verizon for Over 230 Patents – Reports

      Huawei Technologies has reportedly told Verizon Communications Inc that the carrier should pay licensing fees for more than 230 of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s patents, seeking more than $1 billion.

      Verizon should pay to “solve the patent licensing issue,” a Huawei intellectual property licensing executive wrote in February, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier. The patents cover network equipment for more than 20 of the company’s vendors, including major US tech firms, but those vendors would indemnify Verizon, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Some of those firms reportedly have already been approached by Huawei directly.

    • Huawei asks Verizon to pay over $1 billion for over 230 patents: source

      Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has told Verizon Communications Inc that the U.S. carrier should pay licensing fees for more than 230 of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s patents and in aggregate is seeking more than $1 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

    • Huawei Moves Ahead With Aggressive Licensing Posture

      Reports emerged today that Huawei has demanded over $1 billion in patent license payments from Verizon for its cellular network patents.

      As I wrote in April, Huawei has the potential to abuse its strong position in cellular network patents. As required by international agreements, the U.S. patent system doesn’t discriminate between domestic and foreign patent holders, meaning that anything a U.S. patent holder can do, a foreign holder—like Huawei—is equally permitted to do.

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      [...]

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      [...]

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Code of Conduct Explained: Partial Transcript – August 10th, 2018 – Episode 80, The Truth About Southeast Linuxfest

Saturday 15th of June 2019 07:05:23 AM

Summary: “Ask Noah” and the debate on how a ‘Code of Conduct’ is forcibly imposed on events

This a partial transcript from the August 10th, 2018 interview on Ask Noah (Episode 80), with Jeremy Sands entitled, The Truth About Southeast Linuxfest. Below is a partial transcript, lightly edited.

This transcript was prepared by a longtime contributor to the site, who deemed it relevant.

[01:16:10]
JS [Jeremy Sands]: Let’s get to all the things you don’t want to hear about … politics.

The Code of Conduct, it’s been a thing for the last couple of years it’s been pushed pretty aggressively in the open source sphere and other areas totally unrelated to open source as well but the Code of Conduct is kind of a series of guidelines as to what is and isn’t acceptable behavior at an event and what the repercussions are for transgressing those rules et cetera.

Part of the way SELF reorganized after it hit that bankruptcy wall from the party debacle was it’s actually and I’ll get to this in a little bit later it’s not as easy as it might sound to be a 501(c)(3)

“The people pushing Codes of Conduct that have several examples and depending on who it is and their own personal view and there are several out there floating around I want to say one of the bigger ones that’s pushed is the contributor covenant I think I have that right.”[01:17:00]

as a Free Software organization. In fact the IRS is deeply, deeply distrustful of 501(c)(3)s that are Free Software filings. Not my words, the words of Cat Almon [sp?] and I’ll get to that in detail later. But essentially as part of reorganizing, it became abundantly clear that since I was already self-employed, it was dramatically, radically cheaper. like orders of magnitude cheaper, for SELF to simply be a quote-unquote for-profit tucked under my existing LLC that I already knew and already operate and already have to do books for. But deliberately operated in such a way where profit is not part of the equation. I like to say, for profit but deliberately bad at making profit. Because as it turns out because of the way the IRS deals with 501(c)(3)s from Free Software filings, it’s way cheaper to be for profit and deliberately bad at making profit than it is to be non-profit and really, really good at not making profit. Government. So my first reaction, so that was basically my way of saying I have some skin in in the game here. Like if something goes horribly wrong that lands on me. So my first reaction wasn’t well let me read this over my first reaction was I’m going to hand this to a lawyer, and so I did. The people pushing Codes of Conduct that have several examples and depending on who it is and their own personal view and there are several out there floating around I want to say one of the bigger ones that’s pushed is the contributor covenant I think I have that right. I think that was the one I took and had a lawyer review. His words to me were if I were a judge I would ask you just who the hell you thought you were trying to rewrite the law for your little fiefdom and just where you obtained the wisdom of how things should be run around here greater than the collective wisdom of the electorate and the officials that represent them. I didn’t really have a good answer for that. His advice was to be an arbitrator and to resist the temptation to be a judge, and a jury and executioner because when you do that you have essentially entered yourself into the legal fray. He said what you really want to be is a peace broker. You want to resolve the conflict without a determination of guilt either way. Even if it seems painfully obvious who is guilty. You just want to achieve peace. If you can’t do that his recommendation for the safest legal course was simply to eject all parties involved from the event. He said I know as I say that that’s a terrible thing because statistically speaking at least half the people you just ejected were totally innocent. That’s a terrible thing to have to do. But it’s also, legally speaking, from my point of view as a lawyer advising you as counsel, the wise thing to do. He also said you’re running around running an event, how much of your mental capacity can you really bring to bear to slow things down and seriously consider everything unfolding. Not a bad point you’ve got there. My response to the Code of Conduct and it being pushed upon me was to simply ignore it. I ignored it, didn’t put anything up there but eventually the shouts become loud enough that you have to do something. Because it becomes something if you do not have one you will be asked repeatedly about it. And eventually, the act of answering those questions becomes so tedious that you might as well have a policy even if your policy is we don’t have a policy. Because in the absence people are just going to ask questions and insert their own fears into that vacuum. For not having, I think our first official code of conduct policy was kind of a pithy one liner it was kind of a, I won’t, I’ll get it wrong, you can go, I’m sure it’s on archive.org somewhere , but it was more or less don’t be a butthead. If I want to paraphrase it that was more or less our code of conduct.

“My response to the Code of Conduct and it being pushed upon me was to simply ignore it. I ignored it, didn’t put anything up there but eventually the shouts become loud enough that you have to do something.”NC: Then if you need help learning what a butthead is then if you think something might be in question of concern just don’t do that thing and you’re probably pretty safe.

JS: Yeah, so, unbelievably I was actually threatened in private at other events for this for not having a code of conduct that some people deemed acceptable. And not from random people the very first person to threaten me has been a speaker at SELF I think every year and because I accept talks blindly they keep getting talks because I’m not holding that against them because I don’t know who they are when I select the talks. So if nothing else you can’t accuse me of bias in selecting speakers given that I keep selecting a speaker who threatened me. There’s the downside by the way of selecting blind. But because of this when I go to other events to promote SELF or to speak I simply do not have private conversations with strangers any more even people who I somewhat know I will keep other people around me to be witnesses now and it’s terribly tragic that I even have to say that and it’s even more tragic that if you go looking around online I am not the only one who does that any more and that’s even more sad. Given that I got a nasty backlash simply for not having a Code of Conduct that a lawyer told me you would be a fool to have, I started asking why are people pushing this what’s the real message here? And if you start looking around online Googling for Codes of Conduct and insert your own pejorative here, cons, downsides, alternative views, it’s hard not to eventually stumble into a guy named Paul M Jones. He is apparently somewhat infamous as someone who is a vociferous advocate against some Codes of Conduct. If you want to read up about him he is in the PHP-FIG framework interoperability group I think I got that right

“Yeah, so, unbelievably I was actually threatened in private at other events for this for not having a code of conduct that some people deemed acceptable.”NC: We’ve actually had Paul on the show and interviewed him about his views on the Code of Conduct and part of his presentation and all that and we’ll have that linked in the show notes as well.

[01:24:00]

JS: So if you want to read up on some of that nasty past that made him infamous just go read the PHP-FIG it’s all there it’s a mailing list. But my personal take after having skimmed through it was infantile, petty, and a poo-flinging fest that is how I would describe a lot of the just childish battles that occurred over that. So I got put into contact with him and to get his take and given how he has this reputation you might be expecting the worst but not only was he not Hitler and I say that only somewhat tongue in cheek given the nastiness of our political discourse these days but I actually found him to be reasonable and measured and well spoken and that the next year when I was selecting talks there was one on the darker side of the Code of Conduct and blindly I selected it and it was Paul who submitted it. So he gave a talk at SELF on Codes of Conduct and some of the downsides of some of those Codes of Conduct. Boy if you thought it was political before simply by not having an acceptable Code of Conduct the act of having someone speak out against the concept of a Code of Conduct in some cases caused enormous backlash. The fact that it was Paul M Jones giving that talk ramped it up a couple notches. So just for having him speak his personal opinion at SELF there was a targeted smear campaign on social media directly going after SELF’s biggest sponsors telling them to no longer support our event. And it worked. They successfully chased off multiple sponsors. I know of at least two for sure because they they contacted me disagreeing with the decision of their own superiors to no longer support SELF. One of which came back to me with a demand, not their own, but of their superiors, that for them to sponsor the next year, one third of all speakers would have to be female. How can I possibly guarantee you one third of anything, gender, color, nationality, religion, whatever shallow collectivist thing you’re fixated on when I select the talks blindly based upon merit. I can’t even tell you whether or not I can qualify for your demand until after I’ve selected talks because I don’t even know who I’m selecting. In the words of the person who made those demands to me

[01:27:00]

“Given that I got a nasty backlash simply for not having a Code of Conduct that a lawyer told me you would be a fool to have, I started asking why are people pushing this what’s the real message here?”this doesn’t seem to do anything more than merely check a box. That was their own words to me, when delivering these demands. And everyone immediately asked me in private after they hear this talk who is it what’s the company could you tell me? I don’t want to tell you because I don’t want to attract the poo-flinging the other direction at the company. Because it isn’t necessarily the views of the company. It might just be one person in a position of power or as I like to say a cat bird in HR or in marketing who has purchase authority power and they’re using those levers of power to achieve their own means. And to kind of prove this point of how counter-productive it would be to attack the company that made the demand more than a dozen employees from that company that very year decided to come to SELF on their own dime as supporting attendees on their own dime and enjoy the event freely as much as they could without their own company’s backing. So the company formally wasn’t there. All the employees were still there. For me what was insightful was the one time when the rubber really met the road. when it comes to Codes of Conduct. And there are no winners in this story. There are only losers. I had an employee of a sponsor who was at the event it was at the Sheraton so it is in the more recent history of the event but I can’t name off the top of my head which year. This person had diversity in their official job title and they approached me, at SELF, face to face. to say that if our even did not have

[01:29:00]

“So somebody is insulted and this person who was previously so concerned about the safety and well-being of these attendees and your lack of concern for their safety is more concerned about the PR ramifications than the actual event or the actual safety?”an acceptable Code of Conduct to their standards and at the time we had already put in our pithy don’t be a butthead equivalent Code of Conduct. He said that is not acceptable to our standards. And if you do not have one that is acceptable to our standards and he offered again the contributor covenant, the one the lawyer said don’t do that that, they would not be back as a sponsor. And that would be a permanent decision until we acquiesced to that demand. The very next day one of their employees put a business card down the shirt of a female attendee on his way out of the venue. I had an eye witness report from another sponsor and not just any random person but a really smart one a person who is a rising FOSS celebrity who goes on major national shows to talk about FOSS. And I had an actual physical business card in my hand. So with the smoking gun of the business card and an eye witness report I went to be the ax man that the job required of me at the time. I went and pulled in the gentleman with diversity in his official title. I informed him of what happened and I informed him that that person was banned from the event until further notice and specifically by that I mean indefinitely and what was the first thing to spout out of his mouth in response? It wasn’t how is she, how can we help, how can we resolve this. The first response was quote and I quote, “why did it have to be us?”

NC: So somebody is insulted and this person who was previously so concerned about the safety and well-being of these attendees and your lack of concern for their safety is more concerned about the PR ramifications than the actual event or the actual safety?

JS: Shocking. Somebody who claims to care about others really only cares about themselves. Sounds like they would make a great politician. Saddening. Yeah. That response says more than I probably ever could. Now I ended with a bit of a wry, “that didn’t take a Code of Conduct, did it?”

NC: So you said this to the employee?

JS: That was my last word as he left the building. I had him turn around and said that didn’t take a Code of Conduct, did it?

NC: Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

JS. He had no response to that. And I was absolutely thrilled to spike the football in his face like that. Because I felt he was duplicitous in the nature of his actions versus his proclaimed beliefs. I enjoyed spiking the football there immensely.

[01:32:00]

Until not even an hour later when I realized I just banned the wrong employee. The business card that was put down the female attendee’s shirt was not the person who did it. It was a co-worker of that person.

NC: It still does not excuse his response though.

JS: Accurate. Very accurate. On top of that this means that the eye witness report from that very intelligent very amazing person was wrong. And they had no explanation for that. And as it turns out this is something any judge or cop could tell you eye witness reports are notoriously unreliable and inaccurate. This is why by the way it is a good idea to put cameras on cops because even trained police officers have a hard time getting eye witness reports correct.

NC: Sure.

[01:33:00]

JS: Insert delete expletive with many, many exclamation points here. fsck let’s to a file system check

NC: Ok. I think everybody gets that joke.

JS: So that is one of the greatest mistakes I’ve ever made. Because I nearly destroyed an innocent person’s career and the lawyer was as right as ever. I was too busy managing an event. I wanted the problem to go away. I didn’t slow down and think skeptically every step of the way and try to be an arbitrator, not a judge. I got swept away in the moment and I nearly ruined that man’s career. If it wasn’t the woman who had the card put down her shirt coming back and saying, “I don’t think that’s him. Could you show me photos?” And then by this time corporate HR is involved from the company in question. When corporate HR is involved you know you’ve entered a new level of Hades and thankfully we eventually got it right but I can’t imagine the horror that that person must have lived in for a day or so while they were in limbo being summarily lynched while being innocent. So yeah. Points to the lawyer and no points to me for following his advice I won’t make the same mistake twice though. So another thing that comes along with this weird politicalized Code of Conduct thing and again I despise labels because people remove nuance and insert group think when you apply a label but speaking as a generalization because I think as a generalization it does apply. The kind of person who would push these contributor covenant style code of conduct would also be a person who would tend to be more likely to self describe themselves as say a social justice warrior or a progressive. So I’m not saying that agenda is right or wrong but I am saying it is an agenda. The bizarreness is the dichotomy of response you get along these lines. So, for example, the Geek Feminism Wiki started an article tracking females speakers in FOSS events and praising the SouthEast LinuxFest for having so many.

[01:36:00]

“So, for example, the Geek Feminism Wiki started an article tracking females speakers in FOSS events and praising the SouthEast LinuxFest for having so many.”One of the members who was a speaker at SELF that year asked us what we did to have so many female speakers. They were quite shocked when we replied “nothing”. We, ok, almost nothing. Technically we did invite / voluntold Wendy Seltzer to come back and talk. She’s an amazing person. She works with the EFF She may still be on the board of directors for Tor at the time she was and because she’s not as thoroughly embedded in the Linux community as others because for her it is a legal thing, she’s a legal mind not a Linux mind. And that’s where she’s coming into Linux space from, from the law side. And so she’s not normally tapped into this community so we reached out because she might not normally keep herself in this sort of community but we want to hear what she has to say. So that was the only thing we did. We solicited her specific talk. That was it. Now this may have contributed in some part

[01:37:00]

to other FOSS events in the immediacy. Like in the immediate year after that thing went up some other community based events went all out like all female keynotes, all female talk days, all female talk tracks. Like it started becoming a thing within some subsets of the FOSS community events. As though this, I like to call them genitalia based bragging rights. And yes I deliberately say that to be demeaning because I just don’t see the relevance of genitalia to content. Maybe that’s just me. Put more blatantly. At SELF, at least while I’m selecting speakers, genitalia is irrelevant, not part of the form to submit a talk, and if you do submit it, it’s probably in a field which I’ve truncated when I select the talks so I can select them blindly. More into the dichotomy stuff. I was asked by a prominent Google employee, at SELF, how we were able to have so many black people at SELF. Now they said African-American but there’s people in South Africa who apply that label but that label does not fit in the context you are expecting it to be. White’s not a bad term. Black shouldn’t be a bad term either. It’s a simple adjective. So they wanted to know how I quote-unquote did it having so many black people at self and to me this was a segfault. The perspective was so foreign, it was a thought I had literally never even entertained, not even anything tangentially related entertained. For me the thought was, promote the event as best I can, and as wide as I can and whoever shows up shows up. So I looked around and if anything I thought the number of black people there would be less than I would expect from a random sampling for the area. But whatever. I guess I’ll try to help you. So I asked him, well where are you holding the events that you’re holding that you’re not getting this many black people to attend. And the response was “Portland”.

NC: Well, sure, what was your response?

JS: Have you considered holding your event somewhere where black people actually live?

NC: That’s fantastic.

JS: So I went ahead and pulled up the most recent census data. Black people are approximately 35% of metropolitan Charlotte, North Carolina. They are 6% of metropolitan Portland, Oregon. Diversity indeed. I believe Chris Rock had a joke to this effect about Minnesota, Prince, and Kirby Puckett. And I’m going to have a

[01:40:00]

moment of silence here for my broken heart from Kirby Puckett beating the Braves in game seven of the world series. And if you’re looking at the slide deck, I’ve included a link to the direct current comparison between those two metropolitan area’s ethnicity breakdown. Here’s my real life code of conduct conclusions. The rules aren’t nearly as important as the people in charge of enforcing them. Bad behavior is already illegal. Serious transgressions should be met with legal responses. Do the people in charge have the wisdom to avoid being judge and or jury and or executioner. Will you keep your wits about you under intense pressure even when as an organizer you are on day two, day two and a half, maybe day three with little to no sleep. Will you pursue what is right and fair

[01:41:00]

“It’s weird, but you get a large sample size eventually weird things happen.”as event organizer and not what is merely expeditious to make the problem go away. That was a lot of negative that I just unloaded over the previous fifteen minutes or so. So I don’t want you to get the wrong conclusion. Let’s put this in its proper statistical context. Based upon my own data itself you’re approximately five to eight times more likely not to make it to SELF because of a serious car wreck or a serious plane issue, plane maintenance, a missed connection, whatever, than you are to be harassed. And the car one is kind of unreal. We have had at least one or two speakers or staff members either not make it or make it late because of an auto wreck every year. And this past year one of our core team actually had their car totaled on the way to SELF with a carload of SELF equipment and that by the way was part of what set everything organizationally back because that was a carload of equipment we needed. And that set us back almost half to two thirds of a day. You’d be surprised. If you’re worried about your safety at SELF for heaven’s sake drive slow and look around when you’re driving. Because that’s the thing that’s going to get you. Ok. And now for something completely different. And I would like to say that I hope this is the first, last, and only time that I have to be political in the context of this event and organizing it. But I do hope that other event organizers found that valuable. Because that is the kind of information I tried to pull out of other organizers to find out what had happened to them how they had dealt with it what policies worked

[01:43:00]

what policies didn’t and if you try to broach that subject with other event organizers they clam right up. It’s information that does not flow as freely as you might expect from a Free Software group and what I’d like to say is people say that’s terrible the particular woman who had the business card shoved down her shirt, any sufficiently large sample size eventually yields highly implausible results. It’s the whole sampling problem. It’s kind of how it only takes something like 15 to 20 people in a room before two people have the same birthday. It’s weird, but you get a large sample size eventually weird things happen.

Jeremy Sands and his experience may relate to what we published a couple of days ago and earlier this year.

Links 14/6/2019: Xfce-Related Releases, PHP 7.4.0 Alpha

Friday 14th of June 2019 10:24:06 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • CERN ditches Windows and embraces open source to save cash

    Last year, the company launched the ‘Microsoft Alternatives Project’ to examine ways that the company could work smarter by switching to Linux-based operating systems. Its initial goal was to “investigate the migration from commercial software products (Microsoft and others) to open-source solutions, so as to minimise CERN’s exposure to the risks of unsustainable commercial conditions.”

    Also to ‘seek out new life and new civilisations, to bol….

    Sorry, that’s Star Trek. Moving on then.

    CERN appears to be one of the first major organisations switching to Linux as an alternative to switching to Windows 10 ahead of Windows 7 reaching end of life next January.

  • CERN plans to ditch Microsoft’s software after losing its academic status [iophk: "long overdue"]

    CERN previously could use Microsoft’s software products such as Windows at a heavily discounted rate for decades thanks to its status as an academic institution. But the research organization said Microsoft’s decision to revoke that status has forced it to look elsewhere, as it reckons it simply cannot afford its standard license fees any more.

  • CERN is moving away from expensive Microsoft software and embracing open source

    CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research best known for its particle smashing Large Hadron Collider — has decided to eschew Microsoft in favor of open source software.

    For many years, CERN benefited from hefty discounts on Microsoft products, but this is coming to an end. Rather than paying hugely increased licensing fees, the organization is instead implementing its own Microsoft Alternatives project, known as MAlt. CERN says it is “taking back control using open software”.

  • CERN leaves Microsoft programs behind for open-source software

    We all use open-source software every day. What? You don’t? Have you used Google, watched a Netflix show, or liked a buddy’s Facebook post? Congrats, you’re an open-source user.

    But, true, most of us don’t use end-user open-source software every day. Even staffers at CERN, one of the world’s great research institutions, don’t — and they run the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, on it. But, on the desktop, they use Microsoft-based programs like many users around the globe. That’s changing now.

    Beginning a year ago, CERN launched the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt). The name says it all.

    CERN wants to get away from Microsoft programs for a very prosaic reason: To save money.

  • CERN Is Looking At Microsoft Alternatives

    CERN is the home to the internet and also Higgs Boson, the ‘god’ particle. As we all know open source software is at the heart of all the scientific work that CERN does. It uses technologies like OpenStack and Kuberentes.

    However, when it comes to user-facing applications that are used by scientists, researchers, and employees – they run on Microsoft technologies such as Windows, Skype and so on.

    Microsoft offers a discount to academics and research organizations that brings the cost down as these organizations run hundreds, if not thousands of client machines. CERN has been using Microsoft technologies for over 20 years under a discount rate of being an academic institution”.

  • CERN Chooses Open Source And Ditches Microsoft Software

    Apart from the secure nature of the open source software, many organizations also make the switch to cut operating costs. Just last month, we reported that the Indian state of Kerala is saving about $430 million by using a Linux-based operating system in its schools.

    In a related development, The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is all set to ditch Microsoft software and adopt the open source alternatives. This shift has been planned in the wake of the tenfold increase in Microsoft’s licensing costs. Earlier, CERN enjoyed discounted academic institution pricing, which expired in March.

    CERN has also published a blog post on its website that describes the organization’s plan to adopt open source software more widely and get things “back in control.” Notably, CERN has been working on a project called The Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt) for over a year to look for the perfect alternatives.

    The post mentions that MAlt’s aim is to minimize CERN’s exposure to “risks of unsustainable commercial conditions” and help other public research institutions that also face a similar kind of situation.

  • Desktop
    • System76′s supercharged Linux-powered Gazelle laptop is finally available

      Today is Thursday, which is one of the worst days of the week. I mean, I suppose it is better than Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but it can’t hold a candle to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday — otherwise known as the weekend. So, yeah, Thursday is typically not something to get excited about.

      With all of that said, today is a pretty special Thursday for the Linux community. Why? Well, the System76 Gazelle laptop is finally available! This is a laptop we reported on last month, and at the time, System76 only promised it would be available in June 2019. Well, June 13 of 2019 is apparently the exact day it goes on sale, as you can get it now.

    • System76′s Supercharged Linux-powered Gazelle Laptop is Finally Available

      It ships with Ubuntu or Pop!_OS pre-installed and starts at $1099.

    • Best Linux-Centric File Managers for Chrome OS

      I recently covered how to install Linux on Chromebook and you can check it out here. Today, let’s divert our attention to the File Manager in Chrome OS.

      Chrome OS is a beautiful Operating System (as is expected of all Google products) and it houses a responsive file manager for navigating its file trees.

      While it works excellently on Chrome OS which it was designed for, navigating Linux directories with it doesn’t feel as “Linuxy” and it can be helpful to install a Linux-centric file manager to eliminate that need.

    • Proposed Chrome OS 78 change will use the Files app to restore Linux containers on Chromebooks

      Chrome OS 74 brought the ability to backup and restore Linux containers on a Chromebook. It’s handy and it works. However, to use it, you have to go to the Linux settings in Chrome OS, which isn’t ideal.

    • Lenovo’s 2019 ThinkPad P Series Lineup: OLED, RTX Quadro, Ubuntu, and More

      All P Series mobile workstations can also be configured with either Windows (up to Windows 10 Pro) or Ubuntu, making these a powerful mobile option for Linux users.

  • Server
    • RHEL 7.7 Beta Available

      Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta. It’s the last update in the Full Support Phase of RHEL 7 branch.

      Key updates include support for the latest generation of enterprise hardware as well as remediation for the recently-disclosed Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)/ZombieLoad vulnerabilities.

      RHEL 7 was released back in 2014 and full support is offered for 5 years, which includes all new features and software functionality.

    • Ruby 2.6 now available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

      Red Hat Software Collections supply the latest, stable versions of development tools for Red Hat Enterprise Linux via two release trains per year. As part of the latest Software Collections 3.3 release, we are pleased to share that Ruby 2.6 is now generally available and supported on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

    • How Unicef Is Using Big Data To Close The Education Divide

      Given that challenges around education are only growing, Unicef and Red Hat hope to expand the platform over the coming months.

      Palau Montava says: “We have a pipeline of interested countries that want to be involved, so we anticipate the project will continue to grow. It’s an exciting time to be building these open source projects, and we think they will continue to change the world.

      The school mapping project forms part of the wider Magic Box platform that Unicef will continue to invest in. “Magic Box is an open source collaborative platform where partners like Red Hat share their data and expertise for public good. It’s this great place to harness real-time data generated by the private sector to give organizations like Unicef critical insights,” concludes Palau Montava.

    • UPS delivers Agile plan for legacy application modernization

      The switch from Db2 and mainframe application code allowed UPS to access the data through open source Linux systems and host the data on open source Linux container orchestration systems, namely Red Hat OpenShift. This platform is also easier to update frequently and iteratively, as applications change through automated Jenkins CI/CD pipelines, Jani said.

    • Red Hat Takes Home a Trio of CODiE Awards

      It was a big awards night for Red Hat, recently, as three of our products won best in category business technology awards. The 2019 SIIA CODiE Awards have been distributed for over 30 years, now. They are the only peer-recognized program in the business and ed tech industries. In the words of the awards body, “Each CODiE Award win serves as incredible market validation for a product’s innovation, vision and overall industry impact.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Zorin OS 15 + LineageOS | Choose Linux 11

      Zorin OS is described as “a powerful desktop you already know how to use.” It’s elegant, beginner-friendly and looks beautiful, too. Should we be paying more attention to it?

      Then in another first, Jason installs his first alternative mobile OS, and Joe gives advice on getting the most out of LineageOS.

      Unfortunately we end the episode by saying goodbye to Jason as he moves on to pursue several independent projects, but the show will go on with the same spirit of discovery and newness!

    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S12E10 – Salamander

      This week we’ve been playing with tiling window managers, we “meet the forkers”, bring you some command line love and go over all your feedback.

      It’s Season 12 Episode 10 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

    • 2×53: The Route of All Evil
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel Set To Expose Hidden NVIDIA HDA Controllers, Helping Laptop Users

      If you are a user of the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” Linux graphics driver on laptops and have found no audio support, that is likely to be fixed by an upcoming kernel patch that should make its way to the Linux 5.3 kernel.

      Modern NVIDIA GPUs have an onboard HDA controller but primarily in the case of recent notebooks, they tend to be hidden — depending upon a bit in the GPU configuration space it’s possible to “hide” the controller. When it’s hidden, the controller won’t get initialized and you’ll lose out on functionality like HDMI audio.

    • Linux 5.3 Kernel Picking Up Support For ACRN Guest Hypervisor Support

      The Linux 5.3 mainline kernel will be picking up support for enabling Linux guests on the ACRN hypervisor.

      ACRN is the lightweight hypervisor announced by Intel last year during the Embedded Linux Conference. ACRN is a lightweight hypervisor focused on real-time and safety-critical workloads and optimized with IoT deployments in mind. Those unfamiliar with ACRN can learn more at ProjectACRN.org.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Apple Joins Open Source Organization CNCF

        It’s well known that Apple not only uses but also contributes to many open source projects. You may not know but Siri, the virtual assistant of Apple, is powered by Apache Mesos.

        Apple heavily contributes to the open source projects they use. Unlike many other companies, Apple doesn’t like to talk much about it.

        The first time I saw Apple booth at any Open Source conference was at KubeCon in Seattle last year.

    • Graphics Stack
      • RADV Vulkan Driver Picks Up Fixes For Vega M Hardware

        While Vega M has been on the market for several months as the Radeon graphics processor found on Intel Kabylake-G chips, interestingly in the past few days have been a number of improvements for using the open-source Linux graphics stack on this hardware.

        A few days ago I reported on Vega M support coming to the ROCm compute stack. The latest improvement now for Vega M with Linux graphics are some practical RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes.

      • New GFX1011 / GFX1012 Targets Appear In AMDGPU LLVM Compiler Backend

        To date the open-source AMD “Navi” graphics code inside their LLVM compiler back-end has been focused on the “GFX1010″ target but now it’s been branched out to also GFX1011 and GFX1012.

        We now know the initial Navi/GFX10 products to be the Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700XT. We are still waiting to see the full open-source Linux driver code in full while over the past two days we’ve seen more AMDGPU LLVM GFX10 code continue to drop.

      • MoltenVK 1.0.35 Brings Many Additions & Improvements For Vulkan On macOS
      • It’s The Season For Cleaning & Restructuring Within The Intel Linux Kernel Graphics Code

        With Intel’s Icelake/Gen11 graphics support considered production-ready when on the latest Linux graphics driver components and ahead of the real enablement around their highly anticipated Xe Graphics discrete hardware, it’s making for a summer of clean-ups and restructuring within their kernel Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver.

        There’s still bug fixing and other minor work going into the Intel Gen11 Linux graphics driver code (along with new PCI IDs and the like), but now with the driver developers in the period between introducing major generational work and in particular Intel’s dGPU plans that will require a lot of new driver code, there’s been a lot of low-level code clean-ups and restructuring going on within the i915 DRM driver.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • What is new in KDE Plasma 5.16

        In this video, we look at some of the new features in KDE Plasma 5.16.

      • June 2019 Krita Development Update

        Time for another development update. The last one was in April. We skipped reporting on May, because doing a release takes a lot of time and effort and concentration! And then we had to do a bugfix release in the first week of June; the next release, Krita 4.2.2, will be out by the end of this month.

        We’re still fixing bugs like crazy, helped by long-standing community member Ivan Yossi, who started fixing bugs full-time in May, too.

        But then, we’re also getting a crazy number of bug reports. Honesty compels us to say that many of those reports are not so very valuable: there are many people with broken systems who report problems that we cannot solve in Krita, and many people report bugs without telling us anything at all. Hence we created a manual page on reporting bugs! But there are also many helpful bug reports that give us a chance to improve things.

      • June installment of KDE Plasma5 for Slackware, includes Plasma 5.16

        Sometimes, stuff just works without getting into kinks. That’s how I would like to describe the June release of Plasma5 for Slackware, KDE-5_19.06.

        I built new Plasma5 packages in less than two days. I did not run into build issues, there was no need for a bug hunt. The Ryzen compiled and compiled, and then the power went out in the building today… but still, moments ago I uploaded KDE-5_19.06 to my ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a full installation of Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • Educational Operating Systems: What Are They? [Ed: Seems like an old article. Plagiarism? Some of the named distros no longer exist.]

      To start with our list, let’s talk about one of the more popular educational operating systems, EduBuntu. Does the name sound familiar, well this OS is a variation of the popular Windows alternative, Ubuntu. It’s built on the reliable Linux system and is supported by a strong Linux community.

      The software was built from kids aged 6 to 18. The system was built in collaboration with Educators around the world to ensure that the system serves its purpose as a great education source for kids. The system is built for teachers in mind as well as you don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to set it up in your computer lab or PC.

      Edubuntu comes packed with a number of useful education programs such as the KDE Edutainment application suite. What we love about this OS is that there is no need to reformat your PC if it’s already running Ubuntu. You can simply turn the Ubuntu software into Edubuntu through a series of steps.

    • Reviews
    • New Releases
      • Endless OS 3.6.0 Released, which is based on the forthcoming stable release of Debian “buster”

        The Endless development team have proudly announced the new release of Endless OS 3.6.0 on 10 June, 2019. It is identical to 3.6.0~beta2.

        Endless OS is based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, which is featuring a streamlined and simplified desktop environment forked from GNOME.

        This release is based on the upcoming stable release of Debian “buster”. It is featuring GNOME 3.32, and Linux kernel 5.0.

        This brings new features, performance improvements, hardware support and bug fixes.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • New node.js LTS, GNU Debugger, libvirt Updates Arrive in Tumbleweed Snapshots

        One of those key packages was an update of the GNU Debugger, gdb 8.3, which was released in the 20190607 snapshot. The debugger enabled ada tests on ppc64le and riscv64; multitarget builds for riscv64 were also enabled. The snapshot also added unit test for Logical Volume Manager (LVM) over Modular Disk (MD) with the update of libstorage-ng 4.1.127. Several patches and bug fixes were applied with the update of libvirt 5.4.0, which also made an improvement to avoided unnecessary static linking that results in both the disk and memory footprint being reduced. Libvirt also introduced support for the md-clear CPUID bit. The python-libvirt-python 5.4.0 package added all new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and constants in libvirt 5.4.0. Text editor vim 8.1.1467 had multiple fixes, but the Tumbleweed snapshot introduced some new bugs and is currently trending at an 86 rating, according to the snapshot reviewer.

        The two previous snapshots recorded an exceptional stable rating of 98 according to the snapshot reviewer.

        Snapshot 20190606 updated just two packages. The nodejs10 package put out a new upstream Long-Term-Support (LTS) version with nodejs10 10.16.0, which upgraded upgrade openssl sources to 1.1.1b and libuv to 1.28.0. The other package update in the snapshot was xfdesktop 4.12.5; the package for the Xfce 4 Desktop Environment fixed icon sizes in settings, reset the desktop icon order and fixed a timer leak.

    • Fedora
      • Modularity vs. libgit

        Fire! Libgit can’t be installed, module changes are being temporarily reverted, and one of our great contributors are thinking about moving their packages out of Fedora.

        This blog post has been written to summarize the problem, explain how we got here, offer potential solutions that would work right now, and to set a common ground for a discussion on the devel list about how to address this and similar problems properly.

      • The Fedora distribution Allows user to install multiple version of RPM packages using Modularity Repository

        The Fedora distribution has introduced a new concept called Modularity Repository, which enables Fedora users to install different versions of a package from the distribution’s repositories.

        This is not added recently in Fedora, it was shipped with Fedora 28 server edition as an optional repository with additional content.

        A lot has changed since then, and now Modularity is a core part of the Fedora distribution.

    • Debian Family
      • Bits from Debian: 100 Paper cuts kick-off

        Is there a thorny bug in Debian that ruins your user experience? Something just annoying enough to bother you but not serious enough to constitute an RC bug? Are grey panels and slightly broken icon themes making you depressed?

        Then join the 100 papercuts project! A project to identify and fix the 100 most annoying bugs in Debian over the next stable release cycle. That also includes figuring out how to identify and categorize those bugs and make sure that they are actually fixable in Debian (or ideally upstream).

        The idea of a papercuts project isn’t new, Ubuntu did this some years ago which added a good amount of polish to the system.

      • Candy Tsai: Outreachy Week 4: Weekly Report

        Just a normal weekly report this week. Can’t believe I’ve been in the Outreachy program for a month!

      • CVE-2019-0201 : Debian has Released Security Update for zookeeper

        Debian has released security update for zookeeper package.

        This release fixes vulnerability against zookeeper package.

      • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, May 2019

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Devs Testing Chromium Browser Transition From Deb To Snap Package

            Ubuntu will soon offer Chromium browser as a snap package instead of a regular deb package. This is not only for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine, but also for the already released Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), and for LTS releases, like Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

            For a fist step, the Chromium deb package in Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) has been updated to install the stable snap on both upgrade or a new install. Once the transition is fully tested, “it will be rolled out to stable releases, starting with disco and then the LTSes”.

            After this, Chromium will no longer be available as a deb package for Ubuntu users, installing the snap package being the only option.

            Ubuntu developer Olivier Tilloy mentioned that the transition from deb to snap is not being debated though, as it’s “a firm plan that will eventually save a lot of engineering, builder and maintenance resources by removing the need to build every new version of chromium on all supported Ubuntu releases”.

          • Inkscape Founder & X.Org Veteran, Bryce Harrington, Rejoins Canonical

            As a win for the Ubuntu Server team, the founder of Inkscape and longtime X.Org/graphics developer Bryce Harrington has returned to Canonical.

            Bryce Harrington is the founder of the popular Inkscape vector graphics program, former engineer at the legendary Open Source Development Labs, and worked at Canonical for six years as the Ubuntu X.Org lead before joining the Samsung Open-Source Group a number of years ago where he worked on Wayland and more. On top of that, he’s a current X.Org Foundation board member. But with the Samsung OSG effectively dead and Bryce not being there since the end of 2018, he’s now found himself back at Canonical.

          • New release: Vanilla framework 2.0

            Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to bring you the next release of Vanilla framework: version 2.0, our most stable release to date.

            Since our last significant release, v1.8.0 back in July last year, we’ve been working hard to bring you new features, improve the framework and make it the most stable version we’ve released.

            You can see the full list of new and updated changes in the framework in the full release notes .

          • DJI incorporates Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system into new Manifold 2

            Canonical’s Ubuntu, the Linux operating system for IoT, has now been made available on the Manifold 2.

            As part of the offering, the Manifold 2 will also feature Canonical’s snaps technologies which are containerised software packages, designed to work perfectly across cloud, desktop, and IoT devices.

            DJI says the ability to add multiple snaps means a drone’s functionality can be altered, updated, and expanded over time.

            Depending on the desired use case, enterprises can ensure the form a drone is shipped in does not represent its final iteration or future worth.

            Snaps also feature enhanced security and greater flexibility for developers meaning drones can receive automatic updates in the field, which will become vital as enterprises begin to deploy large-scale fleets.

          • DJI & Canonical bring Ubuntu to the Manifold 2

            Drones, and their wide-ranging uses, have been a constant topic of conversation for some years now, but we’re only just beginning to move away from the hypothetical and into reality. The FAA estimates that there will be 2 million drones in the United States alone in 2019, as adoption within the likes of distribution, construction, healthcare and other industries accelerates.

            Driven by this demand, Ubuntu – the most popular Linux operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT) – is now available on the Manifold 2, a high-performance embedded computer offered by leading drone manufacturer, DJI. The Manifold 2 is designed to fit seamlessly onto DJI’s drone platforms via the onboard SDK and enables developers to transform aerial platforms into truly smarter drones, performing complex computing tasks and advanced image processing, which in-turn creates rapid flexibility for enterprise usage.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • Customisable for the enterprise: the next-generation of drones

      Drones, and their wide-ranging uses, have been a constant topic of conversation for some years now, but we’re only just beginning to move away from the hypothetical and into reality. The FAA estimates that there will be 2 million drones in the United States alone in 2019, as adoption within the likes of distribution, construction, healthcare and other industries accelerates.

      Driven by this demand, Ubuntu – the most popular Linux operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT) – is now available on the Manifold 2, a high-performance embedded computer offered by leading drone manufacturer, DJI. The Manifold 2 is designed to fit seamlessly onto DJI’s drone platforms via the onboard SDK and enables developers to transform aerial platforms into truly smarter drones, performing complex computing tasks and advanced image processing, which in-turn creates rapid flexibility for enterprise usage.

    • 4-channel temp measurement HAT can be stacked eight high per Pi

      MCC has released a stackable, $149 “MCC 134 Thermocouple Measurement HAT” for the Raspberry Pi with 4x isolated, 24-bit thermocouple inputs and a thermocouple detection feature.

      Measurement Computing Corp. (MCC) has launched its third DAQ HAT for the Raspberry Pi, this time taking on temperature measurement. The $149 MCC 134 Thermocouple Measurement HAT follows its MCC 118 voltage measurement DAQ HAT with eight ±10 V inputs and sample rates up to 100 kS/s and its MCC 152 voltage output and digital I/O HAT with dual 0-5 V analog outputs at up to 5 kS/s and 8x configurable DIO.

    • Banana Pi M4 launches for $38 with M.2, 40-pin, and PoE

      SinoVoip has launched its previously revealed “Banana Pi BPI-M4” SBC for $38. The Raspberry Pi-like board runs Linux on a quad -A53 Realtek RTD1395 and offers HDMI, M.2, WiFi/BT, 40-pin GPIO, PoE, and 5x USB ports.

      When SinoVoip announced its Banana Pi BPI-M4 in February, it suggested the board would be coming soon. As it turned out, four months have passed, but the BPI-M4 is now available for $38 with 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC on AliExpress.

    • Mini Type 10 and Compact Type 6 modules tap Apollo Lake

      Like Ibase’s Qseven form-factor IBQ800 module, its new COM Express modules are equipped with Intel’s Apollo Lake generation. As usual, Ibase makes no mention of OS support, but Linux should be right at home here. The ET875 and ET870 both have a wide temperature range and 15-year lifecycle longevity.

    • Android
Free Software/Open Source
  • ‘He is innocent’: Assange ally Ola Bini imprisoned in Ecuador takes case to UN

    Mr Bini’s lawyers have since referred the case to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which investigates arbitrary arrests and detention around the world.

    [...]

    “What the judge said when he was in court last was astonishing. He said that Bini cannot be released because he has not been able to determine what crime he has committed or who has been subjected to it,” he said.

  • 10 Best Free Human Resource Management Software

    It wasn’t too long ago that we published an article on the best open source accounting software for Linux. Today, we’re concentrating on software that’ll enable you to manage your Human Resources efficiently.

    Human resource management is difficult irrespective of whether you’re running a small or large business. Most HR tools require a subscription plan or one-time fee but there are a good number of alternatives that are available at little to no cost.

    As I usually do, here is my list of the best HR management software and they are all free.

  • Events
    • Learning by teaching, and speaking, in open source

      When Jenny Han wrote these words, I doubt she had the open source community in mind. Yet, for our group of dispersed nomads, the summer brings a wave of conferences that allow us to connect in person.

      From OSCON in Portland to Drupal GovCon in Bethesda, and Open Source Summit North America in San Diego, there’s no shortage of ways to match faces with Twitter avatars. After months of working on open source projects via Slack and Google Hangouts, the face time that these summer conferences offer is invaluable.

    • Linux Plumbers Conference: Live Patching Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Live Patching Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! There are some workloads that require 100% uptime so rebooting for maintenance is not an option. But this can make the system insecure as new security vulnerabilities may have been discovered in the running kernel. Live kernel patching is a technique to update the kernel without taking down the machine. As one can imagine, patching a running kernel is far from trivial. Although it is being used in production today[1][2], there are still many issues that need to be solved.

    • Virtual event: Conquer complexity with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8

      Since the general release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, we’ve had great response from those of you who have downloaded the product and used our complimentary RHEL 8 resources. RHEL 8 is the most developer-friendly version ever, but you may still have questions.

      [...]

      In addition to development, topics will include management, scalability, performance, workloads and migration, security, and deploying to a hybrid cloud.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Chrome 76 Beta: dark mode, payments, new PWA features and more

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. Find more information about the features listed here through the provided links or from the list on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 76 is beta as of June 13, 2019.

      • Chrome 76 Beta Brings Dark Mode Media Query, Other Improvements

        Following last week’s release of Chrome 75, Google today issued the first public beta for the Chrome 76 web-browser.

        The Chrome 76 browser now supports the “prefers-color-scheme” media query that can be used if wanting to implement a dark mode for a web-site to match any dark theme/mode of the device / operating system.

    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Security Blog: Updated GPG key for signing Firefox Releases

        The GPG key used to sign the Firefox release manifests is expiring soon, and so we’re going to be switching over to new key shortly.

        The new GPG subkey’s fingerprint is 097B 3130 77AE 62A0 2F84 DA4D F1A6 668F BB7D 572E, and it expires 2021-05-29.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Extensions in Firefox 68

        In Firefox 68, we are introducing a new API and some enhancements to webRequest and private browsing. We’ve also fixed a few issues in order to improve compatibility and resolve issues developers were having with Firefox.

  • LibreOffice
    • Comparing LibreOffice 6.2 Versions: AppImage, Flatpak, and Snap

      LibreOffice for GNU/Linux nowadays is available in 3 different universal formats, as alternative to the native format (DEB and RPM). This is an advancement that benefits us all greatly. Those 3 are AppImage, Flatpak, and Snap formats, sorted alphabetically. We, GNU/Linux users in many different distros, can obtain latest LibreOffice safely from one same source, by using one among these AFS methods. It is interesting for me to compare LibreOffice 6.2, the latest stable version now, by installation procedures, size, execution time, menubar, theme, access rights, and drag-and-drop. To make this comparison, I use Ubuntu 18.04 64-bit installed in Minimum Mode (without LibreOffice). I hope this comparison gives everybody good sight to both LibreOffice (the program) and AFS (the package formats).

    • bibisect-linux-64-6.4 is available with KDE5 support!

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce the bisect repository from libreoffice-6-3-branch-point to latest master is available for cloning from Gerrit. As a novelty, this repository adds support for KDE5 environment.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Rosanne DiMesio is Conservancy’s New Technical Bookkeeper

      We’re excited to announce that we’ve hired Rosanne DiMesio to be our new Technical Bookkeeper. Rosanne is a longtime volunteer with the Wine project ( which was one of Conservancy’s founding member projects) where she focuses her efforts on making things easier for users. She is also an Outreachy (also a Conservancy project) graduate who completed her internship working with Wine on improving their Applications Database (AppDB). Rosanne has done many different things during her career, including working as an English teacher and doing tech support for emergency response services. She brings her passion for free software and her care for new free software users to the role at Conservancy.

      “Rosanne has been an incredible force for good within the Wine project. I am delighted to know that my fellow Conservancy project members are going to get the benefit of her organization and insight; this is a huge win for Conservancy.” says Jeremy White, a member of the leadership committee for the Wine project and CEO of CodeWeavers.

    • Doom Remake 4 shuts down due to cease and desist from Zenimax [Ed: GPL compliance]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open hardware for musicians and music lovers: Headphone, amps, and more

        The world is full of great open source music players, but why stop at using open source just to play music? You can also use open source hardware to make music. All of the instruments described in this article are certified by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). That means you are free to build upon them, remix them, or do anything else with them.

  • Programming/Development
    • PyCharm 2019.2 EAP 3 is here

      Third PyCharm 2019.2 EAP is out and we’re happy to share with you a whole bunch of new features and improvements.

    • Intel Itanium IA-64 Support To Be Deprecated By GCC 10, Planned Removal In GCC 11

      Intel announced at the start of the year their newest Itanium 9700 “Kittson” processors from 2017 would be discontinued with no planned successor for the IA-64 line-up. Given the IA-64 compiler support is already in rough shape for GCC, the GNU developers are planning to deprecate the support for the current GCC 10 cycle and to remove it entirely for GCC 11.

      It’s looking like the GCC compiler toolchain support won’t live much beyond next year, which is also when Intel will honor the last orders for the IA-64 9700 series processors. GCC 10 will debut around the start of Q2’2020 while GCC 11 with the IA-64 support likely removed would be out in Q2’2021 given their normal release cadence.

    • IPython is still the heart of Jupyter Notebooks for Python developers

      The fact that Jupyter Notebook and IPython forked from the same source code made sense to me, but I got lost in the current state of the IPython project. Was it no longer needed after The Big Split™ or is it living on in a different way?

    • “Python Workout” is Manning’s Deal of the Day!
    • Learn PyQt: Create custom Widgets in PyQt5 with this hands-on tutorial
    • Playing with Python strings, lists, and variable names — or, a complex answer to a simple question
    • Introduction to Bash Shell Parameter Expansions
    • Working around the BASH brace expansion rule

      Brace expansion in BASH is a neat way to build a Cartesian product, like all the combinations of a set of first names and a set of last names. Just put the sets inside curly braces as comma-separated lists.

    • Tensors: Are they scalars, vectors or matrices?
    • PHP 7.4.0 alpha 1 Released

      PHP team is glad to announce the release of the first PHP 7.4.0 version, PHP 7.4.0 Alpha 1. This starts the PHP 7.4 release cycle, the rough outline of which is specified in the PHP Wiki.

    • PHP 7.4 Alpha Released With FFI Extension, Preloading Opcache For Better Performance

      he first alpha release of PHP 7.4 is now available ahead of its feature freeze next month and after a period of betas and release candidates will culminate with the official PHP 7.4.0 release around the end of November.

      While we are looking forward to PHP 8.0 with its JIT and more as the eventual successor to 7.4, the PHP 7.4 release is bringing many notable additions to make for an exciting release. Among the work in PHP 7.4 at this point includes:

      - The preload feature that can significantly improve the performance of PHP on web servers by preloading functions/classes that will survive as long as the web server is active to avoid recompilation or checking to see if the source file(s) were modified. This can yield 30~50% speed-ups in initial tests.

    • You Can Build Games Without Programming With Google Game Builder

      Here’s a piece of great news if you love to play games and have a couple of kickass ideas for a new game — Area 120, Google’s internal workshop for experimental projects, has showcased its latest prototype called Game Builder to help you make your own game.

      What sets Google’s Game Builder apart is that no prior programming knowledge is needed to use this tool and turn your ideas into reality. Google calls it a way to enter a real world and create a game with your friends in real-time.

    • Building Restful API with Flask, Postman & PyTest – Part 1 (Read Time: 6 Mins)

      For the first part of the 3 part series of the building Restful API with Flask, Postman and PyTest.

      I will be covering the explanation of the libraries and tools used to create a expenses manager project based upon Testing Python Applications with Pytest so that you will understand why you might use these tools or libraries as part of your development process to develop APIs in Flask.

    • What is a Java constructor?

      Java is (disputably) the undisputed heavyweight in open source, cross-platform programming. While there are many great cross-platform frameworks, few are as unified and direct as Java.

      Of course, Java is also a pretty complex language with subtleties and conventions all its own. One of the most common questions about Java relates to constructors: What are they and what are they used for?

Leftovers
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) metrics: How to measure success

    You’ve identified a business process to streamline with robotic process automation (RPA) and decide it’s time to move forward. How will you know if it’s working as intended?

    As with any significant undertaking, you need to define how to measure your results. Assuming things go well and you’re beginning to achieve your intended goals, measurement will also be key to optimizing for additional gains – and bolstering the ongoing business case for automating additional processes, especially if you face skeptics in your organization.

  • Science
    • Paper publication prior to PhD thesis submission rule may go

      “The measurement of scientific success and its intertwining with the scientific publishing industry has changed the evaluation in science and scientific publishing,” Prof. VijayRaghavan says. “The large volume of publications and our self-imposed metrics of success has conflated quantisation with measuring quality, and precision with accuracy. How much and where you have published is what is looked at. This must change, bottom-up and top-down.”

    • On burnout, and getting past it

      Burnout is an interpersonal phenomenon. It stems from the interactions and relationships between people. Different people define it differently, but the short explanation from World Psychiatry sums it up well: “A clear link has been found between a lack of control and burnout.”

      The article goes on to say: “On the contrary, when employees have the perceived capacity to influence decisions that affect their work, to exercise professional autonomy, and to gain access to the resources necessary to do an effective job, they are more likely to experience job engagement.”

      In other words, when you work hard but feel ineffective, burnout takes over.

      Some burnout-prone careers include information technology, information security, and emergency medicine. In my early career as an EMT, there were plenty of outcomes that I felt I had no control over. I did my best and worked quickly but situations occasionally turned for the worse.

      Being busy is not a cure, but a symptom. A great article from the Harvard Business Review links busyness with a phenomenon called “tunneling,” where a person deeply focuses on one part of their work and loses sight of the bigger picture—or the “why” behind what they do. Research from the Scientific American Mind suggests that we lose 13 – 14 IQ points when we are stuck in this “busyness paradox.” That means an average person loses over 10% of their overall cognitive ability.

    • India Will Soon Launch Its Own Space Station, Says ISRO Chie

      As suggested by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s Chief K Sivan, India will soon get its own space station. The aim of launching an Indian space station is a part of the Gaganyaan mission and the announcement was made today.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • From Dollar Hegemony to Global Warming: Globalization, Glyphosate and Doctrines of Consent

      There has been an on-going tectonic shift in the West since the abandonment of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. This accelerated when the USSR ended and has resulted in the ‘neoliberal globalization’ we see today.

      At the same time, there has been an unprecedented campaign to re-engineer social consensus in the West. Part of this strategy, involves getting populations in Western countries to fixate on ‘global warming’, ‘gender equity’ and ‘anti-racism’: by focusing on identity politics and climate change, the devastating effects and injustices brought about by globalized capitalism and associated militarism largely remain unchallenged by the masses and stay firmly in the background.

      This is the argument presented by Denis Rancourt, researcher at Ontario Civil Liberties Association, in a new report. Rancourt is a former full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada and author of ‘Geo-economics andgeo-politics drive successive eras of predatory globalization and socialengineering: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, andanti-racism as state doctrines’ (April 2019).

      In the report, Rancourt references Michael Hudson’s 1972 book ‘Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire’ to help explain the key role of maintaining dollar hegemony and the importance of the petrodollar to US global dominance. Aside from the significance of oil, Rancourt argues that the US has an existential interest to ensure that opioid drugs are traded in US dollars, another major global commodity. This explains the US occupation of Afghanistan. He also pinpoints the importance of US agribusiness and the arms industry in helping to secure US geostrategic goals.

    • Humans eat a credit card-size amount of plastic every week: study

      Humans are gobbling up around 5 grams of microplastics in their weekly diets — or about as much as your ATM card, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

      “For the first time, this study offers precise estimations on the amounts of plastic ingested by humans,” Dr Thava Palanisami, who took part in the study, tells the Brussels Times.

    • Humans ingest one credit card worth of plastic every week

      Every week, the average human ingests around 2,000 particles of microplastics — or the equivalent in weight of a bank card, a new study published on Wednesday shows.

      Beer, shellfish, salt and water are the products found to contain the most quantities of microplastics by the study, which was led by researchers of the University of Newcastle, Australia and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

      By analyzing over 50 different studies into plastic ingestion by humans, researches found that the average person is eating and drinking 5 grams of microplastics each week, or the weight equivalent of a regular credit card.

    • You May Be Swallowing a Credit Card’s Weight in Plastic Weekly, Says New Study

      It may not sound appetizing, but a new study found that the global average of microplastic ingestion could be five grams every week. That’s about the same weight as a credit card. Put another way, it’s a teaspoonful of plastic, 2,000 tiny bits of plastic; you are inadvertently swallowing every single week, according to CNN.

    • You could be swallowing a credit card’s weight in plastic every week

      Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new study suggests.

      This plastic contamination comes from “microplastics” — particles smaller than five millimeters — which are making their way into our food, drinking water and even the air.
      Around the world, people ingest an average of around 2,000 microplastic particles a week, according to the study by the University of Newcastle, in Australia.
      These tiny particles can originate from a variety of sources, including artificial clothes fibers, microbeads found in some toothpastes, or bigger pieces of plastic which gradually break into smaller pieces when they’re thrown away and exposed to the elements.

    • Alabama’s Ashes Enlarge On Flint’s Lead

      Coal is mostly carbon. When burned it turns into carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that merely heats the planet and sends the climate into a gradual, though accelerating, death spiral. But the parts that don’t burn can attack you quicker.

      Mercury: can poison you in numerous ways including effects on your nervous system and brain that leave you stupider than you were born to be. Arsenic: can kill you outright so it doesn’t matter if you’ve become stupid. Radiation: low levels of “background” radiation occur everywhere, and burning away the carbon in coal concentrates any radiation it contains in the ash left behind. Also arsenic, also mercury, also other unhealthy whatevers.

      The output of coal mines goes mainly to power plants, which burn it to boil water into steam, to turn turbines, to generate electricity. These plants usually mix the residue of ash with water and pump the slurry into an adjoining pond. Because water can absorb the stray heat from all this burning, the plants like to perch along shorelines and suck in cooling water. That means the ash ponds are normally near shorelines too.

      This has two consequences. First: If the ashy pits are leaky—as they frequently are—the toxins in the ash seep into the neighboring waterbody or into ground water, then into the waterbody and into wells drilled for domestic uses. Second: If an ash pond breaches, its noxious contents are going into the bordering waterbody and then wherever the abiding currents care to take it.

      These ash dumps generally began decades ago at a handy nearby swamp or slough that received the gunk without complaint and without much regulatory concern. As the ash accumulated and threatened to overflow, the power plant operators erected retaining walls or dams to contain the slurry. They were often not rigorously engineered structures and were sometimes built of coal ash itself. As they rose higher and higher the ashy concoction contained by the dubious dams expanded to apocalyptic volumes.

    • Read @ATKearney: How Will Cultured Meat and Meat Alternatives Disrupt the Agricultural and Food Industry?

      A number of meat alternatives are evolving, each with the potential to disrupt the multibillion-dollar global meat industry.

    • Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts Predict

      The future of meat consumption doesn’t lie with dead animals.

      That’s the conclusion drawn by a new report from consultancy firm AT Kearney, which predicts that 60 percent of “meat” in 2040 won’t come from slaughtered animals. Instead, it will come from either lab-grown meat or plant-based replacements like Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger.

    • What Are ‘Forever Chemicals’ And How Are They Getting in Your Food?

      A recent analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found chemical contamination of PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at multiple levels of the U.S. food supply chain.

      However, the agency maintains that their findings don’t represent a likely health concern for consumers.

    • The Bitter Legacy of the East Chicago Lead Crisis

      Akeeshea Daniels once lived in the West Calumet public housing complex in the shadow of a former lead smelter in East Chicago, Indiana. She worried about the pervasive lead contamination in the area and hoped that the government would fix the problem. Officials tried — and are still trying — to clean up the mess, but in many ways their efforts have made life harder for residents like Daniels.
      After letting industrial pollution linger for decades, in 2016, city and federal officials forced residents of the housing complex to move — but they neglected to provide them adequate means to find new homes. Residents continued to pay rent at the contaminated complex even as they searched for housing elsewhere. Some ended up homeless or relocating to neighborhoods mired in violence.
      Daniels struggled to find somewhere she could afford. Every time she had applied to a new apartment, the landlord would run a credit check. The repeated credit checks put a dent in her credit score. “A lot of our credit scores took a hit after they were run at least 19 times total,” she said. “Nobody ever said anything about trying to help us build our credit back up.” Her lower credit score made it difficult to secure a lease.

    • Taiwan Recalls Quaker Oats Products Imported From U.S. After Detecting Glyphosate

      Quaker Oats products sold in Taiwan were found to contain glyphosate levels exceeding the legal limit following a random inspection from the country’s FDA. Photo credit: Standard Foods Corporation

      The 10 products, including those from the Quaker Oats brand, were found to have glyphosate residue levels between 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 1.8ppm, the agency said, prompting a recall of nearly 62,000 kilograms of oatmeal.

      Taiwan does not permit residues levels of glyphosate to exceed 0.1 ppm, and the companies that violated the regulated standard may face fines between NT$60,000-$200 million (USD$1,800-$6 million).

      Taiwan’s FDA said that glyphosate is an herbicide often used in other countries, but because Taiwan does not produce their oats it has a zero tolerance policy on glyphosate residue in oatmeal products in the absence of a set maximum residue limits, the Taipei Times reported.

    • FDA says pesticide residue found in 10 oatmeal items

      A random inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month found 10 of 36 oatmeal products tested contained pesticide residues exceeding legal levels, including Quaker Oats products, the agency said yesterday.
      The 10 were found to have glyphosate (pesticide) residue levels between 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 1.8ppm, it said.

      They were “Old Fashioned Quaker Oats” and “Quaker Quick 1-minute Oats” sold at Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福), Costco Wholesale Corp and RT-Mart (大潤發), “Coach’s Oats” sold at RT-Mart, “Bob’s Red Mill Instant Rolled Oats” sold at Pacific Sogo Department Stores Co (太平洋崇光百貨), “Fifty50 Hearty Cut Oatmeal” and “McCann’s Imported Irish Oatmeal” sold at City’super, “Australia Fine Oat Flakes” by Fuyuan Food (富元食品) sold at Wellcome Supermarket (頂好超市) outlets and oatmeal (大燕麥片) by Fengyuan Food (逢元食品).

    • Pennsylvania Bill Aims to Shift Water Clean-Up Costs From Residents to Polluters

      In response to chemical contamination from a naval station in his district, Representative Todd Stephens, a Pennsylvania House Representative from Montgomery County, is pushing for legislation that would remove the financial pressure on citizens to clean their own drinking water.

      This push from Rep. Stephens is indicative of a larger problem — figuring out how to pay to clean drinking water from the confirmed 21 sites throughout Pennsylvania contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

      The chemicals are used in products such as stain- and water-resistant clothing, nonstick pots and pans, firefighting foam, carpets, and furniture, and have been linked to various cancers, thyroid problems, low birth weights, and other problems. They’re increasingly showing up in water throughout the U.S.

      The PFAS class of chemicals includes more than 5,000 individual chemicals with similar properties. PFAS don’t readily break down once they’re in the environment, and they can accumulate in animal and human tissues.

      PA House Bill 1410 would fund cleanup efforts using some state tax revenue generated by development on and around the original pollution site, Republican Rep. Stephens told EHN, and would also require the state to develop a statewide program to address PFAS contamination in drinking water.

    • All Criminal Charges Dropped in Flint Water Scandal

      Prosecutors