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05.25.17

Links 25/5/2017: Mesa 17.1.1, Qt 5.9.0 RC, and Much More

Posted in News Roundup at 10:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The development of Global Scale

    The architecture of Nextcloud is a classic Web Application architecture. I picked this architecture 7.5 years ago because it is very well known and is proven to be scaled relatively easily. This usually works with off the shelf technologies like http load balancers, clusters of Linux webservers and clustered databases.

  • Rubicon Project CEO: ‘Open source will be the gold standard’

    The discussion covers: how the dominance of the duopoly is arguably the company’s biggest life-line; how open source code will lead to a more equitable system; plus potential future acquisitions in his turn around plan.

  • Broad releases open source version of genomic analysis software
  • Sprint executive: Chaos in open source indicative of startup culture, and that’s just fine

    Mobile operators are embracing open source like never before, and there’s a lot of confusion around the myriad projects and efforts that are underway, but that doesn’t worry Sprint’s vice president of technology, Ron Marquardt.

    As a rough analogy, he says the normative standards bodies that have been around for a long time are sort of like Fortune 500 companies. They have a purpose, they’re big in scale and scope, and you know very clearly who to go to for mobile standards. It’s not a question of which of many organizations to go to.

  • How open source software will drive the future of auto innovations

    Automotive companies are shifting from bending metal to bending bits. Soon they will be offering software and services to complement their manufactured metal.

  • Open source for hybrid cloud success: Is it an open and shut case?

    The FOSS acronym – standing for free, open source software – has been a clarion call for many since the open source movement started, despite being nominally based on a misinterpretation of what open source is all about.

  • IoT and the Move to Open Source GIS

    In my 15 years in the geospatial industry, I’ve seen our industry respond to certain trends and take the lead in others. As with most industries, we regarded the Cloud with a certain amount of suspicion and trepidation – after all, many companies’ geospatial data is their “ace in the hole” and they initially felt better and safer keeping it on premise, on their desktops or on servers. Eventually they realized that this led to siloed data and limited access; this, and the cost factor, led to the migration to the Cloud. Data has moved from the back office to the front office. The Cloud is not only used to deliver content, but also to provide an elastic infrastructure to host, analyze, and deliver value to a global set of users.

  • Hortonworks And Red Hat: Cloud IaaS Focus Pays Off
  • Google, IBM, and Lyft launch open source project Istio

    Google, IBM, and Lyft on Wednesday announced the first public release of Istio, an open source service that gives developers a vendor-neutral way to connect, secure, manage and monitor networks of different microservices on cloud platforms.

  • Which technologies are poised to take over in open source?

    When you think of open source technologies, you probably think of the stalwarts, the technologies that have been around for years and years. It makes sense: According to a survey conducted in Q4 of 2016 by my company, Greythorn, 30%+ of participants said established technologies are among the top ten they primarily use.

    [...]

    When we examine the top 10 technologies, eight out of the 10 are 15+ years old, and nine out of 10 are 10+ years old (Docker is the only younger technology represented). However, looking to the next 20 top technologies, we see an onslaught of new arrivals to the industry: 16% of people surveyed are using Apache Cassandra (released in 2008, 1.0 release in 2011), 15% are using Spark (open sourced in 2012, 1.0 release in 2014), 14% are using NGINX (1.0 release in 2011), and 11% are using Kafka (released in early 2011, not at 1.0 release).

  • How I used open source tools to build a theater lighting system

    The things we do for family, eh? Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself, this not being the first time my perfectionism has led me to do far more work than a task originally required.

  • How to avoid technical debt in open source communities

    "Every engineer nowadays should be spending a couple of hours a week working on open source projects that their company relies on," he said.

  • Chef sidles up to security for bringing automated compliance to devops
  • Events

    • GNOME.Asia Summit 2017 to be hosted in Chongqing China
    • Rootconf/Devconf 2017

      This year’s Rootconf was special as it also hosted Devconf for the first time in India. The conference took place at MLR Convention Centre, JP Nagar, Bangalore on 11-12 May, 2017. The event had 2 parallel tracks running, 1 was for Rootconf and the other one for Devconf. Rootconf is a place like other Hasgeek events where you get to see friends and make new friends, learn about what they are up to and share your stints.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Thimble Gets a Makeover

        That’s why Mozilla built Thimble nearly five years ago. Much like Firefox enables users to browse the web, Thimble enables users to learn the web. It’s our browser-based tool for learning to code.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org

      So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM ’17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that’s fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn’t enforce the GPL just doesn’t make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don’t know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users’ freedom, I mean it.

      So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don’t have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple.

    • Sixteen new GNU releases in the month of May
  • Licensing/Legal

    • Court Ruling Supports Contractual and Statutory Enforcement of Open Source Software Licenses

      Artifex Software provides “Ghostscript” software that interprets Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) files and other page description language files. Artifex distributes Ghostscript under a “dual license” model, offering its customers two licensing options: they can either use Ghostscript for free under the terms of the GNU General Public License v 3.0 (GPL), or purchase a commercial license to use the program without the restrictions of the GPL.2

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Was The Disney Movie ‘Hacking Ransom’ a Giant Hoax?

    Last week, Disney boss Bog Iger revealed that one of his company’s movies had been stolen and was being held hostage for a bitcoin ransom. With press speculation that it might be the latest ‘Pirates’ movie, TF has spent more than a week trying to find out more. The whole thing seems highly questionable.

  • Science

    • Colombian biologist cleared of criminal charges for posting another scientist’s thesis online

      A Colombian biologist who faced a criminal trial for posting another scientist’s thesis online has been cleared of copyright violation — an offence that, under Colombian law, might have brought him a jail sentence. Diego Gómez Hoyos was handed down his ‘not guilty’ verdict on 24 May by a judge in Bogotá, although the prosecutor in the case has appealed the decision.

    • Google’s AlphaGo AI beats world’s best human Go player

      DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI has defeated Ke Jie in the first round of a best-of-three Go match in China.

    • Here’s Trump’s plan to destroy the US science budget

      The budget proposal confirms fears that Trump intends to cut nearly $5.8 billion in funding from the National Institutes of Health — about 18 percent of the agency’s total budget. It also cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from infectious disease programs at the CDC, and an additional $841 million from the National Science Foundation, which funds basic scientific research.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 23 million fewer Americans insured under House GOP bill, says CBO

      The House Republican health care bill would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under Obamacare, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

    • Access to Birth Control Is Not a Religious Debate

      When it comes to women’s health, our leaders in Washington are decades behind those who will be directly affected by their decisions.

      In a move that should outrage anyone who wishes to retain the ability to plan whether and when to have children and to control their own reproductive health decisions, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that opens the door for his Department of Health and Human Services to gut the Affordable Care Act provision that has broadened access to copay-free birth control to more than 55 million women across the country — and for employers to determine whether or not they can refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their employees on the basis of their religious beliefs.

    • Feds probing psychiatric hospitals for locking in patients to boost profits

      According to several sources, the UHS’ chain of psychiatric facilities—the largest in the country—will delay patients’ discharge dates until the day insurance coverage runs out, regardless of the need of the patient. Because the hospitals are reimbursed per day, the practice extracts the maximum amount of money from insurance companies. It also can be devastating to patients, who are needlessly kept from returning to their jobs and families. To cover up the scheme, medical notes are sometimes altered and doctors come up with excuses, such as medication changes, sources allege. Employees say they repeatedly hear the phrase: “don’t leave days on the table.”

    • Third of NHS children’s mental health services ‘face cuts or closure’

      A third of children’s mental health workers say their service is facing cuts or closure, a new survey has revealed.

      Research carried out by four major medical organisations highlighted the “extremely concerning” state of mental health services for children and young people.

      Of the more than 3,000 NHS counsellors, therapists and psychoanalysts who took part in the survey, 84 per cent said it has become more difficult for children to access the help they need, with children now required to have more severe levels of illness in order to get help.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Microsoft says its best not to fiddle with its Windows 10 group policies (that don’t work)

      On Monday, we revealed that a security researcher had used a packet sniffer to show that many settings designed to prevent access to the internet were being ignored with connections to a range of third party servers including advertising hubs.

    • What’s got a vast attack surface and runs on Linux? Windows Defender, of course

      Google Project Zero’s Windows bug-hunter and fuzz-boffin Tavis Ormandy has given the world an insight into how he works so fast: he works on Linux, and with the release of a personal project on GitHub, others can too.

      Ormandy’s project is to port Windows DLLs to Linux for his vuln tests (“So that’s how he works so fast!” Penguinistas around the world are saying).

      Typically self-effacing, Ormandy made this simple announcement on Twitter (to a reception mixing admiration, humour, and horror):

    • A Samba remote code execution vulnerability

      Distributors are already shipping the fix; there’s also a workaround in the advisory for those who cannot update immediately.

    • Hacked in Translation – from Subtitles to Complete Takeover

      Check Point researchers revealed a new attack vector which threatens millions of users worldwide – attack by subtitles. By crafting malicious subtitle files, which are then downloaded by a victim’s media player, attackers can take complete control over any type of device via vulnerabilities found in many popular streaming platforms, including VLC, Kodi (XBMC), Popcorn-Time and strem.io. We estimate there are approximately 200 million video players and streamers that currently run the vulnerable software, making this one of the most widespread, easily accessed and zero-resistance vulnerability reported in recent years.

    • Check Point Discovers Media Subtitle Vulnerability Impacting Millions
    • How does Rakos malware attack embedded Linux systems?

      Rakos attacks embedded Linux systems using methods similar to those used by the Moose worm, where it tries to brute force the login credentials via SSH on vulnerable devices. When a vulnerable device is found, the malware transfers the malicious binary to the target system and downloads the configuration file that lists the command-and-control (C&C) servers. The malicious binary starts a web server to accept commands from remote systems. The C&C connection can be used to update the malicious binary and the configuration file.

    • Congressional Rep Pushes His ‘Hack Back’ Bill By Claiming It Would Have Prevented The WannaCry Ransomware Attack
    • Best password management tool.
    • Top hacker conference to target voting machines

      When over 25,000 of them descend on Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas at the end of July for DEFCON, the world’s largest hacking conference, organizers are planning to have waiting what they call "a village" of different opportunities to test how easily voting machines can be manipulated.

    • A wormable code-execution bug has lurked in Samba for 7 years. Patch now!

      The seven-year-old flaw, indexed as CVE-2017-7494, can be reliably exploited with just one line of code to execute malicious code, as long as a few conditions are met. Those requirements include vulnerable computers that (a) make file- and printer-sharing port 445 reachable on the Internet, (b) configure shared files to have write privileges, and (c) use known or guessable server paths for those files. When those conditions are satisfied, remote attackers can upload any code of their choosing and cause the server to execute it, possibly with unfettered root privileges, depending on the vulnerable platform.

    • Dated Linux bug might be key to lesser Wanna Cry

      Linux, the widely used free operating system, uses a module called Samba to share files in the same way Windows does. Older versions of Samba — 3.5 through 4.4 — are vulnerable to an attack that is similar to, but smaller than, the one behind Wanna Cry, the ransomware that caused a worldwide panic earlier this month.

    • Samba Patches Critical Remote Code Execution Flaw
    • Twitter Patches High Impact Account Tweeting Flaw

      A basic premise of Twitter is that the user (@) is the one who is able to send a message for any given account. But that premise was challenged by a security bug that Twitter patched at the end of February that was only publicly disclosed on May 22.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pakistan harbouring terrorists in Afghanistan, says US intelligence officials

      "So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisation — we define them as terrorist organisations, they hold them in reserve so that — if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest," Stewart said.

    • Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters

      U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

      Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

      North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

    • Philippines’ Duterte may place entire country under martial law

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he wouldn’t rule out placing the entire country under martial law if the threat of Islamic State spreads.

      Duterte cut short a visit to Russia and placed the southern island of Mindanao under military rule on Tuesday, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary.

    • The Pentagon Can’t Believe Trump Told Another President About Nuclear Subs Near North Korea

      Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea

      “We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movement stealth is key to their mission.

      While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of forces. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

    • Speaking in Fascism’s Tongues

      I was a child when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos decreed martial law in 1972, casting a long spell over the Philippines. “Martial-law baby” became the phrase for people like me, Filipinos who grew up under authoritarianism, blind to its buildup. We martial-law babies are living an eerie moment today: With Rodrigo Duterte now president, it’s like history is making a bad pun.

      When norms shift, one of the first things to change is language. In a fascist world, shocking neologisms become everyday speech. “Stockade” was a special verb I learned as a little girl. “Na-stockade hiya,” or “he was put in the stockade,” was the explanation for someone jailed for staying out after curfew during martial law. You’d say “na-curfew” when a playmate got stuck in your home after hours and to avoid becoming “na-stockade” would stay for a sleepover.

      [...]

      It was the Vietnam War during my childhood, and the Philippines was in the hands of a military state propped up by shipments of U.S. arms. The citizens who had no rights then were student radicals, peasant activists, phantom communists. Mr. Marcos’s government arrested 70,000 people, tortured 35,000 and killed 3,257 between 1975 and 1985. Today, the government’s targets are drug addicts and drug dealers, and a slew of bystanders, including children. The death toll in the nearly 11 months that Mr. Duterte has been in power already is more than twice the official tally of political murders during one decade of the Marcos regime. I watch in real time how fascism changes our tongues.

    • Don’t let dictator Duterte mortgage our future like Marcos did

      Everything seems to be going Duterte’s way. With Western criticism of his war on drugs and anti-human rights policies, Duterte has found a friend in China, a country that is not exactly famous for its respect and adherence to human rights or democracy, having been an authoritarian one-party communist state in the past 77 years.

      Duterte’s relationship with China may be as personal as it is now official government policy. And it is paying off. In the recent UNHRC universal periodic review for the Philippines, only China out of 47 countries believed Senator Cayetano’s spiel on the Duterte regime’s “sterling” human rights record. The rest of the 46 countries did not buy Cayetano’s sales pitch and instead asked the Duterte regime to stop the extrajudicial killings under his government.

    • Trump calls Kim Jong Un a ‘madman with nuclear weapons,’ according to transcript of Duterte call

      President Trump labeled North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a private phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month, just days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim.

      In the April 29 call, Trump sought Duterte’s input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable” and expressed some satisfaction in North Korea’s recent failed missile tests, noting that “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript of the conversation made by the Philippines government on May 2 and obtained Tuesday by The Washington Post.

      Duterte responded that Kim is “playing with his bombs, his toys” and offered that “his mind is not working well and he just might go crazy one moment.” That prompted Trump to point out that the United States has “a lot of firepower over there,” including “two nuclear submarines” sent by the Pentagon to the region last month.

    • Lindsey Graham on Trump Ally Rodrigo Duterte: “This Is Not a Guy We Want to Empower”

      South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the Republican Party’s leading voices on defense and foreign affairs, said Wednesday that it is wrong to endorse the campaign of extrajudicial killing being carried out by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

      On Tuesday, The Intercept reported that President Trump called Duterte with the specific goal of congratulating him on the campaign, which Duterte describes as a “drug war.”

      “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte at the beginning of their call, according to the transcript obtained by The Intercept. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

      Graham said that any assessment of Duterte’s campaign has to take into account how he’s going about it. “I disagree with the way he’s carrying out the drug war. I disagree with the authoritarian manner with which he’s running the country, but I don’t know what the White House said or did, I wasn’t there. But I can tell you my own view, this is not a guy we want to empower,” Graham told The Intercept. “You just have to stand up for the rule of law.”

    • Duterte threatens martial law for all of Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Wednesday to impose martial law nationwide to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

      Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday for the southern region of Mindanao — which makes up roughly one third of the country and is home to 20 million people — in an immediate response to the attacks by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

    • Duterte weighs martial law across Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is considering imposing martial law across the whole country, to stop the rise of ISIL-linked groups.

    • Duterte Is The Philippines’ Greatest Threat: Congress Should Cancel His Martial Law

      President Duterte used the excuse of terrorism in Mindanao to declare martial law there on May 23, a martial law he is itching to expand to the rest of the country. On multiple occasions he has mooted the idea of martial law, emergency powers, or a “revolutionary government” for the Philippines to address issues as varied as traffic in Manila, impeachment, a budget impasse, and his drug war. He also suggested that he could dispense with local elections and appoint 42,000 Barangay leaders, the smallest political unit in the Philippines. This is contrary to the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, as is his threat to extend martial law past the 60-day maximum. Congress should revoke his martial law declaration, as is its constitutional right.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA director: ‘We are back in the business of stealing secrets’

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a blunt declaration Tuesday: “We are back in the business of stealing secrets.”

      The remark from Pompeo, made to a small group of reporters on Tuesday, was a tacit jab at his predecessor. Former agency director John Brennan turned heads in March of last year when he told National Public Radio that the U.S. doesn’t “steal secrets.”

    • FBI Insider Threat Program Documents Show How Little It Takes To Be Branded A Threat To The Agency

      Jason Leopold has obtained the FBI’s training slides for its “insider threat” program. This would be the same program the FBI refused to discuss in detail with the Senate, walking out of the briefing when asked how the program would avoid sweeping up legitimate whistleblowers.

      The federal government acts as though it’s receptive to whistleblowing, but then undermines that sentiment with pretty much everything else it does. These insider threat programs have only become more severe after the Snowden leaks, asking federal government employees to treat normal, everyday behavior as inherently suspicious.

    • ‘In Germany, such a violation is not even punishable’

      Sweden has dropped rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The German criminal law expert Nikolaos Gazeas talks about extradition and whether Britain can still arrest Assange for skipping bail years ago.

    • Court Orders Government To Provide More Information About Withheld Information in Laura Poitras’ FOIA Lawsuit

      Laura Poitras—the Academy and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist behind CITIZENFOUR and Risk—wants to know why she was stopped and detained at the U.S. border every time she entered the country between July 2006 and June 2012. EFF is representing Poitras in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit aimed at answering this question. Since we filed the complaint in July 2015, the government has turned over hundreds of pages of highly redacted records, but it has failed to provide us with the particular justification for each withholding—as it is required to do. In March, in a win for transparency, a federal judge called foul and ordered the government to explain with particularity its rationale for withholding each document.

    • Senators From Both Parties Blast “Outrageous” Trump Call Praising Duterte for Anti-Drug Killing Spree

      Donald Trump’s praise for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drug campaign drew condemnation from leading foreign policy voices in both parties Wednesday, who were shocked the president would encourage what the State Department describes as “extrajudicial killings.”

      The Intercept reported Tuesday that Trump told Duterte in a private call that he endorsed the murderous anti-drug campaign, which has killed well over 7,000 people. Duterte has unapologetically compared himself to Hitler and said he would “be happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in the Philippines.

      According to the transcript of an April phone call obtained and authenticated by The Intercept, Trump had nothing but kind words for Duterte’s policy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Inside the Effort to Kill Protections for Endangered Animals

      The ESA passed the House and Senate by margins that in the current partisan climate would be astonishing: 92 to zero in the Senate, 390 to 12 in the House. President Richard Nixon, a Republican, signed the law without hesitation.

      I asked Dingell if he could get the ESA passed today.

      "I don’t think I could pass the Lord’s Prayer in that nuthouse," he told me, referring to Congress. "The ESA was written so that scientific principles would be used to protect species. Science would make the decisions, science would decide the case. Today we have a bunch of antiscience ignoramuses and vicious lying people in Congress. And we’re going to pay a hellacious price."

    • Are Some Whales Just Too Big To Survive Climate Change?

      Nothing defines whales more than their size: The 100-foot blue whale is the largest creature that has ever existed, and many other species are 50-feet long or more. But it’s an accident of evolutionary timing that we know whales as giants. New research suggests most whales weren’t much more than 20-feet long until just two or three million years ago, when the oceans suddenly got a whole lot cooler.

      This raises a question: With the oceans set to get very warm, very fast, does that spell doom for these massive creatures?

    • Scientists just published an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change

      In a sign of growing tensions between scientists and the Trump administration, researchers published a scientific paper Wednesday that was conceived and written as an explicit refutation to an assertion by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about climate change.

      The study, in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, sets up a direct test of a claim by Pruitt, made in written Senate comments following his confirmation hearing, that “over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming.”

  • Finance

    • Uber Plans Millions in Back Pay After Shorting NYC Drivers

      The ride-hailing company has previously misled drivers about how much they could make and miscalculated fares. In this case, Uber was taking its cut of fares based on the pretax sum, instead of after taxes and fees as stated in its terms of service. The issue was also raised in a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Uber filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. In March, Uber acknowledged that it had underestimated drivers’ pay in Philadelphia by millions of dollars.

    • Robots are set to replace half of retail workers in the US

      The most likely area for automation is cashier positions, which can be "easily" converted, says the report. Women are expected to be especially hard-hit by this, as they hold 73 per cent of cashier positions in the States.

    • Benefit sanctions leaving pupils hungry, Michael Gove’s former right-hand man warns

      Cuts to school support and benefit sanctions are damaging the education of Britain’s children and leaving teachers to buy food for pupils out of their own money, Michael Gove’s former right-hand man has warned.

      Sam Freedman, who was senior policy advisor to Mr Gove during his tenure as Education Secretary, said politicians of all parties had “abandoned” disadvantaged communities when it came to schools.

    • Africa subsidises the rest of the world by over $40 billion in one year, according to new research

      Much more wealth is leaving the world’s most impoverished continent than is entering it, according to new research into total financial flows into and out of Africa. The study finds that African countries receive $161.6 billion in resources such as loans, remittances and aid each year, but lose $203 billion through factors including tax avoidance, debt payments and resource extraction, creating an annual net financial deficit of over $40 billion.

    • Singapore ‘vending machine’ dispenses Ferraris, Lamborghinis

      Forget about soft drinks and potato chips – a “vending machine” in Singapore is offering up luxury vehicles, including Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

      Used car seller Autobahn Motors opened a futuristic 15-story showroom in December, with vehicles on display in 60 slots, billing it as the “world’s largest luxury car vending machine”.

    • Trump reportedly called Germany “bad, very bad” and threatened to stop Americans from buying BMWs

      Donald Trump’s visit to Brussels today has been one controversy after another. First he brusquely pushed Montenegro’s prime minister aside to get to the front of a photo-op. Then he declined to support Article Five, the cornerstone of NATO’s alliance, in a speech. Now, two of Germany’s leading newspapers are reporting that in a meeting with the EU’s top leadership he insulted Germany, threatened to cut off its car imports to the US, and displayed a stunning lack of knowledge about basic trade policy.

    • A beginner’s guide to Ethereum tokens

      Before learning about Ethereum tokens, it is important to first understand the basics of Ethereum. Please see my beginner’s guide to Ethereum for those new to this concept entirely. Ethereum tokens are simply digital assets that are being built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. They benefit from Ethereum’s existing infrastructure instead of developers having to build an entirely new blockchain. They also strengthen the Ethereum ecosystem by driving demand for ether, the native currency of Ethereum, needed to power the smart contracts. This beginner’s guide should help those who are new to digital assets to understand Ethereum tokens at a high level and how they are different than Ethereum.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump pushes around NATO; lecture seen as unsettling alliance

      When President Donald Trump lectured NATO members on their contributions to the trans-Atlantic alliance, he demonstrated a lack of understanding about how the group works and potentially alienated the US’ closest allies, analysts said.

      The speech comes at a time when Washington’s longstanding partnerships with the UK and Israel have endured friction over intelligence gaffes by the new administration.

      “Diplomatically, the speech was inept at best and deliberately insulting at worst,” said Jeff Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    • At NATO Headquarters, Trump Fails Another Leadership Test

      Even when a moment designed to affirm some of America’s basic principles is dangled before him, President Donald Trump has a way of batting it aside. In Brussels on Thursday, as he stood at a rostrum at a ceremony in front of the new NATO headquarters, Trump had, to his left, a mangled girder from the World Trade Center; to his right, broken slabs of the Berlin Wall, both of which were being dedicated as memorials; and, behind him, the leaders of the twenty-seven other countries in the alliance. One of them, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, had just delivered remarks that served as a reminder that, until she was thirty-five years old, she had lived behind that wall, and had been part of the civic movement that peacefully reunified Germany. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, who had introduced Merkel, noted that she had been among the crowds filling the streets of East Berlin on the night the Wall came down. A few minutes later, when Stoltenberg introduced Trump, he summoned a personal connection for him, too, noting that the 9/11 terrorists “struck at the heart of your own home town, New York.” That attack marked the only time that NATO has invoked Article 5 of its charter, the mutual-defense provision, which the new headquarters’ 9/11 memorial was also supposed to commemorate. In what may have been an attempt at Trump-friendly sloganeering, Stoltenberg summed up Article 5 by declaring, gamely, “All for one, and one for all!” But Trump had come to praise other ideals, other lands, and other leaders.

    • Tory poll lead slashed to five points as Jeremy Corbyn gains ground on Theresa May

      THE Tories’ poll lead has been slashed to just five points as campaigns resume after the Manchester bombing.

      A new survey from YouGov puts Theresa May’s party on 43%, down one point since the previous week.

      But over the same period Labour have gained three points, putting them on 38% and in striking distance of victory.

    • Donald Trump has just met with the new leader of the secular world – Pope Francis

      After two days lecturing a collection of head-choppers, dictators, torturers and land thieves, Donald Trump at last met a good guy on Wednesday. Pope Francis didn’t ask for a $100bn (£77.2bn) arms deal for the Vatican. [...]

    • Black lawmaker addresses lynching threats on House floor
    • Republicans want to leave you more voicemail — without ever ringing your cellphone

      It’s part of a push by groups, including the U.S. Chamber, to relax the FCC’s robocalling rules.

    • This suspension of democracy is a grave error
    • Political TKO? Reporter charges Greg Gianforte ‘just body slammed me and broke my glasses’
    • Republican candidate ‘body-slams’ Guardian reporter in Montana

      The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, "Get the hell out of here."

    • Our Embarrassment in Chief’s International Trip Is No Laughing Matter

      But let’s not grade a guy holding the nuclear codes on a curve. Three days into the trip, and Trump’s already showed the world that the United States is being governed by a brittle man-child. And if he manages to get through it without causing a major international incident, it will only be because foreign leaders have done a competent job dumbing down any complex diplomatic issues that may arise and feeding the insatiable ego of our embarrassment in chief.

    • Wilbur Ross Is a Disgrace to Himself and His Country

      It is not a "theory" that Saudi Arabia is an aggressively authoritarian state. It’s a well-documented fact—of the sort the US secretary of commerce should be well aware of.

    • Trump lost the ‘alpha male handshake’ game on his global charm offensive tour. Sad!

      U.S. President and noted buffoon Donald Trump likes to play a manly-man mind game on the bros he shakes hands with.

      He yanks their arms and shakes them aggressively, and won’t let them let go until he’s shaken them up for an awkwardly long time.

      Sometimes he pulls them toward himself, knocking them off balance, because they’re sissy-boys and he’s a manly-man.

      Welp, Trump’s bush league domination moves didn’t work on the president of Tajikistan.

    • Maybot policy reboot ends in an embarrassing interview meltdown

      “Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed,” the Supreme Leader snarled, her eyes narrowing into a death stare, her face contorted and her arms spread wide, twitching manically. “Nothing has changed.”

      Everyone at Conservative party’s Welsh manifesto launch in Wrexham saw it rather differently. They had distinctly heard her say she would be reversing the Conservative party policy on social care that she had introduced in her English manifesto launch in Halifax the previous Thursday. Making it one of the quickest manifesto U-turns in history.

    • Demonization of Soros recalls old anti-Semitic conspiracies

      In most nations, having a billionaire financier and philanthropist would be a source of great pride, a person many elected officials would want to cozy up to.

      Not for George Soros.

      The demonization of the American-Hungarian billionaire and Holocaust survivor has spread from Hungary and Moscow across Europe and into the United States, with the 86-year-old increasingly accused by nationalists of using his money to force his liberal values, including support for refugees, on their societies.

    • Thousands protest Trump in Belgium

      Omer Mommrerts grasped his wife’s hand as he marched down a sidewalk. A sticker reading “Trump Not Welcome” was neatly pinned to his black overcoat. Though Mommrerts is 84-years-old and hard of hearing, he wasn’t going to miss the “Trump Not Welcome” protest in Brussels on Wednesday.

      “I see young people and that’s why I’m happy,” he said. “It’s not one generation or one group. It’s inter-generational, inter-cultural. All kinds of people.”

    • European Leaders Hope to Win Trump’s Favor

      Brussels, which he called a “hellhole,” and the European Union, which he called “a vehicle for Germany,” and NATO, which he called “obsolete,” are all nervously awaiting the arrival of President Trump on Wednesday, the way earthlings might await the impact of an asteroid.

      Security will be very tight, especially after the terrorist attack Monday night in Manchester, England, with police officers brought in from all over Belgium and some neighboring countries.

    • The UK’s Epochal Election

      In parliamentary democracies, it is a platitude, largely self-regarding, that all general elections matter somehow and in some way. Some, however, clearly matter more than others.

      In the UK, since World War 2, we can think of the Labour victory in 1945 which led to the foundation of its welfare state. The victory of Thatcher in 1979 led to the installation of neoliberalism in the UK. Every election victor since then, Blair’s Labour included, has upheld the essentials of Thatcherite dogma.

      It is no overstatement to say the UK has another epochal general election in June 2017.

      A victory, against the current odds, for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour will, if it adheres to positions he promoted when he won the party leadership by a margin even greater than Blair’s when the latter became leader, ensue in the promise of an overturning of neoliberalism.

      Labour’s election manifesto confirms that Corbyn is campaigning on a repudiation of Thatcherism and neoliberalism (to which the Blairites see no alternative).

    • If you vote for the Tories’ right to buy, where will your children live?

      This is the column I am supposed to write; it’s all part of the Tory game plan. The Conservatives’ proposal to flog off housing association homes has nothing to do with meeting people’s urgent and increasingly desperate housing needs.

      The aims are threefold. First, with home ownership at a three-decade low – thanks to the government’s failure to build homes and, ironically, the legacy of right to buy – the Tories bank on tenants believing this policy could be their only chance to buy a home, turning them into grateful Conservative voters. Second, it is great news for private landlords: in one London borough surveyed, around 40% of homes sold off under right to buy have ended up under the ownership of a private landlord, and one lucky beneficiary is the son of Margaret Thatcher’s housing minister, who owns more than 40 ex-council properties. And third, it is intended to provoke a backlash from Labour and the left that allows them to be painted as anti-aspiration, with columns such as these.

    • Deafening Silence: How Are Executive Branch Agencies Responding to Questions from the Press and Congress?

      Shortly after President Trump took office, there were reports that the new administration was placing restrictions on how employees of certain federal agencies could communicate with the public. More recently, it has been reported that federal agencies in the Trump administration have not been responding to congressional requests for information.

      According to the Washington Post, Democratic Senators have compiled a list of more than 200 questions that have gone unanswered, including routine inquiries about government programs as well as broader policy questions.

    • General election 2017: latest poll shows Tory lead cut to five points as Corbyn closes in

      Theresa May’s poll lead has fallen to five points a fortnight before the general election — the smallest margin over Labour since she came to power.

      A YouGov poll for The Times puts Labour on 38 per cent of the vote, up three points since the end of last week and the party’s best performance since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in September 2015.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Norway seeks new powers to police Facebook

      Kripos, Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public.

    • FCC Will Not Take Action Over Stephen Colbert’s Trump Remarks

      The FCC will not take any action in response to complaints over a May 1 broadcast of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," in which the host quipped during his opening monologue that "the only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster."

    • Turkish President Demands Google Delist A Bunch Of Websites Comparing Him To Hitler

      Not helping these comparisons is Erdogan’s similar facial structure and his endless vindictive actions against anyone who’s hurt his feelings.

    • Comcast vendor sent cease-and-desist to operator of anti-Comcast website

      A Comcast vendor sent a cease-and-desist letter to the operator of “Comcastroturf.com,” a website that helps people find out if their names were used by bots that have flooded the Federal Communications Commission with anti-net neutrality comments.

      Fight for the Future, the advocacy group that operates the site, issued a press release accusing Comcast of censorship and posted an image of the letter that accuses the group of trademark infringement. The letter was sent by LookingGlass Cyber Security Center on behalf of its client, Comcast, and demands that Fight for the Future “take all steps necessary to see that the Domain Name [Comcastroturf.com] is assigned to Comcast.”

    • Someone Under Federal Indictment Impersonates A Journalist To File Bogus DMCA Notice

      Everyone’s favorite abusable statute is back at it. Anyone can file a DMCA takedown request. Not everyone gets theirs granted. But it’s a zero-cost, mostly-zero risk effort that takes about five minutes from start to finish. It’s no wonder it’s been abused by a handful of ex-cons and, very memorably, by a revenge porn purveyor who suddenly developed concerns about personal privacy.

    • How Singapore is abusing its laws on ‘hate speech’

      The traditional Chinese Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, situated near the city centre, is one of Singapore’s most visited. People flock to it daily in the belief that praying to the Goddess of Mercy brings good fortune. Many devotees also stop at the Hindu Sri Krishnan temple right next door to light joss sticks; it happens so often that the Hindu temple’s management have erected an altar to the Goddess of Mercy by their entrance.

      It’s a scene that’s symbolic of the religious diversity among the 5.7 million people of different races, religions, nationalities and backgrounds crammed onto a tiny island. In 2014, the Pew Research Centre ranked Singapore as the most religiously diverse country in the world.

      Making sure that everyone gets along presents unique challenges, and in Singapore the government and courts have a broad set of tools ostensibly fit for this purpose, including laws meant to prevent hate speech and even hurt feelings. However, simmering tension over how those laws are applied – or not – came to a boil in March when teenage blogger Amos Yee was given political asylum in the US after a court there ruled that he had been subjected to political persecution.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Foreign Firms Fret as China Implements New Cybersecurity Law

      China is bringing in a raft of new measures, giving the government unprecedented access to foreign companies’ technology, as it bolsters control of the collection and movement of data. Forcing companies to store information within the mainland has already led some to tap cloud computing providers with more local server capacity, a potential boon to homegrown Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. at the expense of Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

    • Brazilian Journalist Detained By UK Border Police For Reading A Book About ISIS

      That seems a perfectly reasonable thing for a journalist to be reading in order to understand the background to the Manchester attack, which Bercito had been sent to cover for his employer, the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. But it was apparently enough for the border police to pull him in for questioning. His passport and press credentials were taken away, and he waited for an hour before he was interviewed. The police officers then explained exactly why Bercito had been singled out for special attention: another passenger on his flight had felt “uncomfortable” about his choice of reading matter.

    • Fighting Corruption, Ukraine Starts to Judge Its Judges

      Ukrainian judge Artur Yemelianov has acknowledged in an online declaration that he owns a Breguet watch worth nearly a third of his annual salary and keeps piles of cash.

      On Jan. 12 he was suspended for three months after prosecutors opened a criminal case against him related to how commercial law cases were allocated to judges, according to statements by the Ukrainian High Council of Justice and Yemelianov himself.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Kill Google AMP Before It Kills the Web

      "Google’s AMP is bad – bad in a potentially web-destroying way. Google AMP is bad news for how the web is built, it’s bad news for publishers of credible online content, and it’s bad news for consumers of that content. Google AMP is only good for one party: Google. Google, and possibly, purveyors of fake news."

    • And now, a brief definition of the web

      As we gear up to argue about net neutrality, it’s worth remembering that ISPs aren’t the only gatekeepers on the internet. I don’t have anything against apps or proprietary services. I use them every day. Many of them look like the web and work like the web.

      But they’re not the web.

    • The FCC Doesn’t Care That Somebody’s Spamming Its Net Neutrality Proceeding With Fraudulent Comments

      And again, the FCC is turning a blind eye to this fraudulent behavior because actual humans overwhelmingly oppose what Pai and friends are up to. Recent analysis of the comments made so far to the FCC indicate the vast, vast majority of consumers — across all political ideologies — don’t want the agency gutting meaningful oversight of the already uncompetitive broadband sector. That could be problematic later this year, when Pai faces inevitable lawsuits over his rush to kill the protections despite no corresponding market necessity, and the broad public support for the rules.

    • Are we making the web too complicated?
    • If Net Neutrality Dies, Comcast Can Just Block A Protest Site Instead Of Sending A Bogus Cease-And-Desist

      It appears that a vendor working for Comcast sent a totally bullshit cease-and-desist letter regarding a pro-net neutrality site: Comcastroturf.com, created by our friends over at Fight for the Future. The Comcastroturf website was set up as a tool to see if someone filed bogus FCC comments in your name. As you probably recall, there is a bot that has been flooding the FCC comment site with bogus anti-net neutrality comments, filed in alphabetical order. Reporters contacted some of the individuals whose names appear on these comments, and they had no idea what it was about. People are still trying to track down who is actually responsible for the bogus comments, but Fight for the Future set up this neat site to let you check if your name was used by whoever is behind it.

    • Cable Companies Refuse To Put Their Breathless Love Of Net Neutrality Down In Writing

      Apparently, giant broadband providers don’t much want to put their sudden, mysterious love of net neutrality into writing. Last week, the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality, opening the door to a 90-day comment period ahead of a broader rule-killing vote later this year. In the wake of the move, the same large ISPs that have spent a decade trying to kill meaningful regulatory oversight comically went out of their way to (falsely) claim that the killing of the rules doesn’t mean all that much — because these duopolies love net neutrality so much any hard rules simply aren’t necessary.

    • FCC Guards ‘Manhandle’ Reporter Just For Asking Questions At Net Neutrality Vote

      The FCC apparently doesn’t want to talk much about its plan to gut meaningful oversight of some of the least competitive companies in any American industry. Last week, we noted that the FCC had voted to begin the process of gutting popular net neutrality protections, ignoring the overwhelming public support for the rules registered at the FCC’s website. This notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) is followed by a 90-day public comment period (you can comment here) ahead of a finalizing vote to kill the consumer protections later this year.

  • DRM

    • BBC Store closes after just 18 months

      People who bought digital box sets from the BBC Store were sent an e-mail about the sudden closure. Those customers will be able to watch their purchases until November 1, but after that they will disappear into the DRM digital ether. Thankfully, customers will be offered a full refund, too. (It isn’t clear if the refund will be automatic on November 1, or if you’ll have to log in and manually ask for it.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Apple and Nokia bury the hatchet

      The companies said today they have settled all outstanding litigation and agreed to a patent license. While exact financial terms are confidential, Apple will be making an up-front cash payment to Nokia, followed by additional payments over the course of the agreement.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Has Come To This: Tinder Opposes Dating App With Only One Lonely Dude On Its Dating Roster

        By now, Tinder is probably in the common lexicon. The dating app has been fairly successful, boasting something like 50 million people using it and managing to make something like 12 million matches per day. It’s a household name, in other words, which is what makes it a bit strange to see the company bother to oppose a fairly silly trademark application by one guy who designed a dating app to get dating matches for exactly one person: himself.

      • Paypal says Pandora’s logo infringes, starts trademark battle

        Some heavy tech hitters have been in the spotlight lately for haggling over their trademarks. Ars recently reported about Google, which successfully defended its mark amid accusations that the term “google” is no longer eligible for legal protection because it has become too generic of a word for “searching the Web.”

    • Copyrights

      • Alleged KickassTorrents Founder Released on Bail

        Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, has been released from prison on bail. The Ukrainian will be able to await the extradition procedure as a relatively free man. He currently lives in a rented apartment where he was reunited with his wife and young son.

      • An interview with alleged KickassTorrents founder in his jail cell in Poland

        Until last week, Vaulin had been held at Warsaw-Bialoleka Investigative Detention Center with little contact to the outside world while the Polish government evaluated a US extradition request. Last Tuesday, two days before his release, The Verge sat down with Vaulin in his jail cell for a two-hour interview — the first since his arrest — to discuss his extradition fight and his life inside jail.

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