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09.03.17

Links 3/9/2017: Linux 4.13 Out Shortly, Manjaro 17.0.3, ReactOS 0.4.6, Oracle Solaris Layoffs

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux Laptops are on the rise: meet the Entroware Zeus

      Laptops that run Linux-based Operating Systems out of the box have been on the rise lately. The latest and arguably the most powerful addition to the lineup is the “Zeus” laptop by UK-based computer seller “Entroware.” The Zeus manages to gear powerful specs up its chassis while maintaining impressive portability. This 15.6″ laptop is just 18.6 mm thick while weighing at 1.9 KiloGrams.

    • How to Become a Full-Blown Privacy Fanatic With Purism’s Librem Laptop

      Concerns over online privacy and security are increasingly changing the way consumers spend their money and behave online. According to a Pew Research study conducted one year ago, 86 percent of internet users have now taken at least some steps to conceal their digital footprints, though many say they would like to do more, if only they knew how.

  • Server

    • A Comparison of Linux Container Images

      Going back to basics, there are two major parts of an operating system – the kernel and the user space. The kernel is a special program executed directly on the hardware or virtual machine – it controls access to resources and schedules process. The other major part is the user space – this is the set of files, including libraries, interpreters, and programs that you see when you log into a server and list the contents of a directory such as /usr or /lib.

      Linux containers essentially break the two pieces of an operating system up even further allowing the two pieces to be managed independently – the container host and the container image. The container host is made up of an operating system kernel and a small user space that has a minimal set of libraries and daemons necessary to run containers. The container image is made up of the libraries, interpreters, and configuration files of an operating system user space, as well as the developer’s application code.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Family Tech Support | Unleaded Hangout

      In this episode of Unleaded, my Patreon supporters discuss family tech support. Do they offer it, if so, how and do they support Linux? Those that don’t offer tech support, why not? All this and more! (Forgive the rough audio – AC running)

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs Zstd Support Coming To Linux 4.14

      Queued in the btrfs-next tree for Linux 4.14 is Zstd compression support.

      Last month we reported on Facebook looking to add Zstd support to the Linux kernel as well as Btrfs, the file-system widely in use within Facebook and employing the key maintainers. So it’s not to much surprise that queued in btrfs-next for Linux 4.14 is this zstd compression support.

    • Power-efficient workqueues

      Power-efficient workqueues were first introduced in the 3.11 kernel release; since then, fifty or so subsystems and drivers have been updated to use them. These workqueues can be especially useful on handheld devices (like tablets and smartphones), where power is at a premium. ARM platforms with power-efficient workqueues enabled on Ubuntu and Android have shown significant improvements in energy consumption (up to 15% for some use cases).

      Workqueues (wq) are the most common deferred-execution mechanism used in the Linux kernel for cases where an asynchronous execution context is required. That context is provided by the worker kernel threads, which are woken whenever a work item is queued for them. A workqueue is represented by the workqueue_struct structure, and work items are represented by struct work_struct. The latter includes a pointer to a function which is called by the worker (in process context) to execute the work. Once the worker has finished processing all the work items queued on the workqueue, it becomes idle.

    • Two more approaches to persistent-memory writes

      The persistent-memory arrays we’re told we’ll all be able to get someday promise high-speed, byte-addressable storage in massive quantities. The Linux kernel community has been working to support this technology fully for a few years now, but there is one problem lacking a proper solution: allowing direct writes to persistent memory that is managed by a filesystem. None of the proposed solutions have yet made it into the mainline, but that hasn’t stopped developers from trying; now two new patch sets addressing this issue are under consideration.

    • Static analysis on the Linux kernel

      Typically each tool can take 10-25+ hours of compute time to analyze the kernel source; fortunately I have a large server at hand to do this. The automated analysis creates an Ubuntu server VM, installs the required static analysis tools, clones linux-next and then runs the analysis. The VMs are configured to minimize write activity to the host and run with 48 threads and plenty of memory to try to speed up the analysis process.

    • Linux 4.9.47

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.47 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.86
    • Linux 3.18.69
    • Some weekend stable kernels

      The 4.9.47, 4.4.86, and 3.18.69 stable kernel updates have been released; each contains another set of important fixes. Note that there is no 4.12 update in this series.

    • Linux 4.13 Should Be Released Today With Its Many New Features

      Unless there is a last minute hiccup, the Linux 4.13 kernel should be officially released before the day is through.

      Linus Torvalds is anticipating on releasing Linux 4.13 today as the latest stable kernel release. Following that, the Linux 4.14 kernel merge window immediately opens. There’s a lot of interesting work being queued up for Linux 4.14, which is also significant because it will be the next Long Term Support (LTS) kernel version.

    • Google is Mandating Linux Kernel Versions in Android Oreo

      Google has been offering Android as a mobile operating system for close to a decade. The company acquired it in 2005, unveiled it to the public in 2007 and then in 2008 we saw the first commercially available Android smartphone. There are some rules and limitations that Google has in place for a company to be allowed to use the main configuration of Android (which they have faced legal action about in the past), but for the most part they’re giving companies free reign with certain aspects. One aspect that has been up to the OEM is the Linux kernel version but this is changing with Android Oreo.

      As long as the OEM was able to pass the certification tests that Google lays out, then they didn’t care what kernel version was used in a new device. This generally wasn’t an issue as most OEMs would use the same version of the kernel for that generation that other OEMs were using, as it is tied heavily to what the hardware drivers support. However, some had been falling through the cracks and this started to cause security issues. This is something that Google has been taking seriously lately so it makes sense that they would want to start mandating this.

    • With Android Oreo, Google is introducing Linux kernel requirements

      Android may be a Linux-based operating system, but the Linux roots are something that few people pay much mind. Regardless of whether it is known or acknowledged by many people, the fact remains that Android is rooted in software regarded as horrendously difficult to use and most-readily associated with the geekier computer users, but also renowned for its security.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Autumn is here (wait, this is GSoC, not GoT)

        So, as summer is coming to an end, Google Summer of Code is also wrapping up, and the KDevelop Rust plugin is looking good at this point. It now supports semantic highlighting, go-to-definition, renaming declarations, some code completion, debugging, highlighting code errors, and code formatting. I’ll go into a bit more detail for the last three since they were the most recent additions.

        I also focused on a lot of minor improvements this past month to make the plugin easier to build and use, to make it more reliable, etc., so at this point kdev-rust is a solid basis for anyone looking for a Rust IDE.

      • [kdenlive] Design choices ahead

        As many of you may know by now, we are currently doing a code refactoring which will be taking a step forward in making our software more suitable for professional use. In the process, we are facing some critical design choices, and want to hear the opinion of the editors of the community.

      • RX Vega + AMDGPU-PRO + KDE Neon

        Earlier this week I got my dirty hands on an RX Vega 64 card to run on my daily workstation. With the aim to eventually run open drivers in the future my main goal for now was to get AMDGPU-PRO running for day-to-day activities, possibly also moving to Wayland from X11. I’m very interested in Wayland as Kwin has several Wayland-only enhancements, and even if I wouldn’t use it now I wanted to be ready for testing. The Vega card would be replacing an Nvidia GTX 1080 card.

      • Latte bug fix release v0.7.1

        Latte Dock v0.7.1 has been released containing many important fixes and improvements for which you can find more details in the end of the article.

      • KDE: Libmediawiki has been released!
      • KDE: New release for Libkvkontakte!

        The release enables distribution packagers to enable the new features in the latest Digikam release.

      • Farewell GSoC’17

        It has been a great journey, thanks to my mentor, KDE and digiKam coordinators, and great community for the continuous feedback and the encouraging comments. I’m proud to be contributing to this great software and planning to continue.

      • Great Web Browsing Coming Back to KDE with Falkon, New Packaging Formats Coming to KDE with Snap

        Today is a good day filled with possibility and potential. The browser formerly known as QupZilla has gained a better name Falkon and a better home, KDE. This bring quality web browsing back to native KDE software for the first time in some years. It’s a pleasingly slick experience using QtWebEngine and integrating with all the parts of Plasma you’d expect.

        At the same time we at KDE neon are moving to new packaging format Snaps, a container format which can be used on many Linux distros. Falkon is now built by KDE neon CI and is in the edge channel of the Snap archive.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Builder 3.26 Sightings

        We’re getting close to 3.26 and a number of features have landed. Let’s take a quick screenshot tour to see what you’re likely to see in 3.26.

  • Distributions

    • Bitkey A Linux Distribution Dedicated For Conducting Bitcoin Transactions

      Are you looking for a dedicated Linux distro for conducting Bitcoin transactions? You got BITKEY (TURNBITKEY). BITKEY is a bootable system image based on Debian containing everything you need to perform highly secure air-gapped Bitcoin transactions. Under the hood, it comes with a swiss army knife of handy Bitcoin tools that support a wide range of usage models, including a few very secure ones which would otherwise be difficult to perform. BITKEY is based on the Turkey GNU/Linux build system and aims at providing an air-gapped system that is physically disconnected from the internet.

    • Reviews

      • Budgie Desktop – You Shall Not Pass!

        The quest for the ultimate desktop environment continues. In the last few months, we have looked at a range of Qt-based desktops, starting with Ze Papa, Plasma, and then looked at several other new and not so new players, the bold and the beautiful, the less successful and the more rad. The list covers the likes of LXQt, Liri, Nomad, and recently, Lumina, as well.

        Today, we will explore Budgie. Now, this is a rather interesting one. First, we had a taste of it way back when. In the day, it was quite slow, buggy and not very appealing. But then, through my Solus OS testing in the past year or so, I’ve come across Budgie again, and I was rather intrigued by the look & feel and the obvious progress. While my endeavors with Solus were less glamorous, Budgie did impress me as something worth a deeper consideration. For the moment, it’s Gtk and heavily interwoven with Gnome. Moving forward, it will also be using the Qt technology, starting with the upcoming release 11. Let’s have a look.

    • New Releases

      • KaOS 2017.09

        As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.37.0, Plasma 5.10.5, KDE Applications 17.08.0 & not yet released ports of KDE Applications. All built on Qt 5.9.1. New is the addition of preview plugins to Kate/Kwrite (also usable in KDevelop), which when enabled turns Kate into full fledged Markdown editor.

    • Arch Family

      • Changes for ArchLabs

        So ArchLabs has had some changes to the internal team and also a change in direction.

        As you all know we released R2-D2 at the beginning of July and while R2 was well received we became the recipients of some harsh criticism regarding the size of the ISO and the multiple options of applications as well as a lot of negativity regarding the over abundance of themes, icons and other related cruft.

        The ISO size has never sat well with some of the team and we have had multiple requests for a minimal release. Nate (also known as SmokeKing) got working on a super trimmed down edition of R2-D2 which we named Mínimo.

      • [Maintenance] 2017-09-02 – Phasing out i686 support

        The decision means that v17.0.3 ISO will be the last that allows to install 32 bit Manjaro Linux. September and October will be our deprecation period, during which i686 will be still receiving upgraded packages. Starting from November 2017, packaging will no longer require that from maintainers, effectively making i686 unsupported.

      • Manjaro Linux To Drop 32-bit Support

        The Arch-based Manjaro Linux distribution is deciding to retire their x86 32-bit support.

      • Manjaro v17.0.3 released

        Manjaro Gellivara was a great release! Now we are proud to announce v17.0.3, our final release of Gellivara. It took us a little over two months to finish this updated version. We improved our hardware detection, fixed some features in our installer (Calamares), added the latest packages available to our install media and polished our release as a whole. Everyone, who used older install media than v17.0.2 release, should read also this announcement about password weakness and follow its advice to secure your systems.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Free software activities in August 2017
      • New Debian Developers and Maintainers (July and August 2017)

        The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

        Ross Gammon (rossgammon)
        Balasankar C (balasankarc)
        Roland Fehrenbacher (rfehren)
        Jonathan Cristopher Carter (jcc)

        The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

        José Gutiérrez de la Concha
        Paolo Greppi
        Ming-ting Yao Wei
        Boyuan Yang
        Paul Hardy
        Fabian Wolff
        Moritz Schlarb
        Shengjing Zhu

      • Indexing Debian’s buildinfo

        Debian is currently collecting buildinfo but they are not very conveniently searchable. Eventually Chris Lamb’s buildinfo.debian.net may solve this problem, but in the mean time, I decided to see how practical indexing the full set of buildinfo files is with sqlite.

      • My free software activities, August 2017

        This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month I worked on a few major packages that took a long time instead of multiple smaller issues. Affected packages were Mercurial, libdbd-mysql-perl and Ruby.

      • F/LOSS activity, August 2017
      • My free software activities, August 2017

        This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month I worked on a few major packages that took a long time instead of multiple smaller issues. Affected packages were Mercurial, libdbd-mysql-perl and Ruby.

      • Derivatives

        • Elive is getting closer to version 3.0!

          I also discovered that Elive was criticized because it was a project that offered free live CDs but, to be able to install the distro, one had to pay. Back then, I believed that free software had to be also cost-free, so I did not pay. However, I kept thinking about the project for a long time and, after understanding more about free software, my vision changed.

          I have to say that this took some years. While some distros seem rushed to get releases according to an inflexible calendar, let us just say that Elive prefers to take its time. The last stable release I was referring to dates from 2010… It is so old that the EliveCD page suggests visitors to download the latest beta instead of trying out Elive Topaz!

          In October 2014, my need to have Elive running on my laptop was so big that I paid for the module to install beta 2.3.9, the 19th release of a long development stage that started back in 2013. And I could not have been happier than I did: the beta has run like a stable release on my hardware. What’s more, I have never had a problem with it since the install!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Preview Part 3: File Manager

            Here, I show you some screenshots and GIF animations for the Nautilus File Manager 3.25 at Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark”. Because the switch from Unity to GNOME, Ubuntu now has some different looks-and-feels when you operate its file manager. So, it’s time to see how much it differs. Artful will be released at October 2017 and this article is a preview based on its development version. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Enjoy!

          • Finally, Budgie Desktop 10.4 Is Now Available for Ubuntu 16.04, 17.04, 17.10

            The latest Budgie Desktop 10.4 is finally available for Ubuntu 17.10, 17.04, and 16.04 LTS. The 17.10 users can install it directly from repo, while 17.04 users can use ubuntubudgie PPA, and 16.04 LTS users can use budgie-remix PPA. Big thanks for David and Ubuntu Budgie Team to package and provide all these binary packages of the latest Budgie!

          • Budgie Desktop v10.4 released for Debian and Ubuntu

            Budgie Welcome has been updated with all the latest translations; all the above applets can be installed from Budgie Welcome.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 1 All Flavors Released

            At 31 August 2017 Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Beta 1 released. This means you can download the ISO images and help test them. You can find the official announcement by Martin Wimpress (on behalf Ubuntu Release Team) at ubuntu-release mailing list. Beware, normal users should not use these Beta version because they’re meant for developers & testers, unless you install them on a dedicated machine (a PC or a virtual machine).

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Monthly News – August 2017

              First, I would like to thank you for your donations and for your support. It’s a real pleasure to work on improving Linux Mint not only because it’s fun to develop and integrate software and technology but also because we see how happy and excited you are about what we do.. and that’s an amazing feeling for us.

            • Ubuntu MATE 17.10 Beta 1

              We are preparing Ubuntu MATE 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) for distribution on October 19th, 2017 With this Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next (stable) version.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux on the GPD Pocket 7: The Return of the Hacker Netbook.

      I love netbooks. They’re the mopeds of computing: small, cheap, lightweight and actually kinda cute. They’re also fitted with an actual proper keyboard and therefore my favorite choice when it comes to a portable hacking station. But Netbooks PCs once hailed as the future of mobile computing are almost disappeared from retailer shelves. The most similar devices in the market are those convertible mobile devices running windows. But they are little more than a tablet with a keyboard, and almost nil compatibility with linux.

    • [Video] Librem 5, Linux-powered smartphone w/Privacy features – Lunduke Show

      Todd Weaver, CEO of Purism, joins me to talk about the Librem 5. Their crowd-funded project to build a 5″ smartphone that runs a traditional Linux distribution (shipping with a variant of Debian) — complete with hardware kill switches for the cellular modem and other components.

    • Android

      • Google ARCore brings augmented reality to relatively small audience

        Google on Tuesday released a preview of its augmented reality toolkit, although the company acknowledged that only a small portion of Android’s installed base will be able to use the software.

        ARCore is Google’s answer to ARKit, Apple’s software development kit for creating augmented reality (AR) applications. It’s also the heir to Google’s Tango SDK, which was designed for creating AR applications on specialized hardware with sensors for measuring depth.

        AR differs from virtual reality, or VR, in that it doesn’t demand expensive headgear that shuts out the real world, isn’t known for inducing nausea, and hasn’t been stigmatized by consumer indifference. AR places computer graphics in photorealistic scenes; VR reimagines the visual world completely.

      • LG V30 hands on—LG’s OLED displays still have quality issues
      • 100 days of postmarketOS

        We are building an alternative to Android and other mobile operating systems by not forking but bending the time-proven Alpine Linux distribution to fit our purpose. Instead of using Android’s build process, we build small software packages that can be installed with Alpine’s package manager. To minimize the amount of effort for maintenance, we want every device to require only one device-specific package and share everything else.

        At this point our OS is only suitable for fellow hackers who enjoy using the command-line and want to improve postmarketOS. Telephony or other typical smartphone tasks are not working yet.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Jobs Report 2017: open source skills in strong demand

    Hiring managers are increasingly looking for open source professionals, and two thirds of them say that the numbers of these specialists they hire will increase more than other areas of their businesses. Main drivers are company growth (60%), increasing use of open source technologies (42%), and open source becoming core to the business (30%).

  • ReactOS 0.4.6 released

    The ReactOS Project is pleased to release version 0.4.6 as a continuation of its three month cadence.

    0.4.6 is a major step towards real hardware support. Several dual boot issues have been fixed and now partitions are managed in a safer way avoiding corruption of the partition list structures. ReactOS Loader can now load custom kernels and HALs.

    Printing Subsystem is still greenish in 0.4.6, however Colin Finck has implemented a huge number of new APIs and fixed some of the bugs reported and detected by the ReactOS automated tests.

  • ReactOS 0.4.6 Fixes Dual Boot Issues, NFS Driver Added

    ReactOS 0.4.6 is now available as the latest version of this “open-source Windows” operating system still striving for API/ABI compatibility.

  • Events

    • Ubuntu Rally in NYC

      The Ubuntu Rally, taking place in New York City September 25th-29th, is a forward-thinking five day software hackathon attended by major software vendors, Ubuntu developers working at every level of the stack, and community contributors.

    • Waiting for GNOME 3.26 Stable Release!

      GNOME 3.26 “Manchester” planned to be released at 13 September 2017. Reading the FeaturePlans and Schedule from its wiki makes me want to run it sooner! I hope Ubuntu will successfully include 3.26 on Artful Aardvark release so I can make a review for it later. However, this short article mentions some of its new feature, new apps, some links from GUADEC 2017′s participants, and further GNOME links. Enjoy!

    • GNOME GUADEC 2017: Presentations, Videos, & Links

      GUADEC 2017, the latest GNOME Project annual conference, has been held at 28 July-2 August 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom. I collect as many resources as possible here including presentations & videos (so you can download them), poster & template, write-ups by attendees, and of course the links about GUADEC 2017. So, if you didn’t attend GUADEC 2017, you still can find the resources here! Enjoy!

    • Randa Roundup – Part I

      Our intrepid developers are getting ready to make their way to Randa, and we are gradually finding out what they will be doing up there in the Swiss mountains.

      As Valorie said in a recent blog post, accessibility is useful for everybody at some point or another. Clear, highly contrasted icons, easy to reach keyboard shortcuts, and scalable fonts are things we can all appreciate most of the time, whether we have any sort of physical disability or not.

      With that in mind, Jean-Baptiste Mardelle will be working on Kdenlive, KDE’s video editing software. He’ll be reviewing the user interface; that is, the different panels, toolbars, etc., to make it easier to use for people who start editing for the first time. He’ll also be working on packaging – creating AppImages and Flatpaks – so the latest versions of Kdenlive can be installed anywhere without having to worry about dependencies.

    • Takeaways from SRECon17 Europe

      As every last three years in a row, I attended SRECon in Europe. I can literally say this year was totally broken comparing with former conferences. I think it’s because I had much higher expectations from this conference. The first shot in 2014 was more than awesome, but year to year it’s getting worse. Almost all talks from Google were like a summary of every chapter in SRE book. We just skipped all the rest of the talks sourced by Google.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • All Hands On Deck – How you can use your skills to contribute to Firefox 57 success

        If you’ve been following Firefox development over the last year, you probably know that we’re hard at work on a major refactor of the browser, codenamed Quantum.

        It’s been a very exciting and challenging time with hundreds of engineers bringing to life new concepts and incorporating them into our engine – Gecko. Those refactors, which will culminate in the release of Firefox 57, touch the very foundation of our engine and require massive changes to it.

  • Databases

    • Founder Stories: A Hacker’s Hacker

      Monty is a programming genius. At 19, he dropped out of the Helsinki University of Technology to work full time, because there was little more the university could teach him. At 33, he released MySQL, the most popular open-source database in the world, after coding the entire thing up himself with the exception of one library. At 55, he defies ageism and is still the best programmer at his company.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Layoffs Hit Longtime Solaris Developers Hard

      It looks like the Oracle layoffs just before the US Labor Day indeed hit the SPARC and Solaris groups hard.

      There hasn’t been any official announcement from Oracle, but unconfirmed reports put it at 1,000~1,500 Oracle staff losing their jobs, particularly in the Solaris and SPARC divisions.

      Solaris has been slowly dieing and these latest layoffs seem to further reinforce that and some anonymous reports as well that Solaris 11.4 isn’t going to happen, or at least not as planned, and Solaris 12 can definitely be kissed goodbye.

    • Oracle Finally Killed Sun

      The news from the ex-Sun community jungle drums is that the January rumours were true and Oracle laid off the core talent of the Solaris and SPARC teams on Friday. That surely has to mean a maintenance-only future for the product range, especially with Solaris 12 cancelled. A classic Oracle “silent EOL”, no matter what they claim.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • VMware, Google, Pivotal Package Kubernetes for the Enterprise
    • Open Source Leaders: Dirk Hohndel Brings Open Source to VMware [Ed: New openwashing puff piece for VMware, which paid the Linux Foundation to help combat GPL enforcement]

      Dirk Hohndel loves to keep a low-profile in the open source world but he can’t escape the limelight. He can often be seen in keynote discussions with his close friend, Linux creator Linus Torvalds. Both share a love for Linux and beyond. Hohndel is also a fellow scuba diver who dives with Torvalds in deep waters around the globe.

      Their shared love for open source and scuba diving also lead to Subsurface, a scuba dive log program that was created by Torvalds. Now Hohndel is the maintainer of the project. On a lighter note, one big difference between Hohndel and Torvalds can be seen in their underwater photography; while Hohndel could very easily quit VMware and become a full-time ace underwater photographer, Linus is content with blurry butt pictures of underwater creatures.

      Hohndel also occasionally contributes to libdivecomputer, Kirigami, Qt, and a fair number of random small projects that he uses in running the infrastructure for the Subsurface project.

      But Dirk Hohndel’s influence has spread beyond his Github numbers.

  • BSD

    • Trip Report: FreeBSD in China at COPU and LinuxCon

      In May of 2017, we were invited to give a talk about FreeBSD at COPU’s (China Open Source Promotional Unit) Open Source China, Open Source World Summit, which took place June 21-22, in Beijing. This was a tremendous opportunity to talk about the advantages of FreeBSD to the open source leaders and organizations interested in open source. I was honored to represent the Project and Foundation and give the presentation “FreeBSD Advantages and Applications”.

    • A return-oriented programming defense from OpenBSD

      Stack-smashing attacks have a long history; they featured, for example, as a core part of the Morris worm back in 1988. Restrictions on executing code on the stack have, to a great extent, put an end to such simple attacks, but that does not mean that stack-smashing attacks are no longer a threat. Return-oriented programming (ROP) has become a common technique for compromising systems via a stack-smashing vulnerability. There are various schemes out there for defeating ROP attacks, but a mechanism called “RETGUARD” that is being implemented in OpenBSD is notable for its relative simplicity.

    • FreeBSD 10.4-BETA3 Now Available

      The third BETA build of the 10.4-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The supposed decline of copyleft

      Reproducible observations are necessary to the establishment of solid theories in science. Sullivan didn’t try to contact Black Duck to get access to the database, because he assumed (rightly, as it turned out) that he would need to “pay for the data under terms that forbid you to share that information with anybody else”. So I wrote Black Duck myself to confirm this information. In an email interview, Patrick Carey from Black Duck confirmed its data set is proprietary. He believes, however, that through a “combination of human and automated techniques”, Black Duck is “highly confident at the accuracy and completeness of the data in the KnowledgeBase”. He did point out, however, that “the way we track the data may not necessarily be optimal for answering the question on license use trend” as “that would entail examination of new open source projects coming into existence each year and the licenses used by them”.

      In other words, even according to Black Duck, its database may not be useful to establish the conclusions drawn by those articles. Carey did agree with those conclusions intuitively, however, saying that “there seems to be a shift toward Apache and MIT licenses in new projects, though I don’t have data to back that up”. He suggested that “an effective way to answer the trend question would be to analyze the new projects on GitHub over the last 5-10 years.” Carey also suggested that “GitHub has become so dominant over the recent years that just looking at projects on GitHub would give you a reasonable sampling from which to draw conclusions”.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • cron.weekly issue #96: LogDevice, qmail, redis, Linus, HAProxy, libraries, concert, restic & more

      There’s some old-skool Linux news in this one with qmail & some Apple history, even more open source venture rounds & some practical guides for monitoring & securing containers. Should keep you occupied for at least a morning coffee.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Colorado to study open source materials to lower textbook costs

        A statewide council is looking at how to increase the use of open educational resource materials in colleges to address the high cost of textbooks.

        The council plans to create a digital repository of open educational resources for colleges and to determine how those resources are used in college classrooms across the state. It will make recommendations about how to increase their use.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Barbot Needs Only Two Motors

        [Lukas Šidlauskas’s] Open Source Barbot project uses only two motors to actuate nine bottles using only a NEMA-17 stepper to move the tray down along the length of the console and a high-torque servo to trigger the Beaumont Metrix SL spirit measures. These barman’s bottle toppers dispense 50 ml when the button is pressed, making them (along with gravity) the perfect way to elegantly manage so many bottles. Drink selection takes place on an app, connected via Bluetooth to the Arduino Mega running the show.

  • Programming/Development

    • Redesigning Python’s named tuples
    • 5 ways to nurture DevOps culture
    • Oracle could leave Java EE to an open source foundation and more news

      Database giant Oracle wants to hand Java EE over to an open source foundation. With this move, Oracle hopes a foundation will be able to “adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing and change the governance process.” Possible candidates are the Apache Software Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation, to which Oracle has passed software in the past. Oracle got Java EE as part of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems back in 2010.

    • Return to old school programming

      When my brother and I were growing up, our parents brought home an Apple II personal computer. Actually ours was one of the first Apple “clones,” a Franklin ACE 1000, but it ran all of the original Apple software. And more importantly, you could write your own programs with the included AppleSoft BASIC.

      My brother and I cracked open the computer guide that came with it, and slowly taught ourselves how to write programs in BASIC. My first attempts were fairly straightforward math quizzes and other simple programs. But as I gained more experience in BASIC, I was able to harness high resolution graphics mode and do all kinds of nifty things.

Leftovers

  • Court Dumps Lawsuit Against Zillow Over Its Inaccurate ‘Zestimates’

    Earlier this year, real estate litigator and aggrieved homeowner Barbara Andersen sued Zillow for providing a lower “Zestimate” than she believed her house was worth. She alleged Zillow violated Illinois state law by portraying its estimates as appraisals, even though it lacked the proper licensing to perform appraisals. Andersen sought an injunction blocking Zillow from posting information about her home (even publicly-available information) and offering a “Zestimate” on its selling price.

    Andersen has just had her case tossed, although she’s now representing others in a proposed class action against Zillow. At some point between February and earlier this week, Andersen’s case was moved to a federal court and she’s now listed on the bottom of court documents (as counsel of record), rather than up top as a plaintiff.

  • “It was like hell in miniature”: how Rostov-on-Don lost a whole neighbourhood in one day

    On 21 August, the southern Russian city of Rostov suffered the worst fire in its history. In the space of a few hours an entire district in the city centre, which is known locally as Govnyarka, burned to the ground.

    The fire broke out at about 1pm and spread at incredible speed. Ten buildings, mostly of one and two storeys, were destroyed in the first hour, and 25 in the following three hours. More than 600 people were evacuated. Two thousand fire fighters and 200 fire engines battled with the blaze on the ground, while seven helicopters and two planes sprayed water from above. The city authorities declared a state of emergency.

  • Science

    • How Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest Hook Users

      Habit-forming technology creates associations with “internal triggers,” which cue users without the need for marketing, messaging, or other external stimuli.

    • An asthma medication seems to lower Parkinson’s disease risks

      Evolution may have been our planet’s first recycler. When organisms evolved useful proteins, they tend to get re-used in unrelated processes. So, a single family of proteins may regulate the development of everything from the brain to the blood to the bones.

      This is one reason that drugs often have off-target effects. While the drug was designed to latch on to a specific protein in one tissue, that protein or a close relative may be doing something important in a different tissue. While that’s generally viewed as a problem, it can also be helpful. Researchers are finding that some drugs can be effective against diseases for which they were never intended.

      That may be the case for an asthma medication called clenbuterol. It and a series of related drugs came through a screen that targeted a very different disorder: Parkinson’s disease, caused by the death of specific nerve cells in the brain. And a search through the drug-use history of Norway suggests that the discovery is more than a fluke.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • CDC: Homeopathic “healing bracelet” poisons baby with high levels of lead

      A nine-month-old baby in Connecticut had dangerously high levels of lead in her blood after chewing on a homeopathic “healing bracelet” used to ease teething pain, according to a report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      The baby’s condition came to light last September during a routine health screening. Healthcare workers found that the baby was anemic and had a blood lead level of 41 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). While no level of lead is known to be safe, the CDC recommends health interventions when a child’s blood lead level reaches 5 μg/dL.

    • [Older] The Case Against Factory Farming
    • Older victims of Hurricane Harvey may need special attention as Texas recovers

      News and social media reports from coastal Texas have shown many striking images of Hurricane Harvey flood victims, but few were as arresting as a photo of older women in a Dickinson nursing home, sitting in waist-high water in their wheelchairs. Although the women were moved to safety, the picture highlighted how vulnerable older adults can be during and after major disasters.

      My work focuses on answering pressing questions about the health of older adults after events such as Hurricane Harvey. While age alone does not make people more vulnerable to disasters, many health issues that are common with aging do, including frailness, memory impairment, limited mobility and chronic illness. Sixty percent of Hurricane Katrina deaths were age 65 and older, and more older adults died after Hurricane Katrina and in the year after than any other age group.

    • Texas Chemical Plant Company Has Industry Ally Writing Rules At The EPA

      Beck, the EPA’s deputy assistant administrator, was appointed to the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in April, just a month after she testified to Congress on improving use of science at the EPA as a Senior Director at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the chemical industry’s leading lobbying group. Beck worked at the ACC, which counts Arkema as a member, from 2012 to 2017, a period in which the Council spent more than $65 million on lobbying, according to an International Business Times review of congressional lobbying records. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s appointment of Beck drew condemnation from a variety of groups as Beck, who has a Ph.D. in environmental health from the University of Washington, went to work at her new job overseeing the development of rules governing toxic chemicals.

      The Environmental Working Group’s Melanie Benesh called Beck “the scariest Trump appointee you’ve never heard of.” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, wrote Beck has “existing and potentially problematic relationships with the companies that she is now in charge or regulating,” in a June letter to Pruitt. And career staff at the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance raised concerns about changes Beck instituted to the agency’s review process for potentially hazardous chemicals in an internal memo, according to Politico.

    • We should serve kids food in school, not shame

      For the past several years, reports have surfaced about the “shaming” of students for outstanding school meal debts. These students, often from low-income families, are being publicly humiliated because they have unpaid debt in their school meal accounts. Policies that shame students can include stamping on children’s hands or arms, taking their food away and dumping it in the trash or giving them stigmatized cold, partial meals in lieu of the regular hot lunch.

      As an education researcher who studies food in schools, I believe it’s our duty in schools to treat students with dignity and compassion. Moreover, access to food is a basic human need and should be considered a right – regardless of income. The best way to combat meal debt shame in U.S. public schools is to provide every student with free meals.

    • The War on Medicaid Is Moving to the States

      In the early 1960s, as the Johnson administration worked to enact Medicare and Medicaid, then-actor Ronald Reagan traveled the country as a spokesman for the American Medical Association, warning of the danger the legislation posed to the nation. “Behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country,” he said in one widely distributed speech. “Until one day … you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Two years after Windows 10: Windows 7 is still threatening a 2020 EOL meltdown

      No. The issue is Windows 7. People and more especially businesses are still refusing to give it up. Yes, it has lost its market share – down from 60.75 in August 2015 to 48.43 percent in August 2017. But again – it’s actually UP on this time last year, where it was at 47.25.

    • Intel ME controller chip has secret kill switch

      Security researchers at London-based Positive Technologies have identified an undocumented configuration setting that disables Intel Management Engine 11, a CPU control mechanism that has been described as a security risk.

      Intel’s ME consists of a microcontroller that works with the Platform Controller Hub chip, in conjunction with integrated peripherals. It handles much of the data travelling between the processor and external devices, and thus has access to most of the data on the host computer.

    • “Roboto Condensed” Social Engineering Attack Targets Both Chrome and Firefox Users. Various Payloads Being Delivered.
    • [Older] One Week With Tor

      A few people have asked me why I don’t trust exit nodes with sensitive tasks like online banking. My distrust is mainly in the horrible state of SSL/TLS PKI. With hundreds of trusted roots, each with SSL/TLS certificate resellers, the amount of trust I must place in the least secure certificate vendor is huge. Any certificate vendor whose chain of trust resolves to a trusted root can issue certificates for any domain I visit. If a malicious exit node also has compromised or coerced a certificate vendor to produce (what we would consider, but our browser wouldn’t) fraudulent certificate, I’m now in a pickle.

    • Thousands of mercenary resumés found exposed on Web

      The sensitive personal details of the job applicants, many claiming top-secret security clearance from the US government, were left unsecured by a recruiting company with whom TigerSwan had cut ties in February 2017, according to UpGuard.

    • Exclusive: India and Pakistan hit by spy malware – cybersecurity firm [Ed: When you use Microsoft Windows in government in spite of back doors]

      Symantec Corp, a digital security company, says it has identified a sustained cyber spying campaign, likely state-sponsored, against Indian and Pakistani entities involved in regional security issues.

      In a threat intelligence report that was sent to clients in July, Symantec said the online espionage effort dated back to October 2016.

      [...]

      Symantec’s report said an investigation into the backdoor showed that it was constantly being modified to provide “additional capabilities” for spying operations.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Need for Diplomacy More Clear Than Ever After North Korea Claims H-Bomb Test

      Calls for restraint and diplomacy emerged on Sunday after North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb capable being placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

      A statement released from North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute says Pyongyang conducted the test with “perfect success” at noon local time Sunday, and purportedly showed that the country’s nuclear weapons’ power and technology were “in consideration of the targets and purposes.”

    • North Korea says conducts hydrogen bomb test, Trump to meet with advisers

      North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.

    • Deterrence Believers Should Cheer the North Korean Bomb

      If the theory of nuclear deterrence holds true – and it is the only argument the supporters of WMD have got – then we should all be cheering the North Korean bomb. The logic of nuclear deterrence is that it is much better that every state has nuclear weapons, because then we can all deter each other. It is demonstrably true that possession of nuclear weapons is not a deterrent to other nations acquiring them. But it is supposed to deter other nations from using them. In which case, surely the more the merrier, so we can all deter each other.

      The madness of the argument is self-evident. We are borrowing hundreds of billions we cannot afford for Trident, yet in all the reams of analysis of what to do about North Korea, Trident never gets a mention. It is a system entirely useless even in the one situation in which it was supposed to be effective.

      How did we get here? In the 1950s the USA dropped 635,000 tonnes of bombs on North Korea including 35,000 tonnes of napalm. The US killed an estimated 20% of the North Korean population. For comparison, approximately 2% of the UK population was killed during World War II.

    • North Korea Says It Has Developed Advanced Hydrogen Bomb

      North Korea said it has “succeeded in making a more developed” hydrogen bomb and mounting it on the tip of a long-range missile, and threatened a high-altitude nuclear blast that experts fear could wipe out electrical networks in the U.S.

      Leader Kim Jong Un witnessed a hydrogen bomb being mounted onto a new intercontinental ballistic missile while visiting the Nuclear Weapons Institute, North Korea’s state media said Sunday. The state media also published what experts said could be the North’s first photos of a purported hydrogen bomb.

    • North Korea ‘has missile-ready nuclear weapon’

      North Korea says it has developed a more advanced nuclear weapon that can be loaded on to a ballistic missile.

      The state news agency released pictures of leader Kim Jong-un inspecting what it said was a new hydrogen bomb.

      There has been no independent verification of the claims.

      International experts say the North has made advances in its nuclear weapons capabilities but it is unclear if it has successfully miniaturised a nuclear weapon it can load on to a missile.

    • There’s a disaster much worse than Texas. But no one talks about it

      As it happens, Harvey has killed an estimated 44 Texans and forced some 32,000 into shelters since it struck, a week ago. That is a catastrophe for every one of those individuals, of course. Still, those figures look small alongside the havoc wreaked by flooding across southern Asia during the very same period. In the past few days, more than 1,200 people have been killed, and the lives of some 40 million others turned upside down, by torrential rain in northern India, southern Nepal, northern Bangladesh and southern Pakistan.

    • We already know what Erik Prince’s Afghanistan would look like because he’s done it before

      See, we don’t have to guess at what Prince’s plan would entail or what its outcome would be. We already know what providing Prince with an opportunity to operate in the Arab world would look like. It’s been done before. It didn’t work then, and it’s unlikely to salvage America’s longest-running engagement in history.

      In a 2009 article for The Nation, investigative journalist and author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” Jeremy Scahill, offered a deep glimpse behind the inner workings of Prince’s Blackwater (the company that has since been sold, and rebranded as Academi). Sworn statements provided by two former Blackwater employees detail the culture and actions of the private security contractor’s operations during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, only a fraction of what we would witness if Prince got his way in Afghanistan.

    • “We’ve Lost Our Geopolitical Compass”: John Feffer on North Korea

      The enormous fluctuations in Donald Trump’s policies toward North Korea are a “truly disorienting experience,” says John Feffer, a leading expert on US policy toward Korea who currently serves as a project director and associate fellow at Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.

      In this interview, Feffer — the author of North Korea/South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis — discusses the history of the conflict between the United States and North Korea. Feffer also talks about the foreign policy of President Donald Trump and his conflicting messages about his desire to “bomb them out of existence” on the one hand, and to sit down to talk with Kim Jong-un on the other.

    • The FBI Pressured a Lonely Young Man Into a Bomb Plot. He Tried to Back Out. Now He’s Serving Life in Prison.

      When he was born in Cuba, Suarez had blue skin. His fragile brain had been deprived of oxygen, a tragedy his family points to in explaining his lifelong social and intellectual challenges. As a child, Suarez also suffered several significant head injuries, including being struck by a brick and falling off motorcycles without a helmet on. His parents brought him to Key West, Florida, in 2004, when he was 12 years old. He struggled in the public education system and dropped out of high school. He then took odd jobs in Key West — stocking store shelves, cleaning up restaurants, working in kitchens. Even after more than a decade in the United States, he spoke English without confidence.

      In 2015, seeing reports about the Islamic State on cable news, Suarez became intrigued by the terrorist group, he explained to an FBI informant. He was 23 years old at the time and still living in Key West. He was slender and fit, with tattoos covering his chest, stomach, and arms. He wore his brown hair cropped close to his scalp, and a goatee covered the bottom of his chin.

      Suarez began to identify as Muslim and gave himself an Arabic name: Almlak Alaswd, which translates to “dark angel.” He said he wanted to be part of ISIS, but he knew little about the group or its rival organizations. He thought Osama bin Laden had founded ISIS, and he admitted to an FBI informant that he didn’t know what Hamas was or how the group was different from ISIS.

    • ‘Sad Day for Warmongers’ as UN Finds Iran in Total Compliance with Nuke Deal

      On what one observer called “a sad day for warmongers,” the United Nations declared Friday that Iran is fully adhering to the nuclear deal reached in 2015, and that inspectors will not go looking for infractions at the request of the Trump administration.

      Trump and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, have regarded Iran and the agreement with suspicion, with Trump threatening to withhold certification of Iranian compliance, and saying in an interview in July, “If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Menominee Tribe seeks stricter federal oversight in Michigan mine fight.

      EPA spokesperson, Allison Nowotarski, said the agency received the Menominee request on Wednesday afternoon but would not comment further.

    • How some African farmers are responding to climate change — and what we can learn from them
    • Greenpeace & Indigenous Water Protectors Respond to Lawsuit Accusing DAPL Activists of Eco-Terrorism
    • Analysis: Harvey Triggered Release of Nearly a Million Pounds of Toxic Air Pollutants
    • There is a Clear Link Between Climate Change & Stronger Hurricanes
    • Hurricane Harvey and the Dialectics of Nature

      Although not nearly as well-known as Katrina or Sandy, Houston had been clobbered by Hurricane Ike on Sept. 11, 2008. It resulted in $30 billion in damages and cost the lives of 74 people. But the city had not borne the full brunt of Ike that had veered away at the last minute. However, if it had hit the bulls eye of the city, it would “kill America’s economy”, according to Pete Olson, a Republican congressman from Sugar Land, a Houston suburb.

    • Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Earth Scorned

      On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, peddler of the lie that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy, made a predictably superficial visit to Texas. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump boasted as he landed in Corpus Christi. He made no mention of the victims.

      Climate denial in the face of Harvey’s devastation is incomprehensible, ignorant and immoral.

    • Harvey Won’t Be The Last Thousand-Year Storm

      All our eyes have been glued to the devastation that is Hurricane Harvey. Here in New Jersey, we are still waiting on the help we were promised to fully recover from Superstorm Sandy, so we know the road home will be long and full of challenges.

      We feel heartbroken at the sight of thousands of Gulf Coast families displaced by the storm, which dumped over 50 inches of rain in just four days. As the storm was hitting, Houston experienced over 56,000 calls to 911 in just 15 hours.

      [...]

      Yet it’s sobering to remember that almost exactly a year ago, that we were talking about the last “thousand year flood” that hit Louisiana that August, and the “thousand year flood” that left West Virginia and Texas underwater just a few months before.

    • Antifa and Leftists Organize Mutual Aid and Rescue Networks in Houston
    • Responding to Antifa and Riseup: On Revolutionary Politics and Non-Violence

      Riseup worries that critics of Antifa have “made a monolith of Antifa and have simplified their actions to black-bloc-ing and street fighting Nazis. We exercise our political agency in so many more ways! In this moment, anti-fascists are providing hurricane relief in Texas right now. We’re also on the border helping refugees survive their long journey north. Building community infrastructure outside the state, prisoner support, permaculture gardens and the list goes on. Antifa is a facet of a larger struggle that we engage in myriad ways.”

      [...]

      It’s a false dichotomy to frame Antifa supporters as revolutionaries and their critics as tepid liberals who are too feeble to push for radical change. Antifa has no monopoly over radicalism. Many on the left came of age reading the works of radical historical thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Eugene Debs, and contemporary radicals such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. But I see little of the insights from these thinkers embraced by Antifa, which prioritizes opposition to fascism over efforts to cultivate mass support for radical change. For a group claiming to support revolution, there seems to be little understanding among many supporters I’ve spoken with and followed regarding how this is to be achieved. One need look no further than Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin for a serious discussion of the conditions necessary for revolutionary transformation. As a revolutionary advocate of participatory unionism and libertarian socialism, Bakunin was clear in his writings that revolution would only be achieved under specific preconditions. These included: 1. A serious effort on the part of leftists to cultivate mass support for socialism. This required a mass outreach campaign, and the development of mass critical consciousness in demand of social change; and 2. Growing economic desperation on the part of the masses, which would create the conditions necessary for an urgent push for a system-wide transformation via the destruction of capitalist systems that had lost the support of the mass public.

    • Hurricane Harvey Exposes Danger of Tax Cuts, Deregulation, Aging Infrastructure, Ignoring the Environment and ‘Limited Government’
    • As Texans return to flood-hit homes, many say ‘Our house is history’

      As flood waters recede from Hurricane Harvey, thousands are set to return to their homes on Sunday to survey damage from unprecedented flooding that devastated densely populated areas of Texas, as worries mount about health risks.

      Harvey, which came ashore on Aug. 25 as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in 50 years, is expected to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, having displaced more than 1 million people and leaving wreckage in an area stretching for more than 300 miles (480 kms) which officials said would take years to repair.

    • As Hurricane Harvey Winds Down, Texas Members of Congress Tour European Castle

      As the Texas coast looks toward recovery amid the death and destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey, several lawmakers from the state were at a popular tourist spot in the Czech Republic this weekend.

      Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, a senior Appropriations Committee member, was spotted taking a tour of Prague Castle on Saturday. Carter was seen strolling through the castle complex along with Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. The group snapped photos and were told the history of St. Vitus Cathedral.

      Carter told The Intercept that he was thinking about Houston while on a foreign operations congressional delegation.

      “That’s my hometown, I was born and raised in Houston. I’m concerned about Houston,” Carter said, when asked about the crisis in his home state. “We increased FEMA funding, and we continue to increase funding,” he added.

    • Fire Erupts Again at Houston-Area Chemical Plant as Public Remains in Dark

      Fire and smoke erupted for a second time Friday evening at the Houston-area Arkema chemical plant, but what exactly is going up in flames appears to remain a mystery to the public still reeling from a trail of devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

    • For the Love of Earth

      On July 9, New York magazine published “The Uninhabitable Earth,” a worst-case climate change scenario suggesting that our current human course may produce an unlivable future for Earth. A burst of media commentary and controversy followed, and it quickly became the most-read article in the magazine’s history.

    • San Francisco smashes all-time record high temperature, hits 106 degrees

      When you think of San Francisco, you think of clammy, foggy weather stuck forever in the 50s and 60s. But on Friday, the City by the Bay soared to an astonishing 106 degrees, its hottest temperature in recorded history.

      The 106-degree reading downtown shattered the previous record of 103, set June 14, 2000. Records have been kept there since June 1874 or almost 150 years.

      The National Weather Service forecast office serving the Bay Area called the record “incredible.”

    • Hurricane Harvey’s Impact — And How It Compares To Other Storms

      Hurricane Harvey, which dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana, looks to be one of the most damaging natural disasters in U.S. history. Flooding continues to affect large areas of Houston, Beaumont and other areas of Texas. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes, and rig shut downs and evacuations along the Gulf have curbed oil and gas production. The White House, meanwhile, is expected to ask Congress for $14.5 billion in relief funding. While we don’t know Harvey’s ultimate toll on life and property — and won’t for some time — here are the best estimates of the hurricane’s impacts so far, and how they compare to the destruction wrought by other major storms.

    • From Carpet to Clean Air: It’s Time for California to Stand Up for Environmental Justice

      Enough is enough. For too long, California’s low-income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the health impacts of industrial pollution, including refineries, power plants, and transportation corridors—putting residents at a higher risk for asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancer, and birth defects.

      Every person, regardless of the color of their skin, income level, or neighborhood they live in, deserves equal access to clean water, air, and soil.

      California has always been on the cutting-edge of environmental policy, passing landmark laws that often serve as models for the nation to follow. Yet, well-meaning legislation often makes matters worse for low-income communities and our struggle for environmental justice even harder.

    • Who’s Behind Fossil Fuel Extraction? It’s Not Just Republicans

      The interests of the oil, gas and pipeline industries are connected — and so are the related problems that all of us face. No matter where fossil fuels are extracted, carried, refined, exported or used, the need to avoid contamination and deter climate change connects all people. It’s no longer about just one community’s backyard. And to stall climate change and contamination, people need to connect the dots.

      [...]

      President Obama signed the Koch-backed bill that sped up permitting on December 4, 2015 — just eight days before he signed the Paris Climate Accord.

      Though many see the Paris Accord as Obama’s shining moment for the environment, the plan to speed the construction of fossil fuel infrastructures cast a shadow over the US’s well-publicized but halfhearted participation in the agreement. Moreover, although the Paris Accord was significant, it contains no enforcement mechanisms: There are no penalties for breaching provisions.

      As Trump stood poised to withdraw the US from the Paris Accord in May, New York Senator Charles Schumer spoke out. “If the United States were to un-sign the agreement, all of the progress in combatting climate change would be undone in one fell swoop,” Schumer said.

    • Disability Erasure And The Apocalyptic Narrative

      This week hasn’t exactly been a fantastic time for me. Losing a parent can really make you get stuck in a maudlin, even slightly dark frame of mind. So it’s no secret that seeing photos coming out of Hurricane Harvey of elder folks near drowning in a nursing home due to lack of evacuation and inability to move well put me in a foul mood. It also got me thinking of conversations I’ve heard over the years about disability and the end of society.

    • African-Americans fighting fascism and racism, from WWII to Charlottesville

      The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading African-American newspaper at the time, praised Wallace for endorsing what they called the “Double V” campaign. The Double Victory campaign, launched by the Courier in 1942, became a rallying cry for black journalists, activists and citizens to secure both victory over fascism abroad during World War II and victory over racism at home.

      There is a historical relationship between Nazism and white supremacy in the United States. Yet the recent resurgence of explicit racism, including the attack in Charlottesville, has been greeted by many with surprise. Just look at the #thisisnotwhoweare hashtag.

      As a scholar of African-American history, I am troubled by the collective amnesia in U.S. politics and media around racism. It permeates daily interactions in communities across the country. This ignorance has consequences. When Americans celebrate the country’s victory in WWII, but forget that the U.S. armed forces were segregated, that the Red Cross segregated blood donors or that many black WWII veterans returned to the country only to be denied jobs or housing, it becomes all the more difficult to talk honestly about racism today.

  • Finance

    • Teachers Shouldn’t Have to Panhandle to Prep for a New School Year

      The problem? Teachers have been spending out of their own pockets for generations to decorate their classrooms and the like. Now they’re having to spend their own money for basic school supplies — everything from pens and pencils to cleaning fluids — or go without.

    • Trump Furthers War on Workers With Announcement of Slashed Pay Increases

      Continuing his war on workers, President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he was slashing the scheduled pay raises for federal workers.

      The president, who declared during his bid for the White House, “the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them,” cited his authority to issue the “alternative plan for pay increases” during a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” His plan, he argued, is necessary to “to put our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

    • France seeks US$715m in back-taxes from Microsoft

      France has asked Microsoft to pay €600 million (US$715 million) in what it claims are back-taxes owed by the American software giant for billing local customers from Ireland.

      [...]

      It said that Microsoft had paid corporate taxes of just €32.2 million last year.

    • Alphabet Finishes Reorganization With New XXVI Company

      The new entity, called XXVI Holdings Inc., will own the equity of each Alphabet company, including Google. The new structure legally separates Google from other units such as Waymo, its self-driving car business, and Verily, a medical device and health data firm.

    • A decade of G7 central bank collusion – and counting…

      Since late 2007, the Federal Reserve has embarked on grand-scale collusion with other G-7 central banks to manufacture a massive amount of money. The scope and degree of this collusion are historically unprecedented and by admission of the perpetrators, unconventional in approach, and – depending on the speech – ineffective.

      Central bank efforts to provide liquidity to the private banking system have been delivered amidst a plethora of grandiose phrases like “unlimited” and “by all means necessary.” Central bankers have played a game with no defined goalposts, no clock rundown, no max scores, and no true end in sight.

      [...]

      With a decade of failed policy experiments behind us, why should we have faith that the Fed — or any other central bank — has any clue about what to do next? The answer is simple. We shouldn’t.

      As Fischer went on to tell the Financial Times on August 15, 2017:

      “It took almost 80 years after 1930 to have another financial crisis that could have been of that magnitude. And now after 10 years everybody wants to go back to a status quo before the great financial crisis. And I find that really, extremely dangerous and extremely shortsighted. One can understand the political dynamics of this but one cannot understand why grown, intelligent people reach the conclusion that [you should] get rid of all the things you have put in place in the last 10 years.”

      In other words, why should we hope that a 10-year global “solution” to instill long-term financial stability and economic growth, even as it’s been repeatedly touted as such, should do what central bankers said it will? The answer again is, we shouldn’t.

    • Economic Update: A Tale of Two Crises

      This week’s episode discusses the working conditions of the US in 2017, the looming US recession and plans for negative interest rates, how schools raise funds by shaming poor schoolchildren, and the economics of fascism. Also included is a discussion of why FDR’s New Deal was not repeated after 2008 and the consequences of the post-1945 destruction of the coalition that produced the New Deal.

    • Job Growth Weakens in August

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 156,000 jobs in August, somewhat less than most economists had expected. This figure, combined with downward revisions of 41,000 to the prior two months data, brought the average over the last three months to 185,000. The household survey also showed some evidence of weakness with the unemployment rate edging up to 4.4 percent and the employment-to-population ratio falling back 0.1 percentage point to 60.1 percent. Perhaps more noteworthy was a drop of 0.3 percentage points in the employment rate of prime-age (ages 25 to 54) workers to 78.4 percent.

      Other data in the household survey were mostly positive. The number of people involuntarily working part-time fell by 27,000; it is now only slightly larger as a share of the workforce than before the recession. The number of people choosing to work part-time went up by 187,000, reaching a new high. This number has increased by more than 2.6 million since the end of 2013 when the Affordable Care Act took effect. It indicates that many people are taking advantage of the opportunity to get insurance outside of employment and therefore opting to work part-time.

    • Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation

      And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.

      Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.

    • Princess Diana: the monarchy’s Brexit moment

      The one exception to the story of degeneration and loss of belief of the central, defining institutions of the United Kingdom is the monarchy. However galling for republicans, the monarchy played a long game helped by the Queen’s personal longevity, and saved itself. With the next three kings lined up, it is already projecting its claim into the twenty-second century. How it achieved this and at what price helps to demonstrate the larger argument. The traditional, constitutional settlement built around the absolute sovereignty of the core institutions of the Commons, the Cabinet, the Lords and the Crown, have lost their claim to a pre-modern form of allegiance. The monarchy went through its own equivalent of a Brexit shock with Princess Diana. It then found a way back, but only after discarding its precious freight of untouchability.

      [...]

      When Diana died two years later, Blair declared she was ‘The People’s Princess’. The use of ‘The People’ entered British political vocabulary with a new meaning, perhaps for the first time. Not because of the prime minister but because ‘The People’ occupied the huge spaces of the royal Mall in an enormous, spontaneous mobilisation. Quite unlike official events, such as celebration of royal marriages, the crowd was completely outside of official control. It also stayed with a sense of resolve. The People would not have the princess scorned. In her Balmoral Scottish fastness, the Queen declined to have the royal flag flown at half-mast over Buckingham Palace. She and her family responded just like the cold, heartless, oppressive ‘Establishment’ that Diana had warned about. Had this standoff continued, the Palace and the royals could have been overwhelmed. Elizabeth conceded to the prime minister’s unequivocal advice, flew to London, made a TV address and briefly joined the crowds to examine the myriad of bouquets. The day was saved. It was a harbinger of Brexit, of the public willing to separate itself, calmly and deliberately, from a distrusted, traditional authority; with quiet resolve, to borrow a phrase from Theresa May.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘Impeach Donald Trump Now’ Billboard Goes Up a Mile from Mar-a-Lago

      About a mile from the so-called “Winter White House,” the Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump has installed a crowd-funded billboard to advocate for removing the president from office.

      “No one is above the law. Not even the president,” reads the billboard, located on Southern Boulevard, which leads directly to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

    • Trump names former coal executive to top mining safety post

      President Trump has nominated a former coal executive whose company clashed with federal officials over mining safety rules under President Obama to the top mining safety post in his administration.

      Trump on Friday named David Zatezalo, the former chairman of Rhino Resources, to be an assistant secretary of Labor overseeing the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The position is currently vacant, according to the Department of Labor’s website.

      During Zatezalo’s time as an executive at Rhino, the company was issued two “pattern of violations” letters from MSHA over safety issues at their mines, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The letters were sent in 2010 and 2011.

    • Exclusive: Read the Inauguration Day letter Obama left for Trump

      The enormous fluctuations in Donald Trump’s policies toward North Korea are a “truly disorienting experience,” says John Feffer, a leading expert on US policy toward Korea who currently serves as a project director and associate fellow at Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.

      In this interview, Feffer — the author of North Korea/South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis — discusses the history of the conflict between the United States and North Korea. Feffer also talks about the foreign policy of President Donald Trump and his conflicting messages about his desire to “bomb them out of existence” on the one hand, and to sit down to talk with Kim Jong-un on the other.

    • What if Silicon Valley is to blame for all of this?

      Fake news traffics pretty much exclusively through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which intentionally work like hermetically sealed ideological bubbles — showing users more of what they like, and less of what they don’t, to keep them on these sites for as long as possible. Like most sewer companies, they don’t really care what kind of shit flows through their pipes as long as they can profit off the traffic.

    • How Right-Wing Media Played the Mainstream Press in the 2016 Election

      [...] a new study of the online “media ecosystem” by researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society finds that throughout the 2016 campaign the political press consistently focused its coverage of Trump on the key issues he was running on—immigration, jobs, and trade—and just as consistently focused on Hillary Clinton’s scandals to the exclusion of the issues she ran on.

    • Before Trump Pardoned Him, Arpaio Was Promoted by Media

      There’s a great deal to be said about Donald Trump’s pardon for criminal racist Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, found guilty of criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a court’s order that he stop unconstitutionally profiling Latinx people.

    • How to Preserve Your Right to Protest

      Bills limiting protest rights have been introduced in at least 19 states, including Minnesota, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Iowa, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, North Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. While some of these bills have been voted down or delayed, others are still in session, and governors from North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have signed anti-protest bills into state law this year. Given this disturbing trend, it’s imperative that you know how to use your voice to preserve your right to protest.

    • The Terrifying Truth About Journalists

      Michelle Jones remembers graduating journalism school twenty-five years ago and being warned that the industry was declining because advertisers were pulling out, salaries were dropping and the internet would ruin everything. And that’s pretty much what happened.

    • Trump taps Bridenstine to run NASA. Some senators have reservations.
    • Melania Trump and the Chilling Artifice of Fashion

      Yesterday, heated debate over Melania Trump’s travel attire nearly overshadowed the very purpose of her trip: to bear witness to the devastation of the Houston hurricane. At stake was whether Melania’s look — slim black pants, face-framing blowout, green silk bomber, mirrored aviators, and sky-high snakeskin stilettos — was appropriately sober and practical for communing with victims of biblical-level flooding.

      Those shoes especially drew critical fire. “Melania is wearing stilettos to a hurricane zone,” tweeted a Wall Street Journal reporter. “Trump is the kind of woman who refuses to pretend that her feet will, at any point, ever be immersed in cold, muddy, bacteria-infested Texas water,” observed the Washington Post. Some rushed to defend the First Lady, wielding the usual claim that women’s fashion should be beneath our notice. “I don’t know why anyone should care what anyone wears when they’re on their way to help people,” declared Trevor Noah on his show.

    • Trump aides averted more detailed letter justifying Comey firing

      A draft letter from President Donald Trump justifying the firing of FBI Director James Comey and now reported to be in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller was substantially watered down before Trump dismissed Comey in May, according to people familiar with the events.

      The decision to fire Comey was made by the president the weekend before the firing as he huddled at his country club in Bedminster, N.J., with his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and top policy adviser Stephen Miller, the people said.

    • The state of Channel 4

      Channel 4’s Chief Executive, David Abraham, and Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt, are leaving on a high note. The channel’s four-part drama series, ‘The State’, written and directed by Peter Kosminsky, was bold and provocative, a clear-eyed depiction of the fate of four British volunteers who travel to Syria to join ISIS.

      Kosminsky has many outstanding drama credits to his name, including “The Promise”, another four-part Channel 4 series on the founding of the state of Israel; but his tightly-managed and unflinching depiction of disastrously misdirected idealism and utter disillusionment is his most accomplished to date. This was drama at the same level as HBO’s remarkable ‘The Night Of…’: and it is hard to see any British broadcaster other than Channel 4 devoting four successive nights of its peak-time schedule to such a risky project.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Copyright Issues and Censorship – Key Reasons Why Internet Needs Blockchain

      Sometimes censorship seems like the practice is as old as writing itself and that, for as long as we have writers, we’ll always have someone that is willing to censor or silence them for their own personal gain.

      From Socrates’ untimely death to internet sandboxing, censorship has taken many forms throughout history and the truth is that it deprives us of knowledge and keeps us from prospering as a society.

      It goes far beyond what you don’t get to read in the newspaper or watch on TV. News and entertainment have a great impact on our society, shaping opinions and influencing the way we experience the world on many levels.

    • UK Foreign Office complaint sees RT Twitter account suspended

      A Kremlin-linked Twitter account that was part of an online re-enactment of the 1917 Russian revolution has been suspended after a UK Foreign Office (FCO) complaint.

      The @BritishEmb1917 account, created by the Russian government-backed news channel RT, used the FCO’s official crest in its profile, The Guardian reported.

    • Snip Announces Crowdsale for Censorship-Resistance News Platform

      Snip announced this week that it will be launching a crowdsale to raise funds for the development of its decentralized, user-generated news platform.

    • Twitter Bots Use Likes, RTs for Intimidation

      Upon further examination, it appears that almost all of my new followers were compliments of a social media botnet that is being used to amplify fake news and to intimidate journalists, activists and researchers. The botnet or botnets appear to be targeting people who are exposing the extent to which sock puppet and bot accounts on social media platforms can be used to influence public opinion.

    • EFF Calls on New York Court to Vacate Unconstitutional Injunction Against Offensive Speech

      A court’s order preliminarily enjoining a website from publishing certain images and statements about a former governmental official is an unconstitutional prior restraint and must be rescinded, EFF argued in an amicus brief filed yesterday in the New York state appellate court.

      The case, Brummer v. Wey, is a dispute between Christopher Brummer, a Georgetown law professor and a former presidential nominee to the Commodities and Futures Trade Commission and the online publication The Blot. Several articles were published on The Blot that were highly critical of Brummer’s actions as an appeals adjudicator of decisions of the Financial Industry Regulation Authority, particularly those in which he affirmed the lifetime ban of two African American brokers. The articles, consistent with other content on The Blot, used highly charged and hyperbolic language, including characterizing Brummer’s actions as a “lynching” and posting images of Jim Crow-era lynchings.

    • The Scale Of Moderating Facebook: It Turns Off 1 Million Accounts Every Single Day

      For years now, we’ve discussed why it’s problematic that people are demanding internet platforms moderate more and more speech. We should be quite wary of internet platforms taking on the role of the internet’s police. First, they’re really bad at it. As we noted in a recent post, platforms are horrendously bad at distinguishing abusive content from those documenting abusive content and that creates all sorts of unfortunate and bizarre results, with those targeted by harassing content often having their own accounts shut down. On top of that, the only way to actually moderate content at scale requires a set of rules, and any such set of rules, as applied, will create hysterically bad results. And that’s because the scale of the problem is so massive. It’s difficult for most people to comprehend even slightly the scale involved here. As a former Facebook employee who worked on this stuff once told me, “Facebook needs to make one million decisions each day — one million today, one million tomorrow, one million the next day.” The idea that they won’t make errors (both of the Type 1 and Type 2 category) is laughable.

    • Pakistani School Drops Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ From Concert Amid Protest By Vocal Minority

      For those of us that advocate principles of free speech, the most hallowed battleground for that fight must necessarily be in schools. If these ideals are to win the day on the longer timeline, it will be because subsequent generations take up the banner of free speech and conversation in more numbers than do their opponents. In the West, these fights amount to issues that are indeed important, but pale in comparison to what occurs elsewhere in the world. To that end, it’s as important to see how far we’ve come as it is to understand how far we have to go.

    • Twitter Suspends Reporter’s Account… After He Gets Targeted By Russian Twitter Bots

      Over the last few weeks, we’ve written a number of times about how systematically bad internet platforms are at determining how to deal with abuse online. This is not to mock the platforms, even though many of the decisions are comically bad, but to note that this is inevitable in dealing with the scale of these platforms — and to remind people that this is why it’s dangerous to demand that these companies be legally liable for policing speech on their platforms. It won’t end well. Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about how Twitter suspended Ken “Popehat” White for posting an email threat he’d received (Twitter argued he was violating the privacy of the guy threatening him). From there, we wrote about a bunch of stories of Facebook and Twitter punishing people for documenting abuse that they had received.

      But this latest story is even slightly crazier, as it appears that abusers were taking advantage of this on purpose. In this case, the story involves Russian Twitter bots. First, the Atlantic Council wrote about Russian Twitter trolls trying to shape a narrative after the Nazi event in Charlottesville. In response, those very same Twitter bots and trolls started bombarding the Twitter feeds of the researchers. And here’s where the story gets even weirder. When Joseph Cox, writing for The Daily Beast, wrote about this (at the link above), those same Twitter bots started targeting him too.

    • Al Jazeera Gives A ‘Voice To The Voiceless’ By Killing News Comments

      We’ve noted time and time again how numerous websites have been killing news comments because they’re too lazy and too cheap to cultivate an on-site community, and/or don’t like having story errors pointed out in quite such a transparent, conspicuous location. Of course editors and publishers can never admit this is their real motivation, instead offering a rotating crop of disingenuous prattle about how they’re muzzling their readers and shoving them over to Facebook because they’re just so very into building relationships and are breathlessly-dedicated to improving conversation.

    • YouTube accused of CENSORSHIP over controversial new bid to ‘limit’ access to videos
    • Russian complaint brings accusations of censorship for Estonia
    • Russian complaint brings accusation of censorship for Estonia
    • Censorship in Nigeria: Musical free expression in the shadow of Fela
    • The Free Speech Issue on College Campuses Is a Far-Right Distraction from the Real Threats to Students
    • The Liberal Lockdown in Academia: the Case of Fawzia Afzal-Khan
    • The evolution of China’s Great Firewall: 21 years of censorship [Ed: just republished]

      In September 1987, a Beijing laboratory sent what became China’s first email. The message, to a German university, read: “Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner of the world.”

      The development of internet infrastructure in the past few decades has enabled Chinese people to continue crossing the “Great Wall” and communicate with the rest of the world. But Chinese authorities soon threw up another wall to prevent the people from accessing information they deemed threatening to the Chinese Communist Party.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Unsung hero of Bletchley Park to finally be recognised as book ‘rectifies damage of Imitation Game’

      In life, he was the first head of GCHQ, who spotted the talent of Alan Turing and helped win the Second World War. By the time Hollywood got their hands on him, he was turned into a “pompous prat” obsessed with hindering the efforts of Bletchley Park’s stars.

      The true story of Commander Alastair Denniston’s life is now to be revealed to the public, after historian, GCHQ and his own family team up to set the record straight.

    • Google promised not to scan Gmail for targeted ads—but for how long?

      On July 23, Google promised with great fanfare that it would stop scanning consumers’ Gmail messages to serve targeted, contextually aware ads. The announcement—which put Gmail in line with competing services and Google’s paid e-mail for government, business, and education sectors—was published widely, from tech blogs to the mainstream media. “Free consumer Gmail users,” Google said, “can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate.”

    • New York City Bar Cautions Lawyers to Use Care if U.S. Customs Asks to Review Electronically-Stored Information

      New York City Bar Opinion 2017-5 (July 2017), here, provides some interesting information about the care lawyers must take before allowing a lawful search of an attorneys’ smartphone, laptop, or the like. The opinion is obviously important given the international nature of intellectual property practice and the growing frequency (still small, though) with which Customs officials ask for passwords that could reveal client confidences.

      The opinion states in part that lawyers should consider whether they should not carry electronic devices that could permit disclosure to sensitive client information when traveling abroad, and, if asked upon return to provide access to the device, the opinion states…

    • You Are the Product

      At the end of June, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had hit a new level: two billion monthly active users. That number, the company’s preferred ‘metric’ when measuring its own size, means two billion different people used Facebook in the preceding month. It is hard to grasp just how extraordinary that is. Bear in mind that thefacebook – its original name – was launched exclusively for Harvard students in 2004. No human enterprise, no new technology or utility or service, has ever been adopted so widely so quickly. The speed of uptake far exceeds that of the internet itself, let alone ancient technologies such as television or cinema or radio.

      Also amazing: as Facebook has grown, its users’ reliance on it has also grown. The increase in numbers is not, as one might expect, accompanied by a lower level of engagement. More does not mean worse – or worse, at least, from Facebook’s point of view. On the contrary. In the far distant days of October 2012, when Facebook hit one billion users, 55 per cent of them were using it every day. At two billion, 66 per cent are. Its user base is growing at 18 per cent a year – which you’d have thought impossible for a business already so enormous. Facebook’s biggest rival for logged-in users is YouTube, owned by its deadly rival Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), in second place with 1.5 billion monthly users. Three of the next four biggest apps, or services, or whatever one wants to call them, are WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, with 1.2 billion, 1.2 billion, and 700 million users respectively (the Chinese app WeChat is the other one, with 889 million). Those three entities have something in common: they are all owned by Facebook. No wonder the company is the fifth most valuable in the world, with a market capitalisation of $445 billion.

    • Facebook boss Zuckerberg has been blocked so many times, you can’t block him

      If you try, you get the message “Block Error”. The problem came to a head because Zuck gets preferential treatment from the Facebook algorithm, meaning he’s more likely to pop up in your feed.

    • You can’t block Mark Zuckerberg or Priscilla Chan as too many already have

      With Zuckerberg, it was a particularly noticeable problem, since his posts are seemingly given extra viral oomph by Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, leaving him ever present in the feeds of many.

    • Facebook has mapped the entire human population of earth as it prepares to build an internet in space

      Facebook used satellite-based data and government census information to map the earth’s entire human population.

    • Third-party Google Assistant speakers put “OK Google” in tons of form factors

      IFA (the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) is happening in Germany right now, and the show is apparently the coming out party for third-party speakers with an integrated Google Assistant. Imagine a Google Home, but made by somebody else, without the all-white, air freshener design. The companies are in various stages of rolling out information, ship dates, and pricing, but we have a few details and lots of pretty pictures.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Centering Women of Color Is Key to Understanding and Resisting Police Violence

      When police violence is publicized, of course, it’s usually police violence against men. The violence inflicted on women of color is often minimized or completely erased. For that reason alone, this book is extraordinarily necessary. But Ritchie goes further: She emphasizes that devoting space and analysis to the impact of police violence on women and gender-nonconforming people of color is not simply about filling in gaps. She emphasizes that we cannot truly understand what state violence means in this country without wholly recognizing its gendered scope. And without that understanding and recognition, we cannot effectively resist it.

    • President Trump’s ‘Arms for Cops’ Program is Just More Militarization of the Police

      It’s a good question and gets to the larger question of why American cops need any of the gear that they’re being offered — once again — by the US military: everything from MRAP “tanks” so heavy that if called out for a SWAT raid, a route has to first be carefully plotted and followed that doesn’t cross over any of this country’s worn-out and and crumbling bridges and culverts (an MRAP weighs 14-18 tons, while local street viaducts in many communities frequently have tonnage limits in the single digits).

    • How not to join the police: Stand in a field, get arrested.

      Now, for anyone outside Scotland, there’s something you need to know: You can walk through fields here. It’s not illegal. It’s specifically protected in law, in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. And although not relevant in this case, if there’s a crop then you can still walk in the field, you just have to stay at the edge.

    • Controversial Singaporean Atheist Amos Yee Still Can’t Get Asylum in the U.S.

      BuzzFeed just published a lengthy account by reporter Atossa Araxia Abrahamian about Singaporean YouTuber Amos Yee, the 18-year-old atheist provocateur who has been repeatedly targeted for his supposedly “blasphemous” videos and who has been held in U.S. detention facilities since December.

    • Officers With Personal Body Cams Taking The ‘Public’ Out Of ‘Public Accountability’

      America’s largest sheriff’s department is rolling towards an accountability train wreck. Despite years of discussing the issue, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department still has no cohesive policy on body cameras, nor has it taken steps to outfit its officers with the devices.

    • The long road to gender equality in southeast Asia

      Gender-based discrimination limits women’s employment opportunities, and contributes to wider economic underdevelopment. Although more women than men attend higher education in southeast Asia, they are underrepresented in the official workforce. The gender gap in employment ranges from 16% in the Philippines to 20% in Sri Lanka. There is an average gender wage gap in the region of 30% to 40%.

    • The Plot Sickens: the Death Penalty and American Politics

      What is it about Arkansas that so often makes the state the perfect measure for the distemper of the times? Twenty-five years ago, Bill Clinton interrupted his presidential campaign by rushing home to supervise the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a brain-damaged black man who had shot himself in the head after killing a police officer. The gunshot obliterated Rector’s frontal lobe, leaving him severely disabled. For his last meal, Rector ordered a steak, cherry Kool-Aid and a slice of pecan pie. Rector wrapped the pie in a napkin, telling the prison guards he was “saving it for later.” Bill Clinton spent the evening of Rector’s execution dining with the actress Mary Steenburgen.

      The killing of Rector was a political execution, meant to symbolize the death of the old liberalism that obsessed over the rights of prisoners and the morality of capital punishment. Since that grim spectacle, the Democrats have never again made the death penalty a political issue, except to help engineer its expanded application, as Clinton and Gore did by pushing through the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1994, which gutted habeas corpus in federal appeals courts and allowed for the death penalty to be imposed in cases that didn’t involve homicides.

    • Georgia officer who said ‘We only kill black people’ to retire
    • DOJ to retry woman who laughed during Sessions’ confirmation hearing

      The Department of Justice will retry a woman whom prosecutors say disrupted Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing for attorney general by laughing.

      After rejecting a plea deal, Desiree Fairooz will again face charges of unlawful conduct for disrupting Sessions’ hearing in January.

      According to court records, Fairooz rejected a deal offered by prosecutors that would have required her to plead guilty in exchange for a recommended sentence of time served.

    • Memphis Wants to Remove a Statue Honoring First Grand Wizard of the KKK

      Berlin Boyd, chairperson of the Memphis City Council, was seated at the head of a conference table at Memphis City Hall when he held up a pair of local newspaper ads published in the 1850s. “N.B. Forrest, Dealer in Slaves, has just received from North Carolina twenty-five likely young negroes, to which he desires to call the attention of purchasers,” the Memphis Daily Appeal announced. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s “Negro Depot,” located at 87 Adams St., promised customers “A.1 field hands, sound and perfect in body and mind.” Another ad boasted “fresh supplies” on the daily, inviting buyers “to examine their stock before purchasing elsewhere.”

      Around Boyd, who is black, the room was packed. The hallway outside had been crowded with constituents hoping to attend the City Council meeting, to hear members discuss, yet again, what could be done about the city’s Confederate statues. In the wake of the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, a long simmering national controversy over such monuments had just boiled over. As President Donald Trump gave his tacit support to white supremacists on TV, Memphians returned to a place they had been protesting for years: the large bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    • “Vindictive”: CODEPINK Activist Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions’ Hearing to Face New Trial

      CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday.

      “I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!” she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it “ridiculous.”

      As Common Dreams reported, she was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read “Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions” as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room.

    • Freedom Rider: Joe Arpaio Is No Aberration

      Even most leftish white Americans like to think that their country is good and its institutions are fair and equitable. According to this wishful thinking human rights abuses only happen in faraway places and injustices here are resolved by reining in a few bad apples. The facts say otherwise and prove that the United States is consistently one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The cruelty of its prison system extends far beyond headlines of a few well known villains like David Clarke and Joe Arpaio.

      Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is quite rightly a big news story. Trump’s pardon is easily denounced as an obvious violation of the spirit of the presidential pardon process. It was a sham used to circumvent an established process. Arpaio had not even been sentenced for his misdemeanor contempt of court conviction. Full pardons are rare in any case, with examples such as Chelsea Manning’s being far more common. She received a commutation and only after serving seven years of her sentence.

    • Imploring President Trump to Reconsider Reinstating Program Offering Military Surplus to Police

      On August 28, the Trump administration unveiled a new plan to roll back limits President Obama had placed in 2015 on the controversial 1033 program, which provides local law enforcement agencies and even some campus and school police with surplus military gear. Obama issued an executive order to end the program, which had provided law enforcement agencies with everything from armored vehicles, grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and camouflage uniforms.

      In doing so, Obama noted the militarized response to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown, where police responded to nonviolent protesters in armored vehicles, riot gear, and with pepper spray, and previously to the use of armored vehicles and military gear by police during the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Obama said, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”

    • Why are the Danes so happy? Because their economy makes sense

      The World Happiness Report puts Danes consistently in the top tier. Twice in the past four years Denmark came in first. Danes also report more satisfaction with their health care than anyone else in Europe, which makes sense, since happiness is related to a sense of security and others being there for you. A fine health care system makes that real.

      The Danish approach is especially interesting to Americans because of the U.S. suspicion of centralization. Danes prefer to administer their health care locally. On the other hand, they’ve found that the fairest and most efficient way of paying for their system is through income tax, most of which is routed through Copenhagen.

    • Charlottesville, Bacon’s Rebellion and the Miasma of Whiteness

      If anyone still buys the idea that we are “post-race,” Charlottesville showed us that white Americans are still willing to kill over white pride. While this most recent tragedy was triggered by a plan to move a statue of Robert E. Lee, its roots are rooted much more deeply into the soil of our national psyche. If we are ever going to pull ourselves out of our centuries-old cycle of racial violence and recrimination, we need to find a way to do more than just condemn white supremacism and figure out how to keep its violence from returning to kill innocent people and deny us all of a country where we might live together in peace.

    • We Must Love One Another Or Die

      Today, over 75 years later, W.H. Auden’s poem September 1, 1939 resonates more than ever. First published in The New Republic in October 1939, it marks the outbreak of World War ll as Germany marched into Poland. Exploring the dark psychological forces driving the German, Auden sits in a New York City dive “uncertain and afraid.” He feels the “waves of anger and fear,” foresees the suffering ahead, mourns what may be lost, but defiantly insists, “The lights must never go out/ The music must always play.” With “our world in stupor,” Auden writes, the need remains “to show an affirming flame.”

    • Abolitionists From Around the World Gather to Plan for the End of Prisons

      In July 2017 more than 200 people from across the globe met for four days in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which was once home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Meeting intentionally in a place with such historical significance to the abolition movement, conferees came together to learn more about the relationship between the carceral state and struggles against colonialism and slavery.

    • Trump’s war on children: Deporting the Dreamers is next, and the GOP base will love it

      Vice President Mike Pence went down to the Hurricane Harvey disaster area on Thursday and, unlike his weird boss, behaved the way politicians typically behave in such a situation. He prayed with the locals and hugged the victims and promised that the administration will be there with whatever is needed. It was a standard performance. So far, members of Congress have also pledged all the federal help they need, and even Rep. Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus said that Congress should not take the hurricane relief and reconstruction hostage to pay for Trump’s wall. (This probably means that the proposed $800 million in cuts to FEMA for the border wall is also off the table, thank goodness.)

    • Ai Weiwei puts human face on migrant crisis in ‘Human Flow’

      The United Nations says there are 65 million forcibly displaced people around the world — a number so huge it can be overwhelming to contemplate.

      Artist Ai Weiwei wants to make viewers see both the scale of the crisis and the humanity of the migrants with his documentary “Human Flow,” premiering Friday at the Venice Film Festival.

      The film, one of 21 competing for the festival’s Golden Lion prize, draws on a deep empathy with his subjects — one the artist came to through direct experience.

    • Union Denounces ‘Chilling’ Assault on Nurse Defending Her Patient from Police

      The nation’s largest nurses union is among those condemning the Salt Lake City police department after a video released Friday showed an officer physically assaulting and then arresting a nurse who refused to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient.

      While attempting to force registered nurse Alex Wubbels to draw the sample without the appropriate warrant or authority, Detective Jeff Payne became infuriated when Wubbels’ supervisor defended her refusal. Payne lunged at the nurse and tried to arrest her while she screamed for help and her shocked colleagues protested.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC’s Broken Comments System Could Help Doom Net Neutrality

      If you look only at unique comments, as opposed to form letters using boilerplate text, those in favor of keeping the Title II rules outweigh those who want to jettison the rules 1.52 million to 23,000.

      The only hitch: the commenting process was such a debacle that the legitimacy of the entire body of comments is now in question.

    • The entire net neutrality debate is because the old telco monopolies think they still run the world

      The Net Neutrality debate, hot as it is, would not exist if the old telco monopolies were behaving like ordinary companies who had to compete for customers. Most of their attitude can be traced back to when they were national monopolies who didn’t have to compete, and the fact that in several areas of the United States and elsewhere, they still don’t have competition.

  • DRM

    • Squeezed for profits, maker of $400 connected juice press closes up shop

      In a letter posted on its website on Friday, Juicero said that it would be closing down its business. The Silicon Valley startup sold a cold-press juice machine that squeezed juice out of proprietary bags of fruit and vegetable matter. The bags were delivered to the Juicero owner’s home on a subscription basis.

      “[A]fter selling over a million Produce Packs, we must let you know that we are suspending the sale of the Juicero Press and Produce Packs immediately,” Juicero wrote today.

      The company was hailed by tech investors, but it ran into problems with price. The juice press was very expensive—it started out at $700 until the company reduced the price of the hardware to $400. That was not including the price of the juice bags, which cost $5-$8 each.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kaspersky wins cash from a patent troll

      “it’s not just any old victory; it’s truly a landmark one. Indeed, our shooing off Wetro Lan with its tail between its legs will go down in the annals of patent law as a crucial precedent, since no one before has ever secured a victory like we just have: we not only forced the troll to withdraw its lawsuit; we also got it to pay us compensation!,” he said.

    • Deputy Attorney General Trots Out All Sorts Of Silly Analogies About ‘Intellectual Property’

      We’ve always had difficulty understanding why copyright or trademark law should even have “criminal” components to them. It seems fairly obvious that they can be handled easily enough with civil actions, without involving law enforcement. And this matter is only reinforced every time law enforcement tries to get involved in copyright and trademark enforcement. They seem oddly… almost unable to comprehend that infringement is different than theft and that it requires a different thought process and analysis. Time and time again, we see this crop up, both in the US and around the world. And it remains consistent no matter who is in charge. Under Obama, the DOJ was terrible on intellectual property issues, and that’s now carrying over to the Trump administration.

    • Copyrights

      • Lawsuit Over Bogus DMCA Complaint Actually Moves Forward

        We’ve discussed many times about how unfortunately toothless section 512(f) of the DMCA is in practice. That’s the section that can supposedly be used against “misrepresentations” under the DMCA. But, in practice, nearly all attempts to use DMCA 512(f) have failed. That’s why it’s always so interesting to see one that is succeeding. But as law professor Eric Goldman notes, there’s a case where a 512(f) claim has survived a motion to dismiss.

        The background to the case is a bit involved, but apparently someone named Shirley Johnson was posting YouTube videos criticizing “New Destiny Christian Center” and the “Paula White Ministries.” Paula White Ministries claimed copyright infringement to YouTube and Johnson counternoticed. Paula White Ministries then sued, claiming copyright infringement over Johnson’s use of images and videos in her criticism. The case was dismissed, but the judge suggested that Johnson file a lawsuit against the plaintiff for “malicious prosecution.” She did so, though included in that suit was also a claim about “false copyright infringement complaints.” The court dismissed those claims, noting that those are not part of a malicious prosecution claim, so a separate lawsuit was filed claiming 512(f) violations. The defendants in this case made a motion to dismiss, but the big news here is that the 512(f) claim lives on.

      • Search Engines Will Open Systems to Prove Piracy & VPN Blocking

        Leading Russian search engines have met with local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor to work out how the services will stop pirate sites, mirrors, VPNs, and other anonymization tools from appearing in search results. Search engines will now receive lists of banned resources automatically and will mesh their IT systems with the government’s so the latter can ascertain compliance.

      • Director of Kim Dotcom Documentary Speaks Out on Piracy

        Last week the documentary “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” was released to the public. While sales are going well, it was inevitable that the film would be widely shared among pirates too. Today we catch up with director Annie Goldson to hear her thoughts on piracy and how the movie industry should respond.

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