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09.19.17

Links 19/9/2017: Pipewire, Mir Support for Wayland, DRM in W3C

Posted in News Roundup at 8:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Seven things about Linux you may not have known so far

    One of the coolest parts about using Linux is the knowledge you gain over time. Each day, you’re likely to come across a new utility or maybe just an unfamiliar flag that does something helpful. These bits and pieces aren’t always life-changing, but they are the building blocks for expertise.

    Even experts don’t know that all, though. No matter how much experience you might have, there is always more to learn, so we’ve put together this list of seven things about Linux you may not have known.

  • Desktop

    • Black screen of death after Win10 update? Microsoft blames HP

      Microsoft is pointing the finger of blame at HP’s factory image for black screens of death appearing after a Windows Update.

      Scores of PC owners took to the HP forums last week to report that Windows 10 updates released September 12 were slowing down the login process. Users stated that once they downloaded the updates and entered their username and password, they only saw black screens for about five to 10 minutes.

      The forum members said that clean installs or disabling a service called “app readiness”, which “gets apps ready for use the first time a user signs in to this PC and when adding new apps” seemed to fix the delay.

      Today, a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register: “We’re working to resolve this as soon as possible” and referred affected customers to a new support post.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation President uses Apple OS

      Jim Zemlin, President of the Linux Foundation, appears to have hit levels of fail unprecedented in the open saucy world.

      At the Open Source Summit 2017 not only did Zemlin do the usual comedy “this is the year of the Linux desktop” speech he did it using a comedy laptop with a joke operating system designed for those who know nothing about computers.

    • Linux 4.14 ‘getting very core new functionality’ says Linus Torvalds

      Linus Torvalds has unsentimentally loosed release candidate one of Linux 4.14 a day before the 26th anniversary of the Linux-0.01 release, and told penguinistas to expect a few big changes this time around.

      “This has been an ‘interesting’ merge window,” Torvalds wrote on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. “It’s not actually all that unusual in size – I think it’s shaping to be a pretty regular release after 4.13 that was smallish. But unlike 4.13 it also wasn’t a completely smooth merge window, and honestly, I _really_ didn’t want to wait for any possible straggling pull requests.”

      Hence the Saturday release, instead of his usual Sunday.

      Torvalds also says this merge window included “some unusual activity.”

    • First Linux 4.14 release adds “very core” features, arrives in time for kernel’s 26th birthday

      Linus Torvalds has announced the first release candidate (rc) for Linux 4.14, the next long term stable release of the Linux kernel.

      This release introduces several new core memory management features, a host of device driver updates, and changes to documentation, architecture, filesystems, networking and tooling.

      It’s the first of a likely seven release candidates before the new kernel reaches stable release around November.

    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux Kernel 4.14, the Next LTS Release

      A day early than expected, Linux creator Linus Torvalds cautiously kicked off the development of the Linux 4.14 kernel series, which looks to be the next LTS (Long Term Support) branch, with the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone.

      That’s right, two weeks after the release of Linux kernel 4.13, which is currently the most stable and advanced kernel series, being adopted by more and more GNU/Linux distributions each day, the first RC development snapshot of Linux kernel 4.14 is ready for public testing, officially closing the merge window. And it looks like some core new functionality will be implemented in this release.

    • Linux Foundation wants to promote sustainable open source development with new initiatives

      During last week’s Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles, the Linux Foundation announced a series of projects designed to promote sustainability and growth in open source development.

      We wrote last week about their “Open Source Guides for the Enterprise,” which will see a series of guides by professionals from many different organizations released over the next few months.

      Following that, the foundation announced the Community Health Analytics for Open Source Software, or CHAOSS, project. With CHAOSS, the Linux Foundation wants to provide a platform for measuring and analyzing open source projects.

      The foundation also announced that it has granted a CII security badge to 100 projects through a voluntary process for open source projects to prove their security measures stack up professionally.

    • Early Linux 4.14 Kernel Benchmarks Are Looking Promising

      I’ve begun running some Linux 4.14-rc1 kernel benchmarks and in some areas there appears to be nice gains with this in-development kernel.

      If you are behind on your Phoronix reading and don’t know about all of the changes coming for this next kernel release — which will also be an LTS kernel — see our Linux 4.14 feature overview that was published this past weekend.

      Here are just some very early benchmarks while more are on the way.

    • Linux Foundation LFCE Georgi Yadkov Shares His Certification Journey

      The Linux Foundation offers many resources for developers, users, and administrators of Linux systems. One of the most important offerings is its Linux Certification Program. The program is designed to give you a way to differentiate yourself in a job market that’s hungry for your skills.

      How well does the certification prepare you for the real world? To illustrate that, The Linux Foundation is highlighting some of those who have recently passed the certification examinations. These testimonials should help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer certification is right for you. In this article, recently certified engineer Georgi Yadkov shares his experience.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • EPYC Linux performance from AMD

        Phoronix have been hard at work testing out AMD’s new server chip, specifically the 2.2/2.7/3.2GHz EPYC 7601 with 32 physical cores. The frequency numbers now have a third member which is the top frequency all 32 cores can hit simultaneously, for this processor that would be 2.7GHz. Benchmarking server processors is somewhat different from testing consumer CPUs, gaming performance is not as important as dealing with specific productivity applications. Phoronix started their testing of EPYC, in both NUMA and non-NUMA configurations, comparing against several Xeon models and the performance delta is quite impressive, sometimes leaving even a system with dual Xeon Gold 6138′s in the dust. They also followed up with a look at how EPYC compares to Opteron, AMD’s last server offerings. The evolution is something to behold.

      • Opteron vs. EPYC Benchmarks & Performance-Per-Watt: How AMD Server Performance Evolved Over 10 Years

        By now you have likely seen our initial AMD EPYC 7601 Linux benchmarks. If you haven’t, check them out, EPYC does really deliver on being competitive with current Intel hardware in the highly threaded space. If you have been curious to see some power numbers on EPYC, here they are from the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026 2U server. Making things more interesting are some comparison benchmarks showing how the AMD EPYC performance compares to AMD Opteron processors from about ten years ago.

      • Gigabyte X399 AORUS Gaming 7 Works As A Linux-Friendly Threadripper Motherboard

        For the past few weeks that I have been testing the AMD Threadripper 1950X on Linux, I have been using the Gigabyte X399 AORUS Gaming 7 motherboard. Overall, it’s been a pleasant experience and is running fine under Linux. Here’s a quick summary.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma Mobile in Randa(aaaaaaaa)

        Last week I had a chance to attend the Randa meetings 2017, my plan was to work on the Plasma Mobile during the sprint, improve the state of current images.

      • Progress On KDE Plasma Mobile From Randa 2017

        KDE contributor Bhushan Shah has shared some highlights of Plasma Mobile progress made from this year’s Randa Meetings in Switzerland.

        At this annual KDE developer event in the Swiss mountains, some of the Plasma Mobile advancements worked on or reviewed included:

        - Plasma Mobile images are now being assembled by the KDE Neon build system rather than the Plasma Mobile CI.

      • Calligra Suite does not suit me

        It pains me to say so, but the split from KOffice to Calligra has given this program only a temporary infusion of hope, and looking back at my 2013 trial, it’s not made any progress since. On the contrary. Calligra Suite is slow, difficult to use, and it comes with less than ideal file format support. My conclusion here is much the same regarding different Linux software, be it distros or desktop environments. 90% of it just shouldn’t exist, and the effort must be focused on just one or two select programs with the highest quality and chance of making it big. The infinite forking doesn’t do anyone any good.

        Calligra Suite has the potential, but it’s far, far from realizing it, and the world of Plasma has left it behind. The interface split is bad, too much equity is taken by a confusing maze of options, the performance is dreadful, the stability flaky, and the rest does not scale or compare against LibreOffice, let alone Microsoft Office. I wish my findings were different, but it cannot be. Ah well. Like so many other flowers of the open-source world, this one must wilt. I’ll keep an eye, but I doubt there is ever going to be enough focus or love to make Calligra into a serious competitor. Dedoimedo’s sad prose out.

      • Plasma 5.11 beta available in unofficial PPA for testing on Artful

        Adventurous users and developers running the Artful development release can now also test the beta version of Plasma 5.11. This is experimental and can possibly kill kittens!

      • Kubuntu: Writing Japanese (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana) Easily

        On Kubuntu system, we can write Japanese easily using Fcitx-Mozc tool! This awesome tool eases you with word-suggestions popup on-the-fly, with ability to switch between Kanji-Hiragana-Katakana-ASCII as simple as one click. It’s very well integrated to the whole screens inside KDE Plasma desktop, enables you to write Japanese in Firefox browser, LibreOffice, Kate text editor, and even Konsole terminal.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.26 Released! Check Out the New Features

        GNOME 3.26 is the latest version of GNOME 3 released six months after the last stable release GNOME 3.24. The release, code-named “Manchester”, is the 33rd stable release of the free, open-source desktop.

  • Distributions

    • Top Linux Distros for Media Creation

      I find it interesting how many existing Linux users don’t realize there are specialized distributions just for media creation. These distributions come with a bundle of special media-centric applications, a real-time kernel and other tweaks provided by default.

      This article will provide a tour of these top Linux distros for media creation. I’m confident that even if you’ve heard of some of these distros, you might not be aware of what makes them unique when compared to a standard desktop Linux distribution.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Arch and away! What’s with the Arch warriors?

        If you choose to begin your Linux adventures with Arch Linux after trying Ubuntu for a month, you’re probably doing it wrong. If there’s a solid reason why you think Arch is for you; awesome! Do it. You will learn new things. A lot of new things. But hey, what’s the point in learning what arch-chroot does if you can’t figure out what sudo is or what wpa_supplicant does?

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Ethical Hacking Distro Parrot Security Gets ZFS Support, It’s Based on Debian 10

        Parrot Security OS, the security-oriented GNU/Linux distribution designed with IoT (Internet of Things) security, ethical hacking, and cloud-based penetration testing in mind, has been updated recently to version 3.8.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — September 2017
      • Mini-DebConf 2017 Debian Conference to Take Place November 23-26 in Cambridge UK

        Debian developer and leader of the debian-cd project Steve McIntyre announced the official dates and schedule of this year’s Mini-DebConf conference for Debian developers and users.

        The Mini-DebConf 2017 conference will take place for four days, from Thursday, November 23 until Sunday, November 26, and it will be hosted at Arm’s office in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Arm is Steve McIntyre’s employer and the industry’s leading supplier of microprocessors for embedded and IoT devices.

        “I’m organizing another mini-DebConf in Cambridge this year. Again, my employer Arm is going to host the conference for four days in November,” said Steve McIntyre in the mailing list announcement. “I’m also hoping to find sponsors again to cover some other costs for the conference for things like food – please contact me if you can help!”

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.2 release candidate has been released for testing

          The LiveUSB Linux distribution, Tails (the amnesic incognito live system), has received a new release candidate for the upcoming 3.2 update that’s due out on the 26th of this month. The update comes with some big under-the-hood changes to the system which should improve hardware support and the email experience.

          If you’ve ever decided to try Tails on newer hardware, you may have had some driver issues; with this release, Tails ships with the Linux 4.12.12 kernel which is one of the latest. With it, users will get a better hardware experience; for example, the NVIDIA Maxwell series of graphics cards are now supported.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Can Artful Aardvark Regain Ubuntu’s Popularity on the Desktop?

            The upcoming Artful Aardvark release marks Ubuntu’s return to GNOME as its desktop environment. After seven years, Unity will be abandoned, along with plans for a single desktop for all devices and the replacement of the X window system with Mir.

            According to Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder, these changes are being made in the hopes of making profitable Canonical, Ubuntu’s governing company, and to allow Canonical to focus on its server and OpenStack business. However, to desktop users, the more pressing issue is whether these changes can help Ubuntu regain its domination of the desktop.

          • Firefox, Thunderbird and VLC Are the Most Popular Apps Among Ubuntu Users

            Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland attended this year’s UbuCon Europe conference for Ubuntu users and developers in Paris, France, where he revealed the results of the Ubuntu desktop survey and the apps that users want to see by default in future Ubuntu releases.

          • Results of the Ubuntu Desktop Applications Survey

            I had the distinct honor to deliver the closing keynote of the UbuCon Europe conference in Paris a few weeks ago. First off — what a beautiful conference and venue! Kudos to the organizers who really put together a truly remarkable event. And many thanks to the gentleman (Elias?) who brought me a bottle of his family’s favorite champagne, as a gift on Day 2 :-) I should give more talks in France!

          • Mir support for Wayland

            I’ve seen some confusion about how Mir is supporting Wayland clients on the Phoronix forums . What we are doing is teaching the Mir server library to talk Wayland in addition to its original client-server protocol. That’s analogous to me learning to speak another language (such as Dutch).

            This is not anything like XMir or XWayland. Those are both implementations of an X11 server as a client of a Mir or Wayland. (Xmir is a client of a Mir server or and XWayland is a client of a Wayland server.) They both introduce a third process that acts as a “translator” between the client and server.

          • Mir 1.0 Still Planned For Ubuntu 17.10, Wayland Support Focus

            Following our reporting of Mir picking up initial support for Wayland clients, Mir developer Alan Griffiths at Canonical has further clarified the Wayland client support. It also appears they are still planning to get Mir 1.0 released in time for Ubuntu 17.10.

          • Webinar: OpenStack Pike is here, what’s new?

            Sign up for our new webinar about the Canonical OpenStack Pike release. Join us to learn about the new features and how to upgrade from Ocata to Pike using OpenStack Charms.

          • Bright Computing Announces Support for Ubuntu

            right Computing, a global leader in cluster and cloud infrastructure automation software, today announced the general availability of Bright Cluster Manager 8.0 with Ubuntu.

            With this integration, organizations can run Bright Cluster Manager Version 8.0 on top of Ubuntu, to easily build, provision, monitor and manage Ubuntu high performance clusters from a single point of control, in both on-premises and cloud-based environments.

          • BlueBorne Vulnerability Is Patched in All Supported Ubuntu Releases, Update Now

            Canonical released today new kernel updates for all of its supported Ubuntu Linux releases, patching recently discovered security vulnerabilities, including the infamous BlueBorne that exposes billions of Bluetooth devices.

            The BlueBorne vulnerability (CVE-2017-1000251) appears to affect all supported Ubuntu versions, including Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) up to 16.04.3, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) up to 14.04.5, and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) up to 12.04.5.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • postmarketOS: An Ultimate Linux Distro For Your Smartphones Is Coming

      One of the key strengths of Linux-based operating systems is their ability to run on a variety of hardware, ranging from a decade old computers to the latest generation Intel chips. The kernel developers work day and night to keep our devices breathing running. In the past, we have also prepared a list of Linux distributions that are best suited for older computers with limited hardware requirements.

      This brings us to the question — Why aren’t tons of Linux operating system options available for mobile devices? The mobile ecosystem is chiefly dominated by Android and iOS, with Android enjoying a presence on a wide range of devices. But, on the fronts of updates, even Android fails to deliver. Very often the top-of-the-line flagship devices are deprived of the latest updates just after 2-3 years. To solve this question, postmarketOS has appeared on the horizon.

    • Linux friendly IoT gateway runs on 3.5-inch Bay Trail SBC

      While the MB-80580 SBC lists SATA II, the gateway indicates SATA III. Also, the gateway datasheet notes that the RS232 ports can all be redirected to RS232/422/485. Software includes Windows IoT Core and Server, as well as Yocto, Ubuntu Snappy Core, and CentOS Linux distributions.

    • Rugged panel PC scales up to a 19-inch touchscreen

      The fanless, IP65-rated WinSystems “PPC65B-1x” panel PC runs Linux or Win 10 on a quad-core Atom E3845, and offers 10.4 to 19-inch resistive touchscreens.

    • Portable Android SDR player supports DRM and DAB

      Titus SDR’s Android-based “Titus II” Software Defined Radio receiver has a 7-inch touchscreen, a WiFi hotspot, and support for FM, AM, DRM, DAB, and DAB+.

      Titus SDR is prepping an Android-based wideband digital RF receiver with Software Defined Radio (SDR) capabilities and a hi-fi amplifier. Built around a 7-inch Android tablet, the portable, battery-powered Titus II is billed as the world’s first consumer SDR digital receiver, “bringing true multi-standard radio reception with DRM (AM & VHF bands), DAB(+) and core data applications.”

    • 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives to Build Your Own Small Computer

      A single board computer (SBC) is a complete computer built on a single circuit board. These tiny PCs were designed to be low cost and energy efficient. As such, SBCs proved to be popular with hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts and educational institutions.

      Upon the release of the Raspberry Pi, SBCs gained far greater attention. The Raspberry Pi was initially designed to teach basic computer science. The first-generation Raspberry Pi was released in 2012 and quickly surpassed expectations. It has since gone on to become the best-selling British computer of all time with over eleven million units sold.

      Despite its popularity, the Raspberry Pi family of computers are not the only SBCs on the market. In fact there are a number of manufacturers making SBCs at lower price points and with more powerful hardware. If you’re looking for a Raspberry Pi alternative, consider the SBCs below.

    • AMD Zen Temperature Monitoring On Linux Is Working With Hwmon-Next

      If you want CPU temperature monitoring to work under Linux for your Ryzen / Threadripper / EPYC processor(s), it’s working on hwmon-next.

      The temperature monitoring support didn’t make it for Linux 4.14 but being published earlier this month were finally patches for Zen temperature monitoring by extending the k10temp Linux driver.

    • Fanless Skylake computer offers four PCI and PCIe slots

      Adlink’s MVP-6010 and MVP-6020 embedded computers run Linux or Windows on Intel 6th Gen CPUs, and offer 4x PCI/PCIe slots, 6x USB ports, and 4x COM ports.

      If Adlink’s new MVP-6010/6020 Series looks familiar, that’s because it’s a modified version of the recent MVP-5000 and last year’s MVP-6000 industrial PCs. The top half appears to be identical, with the same ports, layout, and Intel 6th Gen Core “Skylake” TE series processors. Like the MVP-6000, it adds a PCI and PCIe expansion unit on the bottom, but whereas the MVP-6000 had two slots, the MVP-6010 and MVP-6020 have four.

    • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source – we need better pathways so inclusion can flourish

    Running a conference with a really strong cohort of diversity scholars this week, with a broad range of skills and backgrounds, really made me think. We had Ian Skerrett, VP of marketing at the Eclipse Foundation, and Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation at the event. Both are keen to improve diversity in their communities. But how are we going to create better and more welcoming pathways for a more diverse range of entrants?

    I asked both Ian and Abby what other roles there were outside writing code. They both gave solid answers about different roles and opportunities. One stock answer in open source is of course Write Documentation!

  • Cloudera Joins Eclipse Foundation Open Source IoT Community
  • Keybase launches fully encrypted Slack-like communications tool — and it’s free

    Keybase added to its encrypted tool kit today when it launched Keybase Teams, an open source, Slack-like communications tool with end-to-end encryption. Desktop and mobile versions are available for download now.

    It may seem like competing with Slack, the enormously popular enterprise communications tool would be a fool’s errand for Keybase. But by making it fully encrypted, open source and free, even for teams as large as 500 people, it could be attractive to cost- and security-conscious teams who are at all worried about anyone snooping on their communications.

  • Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career: Communication and Collaboration

    Today’s system administrators are wise to arm themselves with specialized technical skillsets, but sysadmins interact with people at least as much as they deal with systems, software, and security. Strong communication capabilities, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership skills are therefore not to be underestimated.

  • Demand for Open Source Skills on the Rise

    Hiring managers from 280 global businesses, along with 1,800 open source professionals participated in the July study by The Linux Foundation and tech career firm Dice.

    That’s good news if you have open source skills; indeed, 86 percent of professionals say open source has advanced their careers. The not-so-good news is 89 percent of hiring managers are finding it difficult to find this type of talent, which is in line with last year’s finding of 87 percent. The specific areas hiring managers say open source talent is in short supply are developers (73 percent), DevOps (60 percent) and SysAdmins (53 percent).

  • How a town uses an open source tool for collaboration and managing large files

    The internationally renowned ski resort village of Megève, France, uses open source to manage increasing volumes of data while also making it more easily accessible. Located in the French Alps, Megève welcomes more than 80,000 visitors annually as the host of multiple concerts, cultural, and sporting events, including the Tour de France. With more than 300 employees, the city’s IT department manages more than 220 workstations, 40 virtual servers, and 60 switches connected to its network.

    Sharing and collaborating on digital files is vital to all aspects of daily work in Megève. Many city departments must share files securely with external partners, particularly the communication department, which produces a great amount of content for tourists. This material includes large files such as models, final proofs, and photo libraries, which must be exchanged with designers, printers, and other partners. Similarly, architect firms working on calls for town planning projects routinely transfer files such as 3D plans, which can exceed 40+GB in size.

  • Google Code-in 2017 lets students win prizes while learning about open source

    Open source is changing the world, and it is important that children get educated on the subject as early as possible. Its a competitive workforce out there, and students need to be prepared. Of course, learning about open source doesn’t have to be a chore — gaining knowledge can sometimes be fun too.

    Google does a lot for the open source community — far more than just contributing code. Actually, the search giant hosts two very important education-focused open source events — “Google Code-in” for younger teen students and “Google Summer of Code” for University-level learners. Today, the company announces the 8th annual edition of the former — Google Code-in 2017. Not only can these teens gain experience by working on an open source project, but they can also win prizes!

  • Open source tool aims to deliver more efficient web development

    Websites are essential for businesses in the modern world, which puts web development teams under pressure to deliver results.

    Open source tool specialist DRUD Tech is launching a new tool called ddev which is designed to do away with the complicated steps and disparate components of website development.

    Using a simple interface, ddev manages many complex technologies, including industry standard components like MySQL, NGINX, and PHP, with the ability to extend to include Redis, Apache Solr, memcache, Varnish, and more. For experienced development teams this means ddev can eliminate unnecessary delays, errors, and inefficiencies common throughout the traditional development to deployment and hosting lifecycle.

  • Banks are turning to open source for blockchain, says Google engineer

    Banks have historically developed all software in-house and maintained a fierce secrecy around their code, but more recently they’ve embraced open-source. They’re likely to use open source for one of the most hotly tipped technologies out there – blockchain.

  • Innersource: How to leverage open source in the enterprise

    Companies of varying sizes across many industries are implementing innersource programs to drive greater levels of development collaboration and reuse. They ultimately seek to increase innovation; reduce time to market; grow, retain, and attract talent; and of course, delight their customers.

    In this article, I’ll introduce innersource and some of its key facets and examine some of the problems that it can help solve. I’ll also discuss some components of an innersource program, including metrics.

  • Events

    • Diversity Empowerment Summit Features Stories from Individual Persistence to Industry-wide Change

      Last week at The Linux Foundation’s first Diversity Empowerment Summit we heard from so many amazing speakers about how they are working to improve diversity in the tech industry.

      Leaders from companies including Comcast, DreamWorks, IBM, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and many others recounted their own personal struggles to fit in and advance as women and minorities in tech. And they gave us sage advice and practical tips on what women, minorities, and their allies can do to facilitate inclusion and culture change in open source and the broader tech community.

    • Open Source Summit: Day 1 in 5 minutes

      As you can see in the video below, the first day of the Open Source Summit was quite educational. My day was filled with clouds, containers, community building, flavors of Linux, and Linus Torvalds.

    • Reflection on trip to Kiel

      On Sunday, I flew home from my trip to Kiel, Germany. I was there for the Kieler Open Source und LinuxTage, September 15 and 16. It was a great conference! I wanted to share a few details while they are still fresh in my mind:

      I gave a plenary keynote presentation about FreeDOS! I’ll admit I was a little concerned that people wouldn’t find “DOS” an interesting topic in 2017, but everyone was really engaged. I got a lot of questions—so many that we had to wrap up before I could answer all the questions.

  • Databases

    • A quick tour of MySQL 8.0 roles

      This year at the Percona Live Open Source Database Conference in Dublin, I’ll be discussing a new feature introduced in MySQL 8.0: roles. This is a new security and administrative feature that allows database administrators to simplify user management and increases the security of multi-user environments.

      In database administration, users are granted privileges to access schemas, tables, or columns, depending on the business needs. When many different users require authorization for different sets of privileges, administrators have to repeat the process of granting privileges several times. This is both tedious and error-prone. Using roles, administrators can define sets of privileges for a user category, and then the user authorization becomes a single statement operation.

      Roles have been on the MySQL community’s wish list for a long time. I remember several third-party solutions that tried to implement roles as a hack on top of the existing privileges granting system. I created my own solution many years ago when I had to administer a large set of users with different levels of access. Since then, anytime a new project promised to ease the roles problem, I gave it a try. None of them truly delivered a secure solution, until now.

    • MyDiamo Expands Open Source Database Encryption Offerings to Include PostgreSQL
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • SPARC M8 Processors Launched

      While Oracle recently let go of some of their SPARC team, today marks the launch of the SPARC M8.

      The initial SPARC M8 line-up includes the T8-1, T8-2, T8-4. M8-8, and SuperCluster M8-8 servers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • RcppClassic 0.9.7

      A rather boring and otherwise uneventful release 0.9.7 of RcppClassic is now at CRAN. This package provides a maintained version of the otherwise deprecated first Rcpp API; no new projects should use it.

    • Facebook’s HHVM To Focus More On Hack, No Longer Focusing On PHP7 Compatibility

      Some interesting remarks today by Facebook’s HHVM/Hack language team as they plot their future agenda.

      First up, the HHVM 3.24 release due out in early 2018 will be their last release to commit to supporting PHP5. PHP5-specific features after that release may end up being dropped.

      Along with dropping PHP5 support, HHVM developers will no longer be focusing on PHP7 compatibility.

    • IBM’s Eclipse OpenJ9 Is A Promising Open-Source JVM

      For those that missed the news over the weekend, IBM has open-sourced its in-house JVM and contributed it to the Eclipse Foundation. Eclipse OpenJ9 is this new, full-featured, enterprise-ready open-source Java Virtual Machine.

    • Some Early Tests Of The Eclipse OpenJ9 Java Virtual Machine

      With IBM’s newly open-sourced J9 Java Virtual Machine as the Eclipse OpenJ9, I’ve run some quick benchmarks to get an idea how its performance is comparing to the de facto Java Virtual Machine, Hotspot.

    • SCons 3.0 Released

      For those that haven’t jumped fully on the Meson build system bandwagon, the SCons 3.0 software construction utility is now available.

    • Small Glowing Thing

      Quite a while ago I obtained an Adafruit NeoPixel Stick. It was cheap enough to be an impulse buy but it took me some time to get around to actually doing something with it.

      I’ve been wanting to play a little more with the ATtiny range of microcontrollers so these things seemed to go together nicely. It turns out that getting an ATtiny programmed is actually rather simple using an Arduino as an ISP programmer. I’ve written up some notes on the procedure at the 57North Hacklab wiki.

    • Clang-Refactor Tool Lands In Clang Codebase

      The clang-refactor tool is now living within the LLVM Clang SVN/Git codebase.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Vox Hedges Headline in Fit of Single-Payer Skepticism

      Vox.com, which brands itself as both a news source and an “explainer” of news, constructs many of its headlines around the word “why.” These include opinion essays (e.g., “Why Now Is Such a Strange Era in American Political History,” 9/6/17) or interviews (“A Veteran GOP Strategist Explains Why Conservative Elites Put Up With Trump’s Lies and Corruption,” 3/22/17). The headline style assures the reader that they can turn to Vox to understand the reasons behind current affairs.

      Vox’s lead story on Wednesday (9/13/17) used the same structure, with a curious (and clunky) twist: “Bernie Sanders Explains Why He Thinks Everything Short of Medicare-for-All Is Failure.” The unnecessary addition of “he thinks” to the formula sacrifices elegance for an extra layer of skepticism.

    • Attorneys General in 37 States Urge Insurance Industry to Do More to Curb Opioid Epidemic

      Attorneys general for 37 states sent a letter Monday to the health insurance industry’s main trade group, urging its members to reconsider coverage policies that may be fueling the opioid crisis.

      The letter is part of an ongoing investigation by the state officials into the causes of the opioid epidemic and the parties that are most responsible. The group is also focusing on the marketing and sales practices of drug makers and the role of drug distributors.

      On Sunday, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that many insurance companies limit access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications. The safer drugs are more expensive.

    • Blowing the whistle on the meat industry

      Consumers have been exposed to meat contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria because of poor hygiene practices and ineffective regulations in some UK abattoirs, according to a whistleblower meat inspector.

      After 20 years of working in abattoirs – inspecting animal carcasses for disease and making sure safety and hygiene rules are followed – he has decided to speak out. Regular hygiene lapses, coupled with poor regulation, could lead to dirty meat getting into the food chain and endangering human health, he believes. Previously unpublished official reports obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism back up many of his claims.

    • Access To Generic Reproductive Health Supplies Decades Behind Medicines?

      Despite a massive worldwide push to improve access to contraceptives, generic manufacturers say they’re not yet getting a good share of the pie.

    • Breaking – WHO Issues Alarming Report On Coming Shortage Of Antibiotics

      A new report issued today by the World Health Organization shows a “serious lack” of new antibiotics in development, even as resistance to existing antibiotics are on the rise. The head of the WHO said the report shows an “urgent need” for investment into research and development. In addition, a second report today from WHO on prioritisation of pathogens for R&D into new antibiotics.

      The 48-page report, “Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis,” is available here, according to WHO.

      Most drugs currently in the pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions, the report found. It “identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treaty priority antibiotic pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and the sometimes deadly diarrhoeal infection Clostridium difficile,” the release said.

      [...]

      The report makes several references to patents. The study did not cover vaccines.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Here’s an Open Source Alternative to CCleaner
    • Software Has a Serious Supply-Chain Security Problem

      The warnings consumers hear from information security pros tend to focus on trust: Don’t click web links or attachments from an untrusted sender. Only install applications from a trusted source or from a trusted app store. But lately, devious hackers have been targeting their attacks further up the software supply chain, sneaking malware into downloads from even trusted vendors, long before you ever click to install.

      On Monday, Cisco’s Talos security research division revealed that hackers sabotaged the ultra-popular, free computer-cleanup tool CCleaner for at least the last month, inserting a backdoor into updates to the application that landed in millions of personal computers. That attack betrayed basic consumer trust in CCleaner-developer Avast, and software firms more broadly, by lacing a legitimate program with malware—one distributed by a security company, no less.

    • CCleaner Compromised to Distribute Malware for Almost a Month

      Version 5.33 of the CCleaner app offered for download between August 15 and September 12 was modified to include the Floxif malware, according to a report published by Cisco Talos a few minutes ago.

      Floxif is a malware downloader that gathers information about infected systems and sends it back to its C&C server. The malware also had the ability to download and run other binaries, but at the time of writing, there is no evidence that Floxif downloaded additional second-stage payloads on infected hosts.

    • From equanimity to Equifax [Ed: It’s NOT “about open-source software quality” but about Equifax not patching its software for >2 months]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • The 2017 Linux Security Summit

      The past Thursday and Friday was the 2017 Linux Security Summit, and once again I think it was a great success. A round of thanks to James Morris for leading the effort, the program committee for selecting a solid set of talks (we saw a big increase in submissions this year), the presenters, the attendees, the Linux Foundation, and our sponsor – thank you all!

      Unfortunately we don’t have recordings of the talks, but I’ve included my notes on each of the presentations below. I’ve also included links to the slides, but not all of the slides were available at the time of writing; check the LSS 2017 slide archive for updates.

    • Key Considerations for Software Updates for Embedded Linux and IoT

      The Mirai botnet attack that enslaved poorly secured connected embedded devices is yet another tangible example of the importance of security before bringing your embedded devices online. A new strain of Mirai has caused network outages to about a million Deutsche Telekom customers due to poorly secured routers. Many of these embedded devices run a variant of embedded Linux; typically, the distribution size is around 16MB today.

      Unfortunately, the Linux kernel, although very widely used, is far from immune to critical security vulnerabilities as well. In fact, in a presentation at Linux Security Summit 2016, Kees Cook highlighted two examples of critical security vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel: one being present in kernel versions from 2.6.1 all the way to 3.15, the other from 3.4 to 3.14. He also showed that a myriad of high severity vulnerabilities are continuously being found and addressed—more than 30 in his data set.

    • APNIC-sponsored proposal could vastly improve DNS resilience against DDoS
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Stanislav Petrov, who averted possible nuclear war, dies at 77

      Stanislav Petrov was on duty at a Russian nuclear early warning centre in 1983 when computers wrongly detected incoming missiles from the US.

      He took the decision that they were a false alarm and did not report them to his superiors.

    • Soviet air defense officer who saved the world dies at age 77

      Former Soviet Air Defense Colonel Stanislav Petrov, the man known for preventing an accidental nuclear launch by the Soviet Union at the height of Cold War tensions, has passed away. Karl Schumacher, a German political activist who first met Petrov in 1998 and helped him visit Germany a year later, published news of Petrov’s death after learning from Petrov’s son that he had died in May. Petrov was 77.

      Petrov’s story has since been recounted several times by historians, including briefly in William Taubman’s recent biography of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Gorbachev: His Life and Times. Ars also wrote about Petrov in our 2015 feature on Exercise Able Archer. On the night of September 26, 1983, Petrov was watch officer in charge of the Soviet Union’s recently completed US-KS nuclear launch warning satellite network, known as “Oko” (Russian for “eye”). To provide instant warning of an American nuclear attack, the system was supposed to catch the flare of launching missiles as they rose.

    • Fake Arguments for Killing Iran-Nuke Deal

      Opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), always has been filled with disingenuous arguments. This reflects the fundamental illogic of the opponents’ position: if the agreement were to be junked, this would mean removing a panoply of restrictions on Iran and re-opening now-closed avenues to a nuclear weapon for the very country that the opponents constantly contend is a serious threat.

      [...]

      If a nuclear weapon is somewhere in Iran’s future, it won’t be because of such supposed and ridiculously unrealistic Iranian thinking but rather because the bargain that prevents an Iranian nuke will have been overturned by a U.S. administration reneging on U.S. commitments and destroying the JCPOA.

    • The U.S. Military Can’t Keep Track of Which Missions It’s Fueling in Yemen War

      The United States has come under increasing scrutiny for what seems like unconditional support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition waging a brutal air war in Yemen. One of the key measures of that support has been refueling operations: U.S. tankers fill up planes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other coalition members, which go on to drop bombs in Yemen. Those bombs have killed at least 3,200 civilians and leveled hospitals and markets, leading to accusations that the U.S. is facilitating war crimes.

      But U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, now admits that it doesn’t even know how much fuel it offloads for Saudi Arabia and its partners — directly contradicting information about refueling operations that it previously released. Responding to questions from The Intercept, CENTCOM now says that it lumps together refueling data for the coalition with data for U.S. planes in the area, joint U.S.-Emirati missions, and possibly other operations. Even this pooled data has unexplained discrepancies.

    • The Senate’s Military Spending Increase Alone Is Enough to Make Public College Free

      One of the most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from?

      Those concerns were brushed aside on Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’ campaign promise. Instead, the Senate handed President Trump far more than the $54 billion he asked for. The lavish spending package gives Trump a major legislative victory, allowing him to boast about fulfilling his promise of a “great rebuilding of the armed services.”

      The bill would set the U.S.’s annual military budget at around $700 billion, putting it within range of matching the spending level at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • How the UN Covers for US Aggression

      President Trump opened his big United Nations week … and his famous mouth … with a predictable plug for one of his properties and some playful glad-handing with French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump also scolded the U.N.’s unwieldy scrum for “not living up to its potential.” He made a passing reference to the U.N.’s wasteful use of American money. And he called for “reform” of the much-maligned international forum.

    • Getting the Gulf of Tonkin Wrong: Are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick “Telling Stories” About the Central Events Used to Legitimize the US Attack Against Vietnam?

      This past spring I attended an advance screening of excerpts of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary about the US War against Vietnam at Harvard, with these two in attendance, along with some Kennedy School “national security” types, who had evidently been recruited as “consultants.” (I was happy to see Peter Davis, the director of the truly commendable “Hearts and Minds” in the audience, and had a chance to say “hello.” Peter is himself a Harvard grad, is now writing novels and, happily, was acknowledged by Mr. Burns.)

      I was astonished to hear the Narrator in one of these excerpts refer to “retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin.” I was doubly astonished when I heard Burns use the exact same phrasing — “retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin” — during a discussion and Q&A which followed the screening (and even in a somewhat different context. [It must have been on his mind.])

      What could he possibly mean?

      “Retaliation” for Gulf of Tonkin?

      [...]

      The US Central Intelligence Agency had been coordinating “covert” attacks against the shoreline of North Vietnam for months (OPLAN 34-A). Finally, in early August of 1964, a mid-level NV naval officer may have been responsible for ordering NV patrol boats to chase the USS Maddox out into international waters, as a result of it’s believed role in supporting these attacks (which was actually the case; the Maddox had an unusual and special NSA surveillance unit on board, and was also engaged in what were labeled “DeSoto Patrols,” moving into and out of territorial waters claimed by the Government of North Vietnam.) Among other things, these US attacks were designed to test and gain information about North Vietnamese radar and air defenses.

    • ‘Genocidal’ Trump Blasted for Threatening to ‘Totally Destroy North Korea’

      For what he said—and also for what he refused to mention—President Donald Trump was lampooned by progressive critics as he delivered his first ever speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday morning.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The CIA Wins: Harvard, Chelsea Manning and Visiting Fellowships

      It all began with an announcement, made public on the website of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Chelsea Manning would be joining a curious array of Visiting Fellows, including Mr Disaster, Robby Mook, and Sean Bumbling Spicer. (Manning, Spicer and Mook has a curious ring to it, the name, perhaps, of an error-prone debt recovery agency.)

      Mook will have something to tell members of the Kennedy School, being credited with directing one of the worst electoral campaigns in US electoral history. His fanatical insistence on statistical determinations had its own role to play in sinking Hillary Clinton, the person who hired him to get elected.

    • WikiLeaks releases ‘Spy Files: Russia’ detailing shadowy mass surveillance programme
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Beyond Harvey and Irma

      Deployed to the Houston area to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, U.S. military forces hadn’t even completed their assignments when they were hurriedly dispatched to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to face Irma, the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Florida Governor Rick Scott, who had sent members of the state National Guard to devastated Houston, anxiously recalled them while putting in place emergency measures for his own state. A small flotilla of naval vessels, originally sent to waters off Texas, was similarly redirected to the Caribbean, while specialized combat units drawn from as far afield as Colorado, Illinois, and Rhode Island were rushed to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, members of the California National Guard were being mobilized to fight wildfires raging across that state (as across much of the West) during its hottest summer on record.

      Think of this as the new face of homeland security: containing the damage to America’s seacoasts, forests, and other vulnerable areas caused by extreme weather events made all the more frequent and destructive thanks to climate change. This is a “war” that won’t have a name — not yet, not in the Trump era, but it will be no less real for that. “The firepower of the federal government” was being trained on Harvey, as William Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), put it in a blunt expression of this warlike approach. But don’t expect any of the military officials involved in such efforts to identify climate change as the source of their new strategic orientation, not while Commander in Chief Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office refusing to acknowledge the reality of global warming or its role in heightening the intensity of major storms; not while he continues to stock his administration, top to bottom, with climate-change deniers.

    • British tabloid told to admit its climate coverage was inaccurate

      Early this year, a British tabloid ran a hyperbolic article on climate change, claiming that world leaders had been “duped” by climate data that had been manipulated. It wasn’t unusual for the outlet or the article’s author to make badly misleading claims about climate research, and our own investigation into the underlying disagreement showed that the piece actually boiled down to a dispute about how best to archive data. These sorts of misrepresentations happen dozens of times a year.

      But something unusual did eventually happen as a response to the article in the Mail on Sunday: a UK press watchdog determined that the article breached the Editor’s Code of Conduct. Mail on Sunday was subsequently ordered to prominently display the inaccuracies above the article itself.

    • ‘Climate Change Is Making These Facilities Even More Dangerous’

      The story of devastating weather events like hurricanes is many stories, really. There’s no need to compete; they’re all critical. But there is something about the oil industry spurring climate disruption, lobbying against preventative or preparatory measures, and then adding to its harmful impact with their methods of operation. As Texas continues to reel under the effects of Harvey, it’s been noted that besides massive flooding, some communities were also faced with dangerous chemicals released into the air by refineries and petrochemical plants.

      How did that happen, and what can prevent it from happening again? Our next guest has been investigating that. Shaye Wolf is climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity. She joins us now by phone from Oakland. Welcome to CounterSpin, Shaye Wolf.

    • ‘Heaven Help Those in Dominica Tonight’: Category 5 Maria Makes Landfall

      Hurricane Maria was ugraded to a powerful Category 5 and “potentially catastrophic” storm Monday evening, with sustained winds over 160 mph, just before it slammed into the independent Caribbean island of Dominica as it carved a terrifying path similar (though not exact) to Hurricane Irma less than ten days ago.

    • Quiet energy revolution underway in Japan as dozens of towns go off the grid

      northern Japanese city’s efforts to rebuild its electric power system after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami mark a quiet shift away from the country’s old utility model toward self-reliant, local generation and transmission.

      After losing three-quarters of its homes and 1,100 people in the March 2011 temblor and tsunami, the city of Higashi Matsushima turned to the Japanese government’s “National Resilience Program,” with 3.72 trillion yen ($33.32 billion) in funding for this fiscal year, to rebuild.

  • Finance

    • UN Assembly Tackles Role Of Technology And Innovation In Sustainable Development

      Governments and the private sector must work more closely together in the area of technology and innovation to make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality by 2030, government and major tech company officials said at today’s UN high-level event in New York. Today’s development problems won’t be solved with yesterday’s solutions but by all stakeholders – governments, civil society, youth, businesses and academia – working together, said General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák. Everyone must have “fair access to technologies and innovations” and to training, he said.

      [...]

      People will be expected to relearn, but it’s not clear what jobs will be out there, said Ashish Thakkar, founder of the Mara Group and chair of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council. Both men agreed that AI should be a basic human right, whether as SDG number 18 (there are currently 17) or as an embedded part of the other 17 goals.

    • What Are Bitcoins?

      Bitcoin is a digital currency or electronic cash the relies on peer to peer technology for completing transactions. Since peer to peer technology is used as the major network, bitcoins provide a community like managed economy. This is to mean, bitcoins eliminate the centralized authority way of managing currency and promotes community management of currency. Most Also of the software related to bitcoin mining and managing of bitcoin digital cash is open source.

    • Robots ‘could take 4m UK private sector jobs within 10 years’

      Four million jobs in the British private sector could be replaced by robots in the next decade, according to business leaders asked about the future of automation and artificial intelligence.

      The potential impact amounts to 15% of the current workforce in the sector and emerged in a poll conducted by YouGov for the Royal Society of Arts, whose chief executive, Matthew Taylor, has been advising Downing Street on the future of modern work.

      Jobs in finance and accounting, transport and distribution and in media, marketing and advertising are most likely to be automated in the next decade, the research says.

    • Boris’ attack on young people is part of Brexit’s ‘traitor’ narrative

      That was the moment the culture war became real. That was the moment we realised how deeply the Brexit project was changing what it was to be British. This was the politicisation of the idea of only ever being one thing. It was an explicit demand, from the prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to conform – to prove your allegiance.

      It’s an old idea, probably even a basic human impulse. It allows us to simplify life into manageable categories, to define people as being in the in-group or the out-group. It is the monkey part of our brain shouting in our ear.

      In modern British politics its most recent advocate was Norman Tebbit. Younger readers will be lucky enough to have never heard of him, but he still haunts the House of Lords, a ghoulish unreconstructed old right winger whose ideas are suddenly much more alive than we could ever have predicted a couple of years ago. “A large proportion of Britain’s Asian population fail to pass the cricket test,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “Which side do they cheer for?”

      Anyone with a passing acquaintance of British Asian communities will know that the test refutes itself. It has within it the undermining of its own premise. Many Asian Brits support their country of heritage in the cricket and England in the football. Their identity is mixed. It is fluid. Tebbit could never understand this, just like he could never understand how an Olympic medallist like Leo Manzano would celebrate by running with an American and a Mexican flag together. These feelings are beyond the limits of his imagination.

    • Authorities Close In On Pro-Charter School Nonprofit For Illicit Campaign Contributions

      A New York-based education reform nonprofit funneled nearly $2.5 million to a related group in Massachusetts, according to new disclosures unearthed as part of a legal settlement.

      The Massachusetts operation, called Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy, a pro-charter group, was hit with a record $426,500 fine for failing to disclose its donors related to a 2016 Massachusetts ballot campaign — a race that became the most expensive ballot measure in state history.

      FESA is a 501(c)(4) offshoot of the New York-based Families for Excellent Schools, a 501(c)(3). That connection raises the stakes for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has jurisdiction over Families for Excellent Schools in New York and has made clean campaigns a centerpiece of his agenda.

      In exchange for their tax-exempt status, federal law bars 501(c)(3) organizations from engaging in political activity, and some are calling on Schneiderman to investigate why Families for Excellent Schools made a multimillion-dollar contribution, now that the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance has acted.

      “This group spent $2.5 million on a Massachusetts ballot initiative. That is a screaming siren, a flashing red light,” says Michael Kink, executive director of the union-backed Strong Economy For All Coalition in New York. “I think it’s something the AG absolutely should look into. A number of other groups are aware of this potential violation, and we’re talking to each other. A substantive investigation is clearly needed.”

      A spokesperson for Schneiderman’s office declined The Intercept’s request for comment.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Moderators say Facebook didn’t prepare them to catch Russian propaganda

      The company relies on contractors who might screen thousands of ad components daily

    • A CASUALTY OF TRUMP’S WAR WITH CNN IS BACK IN THE GAME

      Earlier this summer, after he and two other investigative journalists were forced to resign from CNN following the retraction of an article about Trump consigliere Anthony Scaramucci, Thomas Frank considered leaving journalism altogether. The drama surrounding the Mooch story had seized the public’s attention, and Frank suspected that in the immediate future, no news outlet would want to touch him with a 10-foot pole. After his defenestration, he spent a lot of time looking at job postings for things in the realm of public-policy analysis. Think tanks seemed like a good option. Even lobbying wasn’t looking so bad.

      But within a few weeks, it became clear that the fallout from L’Affaire Scaramucci hadn’t turned Frank into a journalistic pariah. The story as it has unfolded is murkier, having as much to do with the idiosyncrasies of CNN’s journalistic culture—and its ongoing troubles with the president—as any error that may have been committed.

      Frank now has a new job covering national security and counterintelligence for BuzzFeed, which he landed after applying through a link he saw on Facebook. He will start on October 2 as the Web site’s first full-time reporter on that beat. In particular, Frank will focus on the very story that his former colleagues at CNN’s investigative unit have reportedly been told to lay off of—the various probes investigating the Trump team’s potential role in Russia’s alleged 2016 election interference.

    • The Trumps Say They’re Opening Hotels in Dallas, Nashville and Elsewhere. We Couldn’t Find Evidence of Them.

      Earlier this summer, the Trump Organization announced big plans to open a line of hotels across the country. The new brand, American IDEA, would be modestly priced and patriotically themed. “The product is very hometown and fits in every hometown in the United States,” Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said during a presentation at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the same place where Donald Trump had announced his presidential campaign two years earlier.

      American IDEA would be part of a wider rollout with another higher-end hotel line, Scion, that the Trumps had already unveiled. Progress on the hotels would be swift, Danziger said.

      The Trump Organization had said it signed deals for Scion hotels in Nashville, Dallas, Cincinnati, Austin and New York. At various times, company officials have cited anywhere from 10 to 39 impending deals.

    • Sean Spicer Is Honored Because — As Bush Officials Have Shown — D.C. Elites Always Thrive

      Sean Spicer’s playful, glamorous appearance at last night’s Emmy Awards and being honored as a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School (the honorific which the CIA vetoed for Chelsea Manning) has prompted a mix of shock and indignation. Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau wrote: “Harvard fellowships, Emmy appearances, huge speaking fees: there’s just gonna be no penalty for working in Trump’s White House, huh?” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie added: “The degree to which Sean Spicer has faced no consequences is a glimpse into the post-Trump future.”

      There should be nothing whatsoever surprising about any of this, as it is the logical and necessary outcome of the self-serving template of immunity which D.C. elites have erected for themselves. The Bush administration was filled with high-level officials who did not just lie from podiums, but did so in service of actual war crimes. They invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people based on blatant falsehoods and relentless propaganda. They instituted a worldwide torture regime by issuing decrees that purported to redefine what that term meant. They spied on the communications of American citizens without the warrants required by law. They kidnapped innocent people from foreign soil and sent them to be tortured in the dungeons of the world’s worst regimes, and rounded up Muslims on domestic soil with no charges. They imprisoned Muslim journalists for years without a whiff of due process. And they generally embraced and implemented the fundamental tenets of authoritarianism by explicitly positioning the president and his White House above the law.

    • A Sense of Proportion

      The Establishment is fast losing its grip on the loyalty of the populace. That decline in the respect of the population for their masters has coincided with the rise of the importance of the internet and social media, and the corresponding decline in consumption of traditional print and broadcast news and current affairs media. It is a little more complicated than simple cause and effect – at precisely the same period the income gap in western society has opened out massively, and the palliative protections of the masses, particularly trade unions, have been rendered impotent. But the overall impact is that respect of the people for their “betters” is vanishing. Indeed, very few people would accept anybody in the political class as their “better” today.

      [...]

      Today we have Hanna Flint in the Guardian apparently traumatised by a teacher asking her when she was 13 if her mum, Caroline Flint, would vote for the war in Iraq. Again I am sorry if that upset Hanna. No child should be upset. But there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children a very great deal more traumatised by having close family members blown to pieces in the Iraq conflict, thanks to the hardened and nasty right wing piece of work that is Caroline Flint. I imagine their trauma is rather worse. There are plenty of Iraqi children who got maimed themselves. There are plenty of Iraqi children who, unlike Hanna, never got the chance to grow up at all, thanks to Hanna’s warmongering mum. I am sorry for your childhood pain, Hanna, I really am. I hate to see any child unhappy. But forgive me if you are not first in line for my sympathy.

    • President Trump’s Mass Movement

      President Trump is building a mass movement – or a cult of personality – based on the alienation that millions of Americans feel toward the economic/political system, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

      In the Sept. 10 issue of the New York Times, there are two opinion pieces that have to do with Donald Trump and his supporters. One is entitled “The Trump Fever Never Breaks” and the other is “President Trump’s War on Science.” As we will see, the two pieces actually address different aspects of a single evolving phenomenon. However, we will examine each in turn and tie them together as we go.

    • Vincent Fort Angered Democratic Elites When He Endorsed Bernie Sanders. Can He Be Atlanta’s Next Mayor?

      On a recent Saturday afternoon in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood, Vincent Fort was out working the voters. As the populist wing of the Democratic Party has surged in recent months, it has created an unusual problem for a politician like Fort. Accustomed to being on the outer edge of the party, he now sounds like pretty much everybody else.

      Or, as he puts it to one voter, everybody else now sounds like him.

      “They want to deal with gentrification and all that,” he says of his opponents, “but they haven’t done it until the epiphany of the last six months.”

    • Theresa May expects Boris Johnson to remain as Foreign Secretary after Brexit speech

      Theresa May is expecting Boris Johnson to remain in her Cabinet as Foreign Secretary, Downing Street has said.

      The statement was made after Mr Johnson dismissed suggestions that he might be on the verge of quitting and denied the Cabinet is split over Brexit, insisting: “We are a nest of singing birds.”

      Mrs May has called a special meeting of Cabinet at Number 10 on Thursday to discuss her crunch Brexit speech in Italy the following day, which a Downing Street source said would be “a significant moment” in the process of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Shockingly, NY Times Columnist Is Totally Clueless About The Internet

      It’s fairly stunning just how often the NY Times Opinion pages are just… wrong. Nick Kristof, one of the most well known of the NYT’s columnists, has spent years, talking about stopping sex trafficking — but with a history of being fast and loose with facts, and showing either little regard for verifying what he’s saying, or a poor understanding of the consequences of what he says. I would hope that everyone reading this supports stopping illegal and coerced sex trafficking. But doing so shouldn’t allow making up facts and ignoring how certain superficial actions might make the problems worse. Kristof, in particular, has been targeting Backpage.com for at least five years — but has been caught vastly exaggerating claims about the site to the point of potentially misstating facts entirely (such as claiming Backpage existed before it actually did, and that it operated in cities where it did not). Kristof also has a history of being laughably credulous when someone comes along with a good story about sex trafficking, even when it’s mostly made up. He’s been accused of having a bit of a savior complex.
      And that’s on display with his recent, extraordinarily confused piece attacking Google for not supporting SESTA — the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.” As we’ve explained in great detail, SESTA (despite its name) is unlikely to stop any sex trafficking and likely would make the problem worse. That’s because the whole point of SESTA is to undermine CDA 230, the part of the law that creates incentives for tech companies to work with authorities and to help them track down sex trafficking on their sites. What the bill would do is make websites owners now both civilly and criminally liable for knowledge of any sex trafficking activity on their sites — meaning that any proactive efforts by them to monitor their websites may be seen as “knowledge,” thus making them liable. The new incentives will be not to help out at all — not to monitor and not to search.

    • Live Blog: Senate Commerce Committee Discusses SESTA
    • The Wrong Answer to a Serious Problem

      Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, thank you for the opportunity to testify today as one of the authors of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. As has been testified to by numerous experts over the years, Section 230 was a necessary step to bring our legal system into the 21st Century, it has provided the legal foundation for the growth of the Internet as a massive job creator and platform for free speech around the world and I strongly believe it should be kept intact.

      When I wrote Section 230 more than 20 years ago it was in recognition of the fact that the Internet was going to change the way we do business, the way we interact with each other, and frankly, virtually every other corner of our lives and our society. We understood that no amount of legislation and political bloviating could stop that change, but we could influence how it came about. Would we have an Internet dominated by private networks with all the worst impulses of human beings going on in impenetrable dark corners, or would it be a platform, open to the world, where such impulses would be exposed to the light, and the law.

      This is why we made it crystal clear that nothing in the statute protects against violation of federal criminal law, and more importantly, nothing in the statute protects individuals from the full force of the law when they commit, and leave evidence of, their crimes online.

    • Facebook’s war on free will

      In reality, Facebook is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information, rules devised by the corporation for the ultimate benefit of the corporation. Facebook is always surveilling users, always auditing them, using them as lab rats in its behavioural experiments. While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted. It’s a phoniness that is most obvious in the compressed, historic career of Facebook’s mastermind.

    • Twitter rival Gab faces domain loss over extremist content

      It’s not easy to host extremist right-wing content on the modern Internet. Gab, a small Twitter rival that bills itself as a bastion of free speech, has received word from its Australian domain registrar that it has five days to find a new registrar, or its domain will be canceled.

      The story begins last month, when the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer got a similar message from its domain registrar, GoDaddy. The editor of the Daily Stormer had written an article mocking Heather Heyer, who died in protest-related violence in Charlottesville. The Daily Stormer wound up losing its domain name, and two key people associated with the site—editor Andrew Anglin and webmaster Andrew Auernheimer—switched to Gab as their primary way of communicating with the public.

      Hosting Anglin and Aurenheimer—as well as other right-wing figures like Internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos—has created headaches for Gab. Days after Anglin became active on Gab, Google kicked Gab out of the Android app store, citing its lax moderation policies.

    • Censorship in media needs to f— off

      If a college paper goes years without addressing the absurdity of censorship in media, is it really a college paper?

      Thankfully, there is a remedy – these here words.

      First, to clear up the term “censorship,” this particular article will address the suppression of profanity, the blanketing of bad words, the flushing of potty mouths, etc.

    • The Senate Is Close To Undermining The Internet By Pretending To ‘Protect’ The Children

      Protecting children from harm is a laudable goal. But, as we’ve noted for many years, grandstanding politicians have a fairly long history of doing a lot of really dangerous stuff by insisting it needs to be done “for the children.” That doesn’t mean that all “for the children” laws are bad, but they do deserve scrutiny, especially when they appear to be reactive to news events, and rushed out with little understanding or discussion. And that’s a big part of our concern with SESTA — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act — a “for the children” bill. With a name like that, it’s difficult to oppose, because we’re all in favor of stopping sex trafficking. But if you actually look at the bill with any understanding of how the internet works, you quickly realize that it will be tremendously counterproductive and would likely do a lot more to harm trafficking victims by making it much more risky for internet services to moderate their own sites, and to cooperate with law enforcement in nabbing sex traffickers using their platforms.

    • Pirate Bay Founder Is Offering Anonymous Hosting to Fight Government Censorship

      The north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia is celebrating an unofficial referendum for its independence on October 1, and the Spanish government is doing anything in its power to stop it—including censoring the internet.

      The Spanish government has seized the official domains of the referendum: referendum.cat and ref1oct.cat, and activists say it’s also using other techniques like manipulating the Domain Name System—the phonebook of the internet—to prevent people from accessing referendum-related sites. Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder and long-time anti-censorship activist Peter Sunde is offering to keep information about the referendum online.

    • Ed Herbst: The genesis of ANC censorship – the Death of a Dream
    • Al Jazeera attacks Snap for ‘censoring’ content in Saudi Arabia
    • Snap faces its first censorship challenge, removes Al Jazeera’s Discover channel in Saudi Arabia
    • Snapchat blocks Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia
    • Snap blocks Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia to “comply with local laws”
    • Snapchat removed Al Jazeera’s channel from its app after pressure from the Saudi Arabian government
    • Snapchat Removes Al Jazeera Channel in Saudi Arabia
    • Snapchat takes down Al Jazeera’s channel in Saudi Arabia
    • Danger of Censorship Outweighs ‘Damage’ of Ugly Expression
    • Newseum Asked to Rescind Free Speech Award to Apple CEO Tim Cook
    • Tim Cook Could Have His ‘Free Expression Award’ Taken From Him Because Of Chinese Censorship
    • Netizen Report: Online Supporters of Myanmar’s Rohingya Face Censorship, Legal Threats

      Violence in northwest Myanmar has dominated headlines in recent weeks. More than 100,000 people from the ethnic minority Rohingya group have been displaced from their homes due to clearing operations of the Myanmar military, in response to attacks by a pro-Rohingya insurgent group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, are crossing into Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

      There is plenty of coverage of the situation by various media, ranging from mainstream wire services to independent Rohingya-run outlets like Rohingya Blogger. But it is still difficult to obtain accurate information about the conflict, as journalists both from the region and from abroad have been struggling to gain access to the conflict areas, and local media have a history of being punished for — and barred from — covering the Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, has even accused various media of circulating “fake news” on the topic. Her government has established a Facebook page, known as the ‘Information Committee’, that claims to offer verified information about the conflict.

    • The twisted words of Myanmar’s Suu Kyi

      After three weeks of ethnic cleansing, mass murders, atrocities and all nature of civil rights’ abuses against the Rohingya people of Myanmar — a chapter that has seen nearly 400,000 of the persecuted Muslim minority flee through newly laid fields of landmines to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, Aung Sang Suu Kyi has ordained to speak to offer words of excuse to a shocked international community that stands in disbelief at her regime’s actions. This woman, who piously accepted a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for the civil rights abuses inflicted upon her and her political party by Myanmar’s junta and general, has become the apologist-in-chief for her own abusive, vile, violent – and elected – junta.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • There’s no crisis of free speech. Milo’s campus crusade is rank hypocrisy

      If you’re curious as to what a basket of deplorables looks like in real life, perhaps you should head over to Berkeley next week, where Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter and friends will gather for a “festival of free expression” at the University of California campus. Maybe they’ll oblige by arriving in a hot air balloon, to render the metaphor entirely literal.

      The fact is, they may not arrive at all: Yiannopoulos, who is helping stage the series of events, has made a point of selecting “everyone who has been prevented from speaking at Berkeley in the last 12 months”. But “prevented” should be taken with a pinch of salt. Anti-immigrant firebrand Coulter, for example, decided of her own accord to cancel an appearance in April after the authorities allocated her a time slot designed to minimise the likelihood of a disturbance. “It’s a sad day for free speech,” she lamented, apparently without irony. This time around, the university administration has complained that deadlines for booking venues have been missed and fees remain unpaid. Yiannopoulos calls it a “coordinated bureaucratic mission to silence conservative voices”. Is it possible that the organisers would like nothing more than for Berkeley to insist on reasonable measures to ensure order, before flouncing off and crying censorship? Surely not.

    • Me, my data and I: Decode and the future of the personal data economy

      It’s no secret that personal data has become the key commodity of the online business world. The Internet giants – Facebook, Google, etc. – all provide their services “free”, but make money from the detailed profiles they create of our activity as we use social networks and move around the Web. Since we don’t have any choice in whether to allow this if we want to access the services, most people simple accept the practice as an inevitable if regrettable fact of digital life.

      But the consequences of doing so are serious. It means most of our activities online are tracked and stored – principally by companies, but also by governments that can draw on that data, using both front and back door access. It means that information about our supposed interests and preferences is fed back into the services to shape the content we see, and the ads that are displayed. It also means that intimate knowledge gleaned from the data can be used to manipulate us in subtle ways. But does it have to be like this? A project funded by the European Union called Decode (DEcentralised Citizen Owned Data Ecosystems) is exploring that question, in the hope that the answer is “no”:

    • Security Education: What’s New on Surveillance Self-Defense

      Since 2014, our digital security guide, Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD), has taught thousands of Internet users how to protect themselves from surveillance, with practical tutorials and advice on the best tools and expert-approved best practices. After hearing growing concerns among activists following the 2016 US presidential election, we pledged to build, update, and expand SSD and our other security education materials to better advise people, both within and outside the United States, on how to protect their online digital privacy and security.

    • Google’s Heather Adkins thinks everybody is going to get hacked and you need to be ready
    • Google’s Heather Adkins Talks NSA & Cyber Security Threats

      Google Manager of Information Security Heather Adkins said that she sees the United States National Security Agency as a general security threat while speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 on Monday. Ms. Adkins was asked whether she would label the NSA as a “state-sponsored threat” in the same vein that the likes of Russia and China are viewed, to which she responded positively. Google’s security chief suggested that the NSA itself isn’t a security threat so much as the software tools and techniques it develops are, likely referencing an April incident which saw a range of hacking tools supposedly created by the federal agency being leaked online. That same software was reportedly later used for enabling a global ransomware attack known as “WannaCry” which infected numerous computers around the planet and compromised a broad range of systems, including some that are critical in nature like hospital software.

    • A Google security chief considers the NSA a state-sponsored threat

      Today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 Google’s Manager of Information Security Heather Adkins sat down for a fireside chat. Among the varying topics discussed, she spoke about what’s like to have the NSA tap the company’s lines and how she views state sponsored threats.

      Moderator and TechCrunch Senior Editor Frederic Lardinois asked Adkins if she thinks of the NSA as a state-sponsored threat in the same way as China and Russia. She confirmed, yes, she considers the US’ National Security Agency in that way. Does she worry about the NSA? Yes, she does and it’s good to worry about them because if they can attack, other organizations can attack too.

      She goes on to say that she thinks less about individual threats and rather focuses on the techniques and the surface available to be attacked.

    • Take Cybersecurity Away From Spies – For Everyone’s Sake

      Until 1994, GCHQ, the British signals intelligence agency, didn’t officially exist. Now, it has emerged out of the shadows to take a very public role at the heart of British cybersecurity.

      Public accountability for intelligence services is crucial to any democracy but, as the recent WannaCry ransomware attack showed, there are inevitable conflicts of interest between the role of intelligence services and network safety.

    • EFF, ACLU Sue Government Over Warrantless Electronic Searches At The Border

      If all goes well, we might have the US border join the rest of the United States in recognizing citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court’s Riley decision made it clear law enforcement needed to obtain warrants before searching people’s cellphones. Unfortunately, the so-called “border exception” — upheld by at least one court — says securing the border is more important than recognizing people’s rights.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Release: Portland Concludes Investigation into Uber’s use of Greyball

      By its own admission, Uber used Greyball to avoid regulation by PBOT enforcement officers in December 2014. These officers remained tagged by the Greyball program until the beginning of the first 120-day pilot period in April 2015.

    • The German schoolboy jailed for writing to the BBC

      They took saliva samples from the licked envelopes to identify blood groups which they cross-checked with doctor’s records. They traced fingerprints on the paper, sourced the ink and collated an extensive archive of handwriting samples.

      It was his handwriting that caught out Borchardt.

    • The Cybercrime Convention’s New Protocol Needs to Uphold Human Rights

      As part of an ongoing attempt to help law enforcement obtain data across international borders, the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention— finalized in the weeks following 9/11, and ratified by the United States and over 50 countries around the world—is back on the global lawmaking agenda. This time, the Council’s Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY) has initiated a process to draft a second additional protocol to the Convention—a new text which could allow direct foreign law enforcement access to data stored in other countries’ territories. EFF has joined EDRi and a number of other organizations in a letter to the Council of Europe, highlighting some anticipated concerns with the upcoming process and seeking to ensure civil society concerns are considered in the new protocol. This new protocol needs to preserve the Council of Europe’s stated aim to uphold human rights, and not undermine privacy, and the integrity of our communication networks.

    • EFF to Court: The First Amendment Protects the Right to Record First Responders

      The First Amendment protects the right of members of the public to record first responders addressing medical emergencies, EFF argued in an amicus brief filed in the federal trial court for the Northern District of Texas. The case, Adelman v. DART, concerns the arrest of a Dallas freelance press photographer for criminal trespass after he took photos of a man receiving emergency treatment in a public area.

      EFF’s amicus brief argues that people frequently use electronic devices to record and share photos and videos. This often includes newsworthy recordings of on-duty police officers and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel interacting with members of the public. These recordings have informed the public’s understanding of emergencies and first responder misconduct.

    • Jeremy Corbyn blocks formation of key counter-terrorism watchdog

      The UK parliament’s influential intelligence and security watchdog has not met once during this summer’s string of deadly attacks, because Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has failed to put forward any candidates to sit on the committee, Middle East Eye can reveal.

    • Asylum-Seeker Says He’s Being Deported Because ICE Mishandled Evidence of Anti-Gay Attack

      On January 17, 2016, Sadat Ibrahim, a gay man from Accra, Ghana, arrived at the San Ysidro U.S. border checkpoint between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, pleading for help. He asked for asylum, telling immigration officials that he had fled home after he was ambushed and attacked by an anti-gay group.

      Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, punishable by up to three years in jail, and vigilante gangs often terrorize gay people. According to testimony Ibrahim gave to an asylum officer, one of his friends had been beaten by an anti-gay gang in August 2015 and was forced to give up the names of gay acquaintances, including Ibrahim. Another friend texted Ibrahim to warn him, and he immediately went home to collect his belongings and leave the area. But as he was packing, gang members forced themselves into his apartment and attacked him. Ibrahim says he was stabbed in his left arm and only just managed to escape by hailing down a nearby taxicab.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Yet Another Report Says The Rate Of TV Cord Cutting Is Worse Than Anybody Thought

      For years the traditional cable and broadcast industry has gone to comedic lengths to deny that cord cutting (getting rid of traditional cable TV) is real. First, we were told repeatedly that the phenomenon wasn’t happening at all. Next, the industry acknowledged that sure — a handful of people were ditching cable, but it didn’t matter because the people doing so were losers living in their mom’s basement. Then, we were told that cord cutting was real, but was only a minor phenomenon that would go away once Millennials started procreating.

      Of course none of these talking points were true, but they helped cement a common belief among older cable and broadcast executives that the transformative shift to streaming video could be easily solved by doubling down on bad ideas. More price increases, more advertisements stuffed into each minute, more hubris, and more denial. Intentional blindness to justify the milking of a dying cash cow — instead of adapting.

    • Yes, You Can Believe In Internet Freedom Without Being A Shill

      You may have noticed lately that there’s an increasing (and increasingly coordinated) effort to paint today’s biggest and most successful companies as some kind of systemic social threat that needs to be reined in. As veteran tech journalist John Battelle put it, tech companies frequently are assumed these days to be Public Enemy No. 1, and those of us who defend the digital world in which we now find ourselves are presumptively marked as shills for corporate tech interests.

      But a deeper historical understanding of how we got to today’s internet shows that the leading NGOs and nonprofit advocacy organizations that defend today’s internet-freedom framework actually predate the very existence of their presumed corporate masters.

      To get taste a of the current policy debate surrounding Google and other internet companies, consider the movie I Am Jane Doe, which documents the legal battle waged by anti-sex-trafficking groups and trafficking victims against the website Backpage.com. The film, which premiered this February with a congressional screening, also tracks a two-year investigation and report by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations into the site’s symbiotic relationship with traffickers.

    • “Fake” net neutrality comments at heart of lawsuit filed against FCC

      The Federal Communications Commission has ignored a public records request for information that might shed light on the legitimacy of comments on Chairman Ajit Pai’s anti-net neutrality plan, according to a lawsuit filed against the FCC.

      Freelance writer Jason Prechtel filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request on June 4 asking the FCC for data related to bulk comment uploads, which may contain comments falsely attributed to people without their knowledge. But while the FCC acknowledged receiving his FoIA request, it did not approve or deny the request within the legally allotted timeframe, Prechtel wrote in a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

  • DRM

    • HTML5 DRM finally makes it as an official W3C Recommendation

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the industry body that oversees development of HTML and related Web standards, has today published the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification as a Recommendation, marking its final blessing as an official Web standard. Final approval came after the W3C’s members voted 58.4 percent to approve the spec, 30.8 percent to oppose, with 10.8 percent abstaining.

    • Electronic Frontier Foundation Resigns From W3C Over Encrypted Media Extensions DRM

      [...] The W3C is a body that ostensibly operates on consensus. Nevertheless, as the coalition in support of a DRM compromise grew and grew — and the large corporate members continued to reject any meaningful compromise — the W3C leadership persisted in treating EME as topic that could be decided by one side of the debate. In essence, a core of EME proponents was able to impose its will on the Consortium, over the wishes of a sizeable group of objectors — and every person who uses the web. The Director decided to personally override every single objection raised by the members, articulating several benefits that EME offered over the DRM that HTML5 had made impossible.

    • An open letter to the W3C Director, CEO, team and membership

      Despite the support of W3C members from many sectors, the leadership of the W3C rejected this compromise. The W3C leadership countered with proposals — like the chartering of a nonbinding discussion group on the policy questions that was not scheduled to report in until long after the EME ship had sailed — that would have still left researchers, governments, archives, security experts unprotected.

      The W3C is a body that ostensibly operates on consensus. Nevertheless, as the coalition in support of a DRM compromise grew and grew — and the large corporate members continued to reject any meaningful compromise — the W3C leadership persisted in treating EME as topic that could be decided by one side of the debate. In essence, a core of EME proponents was able to impose its will on the Consortium, over the wishes of a sizeable group of objectors — and every person who uses the web. The Director decided to personally override every single objection raised by the members, articulating several benefits that EME offered over the DRM that HTML5 had made impossible.

      But those very benefits (such as improvements to accessibility and privacy) depend on the public being able to exercise rights they lose under DRM law — which meant that without the compromise the Director was overriding, none of those benefits could be realized, either. That rejection prompted the first appeal against the Director in W3C history.

      [...]

      We will renew our work to battle the media companies that fail to adapt videos for accessibility purposes, even though the W3C squandered the perfect moment to exact a promise to protect those who are doing that work for them.

    • World Wide Web Consortium abandons consensus, standardizes DRM with 58.4% support, EFF resigns

      In July, the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium overruled dozens of members’ objections to publishing a DRM standard without a compromise to protect accessibility, security research, archiving, and competition.

    • EFF quits W3C over decision to accept EME as Web standard

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the World Wide Web Consortium after the latter announced it was accepting the published Encrypted Media Extensions as a Web standard.

    • Christopher Allan Webber: DRM will unravel the Web

      I’m a web standards author and I participate in the W3C. I am co-editor of the ActivityPub protocol, participate in a few other community groups and working groups, and I consider it an honor to have been able to participate in the W3C process. What I am going to write here though represents me and my feelings alone. In a sense though, that makes this even more painful. This is a blogpost I don’t have time to write, but here I am writing it; I am emotionally forced to push forward on this topic. The W3C has allowed DRM to move forward on the web through the EME specification (which is, to paraphrase Danny O’Brien from the EFF, a “DRM shaped hole where nothing else but DRM fits”). This threatens to unravel the web as we know it. How could this happen? How did we get here?

      Like many of my generation, I grew up on the web, both as a citizen of this world and as a developer. “Web development”, in one way or another, has principally been my work for my adult life, and how I have learned to be a programmer. The web is an enormous, astounding effort of many, many participants. Of course, Tim Berners-Lee is credited for much of it, and deserves much of this credit. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tim on a couple of occasions; when you meet Tim it’s clear how deeply he cares about the web. Tim speaks quickly, as though he can’t wait to get out the ideas that are so important to him, to try to help you understand how wonderful and exciting this system it is that we can build together. Then, as soon as he’s done talking, he returns to his computer and gets to hacking on whatever software he’s building to advance the web. You don’t see this dedication to “keep your hands dirty” in the gears of the system very often, and it’s a trait I admire. So it’s very hard to reconcile that vision of Tim with someone who would intentionally unravel their own work… yet by allowing the W3C to approve DRM/EME, I believe that’s what has happened.

    • W3C DRM appeal fails, votes kept secret

      Earlier this summer, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — the organization responsible for defining the standards that make up the Web — decided to embrace DRM (aka “EME”) as a web standard. I wasn’t happy about this. I don’t know many who were.

      Shortly after that, the W3C agreed to talk with me about the issue. During that discussion, I encouraged the W3C to increase their level of transparency going forward — and if there is an appeal of their DRM decision, to make that process completely open and visible to the public (including how individual members of the W3C vote on the issue).

      The appeal happened and has officially ended. I immediately reached out to the W3C to gather some details. What I found out was highly concerning. I’ll include the most interesting bits below, as un-edited as possible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Ukraine Faces Call for US Trade Sanctions over Online Piracy

        The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are unhappy with how Ukraine is handling online piracy. The country has become a safe haven for many pirate sites, they say. In a recommendation to the US Government the copyright holder groups recommend suspending or withdrawing several trade benefits until the situation improves.

      • Inside the MPAA, Netflix & Amazon Global Anti-Piracy Alliance

        Back in June, MPAA, Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel, Village Roadshow, and many more, revealed the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, a brand new initiative to tackle piracy on a global scale. Today, TorrentFreak can reveal the deal behind this massive operation.

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