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09.28.17

Links 29/9/2017: Krita 3.3.0, Tails 3.2, Amos Yee is Free

Posted in News Roundup at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Best Linux Distros for the Enterprise

      In this article, I’ll share the top Linux distros for enterprise environments. Some of these distros are used in server and cloud environments along with desktop duties. The one constant that all of these Linux options have is that they are enterprise grade Linux distributions — so you can expect a high greater degree of functionality and, of course, support.
      What is an enterprise grade Linux distribution?

      An enterprise grade Linux distribution comes down to the following – stability and support. Both of these components must be met to take any Linux distribution seriously in an enterprise environment. Stability means that the packages provided are both stable to use, while still maintaining an expected level of security.

      The support element of an enterprise grade distribution means that there is a reliable support mechanism in place. Sometimes this is a single (official) source such as a company. In other instances, it might be a governing not-for-profit that provides reliable recommendations to good third party support vendors. Obviously the former option is the best one, however both are acceptable.

  • Server

    • Microservices and containers: 5 pitfalls to avoid

      Because microservices and containers are a match made in heaven, it might seem like nothing could go wrong. Let’s get these babies into production as quickly as possible, then kick back and wait for the IT promotions and raises to start flooding in. Right?

      (We’ll pause while the laughter subsides.)

      Yeah, sorry. That’s just not how it works. While the two technologies can be a powerful combination, realizing their potential doesn’t happen without some effort and planning. In previous posts, we’ve tackled what you should know at the start. But what about the most common problems organizations encounter when they run microservices in containers?

    • This Week in Numbers: Container Storage Preferences for Kubernetes

      The types of logical storage structures used in today’s Kubernetes deployments offer some deeper revelations into the nature of workloads being deployed. Block storage is king, having been cited by two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents in our survey for The State of the Kubernetes Ecosystem as being involved with their Kubernetes implementations.

      Few deployments are relegated to only one type of logical storage, so it is telling that just fewer than half of the respondents (46 percent) cited file storage as the type they’re using. Newer, cloud-native applications with microservices architectures and that utilize databases or data structures, typically don’t need a file system because they are not interacting with data through an operating system. A 46 percent figure is quite high, signaling that more integration with older application types is taking place.

      Object storage is used by 29 percent of respondents, which is relatively high compared with adoption rates for object storage that we’ve seen in the past. Since object storage is scalable, developers working on distributed systems likely have experience with it already. In addition, object storage is often used to deliver static content for websites, which is also a common type of workload for Kubernetes.

    • Patch CDK #1: Build & Release

      Happens all the time. You often come across a super cool open source project you would gladly contribute but setting up the development environment and learning to patch and release your fixes puts you off. The Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is not an exception. This set of blog posts will shed some light on the most dark secrets of CDK.

  • Kernel Space

    • Building the kernel with clang

      Over the years, there has been a persistent effort to build the Linux kernel using the Clang C compiler that is part of the LLVM project. We last looked in on the effort in a report from the LLVM microconference at the 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), but we have followed it before that as well. At this year’s LPC, two Google kernel engineers, Greg Hackmann and Nick Desaulniers, came to the Android microconference to update the status; at this point, it is possible to build two long-term support kernels (4.4 and 4.9) with Clang.

    • The rest of the 4.14 merge window

      As is sometimes his way, Linus Torvalds released 4.14-rc1 and closed the merge window one day earlier than some might have expected. By the time, though, 11,556 non-merge changesets had found their way into the mainline repository, so there is no shortage of material for this release. Around 3,500 of those changes were pulled after the previous 4.14 merge-window summary; read on for an overview of what was in that last set.

    • Notes from the LPC scheduler microconference

      The scheduler workloads microconference at the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference covered several aspects of the kernel’s CPU scheduler. While workloads were on the agenda, so were a rework of the realtime scheduler’s push/pull mechanism, a distinctly different approach to multi-core scheduling, and the use of tracing for workload simulation and analysis. As the following summary shows, CPU scheduling has not yet reached a point where all of the important questions have been answered.

    • Testing kernels

      New kernels are released regularly, but it is not entirely clear how much in-depth testing they are actually getting. Even the mainline kernel may not be getting enough of the right kind of testing. That was the topic for a “birds of a feather” (BoF) meeting at this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) held in mid-September in Los Angeles, CA. Dhaval Giani and Sasha Levin organized the BoF as a prelude to the Testing and Fuzzing microconference they were leading the next day.

      There were representatives from most of the major Linux distributors present in the room. Giani started things off by asking how much testing is being done on the stable kernels by distributors. Are they simply testing their own kernels and the backports of security and other fixes that come from the stable kernels? Beyond the semi-joking suggestion that testing is left to users, most present thought that there was little or no testing (beyond simple build-and-boot testing) of the stable kernels.

    • Linking commits to reviews

      In a talk in the refereed track of the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference, Alexandre Courouble presented the email2git tool that links kernel commits to their review discussion on the mailing lists. Email2git is a plugin for cregit, which implements token-level history for a Git repository; we covered a talk on cregit just over one year ago. Email2git combines cregit with Patchwork to link the commit to a patch and its discussion threads from any of the mailing lists that are scanned by patchwork.kernel.org. The result is a way to easily find the discussion that led to a piece of code—or even just a token—changing in the kernel source tree.

      Courouble began with a short demo of the tool. It can be accessed by typing (or pasting) in a commit ID on this web page, which brings up a list of postings of the patch to various mailing lists; following those links shows the thread where it was posted (and, often, discussed). Another way to get there is to use cregit; navigating to a particular file then clicking on a token will bring up a similar list that relates to the patch where the symbol was changed. Note that the Patchwork data only goes back to 2009, so commits before that time will not produce any results.

    • Stable kernels 4.13.4, 4.9.52, 4.4.89, and 3.18.72
    • Linux 4.13.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.13.4 kernel.

    • Linux 4.9.52
    • Linux 4.4.89
    • Linux 3.18.72
    • Graphics Stack

      • Initial Meson Build System Support Lands In Mesa

        Landing in Mesa 17.3-dev Git yesterday is initial support for the Meson build system! Initially, this Meson build support just works for the Intel ANV and Radeon RADV Vulkan drivers.

        Meson is the latest build system catching the interest of open-source/Linux developers. Meson has already been widely deployed throughout the GNOME camp among other areas due to its faster build times when using the Ninja back-end on Linux, better support for Windows, and less clunky than Autotools.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Neon: the naked KDE

        I had nothing to complain about the technical part of KDE Neon Live run. It was smooth and fast. There were no glitches or unexpected delays (apart from one – I cannot remember the exact details).

        However, the lack of the very basic software makes me stop from recommending this distribution to the beginners. It may be a good distribution for those users who know their way in the Linux world well, who are confident in what they need and how to get it themselves.

        Do you recognise yourself in the first or the second category of Linux users?

      • Krita 3.3.0

        Less than a month after Krita 3.2.1, we’re releasing Krita 3.3.0. We’re bumping the version because there are some important changes, especially for Windows users in this version!

      • KGraphViewer 2.4.2

        KGraphViewer 2.4.2 has been released.

      • Nextcloud gets End to End Encryption

        Today is a special day for Nextcloud and me because Nextcloud gets a cool and important new capability. This is end to end encryption for file sync and share. Nextcloud supports server side encryption for a long time and all file transfer over the internet is encrypted with

      • Last Week Development in Elisa

        I have focused on keyboard navigation and correct handling of focus. Some preliminary work is already integrated with more to come. I hope to soon be able to use Elisa only with the keyboard and am starting to enjoy the progress so far. This is quite different from the last two years where only mouse and touch screen were usable to interact with Elisa.

      • Plasma secrets: task manager tweaks

        Recently, I have been having a lot of fun with the Plasma desktop. It all started with Zesty Zapus, a phenomenal release that redeemed KDE. In fact, I’ve boldly proclaimed that my next serious box to use Linux will be running Kubuntu, most likely the upcoming 2018 LTS. It hasn’t been this merry since roughly 2006 or so. Happy days.

        With so much time and pleasure spent on Kubuntu, I’ve dubbed the perfect distro, and then, I’ve also shown you how to deftly pimp it into sweet submission, as well as graced you with a few more tips and tricks that should make your Plasma experience sweeter still. Now, we will discuss another less known feature in this desktop environment, and that’s the task manager. Shall we.

        [...]

        Plasma desktop is way ahead of anything else in the Linux world right now. Yes, there are still glaring issues and annoying bugs, like the file copy timestamp for Samba shares or the ability to play media from remote devices, but overall, it’s shaping up to be an excellent product. There’s a lot of thought and attention to detail, and layer upon layer of smart, intelligent functionality packaged in an elegant and presentable way. I’m really really liking this.

        Well, hopefully, today’s little guide gives you even more reasons to try Plasma. It started with a revelation that is Kubuntu 17.04, then I’ve shown you how to pimp this desktop for everyday use, and given you a wealth of tricks that should make the experience even more enjoyable. Finally, we have these task manager tweaks. Well, if you have a request for anything else, don’t be a stranger. Shout, happy KDE, and may Plasma be with you.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • 4 features that make GNOME 3.26 worth the switch

        Of all the releases of the GNOME desktop, in recent years, I cannot think of one that was as anticipated as is GNOME 3.26. What is strange about this is that there are no major, ground-breaking features added to this upcoming release. While there are some subtle shifts in design, and a few small additions, the buzz for GNOME 3.26 is, without a doubt, there. My suspicion lies in the one-two punch of this 33rd release of the GNOME desktop and Ubuntu migrating back to GNOME. The anticipation of 3.26 is likely also bolstered by the fact that GNOME has become one of the most stable and polished desktop on the market.

      • Eolie Web Browser for GNOME – The Simplest Web Browser

        There will also be a question of the target audience and the number of options that will be proposed in the future. If a browser like Vivaldi has found its way to the giants, it is that it is aimed at all confirmed users. As can be seen with Web, a good integration with the rest of the GNOME environment will not be enough to be adopted, and it will not only have to propose all the usual functionalities but also propose new ones which could no longer happen.

  • Distributions

    • Clear Linux Squeezes More Performance Out Of Intel’s Core i9 7960X, 7980XE

      Earlier this week we published our launch-day benchmarks of the Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE. Those Linux benchmarks were done with Ubuntu, but for those wondering what the maximum performance looks like for these high-end desktop processors, here are some comparison results with Intel’s own Clear Linux distribution.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • ​SUSE Studio merges with Open Build Service

        When SUSE first introduced SUSE Studio in 2010, it was a radical change. You could build your own Linux distribution without being a Linux expert. Today, we use custom Linux images inside containers, virtual machines (VM), and every cloud worth its name every day. So SUSE is updating SUSE Studio by merging it with its Open Build Service (OBS) to create a better tool for bundling packages with Linux distributions to deliver customized Linux images. The new product’s name will be SUSE Studio Express.

      • When Microsoft met SUSE: This Windows-Linux partnership gets stronger every day [Ed: "Linux purists hated that partnership". Not Linux. Not purists. GNU. And people who value freedom.]

        Linux purists hated that partnership. But my, how things have changed! Today, Microsoft has joined The Linux Foundation; all the major Linux distributions, including Debian and Red Hat are available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud; and Microsoft recently joined the Open Source Initiative.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Launches ‘Open Innovation Labs’ Facility in Singapore

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) has unveiled a new facility in Singapore that will serve to help Asia-Pacific customers adopt open source and DevOps approaches in their information technology applications, ExecutiveBiz reported Tuesday.

        The company said Monday the first Red Hat Open Innovation Labs hub in the region will facilitate collaboration between IT teams, consultants, engineers and subject-matter experts in efforts to drive companies’ digital transformation.

      • Maxta hyper-converged SW flips off VMware for Red Hat

        Red Hat Virtualization is based on open-source KVM. Maxta executives said the goal is to provide an easy migration path for customers to move from ESXi to RHV. Maxta MxSP software runs on x86 servers, and is sold stand-alone or packaged on appliances by resellers.

      • Smart Card Support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux

        Recent Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases see an expansion in support of the smart card related use cases. However customers usually have a mixed environment and standardize on a specific version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for period of time. It is important to understand the evolution of the smart card related feature to plan your deployment and understand what capabilities are available in what version of the operating system.

      • Red Hat launches Linux platform for SAP software environments

        Open source solutions provider Red Hat has announced the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions, an enterprise Linux platform optimised for running SAP software deployments.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions aims to provide a smoother path for organisations seeking to integrate or merge their heterogeneous SAP software environments, offering a single, standardised platform for big data analysis and management projects.

      • Why Ansible is the future of Red Hat—and automated devops

        Ansible is the Rodney Dangerfield of Red Hat’s software portfolio: It, too, “don’t get no respect.” Despite the Ansible automated configuration management tool helping to sell Red Hat’s hybrid cloud story, delivering six deals worth more than $1 million and one deal worth over $5 million, not a single analyst in the latest financial call bothered to check on Ansible’s progress. Why? They’re fixated on OpenShift, and perhaps rightly so. OpenShift is Red Hat’s most obvious successor to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) throne.

      • Maxta adds Red Hat in plan to help customers dodge ‘VMware tax’

        Hyper-converged infrastructure maker Maxta has announced it now supports the Red Hat Virtualization hypervisor and can allow customers to migrate data from VMware to Red Hat or run VM in both environments.

      • ORock Technologies Named to Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider Program
      • Finance

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Knoppix 8.1 Now Available For A Retro Linux Experience In 2017

          Knoppix 8.1 is now available although no release announcement has yet to hit the wire. As it’s been some years since last trying out Knoppix, I decided to fire up this new release.

          With recalling fond memories of Knoppix during its early height as being the first/best Debian live CD but somewhat fading away in recent years, I was curious to try out Knoppix 8.1 when being alerted to it by a German Phoronix reader.

        • Tails 3.2 is out

          This release fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical drops 32-bit Ubuntu Desktop Live ISOs
          • Ubuntu Is Dropping 32-Bit Images, But the Rest of the Flavors Will Keep Them

            In a follow-up email to a discussion from May when Ubuntu Desktop team discussed the possibility of removal of the 32-bit (i386) installation images from the servers, developer Dimitri John Ledkov confirmed the decision today.

          • Ubuntu Is Dropping 32-bit Desktop Images

            You won’t be able to download Ubuntu 17.10 32-bit desktop builds, as Ubuntu is dropping 32-bit builds of Ubuntu 17.10 desktop entirely.

          • It’s Official: Ubuntu 17.10 Is Killing 32-Bit Desktop ISO
          • Ubuntu 17.10 won’t have a 32-bit installation option

            LINUX DISTRO of choice for many, Ubuntu, has announced it is to drop support for 32-bit installations in favour of pure 64-bit loveliness.

            Starting with the upcoming release of Ubuntu 17.10, due next month, Ubuntu will be putting into action a request from Canonical dude Dimitri John Ledkov, reports OMG Ubuntu.

          • Paper Theme And Icons Looks Great On Ubuntu/Linux Mint

            Paper theme and icons are designed for Linux desktop environment, this suite is inspired by Material design created by Sam Hewitt, icons are based around the use of bold colors and simple geometric shapes. Each icon has been meticulously designed for pixel-perfect viewing at any size. Both theme and icons are lightweight and well-managed doesn’t eat system resources, the theme is modern and icons with most flat design and minimal use of shadows for depth. Paper has been developed primarily with modern GTK3 (GNOME-based) desktop environments in mind, legacy-toolkit and GTK2 environments will not provide an ideal experience, as much of the visual design relies on modern GTK3+ widgets. This suite is released under the terms the GNU General Public License GPL v3.

          • The New HUD on Artful MATE Beta

            The Heads-Up Display (or, HUD) is now a star feature on Ubuntu MATE 17.10 Beta. It got improved a lot on Beta and it’s amusing! On Alpha version, the HUD appears after some taps on Super+Alt buttons, and this would be difficult for many Unity users. But now on Beta version, the HUD appears by single tap on Alt button, making it easier for us and closer to Unity’s HUD. The big change is the HUD is now placed locally on every window! See the GIF animation and pictures below.

          • ULauncher: A Light And Fast App Launcher For Linux

            Available for Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty/16.04 Xenial/14.04 Trusty/Linux Mint 18/17/other Ubuntu derivatives

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS selected for Samsung ARTIK Gateway modules

            The Samsung ARTIK platform is a fully integrated chip to cloud and production-ready Internet of Things solution, designed to help companies accelerate their product development process, reduce time to market, and improve total cost of ownership for their IoT products. Through the new partnership, the Samsung ARTIK 5 and 7 family of modules will now incorporate Ubuntu 16.04 as its primary Linux distribution, combining Ubuntu distribution with ARTIK customization, platform software and the ARTIK integrated development environment.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • System76 Pop!_OS Beta Ubuntu-based Linux distribution now available to download

              Next month, a new era of Ubuntu begins. Unity is dead, and GNOME 3 takes over as the default desktop environment. While this change was for the best, it was still shocking for many. For a company like System76, for instance, that sells computers pre-loaded with Ubuntu, this was problematic. Why? Well, the company essentially lost control of the overall user experience by relying on vanilla Ubuntu. It was being forced to follow Canonical’s path.

              To solve this, and regain some control, System76 has been developing its own operating system called “Pop!_OS.” No, it is not reinventing the wheel here — it will still use Ubuntu as a base, and GNOME will be the desktop environment. The company is customizing the operating system, however, with things like fonts, themes, and icons, to create something truly unique. This could lead to an improved user experience. Today, the first official beta of the operating system becomes available for download.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-source community pushing big data into AI realm

    What’s the surest way to advance a technology in a short time? Give it away — to an open-source community. Seminal big data software library Apache Hadoop gained momentum in open source, and today, most disruptive big data development is springing from open source as well.

  • Yahoo! search! results!, recommendations!, ad! flinging! code! is! now! open! source!

    Oath, the Verizon-owned parent of Yahoo!, has forsworn control of Yahoo!’s search code, known as Vespa, and turned it into an open-source project.

    Having nothing at all to do with scooters, the software provides a way to query structured and unstructured data, to organize and rank results, and to write data at scale. It’s a system for running computations on large data sets in real-time.

  • The Ground Zero Open Source Project (GZOSP): an Android Oreo Base for Custom ROM Development

    Ground Zero ROMs, the ROM development team that brought us the popular custom ROMs Tesla, Tipsy, and Validus, has provided a central Android Oreo repository from which custom ROMs can be built without having to start from scratch (meaning straight from AOSP). The idea of the Ground Zero Open Source Project (GZOSP) is to give custom ROM builders a better starting point with both the necessary AOSP code and the CAF (Code Aurora Forum, Qualcomm’s own repository which is useful for non-Nexus devices with Snapdragon SoCs) code to build for a wide variety of devices.

  • OpenDaylight Nitrogen Released Providing SDN Modularity

    Nitrogen is the seventh major release from OpenDaylight and follows the Carbon release that debutedin June 2017. OpenDaylight first started in April 2013 as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, with the goal of building an open SDN platform.

    OpenDaylight Nitrogen had the shortest release cycle of any OpenDaylight release, as part of an effort to better synchronize with OpenStack, OPNFV and ONAP networking efforts.

  • Faculty Receive National Science Foundation Grant for Software Research

    “Open source software builds upon itself,” says Randy Bradley, an assistant professor of information systems and supply chain management.

  • Open Sourcing Vespa, Yahoo’s Big Data Processing and Serving Engine

    Ever since we open sourced Hadoop in 2006, Yahoo – and now, Oath – has been committed to opening up its big data infrastructure to the larger developer community. Today, we are taking another major step in this direction by making Vespa, Yahoo’s big data processing and serving engine, available as open source on GitHub.

  • Yahoo search secrets unveiled as Vespa tool becomes open source

    Oath, the company born of the Yahoo-AOL merger, releases Vespa data processing engine’s source code.

    Vespa, the tool used to power search on the Yahoo network of sites, was yesterday released on GitHub by Oath for any curious developers or companies to take a look.

    Although Yahoo web search has mostly been powered by Bing in recent years, Vespa technology is used within the network of Oath sites itself, such as Flickr, Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Gemini.

  • Transitions in Leadership

    Serving as president of the Open Source Initiative over the past few years has been a joy and an honor, and if I write a memoir someday I’m sure these will stand out as some of the best and brightest years in a long and happy open source career. It has been a delight to collaborate closely with so many people I admire greatly, including Deb Bryant, Molly de Blanc, Richard Fontana, Leslie Hawthorne, Mike Milinkovich, Simon Phipps, Josh Simmons, Carol Smith, Paul Tagliamonte, Italo Vignoli, and Stefano Zacchiroli.

    I’m incredibly proud of what the organization has accomplished in that time, continuing stewardship of the open source license list, and growing our individual membership and affiliate programs which provide a path for the entire open source community to have a say in the governance of the OSI.

    [...]

    It gives me great pleasure to share the news that the OSI board has elected Simon Phipps as the next president. Having Simon at the helm will help make the transition particularly easy, since he served as OSI president before me. I’ve known Simon for many years, long before either of us was involved in the OSI, and one thing that has always impressed me is the way he consistently engages with new ideas, championing the relevance of open source in the ever-changing modern world. He also gave the best talk that I’ve ever seen explaining the four software freedoms and advocating for software freedom (at a conference in Oslo in 2011).

  • Open source is quietly powering a virtual revolution in some countries

    Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. You won’t find the village of El Rosario and its corrugated iron and breeze-block houses on any printed map. Ironically, you can find El Rosario on Google Maps but the village itself doesn’t have internet access. Such a luxury is a number of bus rides away and not a journey you’d want a child to take alone.

    Reducing the educational limitations for kids who grow up in places like El Rosario requires breaking vicious cycles that are generations-old: “The kids that don’t finish primary school end up working in the fields with their fathers,” says Sandra Castro, a teacher at the local school, Escuela Nacional El Rosario. “Our desire is to change that.”

    One non-profit educational technology organisation that’s helping to effect that change in El Rosario and all over the world is Learning Equality. It’s an organisation that uses open source software and low-cost hardware to bring quality education to offline communities in the remotest parts of the world – and it’s gearing up to release its second-generation educational platform, called Kolibri.

  • Events

    • Learning from Scratch: Kids Day at Open Source Summit

      At this year’s Kids Day workshop at Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, The Linux Foundation collaborated with LA MakerSpace.org to provide kids with an introduction to coding ideas and approaches. The LA MakerSpace is heavily influenced by the maker culture, so they have a very hands-on approach when it comes to teaching coding.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Accelerates Firefox 57 with Quantum Speed Boost

        The race for internet browser supremacy is accelerating once again, with Mozilla’s latest open-source Firefox browser. The new Firefox Quantum browser, which is currently available as a beta, is two times faster than the Firefox 52 release which debuted in March 2017.

        Firefox Quantum is actually the Firefox 57 release, but Mozilla developers have decided that the speed gains in the upcoming browser milestone are so noteworthy that it should have a unique name as well. Mozilla has been incrementally adding features to Firefox over the past year to help speed up the browser, in an effort to provide better performance than Google’s rival Chrome browser.

      • Firefox 56.0 Is Ready Ahead Of The Big Quantum Update

        The final Firefox 56.0 binaries have hit the mirrors ahead of its official announcement to come. Firefox 56.0 brings more improvements while Firefox 57 “Quantum” will be a huge update.

        Firefox 56.0 has a variety of smaller updates, is the last release to support legacy add-ons before mandating WebExtensions, support for rel=”preload” for preloading content, various developer API changes, and more. With Firefox 56, media is no longer auto-played when opened in a background tab.

      • Firefox 56 Released, But All Eyes Are on Firefox Quantum

        The latest update to the browser isn’t exactly packed with changes but it does include a new search function in the settings area to make it faster to find specific options or preferences.

      • Screenshots, Send Tabs and more! Today’s faster Firefox provides upgraded features for all users

        When our intrepid user research team goes into the field and observes Firefox users in the wild, they find that users have all sorts of creative solutions to do things that the browser doesn’t already do, like email links and screenshots to themselves and others, as a way to get things done.

        We want Firefox to be the absolute best way to get things done, so we stuffed a ton of new features into today’s release.

  • Databases

    • Oracle Shows Off MySQL 8 Release Candidate

      After over a year of development, open-source database is now on the path toward general availability.

      Back in September 2016, Oracle first announced the open-source MySQL 8.0.0 milestone release and has been quietly iterating and developing the next generation database ever since.

      On Sept. 25, at long last Oracle debuted the first official Release Candidate (RC) for the MySQL 8.0 release, kicking off the final stabilization period before general availability. The MySQL 8.0 release also marks a numbering leap forward, as the current generally available release is version 5.7.19. MySQL 5.7x first became generally available in 2015, after two years of development effort.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice community celebrates 7th anniversary

      I wanted to take a moment to remind people that 7 years ago the community decided to make the de facto fork of OpenOffice.org official after life under Sun (and then Oracle) were problematic. From the very first hours the project showed its effectiveness. See my post about LibreOffice first steps. Not to mention what it achieved in the past 7 years.

      This is still one of my favourite open source contributions, not because it was sophisticated or hard, but because it as about using the freedom part of the free software:
      Replace hardcoded “product by Oracle” with “product by %OOOVENDOR”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • SAP Cloud Is Embracing the Open Source World [Ed: No, it does not. SAP is wholly proprietary, it just uses GNU/Linux as the underlying platform.]

      SAP is making inroads in the open source world. The software heavyweight announced today at the SAP TechEd 2017 conference that it is joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and the Open API Initiative (OAI). SAP CTO Bjoern Goerke will join the CNCF governing board, and the company said it will be a major contributor to the group.

      Both CNCF and OAI are part of the Linux Foundation. CNCF is home to Kubernetes, the open source project that acts as an orchestration layer for containers. OAI is focused on creating, evolving, and promoting a vendor neutral description format for ReST APIs. ReST stands for Representational State Transfer, an architectural style for designing networked applications.

    • DH2i DxEnterprise adds Linux support to improve availability [Ed: But it's not "Linux". It's a proprietary blob in DrawBridge, stuck like a tumor inside GNU/Linux]
    • Nokia first to contribute open source software to accelerate adoption of software-defined fixed access networks [Ed: start by ending patent aggression]
  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF Blogs: Friday Free Software “New Friends” Directory IRC meetup: September 29th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers. When a user comes to the Directory, they know that everything in it is free software, has only free dependencies, and runs on a free OS. With almost 16,000 entries, it is a massive repository of information about free software.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source and the public sector

      The U.S. government continues to devote resources to advancing the country’s technology by utilizing a mixture of “proprietary, open source, and mixed source code” when building out federal solutions, according to the Federal Source Code Policy.

      In 2016, the government launched code.gov and with it, a pilot program that required agencies to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code as open-source software. The code.gov website is a platform built to “support reuse and public access to custom-developed Federal source code” and houses code from 25 separate agencies.

      This strategic move originally began in 2014, when the White House launched the U.S. Digital Service as part of its mission to improve public sector technology. The group’s Digital Services Playbook outlined how to manage and improve all publicly facing digital services and stressed the importance of adhering to these guidelines if contributing to the public sector.

    • New Joinup version removes complexities

      Making it easier for users to find what they are looking for, that is a key feature of next weeks’ update of Joinup, the European Commission’s collaboration platform for digital government professionals.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • 9 open source license management rules for startups

      Open source software can be a double-edged sword for startups. It can be a startup’s lifeblood, because it helps you innovate rapidly without starting from scratch. But, as they say, open source software is free like a puppy is free: The true cost of open source software is obeying open source licenses.

      Misuse of open source software can delay or derail investment and corporate exit opportunities. But you can easily comply with open source licenses if you follow these simple rules.

    • Open Source Pioneer Bruce Perens: Facebook’s New GraphQL License Too Restrictive

      Less than a week ago, I published an opinion that the uncertainty around Facebook’s plans for licensing the GraphQL API specfication meant it was time to halt all GraphQL API development until Facebook was more forthcoming about its intentions. That analysis was published in the wake of some significant controversy surrounding Facebook’s choice to license its React framework using a license called BSD+Patents. There is a BSD+Patents license listed as one of the official open source licenses that’s endorsed by the Open Source Initiative. However, Facebook’s patent grant that went with the license was deemed to be too restrictive such that two influenctial members of the open source community — the Apache Software Foundation and WordPress founer Matt Mullengweg — openly rejected it.

      [...]

      However not everyone agrees and one person who says that the OWFa 1.0 license is still too restrictive when it comes to adopting GraphQL is Bruce Perens, one of the co-founders of the open source software movement and the original author of the official open source definition. In my interview of Perens, he points out that there’s a proviso in section 8.6 that deems implementations of GraphQL as compliant “so long as all required portions of the Specification are implemented.” In other words, if you find something in the specification that you don’t need for your implementation and you leave it out, you’ve also lost your license to use the spec. According to Perens, there’s a “middle ground” that Facebook should try instead. I’ve reached out to Facebook and am still awaiting comment. In the mean time, watch the interview, or, if you prefer, you can listen to or download the audio version as well.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

Leftovers

  • The Coming Software Apocalypse

    There were six hours during the night of April 10, 2014, when the entire population of Washington State had no 911 service. People who called for help got a busy signal. One Seattle woman dialed 911 at least 37 times while a stranger was trying to break into her house. When he finally crawled into her living room through a window, she picked up a kitchen knife. The man fled.

    The 911 outage, at the time the largest ever reported, was traced to software running on a server in Englewood, Colorado. Operated by a systems provider named Intrado, the server kept a running counter of how many calls it had routed to 911 dispatchers around the country. Intrado programmers had set a threshold for how high the counter could go. They picked a number in the millions.

  • Deus ex machina: former Google engineer is developing an AI god

    Intranet service? Check. Autonomous motorcycle? Check. Driverless car technology? Check. Obviously the next logical project for a successful Silicon Valley engineer is to set up an AI-worshipping religious organization.

    Anthony Levandowski, who is at the center of a legal battle between Uber and Google’s Waymo, has established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future, according to state filings first uncovered by Wired’s Backchannel. Way of the Future’s startling mission: “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Homeopathic detox: Med school quietly flushes quack science after criticism

      University of California, Irvine—a school long known for embracing “alternative medicine”—has undergone a potent detox: the clinical arm of the institution quietly flushed homeopathy from its online list of medical services, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

    • As Broadband Usage Caps Expand, Nobody Is Checking Whether Usage Meters Are Reliable

      Despite the hype surrounding Google Fiber and gigabit connections, vast swaths of the U.S. broadband industry are actually becoming less competitive than ever. As large telcos like Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink, and Verizon refuse to upgrade aging DSL lines at any scale, they’re effectively giving cable providers a growing monopoly over broadband in countless markets. And these companies are quickly rushing to take advantage of this dwindling competition by imposing entirely arbitrary, confusing and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees in these captive markets.
      The benefits of these pricey limitations are two fold: they allow cable providers to not only jack up the price of service, but they’re an incredible weapon against the looming threat of streaming video competition. Caps and overage fees make using streaming alternatives notably more expensive, helping to protect legacy TV revenues. But cable operators are also exempting their own streaming services from these caps (as Comcast did with the launch of its own, new streaming platform this week), while still penalizing competitors. This kind of behavior is just one of several reasons why net neutrality rules are kind of important.

    • UK’s top supplier of supermarket chicken fiddles food safety dates

      The largest supplier of chicken to UK supermarkets has been tampering with food safety records in moves that could dupe consumers into buying meat past its use-by date.

      An investigation by the Guardian and ITV News recorded undercover footage of workers altering the slaughter date of poultry being processed at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant. The group produces a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK and supplies top grocers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl.

      When informed of the evidence, all five retailers responded to say they would launch immediate investigations.

    • In Midst of Opioid Crisis, an Addiction Medication Program for Federal Prisons Fizzles

      In the spring of 2014, as rising rates of opioid misuse and fatal overdoses were capturing the nation’s attention, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was working on a national initiative to expand access to addiction medications known as medication-assisted treatments, or MATs. The ONDCP had just come under the direction of Michael Botticelli, President Obama’s new drug czar, whose background in public health rather than law enforcement signaled to some that a shift was happening in federal drug policy.

      A memo circulating among top staff at the Bureau of Prisons at the time stated that the White House was “eager” to include federal prisoners in its national drug treatment initiative. The federal prison system’s substance abuse programs were not working for the vast majority of prisoners with opioid use disorders, so, the memo said, MAT should be provided as an additional option in federal prisons for the first time. A small number of jails and state prisons already had MAT programs, and the ONDCP had pushed for a federal program since late 2013.

    • Disparity In Access To Medicines Spurs “Humanitarian” Patent Licensing [Ed: So they grab monopolies, denying access to drugs, then relinquishing/lowing price, calling themselves altruistic]

      “There are shameful access disparities around the world” to life-saving medicines, Harvard University Global Access in Action project Co-Director Quentin Palfrey said at a 26 September Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, DC. And while some of the challenges to fuller access involve pricing, getting medicines to poorer countries or populations means overcoming the obstacles of insufficient research and development (R&D) incentives, access barriers and polarised politics, he said.

    • Use Competition Law For Wider Access To Cheap Medicines?

      The topic of access to medicines has gained momentum in recent years as high prices of new medicines affect developing countries and developed countries. The role of competition legislation in preventing market abuses and monopoly situations has been pointed to as a possible lever to facilitate access to generic medicines and balance the potential negative effects of intellectual property protection.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • While US, North Korea Both Make Threats, Only One Has Killed Millions of the Other’s People

      For the consumer of US corporate media, the idea of a nuclear armed North Korea is a terrifying threat. Almost every day for the last two weeks, print and television media have amped up the potential danger of a devastating military strike from the isolated peninsular nation.

      “North Korea Keeps Up Its Provocations,” read a headline at The Atlantic (9/14/17). “North Korea Threatens to ‘Sink’ Japan, Reduce US to ‘Ashes and Darkness,’” reported CNBC (9/14/17). Vox (9/22/17) told readers “Why North Korea’s Latest Threats Are Far More Serious Than Its Typical Bluster.”

      The North Korean government is not operating in a vacuum. Yet the reasons for North Korea’s militarization—the country has the fourth largest army in the world—and the historical context for its conflict with the United States are seldom honestly discussed in corporate media.

      The Korean War, in which the United States invaded the North on behalf of South Korea, claimed the lives of over 2 million North Koreans. The US dropped as many munitions as it had dropped on the entire Pacific Theater in World War II—a four-year conflict ranging over tens of millions of square miles, as opposed to the 46,541 square miles of North Korea—and the war has never been officially ended.

    • What Went Wrong With France’s Deradicalization Program?

      When Vallat returned to France in 1994, he began visiting a Salafi mosque his GIA friends had recommended. Salafism, an ultraconservative, fundamentalist strain of Islam that aspires to emulate the Prophet Mohammed and return to the religion’s supposed original ways, has been known to breed jihadists. At the mosque, he was told that modern-day Islam was a domesticated product of colonization, and that true Islam was that of combatants, of sacrifice, of blood. Anyone opposing the jihadists must be annihilated, he was told. He read the Koran and began learning Arabic.

      Several months later, Vallat left France for an al-Qaeda base camp in Taliban-controlled territory in Khalden, Afghanistan, where he trained alongside Chinese, English, Yemeni, Malian, Turkish, Tunisian, Algerian and Filipino fighters in the “wild west,” as he called it: no state, no laws, just tanks, guns, and explosives. “There, they think only about death—how to kill and who to kill,” Vallat said.

    • Ex-Drone Warrior: Don’t Give the CIA Authority to Deploy Killer Robots in Afghanistan

      I used to work in the United States drone program. I did not “push the button” or guide the missiles, but I was one of the many faceless technicians who executed the so-called War on Terror from my home state of California. What I learned during my time in the Air Force drone program ultimately made me want to leave it in 2012: The U.S. drone program is immense and powerful in its scope, and in urgent need of more extensive transparency, oversight, and accountability.

      Since the drone program began, the U.S. military has been keen on keeping data related to it under wraps. Due to the near-absence of official information, drone strike statistics answer few questions and raise many more. For example, when the Obama administration released the first official estimates of those killed in strikes during President Obama’s presidency, they only included those that took place outside the conventional wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, leaving human rights advocates and media organizations trying to fill in the blanks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘The last place on Earth’: how Sumatra’s rainforest is being cleared for palm oil

      A palm oil company is continuing to clear forest in a fast-diminishing elephant habitat in Indonesia’s Leuser ecosystem despite being the subject of two reports into illegal deforestation, according to a prominent environmental organisation.

      The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) published a study in July accusing plantation owner PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) of growing oil palms on illegally deforested land in the Leuser ecosystem, in Aceh province, northern Sumatra.

      This was the second time in six months that the company had been accused by RAN of clearing rainforests in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The NGO stepped up its focus on ABN’s nearly 2,000 hectare (4,942 acres) concession, which sits within the Leuser ecosystem, after the Aceh government banned forest clearance for palm oil plantations in the area in June 2016.

      Since the Guardian reported on the investigation, the remaining forest in ABN’s nearly 2,000 hectare concession has been reduced from 420 hectares to just 54 hectares. RAN says its latest evidence from satellite imagery and field reports shows ABN cleared 18 hectares of forest in June and razed another 12 hectares in July, seemingly ignoring concerns from campaigners, government and businesses further down the supply chain.

    • Underwater in Puerto Rico: Islanders Struggle With Debt While Desperate for Hurricane Relief

      Today we bring you a conversation with Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota. Morillo is originally from Puerto Rico, and offers his thoughts on how to wrest control of Puerto Rico from Wall Street and how to best assist islanders devastated by hurricanes. He also talks about Target workers winning a $15 minimum-wage victory.

    • Irma and María: Shedding Light on Puerto Rico’s Colonial Reality

      But Puerto Rico is no stranger to crisis. Before Irma’s and María’s devastating pitstops in the Archipelago, Puerto Rico was (and still is, even more so now) undergoing one of the most detrimental financial and socio-political crises of its contemporary history. With an unaudited $74 billion debt under its belt, and $49 billion in pension obligations, with decades of illegal bond issuances and trades and an overly-advertised tax haven, Puerto Rico was/is almost literally drowning. Neoliberal policies, such as draconian budget cuts and extreme austerity measures, have been in the works towards the precarization of Puerto Rican livelihood. Governor Rosselló, an unelected and antidemocratic Fiscal Control Board, and Judge Laura Taylor Swain are all trying to oversee and command Puerto Rico simultaneously, going back and forth on the Archipelago’s fiscal management and debt restructuring processes.

    • Scientific Study Predicts Global Mass Extinction Event Possible by 2100

      The planet has experienced five mass extinction events. The worst, the Permian Mass Extinction event 252 million years ago, annihilated more than 95 percent of all life on Earth. It coincided with a significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

      The Permian Mass Extinction is the perfect example of what happens when you inject too much CO2 into the atmosphere. The way in which the oceans absorbed this CO2, and subsequently acidified, was the primary kill mechanism for that event.

  • Finance

    • Ads don’t work so websites are using your electricity to pay the bills

      Pirate Bay and Showtime turned to forcing unknowing visitors to mine cryptocurrency, using computers rather than eyeballs on ads to generate money

    • Lawyers Gearing Up To Hit UK With Corporate Sovereignty Claims Totalling Billions Of Dollars Over Brexit

      We’re not hearing much about corporate sovereignty — also known as “investment state dispute settlement” (ISDS) — these days. It’s definitely still a problem, especially for smaller countries. But the big fights over the inclusion of corporate sovereignty chapters in the two global trade deals — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — have been put on hold for the moment. That’s for the simple reason that both TPP and TTIP are in a kind of limbo following the election of Donald Trump as US President with his anti-free trade platform.

    • Lloyd’s of London eyes £3.4bn hit from hurricane claims

      Lloyd’s of London says it is expecting net losses of $4.5bn (£3.4bn) on policies covering the Caribbean and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

      The world’s largest specialist insurance market forecast a surge in claims from wild weather events in the second half of the year following a benign first six months of 2017.

    • IAB Tech Lab investigates blockchain’s potential with new working group

      IAB Tech Lab has launched a Blockchain Working Group to investigate different applications of blockchain technology and establish standards and best practices for the digital advertising industry, according to a company blog post. As part of the project, IAB Tech Lab will solicit feedback from different industry players as it does for other successful initiatives like its Content Taxonomy Standards.

    • A Gift to Rich Families Like His, Trump’s Push to Repeal Estate Tax Denounced as ‘Shameful’

      In President Donald Trump’s sales pitch for his newly-unveiled tax plan on Wednesday, he told a crowd in Indianapolis that the proposal includes “historic tax relief” for middle-income Americans. But a key tenet of the plan is the repeal of the estate tax, which would only offer a tax break to the wealthiest Americans. A group of millionaires are among those speaking out against the repeal.

      The Patriotic Millionaires denounced the Bush-era tax cuts, and now they’re back with a letter to Congress, demanding that it uphold the estate tax. The tax, they say “was introduced a century ago when economic inequality had reached such historic levels that it was considered a threat to national stability. We suffer the same level of imbalance today, making preservation of the estate tax a top priority for patriotic Americans.”

      Only about 5,000 families—or 0.2 percent of Americans—pay the estate tax, as it only applies to fortunes greater than $5.5 million that are transferred or inherited. In a video posted to social media, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) explained the tax, which if kept in place would generate $275 billion in revenue by 2026, and what a repeal would really mean for working families.

    • If Trump were really President, he’d Forgive Puerto Rico’s Debts and Rescue it

      I’m not sure what Donald Trump thinks the job of president consists of. One task is to swing into action when 3.4 million Americans are living without electricity, 40% of them without potable water, and hundreds of thousands without shelter. When some 80% of its agricultural crops were wiped out. This is an apocalyptic scenario. We can’t even know what is going on very much because there is no wifi most places. Some entire towns haven’t been heard from! A dam may fail, endangering 70,000 people. It will take decades to rebuild.

      As Daniel Gross (@grossdm) wrote on Twitter, “More US citizens live in Puerto Rico than live in the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska combined. I don’t see Congress lifting a finger.”

    • Trump’s strategy for selling his tax reform plan is to outright lie about it

      The tax reform plan Donald Trump announced yesterday (pdf) is a dream for many of his wealthy Republican backers. It will likely let them keep millions of dollars away from the Treasury by eliminating the alternative minimum tax (which essentially prevents rich people from claiming too many tax breaks) and the estate tax, while slashing the rates rate paid by corporations and by the richest individuals.
      It’s not going to work out so well for two other crucial constituencies, however: GOP deficit hawks and Trump’s millions of working-class voters.

    • Toxic effects of Brexit being felt as relationships fracture

      Speaking at last week’s Dublin Economics Workshop in Wexford, financial writer and commentator Frances Coppola spoke of how Brexit had reactivated atavistic forces on both sides of the English channel.

      There was a faction in the Brexit camp, she said, that was pushing for a hard Brexit, not to further the UK’s independence from the EU, but in the hope that a disorderly departure might damage, or even unravel, the European project.

      Equally, there were forces in Europe that were revelling in casting the UK in the role of Ozymandias, Shelley’s poetic metaphor for a doomed empire.

    • Target’s $15 an hour move ‘blows up’ minimum wage myths
    • Chicago’s Bankruptcy Boom

      ProPublica’s analysis of racial disparities in bankruptcy revealed a skyrocketing number of filings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. But most of the cases will fall apart before the debts are wiped away.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook against Trump attack
    • Mark Zuckerberg: I regret ridiculing fears over Facebook’s effect on election

      Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted dismissing concerns about the Facebook’s role in influencing the US presidential race, his latest acknowledgement that misinformation on the platform has affected elections.

    • Prankster tricks Jared Kushner’s lawyer into believing he had Lego fetish porn on his private server

      Jared “Go Daddy” Kushner is in the news for using his private server to conduct White House business. It’s only a crime if you are a Democrat, so he has nothing to worry about, but that didn’t stop prankster @sinon_reborn from convincing Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, that he was Kushner and had been emailing porn through the server.

    • Republican Governors Association Sets Up Partisan News Site & Forgets To Tell Anyone As It Pumps Out ‘News’

      I like to assume that everyone is as tired as I am of the term “fake news.” The term, which once seemed to have a fairly coherent meaning, has since been co-opted by pretty much everyone to mean any number of things that mostly amount to “news I don’t like.” That’s incredibly annoying, as is all of the partisan mold that has grown upon this now dead and useless term.
      That said, one does struggle to find different terminology to use when referring to a very strange thing the Republican Governors Association did when it set up a site that purported to be a “news site”, but which only served as a GOP governors propaganda outfit, while forgetting to tell anyone who was behind it all.

    • With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons

      ONE OF THE most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

      A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

    • Spanish legal experts critical of state response to referendum

      Legal experts in Spain have harshly criticized the response of the central government and the state attorney general to the independence referendum planned for October 1. In an article in ‘El País’ newspaper on Tuesday, former high court judge, Baltasar Garzón, accused Mariano Rajoy’s government of using legal prosecution as “a weapon” in what he considers “an abusive use of the institutions, especially the courts.”

      Nor is Garzón alone in his criticisms of the state authorities. According to the spokesman of an association representing Spanish judges, the attorney general’s actions are “totally disproportionate and putting fundamental rights at risk.” Talking on the Antena 3 television channel, the spokesman for Judges for Democracy (Jueces para la Democracia in Spanish), Ignacio González Vega, said that the attorney general’s comments on ordering the arrest of Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, were “threatening” and merely “add fuel to the fire.”

    • Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?

      LAST FRIDAY, most major media outlets touted a major story about Russian attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems, based exclusively on claims made by the Department of Homeland Security. “Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, officials said Friday,” began the USA Today story, similar to how most other outlets presented this extraordinary claim.

      [...]

      They were one small step away from demanding that the election results be nullified, indulging the sentiment expressed by #Resistance icon Carl Reiner the other day: “Is there anything more exciting that the possibility of Trump’s election being invalidated & Hillary rightfully installed as our President?”

      So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false.

    • Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives
    • A top Democratic senator briefed by Twitter on Russia and the 2016 election called the company’s explanation ‘frankly inadequate’

      Sen. Mark Warner delivered a full verbal lashing of Twitter on Thursday for providing “inadequate” details to Congress about the misinformation spread on its platform by Russian sources during the 2016 presidential election.

      Hours after Twitter briefed Warner’s aides and others on the Senate Intelligence Committee — a panel that is investigating the Kremlin’s potential meddling in U.S. politics — Warner said he felt that Twitter did not grasp the seriousness of the panel’s probe.

      At issue for Warner is the fact Twitter searched its records based only on information already unearthed by Facebook.

    • Russia investigation to probe “foul corners” of 4Chan and Reddit

      A congressional committee probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election could broaden its investigation to look at Reddit and 4Chan as potential tools of clandestine activity, according to a congressional aide.

    • Supreme Court’s Gorsuch criticized over Trump hotel speech

      President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch gave a speech to a conservative group on Thursday at a hotel in which Trump has a financial interest, drawing criticism from protesters outside the building and the top Senate Democrat.

      About 50 demonstrators appeared outside the Trump International Hotel located just blocks from the White House, saying Gorsuch’s speech called into question his impartiality as the high court potentially weighs cases involving the Republican president, including some involving the hotel itself.

      “There’s a reason we questioned his independence during his confirmation hearings,” Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

    • President Trump, We’ll See You in the Supreme Court
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DC Court Says Metro Police Need Warrants To Deploy Stingrays

      Another warrant requirement for Stingray use has been established. Again, it’s not a federal decision, so jurisdiction is limited, but there’s now another case to cite when fighting warrantless Stingray use in federal courts.

      This decision comes from the DC Appeals Court (very much not the DC Circuit Court of Appeals). The case involves the Metro PD’s use of a Stingray to track two phones: the suspect’s and one he had stolen. The lower court handed the government a win. After pointing out there was plenty of time (around 10 hours between report of crime and Stingray deployment) to obtain a warrant (thus no exigent circumstances exception), the court decided the evidence derived from the tracking fell into the “inevitable discovery” exception since the tracking of the stolen phone would have led officers to the suspect.

      The problem is the officers testifying for the Metro PD could not say for sure which phone they were tracking: the suspect’s or the phone he had allegedly stolen from the victim. The lower court cut the cops some slack, allowing for the possibility of they were tracking a phone (the victim’s) the suspect had no privacy interest in.

    • Org response to conviction of Cage Director for terror offences

      ORG has responded to the conviction of Cage Director Muhammad Rabbani, who was found guilty of terror offences for refusing to hand over passwords to the police at Heathrow airport.

    • Accused NSA Leaker Stuffed NSA Report in Her Pantyhose: Docs
    • ‘I felt really hopeless’: NSA leak suspect Reality Winner explains why she smuggled a classified report

      A redacted transcript of an interview between FBI agents and Reality Winner, the 25-year old NSA contractor who allegedly leaked a classified report to a news outlet, revealed that she smuggled the report out of the NSA complex in Fort Gordon, Georgia by folding it into her pantyhose.

    • Alleged NSA leaker told FBI she stuffed documents in her pantyhose, feds say

      A young woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets to a news organization told FBI agents she was frustrated with her job as a government contractor when she tucked a classified report into her pantyhose and smuggled it out of a National Security Agency office in Georgia, according to court records.

    • Accused NSA leaker was angry over Fox News always being on in the office
    • Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose
    • Accused NSA leaker told feds she smuggled docs in pantyhose
    • Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose
    • NSA Leaker Told FBI That She Was Triggered By Fox News Being On At Her Workplace
    • Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner says she smuggled classified docs in her pantyhose: Documents
    • Reality Winner Tells FBI How She Smuggled Documents Out of NSA
    • Superaccurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018

      We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the highway, just as Google Maps instructed, when Siri tells you to “proceed east for one-half mile, then merge onto the highway.” But you’re already on the highway. After a moment of confusion and perhaps some rude words about Siri and her extended AI family, you realize the problem: Your GPS isn’t accurate enough for your navigation app to tell if you’re on the highway or on the road beside it.

      Those days are nearly at an end. At the ION GNSS+ conference in Portland, Ore., today Broadcom announced that it is sampling the first mass-market chip that can take advantage of a new breed of global navigation satellite signals and will give the next generation of smartphones 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5 meters. Even better, the chip works in a city’s concrete canyons, and it consumes half the power of today’s generation of chips. The chip, the BCM47755, has been included in the design of some smartphones slated for release in 2018, but Broadcom would not reveal which.

    • How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number

      Just a few years ago, sending encrypted messages was a challenge. Just to get started, you had to spend hours following along with jargon-filled tutorials, or be lucky enough to find a nerd friend to teach you. The few that survived this process quickly hit a second barrier: They could only encrypt with others who had already jumped through the same hoops. So even after someone finally set up encrypted email, they couldn’t use it with most of the people they wanted to send encrypted emails to.

      The situation is much better today. A number of popular apps have come along that make encryption as easy as texting. Among the most secure is Signal, open-source software for iOS and Android that has caught on among activists, journalists, and others who do sensitive work. And probably the most popular is WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned platform with encryption setup derived from Signal. For me, the spread of encrypted chat apps means that, with very few exceptions, all of my text messages — with friends, family, or for work — are end-to-end encrypted, and no one even has to understand what a “public key” is.

      But there is a major issue with both Signal and WhatsApp: Your account is tied to your phone number.

    • Stunning: Taser wants to turn the public and their smartphones into its big data posse of police informants

      The submission of tips from the public isn’t new, or in itself necessarily problematic. What is more troubling here is the fact that Axon wants to become the gatekeeper for such information, encouraging the public to send photos and videos to the company, which will then forward them to the police. That begs the question whether all such public tips will be passed on automatically. For example, suppose a video showed police brutality – perhaps using one of Taser’s weapons to shock or even kill people, a common enough occurrence, as a major Reuters report revealed. Would Axon pass on that possibly incriminating evidence as a matter of course, or does it reserve the right to use its “discretion” in such cases?

    • U.S. to Collect Social Media Data of Immigrants
    • Trump Creates Second-Class Citizens

      It’s interesting that the constitution of USA will be side-stepped again by regulation rather than modifying the constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Juggalos’ fight for freedom

      The ICP thought it was a hoot at first. But it soon got serious. Juggalos have been fired from their jobs for liking the ICP on Facebook. Others lost custody of their kids, couldn’t join the army or were harassed by the police. An ICP ‘Hatchetman’ decal on your car can be enough for the police to search it. And Juggalos who commit crimes can be slapped with years of extra time.

    • Federal Judge Says Indiana’s Vehicle Forfeiture Laws Are Unconstitutional

      The case springs from an arrest and seizure made last September when the plaintiff was pulled over by Indianapolis law enforcement. Finding a small amount of marijuana on the driver, the Indy PD felt justified in claiming his entire vehicle as its own. Not content to be screwed out of a car for his personal use stash, Leroy Washington enlisted the help of defense lawyer Jeff Cardella. They filed a class action lawsuit challenging the state’s forfeiture law on behalf of the hundreds of drivers whose cars have ended up in the possession of Indiana law enforcement — all without being convicted of any criminal activity.

      Seizing cars is something Indiana law enforcement does frequently. According to the stats quoted by the judge, the state seizes around 11 cars a week. Once the vehicles are in the law enforcement’s possession, drivers are forbidden from seeking to regain their property until the state says it’s OK to do so. And it’s generally in no hurry to do so. It can hold the vehicle for six months before starting forfeiture proceedings, forcing car owners to find other transportation while their vehicles sit in impound lots.

    • Embracing New Cultures: Sweden Condones Child Marriage for Immigrants

      Despite clearly contradicting Swedish law, underage immigrant wives have been repeatedly allowed to stay with their husbands by Sweden’s local municipalities, which defend their decisions by citing humanitarian issues.
      An immigrant crisis of unprecedented proportions has brought with it problems which Sweden hadn’t known previously, such as polygamy and underage brides. Recently, two juvenile immigrant girls in Karlskrona were reported to be staying with their husbands. Neither of the girls was separated from their adult men, even though minors are not allowed to tie the knot in Sweden.

      One of the cases involves an underage wife who came to Karlskrona with her husband and a small child. In the other case, the girl was pregnant upon arrival. Despite these obvious violations of Swedish law, Karlskrona Social Committee chairperson Ingrid Hermansson of the Center Party defended the municipality’s decision. The rule of the thumb in such cases, the community acts “for the child’s best” interest.

    • Corporate Media Analysts’ Indifference to US Journalists Facing 70 Years in Prison

      It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prison for the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)

    • Judge Peels Off Layer of CIA Torture Secrecy

      Nearly three years after the Senate chronicled how the CIA tortured detainees, a federal judge ordered the government Wednesday to disclose certain documents referenced in the report.

      The American Civil Liberties Union’s attorney Dror Ladin applauded another crack in the secrecy of the discredited CIA program.

      “We’re very pleased that the court rejected the CIA’s attempt to hide records concerning the agency’s unlawful actions,” Ladin said. “It’s essential that the public learn the full truth of the shameful torture carried out in our name.”

      On Dec. 9, 2014, the U.S. government revealed only a heavily redacted, 524-page summary of a study carried out by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the CIA detention and interrogation program.

    • Ten Facts About Torture

      The United States must never again resort to the use of torture. Here are ten facts about torture that everyone must know.

    • FBI has 1,000 open investigations into violent white supremacy, domestic terror: Agency chief
    • Donald Trump is a ‘racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser’, says Labour MP

      Donald Trump is a “racist Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathiser”, a Labour MP has said.

      David Lammy, a former higher education minister, vowed to “chain myself to the door of Number 10” if plans to welcome the US President on a state visit to the UK go ahead.

      Mr Lammy wrote on Twitter: “If Trump comes to the UK I will be out protesting on the streets. He is a racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser.”

    • Police Chief Takes To Facebook To Complain About A Journalist Committing Journalism

      Cops and the press can be best friends. In some cases, they are. Anytime an officer shoots or beats someone, at least one obliging outlet steps up to publish the department’s statement as well as any criminal history they’ve been able to dig up on the shooting/beating victim. And if the police aren’t willing to turn over criminal records, some outlets will do the heavy lifting for them.

      But they can also be antagonists. Generally speaking, law enforcement is a closed shop. It usually takes diligent efforts by journalists to pry loose documents pertaining to misconduct or misbehavior. State laws tend to make this more difficult than it should be by granting law enforcement agencies tons of public records exemptions.

      It’s this strained relationship being highlighted in an incredibly ill-advised Facebook post by the Aurora (IL) Police Department, penned by police chief Kristen Ziman. As Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery pointed out on Twitter, it’s not every day you witness a police department berate a journalist for practicing journalism.

    • ‘Without Investment, People of Color Never Will Be Able to Catch Up’

      The piece ends with a source’s comment that this is “unambiguously good news.” Somewhere in between, you might catch the notes that “inequality remains high” and “yawning racial disparities remain,” but the story’s framing encourages you to see those as asterisks.

      Much media coverage presents the economic well-being of non-white Americans as an afterthought, or a tangent from an overall picture. And if those groups’ fortunes are out of step with those of white people, the implication is that they’ll catch up with time. Whatever positive trends there are will naturally “trickle down” to them at some point. But this implication is wrong, and it would be important to understand why it’s wrong, even if black and Latinx people were not on course to be the country’s majority.

    • Police Union Complains That Public Got to See Them Roughing Up Utah Nurse

      The head of the Salt Lake Police Association has watched the country’s outrage over the videos showing a nurse getting arrested for refusing to draw a man’s blood without a warrant and has decided the correct response is to complain that the public got to see what its officers did.

      Union head Stephen Hartney sent a letter to the city’s mayor and police chief to complain video of the brief arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels has made “pariahs” of Det. Jeff Payne and his watch commander at the time of the incident, Lt. James Tracy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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