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12.07.17

Links 7/12/2017: Qt 5.10, ReactOS 0.4.7, Guix and GuixSD 0.14.0

Posted in News Roundup at 3:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux then, and why you should learn it now

    It started back in 1983 with another operating system known as UNIX, first released in 1971. In 1983, the GNU Project was started to create a complete UNIX-compatible operating system, but the project was stalled and had a missing kernel. Around 1987, a UNIX-like operating system for students was released called MINIX, but its licensing prevented it from being distributed freely. Irritated by the licensing of MINIX, Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki began working on his own operating system kernel. His kernel was released in 1991, and when combined with the GNU components and open source licensing, it became the Linux operating system we know today.

  • 2018: The year of the open source desktop, browser, and office suite

    It was last year, around this same time, that I predicted a monumental year for open source in 2017. I even went so far as to say open source would finally pass the 5% market share on the desktop. There was a moment when it looked like that was actually going to happen, only to find out it was a bit of false reporting. Even without hitting that magic number, Linux and open source had a stellar year.

    Will that success hold over to the upcoming year? I believe it will, and then some. Let’s gaze into that always questionable crystal ball and see what kind of predictions we can come up with for Linux and open source.

  • Desktop

    • Everything In Its Right Place

      Back in July, I wrote about trying to get Endless OS working on DVDs. To recap: we have published live ISO images of Endless OS for a while, but until recently if you burned one to a DVD and tried to boot it, you’d get the Endless boot-splash, a lot of noise from the DVD drive, and not much else. Definitely no functioning desktop or installer!

      I’m happy to say that Endless OS 3.3 boots from a DVD. The problems basically boiled down to long seek times, which are made worse by data not being arranged in any particular order on the disk. Fixing this had the somewhat unexpected benefit of improving boot performance on fixed disks, too. For the gory details, read on!

  • Server

    • Running storage services on Kubernetes

      If you are looking to adopt the benefits of containers, introduce and support a DevOps culture in your organization, run micro-services or in general try to get corporate IT to provide more immediate value to the business by shortening the time to market, you will at least evaluate Kubernetes. When you adopt it, it won’t be long until stateful applications find their way into the cluster—and with that the need for robust, persistent storage. Will databases be among those applications? Very likely. Or workloads, that share large content repositories or such that consume object storage? In either of those cases, you should definitely take a look at gluster-kubernetes.

    • Bitnami Introduces Kubeapps for Click and Deploy Kubernetes Containers

      At KubeCon, Bitnami demonstrated a tool for deploying pre-packaged Kubernetes containers with the click of a mouse.

    • CoreOS Tectonic 1.8 unites container management across clouds

      Kubernetes is now — no question about it — the dominant cloud orchestration program. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) giving Kubernetes native support, all major clouds now support Kubernetes. This means more than just you can use the same program to manage your containers on different clouds. It also means you can use Kubernetes to manage all your containers on all your clouds in a single, cohesive fashion. This is what CoreOS brings to the table, with its latest release of Tectonic.

    • New Open Platform Helps Enterprises Manage Their Own Cloud Services

      CoreOS on Tuesday announced the release of Tectonic 1.8, a Kubernetes container management platform. Tectonic enables enterprises to deploy key automation infrastructure components that function like managed cloud services without cloud vendor lock-in.

      The CoreOS Open Cloud Services Catalog offers an alternative to cloud vendors’ proprietary services and APIs — the equivalent of cloud-based offerings developed on open source technologies that enable customers to build their infrastructures within the hybrid environments of their choice.

    • What Tech Skills are Hot (React, Cloud) or Not (Linux, Tableau)

      It’s a good time to have experience in React, the JavaScript library used to create user interfaces, according to a study released this week by job search firm Indeed.com. Meanwhile, a growing number of job seekers are touting their Linux skills, but employers are less interested. And Python’s status is, well, complicated, the Indeed study showed.

      Indeed looked at the changes in search terms used by tech workers and by recruiters over the past two years, considering the October 2015 through September 2016 and October 2016 through September 2017 time periods. According to that analysis, React is up 313 percent year over year as a job seeker interest, and 229 percent as an employer interest. Cloud computing skills also appear to be blazingly hot, with interest in Amazon Web Services up 98 percent for job seekers and 40 percent for employers. Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform saw a 31-percent boost in searches by job seekers and a 62-percent jump for employers.

    • Open-Source Cloudify Delivers Multi-Stack Interoperability for Kubernetes & Robust Security, Bridging the Gap Between Application & Network Virtualization
    • Linux on Supercomputers

      Today, I did a presentation about Linux on Supercomputers at the Faculty of Industrial of UNMSM for its annivrsary. It was published the event in the Intranet of the School.

    • 7 Habits of Highly Successful Site Reliability Engineers

      In a recent post, we examined the rise of the Site Reliability Engineer in modern software organizations. But it’s one thing just to be called a SRE; we also wanted to know what it takes to become a great one.

      So we decided to look at some of the characteristics and habits common to highly successful SREs. As in most development and operations roles, first-class technical chops are obviously critical. For SREs, those specific skills might depend on how a particular organization defines or approaches the role: the Google approach to Site Reliability Engineering might require more software engineering and coding experience, whereas another organization might place a higher value on ops or QA skills. But as we found when we looked at what makes dev and ops practitioners successful, what sets the “great” apart from the “good enough” is often a combination of habits and traits that complement technical expertise.

    • Preparing your organization for a future built on blockchain

      In the first part of this review of Blockchain Revolution by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, I presented some of the ways the authors suggest blockchain technology will impact organizations. In particular, I examined the open organization principles (transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration, community) and the reasons we practice them (building a network of people dedicated to a purpose and sharing the same ethical standards, for example).

      [...]

      Open Networked Enterprises would best suit tasks that are high in complexity but low in repetition. At very low cost, smart contracts enable companies to craft clever, self-enforcing agreements with suppliers and partners. Collections of these agreements will start to resemble working networks, trusted company affiliations, or open organizations. In Blockchain Revolution, the authors mention the work of famous Harvard Professor Michael Porter with regard to this phenomenon. Porter considers these Open Networked Enterprises to have competitive advantages that are difficult to duplicate.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel Developer: Kees Cook

      Security is paramount these days for any computer system, including those running on Linux. Thus, part of the ongoing Linux development work involves hardening the kernel against attack, according to the recent Linux Kernel Development Report.

      This work, according to report authors Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman, involves the addition of several new technologies, many of which have their origin in the grsecurity and PaX patch sets. “New hardening features include virtually mapped kernel stacks, the use of the GCC plugin mechanism for structure-layout randomization, the hardened usercopy mechanism, and a new reference-count mechanism that detects and defuses reference-count overflows. Each of these features makes the kernel more resistant to attack,” the report states.

    • Unikraft: Unleashing the Power of Unikernels

      The team at NEC Laboratories Europe spent quite a bit of time over the last few years developing unikernels – specialized virtual machine images targeting specific applications. This technology is fascinating to us because of its fantastic performance benefits: tiny memory footprints (hundreds of KBs or a few MBs), boot times compared to those of processes or throughput in the range of 10-40 Gb/s, among many other attributes. Specific metrics can be found in these articles: “My VM is Lighter (and Safer) than your Container,” “Unikernels Everywhere: The Case for Elastic CDNs,” and “ClickOS and the Art of Network Function Virtualization.”

      The potential of unikernels is great (as you can see from the work above), but there hasn’t been a massive adoption of unikernels. Why? Development time. For example, developing Minipython, a MicroPython unikernel, took the better part of three months to put together and test. ClickOS, a unikernel for NFV, was the result of a couple of years of work.

    • SPDX identifiers in the kernel

      Observers of the kernel’s commit stream or mailing lists will have seen a certain amount of traffic referring to the addition of SPDX license identifiers to kernel source files. For many, this may be their first encounter with SPDX. But the SPDX effort has been going on for some years; this article describes SPDX, along with why and how the kernel community intends to use it.

      On its face, compliance with licenses like the GPL seems like a straightforward task. But it quickly becomes complicated for a company that is shipping a wide range of software, in various versions, in a whole set of different products. Compliance problems often come about not because a given company wants to flout a license, but instead because that company has lost track of which licenses it needs to comply with and for which versions of which software. SPDX has its roots in an effort that began in 2009 to help companies get a handle on what their compliance obligations actually are.

      It can be surprisingly hard to determine which licenses apply to a given repository full of software. The kernel’s COPYING file states that it can be distributed under the terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License. But many of the source files within the kernel tell a different story; some are BSD licensed, and many are dual-licensed. Some carry an exception to make it clear that user-space programs are not a derived product of the kernel. Occasionally, files with GPL-incompatible licenses have been found (and fixed).

    • 4.15 Merge window part 1

      When he released 4.14, Linus Torvalds warned that the 4.15 merge window might be shorter than usual due to the US Thanksgiving holiday. Subsystem maintainers would appear to have heard him; as of this writing, over 8,800 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline since the opening of the 4.15 merge window. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes found in that first set of patches.

    • 4.15 Merge window part 2

      Despite the warnings that the 4.15 merge window could be either longer or shorter than usual, the 4.15-rc1 prepatch came out right on schedule on November 26. Anybody who was expecting a quiet development cycle this time around is in for a surprise, though; 12,599 non-merge changesets were pulled into the mainline during the 4.15 merge window, 1,000 more than were seen in the 4.14 merge window. The first 8,800 of those changes were covered in this summary; what follows is a look at what came after.

    • BPF-based error injection for the kernel

      Diligent developers do their best to anticipate things that can go wrong and write appropriate error-handling code. Unfortunately, error-handling code is especially hard to test and, as a result, often goes untested; the code meant to deal with errors, in other words, is likely to contain errors itself. One way of finding those bugs is to inject errors into a running system and watching how it responds; the kernel may soon have a new mechanism for doing this sort of injection.

      As an example of error handling in the kernel, consider memory allocations. There are few tasks that can be performed in kernel space without allocating memory to work with. Memory allocation operations can fail (in theory, at least), so any code that contains a call to a function like kmalloc() must check the returned pointer and do the right thing if the requested memory was not actually allocated. But kmalloc() almost never fails in a running kernel, so testing the failure-handling paths is hard. It is probably fair to say that a large percentage of allocation-failure paths in the kernel have never been executed; some of those are certainly wrong.

    • Tools for porting drivers

      Out-of-tree drivers are a maintenance headache, since customers may want to use them in newer kernels. But even those drivers that get merged into the mainline may need to be backported at times. Coccinelle developer Julia Lawall introduced the audience at Open Source Summit Europe to some new tools that can help make both forward-porting and backporting drivers easier.

      She opened her talk by noting that she was presenting step one in her plans, she hoped to be able to report on step two next year some time. The problem she is trying to address is that the Linux kernel keeps moving on. A vendor might create a driver for the 4.4 kernel but, over the next six months, the kernel will have moved ahead by another two versions. There are lots of changes with each new kernel, including API changes that require driver changes to keep up.

      That means that vendors need to continually do maintenance on their drivers unless they get them upstream, where they will get forward-ported by the community. But the reverse problem is there as well: once a device becomes popular, customers may start asking for it to run with older kernels too. That means backporting.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Wants You To Help Test The i965 Mesa Shader Cache, Not Yet Enabled By Default

        Back in early November Intel finally landed its shader cache support for allowing GLSL shaders to be cached on-disk similar to the RadeonSI shader caching that has been present since earlier in the year. But this functionality isn’t yet enabled by default as it still needs more testing.

        Last month I covered some early test results of this Intel i965 Mesa shader on-disk cache within Intel’s Mesa GLSL Shader Cache Is Speeding Up Game Load Times. In my experiences thus far it’s been working out well but currently isn’t used by the Intel driver unless the MESA_GLSL_CACHE_DISABLE=0 environment variable is set.

      • 16-Bit Storage, variablePointers Land For ANV Vulkan Driver

        It’s always great waking up to new features landing in Mesa Git.

        For the past several months Igalia developers have been working on SPV_KHR_16bit_storage and VK_KHR_16bit_storage support for the Intel ANV Vulkan driver. As implied by the name, this is about supporting 16-bit data types in shader input/output interfaces and push constant blocks. This Vulkan “half float” support has now landed in Mesa Git across a number of patches affecting NIR, ANV, and the Intel shader compiler.

      • POCL 1.0 RC1 Adds Experimental CUDA Backend, Full OpenCL 1.2 Support

        One of the most exciting open-source OpenCL projects we have been following in recent years is POCL as “Portable C” for having an LLVM-based portable OpenCL implementation to run on CPUs as well as GPUs now via AMD HSA back-end and a new experimental NVIDIA CUDA back-end. The POCL 1.0 release is finally near.

      • First Batch Of AMDGPU Changes For Linux 4.16: DC Multi-Display Sync, Vega Tuning

        Alex Deucher of AMD sent in today their first batch of feature updates for Radeon/AMDGPU/TTM feature code for DRM-Next, which has already been queued, and will in turn land next year with the Linux 4.16 kernel.

      • Samsung Improving Cairo’s OpenGL ES 3.x Support, May Eye Vulkan In Future

        Back in September there were developers from Samsung’s Open-Source Group adding initial OpenGL ES 3.0 support to Cairo. The GLESv3 upbringing in Cairo is still ongoing and not yet fully vetted, but Bryce Harrington of Samsung OSG has now blogged about this effort.

        While there is the initial support for creating an OpenGL ES 3.0 context with Cairo, as Bryce explains in his new blog post, the work on GLES 3.0 for Cairo isn’t complete. Additional code is still to be written to leverage new GLES3 functionality and they originally started writing this code for their Tizen platform.

      • David Airlie Continues With Holiday Improvements For R600g

        Last month Red Hat developer David Airlie landed shader image support and other GL4 extension work for the R600 Gallium3D driver that is used for older, pre-GCN AMD graphics processors. For those still relying upon these aging GPUs, David Airlie is continuing with improvements on R600g this month.

        In between hacking on the RADV Vulkan driver, David has continued pushing more improvements to this Gallium3D driver that otherwise doesn’t see too much activity these days. In the past few days has been a number of R600 commits to Mesa 17.4-dev Git.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.10 Released Along With Qt Creator 4.5

        Qt 5.10 is now officially out as the half-year update to the Qt5 tool-kit.

        Qt 5.10 is arriving just a few days late and is a big feature update. Qt 5.10 features many improvements to Qt Quick and QML, initial Vulkan support, support for streaming Qt UIs to WebGL-enabled browsers, OpenGL ES improvements, new functionality in Qt 3D, a new QRandomGenerator as a “high quality” RNG, OpenSSL 1.1 support in Qt Network, embedded improvements, updated Qt WebEngine, and Qt Network Authentication for OAuth/OAuth2 support and Qt Speech for text-to-speech capabilities. There’s a whole lot more as well.

      • Qt Creator 4.5.0 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.5.0!

      • Qt 5.10 released

        I’m happy to let you all know that Qt 5.10 has just been released. Qt 5.10 comes with a ton of new functionalities that I’m thrilled to talk to you about.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Outreachy’s finally here !

        It’s been a month since the Outreachy Round 15 results were announced . Yay! my proposal for adding a network panel to GNOME Usage was selected. I am glad to be working on something I personally have been longing for. Moreover, I finally have something to cut down on my Xbox addiction and channelize it into bringing the network panel to life.

      • UTC and Anywhere on Earth support

        A quick post to tell you that we finally added UTC support to Clocks’ and the Shell’s World Clocks section. And if you’re into it, there’s also Anywhere on Earth support.

        You will need to have git master versions of libgweather (our cities and timezones database), and gnome-clocks. This feature will land in GNOME 3.28.

      • UX Hackfest London

        Last week I took part in the GNOME Shell UX Hackfest in London, along with other designers and developers from GNOME and adjacent communities such as Endless, Pop!, and elementary. We talked about big, fundamental things, like app launching and the lock/login screen, as well as some smaller items, like the first-run experience and legacy window decorations.

      • OARS Gets a New Home

        In the last few months it’s gone from being hardly used to being used multiple times an hour, probably due to the requirement that applications on Flathub need it as part of the review process. After some complaints, I’ve added a ton more explanation to each question and made it easier to use. In particular if you specify that you’re creating metadata for a “non-game” then 80% of the questions get hidden from view.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • POP!_OS – Ubuntu, bang, curtain

        POP!_OS is a rather average Gnome spin of a Gnome-based Ubuntu, which itself is a pale shadow of its former self. System76 did create their own operating system, but it is not drastic enough to warrant a special place in the charts as an independent entry – this is true for 94% of all distros – and not good enough in the first place. It does somewhat improve Aardvark, but it’s still a weak offering.

        We had hardware issues before we ever got into the live session, all sorts of hardware problems in the installed system, the ergonomics are awful, Samba performance is flaky, overall system responsiveness is average. Package management and updates are rather robust and good and so is smartphone support, but then you need Gnome extensions and codecs to really experience the desktop as it’s meant to be. All in all, you can accomplish all of this on your own in any which Gnome, or use something that actually has a sane layout and offers genuine productivity, like Plasma or Windows.

        This is an interesting experiment, but ultimately, I can’t see a reason why anyone would prefer this over stock Ubuntu (with Unity, a good ole 14.04 LTS), Plasma or even any other tailored Debian-based Gnome system. The differences aren’t large or important enough, and there are way too many bugs and issues, making it an even more difficult choice. Overall, POP!_OS deserves something like its 4/10 for its debut. There’s only so much you can do with a broken foundation. Well, let’s see how this one evolves. For now, skip.

      • Kali Linux Review: Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

        In this review of Kali Linux, we try to answer regular questions like what is Kali Linux, what is the use of Kali Linux and whether beginners should use Kali Linux or not?

    • New Releases

      • Lightweight Distro Puppy Linux 7.5 “Xenialpup” Released — Download Now

        If you take a look at our popular list of lightweight Linux distros, you’ll realize that Puppy Linux has found a place near the top. Packaged in small size, this Linux distro is known for its ability to be built using the packages from other distros like Ubuntu and Slackware. To help you revive your outdated machine, the developers of Puppy Linux have shipped the latest release.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Slackware Family

      • Security update for OpenJDK7

        IcedTea release manager Andrew Hughes (aka GNU/Andrew) announced the announced a new release for IcedTea. The version 2.6.12 builds OpenJDK 7u161_b01. This release includes the October 2017 security fixes for Java 7. The announcement page contains a list of the security issues that have been fixed with this release. It is recommended that you upgrade your OpenJDK 7 to the latest version. If you have already moved to Java 8 then this article is obviously not relevant for you.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the second alpha release of the installer for Debian 10 “Buster”.

      • Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 Released

        The Debian project has issued the second alpha release of the Debian Installer that eventually will be used by Debian 10.0 “Buster”.

        Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 was released today, three months after the initial installer alpha.

        The unattended-upgrades package is now installed by default for trying to ensure the automatic installation of security upgrades. The installer image now also makes use of the Linux 4.13 kernel, support for EXT4′s 64-bit feature in syslinux, new machine DB entries for some ARM boards, and various other updates.

      • My Free Software Activities in November 2017

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu History: Linux Evolves

            For many Linux users, it’s easy to forget what the Linux landscape looked like before Ubuntu. Back then, newbie centric distros didn’t have Ubuntu as their core. Instead, they relied exclusively on, with the exception of Mandriva (Mandrake). In this spirit of remembrance, I want to take a look back at Ubuntu through the years. With Ubuntu’s shift from the desktop into more of an enterprise future, the timing is fitting to see that at one time Ubuntu was very much a desktop focused experience. In the interest of keeping this article focused, I will be touching on Ubuntu releases that offered something unique and interesting to Ubuntu’s features.

          • Centralize Ubuntu server management on Landscape

            The Canonical Landscape tool brings together multiple servers under a centralized management system. It provides Ubuntu server, package and update management and control at scale. With options such as tags, Ubuntu administrators can group servers for updates and other changes.

            The Landscape system seems fit for Ubuntu administrators who need a simple way to manage infrastructure updates. While some more advanced features are not available, it has a smaller learning curve than other products that provide centralized server management, such as Red Hat Satellite. The price is also a low barrier to entry.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 – New Features, Release Date & More
          • Commercetools uses Ubuntu on its next-generation ecommerce platform

            Today’s shoppers are looking for a consistent experience, no matter which channels they use, whether smartphone, tablet, wearable, digital point of sale, (POS), or other. Commercetools helps enterprises to digitally transform their entire sales operations across all channels. The Software-as-a-Service approach, open source philosophy, and strong support of an API and microservices architecture of Commercetools enable the company’s customers to rapidly build highly individual shopping experiences for their own markets, without having to change their whole IT ecosystem in the process.

          • Kernel Team Summary – December 6, 2017

            Every 6 months the Ubuntu Kernel Team is tasked to pick the kernel to be used in the next release. This is a difficult thing to do because we don’t definitively know what will be going into the upstream kernel over the next 6 months nor the quality of that kernel. We look at the Ubuntu release schedule and how that will line up with the upstream kernel releases. We talk to hardware vendors about when they will be landing their changes upstream and what they would prefer as the Ubuntu kernel version. We talk to major cloud vendors and ask them what they would like. We speak to large consumers of Ubuntu to solicit their opinion. We look at what will be the next upstream stable kernel. We get input from members of the Canonical product strategy team. Taking all of that into account we are tentatively planning to converge on 4.15 for the Bionic Beaver 18.04 LTS release.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Getting started with Turtl, an open source alternative to Evernote

    Just about everyone I know takes notes, and many people use an online note-taking application like Evernote, Simplenote, or Google Keep. Those are all good tools, but you have to wonder about the security and privacy of your information—especially in light of Evernote’s privacy flip-flop of 2016. If you want more control over your notes and your data, you really need to turn to an open source tool.

    Whatever your reasons for moving away from Evernote, there are open source alternatives out there. Let’s look at one of those alternatives: Turtl.

  • ReactOS 0.4.7 released!

    The ReactOS Project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.4.7 as we continue to work on releasing every three months.

    We’re especially pleased to present this release as the very first one that’s been developed in our new Git/GitHub repository. Moving from Subversion to GitHub has proven to be an invaluable way to reach new testers, users and improve the overall awareness of the ReactOS project.

  • ReactOS 0.4.7 Released As The Latest For “Open-Source Windows”

    At the end of October ReactOS 0.4.7-RC1 was released as the newest test release for this open-source operating system project continuing to work on re-implementing the Windows APIs. That official v0.4.7 release is now available.

  • Iguazio releases high-speed serverless platform to open source

    Iguazio Systems Ltd. has raised $48 million and a lot of interest for its platform-independent approach to data analytics. Now the company is releasing some of the underlying serverless computing technology under an open-source license.

    Called nuclio, the platform is claimed to operate at faster-than-bare-metal speed, processing up to 400,000 events per second compared with 2,000 on Amazon Web Services Inc.’s Lambda platform, according to Yaron Haviv (pictured), founder and chief technology officer of iguazio. The application program interfaces that expose the serverless processes run between 30 and 100 times faster than on AWS, Haviv claimed.

  • Genomics AI tool: Google’s DeepVariant released as open source

    A novel artificial intelligence tool that can accurately call out variants in sequencing data was released as open source on the Google Cloud Platform yesterday. The tool, called DeepVariant, was developed during a collaboration between the Google Brain team and researchers from fellow-Alphabet subsidiary, Verily Life Sciences. The release was announced in a press release cross-posted to the Google Research blog and the Google Open Source blog.

  • Friday Hack Chat: Contributing To Open Source Development

    Open Source is how the world runs. Somewhere, deep inside the box of thinking sand you’re sitting at right now, there’s code you can look at, modify, compile, and run for yourself. At every point along the path between your router and the horrific WordPress server that’s sending you this webpage, there are open source bits transmitting bytes. The world as we know it wouldn’t exist without Open Source software.

  • What is really driving open source adoption?

    Open source has come of age. It now represents the fastest growing segment of enterprise IT initiative and it has become the lingua franca for developers.

    This growth and acceptance has occurred despite one of the initial rationales for businesses going the open source route – cost – barely playing a role in these decisions any more.

    As Mike Matchett, senior analyst and consultant at the US-based Taneja Group pointed out, when it comes to cost, open source doesn’t mean “free” in a real economic sense.

  • Oracle open sources Kubernetes deployment, multi-cluster management tools

    Oracle announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon it is open sourcing Fn project Kubernetes Installer and Global Multi-Cluster Management, two projects made to aid the development of the next generation of container native applications using Kubernetes.

    Kubernetes is a platform that allows developers to launch container clusters using advanced cloud native capabilities. Oracle originally released Fn, an open-source, cloud agnostic, serverless platform, in October. It comprises four main components, including Fn Server, Fn FDKs, Fn Flow and Fn Load Balancer. The Fn project Installer follows the foot trails of the Fn project, enabling developers to run serverless deployments on any Kubernetes environment.

  • 6 Best Open Source Reddit Alternatives You Must Visit

    A couple of months ago, Reddit announced its plans to stop sharing its main website’s open source code base. The website gave a number of reasons, which weren’t welcomed by the open source community. So, we’ve decided to prepare a list of some free and open source Reddit alternatives that you can give a try. Some of these aren’t much popular, but we thought it’s a good time to spread the world and tell you about these options.

  • Cumulus Networks brings its open source software stack to Voyager

    Telcos have witnessed many years of legacy, closed systems that have stunted development and made it costly to interconnect data centres and networks.The industry is now seeing the commoditisation of hardware and software and the use of open transparanet technologies to drive down costs and provide access to more people.

  • Events

    • KubeCon: CoreOS Tectonic, open source Kubernetes Tools from Oracle, Kasten, and more

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation kicked off their KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America conference, dedicated to Kubernetes and cloud native technologies, in Austin, Texas today with the announcement of 31 new members, including AppsCode, CA, Datadog, Grafana Labs, InfluxData, HPE and Kasten.

    • FAD I18N 2017

      FAD I18N 2017 was held in Pune India last month. Fedora I18N members met together and there was very exciting and constructive event.

      I talked about IBus 1.6 plans there. I’ve been thinking to implement a new ProcessKeyEvent method to support Korean preedit with X11 applications. Peng Wu now provided a patch of ForwardKeyEvent method instead of the new ProcessKeyEvent method. We will ask the maintainer of ibus-hangul to release the new version to use ForwardKeyEvent.

  • Web Browsers

  • Office Suites

    • OffiDocs, the online Linux environment is a free cloud service to use desktop apps like LibreOffice and GIMP with a web browser

      OffiDocs offers you a complete service so you can work in the cloud with your Linux desktop apps. Thanks to this online platform, you can develop your projects from anywhere and at any time just using your Internet browser.

    • SoftMaker Office 2018 for Linux reaches beta stage

      The German software developer, SoftMaker, has announced the public beta release of its SoftMaker Office 2018 for Linux package. The Linux release comes hot on the heels of the Windows version of the suite which launch just a few weeks ago. Users can expect a re-designed interface which allows users to work with classic menus or ribbons. The company also touts seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office.

    • LibreOffice vs. WPS Office: Which Office Suite Should You Use on Linux

      LibreOffice and WPS Office are two common Microsoft Office alternatives for the Linux platform. There has been several debates as to which of these is the better alternative to Microsoft Office. The debates, surely, are not going to end anytime soon.

      There is no definitive answer here! The choice between the two is completely dependent on the user and the job at hand. LibreOffice and WPS Office both have their pros and cons. After sharing some pros and cons of each office suite, you will be better informed to make your choice should you get caught up in such a dilemma.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Running FreeBSD 12, TrueOS On AMD EPYC

      Back in October I did some basic tests of the BSDs on AMD EPYC while now with having more of our extensive Linux testing of AMD EPYC complete, I went back and did a few fresh tests of the BSDs with an AMD EPYC 7601 processor housed within the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026.

    • SSH Mastery” 2nd ed tech reviewers wanted

      I’d need any comments back by 2 January 2018.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.14.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the new release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.14.0!

      The release comes with GuixSD ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image of GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries.

    • GNU Guix / Guix SD 0.14 Released: ARM Port Coming, New Services

      Today marks the release of GNU Guix 0.14 as well as the GNU Guix SD (System Distribution) that is the Linux-based operating system built around this package manager.

      The Guix SD operating system using the GNU Linux-libre kernel with GNU Shepherd init system has seen a lot of work this cycle. In fact, Guix SD 0.14 is the first release where the OS is produced as a ISO-9660 image that works both for a DVD or USB stick. Guix SD also has a new bootloader API to allow it for supporting more than just GRUB, including U-Boot and Extlinux. With these new bootloader options, Guix SD is currently being ported to ARM-based devices.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Coders Beware: Licensing Issues Abound for Ether Apps [Ed: "When 'free' isn’t free," say lawyers, in what might be little less than FUD about digital currency]

      The Ethereum Foundation promises that ethereum “is both open-source software and Free software after the definition of the Free Software Foundation (so-called FLOSS).” In other words, licensees will generally receive broad rights to run, copy, distribute and improve the software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An Open-Source Smartphone Microscope

        A research team led by Wei-Chuan Shih from the University of Houston, USA, reports creating a multicolor fluorescence microscope from a smartphone and a 3-D printer—and they’ve made the computer-aided designs available online for free (Biomed. Opt. Express, doi: 10.1364/BOE.8.005075). The scientists say the smartphone microscope, outfitted with a 3-D inkjet-printed elastomer lens and a polylactic-acid (PLA) housing, could help equip researchers and healthcare providers in developing and rural areas, as well as hobbyists and backpackers, with imaging techniques for diagnostic functions, including detecting waterborne pathogens.

      • Western Digital Gives A Billion Unit Boost To Open Source RISC-V CPU
  • Programming/Development

    • Hazelcast joins Eclipse Foundation to collaborate on open source enterprise Java

      Hazelcast, the open source In-Memory Data Grid (IMDG) with tens of thousands of installed clusters and over 39 million server starts per month, announced it had joined the Eclipse Foundation, bringing extensive Java-driven community experience to a host of open source projects.

      Working collaboratively with other members of the Eclipse community, Hazelcast’s primary focus will be on JCache, the Eclipse MicroProfile and EE4J.

      In particular, Hazelcast will be collaborating with members to popularise JCache, a Java Specification Request (JSR-107) which specifies API and semantics for temporary, in-memory caching of Java objects, including object creation, shared access, spooling, invalidation, and consistency across JVM’s. These operations help scale out applications and manage their high-speed access to frequently used data. In the Java Community Process (JCP), Hazelcast’s CEO, Greg Luck, has been the co spec lead and then maintenance lead on “JCache – Java Temporary Caching API” since 2007.

    • GitLab update: Moving to the next step

      I have good news, after few meetings and discussions with GitLab we reached an agreement on a way to bring the features we need and to fix our most important blockers in a reasonable time and in a way that are synced with us. Their team will fix our blockers in the next 1-2 months, most of them will be fix in the release of 22th of December and the rest if everything goes well in the release of 22th of January. The one left that out of those 2 months is a richer UI experience for duplicates, which is going to be an ongoing effort.

      Apologies for the blockage for those that regularly asked to migrate their project, I wanted to make sure we are doing things in the right steps. I also wanted to make sure that I get feedback and comments about the initiative all around in my effort to make a representation of the community for taking these decisions. Now it’s the point where I’m confident, the feedback and comments both inside and outside of our core community has been largely that we should start our path to fully migrate to GitLab.

    • Khronos Releases SYCL 1.2.1 With TensorFlow Acceleration, C++17 Alignment

      SYCL as a reminder is Khronos’ higher-level OpenCL programming model based on C++. It’s been a while since the last update, but a new point release is now available.

      SYCL 1.2.1 is based on OpenCL 1.2 and improves support for machine learning tasks, supports TensorFlow acceleration, and aligns with the latest C++17 standard. SYCL 1.2 had previously been based on C++11/C++14. The C++17 standard was just firmed up this month.

    • Python data classes

      The reminder that the feature freeze for Python 3.7 is coming up fairly soon (January 29) was met with a flurry of activity on the python-dev mailing list. Numerous Python enhancement proposals (PEPs) were updated or newly proposed; other features or changes have been discussed as well. One of the updated PEPs is proposing a new type of class, a “data class”, to be added to the standard library. Data classes would serve much the same purpose as structures or records in other languages and would use the relatively new type annotations feature to support static type checking of the use of the classes.

      PEP 557 (“Data Classes”) came out of a discussion on the python-ideas mailing list back in May, but its roots go back much further than that. The attrs module, which is aimed at reducing the boilerplate code needed for Python classes, is a major influence on the design of data classes, though it goes much further than the PEP. attrs is not part of the standard library, but is available from the Python Package Index (PyPI); it has been around for a few years and is quite popular with many Python developers. The idea behind both attrs and data classes is to automatically generate many of the “dunder” methods (e.g. __init__(), __repr__()) needed, especially for a class that is largely meant to hold various typed data items.

    • A mini-rant on the lack of string slices in C
    • Simplistic programming is underrated

      I should explain. It is absolutely true that if you deploy a larger vocabulary, if you use longer, more pompous sentences, many people will think you are smarter. The same is true with programming. If you can cram metaprogramming, pure functional programming, some assembly and a neural network into one program, many programmers will be impressed by your skills.

Leftovers

  • International Digital Preservation Day

    The Digital Preservation Coalition’s International Digital Preservation Day was marked by a wide-ranging collection of blog posts. Below the fold, some links to and comments on, a few of them.

  • Google And Amazon Are Harming Consumers And Behaving Like Obnoxious Toddlers

    That decision has only resulted in an ever-escalating game of tit for tat that has started to bubble over in recent months. Around three months ago, YouTube decided to block YouTube from working on Amazon’s Echo Show hardware, pushing the bogus claim it was due to a “broken user experience.” In response, Amazon expanded its blacklist of Google products by refusing to sell Google Nest hardware as well. This was already bad enough, but the escalating game of “who can be the most obnoxious to paying customers” was taken to yet another level this week.

  • Volkswagen executive sentenced to maximum prison term, fine under plea deal

    On Wednesday, a US District judge in Detroit sentenced Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, to seven years in prison for his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015. Schmidt was also ordered to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August.

  • Science

    • Boffins foresee most software written by machines in 2040

      Boffins at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory speculate that by 2040 advances in AI disciplines like machine learning and natural language processing will shift most software code creation from people to machines.

      In a paper distributed via ArXiv, “Will humans even write code in 2040 and what would that mean for extreme heterogeneity in computing?”, ORNL researchers Jay Jay Billings, Alexander McCaskey, Geoffroy Vallee and Greg Watson suggest machines will be doing much of the programming work two decades hence.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth

      On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving’s “village” — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye and send her home. The afternoon light was gray but bright, flooding through tall arched windows and pouring past white columns, illuminating the flag that covered her casket. Sprays of callas and roses dotted the room like giant corsages, flanking photos from happier times: Shalon in a slinky maternity dress, sprawled across her couch with her puppy; Shalon, sleepy-eyed and cradling the tiny head of her newborn daughter, Soleil. In one portrait Shalon wore a vibrant smile and the crisp uniform of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, where she had been a lieutenant commander. Many of the mourners were similarly attired. Shalon’s father, Samuel, surveyed the rows of somber faces from the lectern. “I’ve never been in a room with so many doctors,” he marveled. “… I’ve never seen so many Ph.D.s.”

      At 36, Shalon had been part of their elite ranks — an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preeminent public health institution in the U.S. There she had focused on trying to understand how structural inequality, trauma and violence made people sick. “She wanted to expose how peoples’ limited health options were leading to poor health outcomes. To kind of uncover and undo the victim blaming that sometimes happens where it’s like, ‘Poor people don’t care about their health,’” said Rashid Njai, her mentor at the agency. Her Twitter bio declared: “I see inequity wherever it exists, call it by name, and work to eliminate it.”

  • Security

    • Global law enforcement operation decimates giant Andromeda botnet

      Developed in September 2011, Andromeda, aka Gamarue or Wauchos, is known for stealing credentials from victims as well as downloading and installing up to 80 different secondary malware programs onto users’ systems, including spam bots. Over the last half-year, it has been detected or blocked on an average of more than 1 million machines per month, Europol added.

    • Ex-NSA Worker Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Data

      Pho worked for the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Unit from 2006 until 2016 and had access to data and documents that included classified and top secret national defense information. “According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained U.S. government documents and writings that contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information,” the DOJ stated.

    • Is blockchain a security topic?

      What’s really interesting is that, if you’re thinking about moving to a permissioned blockchain or distributed ledger with permissioned actors, then you’re going to have to spend some time thinking about trust. You’re unlikely to be using a proof-of-work system for making blocks—there’s little point in a permissioned system—so who decides what comprises a “valid” block that the rest of the system should agree on? Well, you can rotate around some (or all) of the entities, or you can have a random choice, or you can elect a small number of über-trusted entities. Combinations of these schemes may also work.

    • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

      The Intel Management Engine (ME), which is a separate processor and operating system running outside of user control on most x86 systems, has long been of concern to users who are security and privacy conscious. Google and others have been working on ways to eliminate as much of that functionality as possible (while still being able to boot and run the system). Ronald Minnich from Google came to Prague to talk about those efforts at the 2017 Embedded Linux Conference Europe.

      He began by noting that most times he is talking about firmware, it is with his coreboot hat on. But he removed said “very nice hat”, since his talk was “not a coreboot talk”. He listed a number of people who had worked on the project to “replace your exploit-ridden firmware with a Linux kernel”, including several from partner companies (Two Sigma, Cisco, and Horizon Computing) as well as several other Google employees.

      The results they achieved were to drop the boot time on an Open Compute Project (OCP) node from eight minutes to 20 seconds. To his way of thinking, that is “maybe the single least important part” of this work, he said. All of the user-space parts of the boot process are written in Go; that includes everything in initramfs, including init. This brings Linux performance, reliability, and security to the boot process and they were able to eliminate all of the ME and UEFI post-boot activity from the boot process.

    • Interview: Why are open-source security vulnerabilities rising? [Ed: Snyk is a FUD firm. It has been smearing Free software a lot lately in an effort to just sell its services.]
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Mecklenburg County won’t pay $23,000 ransom to hackers [sic], manager says

      In a 2 p.m. news conference at the Government Center, Diorio said third-party security experts believe the attack by a new strain of ransomware called LockCrypt originated from Iran or Ukraine. Forty-eight of about 500 county computer servers were affected.

    • The Reason Why This 20-year-old Hacker Breached Uber Will Make You Feel Bad For Him

      In November, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowashahi revealed that the company’s third-party server was compromised in October 2016 and the details of about 57 million customers were leaked. This information was made public after a report from Bloomberg claimed that Uber made a $100,000 payoff to destroy the hacked data.

    • Uber paid to keep data breach secret: report

      The company then paid the hacker [sic] $100,000 to destroy the information, but did not notify those affected by the breach.

    • Mastermind of massive botnet caught because of basic mistake

      A Belarussian man who is said to be behind many of the biggest botnets has been caught, with investigators tracking him down because he used the ICQ number as a primary contact on both public and private websites.

    • US cyberweapons have been stolen and there’s nothing we can do [iophk: "Microsoft Windows TCO]

      The NSA is not sure how many other pieces of its arsenal have been leaked. “The US is battling a rearguard action with respect to its reputation,” says Tim Stevens at King’s College London.

    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Jared Kushner By Day: Mideast Peace. Kushner Companies By Night: Donating to a West Bank Settlement.

      As Jared Kushner leads the U.S. government’s effort to develop an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation is funding a hardline Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

      The charitable fund made a donation of at least $18,000 at the “Master Builders” level to American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, according to a donor book distributed at the group’s annual gala Sunday evening.

      The Kushner family has given money in past years to the group, which funds construction of the Bet El settlement outside the Palestinian city Ramallah, as Haaretz first reported. But this appears to be the first time they’ve done so while Kushner, whose title is senior adviser to the president, is the lead administration official brokering a peace plan.

    • Sucking Liberals into a New Cold War

      Out of fury against President Trump, many liberals have enlisted in the ranks of the New Cold War against Russia, seeming to have forgotten the costs to rationality and lives from the first Cold War, warns William Blum.

    • Flynn’s Secret Text Messages Show Trump Colluded With Russia, Experts Say
    • Killer cop off to jail for shooting unarmed black man in back

      A North Carolina cop who shot an unarmed black man in the back is going to jail for at least 19 years.

      Michael Slager killed Walter Scott in 2015, while an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. He was fired after video surfaced that showed Slager firing at Scott as he fled. It was clear from the footage that Slager was not in any danger: he just wanted to kill Scott.

    • Ex-cop Michael Slager faces 19 to 24 years in prison for shooting death of Walter Scott
    • Franken’s Opportunism on the Iraq War

      A year after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Malta, journalist’s killers arrested. SMS detonated bomb

      Forensic evidence acquired by the FBI is key to bringing the men accused of being the assassins of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice, for her family and the international public opinion. The afternoon of the 16th October, a few minutes before the white Peugeot 108 rental car in which Daphne was travelling was torn apart by a powerful charge of explosives positioned under the car body, three mobile phones linked to Triq il-Bidnija, the location where the attack took place, communicate amongst themselves. Two phones record the communications of two men waiting for the passage of the Peugeot transporting Daphne home. A third, further away from the location of the explosion, sends an SMS to the transceiver connected to the charger which served as a detonator to the explosive. This triggered two powerful explosions in sequence, and transformed the car into a fireball. For eight weeks a secret investigation has been underway into the men who held those three mobile phones in their hands that afternoon. The Maltese Police are working with the island’s security services, Europol, and three teams of foreign investigators invited by the Labour government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – the FBI, Dutch police and Finnish police – to liberate the investigation from any suspicions of political manipulation.

    • Institute of Journalists closes case on Daphne Caruana Galizia: “justice prevailed”

      It really is no mystery why Daphne Caruana Galizia would never join the ‘Institute of Maltese Journalists’.

      Look at them celebrating “justice having prevailed” when three lowlifes were arraigned, accused of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

      Their words: “The fact that tonight three people were arraigned in Court following their arrest and subsequent interrogation during these past two days marks a historic moment for the Institute where justice prevails in favour of freedom of the press.”

      Of course no one is happier about this than the prime minister. Look at him gleefully retweeting the journalists’ fawning praise.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access Pipeline Company Tries to Sue Environmental Groups Out of Existence

      Courts shouldn’t let companies like Energy Transfer Partners use litigation to intimidate and bankrupt advocacy groups.

      If you want to experience 2017 in a nutshell, check out the billion-dollar lawsuit filed by an oil and gas company against Greenpeace and other environmental groups for their roles in the Standing Rock protests.

      In a 231-page complaint filed by Donald Trump’s old law firm, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, claims that Greenpeace and its partners are engaged in a criminal network of fraud and misinformation. The paranoiac complaint, which includes references to “wolfpacks of corrupt” environmental nongovernmental organizations and describes Greenpeace as a “putative Dutch not-for-profit foundation,” would be amusing if it weren’t so dangerous.

      It leverages the RICO Act, a statute that was meant for mob prosecutions, and defamation law to wage a scorched-earth campaign against nonprofits that spoke out against the pipeline’s construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Fortunately, as we argue in a friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday with a coalition of public interest groups, the First Amendment prohibits companies from suing their critics out of existence.

      ETP’s lawsuit rests on two theories, neither of which holds water.

    • Patagonia joins lawsuits challenging Trump’s monument plans

      Outdoor retailing giant Patagonia on Wednesday joined a flurry of lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to chop up two large national monuments in Utah could finally bring an answer to the much-debated question of whether presidents have the legal authority to undo or change monuments created by past presidents.

      Until that question is answered months or years from now, the fate of the contested lands in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments will remain unresolved.

      Proclamations signed Monday by the president allow lands no longer protected as a national monument to be opened up in 60 days to mining, but conservation and tribal groups will likely try to keep that from happening.

    • Climate change already costs us all money, and it’s going to get worse

      Tuesday evening, Columbia University’s Earth Institute hosted a panel that was meant to focus on an issue we’re likely to be facing with increasing frequency: the need to move entire communities that are no longer viable due to rising seas or altered weather. But the discussion ended up shifting to how people in at-risk locations aren’t moving, and the entire governmental structure in the US is focused on keeping them right where they are.

      As a result, the entire US population is already paying for climate change, whether we accept the science behind it or not. And things will almost certainly get worse.

  • Finance

    • How Students Get Banished to Alternative Schools

      In October 2014, less than two months after entering North Augusta High School in Aiken County, South Carolina, Logan Rewis paused to drink from a fountain in the hallway between periods. As he straightened up, water fell from his mouth onto the shoe of his social studies teacher, Matt Branon, who was standing nearby. Logan says it was an accident, but Branon thought Logan had spat at him.

      “My bad,” the 15-year-old with bushy sandy-brown hair and blue eyes says he told Branon after the teacher confronted him.

      Branon, who is also the school’s baseball coach, was incensed. “Freaking disgusting,” he shouted at Logan as the teen walked away. Branon pursued Logan and grabbed the freshman by his backpack.

      “Get your freaking hands off me,” Logan recalls yelling. School officials say he used a different “f” word.

      Though Branon had arguably escalated the conflict, he wasn’t disciplined — but Logan was. In a decision that changed the course of his education and life, the school district banished Logan to its alternative school, the Center for Innovative Learning at Pinecrest.

    • Illinois Legislators Pledge to Deal with ‘Pipeline to Prison’ at Juvenile Correctional Facility

      A top juvenile official testified Tuesday that guards at a southern Illinois youth correctional facility have created a “pipeline to prison” that is hampering the state’s ability to fulfill its juvenile justice mission.

      More than 100 people gathered at a nearly five-hour hearing before the House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee to address reports of violence in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and the state’s adult prisons.

      Kathleen Bankhead, the state’s independent juvenile ombudsman, focused her testimony on a series of alleged assaults by teenagers on staff at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg in southern Illinois.

      ProPublica Illinois reported in October that guards and other employees there have pursued more criminal charges for youth-on-staff assaults since 2016 than all other state juvenile correctional facilities combined.

    • Bitcoin in the balance: The troublesome quest to reinvent money
    • Bitcoin surpasses $15,000-mark! Here’s a word of advice for retail, HNI investors

      The cryptocurrency hit a 24-hour high of $15,340 per unit and 24-hour low of $12,662.86, as of 10 am IST, data available on coingecko.com suggested.

    • A Bitcoin Frenzy Like No Other Is Gripping South Korea

      So many Koreans have embraced bitcoin that the prime minister recently warned that cryptocurrencies might corrupt the nation’s youth. The craze has spread so far that, in Korea, bitcoin is trading at a premium of about 23 percent over prevailing international rates.

    • Total bitcoin value exceeds cash in UK, Canada, Australia

      The current value of the digital currency bitcoin is estimated at US$180 billion, exceeding the total cash in circulation in the UK and a number of other countries including Australia, it has been claimed.

    • How much energy does Bitcoin consume, and can it improve?

      So the energy cost of Bitcoin is tied to its cash value, not its supply (though the supply and the value have a relationship, obviously). There is a similar (but different) dynamic in play for the reward for block-processing.

    • Bitcoin’s insane energy consumption, explained

      The skyrocketing value of Bitcoin is leading to soaring energy consumption. According to one widely cited website that tracks the subject, the Bitcoin network is consuming power at an annual rate of 32TWh—about as much as Denmark. By the site’s calculations, each Bitcoin transaction consumes 250kWh, enough to power homes for nine days.

      Naturally, this is leading to concerns about sustainability. Eric Holthaus, a writer for Grist, projects that, at current growth rates, the Bitcoin network will “use as much electricity as the entire world does today” by early 2020. “This is an unsustainable trajectory,” he writes.

    • This Guy Dumped 7,500 Bitcoins Worth $100 Million, Now Digging Landfill Site

      What could have been a wealthy fortune for a British man has turned into a task that now requires an extensive amount of hard work. A Newport-based IT worker James Howells claims that he mistakenly dumped his hard drive containing 7,500 Bitcoins back in mid-2013.

      Howells might have started to regret his mistake even more as the value of the cryptocurrency has soared past $14,000. He believes that his hard drive worth millions is buried in a landfill and his recovery plan seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

    • Media Downplay Class Warfare as ‘GOP Victory’

      The fallacy of “neutral,” “both sides” journalism rings loud and clear in corporate media reporting on the Republican Party’s tax plan. The GOP bill, passed by the Senate in the early hours of December 2 and described by major media outlets as a “tax cut,” is in reality an explicit handout to large companies and the ultra-rich that will actually increase taxes on working-class Americans.

      But under the cover of a shallow understanding of “balance,” corporate media have internalized the outlandish idea that it is “partisan,” and thus not “neutral,” to acknowledge the undeniably destructive effects of particular political policies. These inconvenient facts are hence not emphasized in news reporting, and cannot be presented alone without being “balanced” with an opposing perspective—even if that contrary view is demonstrably false.

      In the case of the GOP legislation, which will slash the corporate tax rate and add some $1.4 trillion to the national debt, the deception took a variety of forms.

    • Susan, Was It Worth It?

      The hundreds of protesters in D.C. Tuesday chanting “Kill this bill, don’t kill us”at GOP lawmakers who passed the scourge of a tax scam have myriad kindred spirits here in Maine, where voters – many older and with much at stake – have long supported health care access and last month became the first state to pass a ballot initiative to expand Medicare. People are justifiably aiming their fury at perennially coy Susan Collins, who’s earned a reputation as a “moderate” and “independent” Republican by occasionally bending to “constant and intense pressure from her constituents” to do the right thing – most notably, by voting against the latest assault on Obamacare.

      Now, by providing a key vote for tax cuts to billionaires and corporations unfathomably far away on every level from the reality of most Mainers’ lives, she has been deemed “beneath contempt.” Adding insult to injury, she based her vote in part on health care compromises and economic claims that turn out to be specious: Two headlines on her vote describe “promises written in vanishing ink” and ask, “What in the world was Susan Collins thinking?” The result, says one fed-up resident: “This betrayal will not be forgotten.” Evidently.

    • VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump’s commitment

      Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

      The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

    • How the Cook County Assessor Failed Taxpayers

      Amid the most tumultuous real estate market since the Great Depression, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios produced valuations for thousands of commercial and industrial properties in Chicago that did not change from one reassessment to the next, not even by a single dollar.

      That fact, one finding in an unprecedented ProPublica Illinois-Chicago Tribune analysis of tens of thousands of property records, points to a conclusion that experts say defies any logical explanation except one:

      Berrios failed at one of his most important responsibilities — estimating the value of commercial and industrial properties.

    • How We Analyzed Commercial and Industrial Property Assessments in Chicago and Cook County
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Christie: Warning about Flynn among reasons I was fired from Trump transition

      New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he was ousted as head of President Donald Trump’s transition due in part to his opposition to the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

      “I thought it was a significant reason,” Christie said at an unrelated press conference at his office in Trenton.

    • Trump Stands By Endorsement of Roy Moore, Accused of Sexual Assault & Harassment

      President Trump is standing by his endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers. One of the women says Moore removed her shirt and pants, then touched her over her bra and underwear, when she was only 14 years old. She says she recalls thinking, “I wanted it over with—I wanted out. Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” This is Trump, speaking Tuesday.

    • Wagging the Dog in Korea?

      “President’s Trump Card May Be N. Korea If Flynn Is Threat to Him” ran the headline in the Saturday New York Daily News. The Daily News does not use the phrase “Wag the Dog,” but the association is obvious. Wag the Dog was a 1997 film, based on a novel, in which an American President engineers a war in order to distract the public’s attention from a sex scandal (molesting an underage “Firefly Girl.” Roy Moore, take note.)

      The war in Wag the Dog was faked, conjured up by a Hollywood film director (Dustin Hoffman) acting at the behest of a Washington spin doctor played by Robert De Niro. (You want me to fake a war, the director asks? No, no, De Niro assures him. Not a war: a “pageant.”)

      If it is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the producers of Wag the Dog must have been tickled pink when their script came true—with one major difference. This time the war was real.

      Wag the Dog was released in December 1997. In January 1998, President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office shenanigans with White House intern Monica Lewinsky were revealed. A grand jury was impaneled to investigate whether the President had lied under oath about the affair. On August 20, 1998, the second day of Lewinsky’s testimony, Clinton launched cruise missiles at suspected Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan. Clinton claimed that the factory was producing nerve gas for Al-Qaeda. What it was actually producing was medicines. With one blow, the US destroyed the source of half of Sudan’s pharmaceuticals. Former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, Professor Melvin Goodman of Johns Hopkins University, is just one authority who maintains that Clinton knew perfectly well that the factory was not producing chemical weapons.

    • Donald Trump, unFounding Father

      Keep on staring just like you’ve been doing, just like we’ve all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t stop.

      [...]

      To begin with, it’s time to think of Donald J. Trump in a different light. After all, isn’t he really our own UnFounding Father? While the Founding Fathers were responsible for two crucial documents, the Declaration of Independence (1,458 words) and the Constitution (4,543 words), our twenty-first century UnFounding Father only writes passages of 140 characters or less. (Sad!) Other people have authored “his” books. (“I put lipstick on a pig,” said one of his ghostwriters.) He reportedly doesn’t often read books himself (though according to ex-wife Ivana, he once had a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside). He’s never seen a magazine cover he didn’t want to be on (or at least that he didn’t want to claim, however spuriously, he had decided not to be on). He recently indicated that he thought the Constitution had at least one extra article, “Article XII,” which he promised to “protect,” even though it didn’t exist. (My best guess: he believed it said, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved neither to the States respectively, nor to the people, but to Trump and his heirs and there will be no inheritance tax on them.”)

    • Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia

      When Congress authorized Robert Mueller and his team of lawyers to investigate “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” opponents of the president sensed that sooner or later, hard evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russian government would emerge.

      Seven months later, after three indictments that did little, if anything, to confirm the grand collusion narrative, Mueller had former National Security Council advisor Michael Flynn dragged before a federal court for lying to the FBI. The Russia probe had finally netted a big fish.

    • Hanging out with Bernie Sanders: it turns out that standing FOR something is a lot more politically important than merely standing AGAINST Trump

      Vice reporter Eve Peyser spent a weekend on the road with Bernie Sanders, and writes vividly and charmingly about the personal habits and behind-the-scenes homeliness of the famously non-materialistic, idealistic senator.

      But where the story is most charged and vivid is when Peyser ruminates on how Sanders is able to reach out to people — even people who voted for Trump — to articulate a vision of a better America, not grounded in the white supremacist fantasy of the lost “greatness” that he alone can return us to, but a new world, built on solidarity, decency, fairness and mutual aid. It’s a vision that cuts across party lines and speaks directly to the best in all of us.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • EU pushes tech firms to crack down on extremist content
    • Egypt must end censorship for democracy

      Under the presidency of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has experienced a steep increase in censorship policies from the national government. With a faltering approval rating and an election coming up in 2018, Sisi is trying to ensure his success in the election by suppressing the opposition to guarantee that he runs unopposed. Unfortunately, one of the Sisi administration’s main targets is libraries, some of which have been raided and shut down because they were considered to be “seditious spaces,” according to a report from The Atlantic. Sisi’s attack on libraries is detrimental to both education and democracy in Egypt and must not be permitted.

    • New Era of Censorship Isn’t Limited to Russian Outlets

      Despite RT and Sputnik News conceding to US demands to register as foreign agents, Google has announced its intention to “de-rank” their articles, in a bid to reduce the exposure and reach of content published on both sites. Russia’s foreign ministry subsequently warned such a move would constitute censorship.

      [...]

      As free and unimpaired access to information is a cornerstone of democracy, and since the internet is contemporarily the largest, most-readily available hub of information, it’s unsurprising Google’s announcement has been dubbed an attack on democracy, and triggered an outcry.

    • China toughens web censorship, encourages others to follow
    • Conference lauds openness of Chinese Internet; during a year of unparalleled censorship

      Irony of ironies: Much of the official emphasis at China’s fourth annual World Internet Conference, held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province in the east of the People’s Republic, was on the “openness” of the country’s heavily policed Internet. However, it did not escape the notice of many overseas delegates that the conference took place at the end of a year of unparalleled increases in Internet control and censorship in China – although there was little public acknowledgement or debate about that in the Alice Through the Looking Glass world of the “Wuzhen Summit”.

      The World Internet Conference first took place in 2014 under the tutelage of Lu Wei, who, at that time was the man who wielded the iron rod of control over China’s Internet by dint of his role as the head of the PRC’s Cyberspace Administration. In 2015 he actually took the stage at the conference to deny that China imposes any censorship on its domestic Internet. He said, “It is a misuse of words if you say ‘content censorship.’ But no censorship does not mean there is no management.” It was a piece of sophistry worthy of a Ming Dynasty mandarin never mind a communist party apparatchik in the 21st century.

    • Chinese power ‘may lead to global academic censorship crisis’

      China’s “new era” of increased global power poses a threat to academic freedom across the world and could result in global university leaders seeking to appease the country’s Communist Party, experts have warned.

      China’s president Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a “new era” of Chinese power during a recent speech at the Communist Party congress and said that it was time for his nation to transform itself into “a mighty force” that could lead the world on political, economic, military and environmental issues.

    • Censorship of Pakistani films ‘becoming more politicized’

      The move to give provincial authorities oversight of censorship and film exhibitions has led to greater politicization of censors’ review boards, critics say.

      On November 14, the Punjab Censors’ Board decided to ban the film ‘Verna’, three days before it was due to be released. This meant that the film’s premiere, scheduled just after that, was also canceled.

    • Pakistan: Censorship board lifts ban on film

      Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) lifted the ban on film ”Verna” on 16 November 2017, one day before its scheduled opening, reported International Business Times.

      The film was originally reportedly banned for scenes of violence and rape, and in the case of the censor board of Punjab, the portrayal of “government institutions in an undesirable manned”, reported Samaa TV.

      The film was released in Punjab on 18 November after film director agreed to make minor cuts, reported Asia Times.

      Both the ban and its subsequent lifting saw an outburst on social media.

    • Snopes Debunks Fake YouTube Video; Video’s Creator Responds With A Bogus DMCA Notice

      So… that’s the kind of “truth” we’re dealing with, often pronounced “conspiracy theory.” J.K. Sheindlin is the person behind NBT Films and the author of a book that has supposedly blown minds of Islam adherents everywhere, resulting in them renouncing their faith on camera.

      One popular video on NBT’s YouTube channel shows a supposed Islamic man angrily and bitterly decrying the religion after having his eyes opened by Sheindlin’s book. But the video isn’t what it seems: it’s actually footage taken from somewhere else, dealing with an entirely different issue, but with NBT’s fabricated subtitles giving the impression Sheindlin’s book has unconverted another follower of Islam.

    • Broadband monopolies to censor Internet content

      There is a growing consensus within the ruling establishment that the Internet must be purged of oppositional, left-wing, socialist and anti-capitalist ideas, with the ending of net neutrality being yet another major step toward the implementation of Internet censorship.

      The recently released plan by the Federal Communications Commission to abolish net neutrality has evoked mass opposition across the US and around the world.

    • Censorship to set a blaze on social network
    • Furore over ‘suggestive’ painting as petition calls for removal
    • Demanding that galleries get rid of ‘offensive’ works is censorship of the worst kind
    • Threats to Deepika, ban on Padmavati a different kind of censorship: Bombay HC
    • India Cutting Sorry Figure With Threats To Artists: Bombay High Court
    • Corruption, Censorship & Violence: Business Academics Flee Turkey And Azerbaijan

      In early 2016, a group of academics from Turkey published an open letter to the government, condemning military action in the country’s Kurdish region. The group, calling themselves ‘Academics for Peace’, were denounced as terrorist-sympathizers.

      Then, in July 2016, tanks rolled across Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge. The Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace were bombed. There was violence on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara—the failed coup killed more than 200 people.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Appeals Court Can’t Decide Whether It Should Protect Critic’s Anonymity, Boots Free Speech Case Back To Lower Court

      A rather strange ruling has been handed down by the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court. It’s a ruling that could have an adverse effect on anonymous speech, although it does mitigate the potential damage by booting it back to the lower court for a final determination. But that still might not stop an aggrieved multi-level management company from learning the identity of one of its critics.

      Signature Management Team is the plaintiff/pyramid scheme. John Doe posted a link to a copy of one of SMT’s books on his “Amthrax” blog. SMT filed a DMCA takedown notice with the blog’s hosting service, Automattic. After being served with the notice, Doe removed the link to the copyrighted instruction book.

      This quick concession didn’t stop SMT from suing Doe. It alleged one count of copyright infringement. Doe asserted a fair use defense and alleged copyright misuse, i.e., the use of copyright to silence a critic. He also asserted his right to speak anonymously and argued against being unmasked.

    • Circuit breaker thieves shine light on sheriff’s use of facial recognition

      Who knew that there was money in stolen circuit breakers?

      Late last month, Riverside County prosecutors, east of Los Angeles, indicted two men on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of circuit breakers from businesses and movie theaters in southeastern California in recent years.

      According to The Desert Sun and court filings that were provided to Ars by that newspaper, the two suspects were identified by a combination of “security footage, facial recognition software, and a license plate scanner.”

    • Mozilla is Funding Art About Online Privacy and Security

      The Mozilla Manifesto states that “Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional.”

      Today, Mozilla is seeking artists, media producers, and storytellers who share that belief — and who use their art to make a difference.

      Mozilla’s Creative Media Grants program is now accepting submissions. The program awards grants ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 for films, apps, storytelling, and other forms of media that explore topics like mass surveillance and the erosion of online privacy.

    • Hayden, NSA, and the Road to 9/11

      Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA (and now, a national security analyst at CNN), has recently emerged as a leading critic of the Trump administration, but not so long ago, he was widely criticized for his role in the post-9/11 surveillance abuses. With the publication of his memoir, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, Hayden launched his reputational rehab campaign.

    • Former NSA spy believes he contracted Parkinson’s from a microwave attack
    • Warrantless Surveillance Can Continue Even if Law Expires, Officials Say
    • White House lets NSA’s warrantless surveillance continue until April
    • The White House just bought four more months for NSA reauthorization
    • How the NSA could spy on any American phone — without congressional approval

      As information technology has become ubiquitous, privacy has become a real concern for the average American. Sophisticated, connected devices make our life easier, giving us easy access to a wide array of services from cheap taxi rides to online shopping. From cell phones and gaming consoles to cars, the objects we use daily are connected in an endless flow of digital information known as the internet of things (IoT).

      This information technology also enables intelligence organizations, law enforcement agencies, corporations, and criminals to unlawfully collect and exploit private information. Americans today are becoming increasingly aware of the perils connected devices hold, and looking for legal mechanisms to protect their basic right to privacy.

    • The High Stakes of Misunderstanding Section 702 Reforms

      In less than a month, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is set to expire. As the clock runs out on one of the U.S. government’s most important counterterrorism and counterintelligence tools, public discussion of the program and possible legislative changes remain mired in misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and political sound bites.

    • Things The Intelligence Community Is Cool With: Backdoor Searches, Skirting Reporting Requirements, Parallel Construction

      More answers have been provided to Senate Intelligence Committee questions (most of those penned by the always-inquisitive Ron Wyden) by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Some, like how often the NSA “incidentally” collects domestic communications, remain unanswered. But the ODNI’s answers [PDF] — given to the Committee in July — have finally been made public. There are a few things worth noting in this rare display of transparency. (By which I mean a lack of redactions, rather than expansive openness by the ODNI).

    • GDPR: 7 Steps to Compliance

      GDPR offers a groundbreaking overhaul of rules first implemented two decades earlier, when the impact on the internet was a mere fraction of what it is today. For consumers, these new rules promise greater data protection. For businesses, however, the rules will require significant overhauls, as the cost of running afoul of rules can be stiff. Here are a few steps to ensure your business is in compliance.

    • Fappening 2017: Private Pictures Of WWE Diva Maria Kanellis Leaked
    • Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children

      “Not sure this is the right direction at all,” he tweeted. “Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!”

    • Evidence That Ethiopia Is Spying on Journalists Shows Commercial Spyware Is Out of Control

      The emails were specifically designed to entice each individual to click a malicious link. Had the targets done so, their internet connections would have been hijacked and surreptitiously directed to servers laden with malware designed by a surveillance company in Israel. The spies who contracted the Israeli company’s services would have been able to monitor everything those targets did on their devices, including remotely activating the camera and microphone.

    • The US Claims It Doesn’t Need a Court Order to Ask Tech Companies to Build Encryption Backdoors

      Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives authorities additional powers to compel service providers to build backdoors into their products. Though Section 702 is set to expire at the end of the year, it remains vehemently supported by intelligence agencies, and the current Republican-controlled Congress is generally not the type of crowd to oppose them.

    • Deadline For Linking Aadhaar To Be Extended To March 31. Conditions Apply

      Social activists have asked the Supreme Court to stop the Centre from making the linking of Aadhaar mandatory for bank accounts and mobile phone numbers, contending that it violates people’s right to privacy

    • Deadline for Aadhaar linking may be extended to March 31 but with a rider

      The Attorney General, however, made clear that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.

    • Germany Preparing Backdoor Law
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Getting driver’s license puts Arizonans into ‘perpetual criminal lineup’

      But beyond press releases touting its successes, the department does not inform people who have applied for a license that their photos will be scanned perpetually for law enforcement purposes. No such disclosure appears on the license application.

    • Diversion Programs Are Cheaper and More Effective Than Incarceration. Prosecutors Should Embrace Them.

      A new report from the ACLU of Kansas shows how diversion programs can combat mass incarceration.

      When it comes to reducing mass incarceration, some solutions are actually staring us right in the face. That is certainly the case when it comes to diversion programs in the state of Kansas.

      Although diversion can come in many forms, the basic principle is well-established and straightforward: A person charged with a crime fulfills certain requirements, such as completing treatment, paying restitution, or performing community service, instead of being incarcerated and saddled with a lifelong criminal record.

      Put plainly, diversion is a positive tool that should be used in our nation much more frequently. By targeting the underlying problems that led to the crime in the first place, effective diversion programs can improve long-term community safety and reduce recidivism far more effectively than warehousing someone in a prison cell before turning them back onto the streets.

    • NYT: Harvey Weinstein Built “Complicity Machine” to Facilitate His Rape & Sexual Harassment

      The New York Times has published a massive exposé on how disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein built an industry-wide “complicity machine” to allow him to perpetrate rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment for decades. Weinstein is now facing criminal investigation in multiple cities, after more than 100 women came forward to accuse him. The exposé chronicles how he was able to get away with the violence by building a web of lawyers, agents, journalists, editors and publishers to help him cover his tracks and intimidate potential accusers. The piece says Hollywood agents and managers repeatedly sent actresses to private meetings with Weinstein, even though they knew about previous assaults. The article also says Weinstein used his political connections to protect himself, often saying during the Obama presidency, “I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?”

    • Appeals Court: Forcing A Teen To Masturbate So Cops Can Take Pictures Is A Clear Violation Of Rights

      I don’t know which is sadder: the fact that this case — the absolute nadir (so far!) of stupid teen sexting prosecutions — even exists or that the lower court somehow found in favor of the officer (now deceased) being sued.

      A cop engaged in the act of producing child pornography by attempting to force a teen to arouse himself while surrounded by police officers supposedly for the purpose of matching the teen’s erect penis to photos the cop already had in his possession as part of a sexting “investigation.” The officer was told by prosecutors to do this, which shows the twisted logic of this abhorrent request didn’t spring entirely from the mind of Detective David Abbott. He, however, did not turn down the prosecution’s request. The prosecutor who ordered this “production” of evidence was Claiborne Richardson. Unfortunately, he has the sort of immunity cops like Abbott can only wish they had: absolute immunity. Richardson walks away from this with little more than reputational damage.

    • Forcing kid to masturbate for cops in sexting case was wrong, court finds

      A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in favor of a Virginia man who, as a teen, was once ordered by a lower court to be photographed while masturbating in the presence of armed police officers.

      That warrant was ostensibly part of an ongoing sexting investigation into the then-teen, Trey Sims, who had exchanged explicit messages with his then-15-year-old girlfriend. Her mother reported the incident to the Manassas City Police Department in January 2014.

      Eventually, the detective assigned to the case, David Abbott, obtained a signed warrant to take photographs of Sims’ naked body—including “the suspect’s erect penis”—so that he could compare them to Sims’ explicit messages.

    • Government Documents Show FBI Cleared Filmmaker Laura Poitras After Six-Year Fishing Expedition

      The government recently revealed for the first time that federal agents maintained an open investigation of our client, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, for six years despite never finding any evidence that she committed a crime or was a threat to national security.

      Coming up empty handed after Poitras had been subjected to dozens of border searches, the FBI finally closed the investigation, according to agency documents we obtained.

      We’ve learned about this fishing expedition through documents we obtained in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed on Poitras’s behalf to find out why she was constantly being stopped by federal agents during her travels. Border agents detained Poitras at airports over 50 times from 2006 to 2012. The detentions began after she directed and released documentary films about post-9/11 life in Iraq and Yemen that challenged the U.S. government’s narrative about the war on terror.

      Poitras was subjected to hours of questioning, and had her belongings searched and notes seized at U.S. and international airports. Border agents once threatened to handcuff her when she tried to take notes during a stop.

    • Argentinian Government Bans Civil Society Organizations From Attending Upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting

      The World Trade Organization (WTO), the multilateral global trade body that has almost all countries as members, has been eyeing an expansion of its work on digital trade for some time. Its current inability to address such issues is becoming an existential problem for the organization, as its relevance is challenged by the rise of smaller regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that do contain digital trade rules.

      That’s one reason why some experts are now arguing that the WTO ought to retake leadership over digital trade rulemaking. Their reasoning is that a global compact could be more effective than a regional one at combatting digital protectionism, such as laws that restrict Internet data flows or require platforms to install local servers in each country where they offer service.

    • The Muslim Ban: What Just Happened?

      Here’s what you need to know as the Muslim ban goes into effect.

      Earlier this week, the Supreme Court allowed President Trump’s Muslim ban to go into full effect while it is being litigated. Prior to the court’s Dec. 4 order, large portions of the ban were blocked by preliminary injunctions in the cases of IRAP v. Trump and Hawaii v. Trump.

      Let’s be clear: The fact that the ban is moving forward is devastating for Muslims in the United States and abroad — and for anyone who values the fundamental constitutional principle of religious equality. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring or disfavoring one religion among others, but that’s precisely what President Trump’s Muslim ban does.

      It’s important to recognize that the Supreme Court did not express any views about the merits of the ban — and in particular, it did not find or suggest that the ban is constitutional or compatible with our immigration laws. We have been challenging this and previous versions of the ban since President Trump started down this path, and the courts that have reached the merits have repeatedly found the bans unconstitutional and illegal. That is one reason why we believe that the ban will ultimately be struck down.

      On Dec. 8, we will be in court, along with our co-counsel from the National Immigration Law Center and the International Refugee Assistance Project and colleagues from Muslim Advocates, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, fighting to strike down the Muslim ban in its entirety. Here’s what you need to know.

    • Roy Moore and the Triumph of Partisanship

      Partisanship has reached such extremes in U.S. politics that Republicans are prepared to brush aside multiple allegations that Roy Moore preyed on teen-age girls to keep a Democrat from winning in Alabama, writes Michael Winship.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality protests start Thursday—how to find one near you

      Net neutrality supporters plan a nationwide series of protests starting Thursday outside Verizon stores, where they will express their opposition to the pending repeal of net neutrality rules.

      You can find local protests by going to this webpage and searching by ZIP code.

      Verizon stores aren’t the only places where there will be protests. In Washington, DC, for example, there will be a protest at the annual FCC Chairman’s Dinner on Thursday. There will be another protest outside the FCC building on December 13, one day before the vote to repeal net neutrality rules. Many protests will be happening on Saturday as well.

    • What Happened To Everyone Complaining About The Length Of The 2015 Net Neutrality Rules?

      If you’ve followed the whole net neutrality debate for a while, you may remember one of the more ridiculous talking points when the 2015 rules were put in place: it was the line that the rules were “400 pages of regulation on the internet.” People kept listing out the page numbers to suggest how crazy it was, and just how much bad stuff the FCC must be doing in “regulating the internet.” Ajit Pai kicked it all off with his tweet with a picture of himself holding the initial version of the rules, complaining that it was “Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the internet.”

    • The FCC Tried To Hide Net Neutrality Complaints Against ISPs

      When FCC boss Ajit Pai first proposed killing popular net neutrality protections (pdf), he insisted he would proceed “in a far more transparent way than the FCC did” when it first crafted the rules in 2015. That promise has proven to be a historically-hollow one.

      Pai’s agency is already facing numerous lawsuits for refusing to disclose conversations with ISP lobbyists about the plan to kill net neutrality, refusing to disclose net neutrality complaints filed with the agency, refusing to be transparent about a DDoS attack the FCC apparently concocted to downplay the “John Oliver effect,” and for ignoring FOIA requests related to its failure to police website comment fraud during the public comment period.

    • Tom Wheeler slams Ajit Pai’s plan to kill net neutrality rules

      Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler took aim at his successor’s plan to eliminate net neutrality rules today, saying that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is selling out consumers and entrepreneurs at the behest of major Internet service providers.

      “ISP monopoly carriers have been trying for four years to get to this point,” Wheeler said, pointing to a 2013 story in The Washington Post about how telecoms were trying to “shift regulation of their broadband businesses to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC.”

    • Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle over FCC’s repeal plan

      The agency, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, will vote next week on scrapping the 2015 net neutrality rules, which prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites or creating internet “fast lanes.”

    • FCC Boss Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Harms The Sick And Disabled

      For a decade now one major ISP talking point against net neutrality is that it hurts the sick and disabled. Verizon, for example, has tried to pretend that net neutrality rules hurt the hearing impaired because it prevents them from getting access to prioritized medical services like video relay or other technologies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Another Reason To Distinguish Alcohol Markets In Trademarks: Actual Infringement Defended By Use Across Alcohol Products

        A brief review of all of the articles I’ve written in these here pages about sweet, delicious alcohol mostly have to do with trademark spats between drink-makers, including many in which I’ve made the point that it’s high time for the USPTO to get a little more subtle when it comes to its alcohol marketplace designations. Beer isn’t wine, and wine isn’t liquor, and the public looking to buy one of those is quite unlikely to confuse one product for another. The focus of many of those posts was how this lack of distinction between the alcohol markets has resulted in too many aggressive trademark lawsuits and threat letters that hardly seemed necessary.

        But there is a flip side to all of this that serves as another perfectly good reason for the USPTO to make a change. Recently, one liquor distiller sued another in what seems like a fairly plausible trademark infringement case.

    • Copyrights

      • EU Parliament Justice Committee Ponders Regulation Of Copyright And Liability In 3D Printing

        Should the European Parliament consider regulation on 3D printing with regard to intellectual property protection and civil liability? Members of the Justice Committee (JURI) today at their session in Brussels were divided with representatives from the Green Party group as well as the conservatives and liberals cautioning against erecting barriers to the technology.

        The rapporteur of the own-initiative report of the committee, Joelle Bergeron, a member of the populist party group “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy,” listed problems like the potential decline of value of a piece of art once it can be re-produced by anybody, as well as the question of liability for damage from 3D printed spare parts. Several members of the committee also pointed to the potential creation of 3D weapons.

      • The Strange Fight Over Who Should Take John Conyers Spot Atop The Judiciary Committee

        As you may have heard, Rep. John Conyers recently stepped down from his role as Ranking Member (basically top member of the minority party) on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and this week has announced his retirement, in response to multiple accusations of sexual harassment. That has kicked off something of an interesting and important debate over who should replace him as ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.

        The next in line by seniority is Rep. Jerry Nadler. But right behind him is Rep. Zoe Lofgren. By way of disclosure, I’ll note that I’ve gotten to know Lofgren over the years, and have donated to her election campaign. But even before I’d ever spoken to her, I’ve noted how she remains one of the few people in Congress who seems to consistently do the right thing on basically all of the issues that we care about at Techdirt. You can see our past coverage of stories involving Lofgren. Most specifically on copyright and surveillance, she hasn’t just been on the right side, she’s been leading the way. She is, almost single-handedly, the person who stopped SOPA from passing. She has consistently raised important issues and introduced important bills and amendments concerning copyright, NSA surveillance and the CFAA among other things.

      • Google, Facebook to be excluded from safe harbour provisions: report

        Safe harbour provisions protect internet service providers from court action when their users upload material that violates copyright to their platforms. The only fiat is that the providers must be adopting reasonable steps to get rid of the offending content.

      • Google and Facebook excluded from safe harbour copyright reforms

        The compromise of safe harbour provisions is a win for content creators who have argued that commercial operators monetising content or images not created or owned by them should pay some sort of licence due to the cost incurred creating things such as music, television, films and journalism.

        The Australian Recording Industry Association, Foxtel, the Australian Football League and News Corp are among the groups that have lobbied the government not to include Google and Facebook in extending the provisions.

      • New Police Anti-Piracy Task Force May Get Involved in Site Blocking

        In an effort to tackle online copyright infringement, the Danish Government has set up a new task force of investigators who will exclusively deal with IP [sic] crimes. The new police unit, which is operating on a trial basis, will help copyright holders deter piracy and may also request site blockades in the future.

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    David Kappos, a former USPTO Director who is now lobbying for large corporations that derive revenue from patent extortion, is writing for IAM even if his views are significantly biased by his aggressive paymasters (just like IAM's)



  11. The EPO Protest Tomorrow Isn't Just About Judge Corcoran But About the EPO as a Whole

    PO staff is about to protest against the employer, pointing out that "Battistelli is still showing a total and utter lack of respect not only for his staff and their rights but also for the Administrative Council and for the Tribunal"



  12. Claim: Judge Corcoran to Be Put Under Benoît Battistelli's Control in DG1

    Benoît Battistelli, who openly disregards and refuses to obey judges (while intervening in trials and delivering 'royal decrees' whenever it suits him), may soon gain direct control over the judge he hates most



  13. The European Patent Organisation Refrains (For Nearly a Week) From Speaking About Battistelli's Abuses as Judged by ILO Tribunal

    The EPO's silence on the matter of Patrick Corcoran is deafening; to make matters worse, the EPO continues to pollute media and academia with money of stakeholders, with the sole intention of lobbying and misleading news coverage (clearly a disservice to these stakeholders)



  14. Carl Josefsson Lets Judge Patrick Corcoran Come Back to Work at the EPO

    After initial reluctance to obey/respect the rulings from the ILO (security staff declining access) there is official permission for Patrick Corcoran to enter and resume work (following 3 years of injustice against him)



  15. Bristows is Being Hammered With Negative Comments For Its Unitary Patent (UPC) Lies

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is practically dead in the UK and Ireland; Bristows, nevertheless, continues with its desperate spin



  16. Links 11/12/2017: Linux 4.15 RC3, Debian 8.10 and Debian 9.3

    Links for the day



  17. Judge Corcoran Turns to His Government for Help and EPO 'House Ban' is Finally Lifted

    Sources that are very reliable say that Patrick Corcoran is coming back to work, however it's now clear when and how long for



  18. Raw: Battistelli's Control/Domination Over the Boards of Appeal

    An old EPO document internally voicing concerns about the lack of independence at the Boards of Appeal



  19. Raw: Conflicts of Interest of EPO Vice-President

    An old EPO concern regarding structural collisions and mixed loyalties



  20. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Are Increasingly Active and Microsoft is Selling 'Protection' (Azure Subscriptions)

    There are several indications that Microsoft-connected shells, which produce no products and are threatening a large number of companies, are inadvertently if not intentionally helping Microsoft sell "indemnification" ("Azure IP Advantage," which echoes the Microsoft/Novell strategy for collecting what they called "patent royalties" one decade ago)



  21. Yes, RPost is Definitely a Patent Troll and Its Software Patents Are at Risk Thanks to Alice

    The latest whitewashing (or reputation-laundering) pieces from Watchtroll, which tries to justify patent-trolling activities with software patents, typically in the Eastern District of Texas



  22. The Latest Scams in the Patent World

    Examples of 'dirty laundry' of the patent microcosm, which it understandably does not like covering (as it harms confidence in their services/advice)



  23. Patents Are Becoming a Welfare System for the Rich and Powerful

    A culture of litigation and more recently the patenting of broad industry standards may mean that multi-billion dollar corporations are cashing in without lifting a finger



  24. Unlike the Mobile Domain, When it Comes to Cars Patent Lawsuits Remain Rare

    An optimistic note regarding the relatively low-temperature legal landscape surrounding advanced automobiles, even though patents are being amassed on software in that domain



  25. The Federal Circuit Rules (Again) in Favour of Section 101/Alice, Koch-Funded CPIP Tries to Overturn Alice at the Supreme Court

    The US Supreme Court's decision on Alice continues to have a profoundly positive impact (except for trolls) and Koch-funded academics try hard to compel the US Supreme Court to reverse/override Alice (so far to no avail)



  26. Next Director of the USPTO Parrots Talking Points of Patent Extremists and Their Lobbyists

    The next USPTO boss (still subject to official confirmation) may be little more than a power grab by the litigation and patenting 'industry', which prioritises not science and technology but its own bottom line



  27. Raw: Three Years for 'Justice' (to be Disregarded by Benoît Battistelli) at ILO and Over a Decade at the EPO

    The delays associated with ‘justice’ at the EPO (usually neither justice nor compliance with rulings) have become so extraordinary that immunity should long ago have been stripped off and Battistelli et al been held accountable



  28. Raw: Scuttling of the General Advisory Committee and Battistelli Stacking the Deck to Have 'Yes Men' as Representatives

    How the EPO broke down resistance to Battistelli’s oppressive policies not only at the Council, disciplinary committees and auditory divisions but also staff representation (symptomatic of Battistelli’s notion of justice)



  29. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Will Endure Supreme Court Test and Overcome the Tribal Immunity “Scam”

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), based on the latest news, is still winning the argument and justifying its existence/importance



  30. Phones/Mobility (Trillion-Dollar Market) May Have Become Infested and Encumbered by Aggressive, Dying Companies

    The tough reality that new entrants/entrepreneurs are facing now that a few dying giants look to "monetise" their patents rather than create anything


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