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01.18.18

Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Reliance Jio and global tech leaders come together to push Open Source in India

    The India Digital Open Summit which will be held tomorrow at the Reliance Corporate Park campus in Navi Mumbai -is a must-attend event for industry leaders, policymakers, technologists, academia, and developer communities working towards India’s digital leadership through Open Source platforms.

    The summit is hosted by Reliance Jio in partnership with the Linux Foundation and supported by Cisco Systems.

  • Open-source software simulates river and runoff resources

    Freshwater resources are finite, unevenly distributed, and changing through time. The demand—and competition—for water is expected to grow both in the United States and in the developing/developed world. To examine the connection between supply and demand and resulting regional and global water stresses, a team developed Xanthos. The open-source hydrologic model is available for free and helps researchers explore the details and analyze global water availability.

    Researchers can use Xanthos to examine the implications of different climate, socioeconomic, and/or energy scenarios over the 21st century. They can then assess the effects of the scenarios on regional and global water availability. Xanthos can be used in three different ways. It can operate as an independent hydrologic model, driven, for example, by scenarios. It can serve as the core freshwater supply component of the Global Change Assessment Model, where multiple sectors and natural systems are modeled simultaneously as part of an interconnected, complex system. Further, it can be used by other integrated models and multi-model frameworks that focus on energy-water-land interactions.

  • “The Apache Way” — Open source done well

    I was at an industry conference and was happy to see many people stopping by the Apache booth. I was pleased that they were familiar with the Apache brand, yet puzzled to learn that so many were unfamiliar with The Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

    For this special issue, “All Eyes On Open Source”, it’s important to recognize not just Apache’s diverse projects and communities, but also the entity behind their success.

    Gone are the days when software and technology, in general, were developed privately for the benefit of the few. As technology evolves, the challenges we face become more complex, and the only way to effectively move forward to create the technology of the future is to collaborate and work together. Open Source is a perfect framework for that, and organizations like the ASF carry out a decisive role in protecting its spirit and principles.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Telemetry Use Counters: Over-estimating usage, now fixed

        Firefox Telemetry records the usage of certain web features via a mechanism called Use Counters. Essentially, for every document that Firefox loads, we record a “false” if the document didn’t use a counted feature, and a “true” if the document did use that counted feature.

      • Firefox 58 new contributors
      • Giving and receiving help at Mozilla

        This is going to sound corny, but helping people really is one of my favorite things at Mozilla, even with projects I have mostly moved on from. As someone who primarily works on internal tools, I love hearing about bugs in the software I maintain or questions on how to use it best.

        Given this, you might think that getting in touch with me via irc or slack is the fastest and best way to get your issue addressed. We certainly have a culture of using these instant-messaging applications at Mozilla for everything and anything. Unfortunately, I have found that being “always on” to respond to everything hasn’t been positive for either my productivity or mental health. My personal situation aside, getting pinged on irc while I’m out of the office often results in stuff getting lost — the person who asked me the question is often gone by the time I return and am able to answer.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Trishul Goe

        Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Trishul Goel! Trishul first became involved with Mozilla five years when he was introduced to the Firefox OS smartphone. As a JavaScript developer with an interest in Mozilla’s mission, he looked for opportunities to get involved and began contributing to SUMO, L10n, and the Firefox OS Marketplace, where he contributed code and developed and reviewed apps.

        After Firefox OS was discontinued as a commercial product, Trishul became interested in contributing to Mozilla’s add-ons projects. After landing his first code contributions to addons.mozilla.org (AMO), he set about learning how to develop extensions for Firefox using WebExtensions APIs. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge by leading and mentoring workshops for extension developers as part of Mozilla’s “Build Your Own Extension” Activate campaign.

      • Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler

        People call WebAssembly a game changer because it makes it possible to run code on the web faster. Some of these speedups are already present, and some are yet to come.

        One of these speedups is streaming compilation, where the browser compiles the code while the code is still being downloaded. Up until now, this was just a potential future speedup. But with the release of Firefox 58 next week, it becomes a reality.

        Firefox 58 also includes a new 2-tiered compiler. The new baseline compiler compiles code 10–15 times faster than the optimizing compiler.

      • Firefox 58 Bringing Faster WebAssembly Compilation With Two-Tiered Compiler

        With the launch of Mozilla Firefox 58 slated for next week, WebAssembly will become even faster thanks to a new two-tiered compiler.

      • New Kernel Releases, Net Neutrality, Thunderbird Survey and More

        In an effort to protect Net Neutrality (and the internet), Mozilla filed a petition in federal court yesterday against the FCC. The idea behind Net Neutrality is to treat all internet traffic equally and without discrimination against content or type.

        Make your opinions heard: Monterail and the Thunderbird email client development team are asking for your assistance to help improve the user interface in the redesign of the Thunderbird application. Be sure to take the survey.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • LLVM 6.0-RC1 Makes Its Belated Debut

      While LLVM/Clang 6.0 was branched earlier this month and under a feature freeze with master/trunk moving to LLVM 7.0, two weeks later the first release candidate is now available.

      Normally the first release candidate comes immediately following the branching / feature freeze, but not this time due to the shifted schedule with a slow start to satisfy an unnamed company seeking to align their internal testing with LLVM 6.0.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Hackers can’t dig into latest Xiaomi phone due to GPL violations

      Yet another Android OEM is dragging its feet with its GPL compliance. This time, it’s Xiaomi with the Mi A1 Android One device, which still hasn’t seen a kernel source code release.

      Android vendors are required to release their kernel sources thanks to the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 licensing. The Mi A1 has been out for about three months now, and there’s still no source code release on Xiaomi’s official github account.

    • 2017 – The Year in Which Copyright Went Beyond Source Code

      2017 was a big year for raising the profile of copyright in protecting computer programs. Two cases in particular helped bring attention to a myth that was addressed and dispelled some time ago but persists in some circles nonetheless. Many lawyers hold on to the notion that copyright protection for software is weak because such protection inheres in the source code of computer programs. Because most companies that generate code take extensive (and often successful) measures to keep source code out of the hands of third parties, the utility of copyright protection for code is often viewed as limited. However, copyright also extends to the “non-literal elements” of computer programs, such as their sequence, structure and organization, as well as to things such as screen displays and certain user interfaces. In other words, copyright infringement can occur when copying certain outputs of the code without there ever having been access to the underlying code itself.

  • Programming/Development

    • Git v2.16.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.16.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 509 non-merge commits since v2.15.0, contributed by 91 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.16 Released

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has released version 2.16.0 of this distributed revision control system.

    • Announcing The Node.js Application Showcase

      The stats around Node.js are pretty staggering. There were 25 million downloads of Node.js in 2017, with over one million of them happening on a single day. And these stats are just the users. On the community side, the numbers are equally exceptional.

      What explains this immense popularity? What we hear over and over is that, because Node.js is JavaScript, anyone who knows JS can apply that knowledge to build powerful apps — every kind of app. Node.js empowers everyone from hobbyists to the largest enterprise teams to bring their dreams to life faster than ever before.

    • Google AutoML Cloud: Now Build Machine Learning Models Without Coding Experience

      Google has been offering pre-trained neural networks for a long time. To lower the barrier of entry and make the AI available to all the developers and businesses around, Google has now introduced Cloud AutoML.

      With the help of Cloud AutoML, businesses will be able to build machine learning models with the help of a drag-and-drop interface. In other words, if your company doesn’t have expert machine-learning programmers, Google is here to fulfill your needs.

    • Re-imagining beta testing in the ever-changing world of automation

      Fundamentally, beta testing is a test of a product performed by real users in the real environment. There are a number of names for this type of testing—user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation and field testing (common in Europe)—but the basic components are more or less the same. All involve user testing of the front-end user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX) to find and resolve potential issues. Testing happens across iterations in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), from when an idea transforms into a design, across the development phases, to after unit and integration testing.

    • IBM code grandmaster: what Java does next

      Reports of Java’s death have been greatly exaggerated — said, well, pretty much every Java engineer that there is.

      The Java language and platform may have been (in some people’s view) somewhat unceremoniously shunted into a side ally by the self-proclaimed aggressive corporate acquisition strategists (their words, not ours) at Oracle… but Java still enjoys widespread adoption and, in some strains, growing use and development.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Announcing WebBook Level 1, a new Web-based format for electronic books

      Eons ago, at a time BlueGriffon was only a Wysiwyg editor for the Web, my friend Mohamed Zergaoui asked why I was not turning BlueGriffon into an EPUB editor… I had been observing the electronic book market since the early days of Cytale and its Cybook but I was not involved into it on a daily basis. That seemed not only an excellent idea, but also a fairly workable one. EPUB is based on flavors of HTML so I would not have to reinvent the wheel.

      I started diving into the EPUB specs the very same day, EPUB 2.0.1 (released in 2009) at that time. I immediately discovered a technology that was not far away from the Web but that was also clearly not the Web. In particular, I immediately saw that two crucial features were missing: it was impossible to aggregate a set of Web pages into a EPUB book through a trivial zip, and it was impossible to unzip a EPUB book and make it trivially readable inside a Web browser even with graceful degradation.

      When the IDPF started working on EPUB 3.0 (with its 3.0.1 revision) and 3.1, I said this was coming too fast, and that the lack of Test Suites with interoperable implementations as we often have in W3C exit criteria was a critical issue. More importantly, the market was, in my opinion, not ready to absorb so quickly two major and one minor revisions of EPUB given the huge cost on both publishing chains and existing ebook bases. I also thought – and said – the EPUB 3.x specifications were suffering from clear technical issues, including the two missing features quoted above.

Leftovers

  • Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0

    Bernstein offers three answers to these questions, and also warns of three distractions: things that we believe are making things better, but may actually be making things worse. It seems a good time to revisit them. Let’s get the distractions out of the way first.

  • Science

    • Crowds within crowd found to outperform ‘wisdom of the crowd’

      A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in Argentina, the U.S. and Germany has found that there is a way to improve on the “wisdom of the crowd”—separate the people in a given crowd into smaller groups and let them talk about an issue at hand before an answer is given. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes an experiment they carried out with a large crowd of volunteers, and what they learned from it.

      Most people have heard of the “wisdom of the crowd,” in which individuals in a crowd are privately asked to give an answer to a question, such as how many jelly beans are in a jar. When averaged together, the answer given by the crowd will generally be better than for any given individual. Now, it appears there may be a way to improve the accuracy of a crowd.

    • The Physics of the 69-Degree Intersection That Kills Cyclists

      In short, the problem comes about because of the angle of the intersection (it’s not perpendicular) and the angle of the blind spot in the car from its front pillar.

    • A material that superconducts continuously up to extreme pressures

      Researchers have discovered a metal alloy that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, or superconduct, from ambient pressure up to pressures similar to those that exist near the center of the Earth. The material, which is likely the first to show this kind of robust superconductivity, is described in a paper in the December 12, 2017, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

      The material is a member of a new family of metal alloys known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which are composed of random atomic-scale mixtures of elements from the block of “transition metals” on the periodic table. HEAs are interesting in multiple ways, including structurally. They have simple crystal structures, but the metals are arranged randomly on the lattice points, giving each alloy the properties of a both a glass and a crystalline material.

    • Study: Pulsating dissolution found in crystals

      When German researchers examined time-lapse images of dissolving crystals at the nanoscale, they found a surprise: Dissolution happened in pulses, marked by waves that spread just like ripples on a pond.

      “What we see are waves or rings,” said lead investigator Cornelius Fischer, who conducted this research at the University of Bremen in the group of Prof. Andreas Lüttge. “We have a pit in the middle, and then around these pits are rings of mass removal.” The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fischer and Lüttge specialize in studying minerals-fluid interactions, and have collaborated for more than 15 years in the US and Germany.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

      This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that was made from soybean oil. They’re doing it, though, not because it’s cheaper or better, but because they’re required to, by law.

      The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it’s the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it’s a wasteful misuse of resources.

    • MEAT AND THE H-WORD

      I am going to beg you. I am going to desperately plead with you. Let me say the word, and let me say why I’m saying the word, and then let’s have a discussion about it. I know that for some people, even to suggest that the word might apply to this case is tantamount to denialism. Just to have the conversation is to dishonor the victims. I realize, too, that I don’t strictly need this word, of all words, in order to discuss the subject. I have been advised that it is counterproductive: feelings about the word are so fraught that the offense caused will outweigh any good I could possibly do, and will cause me to be far less persuasive than I otherwise would be. And isn’t this about persuasion, ultimately? But I can’t help it: every time I examine the facts, I can’t stop thinking the word. If I’m being honest with you, and I want to be, I need to be able to tell you the question that I’m stuck on, and the question contains the word.

      The word is “holocaust” and the question is this: “Given the amount of suffering and death that it entails, why is it improper to describe the mass slaughter of animals for human consumption as a holocaust?”

      I appreciate why people react badly to any description of the loss of non-human life as a holocaust. One of the most disturbing features of the capital-H Holocaust was the dehumanization process. David Livingstone Smith, in Less Than Human, describes how a common prerequisite to atrocities is reconfiguring perceptions of a group, to make them seem not just metaphorically but literally “subhuman.” We all know that the Nazis described the Jews as rats and the Hutus describe the Tutsis as cockroaches. “Comparing people to animals” is such a common feature of organized brutality that any argument to draw parallels between animal-victims and people-victims can be seen as partly replicating the very thought process that led to the actual Holocaust.

    • Global Summit On IP And Access Discusses Impact Of TRIPS-Plus Measures On Public Health

      A network of civil society organisations chose the birthplace of the World Trade Organization, Marrakesh, to hold a global summit on intellectual property and access to medicines this week. Part of the summit focused on stringent IP measures in free trade agreements in particular with the European Union, introducing patent term extension and data exclusivity periods.

    • Dangerous Deliveries

      Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    • Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

      Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

      Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

      However, the system is shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian asked leading retailers to reveal the exact amount of waste they are responsible for, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Latvia’s e-health system hit by cyberattack from abroad

      Latvia said its new e-health system was on Tuesday hit by a large-scale cyberattack that saw thousands of requests for medical prescriptions pour in per second from more than 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the European Union.

      No data was compromised, according to health officials, who immediately took down the site, which was launched earlier this month to streamline the writing of prescriptions in the Baltic state.

      “It is clear that it was a planned attack, a widespread attack—we might say a specialised one—as it emanated from computers located in various different countries, both inside the European Union and outside Europe,” state secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters.

      “We received thousands of requests in a very short space of time. That’s not the normal way the system works,” he said, adding that an investigation is under way.

    • Linux Lite Developer Creates Automated Spectre/Meltdown Checker for Linux OSes

      The developer of the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite distribution has created a script that makes it easier for Linux users to check if their systems are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws.

      As we reported last week, developer Stéphane Lesimple created an excellent script that would check if your Linux distribution’s kernel is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month and put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Purism Releases Meltdown and Spectre Patches for Its Librem Linux Laptops

      Purism, the computer technology company behind the privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem laptops and the upcoming smartphone, released patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

      The company was one of the first Linux OEMs and OS vendor to announce that it’s working on addressing both the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits on his Linux laptops. Meltdown and Spectre have been unearthed in early January and they are two severe hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Facebook Awards Security Researchers $880,000 in 2017 Bug Bounties

      Facebook is hardly a small organization, with large teams of engineers and security professionals on staff. Yet even Facebook has found that it can profit from expertise outside of the company, which is why the social networking giant has continued to benefit from its bug bounty program.

      In 2017, Facebook paid out $880,000 to security researchers as part of its bug bounty program. The average reward payout in 2017 was $1,900, up from $1,675 in 2016.

    • Multicloud Deployments Create Security Challenges, F5 Report Finds
    • Will U.S. Corporations Ever Take Cybersecurity Seriously?

      It’s another month, and another major IT-related security problem has been uncovered. The latest, the security flaws discovered in Intel, AMD, and AMR chips that can allow the bypassing of operating system security protections are a bit different than most vulnerabilities. They are hardware rather than software-based, and their impacts are exceptionally widespread, impacting nearly every Intel processor made since the mid-1990s. Billions of chips in total could be affected.

    • Spectre Mitigation Updates Available for Testing in Ubuntu Proposed
    • What is Mirai Okiru? New botnet found targeting billions of ARC-based IoT devices worldwide

      ARC-embedded processors are found in a wide range of internet-connected devices including cars, mobiles, TVs and cameras and are reportedly shipped in more than a billion products every year.

    • Hospital pays $55,000 in bitcoin to hackers [sic] after ‘SamSam’ ransomware locks systems [iophk: "hospital + Microsoft financing more crime"]

      Last Thursday (11 January), staff at Hancock Regional Hospital, Indiana, found their computers had been infected with malware, which was demanding bitcoin to regain access. As reported, the hack [sic] impacted emails and health records, but no patient data is believed stolen.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Assange recalls fake reporting on Turkish defeated coup

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.

      “The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.

      Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fracking Lobbyists Plan to Spend Big at Trump Hotel

      FRACKING FIRMS HAVE had much to celebrate over the last year, as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have moved swiftly to approve pipeline projects, roll back environmental regulations, and expand drilling access on public lands.

      It may come as no surprise, then, that the fracking lobby is the latest industry to return the favor by spending thousands of dollars at a Trump family property.

      The Independent Petroleum Association of America will hold its 2018 “Congressional Call-Up” lobbying event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. from March 5 to 7. The agenda, which is publicly available, includes a meeting with officials in Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as meetings for conference attendees that will take place at the hotel.

    • Europe will hike climate finance spending, insists Cañete

      The EU’s climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete has vowed to increase the bloc’s funding for climate change adaption, pledging that 20% of the EU’s foreign spending would be allocated to climate-related projects.

      Speaking at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Wednesday (17 January), Cañete, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action, insisted that EU-provided climate finance to developing countries would increase in 2018.

      However, he warned that public money could not form the main contribution to the $100 billion annual target which wealthy countries have promised to invest in renewable energy and climate change mitigation projects in developing countries.

  • Finance

    • Apple to pay $38 billion in US taxes on overseas cash

      Apple didn’t have a choice about this. Under the new tax bill, all overseas cash is subject to a one-time 15.5 percent tax whether Apple leaves it overseas or moves it to the United States.

    • Apple to repatriate overseas cash stash, invest heavily in US

      Apple will pay taxes of about US$38 billion in order to repatriate the US$246 billion in cash it holds overseas, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Homeland Security’s Over Obsession With Counterfeits Now Harming Innocent Buyers Of Counterfeit Goods Online

      For many years we’ve talked about the kind of derangement that happens among many — especially among those working for Homeland Security’s Customs and ICE divisions — considering the supposed “dangers” of counterfeit goods. Over and over again we’ve pointed to studies that have shown that the “harm” of counterfeits is massively overblown. And these are not just random studies picked out of a hat. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the OECD have put out studies on this. When you look at the details, you quickly learn that while there are a few cases of people tricked by counterfeit goods — and a vanishingly small number of cases where people are put at risk due to counterfeits — in many, many cases, no one is actually losing out due to counterfeits. They are frequently an aspirational buy. That is, the buyer knows they’re buying a counterfeit good, but are doing so because they so appreciate the real version, but can’t afford it. And studies show that buyers of counterfeits quite frequently buy the real deal later when they’re able to afford it. Thus, counterfeits often act as marketing for the original.

      But, for whatever reason, Homeland Security likes to play up the “threats” of counterfeits and makes lots of noise about how many counterfeit things it seizes at the border every year (or… not at the border — such as the time it raided a lingerie store to get “counterfeit” panties advertising sports teams). And sure, Homeland Security really really wants you to believe it’s protecting the public with this kind of thing.

    • 5 key reasons bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have lost a stunning $370 billion in 10 days

      The No. 1 digital currency and its cohort continued to unravel Wednesday, extending a downturn that has seen the entire sector cough up a whopping $370 billion since Jan. 7, or more than 40% of their total value.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Art of State Trolling – a Growing Market

      Last week, while I was doing a number of talks for Funzing.com in London, I was invited into RT to discuss a new report about the US military advertising for programmers who could develop software that targeted Iranian, Chinese and Russian audiences via social media.

      The timing proved interesting. Only days before, it was revealed by @musalbas at the CCC and then via Wikileaks that the UK government listening post, GCHQ, had apparently been doing the same thing since 2009.

    • Porn Star Stormy Daniels to In Touch: Trump Said I Was “Just Like His Daughter”

      Although Donald Trump is alleged to have paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a reported affair that took place 10 years previously, In Touch Weekly has published an interview with Daniels from 2011, before the signing of any NDA, in which she spills intimate details of meeting the then-Apprentice host at a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe.

      A frequent theme throughout the interview concerns Trump being taken aback by how smart and business savvy Daniels was, with Trump going so far as to tell Daniels that he wanted to put her on The Apprentice. One of Daniels’s quotes on the subject which In Touch published in the print edition of the story but not online, is particularly striking.

    • “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s First Year in Office

      Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies—including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border— were “uninformed.” Kelly said, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” Well, today we spend the hour looking at Trump’s first year in office with David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has been covering Donald Trump since 1988. He is out this week with a new book titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube to manually review popular videos before placing ads

      Previously, creators could join YPP if they had more than 10,000 views over the lifetime of their activity on the site. Now, however, they will need 1,000 subscribers to their channel, and a total of 4,000 hours of video viewed over the previous 12 months.

    • Quack Doctor Treating Cancer With Baking Soda Sues Skeptic For Questioning Her Cancer Treatment Methods

      Very little attracts legal threats faster than someone calling a quack a quack. If it energizes tap water like a duck and promotes off-label use of dangerous drugs like a duck, it’s probably a duck. The legal history of “alternative” medical practices is littered with cease-and-desist orders and failed lawsuits. The legal present is just as cluttered.

      Blogger/skeptic Britt Hermes could have gone down the road to quack infamy. She was on the “naturopathic” career path when she came to the realization the whole things was horseshit. Rather than exploit the horseshit to make sick people sicker, Hermes decided to let the world know just how much horseshit her former colleagues were peddling.

    • Psychiatrist Drops His Lawsuit Against Critic Who Left Wordless One-Star Review

      It looks like the psychiatrist who sued a pseudonymous reviewer over a wordless one-star review has finally decided to stop digging this particular hole. Since news broke of psychiatrist Mark Beale’s defamation suit against “Richard Hill,” Beale has amassed a great many one-star reviews by non-patients. There’s no telling if Beale will be seeking to file an en masse lawsuit against these Does (taking a page out of copyright trolls’ handbooks), but this cannot possibly be what he envisioned when he decided the original one-star review was worth suing over.

      Unbelievably, Beale managed to convince a judge to allow him to seek the real identity of “Richard Hill” in order to continue with his lawsuit. Not only did the judge give enough credence to Beale’s argument that a one-star review was per se defamatory, but the judge granted the unmasking order, calling a review of business “commercial speech” — something given less protection under the First Amendment.

    • David North, Chris Hedges and WSWS.Org on Organizing Against Internet Censorship

      On January 16, 2018, the World Socialist Web Site hosted a discussion on Internet censorship, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North, moderated by WSWS reporter Andre Damon.

      The webinar explored the political context of the efforts to censor the Internet and abolish net neutrality, examined the pretexts used to justify the suppression of free speech (i.e., “fake news”), and discussed political strategies to defend democratic rights. Hedges and North also fielded questions from on-line listeners.

    • Terry Glavin: As China pushes censorship on B.C. students, democracy falls back

      It’s a story about the way the Beijing regime bullies people far beyond its borders, with a few amusing twists and several disgusting instances of corporate cowardice, but it begins innocently enough, with a 28-year-old student at the University of British Columbia and a post he put up on Twitter last Wednesday.

      Shawn Zhang, a Peking University alumnus who came to Canada on a student visa two years ago to study law, posted an image of the Tibetan flag below a tongue-in-cheek announcement on the Twitter account of Friends of Tibet, a solidarity group based in India that keeps an eye on China’s brutal occupation of the exiled Dalai Lama’s Himalayan homeland.

    • Philippines: Journalists Decry Gov’t Crackdown Against News Outlet Rappler

      In the Philippines, journalists and press freedom advocates are condemning Duterte’s government for trying to shut down the highly popular independent news outlet Rappler. On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s license to operate on the charges that the website is foreign-owned, even though the website is owned by Filipinos. This morning, the Philippines Justice Department authorized the opening of a criminal investigation into the website. Rappler and press freedom advocates say the website is being targeted for its critical reporting on Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and his devastating so-called drug war.

    • Student journalists speak up for Missouri bill that would shield them from censorship

      Opioids, race and politics are some of the topics Kirkwood High School senior Camille Baker has led coverage of as her school newspaper’s editor in chief.

      She’s lucky enough to have the support of her school’s leaders. But she realizes her peers across the state may not have the same freedom.

      On Wednesday, she testified before a Missouri House committee in support of a bill that would prohibit a school’s administration from censoring student journalists.

    • To Combat High-Profile Abuse of Its Platform, YouTube Punishes Small Timers
    • Lebanon allows Spielberg film ‘The Post’ after censorship threat
    • Conservatives invited to pressure Twitter over censorship
    • Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening

      Throughout the near entirety of human history, a population’s understanding of what’s going on in the world has been controlled by those in power. The men in charge controlled what the people were told about rival populations, the history of their tribe and its leadership, etc. When the written word was invented, men in charge dictated what books were permitted to be written and circulated, what ideas were allowed, what narratives the public would be granted access to.

      This continued straight on into modern times. Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

    • Libraries sue Elbert County Commissioner over censorship fears

      Libraries in Elbert County are suing county commissioners who want to take a stronger role in determining who is appointed to lead boards and commissions.

      Next reported last month that the three new Republican commissioners voted to approve a policy that states appointments to boards or committees are to be “generally reflective of the overall citizenry of the county.”

      Now, Pines and Plains Libraries, which are part of the Elbert County Library District, are suing the board of county commissioners. The libraries want an injunction to stop the commissioners from interfering with its board of trustees.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EU GDPR and personal data in web server logs

      Web server logs contains information classified as personal data by default under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new privacy regulation comes in effect in May 2018, and just about everyone needs to take action now to become compliant.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advise. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.

      The General Data Protection Regulation shifts the default operating mode for personal data collection from collect and store as much information about everyone as possible for all eternity to don’t collect any information about anyone unless there is documented and informed consent for the collection; and don’t use that information for anything but the specific purposes consent were given for. The GDPR turns big-data collection of personal data on the web from an asset to a liability with fines as high as 20 000 000 Euro or 4 % of global revenue (whichever is greater).

      I’ve limited the scope of this article to discuss and focus on some of the technical requirements surrounding personal data collected by default in the logs generated by popular web server software. I’ll not go through the entire GDPR and all the requirements, but focus on some actionable points.

    • Sweatcoin lets you earn crypto for working out

      Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

      The startup says it has accumulated more than 5 million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 2 million weekly active users on the app, and growing, making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

      It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

    • Using AI To Identify Car Models In 50 Million Google Street Views Reveals A Wide Range Of Demographic Information

      Google Street View is a great resource for taking a look at distant locations before travelling, or for visualizing a nearby address before driving there. But Street View images are much more than vivid versions of otherwise flat maps: they are slices of modern life, conveniently sorted by geolocation. That means they can provide all kinds of insights into how society operates, and what the differences are geographically. The tricky part is extracting that information. An article in the New York Times reports on how researchers at Stanford University have applied artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to 50 million Google Street View images taken in 200 US cities. Since analyzing images of people directly is hard and fraught with privacy concerns, the researchers concentrated on a proxy: cars.

    • US Telcos Threatened With Loss Of Government Contracts If They Do Business With Huawei

      Last week we noted how AT&T was forced to scrap a partnership with Huawei to sell the company’s smartphones here in the States, just hours before it was set to be announced at CES. The reason? Apparently a few members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees fired off a letter to the FCC demanding that they pressure US telcos into avoiding Huawei. The letter, which nobody has published, allegedly accuses the company of being little more than an intelligence proxy for the Chinese government.

      There are several problems with this. While it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, there’s been no hard evidence of this. In fact, numerous investigations (including one eighteen months long) found no evidence of any spying whatsoever. What inquiries did find is that these allegations pretty consistently originate with U.S. hardware vendors like Cisco, who routinely enjoy playing up the threat simply because they don’t want to compete with Chinese hardware vendors. You know, the very same thing we routinely (often quite accurately) complain about China doing.

    • Privacy expectations and the connected home

      Traditionally, devices that were tied to logins tended to indicate that in some way – turn on someone’s xbox and it’ll show you their account name, run Netflix and it’ll ask which profile you want to use. The increasing prevalence of smart devices in the home changes that, in ways that may not be immediately obvious to the majority of people. You can configure a Philips Hue with wall-mounted dimmers, meaning that someone unfamiliar with the system may not recognise that it’s a smart lighting system at all. Without any actively malicious intent, you end up with a situation where the account holder is able to infer whether someone is home without that person necessarily having any idea that that’s possible. A visitor who uses an Amazon Echo is not necessarily going to know that it’s tied to somebody’s Amazon account, and even if they do they may not know that the log (and recorded audio!) of all interactions is available to the account holder. And someone grabbing an egg out of your fridge is almost certainly not going to think that your smart egg tray will trigger an immediate notification on the account owner’s phone that they need to buy new eggs.

      Things get even more complicated when there’s multiple account support. Google Home supports multiple users on a single device, using voice recognition to determine which queries should be associated with which account. But the account that was used to initially configure the device remains as the fallback, with unrecognised voices ended up being logged to it. If a voice is misidentified, the query may end up being logged to an unexpected account.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • DHS’ Threat to Prosecute Officials of Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

      In testimony before Congress yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed that her agency is seeking the prosecution of state and local officials in jurisdictions that limit their entanglement with federal immigration enforcement.

      Even in the context of the Trump administration’s frequent disregard for the Constitution, Nielsen’s threat to prosecute mayors, legislators, and police chiefs over policy disagreements is shocking. There is no basis in federal law to prosecute government officials who decide, with and on behalf of their constituents, that their communities are better served by opting out of participation in the federal deportation system. And that kind of prosecution would be an assault on the principles at the core of our constitutional system.

    • Judging WaPo’s MLK Quotes by the Content of Their 280 Characters

      It’s a predictable approach—removing MLK’s critiques of capitalism and US imperialism—from a reliable protector of capitalism (1/30/16, 11/1/16, 10/3/17) and US imperial aggression (2/6/03, 5/25/17, 6/26/17, 12/4/17), but rarely is sanitizing MLK done in such a haphazard and patronizing fashion. Not only is all blood taken from his words, but the quotes highlighted seem handpicked precisely to ameliorate the guilt of the Post’s more conservative white readers in the hackiest manner possible; a shoddy whitewash by a paper supposedly representing a majority African-American city.

    • Innocent But Still Guilty

      After Fred Steese spent two decades in a Nevada prison for murder, evidence indicating that he was innocent was found buried in the prosecution’s files. It was proof that Steese, as he’d always claimed, had been hundreds of miles away on the likely day of the murder and couldn’t have been the killer.

      In Maryland two years earlier, the conviction of James Thompson, who had also served 20 years for murder and rape and whose case involved police and prosecutorial misconduct, was thrown into overwhelming doubt when his DNA didn’t match the semen found in the victim.

    • Sheriff’s Officers Working Black Section of Jacksonville to Get Bias Training

      The training will be conducted by Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach. It will be concentrated on officers and residents of the Sheriff Office’s Zone 5, which makes up Northwest Jacksonville. That patrol zone has among the highest concentrations of black residents in the city. Research released by the University of North Florida last year showed that the patrol zone has the lowest level of trust in law enforcement.

      Trainings for officers will focus on improving negative perceptions and attitudes that exist between the community and police. The university’s work with local residents will center on the community’s role in neighborhood safety and how citizens can improve relationships with police. The training will involve 135 Sheriff’s Office personnel and 120 community members and 52 total hours of training. It will cost about $23,500.

    • China: Democracy Activist Sentenced to Prison for 2014 Hong Kong Protests

      In more news on China, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to three months in prison for his role in organizing the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests in Hong Kong. This is Joshua Wong, speaking before his sentencing Wednesday.

    • Mechanical Turkers may have out-predicted the most popular crime-predicting algorithm

      The most surprising results came when researchers compared COMPAS to other kinds of prediction. Farid and Dressel recruited 462 random workers through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and asked the Turkers to “read a few sentences about an actual person and predict if they will commit a crime in the future.” They were paid one dollar for completing the task, with a five dollar bonus if their accuracy was over 65 percent. Surprisingly, the median Turker ended up two points better than COMPAS, clocking in at 67 percent accuracy.

    • Study shows software used to predict repeat offenders is no better at it than untrained humans

      “Claims that secretive and seemingly sophisticated data tools are more accurate and fair than humans are simply not supported by our research findings,” said Dressel. “The use of such software may be doing nothing to help people who could be denied a second chance by black-box algorithms.”

    • Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans

      “There was essentially no difference between people responding to an online survey for a buck and this commercial software being used in the courts,” says Farid, who teaches computer science at Dartmouth. “If this software is only as accurate as untrained people responding to an online survey, I think the courts should consider that when trying to decide how much weight to put on them in making decisions.”

    • Algorithms that change lives should be trialled like new drugs

      Who should we listen to when deciding whether a criminal will reoffend: a sophisticated algorithm, or random people on the internet? Trick question – it turns out they both produce the same results, according to a new analysis that demonstrates the danger of handing over control of our lives to the machines.

    • Court Software No Better Than Mechanical Turks at Predicting Repeat Crime

      Software now widely used by courts to predict which criminals are likely to commit future crimes might be no more accurate than regular people with presumably little to no criminal justice expertise, a new study finds.

      Predictive algorithms now regularly make recommendations regarding music, ads, health care, stock trades, auto insurance, and bank loans, among other things. In the criminal justice system, such algorithms have been used to predict where crimes will likely occur, who is likely to commit violent crimes, who is likely to fail to appear at their court hearings, and who is likely to repeat criminal behavior in the future.

    • Trump’s Roundup of Immigrant Leaders Has Begun

      On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, President Donald J. Trump visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly his 91st trip to a golf club since taking office. Meanwhile, in New York City, hundreds rallied in Judson Memorial Church, demanding freedom for Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir, two men who had just been detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Both men have been in the U.S. for almost 60 years between them, and both are prominent immigrant-rights organizers. They aren’t the only ones who’ve been targeted by ICE lately, either, suggesting a concerted effort by the Trump administration to round up leaders in the immigrant community.

      Jean Montrevil, originally from Haiti, has been in the U.S. for over 30 years. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also is one of those countries that Trump reportedly singled out in a racist screed last Thursday, calling Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa “shitholes.” The comment was made at the White House, where Trump and senators were discussing a possible legislative deal on immigration. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” Trump reportedly asked, adding, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He went on to say that we need more immigrants from places like Norway, one of the whitest countries on the planet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 22 US states are suing the FCC over net neutrality

      The suit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. Joining them, are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

    • 22 State Attorneys General File Suit Against The FCC For Its Net Neutrality Repeal

      The legal fight over the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has begun. An announcement by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office indicates that 22 State Attorneys General have filed suit against the FCC. The AGs says the multi-state coalition has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what’s expected to be numerous lawsuits in the weeks and months to come.

      The announcement makes it clear the suit intends to focus on the FCC’s potential violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act the FCC will need to prove that the broadband market changed so substantially since the passage of the original rules in 2015 to warrant such a stark reversal (tip: it didn’t). Under the Act, a decision can be declared “arbitrary and capricious” (Ajit Pai’s agenda is undeniably both) if the regulator in question can’t prove such a dramatic change, which is why you’ve watched industry lobbyists and their BFF Pai routinely and falsely claim that the modest rules somehow devastated sector investment.

    • Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?

      Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore the so-called net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission rolled back in December.

      But even if Democrats win that vote, Democrats have a long ways to go before they are able to reinstate rules that prevent internet service providers from creating fast and slow lanes for online users. Here is a look at their difficult road ahead, and some of the motivations:

    • Apple Is Blocking an App That Detects Net Neutrality Violations From the App Store

      The most pervasive feeling about the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality repeal is one of hopelessness. If we all need to use the internet, big telecom companies control our access to the internet, and there’s no choice about what company to use, how are we supposed to stop these companies from messing with our connections?

      The FCC has suggested that consumer outrage will prevent companies from violating net neutrality, but it if you’re not a network engineer, it can be hard to know if net neutrality is being violated at all. David Coffnes, a researcher at Northeastern University, set out to change that. He created an app to detect net neutrality violations, but Apple has banned it from the App Store, preventing consumers from accessing the information they need to at least know when they’re getting screwed over.

  • DRM

    • Open-Source HDCP Support Gets Extended To More Platforms

      With the Linux 4.17 kernel (not the upcoming 4.16 cycle) there is likely to be added initial HDCP support to Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver. Ahead of that this High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection support continues getting improved upon.

      While Google developers working on Chrome/Chromium OS were the ones originally working on the patches and proposing this HDCP functionality be upstreamed into the mainline i915 DRM Linux driver, coming out today are patches from an Intel developer for extending the HDCP content protection coverage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The Commodores Trademark Fight Decided in Florida Court

        The exclusive right to use The Commodores’ name and trademarks belongs to a company run by founding members William King and Walter Orange, a Florida appellate court has ruled.

        Commodores Entertainment Corporation, a company run by King and Orange, in 2014 sued ex-bandmate Thomas McClary for trademark infringement after discovering that he had been performing using variations of the famous funk group’s name. (McClary left the band in 1984.)

      • A Trademark War Almost Tore Apart The Adult Baby Community

        A company that makes diapers for the adult baby/diaper lover fetish community (known as ABDL) gave up on its attempt to trademark the term “ABDL” on Thursday after message boards for the community exploded in anger last week.

        Rearz, a Canadian-based supplier of adult diapers with cutesy patterns and other adult baby accessories, like pacifiers, told BuzzFeed News, “we had no malicious or strange intentions in trying to register it, but obviously it struck a nerve with people. This is a community we love and serve, and we don’t want to make people feel less valuable.”

      • Community Backlash Leads Adult Diaper Company To Drop Its Trademark Application for ‘ABDL’

        When a company goes down a wrong or abusive road regarding trademark rights, the public has a lot of tools for remedy. Legal disputes between interested parties can often times correct a company attempting to secure trademark rights it ought not have. Invalidating a trademark that never should have been granted is another tool. But often times, the best and quickest remedies can come from the public itself in the form of a good old fashioned backlash.

        The likelihood of such a backlash is necessarily a function of the devotion of a particular fanbase. The craft beer industry has had to learn this lesson several times, with a portion of the public devoted to seeing the industry thrive also being unwilling to let stand aggressive trademark bullying that threatens that same industry. We saw another of these backlash instances cause a company to reverse course recently and I struggle to think of a more potentially devoted fanbase to an industry than those among us whose fetish is role-playing as adult babies.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate IPTV Mastermind Owns Raided Bulgarian ISP, Sources Say

        Last week police forces across Europe raided and shut down one of the largest ‘pirate’ IPTV operations in the world. With information continuing to drip out, the true scale is now becoming clear. In Bulgaria alone, where the illicit service had its alleged base,140 servers were seized. Only adding to the intrigue are fresh claims that the owner of a local ISP was the brains behind the entire operation.

      • How Closed Trade Deals Ratchet Up the Copyright Term Worldwide

        Although copyright is a subject of international law—principally the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Berne Convention from 1886 and its Internet Treaties from 1996—it is still implemented and enforced primarily through national laws. Those laws differ from one country to another in significant ways. One of the most significant differences is the length of the term of copyright protection, which varies from the life of the author plus 50 years (the Berne Convention’s minimum requirement), up to life plus 100 years (in Mexico).

        Differences in the law aren’t a bug; they’re a feature. Just as a country has the right to craft specific exceptions to copyright law based on its own national circumstances (for example in India, where many foreign books are not available for sale, copyright law allows public libraries to make up to three copies of such books), so too it should be able to adopt the copyright term that makes the most sense for its citizens—which in most if not all cases will be the shortest term allowed.

        But because differences in copyright term make things more complicated for copyright holders, there are constant efforts by some copyright holders to try to homogenize the duration of copyright so that they can more easily enforce their copyrights worldwide—and of course, they would like them to be harmonized at the life-plus-70 year term, so that they can extract another 20 years of monopoly rents, over and above the Berne Convention’s standard life-plus-50 year term. Trade agreements are one way that they are trying to achieve this. Here’s how.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses Megaupload Domain Names, Gets “Destroyed” Gaming Chair Back

        The U.S. Government has won another civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. As a result, the U.S. now owns several online bank accounts, cars, servers, as well as Megaupload’s domain names. Around the same time, the US returned two containers of seized property, as previously ordered by a Hong Kong court. These goods were not treated properly, according to an outraged Dotcom.

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