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03.05.18

Links 5/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC4, Linux From Scratch 8.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Tips for top: Monitoring CPU load on Linux

    Where should you look for answers? The top program is a great place to start. It can give you a rich, self-updating overview of the processes running on your system.

    The figure below shows a typical screen of top data. The first line provides the current time, the elapsed time since the most recent system boot, the number of users currently logged in, and load averages for the last minute, five minutes, and 15 minutes. This information can also be returned by running uptime.

  • A curiosity for Linux leads to an unexpected career

    The first time I saw Fedora, I was 15 or 16 years old. Someone I knew was trying (and failing) to install it on their computer. I’d never seen an OS other than Windows. I was intrigued and started asking the person many questions. He told me this OS was free to download and install—and I could even install it on my computer—but I did not believe an OS could be “free as in free beer.”

    I went home and started poking around on the internet for more information, but I was too nervous to download it. The reason? The internet in India was not very fast (at least not in my apartment), and it had a data cap that could have been exhausted by downloading an OS. Yes, I know it was probably a gig or less, but I did fear of using up all my internet, so I moved on.

  • Desktop

    • Windows 10 has had no overall growth in the last month. None

      This month’s Netmarketshare figures are almost static, but are still worth a look. The very fact that they are so static will be frustrating, particularly for Microsoft, which is still desperately trying to find the carrot to bring businesses on to Windows 10.

      Unlike with Windows 8, which was just terrible for businesses, Windows 7 remains not broken and so there’s no rush to fix it. Mild threats like Office 2019 not being available outside Windows 10, or withdrawing the old Skype client, are just not a big enough deal to a big enough group to get people invested in the switch.

    • Windows 10 Browser’s Struggle Continues for Another Month

      Microsoft is betting big on Edge browser in Windows 10, and this is one of the reasons the company has become rather aggressive in its attempt to convince users to give it a try, but all these efforts seem to be failing due to the popularity of Google Chrome.

    • Is Microsoft Getting Ready to Kill Off Windows Media Player?

      Windows Media Player appears to be the next name on the list of features to be deprecated from Windows 10, as Microsoft has started pushing users to the Movies & TV UWP app that comes pre-installed on the operating system.

      A screenshot posted on reddit reveals that Microsoft is now showing popups to users launching Windows Media Player to highlight the capabilities of Movies & TV app, most likely in an attempt to migrate them to the new app in anticipation of a possible demise of the classic player.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 Released: Transparently Secure Container Network Connectivity Utilising Linux BPF

      Cilium is open source software for transparently securing the network connectivity between application services deployed using Linux container management platforms like Docker and Kubernetes. Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 has recently been released, which includes: the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-hosted Envoy configured as the default HTTP/gRPC proxy; the addition of a simple health overview for connectivity and other errors; and an improved scalable kvstore interaction layer.

      Microservices applications tend to be highly dynamic, and this presents both a challenge and an opportunity in terms of securing connectivity between microservices. Modern approaches to overcoming this issue have coalesced around the CNCF-hosted Container Network Interface (CNI) and the increasingly popular “service mesh” technologies, such as Istio and Conduit. According to the Cilium documentation, traditional Linux network security approaches (such as iptables) filter on IP address and TCP/UDP ports. However, the highly volatile life cycle of containers and IP addresses cause these approaches to struggle to scale alongside the application as the large number of load balancing tables and access control lists must be updated continually.

    • Latest AMDKFD Kernel Patches For Radeon dGPU VM Support

      For those of you excited by the prospects of running ROCm compute and OpenCL off a mainline Linux kernel build with a discrete Radeon GPU, there is an updated patch-set this weekend for testing.

      Linux 4.17 is shaping up to be another exciting kernel for Radeon GPU owners with finally having WattMan support and the AMDKFD HSA driver being in good shape for discrete GPUs to begin allowing these graphics processors to run with the open-source ROCm compute stack without needing any kernel changes.

    • The boot-constraint subsystem

      The fifth version of the patch series adding the boot-constraint subsystem is under review on the linux-kernel mailing list. The purpose of this subsystem is to honor the constraints put on devices by the bootloader before those devices are handed over to the operating system (OS) — Linux in our case. If these constraints are violated, devices may fail to work properly once the kernel starts reconfiguring the hardware; by tracking and enforcing those constraints, instead, we can ensure that hardware continues to work properly until the kernel is fully operational.

      The bootloader is a piece of code that loads the operating system, normally after initializing a number of hardware components that are required during the boot process, such as the flash memory controller. More than one bootloader may take part in booting the OS; the first-stage bootloader loads the second-stage bootloader, and the second-stage bootloader loads the OS. Some of the most common bootloaders used with Linux are LILO (LInux LOader), LOADLIN (LOAD LINux), GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader), U-Boot (Universal Bootloader) and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

    • Dynamic function tracing events

      For as long as the kernel has included tracepoints, developers have argued over whether those tracepoints are part of the kernel’s ABI. Tracepoint changes have had to be reverted in the past because they broke existing user-space programs that had come to depend on them; meanwhile, fears of setting internal code in stone have made it difficult to add tracepoints to a number of kernel subsystems. Now, a new tracing functionality is being proposed as a way to circumvent all of those problems.

      Whether tracepoints are part of the kernel ABI is not an insignificant issue. The kernel’s ABI promise states that working programs will not be broken by updated kernels. It has become clear in the past that this promise extends to tracepoints, most notably in 2011 when a tracepoint change broke powertop and had to be reverted. Some kernel maintainers prohibit or severely restrict the addition of tracepoints to their subsystems out of fear that a similar thing could happen to them. As a result, the kernel lacks tracepoints that users would find useful.

    • BPF comes to firewalls

      The Linux kernel currently supports two separate network packet-filtering mechanisms: iptables and nftables. For the last few years, it has been generally assumed that nftables would eventually replace the older iptables implementation; few people expected that the kernel developers would, instead, add a third packet filter. But that would appear to be what is happening with the newly announced bpfilter mechanism. Bpfilter may eventually replace both iptables and nftables, but there are a lot of questions that will need to be answered first.

      It may be tempting to think that iptables has been the kernel’s packet-filtering implementation forever, but it is a relative newcomer, having been introduced in the 2.4.0 kernel in 2001. Its predecessors (ipchains, introduced in 2.2.10, and ipfwadm, which dates back to 1.2.1 in 1995) are mostly forgotten at this point. Iptables has served the Linux community well and remains the firewalling mechanism that is most widely used, but it does have some shortcomings; it has lasted longer than the implementations that came before, but it is clearly not the best possible solution to the problem.

      The newer nftables subsystem, merged for the 3.13 kernel release in early 2014, introduced an in-kernel virtual machine to implement firewall rules; users have been slowly migrating over, but the process has been slow. For some strange reason, system administrators have proved reluctant to throw away their existing firewall configurations, which were painful to develop and which still function as well as they ever did, and start over with a new and different system.

    • New tricks for XFS

      The XFS filesystem has been in the kernel for fifteen years and was used in production on IRIX systems for five years before that. But it might just be time to teach that “old dog” of a filesystem some new tricks, Dave Chinner said, at the beginning of his linux.conf.au 2018 presentation. There are a number of features that XFS lacks when compared to more modern filesystems, such as snapshots and subvolumes; but he has been thinking—and writing code—on a path to get them into XFS.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4

      Hmm. A reasonably calm week – the biggest change is to the ‘kvm-stat’
      tool, not any actual kernel files.

      But there’s small changes all over, with architecture updates (x86,
      s390, arm, parisc) and drivers (media, md, gpu, sound) being the bulk
      of it. But there’s some filesystem fixes (mostly btrfs),
      documentation updates etc too.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4 Released, Marks The End Of Another Calm Week
    • Graphics Stack

      • Trying Out AMDGPU Overdrive Radeon Overclocking On Linux 4.15

        A premium patron recently requested some fresh tests on Polaris and Vega trying out the AMDGPU OverDrive overclocking functionality on the latest Linux kernel… Here are those tests with a Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64.

      • RandR Leases Support For AMDGPU DDX Driver

        The xf86-video-modesetting DDX within the X.Org Server 1.20 code-base already has its support wired in for dealing with RandR leases while now Keith Packard has posted the patches for xf86-video-amdgpu.

        With the X.Org Server side bits and the generic modesetting DDX having received their work on RandR leases, non-desktop quirk handling, etc, as part of Keith’s work for Valve on improving VR headset support under Linux, he’s now posted the patches so xf86-video-amdgpu can deal with the new RandR leasing functionality.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma secrets: digital clock

        Pretty simple and straightforward, but then some people might struggle figuring out how to change the clock. The most obvious approach is to tweak the existing one, and indeed, a popular question could be: how to change the vertical height of the clock? But that’s a hardcoded widget feature, and you can’t do that easily. So you need a new widget – or use Plasma 5.12.1, which you can find in KDE neon. Lots of sweet reading right there.

        I believe Event Calendar, additional features notwithstanding, does a pretty good job, and it gives the system an ever so slightly more professional look. Once you’re neck deep in tweaks and loving it, then it becomes an important part of the overall equation. Art can be like that. A blessing and a curse. I hope you like this little guide. More Plasma secrets coming your way soon.

      • This week in Discover, part 8

        This was a week of polish and preparation for Discover. We’ve got some nice new features in the pipeline but we’re not quite ready to announce them just yet. One is implemented but needs more polish, and another is under construction. I think you’ll like ’em once they’re ready!

      • What’s New in Netrunner Rolling 2018.01

        Netrunner Rolling 2018.01 is the latest release of Netrunner Linux Distributions, it first snapshot in 2018 with the latest update and some new features. As KDE-Focused Linux Distribution this relase ships with the KDE Plasma 5.11.5 as default desktop environment, including KDE Frameworks 5.41 software suites, KDE Applications 17.12, and Qt 5.10.

        Based on Manjaro Linux and powered by long-term support of Linux Kernel 4.14, Netrunner 2018.01 also introducing the YaRock Qt music player for streaming online radio, KDE Discover has been pulled back into the default application set, it allow users to install a wide range of packages and it also comes with built-in update capabilities.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 8

        The wheels of the Usability & Productivity initiative chug along, knocking out issue after issue!

      • Plasma Volume Widget Can Now Transfer Audio Streams Between Devices

        Development on KDE Plasma 5.13, KDE Applications 18.04, and KDE Frameworks 5.44 continues at full-speed.

        I recently mentioned some of the work on how KDE Plasma 5.13 will be starting even faster and is getting smarter/better monitor hot-plug handling but there are some more minor improvements to mention now.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Top 10 Best Linux Distros For 2018 — (The Ultimate Distro Choosing Guide)

      We’re well into 2018 and I think some of you might have boarded the Linux train in the recent past. While the world of Linux does offer tons of choice, it might get overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you select the best Linux distro to suit your needs.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Enso OS 0.2

        Enso is a young distribution based on Xubuntu. Enso features the Xfce desktop environment running on the Gala window manager; Gala has been used with good effect on the elementary OS distribution. Enso also features the Panther application menu and the Plank dock. The Enso website mentions the project is trying to have a positive environmental impact: “Help plant trees while you search the web with Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees with it’s ad revenue, included in Enso.”

        The project’s latest release, Enso OS 0.2, is based on Xubuntu 16.04 and is available in just one edition for 64-bit x86 computers. The ISO we download is approximately 1.5GB in size. The downloaded media boots to a graphical screen where a window appears and asks if we would like to try Enso’s live desktop environment or immediately begin the installation process. This window also lets us select our preferred language from a list.

        While the live desktop uses Xfce components running on the Gala window manager, the desktop has a certain GNOME-like appearance. There is a thin top panel which includes an application menu, clock and system tray. At the bottom-left corner of the screen there is a dock (powered by Plank) which acts as both a quick-launch bar and task switcher. Enso uses bright colours for the window control buttons and the minimize, maximize and close buttons are presented in blue, green and yellow. The busy mouse cursor is shown as the macOS-style beach ball.

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 24.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 24.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice 6.0.0.1 and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.2, GIMP 2.8.22, Gnumeric 1.12.38), share your files using DropBox 43.4.49, surf the Internet with Firefox 58.0.2 and Chromium 64.0.3282.119, stay in touch with your friends via Thunderbird 52.6.0 and Skype for Web, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.9, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.0 and MPlayer SVN-r37946, play games powered by Mesa 17.1.4 and Wine 3.1. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.14.18, Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.12, PHP 5.6.33 and PHP 7.2.2). Perl 5.26.0 and Python 2.7.13 are also available.

      • LFS and BLFS Version 8.2 are released

        The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS
        Version 8.2, LFS Version 8.2 (systemd), BLFS Version 8.2, and BLFS Version

      • Linux From Scratch 8.2 Released

        For fans of Linux From Scratch for assembling your own operating system, LFS and BLFS 8.2 are released in time for some weekend adventures.

      • Pardus 17.2 Çıktı! [Ed: New release of Turkish GNU/Linux distribution]
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 – And Mageia is part of it.

        We are happy to announce, that, as in previous years, we will present our amazing distribution at the Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 (Chemnitzer Linux Tage, CLT) on the 10th and 11th of March. This is one of the biggest OpenSource exhibitions in Germany. This year also a very special year, as it’s the 20th anniversary. We are happy to celebrate this anniversary together, as we have been part of Chemnitzer Linux Days many times before.

      • The March 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the March 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the March 2018 issue:

        * Short Topix: iOS Bootloader Leaked, ET vs BitCoin
        * ms_meme’s Nook: How I Love The Sandbox
        * Tip Top Tips: Make An Easy Calendar In Scribus
        * GIMP Tutorial: Another Simple Animation
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Ratt Salad
        * So You Want To Be A YouTuber? With PCLinuxOS You Can
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner
        * DigiKam: Photo Management Basics
        * LibreOffice 6.0 Released
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s magazine cover image was designed by parnote and Meemaw.

        Download the PDF (9.5 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=2018-03.pdf

        Download the EPUB Version (6.2 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201803epub.epub

        Download the MOBI Version (6.8 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201803mobi.mobi

        Visit the HTML Version

        https://pclosmag.com/html/enter.html

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Next Tails Anonymous OS Release Will Be Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15, Tor 3.2.9

          Tails 3.6 recently entered development, and a first release candidate image is now ready for public testing, suggesting the upcoming release will be the first to be powered by the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and ship with the most recent TOR 3.2.9 client/server technologies for accessing the dark web.

          The upcoming Tails OS release is also the first to ship with screen locking support, which apparently can be used even without the root (system administrator) password. Also, there are several upgraded components included, starting with the tails-additional-softwares package, which no longer blocks the desktop.

        • UBPorts Is Working On Unity 8 For Debian

          The UBPorts community continues pushing Unity 8 for their mobile/convergence vision in the absence of Canonical as well as making other improvements. Besides offering Unity 8 to Ubuntu users, they are also working on Debian support.

          In today’s latest Ubuntu Touch Q&A, there is a small reference near the end that they are working on the Unity 8 desktop environment as an option for Debian too. “Yes… But shhh this is a secret…”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Where Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” Is Heading

            ​As most of you guys might already know that Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” has entered in Freeze state and we are going to get the very 1st beta build of Ubuntu 18.04 on 8th of this march. I decided to take a quick look at the latest daily build released. There are significant new things to be excited about as well as few bugs which are expected. Now without wasting time, let’s get started.

          • Xubuntu/Flavours and Variants

            • Testing for Xubuntu

              Xubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” is just around the corner. The first beta milestone arrives next week, and the final release is a little over a month away. 18.04 is an LTS release, meaning it has a 3-year support cycle and is definitely recommended for all users. Or it would be, if we knew it was ready. Stick around… this is a bit of a long read, but it’s important.

              The ISO Tracker has seen little activity for the last few development cycles. We know we have some excited users already using and testing 18.04. But without testing results being recorded anywhere, we have to assume that nobody is testing the daily images and milestones. And this has major implications for both the 18.04 release and the project as a whole.

            • Parole Media Player 1.0.0 Released

              It’s here, it’s finally here! The first 1.0 release of Parole Media Player has finally arrived. This release greatly improves the user experience for users without hardware-accelerated video and includes several fixes.

            • Xfce Settings 4.12.2 Released

              Xfce has been steadily heading towards it’s GTK+ 3 future with Xfce 4.14, but that doesn’t mean our current stable users have been left behind. We’ve got some new features, bug fixes, and translations for you!

            • Exton|OS Claims to Be First Distribution Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Linux 4.16

              Tagged as Build 180301, the new Exton|OS release is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and features the lightweight and modern Budgie desktop environment created by the Solus devs. Budgie 10.4 is on-board this release, which comes with the renowned Calamares universal installer framework by default.

              According to the developer, Exton|OS is now fully compatible with the software repositories of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, which means that users can install any upstream package they need. Also, Arne Exton claims Exton|OS would be the first GNU/Linux distro to be based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), due for release on April 26, 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku OS Working On Better Address Space Protection

    Adding to the list of operating systems working on memory protection improvements in wake of recent CPU vulnerabilities is Haiku OS.

    One of the Haiku OS developers, Jérôme Duval, has been working on address space protection improvements the past 2+ months. In particular on better protecting the kernel memory by using the user_memcpy() user memory copy function when appropriate. Over February he converted more USB, PCI, SCSI, and ACPI kernel code to using user_memcpy and related functions where appropriate.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • Confessions of an ex-Oracle customer: “The costs were phenomenal”

      Speaking at M18 – the customer conference for the open source database MariaDB – William Wood, director of database architecture at Financial Network said: “We looked into extending our Oracle footprint but the cost meant we wouldn’t be able to provide a competitive cost base using Oracle, so we started looking at other solutions.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Getting GTK3 Native Message Dialogs

      For the past few years McNamara has been working on the GTK3 bits for LibreOffice as well as Wayland and other fun features like OpenGL flicker-free transitions. While the GTK3 support for LibreOffice is largely in good shape, one of the notable areas where it wasn’t quite well integrated is with message dialogs.

    • native GTK3 message dialogs

      In LibreOffice 6.1, when the GTK3 backend is in use, the message dialogs are now native GTK3 message dialogs rather than vcl message dialogs using GTK theming.

  • CMS

    • 30% of all sites now run on WordPress

      The folks at San Francisco-based Automattic have a good reason to celebrate this Monday: its WordPress content management system (CMS) now powers 30 percent of all sites on the web.

      That’s according to W3Techs, a service run by Austrian consulting firm Q-Success that surveys the top 10 million sites ranked on Alexa. Its numbers are updated daily, and today it sees WordPress accounting for 60 percent of the CMS market.

    • WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second

      The web-watchers at W3Techs have just noted a milestone: WordPress now accounts for 30 per cent of the world’s web sites.

      W3Techs crawls the top ten million websites as determined by Amazon’s Alexa rating service and peers into their innards to figure out what they’re running, and sells details reports on its findings. It also publishes public data on its findings.

      And on Monday March 5th that public data ticked recorded that WordPress’ share of the top ten million web sites ticked over from 29.9 per cent to 30 per cent. The firm put some context on that data by noting that 50.2 per cent of the world’s web sites don’t run a content management system (CMS) at all. That means WordPress has over 60 per cent share among web sites that do run a CMS. That’s a dominance few products in any category can claim.

    • WordPress now powers 30% of websites

      WordPress now powers 30 percent of the web, according to data from web technology survey firm W3Techs.

      This represents a 5 percentage point increase in nearly two and a half years, after WordPress hit the 25 percent mark in November 2015.

    • Hiveway.io shamelessly rips off of Mastodon and slaps a blockchain on top, for some reason

      The Hiveway platform raised more than a few eyebrows today with an announcement by none other than John McAfee, unveiling the startups rebrand from Etherhive to Hiveway. At this time, McAfee’s affiliation with the project remains unclear, but he nevertheless appears to be providing consultation to the team.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0

      A few weeks ago I sat down with Lead Developer Ken Moore of the TrueOS Project to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Lumina Desktop from the open source community. Here is what he said on Lumina Desktop 2.0. Do you have a question for Ken and the rest of the team over at the TrueOS Project? Make sure to read the interview and comment below. We are glad to answer your questions!

      Ken: Lumina Desktop 2.0 is a significant overhaul compared to Lumina 1.x. Almost every single subsystem of the desktop has been streamlined, resulting in a nearly-total conversion in many important areas.

      With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.

      Going along with the session management changes, we have compressed the entire desktop into a single, multi-threaded binary. This means that if any rogue script or tool starts trying to muck about with the memory used by the desktop (probably even more relevant now than when we started working on this), the entire desktop session will close/crash rather than allowing targeted application crashes to bypass the session security mechanisms. By the same token, this also prevents “man-in-the-middle” type of attacks because the desktop does not use any sort of external messaging system to communicate (looking at you `dbus`). This also gives a large performance boost to Lumina Desktop

    • Lumina Desktop 2.0 Is A Big Overhaul, Fully Leveraging QML
    • How to patch Meltdown vulnerability on OpenBSD Unix

      I read that OpenBSD is the first BSD family of the operating system to release updates for its stable releases to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability. How do I patch Meltdown on OpenBSD Unix operating system?

    • TrueOS Rules of Conduct
      • Treat each other with respect and professionalism.
      • Leave personal and TrueOS unrelated conversations to other channels.

      In other words, it’s all about the code.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Licenses and contracts

      Some days it seems that wherever two or more free-software enthusiasts gather together, there also shall be licensing discussions. One such, which can get quite heated, is the question of whether a given free-software license is a license, or whether it is really a contract. This distinction is important, because most legal systems treat the two differently. I know from personal experience that that discussion can go on, unresolved, for long periods, but it had not previously occurred to me to wonder whether this might be due to the answer being different in different jurisdictions. Fortunately, it has occurred to some lawyers to wonder just that, and three of them came together at FOSDEM 2018 to present their conclusions.

      The talk was given by Pamela Chestek of Chestek Legal, Andrew Katz of Moorcrofts, and Michaela MacDonald of Queen Mary University of London. Chestek focused on the US legal system, Katz on that of England and Wales, while MacDonald focused on the civil law tradition that is characteristic of many EU member states. The four licenses they chose to consider were the “Modified” or “three-clause” BSD, the Apache License, the GNU General Public License (their presentation was not specific to GPLv3, but the passage they quoted to make a point was from GPLv3), and the Fair License. The first three are among the most common free-software licenses currently in use. The latter is the shortest license the Open Source Initiative has ever approved, and though it is used by hardly any free software, it was included as an example of the maximum possible simplicity in a license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Why Do We Do It?

      I studied Electronic Engineering (EE) in school, learning the very basics of what makes good hardware design. I put together resistors, capacitors, transistors, operational amplifiers, microprocessors and more onto breadboards and, in turn, observed the miracle of my creations. It didn’t stop there—next came the programming of such devices, writing microcode and eventually “operating systems” in their simplest of forms (using a lot of assembly language) to extend the functionality of my creations. The hardware gave these “creatures” life, but the software gave them brains. The excitement. The thrill. The adrenaline of never knowing what to expect. Was there a flaw in my design? And if so, how will I address it? Will I need an oscilloscope or a JTAG debugger? This new sense of responsibility gave me purpose. It gave me the motivation to persist and move on to bigger and greater challenges.

    • Java EE Becomes Jakarta EE As Oracle Wouldn’t Let Eclipse Keep The Name

      You may recall from last year that Oracle was looking to offload Java EE to someone else. They ended up putting the code on GitHub for Java Enterprise Edition and offering Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, but that didn’t include the name.

Leftovers

  • Re-Live 90s Computing In Your Browser Right Now
  • And now for something completely different: Make that Power Mac into a radio station (plus: the radioSHARK tank and AltiVec + LAME = awesome)

    As I watch Law and Order reruns on my business trip, first, a couple followups. The big note is that it looks like Intel and some ARM cores aren’t the only ones vulnerable to Meltdown; Raptor Computer Systems confirms that Meltdown affects at least POWER7 through POWER9 as well, and the Talos II has already been patched. It’s not clear if this is true for POWER4 (which would include the G5) through POWER6 as these processor generations have substantial microarchitectural differences. However, it doesn’t change anything for the G3 and 7400, since because they appear to be immune to Spectre-type attacks means they must also be immune to Meltdown. As a practical matter, though, unless you’re running an iffy program locally there is no known JavaScript vector that successfully works to exploit Spectre (let alone Meltdown) on Power Macs, even on the 7450 and G5 which are known to be vulnerable to Spectre.

  • Science

    • Ice Apocalypse

      In the past few years, scientists have identified marine ice-cliff instability as a feedback loop that could kickstart the disintegration of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet this century — much more quickly than previously thought.

    • Electric wave engulfs brain at first blush of consciousness

      Our brains are bombarded with information about events around us, but we only become conscious of a few of them. Yale researchers have captured what happens in the split second before the emergence of consciousness, a fundamental state of human life.

      “There is a very tight window of a few milliseconds when we come aware of stimuli and before the experience is passed on to be coded in our memory and analyzed,” said Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, the Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology and senior author of the research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    • Giant Family Tree of 13 Million People Just Created

      The researchers, who sifted through 86 million profiles of people on the public genealogy site Geni.com, were interested in how human migrations and marriage choices had changed over the past 500 years.

      [...]

      After downloading the 86 million profiles, the researchers used mathematical graph theory to organize and double-check the accuracy of the information. In addition to smaller family trees, they put together the giant one of 13 million people, connected by ancestry and marriage, spanning an average of 11 generations. If the data had gone back another 65 generations, the researchers could have identified the group’s common ancestor and completed the tree, the researchers noted.

    • Newly discovered giant viruses have ‘the most complete translational apparatus of known virosphere’

      A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France, Brazil and Sweden has discovered two new strains of giant viruses, which they note have “the most complete translational apparatus of the known virosphere.” In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describe characteristics of the viruses including details about their genomes.

      It has been only a little more than a decade since a team of researchers identified Mimivirus, a giant virus that caused biologists to rethink the nature of viruses. That effort will likely heat up as two new strains of a giant virus have been discovered, both in Brazil—one in Soda Lake, the other off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Together, the two new strains have been named Tupanvirus, after the Brazilian god Tupã.

    • In an Era of ‘Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better

      It still feels magical to light up your living room by saying “Alexa, turn on the lights.” But with all the hype surrounding so-called smart things — everyday devices that are connected to the internet — it’s easy to forget that sometimes the dumb stuff is just better.

      Tech companies are adding internet connections to just about everything you can imagine so that they can be controlled with smart speakers or phones. Thermostats, surveillance cameras, mosquito zappers, coffee makers — you name it.

      And smart devices are becoming more popular. In 2017, 15 percent of American households owned a home automation device, up from 10 percent in April 2016, according to NPD Group, a research firm.

      But before we get carried away setting up the Wi-Fi connections on all our appliances, lights and fashion accessories, let me play Luddite for a second. Some of the most mundane devices are designed to accomplish a simple task extremely well — and in some cases they still execute those duties better than their high-tech brethren.

    • What happens when you put evolution on replay?

      A team of scientists from the University of Arizona have engineered an instant replay switch for evolution. The technique, known as ancestral gene resurrection, inserts ancient genes into modern E. coli bacteria. It gives researchers the opportunity to watch evolution unfold again and again, providing insights into how life evolved on early Earth, and what it might potentially look like on other planets.

      “Organisms can function just fine even when they’ve been engineered with an essential gene that is over 700 million years old,” the study’s lead author Betül Kaçar, an astrobiologist at the University of Arizona, tells Astrobiology Magazine. “This work is a proof of concept. The next questions are: How far back can we go? And would we expect the sequences to evolve and function the same way that they did? Just because sequences are similar doesn’t mean that the gene will function in the same way.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EPA scientists find black communities disproportionately hit by pollution

      African-Americans faced the highest impact, with the community facing a 54 percent higher health burden compared to the overall population, the study found. Non-white communities overall had a 28 percent higher health burden and those living under the poverty line had a 35 percent higher burden.

    • Former water plant operator says Flint rushed to use flawed treatment plant

      Michael Glasgow, who also previously served as the operator in charge of the Flint water plant, testified Thursday, Feb. 22, that he asked city officials for more time to prepare for full-time water treatment in early 2014, had his request denied, and finally turned to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for help.

      Glasgow told Genesee District Court Judge Jennifer Manley that he made his concerns known in emails to Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, two of the DEQ employees facing charges of criminal wrongdoing related to the water crisis, but neither replied.

    • The ‘water war’ brewing over the new River Nile dam

      There’s been talk about a dam on the Blue Nile for many years, but when Ethiopia started to build, the Arab Spring was underway and Egypt was distracted.

      [...]

      He understands that Egypt is worried, as the UN predicts the country will start suffering water shortages by 2025.

    • Cape Town Water Crisis Highlights Deep-Running Inequality

      South Africa’s seaside city of Cape Town is mired in a three-year drought and is poised to become the world’s first major city to run out of water. The city will shut off municipal taps on “Day Zero,” which is projected to be July 9.

      But for many residents of the city’s sprawling, low-income townships, water has always been a rare commodity. Cape Town resident Welekazi Rangana says she’s struggling to understand how some residents of this seaside town are chafing under tight new water restrictions.

    • Are we poisoning our children with plastic?

      The problem is that BPA can be ingested or absorbed through skin contact, meaning that humans are regularly exposed through the chemical leaching out of packaging into food and drink – and over the past 20 years various studies have linked BPA to a variety of adverse health effects. The biggest concerns have been the impact on foetuses and young children, who have underdeveloped systems for detoxifying chemicals – the consequences being that the younger you are, the higher the levels of BPA in your body.

      Once in the human body, BPA mimics the action of the hormone oestrogen and disrupts the endocrine system – the glands that produce hormones regulating, among other things, metabolism, growth, sexual function and sleep. Studies examining the effects of very high doses of BPA in mice have shown that this can cause problems with liver and kidney function, and mammary gland development. While these studies involve much higher doses than the general public would ever be exposed to, there are concerns that the levels of BPA that accumulate in infants can still have adverse developmental consequences, leading to neurobehavioural and immune system abnormalities.

    • Ocean plastic tide ‘violates the law’

      But a new report – to be presented to a Royal Geographical Society conference on Tuesday – says littering the sea with plastics is already prohibited under existing agreements.

    • Pharmaceutical corporations need to stop free-riding on publicly-funded research

      That’s not how it works; lifesaving medicines aren’t more expensive here because they cost less elsewhere. They’re priced out of reach everywhere because pharmaceutical corporations are charging exorbitant prices simply because they can—and the U.S. government lets them.

  • Security

    • Cryptographers Urge People to Abandon IOTA After Leaked Emails

      This past weekend, multiple prominent security researchers and academic cryptographers took to Twitter to paint a big black mark on the cryptocurrency project, IOTA. The posts implore investors not to hold the currency and researchers not to collaborate on enhancing the security of the system.

      An outcry was triggered shortly after a chain of private emails sent among the IOTA team and a group of external security researchers was made public, exposing the developers’ response to the disclosure of a critical flaw in one of their cryptographic building blocks. The correspondence, which ended with vague threats of legal action by IOTA founder, Sergey Ivancheglo, against a member of the Boston University security group, has prompted many academic researchers to denounce the entire project.

    • Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes

      Computer programs that run on blockchains are shaking up the financial system. But much of the hype around what are called smart contracts is just that. It’s a brand-new field. Technologists are just beginning to figure out how to design them so they can be relied on not to lose people’s money, and—as a new survey of Ethereum smart contracts illustrates—security researchers are only now coming to terms with what a smart-contract vulnerability even looks like.

    • GitHub Survived the Biggest DDoS Attack Ever Recorded

      On Wednesday, at about 12:15 pm ET, 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit the developer platform GitHub all at once. It was the most powerful distributed denial of service attack recorded to date—and it used an increasingly popular DDoS method, no botnet required.

      GitHub briefly struggled with intermittent outages as a digital system assessed the situation. Within 10 minutes it had automatically called for help from its DDoS mitigation service, Akamai Prolexic. Prolexic took over as an intermediary, routing all the traffic coming into and out of GitHub, and sent the data through its scrubbing centers to weed out and block malicious packets. After eight minutes, attackers relented and the assault dropped off.

    • It’s begun: ‘First’ IPv6 denial-of-service attack puts IT bods on notice

      What’s claimed to be the first IPv6-based distributed denial-of-service attack has been spotted by internet engineers who warn it is only the beginning of what could become the next wave of online disruption.

      Network guru Wesley George noticed the strange traffic earlier this week as part of a larger attack on a DNS server in an effort to overwhelm it. He was taking packet captures of the malicious traffic as part of his job at Neustar’s SiteProtect DDoS protection service when he realized there were “packets coming from IPv6 addresses to an IPv6 host.”

      The attack wasn’t huge – unlike this week’s record-breaking 1.35Tbps attack on GitHub – and it wasn’t using a method that is exclusive to IPv6, but it was sufficiently unusual and worrying to flag to the rest of his team.

    • Shadow Brokers the reason why Kaspersky Lab is in the US doghouse

      At times, it does not pay to be the brightest kid on the block. But Kaspersky Lab, which has been in forefront of A-V research for some time, would have got away even with this, had it not been for a catastrophic leak of Windows vulnerabilities crafted by the NSA via a group that has called itself the Shadow Brokers.

    • 1.35Tbps: GitHub Faced World’s Biggest Ever DDoS Attack

      Just recently, GitHub, the most famous code sharing and hosting platform, faced the world’s most powerful DDoS attack. As per GitHub, the website was unavailable for about 5 minutes (17:21 to 17:26 UTC) on February 28th as a result of this massive torrent of 1.2 Tbps traffic targetting the site all at once.

    • SgxSpectre Exploits Recent Intel CPU Flaw And Leaks “Enclave” Secrets
    • Powerful New DDoS Method Adds Extortion

      Memcached communicates using the User Datagram Protocol or UDP, which allows communications without any authentication — pretty much anyone or anything can talk to it and request data from it.

      Because memcached doesn’t support authentication, an attacker can “spoof” or fake the Internet address of the machine making that request so that the memcached servers responding to the request all respond to the spoofed address — the intended target of the DDoS attack.

      Worse yet, memcached has a unique ability to take a small amount of attack traffic and amplify it into a much bigger threat. Most popular DDoS tactics that abuse UDP connections can amplify the attack traffic 10 or 20 times — allowing, for example a 1 mb file request to generate a response that includes between 10mb and 20mb of traffic.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • After Parkland, Students Across the Country Are Walking Out in Solidarity
    • Parkland Survivor Morgan Williams Called Out Donald Trump for Using His Hospital Visit as a Photo Op

      “Don’t you f*cking dare use a photo of one of my best friends for your benefit,” Morgan said in a retweet of The Hill’s coverage of the story. “If you truly cared, maybe you would have stayed at the hospital longer than 20 minutes.”

    • Plano parents whose sons joined ISIS are sentenced to prison for lying to federal agents

      Sumaiya Ali was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while her husband, Mohommad Hasnain Ali, was sentenced to 12 months plus one day. Both paid a $5,000 fine and will serve three years of supervised release after prison.

    • Al-Shabaab plundering starving Somali villages of cash and children

      Intelligence documents, transcripts of interrogations with recent defectors and interviews conducted by the Guardian with inhabitants of areas in the swath of central and southern Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab have shone a light on the severity of its harsh rule – but also revealed significant support in some areas.

      Systematic human rights abuses on a par with those committed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are being conducted by the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militants as the west largely looks away because most analysts do not see the group as posing a threat to Europe, the UK or the US.

    • ISIS Tells Muslims to Kidnap and Murder Christians in Russian-Occupied Areas
    • Turkey summons Dutch charge d’affaires over Armenian ‘genocide’ motions

      Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d‘affaires to Ankara on Saturday to express its unhappiness with a pair of proposed bills that would see the Netherlands recognize as genocide the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians.

    • Army says troops being sent to Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia has been demanding deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to evade the demand despite a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution affirming the country’s “neutrality” in the conflict.

    • Russia Shooting: ISIS claimed deadly attack on church in Dagestan, five killed

      The small republic in the Caucasus mountains borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups since the 1991 Soviet collapse and which has seen a large number of people join Islamic State.

      Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar.

    • Man, sons dump headless body of landlord in river
    • Hindu Women Molested & Assaulted by Muslim Youth in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan – 3 Injured

      A group of Hindu women on their way to perform Chak Pujan, a pre-marriage ritual, were molested & assaulted by a group of Muslims who allegedly objected to music being played as the procession was crossing a mosque, Patrika has reported.

    • Minya Martyrs Church opens in memory of 21 Copts beheaded in Libya

      20 of the Coptic martyrs had once been residents in Minya’s Samalut and Mattay villages, before they were kidnapped by militants in January 2015. A republican decree was subsequently issued in 2015 to open a church in their memory.

    • Iraq’s reconstruction after ISIL defeat to cost $88 bln

      Rebuilding Iraq after three years of war with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will cost $88.2 billion, with housing a particularly urgent priority, Iraqi officials told an international conference on Feb.12

    • Infidel Women: Spoils of War

      To put it differently, all the Hollywood stars, militant feminists and social-justice warriors who are forever raging against “sexism” in the West — but who have nothing to say about Islam’s female victims — are not “defenders of women’s rights,” but “useful idiots” dedicated to subverting Western civilization no less than the terrorists they have been apologizing and covering for.

    • Stockholm attacker may use trial to spread propaganda, experts warn

      Rakhmat Akilov, who has has confessed to driving the truck in the April 2017 attack that killed five and injured many others in central Stockholm, will use his upcoming testimony to spread Isis propaganda, legal experts warned on Saturday.

    • Finally, a Likely Explanation for the “Sonic Weapon” Used at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      Last August, reports emerged that U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba had suffered a host of mysterious ailments. Speculation soon arose that a high-frequency sonic weapon was to blame. Acoustics experts, however, were quick to point out the unlikeliness of such an attack. Among other things, ultrasonic frequencies—from 20 to 200 kilohertz—don’t propagate well in air and don’t cause the ear pain, headache, dizziness, and other symptoms reported in Cuba. Also, some victims recalled hearing high-pitched sounds, whereas ultrasound is inaudible to humans.

      The mystery deepened in October, when the Associated Press (AP) released a 6-second audio clip, reportedly a recording of what U.S. embassy staff heard. The chirping tones, centered around 7 kHz, were indeed audible, but they didn’t suggest any kind of weapon.

    • Florida lawmakers declare porn a ‘health risk’ but block assault rifle ban
    • ‘They Put Lethal Weapons Into the Hands of 13-Year-Olds’

      In the wake of lethal gun violence like that in Parkland, Florida, we talk about the specific details of this shooting and this killer, and we talk about the US culture of violence: imperialist, domestic, statutory. Sometimes overlooked are what you might call the “bridges” between these things.

      What are some of the mechanisms that convey ideas, about the rightness of violence and the value of weapons, to individuals like the 19-year-old who killed 14 of his former classmates, two staff members and a teacher? The young man was a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the high school before he was expelled. He was wearing his JROTC shirt when he carried out the attack. Our guest says, whatever the role here, the presence of military recruiters in high schools around the country calls out for challenge.

    • Saudi Arabia replaces military commanders in late-night reshuffle
    • Municipality approves Terrafame uranium extraction

      Terrafame, the state-owned firm now running the mine that previously went bankrupt under the Talvivaara name, has taken a step towards getting official approval for its plans to extract uranium.

    • All Fire and Fury in Ukraine

      The still decidedly volatile situation in Ukraine – resulting from another in a long line of U.S.-inspired regime changes that have done destabilized the geopolitical landscape over the past few decades – is worth revisiting for a number of reasons. With the fourth anniversary of the coup just passed, the sudden, shock passing of veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry and Consortium News founder/editor also affords even greater impetus for doing so. This is especially given his incisive body of reportage on the crisis since 2014; the larger issue of America’s worsening relationship with Russia; and the geopolitical implications going forward of these developments. Australian blogger Greg Maybury reports.

    • Why Putin’s Latest Weapons Claims Should Scare Us

      Don’t be afraid that he has any intention of using them. Don’t even be afraid that most of the weapons he demonstrated through animated simulations are operational.

      Be afraid, rather, that armchair Cold Warriors in the United States will shamelessly exploit Putin’s speech to justify billions—no, trillions—of dollars in needless spending on a pointless nuclear arms race.

      Achieving their agenda was made easier by media coverage of the speech, which reported that Putin “threatened the West” (New York Times) and “represented an escalated level of martial rhetoric even by his pugnacious standards” (Washington Post).

      Putin in fact explicitly and repeatedly emphasized that his claimed new weapons are not offensive, but rather designed to maintain Russia’s nuclear deterrent in the face of growing U.S. anti-missile systems.

    • How ‘Operation Merlin’ Poisoned U.S. Intelligence on Iran

      Jeffrey Sterling, the case officer for the CIA’s covert “Operation Merlin,” who was convicted in May 2015 for allegedly revealing details of that operation to James Risen of the New York Times, was released from prison in January after serving more than two years of a 42-month sentence. He had been tried and convicted on the premise that the revelation of the operation had harmed U.S. security.

    • Putin Claims Strategic Parity, Respect

      Vladimir Putin’s announcement of new weapons systems to achieve nuclear parity was the result of the erosion arms control regimes, such as the ill-advised U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, Ray McGovern explains.

    • The ignored war within: America’s addiction to violence starts young
    • Putin’s Ultimatum Is The Next Stage Of The War
    • Windows blown out in explosion at home in southern Sweden

      The man who lives at the building was not home at the time of the blast, but his car had previously exploded on New Year’s Eve, one of his colleagues at the emergency services in Skåne told SVT.

    • Is Putin’s new nuclear systems source of mysterious radioactivity in the air?

      Flexing his nuclear muscles like never before, the Russian President in his annual state-of-the-nation speech presented two new nuclear-powered delivering systems for warheads.

      Several times over the last two years, tiny small traces of radioactive iodine-131 have been measured in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. National radiation agencies have been unable to direct the source of release, speculating in everything from leakages at a medical isotope production facility to leakages from operative nuclear reactors.

      In Norway and Finland, radioactive isotopes were discovered at monitoring stations in January and March last year, as well as in January and February this year. The first cloud of radioactivity last year was first detected at Svanhovd air filter station on Norway’s border to Russia in the north, but spread over most of Europe south to France and Spain over the following two weeks.

    • Ex-NSA Official: North Korea Funding Nuclear Program with Cryptocurrency

      North Korea remains unsurprisingly persistent with its nuclear program in the face of new US sanctions — and one former top NSA official claims cryptocurrencies are to blame.

    • More than 100 girls missing after raid on Nigerian school, father says

      More than 100 girls are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked their school in northeastern Nigeria Monday night, according the father of one of those missing.

      Bashir Manzo told CNN that his daughter Fatima was among at least 104 schoolgirls unaccounted for after the raid on the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe.

    • Nigerian government reveals names of 110 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram

      The Nigerian government has released the names of the 110 missing girls, some as young as 11 years old, who have not been seen since a raid on their school in Dapchi last week.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Using mosquito nets for fishing potential threat to both humans and nature

      Mosquito nets distributed to combat malaria are often used for fishing instead, impacting fish populations and human health in developing countries.

      The first-ever global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF), published today in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals full scale of the practice and calls for collaborative solutions.

      One of the major impacts of MNF is that it traps young fish, which affects the growth of future stock. This can undermine fisheries management efforts and impact communities that depend on fish as their main source of food.

    • Arctic temperatures surge in the dead of winter

      In the past, it was not unusual for the Arctic to see days where temperatures would peak above minus 10 C (14 F), but what we are seeing now is different. Those peaks are becoming more frequent and long-lasting.

      More worryingly, the warming weather pattern is producing a circular affect.

    • Wastewater injections set off a Kansas earthquake binge

      In the past decade, Oklahoma has turned heads as it has joined the list of places where earthquake insurance is a prudent investment. The sudden uptick in seismic activity is due to injections of foul wastewater into deep disposal wells—triggering what are known as “human-induced earthquakes.”

    • Embattled company plagiarized bid for Puerto Rico hot meal contract, senators say

      Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Gary Peters of Michigan say that Tribute Contracting LLC — which lost its contract in October after just 20 days because it had delivered only 50,000 of the 30 million meals promised — lifted paragraphs from two other companies related to logistics and delivery. The senators sent the letter through their spots on the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, on which McCaskill is the top Democrat.

      According to the letter dated Thursday to FEMA administrator Brock Long, Tribute had no experience in delivery contracts of this scale, and a history of canceled federal contracts that were smaller than the one in Puerto Rico. The senators also accuse Tribute of lying about its relationship with a logistics company.

    • Britain and Europe must ban palm oil in biofuel to save forests, EU parliament told

      The pushback has been strong, particularly in south-east Asia, the origin of 90% of the world’s palm oil exports, which is used in hundreds of supermarket products. Palm oil can also be blended with diesel to power engines, which is what the ban would halt.

      [...]

      But indigenous and other communities who are negatively affected by the plantations urge the EU to push ahead with the ban and to go further by tightening other supply chain controls to prevent damage to their land, rights and environment.

    • Scientists tracked commercial fishing in real-time and found over half the world’s oceans fished

      Researchers found that over half the world’s oceans, 55%, is now being industrially fished. That is around four times the land area that is covered by agriculture. The new research also found that in 2016, 70,000 ships of the global fishing fleet travelled across 460 km, almost the same as travelling to the moon and back to Earth 600 times.

      [...]

      The researchers believe that the total area of the world’s oceans being fished may actually be higher than the estimated 55%. This is because the research did not include some areas with poor satellite coverage.

    • The flowers that give us chocolate are ridiculously hard to pollinate

      Those flowers make nothing easy. Each petal curves into a tiny hood that fits down around the male, pollen-making structure. A honeybee trying to reach the pollen would be a useless, giant blimp. Instead, flies not much bigger than a poppy seed, in the biting midge subfamily Forcipomyiinae, crawl up into the hoods and do — something.

      But what? The flower offers no nectar for the midges to collect. So far, researchers haven’t even demonstrated that there’s an odor luring in the midges. Some biologists have mused that red spikes on the flowers offer nutritious nibbling for midges, but Kearney knows of no tests of this notion.

    • Judge finds written attack on climate scientist too ludicrous to be libel

      But the judge also decided that the derogatory statements aimed more clearly at Weaver failed to meet the legal standard for defamation. His reason? No one could take them seriously. Citing a list of careless inaccuracies in Ball’s article, the judge said it lacked “a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.”

    • Mich. utility to phase out electricity production by coal by 2040

      Consumers Energy told The Associated Press it will phase out electricity production from coal over the next 20 years in an effort to cut emissions that cause global warming.

    • Dramatic decline in Borneo’s orangutan population as 150,000 lost in 16 years

      While the steepest percentage losses occurred in regions where the forest has been cut down to make way for palm oil and acacia plantations, more animals were killed by hunters who ventured into the forest, or by farm workers when the apes encroached on agricultural land, a study found.

      Researchers estimate that the number of orangutans left on Borneo now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, meaning the population more than halved over the study period which ran from 1999 to 2015. Without fresh efforts to protect the animals, the numbers could fall at least another 45,000 in the next 35 years, the conservationists predict. The real decline could be worse, because the prediction is based only on habitat loss, and does not include killings.

    • After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.

      The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes.

      In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.

    • Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US

      Mountain snowpack stores a significant quantity of water in the western US, accumulating during the wet season and melting during the dry summers and supplying much of the water used for irrigated agriculture, and municipal and industrial uses. Updating our earlier work published in 2005, we find that with 14 additional years of data, over 90% of snow monitoring sites with long records across the western US now show declines, of which 33% are significant (vs. 5% expected by chance) and 2% are significant and positive (vs. 5% expected by chance). Declining trends are observed across all months, states, and climates, but are largest in spring, in the Pacific states, and in locations with mild winter climate. We corroborate and extend these observations using a gridded hydrology model, which also allows a robust estimate of total western snowpack and its decline. We find a large increase in the fraction of locations that posted decreasing trends, and averaged across the western US, the decline in average April 1 snow water equivalent since mid-century is roughly 15–30% or 25–50 km3, comparable in volume to the West’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead.

    • 1.5 million penguins discovered on remote Antarctic islands

      A thriving “hotspot” of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, a species fast declining in parts of the world, has been discovered on remote islands off the Antarctic Peninsula, surprised scientists said Friday.

      The first bird census of the Danger Islands unearthed over 750,000 Adelie breeding pairs, more than the rest of the area combined, the team reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

    • Rumble in the jungle: mother bear fights off Indian tiger

      Tourists on a wildlife safari in central India were treated to a rare and vicious fight for survival between a sloth bear defending its young and a huge Bengal tiger.

      A tour guide in Maharashtra was able to capture on film the ferocious battle between the jungle giants. The tour guide had a ringside seat to the 15-minute brawl as the mother fought off the predator.

      Her instincts kicked into gear as the male tiger stalked her cub in Tadoba National Park, igniting a rarely seen flare of aggression from the shaggy black bears not known for being territorial.

  • Finance

    • The Supreme Court Case That Could Give Tech Giants More Power

      Big tech platforms — Amazon, Facebook, Google — control a large and growing share of our commerce and communications, and the scope and degree of their dominance poses real hazards. A bipartisan consensus has formed around this idea. Senator Elizabeth Warren has charged tech giants with using their heft to “snuff out competition,” and even Senator Ted Cruz — usually a foe of government regulation — recently warned of their “unprecedented” size and power. While the potential tools for redressing the harms vary, a growing chorus is calling for the use of antitrust law.

      But the decision in a case currently before the Supreme Court could block off that path, by effectively shielding big tech platforms from serious antitrust scrutiny. On Monday the Court heard Ohio v. American Express, a case centering on a technical but critical question about how to analyze harmful conduct by firms that serve multiple groups of users. Though the case concerns the credit card industry, it could have sweeping ramifications for the way in which antitrust law gets applied generally, especially with regards to the tech giants.

    • Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds

      Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

    • Study: Most Uber, Lyft drivers paid under minimum wage

      Uber and Lyft drivers make a median $3.37 an hour before taxes, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, less than the federal minimum wage.

      According to the research, 30 percent of drivers actually lose money from Uber and Lyft when the costs of maintenance and other expenses for their cars are factored in.

    • The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized

      What does it take to succeed? What are the secrets of the most successful people? Judging by the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, there is no shortage of interest in these questions. There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it’s their personal characteristics–such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset, and emotional intelligence– that got them where they are today. This assumption doesn’t only underlie success magazines, but also how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame to government grants to public policy decisions. We tend to give out resources to those who have a past history of success, and tend to ignore those who have been unsuccessful, assuming that the most successful are also the most competent.

    • Tech Mogul Gets $12 Billion Richer Just by Leaving New York for China

      Zhou Hongyi did just that, relocating his online security firm to China and merging it into a shell company, which soared as much as 550 percent since he announced the plan in November. Qihoo 360 Technology Co. delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in July 2016 and began trading Wednesday in Shanghai as 360 Security Technology Inc. The move boosted Zhou’s net worth to $13.6 billion, making him China’s 12th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    • Chinese government planning $31.5bn in investments to make China a global player in semiconductors

      The Chinese government is planning a large-scale assault on the semiconductor industry, with ambitions to direct investment of some 200 billion yuan – $31.5 billion – into Chinese chip makers.

      That’s according to Bloomberg, which claims that the investments are intended to make China a leader in the global semiconductor industry.

      Bloomberg’s sources claim that the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co is currently in talks with government officials to raise money.

    • China spent an estimated $279 billion on R&D last year

      China’s total spending on research and development is estimated to have hit 1.76 trillion yuan ($279 billion) last year — a year-on-year increase of 14 percent, China’s science minister said on Monday.

    • Goodbye Copycat: China Returns to Its Innovation Roots

      China has long been considered the copycat nation of the world. For generations, its goal was not to build on what the competition has done, but rather play catch-up by piggybacking on other people’s technological advances and underpricing the competition. For years, Chinese copycat knockoff products have flooded western markets.

      This raised concerns about brand infringement and intellectual property theft. The Chinese government has failed to protect intellectual property rights. To get a sense of the scale of this, consider the fact that China is home to fake Apple stores filled with employees who think they work for the U.S. company.

    • Is Amazon Too Big to Tax?

      This year, like every other year, is shaping up to be a triumphant one for Amazon. It is on the cusp of becoming the first trillion dollar company ever. In the coming months it will announce the opening of a second headquarters—and likely bank billions in tax breaks and other incentives from the lucky city it chooses to grace with its presence. The company’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will continue to be the richest person in the history of the world. Amazon will continue to grow at a rapid clip, gobbling up e-commerce market share and posting staggering revenues. It will even post profits. And it will pay next to nothing, and possibly nothing at all, in federal taxes.

    • The biggest company you may not know all that much about

      It’s easy for brands to have their stories obscured by the mountain of press given to behemoths like Amazon.com Inc., UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., Walmart Inc., and Alibaba. But there’s a company not especially well known outside its home market that appears to have put everything together in such a way that it may come to dominate everyone.

      Its name is JD.com. Based in Beijing, it has, in the 14 years since it launched its e-commerce site, developed and executed such a formidable model that it could easily threaten the market share of any rival it chooses to take on. For now, JD remains China-centric, although it is expanding into Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It has no plans at this time to take on Amazon or anyone else in the domestic U.S. market. Most of its shares are in public hands, though Chinese firm Tencent, which runs the ubiquitous “WeChat” Chinese messaging platform, owns 20 percent, and Walmart owns 10 percent.

    • EU Threatens Iconic U.S. Brands After Trump Opens Door to Trade War

      President Donald Trump set the stage for a trade war after slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, daring other countries to retaliate and leading the European Union to warn that it would target iconic American brands.

      Hours after Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc is prepared to respond forcefully by targeting imports of Harley-Davidson Inc. motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey from the U.S.

    • Someone tell Trump the trade war is over. China won

      Nine years ago it was car tyres followed by chicken feet. Now it’s washing machines and solar panels followed by sorghum. Aluminium and steel may soon be tossed in the mix.

      The familiar trade skirmishes between the United States and China usually end with a whimper. But American presidents have traditionally been like the proverbial cartoon character who gets dropped off a cliff, run over with a steam roller and blown up with dynamite; he gets up, arches an angry eyebrow and declares: “Next time, I’m going to get really mad!”

    • Biss throws himself under the bus answering gov debate question on CTA pass

      State Sen. Daniel Biss – who promises to be the “Middle Class Governor” in ads running throughout the state — endured a “The Price is Right” question Thursday night at a gubernatorial forum in Chicago.

      And he didn’t quite pass the test.

      Biss, D-Evanston, was asked by WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney what the full price of a monthly CTA pass is during a lightning round of questions to test the six Democratic candidates on their knowledge of prices regular voters pay in everyday expenditures.

      “This campaign has been framed as a battle for the heart of middle and low-income voters, and since that’s the case, we’re going to do a simple test to see how connected each of you is to average Illinoisans,” McKinney said.

    • How Did America Go Bankrupt? Slowly, At First, Then All At Once!!!

      Typically, the metrics of total debt or federal debt divided by GDP (Gross Domestic Product or the total value of goods produced and services provided in the US annually) are used (chart below). Still, that’s a bit ethereal to most folks.

      So, I thought I’d make this simpler. The chart below shows federal debt (red line) versus total full time employees (blue line) since 1970. Clearly, debt has surged since 2000 and particularly since 2008 versus decelerating net full time jobs growth. The number of full time employees is economically critical as, generally speaking, only these jobs offer the means to be a home buyer or build savings and wealth in a consumer driven economy. Part time employment generally offers only subsistence level earnings.

    • Al Rayan debuts sharia-compliant bond backed by UK mortgages
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Americans are such easy targets for [astroturfers] and bots

      But it isn’t just our knowledge base that’s the problem; it’s the fact that the United States has effectively abandoned the notion that investing in education is critical for the future of our nation.

    • Facebook to End News Feed Experiment in 6 Countries That Magnified Fake News

      News organizations in the countries — Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Serbia — had said they were blindsided by the Facebook experiment when it began in October and complained that it had led to a surprising rise in misinformation.

    • Facebook is not getting any bigger in the United States

      It’s starting to feel official: Facebook’s U.S. audience is as big as it’s going to get.

      Facebook is massive in this country. More than two-thirds of Americans, specifically 68 percent, use the service, according to new research from Pew Research Center.

    • How long does China’s President Xi Jinping plan to hold power? Here’s the magic number

      As overseas media and analysts scramble to assess the implications and query the development, the answer to one of the biggest questions can in fact be inferred from his landmark marathon speech at the Communist Party’s 19th congress – a speech that gave him a stronger mandate for his second term as the party chief. On October 18, when Xi strode to the podium of the Great Hall of the People and delivered the extraordinarily long address that lasted nearly 3½ hours, he laid out an ambitious vision for the next 30 years. While his speech of more than 34,000 words was littered with landmark goals, the magic number was 2035 – the year Xi has promised China will basically achieve socialist modernisation, 15 years ahead of the schedule set by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping back in the 1980s.

    • What is the Einstein visa? And how did Melania Trump get one?

      Melania Trump obtained US citizenship on a visa reserved for immigrants with “extraordinary ability” and “sustained national and international acclaim”, according to a report in the Washington Post.
      Nicknamed the “Einstein Visa”, the EB-1 is in theory reserved for people who are highly acclaimed in their field – the government cites Pulitzer, Oscar, and Olympic winners as examples – as well as respected academic researchers and multinational executives.
      Mrs Trump began applying for the visa in 2000, when she was Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model working in New York and dating Donald Trump. She was approved in 2001, one of just five people from Slovenia to win the coveted visa that year, according to the Post.
      Becoming a citizen in 2006 gave her the right to sponsor her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are now in the US and in the process of applying for citizenship.
      The reports of how Mrs Trump obtained her EB-1 visa will rankle with some, at a time when her husband is railing against immigrants and attempting to scrap the right of new citizens to sponsor family members. And questions have been raised about her suitability for the extraordinary ability category.

    • Will Al Jazeera Air The Lobby Before AIPAC Meets?

      The Israel lobby has a lot of levers it can push and pull to curry favorable news coverage from media organizations. These range from denying access to the limited pool of top-tier pundits and Israeli government officials, to crippling economic boycotts. This power is visible in the battle to punish and shutter Al Jazeera, the Qatari state-funded news organization.

      Al Jazeera’s undercover investigative series The Lobby stunned both U.K. and US viewers last year. The product of a six-month 2016 undercover investigation, the four-part series revealed the Israeli embassy’s close guidance of allegedly “independent” pro-Israel UK domestic organizations, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and coordinated efforts to take down lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel. The series led to the dismissal of Shai Masot, a shadowy Israeli embassy official profiled in part four of the series, and apologies from the Israeli embassy.

    • Left-wing, right-wing: The case for realignment of political labels
    • Trump’s transubstantiation of falsehood into truth
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Comcast’s Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak as “Suspicious” Site

      Website blocking is a common tool for copyright holders to keep people away from pirate sites. While these measures are often mandated by court order, ISPs also offer voluntary blocking tools, to prevent subscribers from accessing dangerous sites. Comcast’s Xfinity, for example, offers “protected browsing” which, ironically, will prevent users from reading this article.

    • Good Night, and Good Luck: Freedom of speech in Sweden

      Another change in the Basic Laws of Sweden, currently being prepared for the next term of office, is SOU 2017:70, a new law on foreign espionage. In this law, which is primarily aimed at news reporting on military or police operations impacting Sweden’s relationship with a foreign power, the government reserves the right to impose extensive coercive measures even if there is merely suspicion that a journalist intends to write an article for publication. Several elements of whistleblower protection are rescinded and the law is written in such a way that, in practice, all relationships that Sweden maintains with states or intergovernmental organizations affected by a news report are covered if it can be accommodated within the term “Peace and Security.” Without a doubt, reporting on the Swedish aid industry is included in this term. The enforcement measures that the government can use against journalists are:

      Phone surveillance

      Data surveillance

      Placing trojans inside the suspected journalist’s devices

      Placing hidden cameras in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      Placing hidden microphones in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      These enforcement measures will be available to prosecutors and police already at the suspicion of the individual journalist working on an article that may be published. Just the suspicion will suffice.

    • Swedenstan: Näthats behind ‘witch-hunt’ arrests of people expressing political opinions

      The number of Swedish citizens prosecuted and convicted of writing posts about immigrants on Facebook has increased significantly over the past year. Behind a large part of the reports and prosecutions is an organization called Näthats.

    • Pornhub’s owner reveals its age verification tool for the UK
    • How ‘sex trafficking’ just opened the censorship floodgates

      That’s because its backers and proponents are waging an effective disinformation campaign. They’re saying it will help sex trafficking victims when it plainly won’t. They have literally combined sex work and sex trafficking under a single, catch-all umbrella. And that includes all the at-risk populations represented by sex workers across the divides of race, gender, orientation, and social class.

    • House overwhelmingly passes a bill that conflates sex work and sex trafficking

      On Tuesday, the House voted 388-25 in favor of a bill that advocates say conflates sex trafficking and sex work, and would result in more dangerous conditions for sex workers. Eleven Democrats and 14 Republicans voted no, with 18 abstentions.

    • Suspect from Shahdara blasphemy case in critical condition after mysterious fall

      A man suspected to have been involved in the Shahdara blasphemy case, which erupted earlier this week is fighting for his life after allegedly having “fallen off” the fourth floor of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Punjab headquarters building, during an investigation.

    • Twitter asks for help fixing its toxicity problem

      Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted today that the company isn’t proud of how some have taken advantage of its service, specifically calling out troll armies, misinformation campaigns and bots. And he added that Twitter has been accused of apathy, censorship and political bias as it has attempted to fix [sic] its problems.

    • Can you hear me?

      The lack of silence is paradoxically a silencing force, because it ensures that nobody is heard above the din. The ability of debates to smother any feedback is such that it is effectively becoming another censor that prevents meaningful or constructive discussion on any topic. Democratic debates are thus ironically becoming the most effective ways to throttle a sustained discussion on topics which can prove inconvenient to the power centres.

    • EC will give Facebook, Google et al one hour to remove illegal content, or else

      In a bid to “monitor progress in tackling illegal content online”, the EC recommended the new set of operational measures on Thursday, accompanied by necessary safeguards, to be taken by companies and Member State.

      Any tech company that is responsible for people posting content online will have three months from now to report back to the EU on what they were doing to meet the new targets it has set.

    • Rightsholders & Belgian ISPs Cooperate to Block 450 ‘Pirate’ Domains

      Rightsholders and ISPs in Belgium have agreed to present a list of 450 domains to a judge alongside allegations they facilitate illegal downloading. With the ISPs keen to assist but without accepting any liability, it appears that the collaborative process will lead to the blocking of the domains while avoiding complex and costly legal proceedings.

    • Letters: Neither censorship nor hate is acceptable

      David Haskell’s recent piece misrepresents positions taken by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

      The NCCM in no way seeks to shield the Islamic faith, or any other belief system, from criticism. Moreover, the NCCM didn’t endorse the initial definition of Islamophobia used by the Toronto District School Board in its educator’s guidebook. In fact, our organization advised that the definition used by the Ontario Human Rights Commission should be adopted, and referenced this very definition in our testimony before the heritage committee.

      Even a cursory examination of the Islamic tradition demonstrates Muslims themselves have a long history of self-critique and debate about their faith. Criticism of faith or religious practices is expected, and goes to the heart of our constitutional right to freedom of expression that we all must enjoy and safeguard.

    • Lantern Festival Riddles Outwit and Enrage Chinese Censorship Authorities

      The above poem was circulated on one of my WeChat groups during the Lantern Festival on March 2, 2018, and was immediately viewed as a Lantern Riddle for people to decode. Everyone in the group knows that it is a mockery of the recent constitutional amendment proposal put forward by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regarding the abolition of the two-term limit on the state’s presidency.

      Of course, no one posts the answer, knowing that it would trigger the webcensor. They just give a thumbs up. This Lantern riddle is just one of the many examples of Chinese netizens’ recent attempts to circumvent censorship on the constitutional amendment. Here’s how: The answer to the riddle is a new term — “Xi forever” (習到永遠) — which, ever since the constitutional amendment proposal was made public on February 25, 2018, replaces the common expression of “Forever and ever” (直到永遠).

      The announcement was made on February 25. The Central Committee of the CCP suggested deleting a line from the country’s constitution which states that the president and vice-president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”. The proposal would pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

    • The internet cannot be easily censored

      With no end in sight to the rule of the ever-more-autocratic Xi Jinping, China’s efforts to command and control the thought of its people have shifted into overdrive. Online, censorship is reaching what appear to be terrifying new heights. But a calmer view strongly suggests that the internet is not nearly as easy to bring to heel as Beijing — or many Americans — believe.

      The news is this: online censors have recently cracked down on everything from George Orwell’s Animal Farm to — literally — the letter N. Sino Weibo, equivalent to Twitter in China, now blocks users from searching for such terms as “personality cult,” “disagree,” and, perhaps most ominously of all, “emigrate.”

    • A ‘political hit job’? Why the alt-right is accusing big tech of censorship

      In January, Charles C “Chuck” Johnson filed a suit contesting his ban from Twitter back in May 2015.

      Johnson, an American rightwing provocateur, has a long history of smearing and hunting political opponents. He runs a scurrilous news site, GotNews, and another that crowdsources bounties for damaging information on his self-selected foes. He was eighty-sixed from Twitter following outrage from other users after a tweet appealing for crowdsourcing to “take out” Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson.

      It was an early example of Twitter appearing to accede to user pressure in scrubbing rightwing accounts.

    • Kim Dotcom proposes Twitter alternative over ‘censorship of Seth Rich tweets’

      Kim Dotcom has called on Twitter to stop ‘censoring’ tweets, saying he’ll create an alternative to the social network if it continues. Dotcom told RT he believes Twitter is targeting tweets about late DNC staffer Seth Rich.

      Tweeting early Saturday, the Megaupload founder urged Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to “stop messing with our free speech” and warning that if Dotcom creates an alternative platform, “Twitter could be toast within a year”.

    • After netizens criticized Xi Jinping, China banned a Quora-like app for not censoring enough content

      Local China Q&A app Zhihu has been temporarily banned from app stores following intense censorship in China over the country’s plan to scrap presidential term limits.

      The Quora-like app ran afoul of the Beijing Cyberspace Administration for “lax supervision and the spread of illegal information” and was ordered to be removed from app stores for seven days.

      The administration did not clarify what the illegal information was. However, last week censorship flared up across popular platforms Weibo and WeChat as netizens criticized Xi Jinping’s plan to rule the country indefinitely. Dozens of words were censored, including, at times, Xi’s name and even the letter ‘N.’

    • The Gray Market: Why Art Censorship Is Built Into Facebook’s DNA (and Other Insights)

      On Tuesday, The Art Newspaper reported that, in late December, Facebook censored an Italian user’s personal post featuring an image of the Venus of Willendorf, one of art history’s oldest and best-known depictions of the nude female form. The petite limestone sculpture dates from the Paleolithic period and has been the defining work held by Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum since its discovery in the nearby town of Willendorf during a 1908 dig headed by the institution’s archaeologists.

      The following day, the museum lashed out at Facebook by releasing an official statement that reads in part, “an archaeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity,’ as no artwork should be.”

      By Thursday, a spokesperson for the social media titan apologized for the incident, saying that its community standards forbidding nudes contain “an exception for statues, which is why the post should have been approved.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brexit and data protection

      Anyway, much of the information here comes from the Open Rights Group, albeit the editorialising is mine. Full disclosure: I’ve just stepped down from the Board of ORG and am still on their advisory list. ORG is compiling information relevant to yesterday’s speech here.

    • Privacy Risks with Facebook’s PII-based Targeting: Auditing a Data Broker’s Advertising Interface

      Recently, most advertising platforms have begun allowing advertisers to target users directly by uploading the personal information of the users who they wish to advertise to (e.g., their names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.); these services are often known as custom audiences.

      [...]

      There has been surprisingly little academic study of custom audiences. The most recent related study by Minkus et al. [23] empirically examined how offline information (such as voter records) could be matched to public Facebook profiles, thereby enabling the inference of features such as the user’s residential address, date and year of birth, and political affiliation. Tucker [33] investigated how users’ perception of control over their personal information affects how likely they are to click on online advertising on Facebook, and found that giving users control over their private information can benefit advertising on Facebook. This implies that users want to control their own data used in online advertising; however, the current privacy settings [8] give users very few options. Even worse, users do not have control over their offline data, which can be used in the custom audiences feature. [...]

    • Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2018?

      In response to a growing threat of Internet surveillance and censorship, VPN services have surged in popularity in recent years. Encrypting one’s traffic through a VPN connection helps to keep online communications private, but what more does your VPN provider do to keep you anonymous? We take a look at the logging policies and other privacy features of dozens of VPN providers.

    • TCRA launches biometric sim card registration

      Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), yesterday, launched a pilot project for biometric sim card registration that is set to involve six regions.

    • How Canvas Fingerprint Blockers Make You Easily Trackable

      Thought your canvas fingerprint blocker made you incognito? Think again.

    • Dropbox and Google sign a deal for for cross-platform [sic] compatibility

      Dropbox is partnering with Google to bring cross-compatibility with G Suite for the first time.

      This will mean users will be able to use Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slide and Hangouts with Dropbox, instead of Google Drive, if they so wish.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Uzbekistan Releases Journalist After 19 Years in Prison

      You may never have heard of him, but by our count, Ruzimuradov, 64, was one of the world’s longest imprisoned journalists. His crime? Working for an independent newspaper, Erk, or Freedom.

    • How a reporter’s #NoDAPL photo wound up in the Russia investigations

      Never did I imagine a photo I took would be used by Russian [shills] to try to manipulate the pipeline debate. But as all journalists and photographers know, controlling your images once they’re posted online is nearly impossible.

      In reading through the congressional report, one point jumped out at me. Russia’s Internet Research Agency spread posts both attacking the protesters and trying to drum up sympathy for them:

    • A smuggler’s chilling warning

      We are posing as would-be migrants attempting to reach Italy with the help of our “pusherman” — one of an army of brokers who work alongside smugglers on the Nigerian end of the migrant route from Africa to Europe.

      [...]

      When the migrants fail to pay, they are held in grim living conditions, deprived of food, abused by their captors, and sold as laborers in slave auctions.

    • Here’s the tight wing plan to destroy unions and hinder Democratic fundraising

      That case is Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which will determine whether public-sector unions can collect fees from non-union employees.

      It sounds like a simple and technical issue, but the outcome could change the fate of public-sector unions, the strongest-standing bulwark of labor organizing in a time when many private unions have largely faded.

    • These Cities Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court to Decide Whether or Not to Gut Unions

      Today the US Supreme Court will take up a case that may pose the biggest test to the labor movement that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Janus v. AFSCME, which takes direct aim at the heart of public-sector unions, could make it much harder for working people to organize for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

    • Christian couple publicly caned in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh for gambling

      The couple were found guilty of violating a jinayat (Islamic bylaw) on gambling. The caning took place outside the Babussalam Mosque in Lampaseh Aceh, Meuraxa.

    • China rights lawyer dies in ‘mysterious’ circumstances, supporters say

      Li was admitted to the No. 81 Military Hospital with a minor stomach ache, but had been otherwise healthy, Fu said, citing a relative of Li’s. He was declared dead hours later from liver complications, according to the activist.

    • China portrays racism as a Western problem

      Chinese officials often try to portray racism as primarily a Western problem. Yet there is a widespread tendency in China to look down on other races, especially black people.

    • How to survive prison: New documentary tackles horrors of wrongful conviction

      Every day, thousands of Americans languish in prison due to wrongful convictions. Advocacy group the Innocence Project estimates that anywhere from 40,000 to over 100,000 people in U.S. prisons have never actually committed a crime. According to the National Registry for Wrongful Convictions, the average time served for the people in the registry is more than nine years.

    • Amarillo man accidentally shot by police speaks out about the shooting

      “There were other people there,” said Garces. “I just took the gun away from him. I got shot. I got the bad part. It’s life.”

      [...]

      Garces and Blackburn are working with the city to ensure the medical bills are paid, [...]

    • Girls as young as 12 conceived babies: Social worker whistleblower İclal Nergiz

      Asked why they do not report such cases, Nergiz said: “They do not care! And that is the problem. According to their beliefs, it is normal for an underage girl to have a baby. My conservative estimate is that the hospital treated at least 115 underage pregnant girls. Given the fact that some doctors never report such cases to the social services unit, the real figure is much much higher.”

    • Operation Sanctuary review finds adult abuse ‘extensive’

      In the Newcastle case, most of the men were British-born but all came from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian or Turkish communities.

    • Ban private schools from teaching Arabic: Danish People’s Party

      “We don’t have any problems with, for example, Chinese or Hebrew, because Chinese people or Jews do not create parallel societies or integration problems,” the MP said in reference to underprivileged areas given the designation of ‘ghettos’ by the government.

    • Somaliland set to ban FGM but activists fear new law will fall short

      Somaliland has one of the world’s highest rates of FGM, with Unicef estimating that 98% of women aged 15 to 49 in the east African state have undergone the procedure. According to the World Health Organization, FGM is also often performed on girls under the age of 15, resulting in complications that range from bleeding and infection to problems with urination and complications with childbearing.

    • No More Child Genital Mutilation: If You Were A Modern Aztec, We Wouldn’t Let You Sacrifice Somebody’s Baby To The Gods

      Your child is your child, but they are not a coffee mug or a lamp. You don’t own your child. He or she is a person — one who has a right to bodily integrity, to not have others make decisions for him or her to have body parts hacked off for any reason other than medical necessity.

    • Moroccan Imam Sexually Assaults Children in a Mosque

      An imam in the Temara region has been accused of raping six children inside of a mosque. Amid the parents’ outrage and the childrens despair, the authorities have little help to offer.

    • ‘It was madness’: Couple kicked off Emirates flight because woman had period pain
    • My Speech at the Losing Your Religion Conference in Melbourne 10/02/2018

      I hate the niqab. It is one of the most dehumanising and alienating pieces of clothing a woman can wear. It puts a literal barrier between her and the rest of the world. I would beg my mother to let me remove it but she would refuse saying that I was a disappointing her or be cruel and say I would look like a sharmoota or whore.

    • Top Bangladesh sci-fi writer Zafar Iqbal stabbed in head at seminar

      One of Bangladesh’s top writers was stabbed in the back of the head during a seminar in the northern city of Sylhet on Saturday (March 3), police said, the latest in a series of attacks on authors and bloggers.

      Police said Zafar Iqbal, a celebrated secular activist and bestselling science fiction writer, was rushed to hospital in Sylhet after the attack.

    • Malaysia wishes wrong New Year with a barking rooster
    • In long-secular Turkey, sharia is gradually taking over

      Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.”

    • Morocco adopts law on violence against women
    • Iran environmentalist’s suicide in jail challenged

      The 64-year-old Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Foundation, one of Iran’s most important conservationist organisations focused on protecting the country’s biodiversity.

      Last Friday (9 February), prison authorities urgently called the scholar’s wife to inform her that he had taken his own life.

      Family and friends have challenged the official version and do not believe that he committed suicide in his cell.

    • Iranian wrestler who threw match to avoid Israeli banned for 6 months

      The United World Wrestling in a statement on Friday said that Alireza Karimi violated regulations when he intentionally lost to a Russian competitor in the quarter final of the U-23 World Championship in Poland last November.

      Karimi’s coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was also banned from the sport for two years for instructing his wrestler to lose so he would not face Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the following round.

    • Turkey: View: Slowly but surely, Turkey is becoming the next Pakistan. Just look at these signs
    • France to seal off 1,500 radicalized inmates in prisons

      The French government said on Friday said it would seal off extremists within prisons and open new centres to reintegrate returning jihadists into society as part of a new plan to halt the spread of radical Islam.

    • Death in Beijing

      On a November morning, elite investigators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrived at the Beijing home of a People’s Liberation Army General. Zhang Yang — for years one of the top-ranking PLA generals who served on the Central Military Commission (CMC) under former leader Hu Jintao — had for several weeks been questioned by investigators for corruption, although he hadn’t been formally charged. But when the investigators showed up at his Beijing home in November, they found he had hanged himself.

      What is perhaps most surprising about the suicide of General Zhang is that it was by no means rare. Between 2012 and 2017-the first term of Xi Jinping, who in October began his second five-year stint in office after emerging at the 19th Party Congress as China’s tallest leader in decades-158 Chinese officials have committed suicide, according to official figures. Insiders say the actual number may be far higher, considering the officially “natural” deaths of many officials who were being investigated or were under detention.

      [...]

      According to one of the few official studies into suicides of party officials, more than 243 officials have killed themselves since 2009. According to the Institute of Psychology at CASS, the average number doubled in the period after 2013, to around 40 a year. The number peaked at 59 in 2014, coinciding with the height of the crackdown. The opacity of China’s system means the real number is possibly higher. The study found that of the 243, 140 killed themselves by jumping off buildings, either at their workplace or at home, and 44 hanged themselves. Twenty-six consumed poison, 12 drowned and six cut their wrists. Most were in the 45-55 age group, suggesting they were relatively experienced or senior. Not all were under investigation. Most were male. Only three were female-including a customs director accused of corruption, a director of a foreign affairs department in Anhui province, and an official in northeastern Shandong.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • donating.tech

      We hand-picked 10 projects where individual donations can have a direct impact on Internet freedom, underfunded infrastructure and inclusivity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Protecting And Promoting Copyright Balance In NAFTA

        The ongoing NAFTA renegotiation presents a prime opportunity to move the ball on protecting and promoting general public interest copyright exceptions. All three countries have such exceptions to varying degree. And all three are under threat from an agenda to cabin their use through international law. NAFTA negotiators can and should include the best models from prior international agreements that protect and promote the ability of countries to have general exceptions, writes Professor Sean Flynn. [article updated]

      • California Court Dismisses Copyright Suit Against BBC Over Cosby Documentary Over Lack Of Jurisdiction

        Late last year, we covered a very odd lawsuit brought against the BBC by the production team for The Cosby Show centering around a BBC documentary covering Bill Cosby’s fall from grace in America. Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon used several short clips from The Cosby Show, altogether totaling less than four minutes of run-time, and all of them used to provide context to Cosby’s once-held status as an American public figure in good standing. Despite the BBC distributing the documentary exclusively overseas, production company Casey-Werner filed its suit in California. Whatever the geography around the legal action, we argued at the time that the BBC’s actions were as clear a case of fair use as we’d ever seen.

      • Torrent Seedbox Veterans Bow Out of Changing Market

        The meteoric rise of BitTorrent in the last decade led to an explosion of companies offering so-called ‘seedboxes’, servers which carry out file-sharing from a remote location. Now, however, there are signs that the market might not be as healthy as it was, with long-standing player SeedStuff shutting down. TF caught up with its operator to find out more about the decision to leave the business.

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  1. The EPO Seems to Have Corrupted ILO/ILO-AT Like It Corrupted the Media and Academia (Using 'Toxic' EPO Budget)

    People are starting to notice and point out compositional flaws and potentially very serious conflicts of interest inside ILO, which is supposed to ensure justice for EPO workers and is instead stonewalling the vast majority of them (just like Battistelli's kangaroo courts inside the EPO)



  2. Benoît Battistelli's 'Dowry' From the Administrative Council of the EPO

    The dreadful state of the EPO, where one man controls everything and mismanages money (sending a huge amount of money to his other employer, giving himself a massive bonus or a "golden parachute", allegedly paying for national delegates' votes and gambling with EPO budget), won't be improved until the entire organisation removes "Team Battistelli" (the manifestation of Battistelli's 8-year rogue regime)



  3. Patent Extremism -- Like All Extremes -- Leads to Bad Outcomes

    Religiously believing in the value of all granted patents is a form of extremism which actively puts many lives at risk; the sooner this is realised, the better off society will be



  4. Even After SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu (Decision on PTAB) There's No Stopping the Crackdown on Bogus US Patents

    Technology firms take advantage of PTAB, eliminating patents that should never have been issued by the US patent office in the first place; that makes it incredibly difficult for patent maximalists (led by Iancu) to phase PTAB out, more so after Oil States Energy Group v Greene’s Energy



  5. Can Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 Stop Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls in the US?

    The latest lawsuits and inter partes reviews (IPRs) which deal with Microsoft-connected trolls and other potentially-suspicious activities



  6. TC Heartland is Still Deterring and Suppressing Patent Trolls in the United States

    Eastern Texas is being 'evacuated' in the wake of TC Heartland, which continues to be brought up by legal defense teams



  7. The ILO Tribunal: Is It Still Worthy of Our Trust?

    Trusting ILO-AT has become a lot harder in light of its handling of EPO scandals



  8. The Dangerous Adoption of Patents on Life and Nature

    In the face of pressure from patent maximalists, as well as an appointment of a patent maximalist to the top of the US patent office, lawyers/law firms which strive to extend patent scope to life itself (or nature) seem to be getting their way



  9. Stronger Patents or None at All: How the Greed of Patent Law Firms and the Patent Office Contributes to Bogus Software Patents Being Amassed

    Alice Corp. v CLS Bank continues to be the sole recent reference for handling of software patents; that being the case, it's rather disturbing that patent law firms continue to recommend patenting of software and offer lousy excuses for that (mainly because they profit at the expense of those foolish enough to believe them)



  10. Patent Strengthening Would Necessarily Mean Lowering the Number of Patents Granted After Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101

    The concept of patent strength is being distorted in all sorts of ways and acronyms like IPR still being used not to describe the process by which bad patents get eliminated but to spread propaganda like 'intellectual' 'property' 'rights'



  11. Watchtroll's Reaffirmed Hatred Towards Science and Technology, Shattering the Myth About Patent Law Firms Trying to 'Help' Innovation

    The anti-technology rhetoric (what they call derogatorily "Big Tech") of patent maximalists is ruining their old narrative which goes something along the lines of helping inventors



  12. Nearly Half of Patent Applications at the EPO Are (at Least Partly) Software Patents, According to the EPO, and Not Many Patents Are European (Foreign, Not Domestic)

    With lack of care for examiners, for European businesses and for science in general the EPO carries on unabated; its agenda seems to be steered by Team UPC, which is looking to profit from lots of foreign lawsuits across Europe (relying on low-quality patents that wouldn't pass muster in national courts)



  13. Patent Factory Europe (PFE) is a Patent Troll's Publicity Stunt, Attempting to Frame a Predator as the Small Businesses' Friend and Ally

    Patent troll "France Brevets" with its tarnished name (it's the shame of France, a major source of shame other than Battistelli) has decided to do a charm offensive which characterises it as a friend of small firms (SMEs)



  14. Alice, Which Turns Four, Has Saved Billions of Dollars Previously Wasted on 'Protection' Money (Notably Patent Trolls)

    Alice has turned 4 (just five days ago) and software patents have never looked weaker (close to impossible to enforce in high courts in the United States), lowering the incentive to pursue such patents in the first place



  15. Links 23/6/2018: Kodi 18 Alpha 2, Peppermint 9, Wine 3.11

    Links for the day



  16. Somewhat Underwhelming Reception for US Patent Number 10,000,000 (Which Actually Isn't)

    While US patent number 10,000,000 did, in fact, get issued (several days ago) there are un-ignorable reminders that a lot more patents exist and the high number says more about neglected quality than actual, objective success



  17. The United States' Supreme Court Takes the Side of Patent Maximalists, for a Change

    WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. reaches its conclusion; while it has zero effect on patent scope, it does serve to show that the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) isn’t inherently biased against patents in general



  18. Mainstream Media in Germany Covers Battistelli's Corruption at the EPO Just as He Leaves

    Mainstream German media writes about Battistelli's scandals that nobody seems eager or wishes to discuss, let alone bring up; law-centric German media covers the now-famous open letter from German law firms (Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald, and Vossius & Partner)



  19. Links 22/6/2018: PulseAudio 12.0, Krita 4.1 Beta, LabPlot 2.5, Git 2.18.0

    Links for the day



  20. “Dr Ernst Should be Forced by National Politicians to Step Down With Immediate Effect” After Battistelli's Latest EPO Scandals

    Further discussions about the horrible legacy of Battistelli and his protectors, who seem to be interested in a patent trolls-friendly patent system which devalues workers and consciously lowers the patent bar (at all costs, even violation of laws and constitutions)



  21. Links 21/6/2018: Microsoft's 'Damage Control' Amid Role in ICE Scandals, 11-Hour Azure Downtime (Again), GNOME 3.29.3, and More GNU/Linux Wins

    Links for the day



  22. Battistelli and Topić Lose Their Bogus 'Case' Against Judge Corcoran After They Defamed Him and Ruined His Career/Life

    The SLAPP action against Judge Patrick Corcoran, who has so far won all cases involving the EPO, is finally dismissed in Germany; what remains is an ugly legacy at the EPO, wherein everyone bold enough to say something about corruption at the top is having his or her life — not just career — destroyed



  23. Even Media of the Patent Microcosm Mentions the Decline in Quality of Patents at the EPO, Based on Its Very Own Stakeholders, While IAM Ignores the News

    The whole world basically accepts, based on patent examiners as well as those whom they interact with (patent agents), that patent quality at the EPO has sunk; but the EPO and IAM continue to vigorously deny that as it threatens some people's nefarious agenda



  24. Links 20/6/2018: Qt 5.11.1, Oracle Solaris 11.3 SRU 33, HHVM 3.27.0, Microsoft Helping ICE

    Links for the day



  25. Patent Extremists Are Unable to Find Federal Circuit Cases That Help Them Mislead on Alice

    Patent extremists prefer talking about Mayo but not Alice when it comes to 35 U.S.C. § 101; Broadcom is meanwhile going on a 'fishing expedition', looking to profit from patents by calling for embargo through the ITC



  26. What Use Are 10 Million Patents That Are of Low Quality in a Patent Office Controlled by the Patent 'Industry'?

    The patent maximalists are celebrating overgranting; the USPTO, failing to heed the warning from patent courts, continues issuing far too many patents and a new paper from Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman offers a dose of sobering reality



  27. The Eastern District of Texas is Where Asian Companies/Patents/Trolls Still Go After TC Heartland

    Proxies of Longhorn IP and KAIST (Katana Silicon Technologies LLC and KAIST IP US LLC, respectively) roam Texas in pursuit of money of out nothing but patents and aggressive litigation; there's also a Microsoft connection



  28. EPO Insiders Correct the Record of Benoît Battistelli’s Tyranny and Abuse of Law: “Legal Harassment and Retaliation”

    Battistelli’s record, as per EPO-FLIER 37, is a lot worse than the Office cares to tell stakeholders, who are already complaining about decline in patent quality



  29. Articles About a Unitary Patent System Are Lies and Marketing From Law Firms With 'Lawsuits Lust'

    Team UPC has grown louder with its lobbying efforts this past week; the same lies are being repeated without much of a challenge and press ownership plays a role in that



  30. The Decline in Patent Quality at the EPO Causes Frivolous Lawsuits That Only Lawyers Profit From

    The European Patent Office (EPO) will continue granting low-quality European Patents under the leadership of the Battistelli-'nominated' Frenchman, António Campinos; this is bad news for science and technology as that quite likely means a lot more lawsuits without merit (which only lawyers profit from)


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