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03.12.18

Links 12/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC5, KEXI 3.1, Karton 1.0, Netrunner 18.03, Debian 9.4

Posted in News Roundup at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Things you’ll need when seeking GNU/Linux support online

      You broke something. Congratulations! You’re one of the millions of people across the globe, who have broken their system, perhaps without having any clue whatsoever about how you even did it…

      Okay, so, you’ve tried some searches online, you’ve asked your other computer savvy friends, and you’ve also dug out your favourite hammer – just incase you need to break something. Being real though, there’s many times where you may need to seek out help online using forums, IRC, or mailing lists.

    • 4 Linux-forward schools

      It’s well known that there’s a shortage of qualified candidates to fill IT jobs. Employers are urgently looking for people to fill DevOps, development, sysadmin, and other IT roles—especially employees with experience in the cloud, web technologies, and Linux—to manage the infrastructure powering their businesses.

      According to the Linux Foundation, more than 1 million courses in Linux and open source software have been taken by aspiring IT pros through its partnership with EdX. But to meet the IT workforce’s demands for skilled employees now and in the future, we need to start preparing people a lot earlier in life—in pre-K through 12th grade (PK-12) schools.

    • Chromebooks Get Better Support for External Displays, Floating Virtual Keyboard

      More and more Chrome OS feature surface these days, and today we’re glad to inform our readers that Chromium evangelist at Google François Beaufort shared details about two new upcoming enhancements.

    • Microsoft Helps Get A Computer Recycler Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Offering Unapproved Recovery Disks

      To ensure no good deed goes unpunished, Microsoft is trying to get a computer recycler tossed in prison because he almost provided Windows recovery disks to users who needed them. Eric Lundgren, who’s made heroic efforts to prevent dangerous computer parts from filling landfills, is facing a 15-month sentence and a $50,000 fine for manufacturing 28,000 recovery disks. His sentence is based on two charges: conspiracy and copyright infringement.

      Tom Jackman has the whole story at the Washington Post and it’s half-tragedy, half-farce. Lundgren runs a company that prevents tens of millions of pounds of harmful chemicals and metals from ending up in landfills. In return for doing more than his part to save the planet, he’ll gets a chance to spend a year in jail and hand Microsoft $50,000 in compensation for sales it never “lost” from recovery discs he never got a chance to distribute.

    • Best Laptop

      The ThinkPad began life at IBM, but in 2005, it was purchased by Lenovo along with the rest of IBM’s PC business. Lenovo evolved the line, and today the company is well known as a geek favorite. Lenovo’s ThinkPads are quiet, fast and arguably have one of the best keyboards (fighting words!). Linux Journal readers say Lenovo’s Linux support is excellent, leaving many to ponder why the company doesn’t ship laptops with Linux installed.

    • Best Linux Desktop Environment
  • Server/Containers

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15.9
    • Linux 4.14.26
    • Linux 4.9.87
    • Linux 4.4.121
    • Linux 3.18.99
    • Linux 4.16-rc5

      This continue to be pretty normal – this rc is slightly larger than
      rc4 was, but that looks like one of the normal fluctuations due to
      timing of pull requests, not due to anything distressing. In
      particular, this past week we had both a networking pull and a drm
      pull, which accounts for a fait chunk of it all.

      In addition to the networking updates (both drivers and core
      networking) and the drm stuff (mainly some amdgpu display handling
      updates), there’s the usual arch fixes (mostly x86 this time -
      microcode handling and some syscall cleanups) and various random
      driver fixes (rdma, md, scsi, watchdog). Plus some misc stuff:
      filesystems (overlayfs, xfs) some core kernel code, and tooling
      (mainly perf and selftests).

      Nothing particular stands out, the appended shortlog gives a flavor of
      the details.

      Linus

    • Linux 4.16-rc5 Kernel Released

      Development on the Linux 4.16 kernel continues moving along smoothly and tonight the 4.16-rc5 kernel is released.

    • The Big AMDKFD Change Set For Linux 4.17 Has Been Submitted

      Oded Gabbay sent in his pull request today of the AMDKFD driver updates targeting the Linux 4.17 kernel. Notably this includes the long-awaited dGPU support in inching AMD/GPUOpen ROCm compute support with OpenCL off a mainline kernel for select discrete GPUs.

      Most significant with this AMDKFD (AMD Kernel Fusion Driver) changes for Linux 4.17 is the discrete Radeon GPU support for initialization and queue handling. Unfortunately though it ended up being incomplete as the GPUVM support is still missing due to that code still being discussed by developers. Additionally, Vega compute support isn’t yet ready for mainline AMDKFD.

    • Linux 4.17 Will Be Another Exciting Kernel Cycle

      While the Linux 4.16 kernel release is still three weeks or so away, the Linux 4.17 kernel is already shaping up to be another exciting cycle.

    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenChrome KMS Can Now Do Runtime Resolution Changes, Hopes To Go Mainline In 2018

        The OpenChrome KMS/DRM driver can finally handle run-time resolution changes without crashing. The developer now hopes to be able to mainline this driver into the Linux kernel in 2018.

        OpenChrome KMS previously has been unable to handle run-time resolution changes without crashing the X.Org Server, but now this kernel mode-setting driver can do so. After previously battling a standby resume problem for OpenChrome KMS and now tackling this screen resolution change crash, developer Kevin Brace is now able to get by without regular crashes to his computer. This now puts the OpenChrome KMS support about on-par with the DDX driver’s user-space mode-setting support.

      • OpenChrome DRM Driver To Work On New GEM/TTM Code, Regression Fixes

        Now that the OpenChrome DRM driver is hoping to go mainline in 2018 now that it can handle run-time resolution changes without crashing the X.Org Server, the project’s lone developer Kevin Brace has published a TODO list of other code changes he has planned prior to getting this open-source VIA x86 graphics driver into the mainline Linux kernel.

      • David Airlie Moves Toward Upstreaming Soft FP64 Support In Mesa

        There’s been work going on for years of “soft” FP64 support to allow emulated support for the double-precision floating-point data types for GPUs not otherwise inherently supporting this capability. The soft support would allow for some older GPUs to then advertise OpenGL 4.0+ support now that ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 support could be enabled. That day looks like it’s finally coming for mainline Mesa.

      • Vulkan WSI Support Is The Latest Being Worked On For Wine

        Following more Wine Vulkan code being merged and the first milestone being achieved of vulkaninfo working, Roderick Colenbrander has submitted his latest patches in the bring-up of Vulkan support under Wine.

      • This Cryptocoin Miner Uses GPU Heat To Warm Up Your Room

        Now, a French startup Qarnot has added way new name to the list: a crypto heater. Yes, you heard that right. The heater, called QC1, can warm up your room while its mines crypto coins. To do so, it houses two Sapphire Nitro + Radeon GPU RX 580 GPUs with 8GB VRAM each.

      • NVIDIA 390.42 Linux Driver Released

        NVIDIA has just published the 390.42 Linux graphics driver as their latest maintenance update in this long-lived driver series.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Evolving KDE – IRC office hour for your questions and ideas

        KDE has set the focus on 3 goals around improved usability and productivity, privacy and easier onboarding of new contributors to KDE. On Thursday (15. March 2018) we are going to hold an office hour. During the office hour you can ask all your questions around these goals and tell us about your ideas for pushing them forward. We will be meeting in the channel #kde on freenode IRC at 16:00 UTC. We hope to see many of you there.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 9

        KDE contributors continue to polish up KDE software! In addition to our recent work on Discover, KDE Plasma and other apps got a lot of love too, especially Konsole. See for yourself!

      • Improving Syntax Highlighting Files

        When building the KSyntaxHighlighting framework, the syntax highlighting xml files are compiled into the KSyntaxHighlighting library. I order to do so, we have a small little helper program that generates an index of all xml files. This indexer also validates the xml files against the XML Schema, and performs some more sanity checks.

      • Plasma Mobile – A grain of hope in a sandstorm of despair

        I am really happy that Plasma Mobile exists. It’s a natural continuation of an excellent desktop environment. But the technicals have never been a problem. Not so with Ubuntu or any other operating system. That’s never the issue. The app ecosystem is all that matters. And that will take monumental effort and investment to achieve, if ever.

        The early tech demonstrator is an interesting project, but it’s not dazzling enough yet to create sufficient interest in Plasma as a mobile platform. Matching the rivals is a zero-sum game. People already have Android and iOS. Those needs are met. But perhaps, Plasma Mobile can do more? After all, a tiny hobbyist kernel created in early 90s became the powerhouse of the modern Internet and cloud infrastructure. It’s difficult to predict how well will Plasma Mobile do. Let’s hope it will be more than a checkbox on an enthusiasm sheet of dashed hopes. Full power on, engage.

      • KEXI 3.1 Brings Database Application Building to Windows

        If you are looking for a Free and open source alternative to Microsoft Access, KEXI is the right tool for you.

      • KEXI 3.1 Released As Open-Source/Free Alternative To Microsoft Access

        …over 200 bug fixes and more comprising this new KDE software package release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Karton 1.0 Released For Running Linux Programs on macOS & Other Distros/Architectures

        Karton is a Docker-based solution for running Linux programs on macOS or other Linux distributions as well as different architectures.

        Karton makes use of Docker in making it easy to deploy a Linux distribution and then what package(s) to install and then what directories to make available to the host operating system. Karton makes the containers semi-persistent and easy to handle for a smooth experience short of configuring Docker yourself.

      • Karton 1.0

        By using Docker, Karton manages semi-persistent containers with easy to use automatic folder sharing and lots of small details which make the experience smooth. You shouldn’t notice you are using command line programs from a different OS or distro.

      • GNOME 3.28 Is Being Released This Next Week With Many Features & Improvements

        Assuming no last minute snafu, the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment will see its official release happen on 14 March, incorporating the past six months worth of improvements to this open-source desktop stack.

        There have been many improvements to GNOME 3.28, many of the changes we find most exciting have been outlined below.

        - Improvements to the Wayland support have continued with the Mutter compositor becoming quite solid with its Wayland support with additions this cycle like the GTK text input protocol and XWayland keyboard grabbing. When Mutter is acting as a Wayland compositor, among other changes, it now supports GBM with modifiers to support tiling and compression of scanout surfaces.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Sabayon and Antergos

        Sabayon is a Gentoo-based distribution which is available in many desktop editions as well as a server edition. Sabayon strives to provide a working system out-of-the-box, saving the user a lot of time when it comes to configuring the operating system. Sabayon provides several categories of installation media. The project uses a rolling release model and the distribution’s many editions are provided in Stable, Monthly and Daily snapshots. It has been about a year since the last Stable set of installation media was produced and so I decided to explore one of the monthly snapshots.

        I began with the MATE edition of Sabayon’s Monthly snapshot, a 2GB download which I confirmed downloaded properly using the distribution’s checksums. Booting from the live media brought up a menu asking if we would like to start a live desktop environment, launch a text-based installer, start in safe mode or launch a live text console. I was surprised when taking the live desktop option booted the distribution to a text console and showed me a login prompt.

    • New Releases

      • Netrunner 18.03 Idolon

        Netrunner 18.03 ships the latest packages from Debian’s Testing Snapshot repository.

        From 18.03 onwards, we also decided to include even more packages directly from upstream, so it will be most compatible when enabling the continously updating testing repo.

      • KDE-Focused Netrunner 18.03 Linux Distribution Released

        Netrunner 18.03 “Idolon” has been released as the latest version of this KDE-focused desktop Linux distribution derived from Debian’s testing repository.

      • Netrunner 18.03 ‘Idolon’ Debian-based Linux distribution available for download

        For those converting from Windows, one great choice is Netrunner. This is a Debian-based operating system that leverages the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It is very reminiscent of the much-loved Windows 7. The OS comes pre-loaded with a lot of useful software, and Linux beginners will really benefit from that. Today, a new version of the distro becomes available for download — Netrunner 18.03 Idolon.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Closing the open source skills gap

        South Africa is a skills-hungry country. In fact, according to Adzuna, the rarest skills are in the digital and technology sectors, where demand is far outstripping supply – and according to SUSE – that is exactly what the industry is seeing when it comes to open source skills.

        According to Matthew Lee, regional manager for SUSE Africa: “There is a massive skills gap and demand for open source skills such as cloud, application development and DevOps locally – and especially as more businesses move towards digital transformation.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Biboumi – A XMPP – IRC Gateway

        IRC is a communication mode (technically a communication protocol) used by many Free Software projects for communication and collaboration. It is serving these projects well even 30 years after its inception. Though I’m pretty much okay with IRC I had a problem of not able to use IRC from the mobile phones. Main problem is the inconsistent network connection, where IRC needs always to be connected. This is where I came across Biboumi.

        Biboumi by itself does not have anything to do with mobile phones, its just a gateway which will allow you to connect with IRC channel as if it is a XMPP MUC room from any XMPP client. Benefit of this is it allows to enjoy some of XMPP feature in your IRC channel (not all but those which can be mapped).

        I run Biboumi with my ejabbered instance and there by now I can connect to some of the Debian IRC channel directly from my phone using Conversations XMPP client for Android.

        Biboumi is packaged for Debian, though I’m co-maintainer of the package most hardwork is done by Jonas Smedegaard in keeping the package in shape. It is also available for stretch-backports (though slightly outdated as its not packaged by us for backports).

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2018: Candidate

        We’re now into the campaigning period. We have 1 candidates this year: Chris Lamb

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2018 Has One Candidate

        The nomination period for the Debian Project Leader 2018 elections is now over and Chris Lamb is the only one nominated this year after having nominated himself this weekend. The campaign period is now active through the end of the month while the DPL voting will take place for the first two weeks of April.

      • webkitgtk in Debian Stretch: Report Card

        webkitgtk is the GTK+ port of WebKit. webkitgtk provides web functionality for many things including GNOME Online Accounts’ login panels; Evolution’s HTML email editor and viewer; and the engine for the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web).

        Last year, I announced here that Debian 9 “Stretch” included the latest version of webkitgtk (Debian’s package is named webkit2gtk). At the time, I hoped that Debian 9 would get periodic security and bugfix updates. Nine months later, let’s see how we’ve been doing.

      • Debian LTS work, February 2018

        I was assigned 15 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked 13 hours. I will carry over 2 hours to March.

        I made another release on the Linux 3.2 longterm stable branch (3.2.99) and started the review cycle for the next update (3.2.100). I rebased the Debian package onto 3.2.99 but didn’t upload an update to Debian this month.

      • Debian 9.4 Stretch GNU/Linux Released With 150+ Fixes: Update Now

        One of the great things about using a popular Linux distro is that you keep getting timely upgrades, which ensure that you’re running a secure operating system. The same holds true for Debian GNU/Linux, whose development team keeps offering regular updates. Just a couple of days ago, the team pushed the fourth point release of Debian 9 “stretch.”

        For those who don’t know, Debian 9.0 series is an LTS edition, and it’ll remain supported for the next five years.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” Point Release Brings More Than 70 Security Fixes

        The Debian Project announced over the weekend the release of the fourth maintenance update to the stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” comes three months after the 9.3 point release and brings more than 70 security fixes and 89 miscellaneous bugfixes for various core components or other packages available in the main software repositories of the Linux-based operating system. However, the Debian Project warns that this point release doesn’t represent a new version of Debian Stretch.

        “This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available. Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included,” reads the release announcement.

      • Debian 9.4 released
      • Derivatives

        • SparkyLinux 5.3 Rolling Linux OS Debuts Based on Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster”

          SparkyLinux currently comes in two flavors, Stable and Rolling, and while the former is based on the most recent stable release of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system, the latter is usually using the software repositories of Debian Testing. In this case, SparkyLinux 5.3 is based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” OS.

          The SparkyLinux 5 Rolling series hasn’t been updated since last December, and the new release brings a recent kernel from the Linux 4.15 series, namely version 4.15.4, the latest stable Calamares 3.1.12 graphical installer, support for the Btrfs and XFS filesystems, and all the latest updates from the Debian Buster repos as of March 7, 2018.

        • Debian-Based Netrunner Linux OS Gets New Stable Release with KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS

          Netrunner currently offers to branches, Stable and Rolling, the latter being based on Arch Linux and allowing users to install once and receive updates forever, which means that’s designed more for bleeding-edge users than those who prefer to use a very stable and reliable operating system on their personal computers.

          Dubbed “Idolon,” Netrunner 18.03 comes as an upgrade to last year’s Netrunner 17.10 “Voyager” release and brings up-to-date components, including the latest Linux 4.14 LTS kernel, KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, LibreOffice 6.0.2 office suite, Firefox 58.0.1 “Quantum” web browser, and Thunderbird 52.6.0 email client

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • New Ubuntu Installs Could Be Speed Up by 10% with the Zstd Compression Algorithm

            Developed by Yann Collet at Facebook, zstd is an open-source lossless data compression algorithm designed to offer fast real-time compression and decompression speeds, even faster than xz or gzip. Zstd supports up to 19 compression levels, offering a 2.877 compression ratio with up to 430 MB/s compression and 1110 MB/s decompression speeds.

            Julian Andres Klode and Balint Reczey report that they managed to increase the speed of a standard Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) 64-bit installation by about 10 percent with a zstd configuration set at max level 19. Even better, the install speed was increased by about 40 percent when the “eatmydata” library designed to disable fsync and related packages was involved.

          • Ubuntu Installs Made 10% Faster Using Facebook Tech

            If you long to install Ubuntu a little bit faster help it at hand thanks to some nifty open-source tech developed by Facebook.

            Using Zstandard (zstd), a ‘lossless data compression algorithm’ developed by Facebook, Ubuntu developers have been able to speed up Ubuntu installs by 10%.

            While Zstd is primarily designed for use in “real-time compression scenarios” it is able to unpack packages during an Ubuntu install faster than current compression tools Xz and Gzip do.

          • Canonical Working On Zstd-Compressed Debian Packages For Ubuntu

            Support for Zstd-compressed Debian packages was worked on last week by some Canonical/Ubuntu developers and already by the end of the year they are looking at potentially using it by default.

            Zstd is the compression algorithm out of Facebook that has been attracting a fair amount of interest in the Linux/open-source space due to its higher decompression speeds that can trump XZ or Gzip.

          • Keeping Governance Simple and Uncomplicated

            We did this in Ubuntu. We started with some core governance boards (the Community Council, focused on community policy and the Technical Council focused on technical policy). The rest of the extensive governance structure came as Ubuntu grew significantly. Our goal was always to keep things as lightweight as possible.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Beta 1 Released for Participating Flavors

            Ahoy, Beavers! The first beta builds of the Ubuntu 18.04 release cycle have been released and are available to download.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Rant launches Eric Raymond’s next project: open-source the UPS

    In February, Eric S Raymond ranted that the Uninterruptible Power Supply market was overdue for open source disruption, and touch so many nerves around the world that the rant has become a project.

    Last week, ESR opened up the work-in-progress on GitLab: the Upside project is currently defining requirements and developing a specification for a “high quality UPS that can be built from off-the-shelf arts in any reasonably well-equipped makerspace or home electronics shop”.

    ESR’s original post, “UPSes suck and need to be disrupted”, set down his own complaints about what’s sold to consumer/SOHO users: batteries with “so little deep-cycle endurance” that they can’t last beyond a few years, and whose dwell-time is oversold by vendors.

  • [Older]UPSes suck and need to be disrupted

    I use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to protect the Great Beast of Malvern from power outages and lightning strikes. Every once in a while I have to buy a replacement UPS and am reminded of how horribly this entire product category sucks. Consumer-grade UPSes suck, SOHO UPSs suck, and I am reliably informed by my friends who run datacenters that no, you cannot ascend into a blissful upland of winnitude by shelling out for expensive “enterprise-grade” UPSes – they all suck too.

  • Eric S Raymond Taking To Working On An Open Hardware / Open-Source UPS

    ESR is very unhappy with the state of UPS power supplies and he is hoping for an open-source, easily buildable design could change the landscape. At the moment the focus is on just pushing out the PCB schematics and design for such a unit with users left to build the UPS yourself, but he has said he wouldn’t mind if some startup or other company ends up making use of these open-source plans to bring a better UPS to market.

  • Eric Raymond’s New UPS Project, Ubuntu’s Bionic Beaver 18.04 Beta Released, Kernel Prepatch 4.16-rc5 and More

    The Upside project is hosted on GitLab and “is currently defining requirements and developing a specification for a ‘high quality UPS that can be built from off-the-shelf parts in any reasonably well-equipped makerspace or home electronics shop’.”

  • Events

    • Nordic Free Software Award reborn

      Remember the glorious year 2009 when I won the Nordic Free Software Award?

    • foss-north – the count down

      This is the last day left of the Call for Papers for foss-north 2018. With the help of our great sponsors we have the opportunity to transport you to our conference if you are selected to speak. Make sure to make your submission before March 11 and you are in the race.

    • CoderGals Hackathon

      CoderGals Hackathon was organized for the first time in my country. This event took place in the beautiful city of Prizren. This hackathon held for 24 to 48 hours, was an idea which started from two girls majoring in Computer Science, Qendresa and Albiona Hoti.

    • 3rd Annual Postgres Vision Conference to Assemble Innovators in Open Source Data Management

      Postgres Vision, the premier database industry event dedicated to exploring the application of Postgres in mission critical environments and digital business, is returning to Boston. Postgres Vision 2018 will take place June 5-6, 2018, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, located on the picturesque Charles River.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Rust Gets A 2018 Roadmap, Big “Productivity” Edition Planned This Year

        The developers behind the Rust programming language have put out a road-map for the year as well as details on the forthcoming “Rust 2018″ Edition that succeeds the 1.x release series.

      • Rust’s 2018 roadmap

        Each year the Rust community comes together to set out a roadmap. This year, in addition to the survey, we put out a call for blog posts in December, which resulted in 100 blog posts written over the span of a few weeks. The end result is the recently-merged 2018 roadmap RFC.

      • This Week In Servo 107

        In the last week, we merged 85 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

        Congratulations to waywardmonkeys for their new mandate to review and maintain the low-level harfbuzz bindings, and their work to create safe higher-level bindings!

      • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR6 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 6 is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). Other than finishing the security patches and adding a couple more entries to the basic adblock, there are no other changes in this release. Assuming no issues, it will become live Monday evening Pacific time as usual.

        The backend for the main download page at Floodgap has been altered such that the Downloader is now only offered to browsers that do not support TLS 1.2 (this is detected by checking for a particular JavaScript math function Math.hypot, the presence of which I discovered roughly correlates with TLS 1.2 support in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox/TenFourFox). This is to save bandwidth on our main server since those browsers are perfectly capable of downloading directly from SourceForge and don’t need the Downloader to help them. This is also true of Leopard WebKit, assuming the Security framework update is also installed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft headlined a major Linux conference

      Earlier today (March 10th, 2018), Microsoft delivered the headlining keynote of the Southern California Linux Expo — one of the largest Linux and Free Software conferences in the world. I repeat: Microsoft. Headlined. A Linux Festival. It was confusing to many. And Microsoft did not disappoint… they managed to say some distinctly anti-Open Source things in their 1 hour on stage.

    • OPC UA and TSN: Open License and Evaluation Kit
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Automake 1.16 released

      We are pleased to announce the GNU Automake 1.16 minor release.

      This release follows 1.15.1 which was made 8 months ago.

      See below for the detailed list of changes since the previous version, as summarized by the NEWS file.

    • My Affidavit in the Geniatech vs. McHardy Case

      As many people know, last week there was a court hearing in the Geniatech vs. McHardy case. This was a case brought claiming a license violation of the Linux kernel in Geniatech devices in the German court of OLG Cologne.

      Harald Welte has written up a wonderful summary of the hearing, I strongly recommend that everyone go read that first.

      In Harald’s summary, he refers to an affidavit that I provided to the court. Because the case was withdrawn by McHardy, my affidavit was not entered into the public record. I had always assumed that my affidavit would be made public, and since I have had a number of people ask me about what it contained, I figured it was good to just publish it for everyone to be able to see it.

    • GNU developer abandons action against Geniatech

      Former Linux developer Patrick McHardy dropped his Gnu General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) violation case against Geniatech in a German court this week.

      Some are seeing the case as a victory for those who want to convince companies to mend their ways and honour their GPLv2 legal requirements.

      Normally if a developer is hacked off with an outfit ignoring the GPU legal arrangements he or she asks the Free Software Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), and the Software Freedom Law Center to approach violators. But these groups tend to lean on companies to get their act together rather than suing them for lots of cash.

      McHardy, however, after talking with SFC, dropped out from this diplomatic approach and went his own way. In fact, McHardy was accused of seeking financial gain by approaching numerous companies in German courts.

    • The Noble Volunteer (Again)

      I have written about how the Python Software Foundation raises and spends money before. For the most part, nothing has changed since then: the PSF appears to raise and then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year (apparently down from over $300000 in 2016 to under $250000 in 2017, though), directing this money mostly towards events and promotion. In fact, the largest contribution to core-related Python software development in 2017 was actually from the Mozilla Open Source Support programme, with a $170000 grant to fix up the Python Package Index infrastructure. So the PSF is clearly comfortable leaving it to others to fund the P in PSF.

      Lots of people depend on the Python Package Index, but like with Free Software in general, the people making good money while leaning on these common, volunteer-run resources never seem to pitch in significantly themselves. It is true that the maintainer of this resource was allowed to work on it as his day job, but then got “downsized”, and now works in a role where he can work on it again but only as part of his day job. But I imagine that the people at Mozilla, some of whom have connections to the world of Python packaging, quite possibly relying on the package infrastructure to get their own stuff done, were getting fed up with “volunteers” as being the usual excuse for nothing getting done.

  • Programming/Development

    • Student Applications For GSoC 2018 Now Open

      If you are a university student and would like to pursue a career in Linux/open-source software development, a great way to get a jump-start on that is through Google’s annual Summer of Code program. Student applications for GSoC 2018 are now being accepted.

    • What’s new in LLVM

      The LLVM compiler framework has gone from being a technological curiosity to a vital piece of the modern software landscape. It is the engine behind the Clang compiler, as well as the compilers for the Rust and Swift languages, and provides a powerful toolkit for creating new languages.

      It is also a fairly fast-moving project, with major point revisions announced every six months or so. Version 6.0, released earlier this month, continues LLVM’s ongoing mission to deepen and broaden support for a variety of compilation targets. The update also adds many timely fixes to guard against recently discovered processor-level system attacks.

    • GitLab: 2018 is the year for open source and DevOps

      DevOps and open source aren’t slowing down anytime soon, a newly released report revealed. GitLab released its 2018 Global Developer Survey on developers’ perception of their workplace, workflow, and tooling within IT organizations.

      The demand for DevOps continues to grow, even though there are still challenges created by outdated tools and company resistance to change. According to the report, only 23 percent identify DevOps as their development methodology. However, IT management has named DevOps as one of the top three areas of investment in 2018, indicating that the number of DevOps adopters is sure to grow this year.

    • 11 considerations for picking the right technology

      There are myriad open source projects available for just about every component of a modern software stack—the array of choices can be dizzying, especially when starting from scratch or making many choices at once. With the above criteria in mind, however, you should be better equipped to think rationally about your needs and how each of your options might or might not suit them. Happy hunting!

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Please Embed Bibliographic Data in Online Documents

      This isn’t a new concept. Most books published in recent years in the US contain Library of Congress cataloging information. Web pages and academic papers should, too. And there are plenty of standards to choose from; ideally, pick one.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New IP-sharing framework to accelerate R&D

      Pharmaceutical R&D constantly leads to the generation of new intellectual property (IP), from clinical trial data to libraries of promising compounds. Not all IP assets generated by a company are used in their future R&D. When this happens, companies can choose instead to share them with other third-party researchers, under licensing agreements. The Access to Medicine Foundation has worked with BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) to develop a framework for identifying which IP assets are most difficult for companies to share, yet most likely to speed up R&D of the medicines and vaccines needed by people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

      [...]

      The framework assesses 11 types of IP assets, all of which are valuable to product R&D for high-burden and priority diseases. The asset types are rated on a set of six criteria: 1) asset value to company; 2) risk to company; 3) effort for company; 4) asset value to researcher; 5) benefit to researcher; and 6) acceleration to market. Each asset type is given a weighting per criteria. The accumulated weights are used to place the asset type in one of three bands: assets in the ‘greatest’ category, for example, include those that pose a greater risk or effort to the company, but also have the greatest value to R&D that addresses global health needs.

    • Safety Breaches at US Meat Plants Spark Outcry in UK Over Possible Post-Brexit Trade Deal

      British food safety experts and lawmakers are raising concerns over a possible post-Brexit trade deal with the United States in light of newly-released records showing serious hygiene breaches in U.S. meat plants.

      “We cannot allow this to be a race to the bottom. We should insist the U.S. raises its standards, and guarantees food safety, before we are prepared to allow in U.S. meat imports,” said Kerry McCarthy, a former member of parliament and shadow environment minister.

      The outcry comes after U.S. government data showed several instances of safety failures at American packing plants, including the packaging of diseased poultry meat in containers used for food products and the discovery of fecal matter in meat bound for grocery stores.

      Health experts also raised alarm over a legal loophole that allows meat containing salmonella bacteria to be sold to Americans.

  • Security

    • Steep rise in malware threats to Mac: report

      Malware targeting Mac operating systems more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, according to a new report which reveals that in 2017 alone, Mac threats increased more than 270%.

    • Are Spectre and Meltdown just hype? [Ed: No!]

      Often, it’s the dramatic things that get our attention and what we see as a risk. We’re more scared of flying than of driving, and terrified of snakes and spiders when we’re more at risk from the common cold. So, do our fears lie in the right place?

      There has been much hype around the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities that emerged in January, a huge impact in the world of software vulnerabilities. While some of this is justified by the fact that those vulnerabilities affected a majority of all processors in the market, the reality is that this was just another vulnerability on top of all the others in the market, which security professionals need to assess and manage every day.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 87 – Chat with Let’s Encrypt co-founder Josh Aas
    • McAfee Security Experts Weigh-in Weirdly With “Fresh Kodi Warning”

      Something is not right in Tabloid Land. An article published this week in the The Express cites experts from McAfee talking about a “fresh Kodi warning” that “might stop you streaming illegally FOREVER.” Not only is no new threat even touched upon in the piece, but one of the McAfee experts thinks that Kodi “is a streaming site”.

    • Security firm says Sofacy is starting to target organizations in Middle East, Central Asia

      Kaspersky Lab researchers say that a hacking group widely believed to be linked to the Russian government has been executing cyberattacks against a new set of targets in the Far East, including military, defense and diplomatic organizations, according to a new report.

    • Masha and these Bears

      Sofacy, also known as APT28, Fancy Bear, and Tsar Team, is a prolific, well resourced, and persistent adversary. They are sometimes portrayed as wild and reckless, but as seen under our visibility, the group can be pragmatic, measured, and agile. Our previous post on their 2017 activity stepped away from the previously covered headline buzz presenting their association with previously known political hacks and interest in Europe and the US, and examines their under-reported ongoing activity in middle east, central asia, and now a shift in targeting further east, including China, along with an overlap surprise. There is much understated activity that can be clustered within this set and overlap in APT activity. Here, we examine current deployment, code, cryptography, and targeting.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Researchers find 29 types of USB attacks, recommend never plugging into a USB you don’t own
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Peter Thiel’s Palantir Wins $876 Million U.S. Army Contract

      Palantir will work with Raytheon Co. to replace the troubled Distributed Common Ground System now in effect. They beat out seven other proposals for a decade-long, $876 million contract, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Terms of the partnership between Palantir and Raytheon weren’t disclosed, and the companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

    • Peter Thiel’s data company Palantir will develop a new intelligence platform for the US Army

      The Army will pay Palantir and defense contractor Raytheon $876 million over the next decade to develop a replacement for the Distributed Common Ground System, says Bloomberg. That system is used by the various branches of the US military to interpret intelligence from a variety of platforms “spanning all echelons from space to mud,” according to the US Army.

    • Ode to America

      So much for the city on the hill. Narcissism has changed to nihilism and solipsism: “climate change isn’t real”, and the ravages of history continue down the rabbit hole of memory.

      Take another look. Genocide and chattel slavery. The war against Mexico, the quite uncivil war, the Spanish-American war, the massacres in the Philippines, the two World Wars. Dust off a book and check out the post-WWII carnage. Three million dead in Korea, three to five million dead in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A million or more in Indonesia where our CIA handed out kill lists to Suharto’s regime. Untold atrocities in Nicaragua. Juntas and death squads covering South and Central America, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. Hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan, a million or more in Iraq. Refugees numbered 65 million last year, with 20 million worldwide at risk of starvation.

    • Youth, Gun Control and the Pentagon

      To my astonishment, I began receiving daily news updates from the Pentagon, innocuously named the Early Bird Brief, about a month ago. One particularly perverse news brief warrants mention: the number of out-of shape and unfit youth is an imminent national security crisis—not because they matter for themselves—but because, as one writer put it, they are “too fat to fight.”

      According to a report commissioned by the Pentagon, 7 of 10, or more than 24 million young Americans between the ages of are 17 and 24, are not qualified or eligible to join the military because of inadequate education, overweight, poor health and criminal records.

      Let’s dig more deeply into this, particularly in the light of the Pentagon’s overfed budget while education, health and social services budgets are starved of funding, and in the face of evidence that our government cares more about weapons and wars than the health and well being of our children and youth.

    • Learning the Power of Protest, Confrontation and Collective Action, Where Will America’s Students Go from Here?

      After experiencing a terrifying attack on their school by a tragically unhinged former student armed with an assault-style rifle who killed 14 of their classmates and three teachers and seriously injured another 14, they didn’t retreat into fear and victimhood. Instead, they are taking to the streets, taking to buses to the state capital in Tallahassee, and are using social media to organize a national youth campaign to get assault weapons and large-capacity magazines banned.

      In refusing to be silenced by the National Rifle Assn. and political charlatans like Florida Sen. Marc Rubio or President Trump, or co-opted by Democratic politicians eager to use the issue of gun control to win points in next November’s congressional elections, these students and the tens of thousands of high school kids who have joined them across the country in states blue, red and purple, they have in one stroke revived the idea of mass political action.

    • Brexit means…more arms dealing to human rights abusers

      It was one year ago that a triumphant Theresa May proudly announced from Ankara, Turkey, that the UK is “open for business.”

      She had reason to be upbeat. The UK prime minister had just secured a £100m arms deal that meant lots of money for ‘defence’ and ‘security’ manufacturer BAE, and some positive headlines about the UK’s post-Brexit future. The deal, she said, “[would mark] the start of a new and deeper trading relationship.”

      May didn’t just use her visit to sell arms though. She also used it to reaffirm her support for the President Erdogan, who, by that point, had already instigated a crackdown that had seen thousands of public sector workers purged from their jobs.

      There was no shortage of information available to her about the state of human rights in Turkey. Six months prior to her visit, Amnesty International, and others, had extensively documented the return of torture and abuse in Turkish prisons.

    • Nuclear Contradictions, Hypocrisy and Absurdities

      Ronald Reagan, like Donald Trump, was a star—a famous actor—and also a well-known Republican foreign policy hawk with an aggressive nuclear weapons posture.

    • NBC’s Clueless Boost for Putin

      “Complete nonsense,” was Putin’s reply (“polniy chush” in Russian — chush ringing with onomatopoeia and a polite rendering of “B.S.”). Putin explained that “9/11 and the missile defense system are completely unrelated,” adding that even “housewives” are able to understand that. He found occasion to use “polniy chush” (or simply “chush) several times during the interview.

      [...]

      After one interruption, Putin said, “You keep interrupting me; this is impolite.” Kelly apologized, but dutifully went on to cover what seemed to be the remainder of her accusatory talking points. These included repeated insistence that Putin punish the click-bait farmers indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for violating U.S. law.

      No doubt fully briefed on the fact that Kelly sports a law degree, Putin asked, “Do you have people with legal training? … We cannot even launch an investigation without cause. … Give us at least an official inquiry with a statement of facts; send us an official paper.”

      Kelly: “Isn’t it enough that U.S. intelligence agencies … and now a Special Prosecutor (sic) with a criminal indictment — is that not enough for you to look into it?”

      Putin: “Absolutely not. If you do not have legal training, I can assure you that an inquiry is required for this.”

      Kelly: “I do.”

      Putin: “Then you should understand that a corresponding official inquiry should be sent to the Prosecutor-General’s Office of the Russian Federation.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Man arrested over murder of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh

      KT Naveen Kumar was arrested on suspicion of supplying the weapons used to kill Lankesh, according to a senior police officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to talk to media. More arrests are expected, he said.

      Lankesh, the editor and publisher of the Kannada-language newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru in September.

      The murder of Lankesh, a staunch advocate of secularism and critic of right-wing political ideology, sparked protests across India.

    • Death of investigative journalist sparks mass protests in Slovakia

      Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, both 27, were found shot dead at their home near Bratislava on 25 February. Police have said Kuciak’s death was “most likely” related to an investigation of his that resulted in an article on alleged ties between Slovakia’s top politicians and the Italian mafia, which his employer posthumously published.

    • ‘Every place you go, you are being watched’: reporting from Xi’s China

      Days earlier, security forces had launched a now notorious “war on law” crackdown on human rights lawyers, rounding up hundreds of attorneys and activists, some of whom have yet to emerge from secret detention and have, supporters claim, been brutally tortured.

    • Assange Lashes Out: “Hypocritical Motherf*ckers… Remember How I Exposed Your Secret Deal With The Saudis”

      Assange – apparently not included in the UK’s definition of “free and independent media” (facing arrest and detention should he leave the Embassy), fired off a stunning reply – claiming that the UK’s has spent roughly twice as much spying on him as it has on their entire international human rights program.

    • The Foilies 2018

      Government transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act exist to enforce the public’s right to inspect records so we can all figure out what the heck is being done in our name and with our tax dollars.

      But when a public agency ignores, breaks or twists the law, your recourse varies by jurisdiction. In some states, when an official improperly responds to your public records request, you can appeal to a higher bureaucratic authority or seek help from an ombudsperson. In most states, you can take the dispute to court.

      Public shaming and sarcasm, however, are tactics that can be applied anywhere.

      The California-based news organization Reveal tweets photos of chickpeas or coffee beans to represent each day a FOIA response is overdue, and asks followers to guess how many there are. The alt weekly DigBoston has sent multiple birthday cakes and edible arrangements to local agencies on the one-year anniversary of delayed public records requests. And here, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we give out The Foilies during Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of open-government advocacy.

    • For Eurasia’s activists, no place is a safe haven

      They spent the next 65 hours on the run.

      “We first went to the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It took us almost one full day to cross it. We were hiding nearby, looking for a place to cross. The guards with guns, flashlights and dogs, were in the vicinity and could get us any time. My son became so scared, he had a panic attack. I tried to calm him down… We found a smuggler who helped us cross the border by river. He carried my son, and I carried our bags. My legs were freezing as we waded through the icy water. I could barely move my feet, but I didn’t stop… Once in Kyrgyzstan, we caught a plane to Istanbul, and then on to Kyiv. We spent a day at acquaintances’ house, and then rented an apartment.”

      Since 2013, when she started covering the activities of Kazakh human rights defender Yermek Narymbayev, Akhmet had been frequently harassed by the government for her work. But in 2017, the Kazakh authorities launched three administrative and two criminal cases against her, including charges of political extremism, for her investigative reporting and news coverage, as well as jaywalking, for good measure.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 20,000 Scientists Underscore Alarm Over Changing Climate

      They show alarmingly accelerating carbon dioxide emissions (we were up worldwide again last year), declining access to fresh water, and endangered species and other dangers facing the globe.

    • How an Alabama Town Is Fighting Against Cancerous & Toxic Coal Ash Dumping—No Thanks to Trump’s EPA

      Residents of Uniontown, Alabama, have lived with the Arrowhead landfill, which is twice the size of New York’s Central Park, have protested shipments of toxic coal ash—the residual byproduct of burning coal—from a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee, believed to be the largest coal ash disaster in U.S. history. For two years, nearly 4 million tons of coal ash was also shipped by rail from a mostly white Tennessee county to Uniontown. Coal ash contains toxins, including arsenic, mercury and boron, that can affect the nervous and reproductive systems and cause other health problems. According to the EPA, people living within a mile of unlined coal ash storage ponds have a one-in-50 risk of developing cancer. In 2013, some Uniontown residents filed a complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This week, the EPA dismissed the claim, saying there was “insufficient evidence.” We speak with Ben Eaton, vice president of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice and a resident of Uniontown, Alabama; and with Mustafa Santiago Ali, former head of the EPA’s environmental justice program.

  • Finance

    • KFC returns to original supplier after chicken shortage fiasco

      The American fast food chain was forced to temporarily close hundreds of stores after it ran out of chicken following the botched handover of its logistics contract to DHL and QSL. “To put it simply,” KFC tweeted at the time, “we’ve got the chicken, we’ve got the restaurants, but we’ve just had issues getting them together.”

    • Labour’s leavers are lukewarm for Brexit

      In recent times there have been no political soap operas with so ready a supply of bad faith actors as Brexit and the saga of Corbyn and Labour. Shadowy think tanks (Legatum), misrepresented wills of people (Farage et al), billionaire media (Murdoch, Barclay Brothers, Rothermere) the machinations of Labour’s Blairite rump, still spurned and licking its wounds. As so many of these quarters bemoan a supposed loss of truth, new research from the British Election Study (very neatly summarised here) details attitudes that reveal much about Labour’s crucial Leave voters, and in so doing offer useful, and corrective, advice to those still hoping to clinch remain from the jaws of leave. The research points strongly towards the idea that leaving the EU was a means and not an end.

    • How Brexit Won World War Two

      With Brexit now imminent, the country seems to be suffering a sense of leavers’ remorse.

    • Rumblings in the Tory Palace: Theresa May and the Brexit Troika

      What the Brexiteer cabal insists upon is the fantasy that the UK retains its mould as a dominant power, and that, left alone to its devices, will somehow manage to entertain the likes of India, China and Brazil on a better footing. Britain outside its European fraternity will be bolder, braver and more effective. Being within the EU customs union, on the other hand, entails negotiating as a bloc of states, a collective understanding.

      Figures like the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, demand an end to the “obsessive criticism” of Brexit. “Brexit,” he told Conservative Home last month, “is not a time bomb to be defused but a great opportunity to be embraced.” His overseas trips have been greeted with confidence; on returning, he meets an enervating “self-defeating pessimism that is too often on show from certain politicians, commentators and media outlets over here.”

      Britain’s links, however emotional they might be, remain tangibly linked to Europe. These will, in time, become more onerous and costly, and Brussels promises to be stringent on this. EU negotiators are doing their best to make sure that no benefits accrue to Britain in its departure. What matters now is how the Brexiteers manage to sell this to the voters.

      May’s Britain is flailing before weak leadership and chronic uncertainty, but a Britain with the likes of Johnson-Gove-Rees-Mogg would be an absurdly antiquarian sight, an anachronism that will see the country become a contender for the sick man of Europe. In destroying the country they claim to love in a fit of patriotic enthusiasm, they just might also destroy the reality of Brexit itself.

    • Liam Fox’s Brexit aims would require “a fairy godmother” – full speech by Fox’s former top official

      A devastating assessment of the government’s Brexit trade strategy of “rejecting a three-course meal for a packet of crisps”.

      [...]

      “an immediate, significant and lasting negative impact”

      Against that background it is important to bear in mind that today’s UK economy is very much service based – around 80% of value added comes from services.

      UK exports account for around 21% of UK GDP (on a value-added basis) with services representing more than half of that total. Business services, finance and insurance, and the wholesale and retail sectors provide as much UK export value as the top twelve industrial sectors.

      The EU takes 46% of UK service exports; nearly four times what we export in services to the US, which in turn is roughly twice our total service exports to India and China combined. No other overseas services market is significant.

      The UK’s exports of goods to the EU are around 49% of our total sales abroad; just over four times our exports to the US and twelve times current exports to China.

      The distinction between what the statisticians define as services or goods is no longer as robust as it used to be. Recent estimates from the CER and Trade Policy Observatory find that services valued added directly linked to manufacturing exports, design, software etc., is worth more than £50bn annually, about the same magnitude as UK financial service exports.

    • Trade Wars and Diminished Credibility

      When Trump added imported steel and aluminum to his list of already announced tariffs for solar panels and washing machines, members of his own party joined the world in expressing their disapproval. Many business sectors reliant on raw steel expressed fears that the tariffs would ultimately lead to major job losses, not gains, throughout that U.S. economy. Though the action invoked Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, the rest of the world knows that imported steel costs don’t represent security risks, whereas the alienation of allies actually does.

      As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification.” He vowed that Europe would retaliate.

      There were three sets of tariffs proposed by the Commerce Department, run by billionaire Wilbur Ross, and the latest, a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, are the harshest so far. For the president to circumvent Congress on tariffs, it must allegedly alleviate what would otherwise be a national security risk. That’s just the loophole Trump used to ostensibly deliver on his campaign promises to American steelworkers. The problem is that the tariffs could wind up hurting those and other workers, as well as American consumers, instead. It would also add fuel to the fire in an already existing trade war.

      Why is it already existing? Because Trump’s entire isolationist posture and dogma have already caused U.S. allies and adversaries to seek tighter relationships with each other, from a currency and trade agreement perspective. The latest tariffs are another element on the path away from diplomacy (which could be better used to create agreements that truly benefit workers on all sides of our borders) and toward the street-yard bullying tactics Trump adheres to.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • China makes historic move to allow Xi to rule indefinitely
    • Hong Kong democrats seek to recapture lost ground in key by-elections

      The by-elections will fill four legislative council seats once held by pro-democracy lawmakers who were ousted from public office after authorities deemed they’d failed to take valid oaths of office. Critics slammed the move as politically motivated to weaken the opposition.

      Sunday’s polls also coincided with a vote in Beijing’s parliament which is expected to remove the Chinese president’s term limits, setting the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely.

      The news has stoked some unease in Hong Kong, worrying about its long-term implications given Xi’s relative tough line on the freewheeling Asian financial hub.

      “[Xi Jinping] just wants to be an emperor himself. Nobody would believe such a person would do any good for Hong Kong,” said voter Sophia Yiu, 23, who said she flew back to town from Australia just to vote.

    • Perpetual scandals at the White House give Trump the perfect storm he needs
    • Censorship in China rises as Xi prepares for a term with no limits

      Censors silenced him anyway, swiftly wiping his post from the internet. As China’s rubber-stamp legislature prepares to approve constitutional changes abolishing term limits for the president….

    • Statues are not safe in India

      Violent political activists in India, used to attacking fellow humans, have now turned their attention to statues. Within a week they demolished or damaged the statues of Lenin, Ambedkar, the Dalit icon, and Periyar, the social reformer who fought against upper-caste hegemony.

      In India statues of leaders command immense political significance which now characterise even the idols of Hindu Gods. These come in all sizes and colours. Prime Minister Modi is seeking to ensure that his home state Gujarat boasts the tallest statue of Sardar Patel, co-opted by his party, even though he was a life-long leader of the Congress and India’s Home Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet. Sardar Patel is being used as an instrument for diminishing Nehru!

      Towns are dotted with statues installed by the followers of one political party or the other. Statues are erected, defaced and made controversial, all for promoting political interests. A State Governor belonging to Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist party said what a democratically elected government can do can be undone by the next elected party! He was responding to reports of the demolition of a statue of Lenin in a state where the BJP ousted a communist government that had ruled the state for 25 years.

      One cynic says that after every election, the new Government can spend its first year in uninstalling the statutes erected by the previous regime. The old order changed in this north-eastern state and a commentator is sure that streets named after Lenin will now be renamed to glorify some Hindu nationalist leader!

    • Trump and a Lifetime Presidency

      This, of course, was a bizarre hybrid of wishful thinking and stupidity, both of which were on display throughout her odd musings. But today, it seems, someone else may be ‘stealing in’, not just to the presidency which he already has, but to a lifetime role at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

      In recent remarks, President Donald Trump commented on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent abolishing of presidential term limits. Said he: “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

      One might be tempted to simply dismiss this as the ramblings of the demented egomaniac who found his way into the White House in 2016. This entire election was just a bizarre aberration, one might say, that will be corrected in 2020, if not before.

      Not so fast, if you please. Let’s look at some of the facts that might prevent the easy dismissal of the nightmare of a possible Trump-for-life presidency.

    • Poverty, Poor Ben Carson, and a $31,000 Table

      It doesn’t seem fair. And the unfairness is especially apparent when it’s put in context. It is not as though he wanted to spend thousands of dollars on a personal phone booth, or use government funds to pay for charter or first class air travel around the world. And the criticism is not directed at him because he supports cuts to HUD programs contained in the Trump budget. Nor is it because he eliminated language in the HUD Mission Statement that promised inclusive and discrimination-free communities. Nor is it because he is opposed to equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It’s just because his wife was trying to do him a favor and all she wanted was a simple dining room table befitting the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when entertaining guests in his office. Everyone would agree that food tastes better when nicely served.

    • Dictator for Life: The Rise of the American Imperial President

      The presidency will survive. The real question is what leads American presidents into the imperial temptation. When the American presidency conceives itself as the appointed savior of a world in which mortal danger requires rapid and incessant deployment of men, weapons, and decisions behind a wall of secrecy, power rushes from Capitol Hill to the White House.”—Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

      I’m not a fan of Communist China.

      It’s a vicious totalitarian regime that routinely employs censorship, surveillance, and brutal police state tactics to intimidate its populace, maintain its power, and expand the largesse of its corporate elite.

      Just recently, in fact, China banned the use of the word “disagree,” as well as references to George Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984. What’s really Orwellian, however, is China’s plan to use surveillance to create a “citizen score” that determines one’s place in society based on one’s loyalty to the government.

      China—an economic and political powerhouse that owns more of America’s debt than any other country and is buying up American businesses across the spectrum— now plans to make its president, Xi Jinping, president for life.

      President Trump thinks that’s a great idea.

      Trump thinks the idea of having a president for life is so great, in fact, that America might want to move in that direction. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday,” said Trump to a roomful of supporters.

    • What could a Corbyn government inside Europe mean for the future of the European Union?

      In twenty years’ time, we will look back on Brexit as a moment of terrifying global irresponsibility. We live in a world of creeping fascism in Russia, Turkey, China, Trump’s America not to mention the tendencies inside Britain, especially among the hard Brexiteers. The European Union currently represents a beacon for democracy and human rights. Of course, it is dominated by a neo-liberal ideology that threatens to undermine the euro-zone and with it the democratic values for which it stands; developments in Central Europe and the recent elections in Italy are a painful reminder of the dangerous possibilities.

      Nevertheless, there are tendencies for reform inside the European Union and if a Corbyn-led Labour Party were to win the next election, there is a unique – indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity – to reform the European Union and this means an opportunity to save us, Europe and perhaps the world. The current nostalgia for Britain’s role in WWII seems to neglect the fact that this was a struggle for democracy, human rights and decency and not just about nationalism.

      But we are so obsessed with the domestic British debate despite all the talk of a global Britain that nobody seems to be discussing or trying to diagnose the frightening scenario of everything going wrong and our role in that scenario. The current nostalgia for Britain’s role in WWII seems to neglect the fact that this was a struggle for democracy, human rights and decency and not just about nationalism. If we care about those values now, we should be worrying about the future of Europe and the world and how what happens in the rest of the world will affect us.

    • The Empty Piety of the American Press

      The press, giddy with its newfound sense of mission and purpose, is carrying out a moral crusade against Donald Trump. The airwaves and print have shed their traditional claims of “impartiality” and “objectivity.” They fulminate against Trump, charging—falsely—that he was elected because of Russian interference and calling him a liar, ignorant and incompetent. They give airtime to his bitterest critics and bizarre associates, such as Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a onetime star of “The Apprentice” and now a fired White House aide, and Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump. It is great entertainment. It is great for ratings. It is great for profits. But it is not moral, and it is not journalism.

      The empty piety is a mask for self-interest. It is accompanied by the veneration of the establishment politicians, generals, intelligence chiefs, corporate heads and hired apologists who carried out the corporate coup d’état that created our system of “inverted totalitarianism.” The corporate structures that have a stranglehold on the country and have overseen deindustrialization and the evisceration of democratic institutions, plunging over half the country into chronic poverty and misery, are unassailable. They are portrayed as forces of progress. The criminals on Wall Street, including the heads of financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, are treated with reverence. Free trade is equated with freedom. Democratic politicians such as Barack Obama—who assaulted civil liberties, transferred trillions of dollars upward to reigning oligarchs, expanded the drone wars to include targeted assassinations of American citizens, and used the Espionage Act to silence investigative journalism—are hailed as champions of democracy. Deference is paid to democratic processes, liberties, electoral politics and rights enshrined in our Constitution, from due process to privacy, that no longer exist. It is a vast game of deception under the cover of a vacuous morality.

    • Trump lawyers want to stop ’60 Minutes’ from airing Stormy Daniels interview: report

      The interview with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is set to air on March 18, according to BuzzFeed News. On Thursday, a source familiar with the program had told The Hill that Stormy Daniels would be on 60 Minutes “on a future date.”

      The interview was announced by Avenatti through Twitter.

    • U.S. politics projects tribalism

      Tribalism stems from primordial, visceral and oftentimes fanatical sentiments and emotions.

    • DeVos pressed on performance of public schools under policies she promoted

      The White House announced Sunday that DeVos will chair a federal commission on school safety. The panel will include local, federal and school officials, and will assess best practices for preventing future school shootings before making recommendations to the president.

    • [Old] These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America

      This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources.

      That’s consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983.

    • [Old] Illusion of choice: 6 corporations control 90% of US media outlets, 10 corporations control almost every product bought by consumers globally, 1 non-profit institution controls US presidential debates, 1 family owns the banks in all but 3 countries across the globe…
    • [Old] The Illusion of Choice: Ninety Percent of American Media Controlled by Six Corporations

      The promotion of shallow, materialistic, ego-centric values, and the obvious dumbing down of the American population is coming from these 6 corporations. Think about that. These are the companies that glorify consumption, obedience, ignorance, the hyper-sexualization of youth, the glorification of war and government surveillance, and so on. The advertisers that support these media companies have tremendous sway over what makes it on the airwaves. They help to control public perception.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Social Media Is Reshaping Sex Work—But Also Threatening It

      One morning last May, Melody Kush discovered that someone was using her Twitter photos to catfish people into paying for a Snapchat premium account that didn’t even exist. Kush is a sex worker—an erotic model, to be precise—and for someone who does much of her work via social media, that kind of scam isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s an existential threat to her brand. She asked the imitator to stop; they refused, and blocked her. So she screenshotted the person’s snapcode and asked her 114,000-person Twitter following to report the account for her.

      The next day, her Twitter account was permanently deleted—right before she was supposed to teach a social media seminar. “I lost all my content and my entire business,” she says.

    • Statement on incident at TEDxBrussels

      Today at TEDxBrussels, an independently organized TEDx event, speaker and performance artist Deborah De Robertis was forcibly removed from the stage by one of the event’s organizers, who objected to the talk’s content.

    • TEDxBrussels organizer drags presenter off stage during anti-censorship talk

      According to the TEDxBrussels website, the presenter, artist Deborah De Robertis, was in the middle of a piece addressing past censorship of her artwork. The forcible removal of her from stage was so absurd, reports the Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad, that audience members initially applauded thinking it was a statement about censorship.

    • TEDxBrussels loses licence after incident with controversial artist

      TED is a prestigious series of talks in which speakers get a maximum of 18 minutes to spread innovative ideas and tell how they can contribute to a better world. It started off as a 4-day conference in the US state of California.

    • TEDx Brussels loses license due to censorship

      According to Focus Knack, TEDxBrussels – run by a group of volunteers – was told by De Robertis that she would not show images from her performances as part of her talk. When she did, they decided to shut it down. The New York-based Sapling Foundation, which owns TEDx, did not agree with the move.

    • Editorial: Spokane’s bona fide censorship of ‘Live PD’

      The Spokane City Council last week approved rules that will make it almost impossible for television crews embedded with law enforcement to broadcast what they film. Along the way, they ran roughshod over the First Amendment.

      At a time when verifiable facts are labeled as “fake news,” this is exactly the sort of thing our nation’s founders worked so diligently to avoid. The council seems to think it can recognize “bona fide news organizations” as opposed to “reality-based police shows.” In Spokane, some news sources are more equal than others, especially if it means protecting the city’s reputation.

      And our government, especially in today’s hyperpoliticized environment, has no place in making decisions about what is “bona fide news” and what isn’t.

    • China steps up internet censorship of criticism of Xi Jinping

      Outside China, censorship around the plan to abolish presidential term limits has attracted snickering attention. At one point, even the letter “n” (a reference to n as a mathematical representation of an unknown number) was blocked online in some places, as were words like “Winnie the Pooh,” a reference to Mr. Xi’s stout figure.

      All of it came after an extraordinary outpouring of criticism online from people furious at Mr. Xi’s plan to tear up convention and crown himself a new “emperor.”

      But for Yan and others, the consequences have been more serious in a country that has sought to smooth the way for a long-term leader in part by cracking down on those who dare question Mr. Xi or tarnish his state-media-crafted image of humble perfection.

      Two women in Wuhan, Huang Fangmei and Geng Caiwen, were detained, according to the The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Ms. Huang had uploaded a video of her cheerily chanting “qing zhuyi daoche!”, a warning that a vehicle is backing up – and, in this case, a reference to China sliding backwards.

    • West Virginia, the class struggle and the fight against Internet censorship

      The growing wave of working-class unrest in the United States and internationally is exposing and clarifying basic political questions. Among them is the central purpose of the campaign by the tech giants, the US government and the mass media to censor the Internet, under the fraudulent pretense of combatting “fake news” and “Russian meddling.” The real target is the suppression of social opposition.

      This week is opening with an expanding number of working-class struggles. Although the unions managed to sell out and end the nine-day strike of 30,000 West Virginia teachers and school employees last week, the rebellion of educators across the US is spreading. Teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona—organizing chiefly through Facebook groups that have added tens of thousands of users in the last few weeks—are pressing for West Virginia-like strikes to demand higher pay and secure pensions.

      This is part of a broader movement of the working class, including a strike by 1,400 Frontier telecommunications workers in West Virginia and Virginia, and a strike mandate vote by 18,000 registered nurses at hospital giant Kaiser Permanente in California. Although the contract for a quarter of a million United Parcel Service workers does not expire until midsummer, thousands of workers are using social media to press for strike action.

    • Main Turkey opposition website censored by court

      Censorship in Turkey has extended to the website of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), according to a report in Cumhuriyet newspaper.

      The report follows a ruling by an Istanbul court that ordered the blocking of a story about Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s business dealings on 22 websites, one of which was the CHP’s official website.

      Barış Yarkadaş, a CHP lawmaker said of the ruling, “Censorship has extended from newspaper pages to our party’s website. This is an international disgrace. It has been shown once again that they (the government) are intolerant of the truth.”

      He added that the court’s decision was illegal and that the judge responsible had not even examined the details of the case before making his decision.

    • Winnie-the-Pooh banned under Chinese censorship law

      Winnie-the-Pooh is one of Britain’s most beloved exports, but the cuddly teddy bear is now banned under new Chinese censorship laws.

      Following the Communist Party of China’s proposal to remove a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms, government censors are enacting a series of bans on several phrases, including Winnie-the-Pooh, on Chinese social media.

      Memes of Xi Jinping depicted as Winnie-the-pooh first began circulating on Chinese social media after a visit from then-president Barack Obama in 2013 and have since grown in traction.

    • Censorship tightens in Egypt as el-Sisi prepares for re-election bid

      Ahead of elections in Egypt later this month, in which President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is seeking a second term, the authoritarian leader’s government has further clamped down on press freedom, issuing warnings to the media and arresting critical journalists on “false news” charges. Even satirical TV shows have not been spared, with AFP reporting how the media regulator suspended broadcasts of the ONTV show “Saturday Night Live bil Arabi” last month over accusations that it violated ethical standards.

      Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation–a body set up in 2016 under a decree by el-Sisi–banned four other entertainment and satirical shows on moral grounds last month, according to news reports.

      Alongside the bans, and warnings by authorities in January that journalists deemed to be violating ethical or moral standards will be penalized, el-Sisi’s anti-press rhetoric has increased.

    • Twitter is not a public utility
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Launches (And Deletes) Another “Security” App That Silently Tracks Your Data

      Facebook is up to its old tricks again after only a few weeks since the last controversy regarding Onavo Protect VPN app that allegedly tracks user data made headlines.

      This time it has come up with another “security” app called Bolt App Lock whose primary function is to lock other apps present on mobile phones. The app allows users to add additional security measures such as patterns, PIN codes, or fingerprint recognition to apps that they don’t want others to access easily.

    • Week ahead: NSA nominee heads before Senate Intelligence Committee

      President Trump’s choice to helm the National Security Agency will face lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee for his second confirmation hearing on Thursday.

      Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the Army’s current cyber chief, was unanimously approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday to serve in the dual-hat role as NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

      Nakasone is sure to face a flurry of questions about cyber threats to the United States, the U.S. intelligence mission, and the possible separation of NSA and Cyber Command, after Trump formally elevated the latter into its own warfighting unit last year.

    • Government postpones age checks for porn websites

      Over the weekend the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it now hoped the measures would be in place by the end of the year.

    • Bad Actors Are Using Social Media Exactly As Designed

      Recognizing that these challenges—and others—emerging on modern communications platforms stem from their inherent features isn’t an indictment of the companies whose services we’ve all come to rely on; to the contrary, it shows just how hard these problems are. And it calls for a reorientation as to how the companies and the rest of us think about addressing these challenges.

    • Breaking up (with my smartphone) is hard to do

      Smartphones are designed to addict us – nagging us with notifications, disrupting us with noise, making themselves indispensable. Social media apps harness neuroscience to the same end, triggering dopamine hits that lock us into them for hours. A terrifying new book, How to Break Up With Your Phone, says we are rewiring our brains so they are less organised for deep thought; killing our attention span, destroying our memory, sleep and happiness. Phones have changed the world, too; advertisers use them to hoover up our attention. We are no longer just consumers, but product. As Ramsay Brown, co-founder of app-designers Dopamine Labs, has said: “You get to use [Facebook] for free, because your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

    • The GDPR In Full Effect: What Will Happen to WHOIS?

      It has been a long time coming, but the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is almost here. This new privacy regulation requires substantial changes to the collection and storage of data and will affect multiple disciplines, including the brand protection industry. One of the ‘victims’ of the new law is the WHOIS database. How will these changes affect its records?

      [...]

      Regardless of the decision that ICANN takes on the update or complete change of WHOIS records – it will become difficult for you to find the contact details of a domain owner. The upswing of WHOIS privacy services already played its part in this problem, and it seems that the issue will only get bigger now that registries are starting to mask their registrant information.

      If you rely on WHOIS records to track down domain ownership, this created a serious challenge.

    • Fight Ahead Over Website Owners’ Data At ICANN Meeting This Week

      Some of the data collection practices of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), private overseer over the domain name industry, “appear to be excessive, disproportionate, and obtained without the free consent of the individual,” the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT) wrote in a paper published on the eve of the 61st ICANN meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico (9-15 March). During the meeting, controversial discussions about ICANN’s just-published interim model for compliance with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be expected after ICANN published a “cookbook” for GDPR compliance.

    • Aadhaar: India’s Flawed Biometric Database

      It was only after the news had reached the front pages of leading Indian dailies and began circulating on the web that the administrators of the portal came out with a statement.

    • Jugaad: Fooling the IT returns system by using all zeros as Aadhaar number

      However, many still do not have an Aadhaar card and are holding out till the Supreme Court provides its judgement on the constitutionality of Aadhaar, in an ongoing case. Some of these people discovered they could just key in 0s or 1s and the tax returns were filed successfully.

    • Aadhaar linking deadline of March 31 may be extended; what you must know

      However, in case you have not yet linked your account, here’s the list of mandatory Aadhaar linkages: [...]

    • Sandvine’s PacketLogic Devices Used to Deploy Government Spyware in Turkey and Redirect Egyptian Users to Affiliate Ads?

      This report describes how we used Internet scanning to uncover the apparent use of Sandvine/Procera Networks Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) devices (i.e. middleboxes) for malicious or dubious ends, likely by nation-states or ISPs in two countries.

    • “We Know All About You” – MoviePass Is Secretly Tracking Its Customers’ Movements

      Anybody who bothered to look at MoviePass’s business plan would’ve immediately been confronted with the fact that the business was doomed to fail – barring some king of pivot that would bring in badly needed revenue for a company that buys movie tickets for $10 then sells them to its “customers” for 33 cents…

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • This Is History Now: Is the “American Dream” Over for Black Boys?

      Author Jawanza Kunjufu in his book, Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys refers to the “fourth grade failure syndrome,” when Black boys begin to lose interest in school. Unfortunately, this may also be a time that schools, teachers and administrators also lose interest in Black boys. Forty percent of Black boys in urban public schools drop out of high school. Boys who drop out of school are more likely to enter the school-to-prison pipeline by becoming involved in criminal activity or simply being outside of supervised, structured environments that can help to shield them from crime and danger.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Tim Berners-Lee: we must regulate tech firms to prevent ‘weaponised’ web

      Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has called for large technology firms to be regulated to prevent the web from being “weaponised at scale”.

      “In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data,” Berners-Lee wrote in an open letter marking the 29th anniversary of his invention.

      These problems have proliferated because of the concentration of power in the hands of a few platforms – including Facebook, Google, and Twitter – which “control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared”.

      “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms,” said the 62-year-old British computer scientist.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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