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05.11.18

Links 11/5/2018: New CentOS, X.Org Server 1.20, Rust 1.26, Krita 4.0.2, Cutelyst 2.3.0 and Kdenlive 18.04.1

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Is It Linux or GNU/Linux?

    After putting this question to the experts, the conclusion is that no matter what you call it, it’s still Linux at its core.

    Should the Linux operating system be called “Linux” or “GNU/Linux”? These days, asking that question might get as many blank stares returned as asking, “Is it live or is it Memorex?”

    Some may remember that the Linux naming convention was a controversy that raged from the late 1990s until about the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Back then, if you called it “Linux”, the GNU/Linux crowd was sure to start a flame war with accusations that the GNU Project wasn’t being given due credit for its contribution to the OS. And if you called it “GNU/Linux”, accusations were made about political correctness, although operating systems are pretty much apolitical by nature as far as I can tell.

  • Desktop

    • Great News! You’ll be Able to Run Native Linux Apps on Chromebook Soon

      Google announced the support for Linux apps to Chromebooks in its Developer Keynote I/O event. People using Chromebooks will soon be able to run Linux apps on their systems.

    • Chrome OS Now Supports Linux Apps, But Only On Google Pixelbook

      In a stunning new development, Chrome OS now supports full-fledged Linux apps, with a preview available beginning May 8 for Google Pixelbook users.

      Being able to run Linux is a drastic addition to Chrome OS, Google’s proprietary operating system, which up until now has only supported web-based Chrome apps and Android apps. The arrival of Linux marks the first time Chrome OS will be able to run full desktop applications.

      As VentureBeat reports, Chrome OS product management director Kan Liu says users can use Linux-based tools, editors, and integrated development environments on a Chromebook, and the installation process is similar to that on a typical Linux machine.

    • Cats and dogs living together, Linux on Chromium, mass hysteria …

      First we find out that Microsoft’s best selling server is running on Linux and now you will be able to run Debian flavoured Linux apps such as Linux terminal, Git, Sublime, Vim and Android Studio on the Pixelbook. This should help bridge the gap between Chromium and its far more popular and capable sibling, Android. According to The Inquirer, Google expects this to be a seamless integration without requiring extra steps to launch the apps. Perhaps one day we will see these two OSes start to combine as both Microsoft and Google seem to have noticed the unpopularity of skinny versions of their operating systems.

    • System76 Galago Pro Linux laptop now has two screen size options

      Just yesterday, we shared the news that System76 had refreshed its popular Oryx Pro laptop. The Linux community was abuzz with excitement over the thinner and faster notebook. After all, it offers a lot of horsepower at a very affordable price. Heck, the battery life has even doubled compared to its predecessor!

      The computer seller is apparently not ready to slow down, however, as today it also refreshes its affordable and svelte Galago Pro Linux ultrabook. What’s particularly exciting about the new model is that it has two screen sizes — 13 inch HiDPI or 14 inch 1080p (in matte). Regardless of which you choose, the overall dimensions stay the same. How can that be, you ask? Well, for the 14 inch model, the bezels are just thinner.

    • Purism’s Librem 15 v2 Laptop Now Supported By Mainline Coreboot

      While Purism had already been shipping Coreboot on their Librem 15 v2 laptop two years ago and has already succeeded by their third revision that does have mainline Coreboot support, the support was merged today to Coreboot proper for the Librem 15 v2.

      Mainline Coreboot has already supported the earlier iteration of the original Librem 15, the newer and current Librem 15 v3, as well as the Librem 13. As of today the second version of the Librem 15 is now officially supported in its Git code-base. The Librem 15 v2 was their updated Broadwell-based like the Librem 15 v1 while the current-generation Librem 15 v3 is utilizing an Intel Skylake processor.

  • Kernel Space

    • Read-Only Memory

      Igor Stoppa posted a patch to allow kernel memory pools to be made read-only. Memory pools are a standard way to group memory allocations in Linux so their time cost is more predictable. With Igor’s patch, once a memory pool was made read-only, it could not be made read-write again. This would secure the data for good and against attackers. Of course, you could free the memory and destroy the pool. But short of that, the data would stay read-only.

      There was not much controversy about this patch. Kees Cook felt that XFS would work well with the feature. And, having an actual user would help Igor clarify the usage and nail down the API.

      This apparently had come up at a recent conference, and Dave Chinner was ready for Igor’s patch. He remarked, “we have a fair amount of static data in XFS that we set up at mount time and it never gets modified after that. I’m not so worried about VFS level objects (that’s a much more complex issue) but there is a lot of low hanging fruit in the XFS structures we could convert to write-once structures.”

    • AMD TrueAudio Next 1.2 Released, But Still No Linux Support

      The latest feature update is now available to AMD’s TrueAudio Next solution for delivering advanced audio effects using OpenCL kernels without relying upon any dedicated DSP hardware.

      TrueAudio Next 1.2 improvements to its audio convolution algorithm, many optimizations to its Graphics Audio Acceleration Library, support for AMD Resource Reservation, and a number of new samples were added.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Sees A Big Update, Prepping For VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing

        The code to the AMDVLK official open-source Radeon Vulkan driver for Linux has received a big code update, syncing up the public tree from their internal development trees with about two weeks worth of changes.

      • Radeon Pro Software 18.Q2 Released For Linux

        AMD has carried out their quarterly Radeon Pro Software driver update designated for their Radeon Pro professional/workstation graphics drivers with these updates having received additional QA for certified workloads. The Radeon Pro Software 18.Q2 Linux driver made it out alongside their Windows update.

      • xorg-server 1.20.0

        Lots of Present, DRI3 modifier, and buildsystem fixes. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release!

      • X.Org Server 1.20 “Avocado Toast” Released With DRI3 v1.2, VR Improvements

        After more than one and a half years in development that is well off their past six-month release cadence, the long-awaited X.Org Server 1.20 has finally been released as this stable X11 implementation for Linux desktop systems not yet prepared to migrate to Wayland.

      • GPU virtualization update

        A few months ago, Robert Foss wrote a blog post about virtualizing GPU Access. In his post, Robert explained the architecture of the GPU virtualization stack and, how to build and run a VM with hardware acceleration.

        If you are interested by the GPU virtualization topic, I suggest you read Robert’s post.

        Today, I will discuss the major improvements which landed upstream during these pasts 3 months.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 8.1 vs. GCC 7.3 Compiler Benchmarks On Five AMD/Intel Linux Systems

        With GCC 8.1 having been officially released last week, I have spent the past number of days running a variety of compiler benchmarks comparing this initial GCC8 stable release to the previous GCC 7.3 stable compiler release. Tests were done on five different Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Linux systems running very different AMD and Intel processors.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita 4.0.2 released

        Today the Krita team releases Krita 4.0.2, a bug fix release of Krita 4.0.0. We fixed more than fifty bugs since the Krita 4.0.0 release! See below for the full list of fixed isses. We’ve also got fixes submitted by two new contributors: Emmet O’Neil and Seoras Macdonald. Welcome!

      • Cutelyst 2.3.0 released

        Cutelyst – The C++ Web Framework built with Qt, has a new release.

        In this release a behavior change was made, when asking for POST or URL query parameters and cookies that have multiple keys the last inserted one (closer to the right) is returned, previously QMap was filled in reverse order so that values() would have them in left to right order. However this is not desired and most other frameworks also return the last inserted value. To still have the ordered list Request::queryParameters(“key”) builds a list in the left to right order (while QMap::values() will have them reversed).

        Some fixes on FastCGI implementation as well as properly getting values when uWSGI FastCGI protocol was in use.

      • Discovering the Gwenview photo viewer

        The Gwenview photo viewer is a great application and one of the reasons why I never looked back when I switched from Windows (Vista) to openSUSE (11.1). The application is installed by default when you install openSUSE with the KDE plasma desktop environment. But even if you have the GNOME desktop environment installed, I would recommend that you to install Gwenview. In my opinion, it is superior to the GNOME image viewer application.

        Default applications often get overlooked. We just expect them to be there. But there are big differences when it comes to default applications. Take for instance the GNOME image viewer or Windows Photo Viewer. You can do a couple of basic things like zoom in, zoom out and move from photo to photo. You can put it in full screen mode and go back. And of course you can open, save, print and close photos. But that is basically it. Gwenview does a lot more.

        So lets get to it. There are basically 2 ways to open Gwenview. The first way is to (double) click a photo in the Dolphin file manager (another great default application). The second way is to open Gwenview via the kickoff menu, by typing in the name in the search box or by looking at the Graphics section of the menu.

      • Kdenlive 18.04.1 released

        While our team is working on the awaited refactoring, we still managed to add 2 small usability improvements in the 18.04.1. version. First the safe zone overlay was improved so you can now easily spot the center of your frame.

        Then we improved the default background color for the titler so that white text can easily be read without having to make further adjustments.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Environment to Offer New Lock and Login Screen Experiences

        GNOME 3.30 will be the next major release of the open source desktop environment used by numerous GNU/Linux distributions, and now that Ubuntu is using it by default for the latest LTS release, all eyes are on GNOME these days to see what improvements and new features will bring with the next update.

        The login and lock screens of GNOME haven’t been changed for a while now, but it would appear the team had been working to revamp them. As you can see from the screenshot gallery attached below, the design looks marvelous, and we have to admit that we can’t wait to try them out on our personal computers.

      • Give Your Linux Desktop a Stunning Makeover With Xenlism Themes

        Xenlism theme pack provides an aesthetically pleasing GTK theme, colorful icons, and minimalist wallpapers to transform your Linux desktop into an eye-catching setup.

      • First Look: GNOME’s Stylish New Login & Lock Screens

        GNOME devs are working on an improved GNOME Shell login and lock screen — and it’s looking great!

        Sharing images of the proposed new lock, unlock and login screen designs on his blog is GNOME’s Allan Day, who says the redesigns are the fruits of a week-long design hackfest GNOME held in London last year.

      • GNOME 3.28.2 Released with Memory Leak Fixes for GNOME Shell, Update Now

        Coming a month after the first point release, GNOME 3.28.2 is here with more bug fixes and improvements to make the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment as stable and reliable as possible. In particular, it includes fixes for the infamous GNOME shell memory leak everyone was talking about lately.

        “I’m pleased to announce the release of GNOME 3.28.2, the final planned release for the GNOME 3.28 series. It includes numerous bugfixes, documentation improvements, and translation updates, notably some widely discussed memory leak fixes for GNOME shell,” said Matthias Clasen in an email announcement.

      • GNOME 3.28.2 Released With GJS Garbage Collection Fix To Address The Big Memory Leak
      • Adaptive GNOME Web

        I started working on making GNOME Web work well on the Librem 5; to be sure it fits a phone’s screen I want the windows to fit in a 360 points width, which is definitely small. To do so I started with the advices from Tobias Bernard to make Web have two modes that I named normal and narrow. The normal mode is Web as you know it, while the narrow mode moves all buttons from the header bar but the hamburger menu to a new action bar at the bottom, letting the windows reach yet unreachable widths.

      • GNOME Terminal: separate menu items for opening tabs and windows

        Astute users might have noticed that the GNOME Terminal binary distributed by Fedora has separate menu items for opening new tabs and windows, while the vanilla version available from GNOME doesn’t.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The Grand Update – brace yourselves!

        In the remaining hours before the hdlists are regenerated, and we can all update our Mageia 6 systems with more than 400 packages, here’s some info – very important info – about the update process.

        It’s vitally important that the update completes without interruption! Here’s what you need to do:

    • Slackware Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • CentOS 7 1804 Linux Distro Available For Download: Here’s How To Update

        While making a list of free operating systems that can be used both as a daily use system as well as a server, CentOS gets an early mention. Based on RHEL base, CentOS is known for being a stable and manageable platform. Just recently, the developers have shipped the sixth CentOS-7 release.

      • CentOS 7 1804 Released As The Free Spin Of RHEL 7.5

        CentOS 7 1804 is now available as the latest release of this leading “community spin” of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The 1804 update to CentOS 7 is based on last month’s release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5.

        CentOS 7 1804 is the latest stable installment to the EL7 series and built off the RHEL 7.5 sources.

      • Release for CentOS Linux 7 (1804) on x86_64 aarch64 i386 ppc64 ppc64le
      • CentOS Linux 7.5 Officially Released, It’s Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5

        CentOS developers announced today the release and immediate availability for download of the CentOS Linux 7 (1804) operating system for all supported hardware architectures.

        Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5, CentOS Linux 7.5 (1804) is the latest and most advanced snapshot of the open-source and enterprise-ready computer operating system, available now for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64), ARM64 (AArch64), PowerPC 64-bit Little Endian (PPC64el), PowerPC 64-bit (PPC64), and ARMhf architectures.

        “I am pleased to announce the general availability of CentOS Linux 7 (1804) for across all architectures. Effectively immediately, this is the current release for CentOS Linux 7 and is tagged as 1804, derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5,” said project maintainer Karanbir Singh in the mailing list announcement.

      • Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

        Red Hat, Inc. provides open source software solutions to more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, including Internet Service Providers, airlines, healthcare companies and commercial banks. The company has been around for more than two decades and is well known for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. Red Hat provides a fully open technology stack, which you can alter to suit your needs — you’re not locked into the vendor’s vision of the software or stack components. Red Hat’s portfolio of products and services also include JBoss middleware, cross-platform virtualization, cloud computing (CloudForms and OpenStack) and much more.

      • The importance of diversity in tech – Red Hat Summit 2018

        Featuring Red Hat’s Women in Open Source Award winners – Dana Lewis and Zui Dighe – DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer at Red Hat and Justine Whitley from Macquarie Bank, the women in tech panel at Red Hat Summit discussed the positives and negatives of working in a male-dominated field, shared personal experiences, provided advice for the next generation and discussed what the industry can do to become more inclusive for women.

      • OpenShift Brings Full Cross-Platform Flexibility to Azure Cloud

        This release is the first fully managed, easy-to-use version of OpenShift in the cloud, the companies said. The fully managed integration of OpenShift on Azure means that Microsoft and Red Hat will join to engineer, operate and support the platform.

      • Save the date for Red Hat Summit 2019

        As we close out another amazing Red Hat Summit, we want you to mark your calendar for next year’s event. We’re heading back to Boston for Red Hat Summit 2019! Join us there at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, May 7-9, 2019, when we expect thousands of customers, partners, and technology industry leaders from around the world to come together for a high-energy week of innovation, education and collaboration.

      • Red Hat Summit: Clouds today, serverless tomorrow

        Have you ever thought to yourself, “Today’s world would be so much richer if we had 29 kinds of hummus?” Neither has Stephanos Bacon, Senior Director of Portfolio Strategy for Red Hat Application Platforms. His entertaining presentation moved from the options available to humans hungry for hummus to a discussion of the bewildering array of choices available to developers and architects. Although too many choices can be a bad thing1, it’s important to understand what choices are relevant today and that the relevance of those choices is always shifting.

      • Red Hat Summit 2018 Burr Sutter Demo

        One of the highlights of Red Hat Summit was a live, on-stage demo given by Burr Sutter (@burrsutter) and a team of developers. The demo was particularly engaging because the audience participated using a mobile game on their phones that communicated with a backend developed by Burr’s team. The objective of the demo was to show off the technologies, and also show how complex development and deployment challenges can be solved with a modern approach.

        [...]

        The main takeaway was that despite running in the cloud, it’s your app and your data, and you should be able to run it whereever is best for you. The right platform choice gives you flexibility while avoiding lock-in.

      • Video: Demystifying systemd
      • IT Leaders Need To Agitate For Business Change, Says Red Hat CEO

        With the rate of technological change increasing at an overwhelming rate, organizations need to rework how they tackle and harness it, says Red Hat’s CEO.

        Red Hat CEO and president Jim Whitehurst says the rate at which innovations are now occurring across IT is now occurring at a rate most business will be able to effectively absorb unless a decision is made to fundamentally restructure how they are organized.

        In fact, Whitehurst says that IT leaders are assuming more proactive roles inside their organizations to drive business change.

      • Red Hat Summit reveals new cloud and microservice partnerships

        Several new partnerships were announced this week at the annual Red Hat Summit in San Francisco designed to accelerate enterprise adoption of microservices, cloud and containers.

        IBM and Red Hat announced a major expansion to their existing relationship designed to accelerate hybrid cloud adoption. This new partnership that will enable IBM and Red Hat users to benefit from both companies’ technologies in the private and public cloud space.

      • Red Hat celebrates ‘women of open source’ at RHS 2018

        Red Hat has announced the winners of its ‘Women in Open source’ awards at the company’s annual ‘Summit’ event, currently taking place in San Francisco.

        Dana Lewis, founder of the Open Artificial Pancreas System (OpenAPS) movement, and Zui Dighe, a Duke University student, were both formally honoured for their use of open source technologies.

        Red Hat says the awards are given out annually to women who demonstrate an innovative use of open source methodology, or those who make valuable contributions to open source communities.

      • Kubernetes and CNI: What’s Next — Making It Easier to Write Networking Plugins

        First proposed by CoreOS (now part of Red Hat) to define a common interface between network plug-ins and container execution, CNI is focused on the network connectivity and removing allocated resources when a container is deleted. CNI was released in 2016, and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee voted last May to accept CNI as a hosted project.

      • Red Hat Summit: An introduction to OpenShift.io

        Red Hat OpenShift.io is an innovative online service for development teams. Installing and configuring IDEs, libraries, and various tools is a major time sink. OpenShift.io is a cloud-native set of zero-install tools for editing and debugging code, agile planning, and managing CI/CD pipelines. It also features package analytics (an unbelievably cool feature we’ll discuss more in a minute), and has various quick starts for common frameworks. Because everyone on the team uses the exact same tools, “It works on my machine” becomes a thing of the past.

        [...]

        One more thing: package analytics is an amazing feature. In Todd’s example, he added a package (the name of which we shall not mention) and the tools flagged it as having a security vulnerability. This is done in an elegant, friendly UI as opposed to a text message you might not notice in a console. In addition, the product uses machine learning to analyze your project. If you’re using an unusual combination of packages, the tools let you know. That might not be a problem, but it’s a sign that you might want to re-examine your choices. To quote Todd, package analytics is “freaky, freaky cool.”

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • [DNG] Devuan “ASCII” 2.0 Release Candidate
        • Systemd-free Devuan Linux looses version 2.0 release candidate

          Devuan Linux, the Debian fork that offers “init freedom” has announced the first release candidate for its second version.

          Dubbed “ASCII”, Devuan 2.0 uses Debian Stretch as its base, doesn’t use Systemd, and reached beta in February 2018.

          This week, the developers behind the distro announced ASCII’s first release candidate, along with news that the installer “now offers a wider variety of Desktop Environments including XFCE, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQT (with others available post-install).”

          “In addition, there are options for ‘Console productivity’ with hundreds of CLI and TUI utils, as well asa minimal base system ideal for servers,” the team stated.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Developers Once Again Debate Dropping i386 Images, Then Discontinuing i386 Port

            While the Ubuntu desktop official images are no longer 32-bit/i386 and more Ubuntu derivatives are dropping their 32-bit x86 installers, not all 32-bit images/installers have been discontinued and the i386 package archive / port remains. That matter though is back to being debated.

            As has been common to see every once in a while over the past few years, Ubuntu developers are back to debating the i386 status following the latest Ubuntu 18.04 LTS cycle. Canonical’s Bryan Quigley is proposing that i386 be dropped — initially for images/installers but with an end goal of dropping the i386 port.

          • Firefox Quantum, Bcachefs, Ubuntu, Devuan 2.0

            It would seem that the main Ubuntu distribution may not be the only *buntu to drop support for 32-bit x86 (i386) architectures. A proposal has just been put forth by Bryan Quigley to drop support for Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kylin and Kubuntu.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” Slated for Release on October 18, 2018

            Now that we know the codename of the next Ubuntu release, Ubuntu 18.10, it’s time to take a closer look at the release schedule, which suffered some changes for this cycle, and the proposed release date.

            Development on Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) kicked off officially earlier this week with the latest GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 8.1 release, though it’s not yet the default system compiler. However, Canonical plans to migrate from GCC 7, which is currently used in the latest Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) release to the GCC 8.x series.

          • AFL in Ubuntu 18.04 is broken

            At is has been reported on the discussion list for American Fuzzy Lop lately, unfortunately the fuzzer is broken in Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver”. Ubuntu Bionic ships AFL 2.52b, which is the current version at the moment of writing this blog post. The particular problem comes from the accompanying gcc-7 package, which is pulled by afl via the build-essential package. It was noticed in the development branch for the next Debian release by continuous integration (#895618) that introducing a triplet-prefixed as in gcc-7 7.3.0-16 (like same was changed for gcc-8, see #895251) affected the -B option in way that afl-gcc (the gcc wrapper) can’t use the shipped assembler (/usr/lib/afl-as) anymore to install the instrumentation into the target binary (#896057, thanks to Jakub Wilk for spotting the problem).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source AI For Everyone: Three Projects to Know

    At the intersection of open source and artificial intelligence, innovation is flourishing, and companies ranging from Google to Facebook to IBM are open sourcing AI and machine learning tools.

  • DNAtix releases an open source DNA Compression Tool

    Digital DNAtix Ltd., the genetics blockchain company, released its first open-source DNA Compression tool to GitHub today. It is almost impossible to transfer genetic data with current blockchain technologies due to size constrains. With this new tool, users can compress a DNA Sequence in FASTA format to 25% of its size. DNAtix is making the compression tool open source to advance cutting-edge personalized and preventive medicine.

  • Amadeus Flies With Open Source

    Amadeus uses open source to deliver the technology solutions that keep its airline and large hotel customers from going off the rails.

    Amadeus principally provides reservation systems and scheduling for travel agencies, as well as inventory management and pricing solutions. It’s a time-sensitive business — you can’t sell a hotel room for last night, and you can’t sell a seat on an airplane after take-off.

  • Changing the world, one line of code at a time

    It’s hard to beat the business case for open source: teams of motivated individuals working with intent to solve problems with software. But how do organisations attract and retain open source talent?

    Increasingly, these engineers are turning up for the gig, and a good salary is no longer their only consideration.

    They’re also building their CVs on GitHub, which is more meaningful than their formal work experience, said Werner Knoblich, Red Hat’s senior vice president and general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the company’s summit in San Francisco this week.

  • A look at open source image recognition technology

    At the Supercomputing Conference in Denver last year, I discovered an interesting project as I walked the expo floor. A PhD student from Louisiana State University, Shayan Shams, had set up a large monitor displaying a webcam image. Overlaid on the image were colored boxes with labels. As I looked closer, I realized the labels identified objects on a table.

    Of course, I had to play with it. As I moved each object on the table, its label followed. I moved some objects that were off-camera into the field of view, and the system identified them too.

  • Education tech and battling stubborn Open Source myths

    When open source first hit the market, for many it was indistinguishable from The Free Software Movement. The key appeal was, indeed, that open source software was free – primarily because of the unchecked redistribution rights, where licences didn’t restrict any party from selling or giving away the software.

  • Open source SDN project could let network admins duplicate production environments

    Software Defined Networking (SDN) is an increasingly attractive option for organizations looking to automate more of their data center operations. However, SDN deployments typically accompany vendor lock-in, as hardware manufacturers such as Cisco provide proprietary software solutions to go with bundles of network hardware. Similarly, turn-key software defined data center (SDDC) solutions often rely on top-down vendor integration, or have similar limitations for using products from qualified vendors.

    One team is working to change that. Japanese software firm axsh is developing an open-\ source software stack—code named LiquidMetal—that combines their existing OpenVNet SDN software, with OpenVDC VM orchestration software.

    With the two, the developers have made it possible to take an off-the-shelf dedicated switch, and configure it for any desired network topology, in effect making it possible to create complete identical copies of a given production network, including copying the IP and MAC addresses of each connected device. The LiquidMetal project also incorporates Terraform, Expect, and Ansible in their software stack.

  • Events

    • LISA wants you: submit your proposal today

      I have the great honor of being on the organizing committee for the LISA conference this year. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how much I enjoy LISA. It’s a great conference for anyone with a professional interest in sysadmin/DevOps/SRE. This year’s LISA is being held in Nashville, Tennessee, and the committee wants your submission.

    • Why it’s important to get kids into public speaking

      Although she’s only 16 years old, Keila Banks is already a veteran presenter at technology conferences. Her courage to get on stage in front of adults, beginning at the very young age of 11, to talk about open source technology has opened a world of opportunities for her.

      In her Lightning Talk at the 16th annual Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Keila shares some of her amazing experiences, from the television studio to the White House, resulting from her conference presentations about open source, coding, and involving youth in technology.

      Watch Keila’s Lightning Talk to learn more about how to leverage conference presentations to advance your career.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Linux sandboxing improvements in Firefox 60

        Continuing our past work, Firefox 60 brings further important improvements to security sandboxing on Linux, making it harder for attackers that find security bugs in the browser to escalate those into attacks against the rest of the system.

        The most important change is that content processes — which render Web pages and execute JavaScript — are no longer allowed to directly connect to the Internet, or connect to most local services accessed with Unix-domain sockets (for example, PulseAudio).

        This means that content processes have to follow any network access restrictions Firefox imposes — for example, if the browser has been set up to use a proxy server, connecting directly to the internet is no longer possible. But more important are the restrictions on connections to local services: they often assume that anything connecting to them has the full authority of the user running it, and either allow it to ask for arbitrary code to run, or aren’t careful about preventing that. Normally that’s not a security problem because the client could just run that code itself, but if it’s a sandboxed Firefox process, that could have meant a sandbox escape.

        In case you encounter problems that turn out to be associated with this feature, the `security.sandbox.content.level` setting described previously can be used for troubleshooting; the network/socket isolation is controlled by level 4. Obviously we’d love to hear from you on Bugzilla too.

      • Switching to JSON for update manifests

        We plan on switching completely to JSON update manifests on Firefox and AMO. If you self-distribute your add-on please read ahead for details.

        AMO handles automatic updates for all add-ons listed on the site. For self-hosted add-ons, developers need to set an update URL and manage the update manifest file it returns. Today, AMO returns an RDF file, a common legacy add-on feature. A JSON equivalent of this file is now supported in Firefox. JSON files are smaller and easier to read. This also brings us closer to removing complex RDF parsing from Firefox code.

        Firefox 62, set to release September 5, 2018, will stop supporting the RDF variant of the update manifest. Firefox ESR users can continue using RDF manifests until the release of Firefox 68 in 2019. Nevertheless, all developers relying on RDF for their updates should read the documentation and switch soon. Firefox 45 introduced this feature, so all current versions of Firefox support it.

      • Visualizing Your Smart Home Data with the Web of Things

        Today we’re mashing up two very different applications to make a cool personal dashboard for investigating all our internet-connected things, and their behavior over time. We can use one of the Web Thing API’s superpowers: its flexibility. Like Elastigirl or Mr. Fantastic, it can bend and stretch to fit into any situation.

      • Tor Browser 7.5.4 is released

        Tor Browser 7.5.4 is now available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory.

        This release features important security updates to Firefox.

      • Firefox 60 and JAWS 2018 back in good browsing conditions together

        When Firefox Quantum was first released in November of 2017, it temporarily regressed users of the JAWS screen reader. I’m happy to report that both Firefox and JAWS once again deliver a first class browsing experience together!

      • These Weeks in Dev-Tools, issue 4

        Welcome to the 4th issue of these weeks in dev-tools! We’ve re-organised the
        teams a little bit and have been working hard towards the 2018 edition release.

        These Weeks in Dev-Tools will keep you up to date with all the exciting dev
        tools news. We plan to have a new issue every few weeks. If you have any news
        you’d like us to report, please comment on the tracking issue.

        If you’re interested in Rust’s developer tools and want to contribute or ask
        questions, come chat to us on Gitter.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.2.12 now available!

      Oracle has released VirtualBox 5.2 Maintenance Release 12.

      Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.2.12 release includes improvements and regression fixes for Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.2.

    • Oracle Adds Initial Linux Kernel 4.17 Support to Its Latest VirtualBox Release

      Oracle announced today the release and immediate availability of the VirtualBox 5.2.12 maintenance update to the company’s open-source and cross-platform virtualization software.

      Coming only three weeks after VirtualBox 5.2.10, the VirtualBox 5.2.12 release appears to be a minor bugfix update that only addresses a possible data corruption in the Serial component, which could occur when data was sent under specific circumstances, and fixes starting and stopping of video recording.

      But there’s also good news for Linux users, as VirtualBox 5.2.12 is the first stable release of the popular virtualization software to add initial support for the upcoming Linux 4.17 kernel, which is currently under development with an RC4 milestone out the door last week. Linux kernel 4.17 should be hitting the streets early next month.

  • BSD

    • MidnightBSD Could Be Your Gateway to FreeBSD

      The Xfce desktop interface will make you feel right at home on MidnightBSD; learn how to set it up in this tutorial from Jack Wallen.
      Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

      FreeBSD is an open source operating system that descended from the famous Berkeley Software Distribution. The first version of FreeBSD was released in 1993 and is still going strong. Around 2007, Lucas Holt wanted to create a fork of FreeBSD that made use of the GnuStep implementation of the OpenStep (now Cocoa) Objective-C frameworks, widget toolkit, and application development tools. To that end, he began development of the MidnightBSD desktop distribution.

      MidnightBSD (named after Lucas’s cat, Midnight) is still in active (albeit slow) development. The latest stable release (0.8.6) has been available since August, 2017. Although the BSD distributions aren’t what you might call user-friendly, getting up to speed on their installation is a great way to familiarize yourself with how to deal with an ncurses installation and with finalizing an install via the command line.

      In the end, you’ll wind up with desktop distribution of a very reliable fork of FreeBSD. It’ll take a bit of work, but if you’re a Linux user looking to stretch your skills… this is a good place to start.

      I want to walk you through the process of installing MidnightBSD, how to add a graphical desktop environment, and then how to install applications.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Intel’s Clear Linux Moving For A Quick Rollout Of GCC 8

      Intel’s performance-oriented Clear Linux operating system is already preparing to ship GCC 8.1 as the default compiler and over the days ahead will be rebuilding all of their packages under GCC8.

      GCC 8.1 was released last week and as of today their rolling-release distribution will be shipping GCC 8.1 as the default compiler along with having rebuilt the Linux kernel, Glibc, and other key packages against this major GNU compiler update. They intend to rebuild the whole distribution over the weekend with this new compiler release.

    • CodeSourcery Has Ported OpenMP / OpenACC To AMD GCN GPUs With GCC

      While we have seen AMD GCN and HSA support in the past for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) we have unfortunately not heard of it being used much, but now CodeSourcery / Mentor Graphics has been working on a new/updated AMD GCN port for execution on Radeon GPUs that allows for OpenMP and OpenACC offloading.

      Andrew Stubbs of CodeSourcery has completed work on a GCN3/GCN5 port for running OpenMP/OpenACC offloaded kernels on the likes of AMD Fiji and Vega graphics cards. They are using the GCC compiler although for now rely upon LLVM for the AMDGPU Assembler and Linker support with there being no AMD GCN support currently in GNU Binutils.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: May 11th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

      Join the FSF and friends Friday, May 11th, from 12:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC) to help improve the Free Software Directory, with this week’s theme of working on music software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How citizens become scientists with open hardware

        “Every person’s piece of individual information put together gives you a cloud of real knowledge.”

        Eymund Diegel, a research coordinator for Gowanus Canal Conservancy, shares this tidbit during the first clip of the new Open Source Stories documentary, “The Science of Collective Discovery.” He’s setting out in a canoe on an inner-city canal that is polluted and struggling to get the help it needs.

        That’s the theme of citizen science it seems: people and places in need who are not getting the help and resources they deserve taking matters into their own hands. Why are they not getting the help they need in the first place? The reason is shockingly simple yet a typical problem: Where’s the evidence?

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Yet Another Message Bug Crashes iPhones, iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.4 Affected

    The message bug crashing WhatsApp on Android is now hitting iPhones as well, only that in Apple’s ecosystem it breaks down Messages to a point where it’s fairly difficult to bring it back.
    Specifically, a specially crafted message that includes invisible Unicode characters causes the Messages app on an iPhone to crash completely. The app no longer launches, despite the typical workarounds like forced closes or phone reboots.

    At this point, the message bug appears to spread online with the following string of emoji, though it’s worth noting that the body can be easily modified by anyone, as long as the invisible Unicode characters are still there:

  • Science

    • Crowd sourcing: We’re all programmed to follow a herd mentality
    • AI Isn’t a Crystal Ball, But It Might Be a Mirror

      We’re using algorithms as crystal balls to make predictions on behalf of society, when we should be using them as a mirror to examine ourselves and our social systems more critically. Machine learning and data science can help us better understand and address the underlying causes of poverty and crime, as long as we stop using these tools to automate decision-making and reinscribe historical injustice.

    • Google’s AI sounds like a human on the phone — should we be worried?

      For example, does Google have an obligation to tell people they’re talking to a machine? Does technology that mimics humans erode our trust in what we see and hear? And is this another example of tech privilege, where those in the know can offload boring conversations they don’t want to have to a machine, while those receiving the calls (most likely low-paid service workers) have to deal with some idiot robot?

    • UNCTAD To Look At Rapid Technological Change And Developing Countries

      Experts will discuss how best technological progress can be used to improve lives and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “Together we can work towards finding solutions to some of the ethical and governance issues that have arisen across various technologies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said in the release.

      The event is said to begin with a meeting of Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Prof. Jacques Dubochet and Sir Roger Penrose, the renowned mathematician and physicist, who will discuss ‘recent trends in science and their implications for the future of the world.’

      [...]

      The event is said to begin with a meeting of Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Prof. Jacques Dubochet and Sir Roger Penrose, the renowned mathematician and physicist, who will discuss ‘recent trends in science and their implications for the future of the world.’

    • Facebook Adds A.I. Labs in Seattle and Pittsburgh, Pressuring Local Universities

      “It is worrisome that they are eating the seed corn,” said Dan Weld, a computer science professor at the University of Washington. “If we lose all our faculty, it will be hard to keep preparing the next generation of researchers.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Collective Efforts By Civil Society Groups Bar The Way To Hepatitis C Patents

      Many hold the view that Gilead’s revolutionary treatment against hepatitis C (sofosbuvir) marked the beginning of a shift in position toward the high prices of medicines, as high-income countries were also faced with an untenable burden to their health systems. In a number of lower and middle-income countries civil society organised itself to increase access to sofosbuvir for millions in need.

      [...]

      According to Othoman Mellouk of ITPC, the Indian generic pharmaceutical industry has shifted interest in recent years, gotten too large, started playing the game of the pharmaceutical industry, and started taking voluntary licences. Interestingly, he said, there is an emergence of new generic producers in Iran, Morocco, and Egypt. He voiced concerns over alleged efforts by Gilead to call into question the quality of these new generics.

      A push by civil society led Gilead in 2017 to extend its sofosbuvir voluntary licence agreement to Ukraine, Malaysia, Thailand, and Belarus, according to civil society sources.

    • Study Finds Rise In Use Of India’s Section 3(d) Against Pharma Primary Patents [Ed: No hostage of USTR, CoC and other bullies from the West, trying to impose patents on these things]

      Access to affordable medicines is one of the most pressing policy issues globally. India has played a prominent role as “pharmacy of the developing world” with its generic medicine industry; however, the interpretation and implementation of a particular section of the law can significantly affect this role, according to a recent study.

      Authors Bhaven Sampat (Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University) and Kenneth Shadlen (Professor of Development Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science) conducted an empirical study on the use and functioning of Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act 1970.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Misunderstood Intel Documentation Leads to Multivendor Vulnerability

      Major operating system vendors including Microsoft, Apple and Linux distributions somehow misinterpreted Intel documentation about a hardware debugging feature and ended up exposing users to potential risk.

      The flaw, which has been identified as CVE-2018-8897, was publicly reported on May 8, though impacted vendors were notified on April 30 and have already released patches. The flaw could have enabled an unauthenticated user to read sensitive data in memory or control low-level operating system functions.

      “In some circumstances, some operating systems or hypervisors may not expect or properly handle an Intel architecture hardware debug exception,” CERT warned in its advisory on the issue. “The error appears to be due to developer interpretation of existing documentation for certain Intel architecture interrupt/exception instructions, namely MOV to SS and POP to SS.”

    • Open Source: Is Your DevOps Org Vulnerable to an Equifax-Style Hack? [Ed: More of that "DevOps" nonsense. Here we go again. They just allude to sysadmins who failed to patch for MONTHS.]
    • Open Source Developers And Infrastructure Are The New Front Line Of Security [Ed: Whereas proprietary software developers intentionally put back doors in things (instructions from management), so security isn't even much of a consideration]
    • 7 Malicious Chrome Extensions Infected 100,000+ Users, Mined $1000 Cryptocoins
    • Nigelthorn Malware Abuses Chrome Extensions to Cryptomine and Steal Data
    • E-mail Cryptography

      I’ve been working on cryptographic e-mail software for many years now, and i want to set down some of my observations of what i think some of the challenges are. I’m involved in Autocrypt, which is making great strides in sensible key management (see the last section below, which is short not because i think it’s easy, but because i think Autocrypt has covered this area quite well), but there are additional nuances to the mechanics and user experience of e-mail encryption that i need to get off my chest.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Half a Million Pounds of Taxpayers’ Money Bails Out Criminals Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen

      So the Belhaj family have accepted an apology and half a million pounds of our tax money to drop their legal action against HMG and against Jack Straw personally over their extraordinary rendition to torture in Libya.

      The British establishment, whichever party is in power, continues to do everything possible to cover up the shameful history of its complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition, and in particular to hide the authorisation by Jack Straw and Tony Blair and the involvement of senior MI6 officials like Sir Mark Allen and Sir Richard Dearlove.

      A judicial inquiry by Judge Gibson into British government complicity i torture was cancelled when he showed signs of being an honest and independent man, and was replaced by an inquiry in secret by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. I gave evidence to that inquiry but no report has ever issued.

    • Congress Aims to Force Pentagon Reform on Open Burning of Munitions

      The next round of Department of Defense funding will come with an important requirement: Congress wants the Pentagon’s outmoded and highly toxic practice of burning old munitions and other explosives in the open air to finally come to a stop.

      The language of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act made public this week, which proposes $717 billion in spending, also demands that the Pentagon report back to Congress with a specific plan for ending the centurylong burning of munitions.

      ProPublica investigated the Pentagon’s open burn program as part of a series of reports on Department of Defense pollution last year. We highlighted a little-known program to incinerate millions of pounds of materials containing dangerous contaminants in the open air at more than 60 sites across the country, often without common-sense protections. The burns posed a substantial risk to service members and nearby civilians, including schoolchildren.

      “The Pentagon will have to tell us what it plans to do to stop this practice,” wrote U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat from New Hampshire, in an emailed statement to ProPublica. Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the amendment to the spending bill that deals with open burns. Shea-Porter earlier led efforts to curb the Pentagon’s use of open burn pits at overseas bases — a practice believed by medical experts to have sickened thousands of U.S. soldiers — and she has often pressed for action against other defense-related pollution risks at home.

    • War Clouds Gather Around Iran

      In 1953, the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, with the help of the British government, orchestrated a coup against Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq.

      Mossadeq had nationalized the Iranian oil industry, including the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. This was unacceptable to the United Kingdom. A request to the United States for assistance led to “Operation Ajax,” and the overthrow of Mossadeq.

      Mossadeq’s political successor was the Shah of Iran, who ruled with the support of the U.S. and the U.K. until 1979, when he was himself overthrown by a popular revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

      None of this is secret. The CIA openly admitted that it was behind the coup in 2013.

      While the coup is not a secret, it remains ancient history in the United States. Maybe even forgotten history.

      But while the U.S. has forgotten, the rest of the world remembers. Iran certainly remembers.

    • The Coming War Against Iran

      I spent nearly 15 years in the CIA. I like to think that I learned something there. I learned how the federal bureaucracy works. I learned that cowboys in government – in the CIA and elsewhere around government – can have incredible power over the creation of policy. I learned that the CIA will push the envelope of legality until somebody in a position of authority pushes back. I learned that the CIA can wage war without any thought whatsoever as to how things will work out in the end. There’s never an exit strategy.

      I learned all of that firsthand in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. In the spring of 2002, I was in Pakistan working against al-Qaeda. I returned to CIA headquarters in May of that year and was told that several months earlier a decision had been made at the White House to invade Iraq. I was dumbfounded, and when told of the war plans could only muster, “But we haven’t caught bin Laden yet.” “The decision has already been made,” my supervisor told me. He continued, “Next year, in February, we’re going to invade Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein, and open the world’s largest air force base in southern Iraq.” He went on, “We’re going to go to the United Nations and pretend that we want a Security Council Resolution. But the truth is that the decision has already been made.”

      [...]

      Trump has kept up his anti-Iran rhetoric since becoming president. More importantly, he has appointed Iran hawks to the two most important positions in foreign policy: former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton as national security advisor. The two have made clear that their preferred policy toward Iran is “regime change,” a policy that is actually prohibited by international law.

      Perhaps the most troubling development, however, is the apparent de facto alliance against Iran by Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent “presentation” on what he called a clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program was embarrassingly similar to Powell’s heavily scripted speech before the UN Security Council 15 years earlier telling the world that Iraq had a program. That, too, was a lie.

    • Who’s Reacting to Iran Deal Pull-Out? Why, It’s Women in Chadors, Walking Past Anti-US Mural

      Adam Johnson (FAIR.org, 10/21/17) called the “Woman in Chador Walks by Anti-US Mural” image “one of the most overused and toxic stock photos.” Documenting its ubiquity in online US coverage of Iran, Johnson argued that the cliche photo of “one or two Iranian women clad in black chadors, faces usually barely visible, walking past a mural of the Statute of Liberty with a skull face” was intended “to lazily tie together US-bashing and perceived subjugation of women, reinforcing the image of Iran as a country defined by misogyny and seething hate for the West.”

      Iran is big in the news now, as the Trump administration pulls out of the multinational agreement about Iran’s nuclear energy program and generally tries to ramp up hostility toward Tehran (FAIR.org, 5/9/18). And so we’re once again seeing a raft of news reports illustrated with photos whose essential visual message is that Iran hates freedom.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Actors Hired To Play Consumers In Bid To Thwart Renewable Energy in New Orleans

      The nation’s largest, incumbent utilities continue to engage in some pretty shady behavior to try and stop the unstoppable renewable energy (r)evolution. In Florida, for example, we noted how one utility created an entirely bogus consumer group with one purpose: to hamstring solar competition. The group, “Consumers For Smart Solar,” was built specifically by utilities to try and push legislation that claimed to support solar energy, but actually applied all manner of backward and obnoxious restrictions to the alternative energy industry.

      As these companies work to craft legislation that makes it harder on renewable competitors, they’ve ramped up the use of astroturfing to provide the illusion of broad consumer support for their efforts. Not to be outdone by their colleagues in Florida, one Louisiana utility appears to have hired a bunch of actors to express their enthusiastic support for the construction of a gas-based power plant that had been struggling with public approval. Locals had opposed the construction, arguing that claims that the plant was needed to shore up lagging capacity didn’t hold up, and the utility should instead focus on modernization of existing lines.

    • Scott Pruitt Plans to Radically Alter How Clean Air Standards Are Set

      EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he wants to radically revise how basic, health-based national air quality standards are set, giving more weight to the economic costs of achieving them and taking into account their impacts on energy development.

      Under the law, the standards, setting uniform goals for breathable air, are supposed to be reviewed periodically asking only one question: whether they are protective enough to ensure the health of even the most vulnerable people, based on the best available science.

      A foundational feature of the landmark Clean Air Act, the setting of these standards based on health, and not cost or feasibility, was defended adamantly on the Senate floor in 1970 by the bill’s main author, Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine, who declared: “That concept and that philosophy are behind every page of the proposed legislation.”

      It has withstood legal and political tests for a generation.

    • Oil at $70 Means Big Headache For India: A Quick Explainer

      The world economy is enjoying its broadest upswing since 2011 and higher oil prices would drag on household incomes and consumer spending.

  • Finance

    • Provide feedback on interoperability solutions in the European labour market

      The Commission is currently conducting a public online consultation to gather feedback on for semantic and syntactic interoperability solutions in the European labour market. The aim of these solutions is to facilitate exchange and reuse of labour market documents, such as job vacancies and CVs, e.g. in job matching, recruitment and big data analysis.

    • The Bitcoin Implications Of Amazon’s New Streaming Data Patent

      In April 2018, Amazon Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Amazon, was granted a patent relating to a “technology for a streaming data marketplace” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The technology underlying the patent is described as gathering (online) data streams from various sources and enhancing those streams “by correlating the raw data with additional data.” The patent description lists a number of potential use cases for the streaming data feeds that participants in the market place are offering subscriptions to. One notable use case relates to “bitcoin transactions,” with the ultimate goal of identifying users of the virtual currency by their Bitcoin addresses.

      As rightly stated in the patent document, and contrary to common belief, Bitcoin is not an anonymous network. Bitcoin transactions, including the transaction parties’ pseudonymous identities (derived from a pair of two cryptography keys), are publicly available on a ledger called the “blockchain.” For this reason, the date and time of any transaction—and the pseudonymous parties involved—are visible to any participant in the Bitcoin network.

    • OECD Issues Paper On Blockchain And Competition Policy

      The focus will be on helping governments to prevent the misuse of blockchain for illicit activities, the paper says. It also could facilitate the efficient adoption of blockchain technology by governments. Given the transparent and inerasable history of asset transfer, blockchain may be used to limit tax avoidance and enhance enforcement.

    • Goldman Sachs, Apple Team Up on New Credit Card

      Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are preparing to launch a new joint credit card, a move that would deepen the technology giant’s push into its customers’ wallets and mark the Wall Street firm’s first foray into plastic.

    • Where Did Trump’s Cash Come From? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      Last week, the Washington Post had an intriguing story: In the nine years before now-President Donald Trump announced his candidacy, his company paid $400 million in cash to buy a number of properties.

      Real estate companies doing deals usually borrow money for the same reason that many homeowners take out mortgages: Leveraging your money — especially when the cost of borrowing is low, as it has been for a decade — makes your money go further.

      The fact that Trump — the self-styled “king of debt” — didn’t do that in these deals has raised a number of big, basic questions, including how the Trump Organization had so much cash, and why it would use it to purchase properties in all cash.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Covering the Midterms With Electionland 2018

      In the run-up to the 2016 election, ProPublica organized a project called Electionland to cover voting, nationally and in real time. Along with a coalition of news organizations and tech companies, we brought together more than 1,100 journalists around the country to cover impediments like restrictive voting laws, allegations of voter fraud, voter harassment, equipment failures and long lines — all of which can effectively disenfranchise eligible voters and erode the integrity of the vote.

      Today we’re announcing that we’re relaunching Electionland to cover the 2018 midterm elections. Policies and practices that jeopardize Americans’ fundamental right to vote demand scrutiny. And the concerns raised by the 2016 election — about cybersecurity and foreign attempts to sow doubt about the integrity of the election — make this even more urgent.

      We’re recruiting newsrooms interested in collaborating with us to cover these issues. Thanks to our coverage in 2016, New York restored access to its elections hotline during early voting, a Texas poll worker misinterpreting the state’s voter ID law was set straight, and two women denied the ability to vote were able to cast their ballots.

    • The Incredible Bias of the BBC

      Why is the BBC permitted, day after day after day, to pump out programming which actively promotes a political programme far to the right of where the British population actually stand? With the continual over-representation of nutty right wing groups like the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Henry Jackson Society, while left wing groups of much larger membership such as Stop the War are completely ignored. Why low tax campaigners but no invitation ever to groups like Black Triangle who represent claimants interests? Not to mention the routine ignoring of the SNP, parliament’s third largest party.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Some Fans Worry Spotify Removing R. Kelly’s Music from Playlists Is Censorship

      R. Kelly’s sexual abuse allegations have cost him promotional opportunities on Spotify. The music streaming service announced Thursday, May 10 that it has pulled the singer’s music from editorial and algorithmic playlists as part of a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy it’s enforcing.

    • Spotify Removes R. Kelly From Playlists and People Are Crying “Censorship”

      R. Kelly and XXXTentacion will no longer be found in Spotify playlists as of Thursday. The streaming giant announced a new “Hate Content and Hateful Conduct Policy,” which seeks to promote “openness, diversity, tolerance, and respect.” However, fans of R. Kelly don’t see it that way.

      Spotify on Thursday announced its new policy with intent to remove “content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.” R. Kelly and XXXTentacion happen to be the first artists removed from the company’s editorial and algorithmic playlists, but some worry they won’t be the last, prompting even critics of R. Kelly to defend his music on the streaming platform.

    • South Korea: Criminal defamation provisions threaten freedom of expression

      ARTICLE 19 calls on the Republic of Korea to prioritise the repeal of criminal defamation provisions, including those that criminalise the dissemination of true statements. These provisions constitute a grave threat to freedom of expression in South Korea. The Government must ensure that its legislation complies with its obligations under international law and promotes an environment where everyone is free to express their opinions without fear of retaliation.

      “South Korea’s criminal defamation provisions threaten all those seeking to speak out about official misconduct or criticise the actions of powerful individuals,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19. “The threat of harsh criminal sanctions, especially imprisonment, severely undermines freedom of expression. The Government must repeal criminal law provisions and instead ensure access to civil remedies in line with international law.”

      Articles 307-312 of South Korea’s Penal Code describe various “crimes against reputation,” including defamation, defamation through printed materials and insult. The publication of “false factual statements” which damage the reputation of others carries a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment and a fine. However, truthful statements can also lead to criminal liability. Individuals who defame others by “publicly alleging facts” face up to three years’ imprisonment. In these cases, the defence of truth is only available to defendants who can demonstrate that their communications were made “solely for the public interest.” Individuals may also face up to a year imprisonment for “publicly insult[ing] another”.

    • Venture Beat Reporter Abuses DMCA To Silence A Critic

      Remember when people kept insisting that the DMCA was never used for censorship? Yeah, about that. Last week, we were alerted to how a reporter from VentureBeat/Gamesbeat by the name of James Grubb had sent a DMCA notice for screenshots on a tweet by Jake Magee, who tweets under the account PhoxelHQ. Magee had taken a few screenshots of an article by Grubb and put up a tweet criticizing it. This is quintessential fair use, whether or not you agreed with Magee.

      Apparently Grubb wasn’t thrilled about Magee adding some commentary to Grubb’s game review, and did what any reasonable adult would do: run to the DMCA to shut up a critic…

      [...]

      While providing a link might have been nice and courteous, it is, in no way, required. The whole point of fair use is that it is, by it’s very nature, permissionless. If you needed permission, that would mean you need a license, and that by definition would mean it’s not fair use. The conditions on fair use are set by the law and not by the copyright holder. If the conditions were set by the copyright holder, there wouldn’t be any fair use at all (and, again, it’s not even clear that Grubb is the copyright holder here!).

      What’s striking about the Twitter discussion back and forth between Grubb and Magee is just how much it’s clear that Grubb couldn’t care less that he abused the law to silence someone. He makes repeated flippant and jokey comments about Magee and Magee’s supporters, and his only apology was for falsely claiming that Magee posted the entire article.

    • Iran’s President Comes Out Against His Country’s Ban On Telegram

      We had just been talking about how Russia and Iran appeared to be taking similar, if not coordinated, actions to block the secure messaging app Telegram from their respective countries. While both countries couched the removal of this useful tool from its own people in the usual concerns over terrorism and national security, it was clear from the beginning that in both cases the concern was much more about dissent against the government rather than any actual violence. After all, with Telegram refusing to give away its encryption keys to these governments, the obvious interest by these countries is to be able to spy on the communications of their peoples.

      The reaction to these bans has, unfortunately, largely been of the shrugging variety. The reputations of Russia and Iran in America being what they are, some of it undeserved, many simply waved this away as authoritarian regimes doing what authoritarian regimes do. With perhaps a dash of Islamophobia mixed in when it comes to Iran, care for the impact on the people there appears to have gone out the window, too. After all, the Supreme Leader chose to block the app, so what is anyone to do?

    • Carey Mulligan rails against movie censorship of bad women

      Women are rarely allowed to be adulterous on screen, Carey Mulligan has said, revealing her frustration at scenes being cut out of films where her character had been “morally objectionable”.

      The British actress said that women were as unfaithful as men in real life but were not “allowed to fail on screen”.

    • Eurovision cancels Chinese broadcast due to LGBTQ censorship

      Following allegations of LBGTQ and tattoo censorship, the remainder of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will no longer be broadcast in China.

      The decision comes from Eurovision’s organiser, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), who terminated the agreement with China’s Mango TV on Thursday.

    • Chinese censorship of Eurovision prompts LGBT community outcry

      A Chinese broadcaster’s censorship of gay-themed content during this week’s Eurovision Song Contest has fuelled an outcry among the country’s LGBT community and prompted the European Broadcasting Union to halt its relationship with the channel.

      Mango TV, a state broadcaster run by central China’s Hunan province that is widely viewed online, pixelated rainbow flags and cut a Tuesday performance by Irish singer Ryan O’Shaughnessy that included two male dancers portraying a gay relationship.

    • China censors Ireland’s gay-themed Eurovision performance
    • Ryan O’Shaughnessy welcomes Eurovision ban for China over censorship
    • Ryan O’Shaughnessy welcomes Eurovision ban for China over censorship
    • Eurovision cuts out Chinese broadcaster, citing censorship
    • Chinese censorship of Eurovision prompts LGBT community outcry
    • Chinese broadcaster loses Eurovision rights over LGBT censorship
    • Eurovision pulls plug on China after censorship of LGBT act
    • Ryan O’Shaughnessy welcomes Eurovision ban for China over censorship
    • Chinese broadcaster censors LGBT symbols at Eurovision
    • 50 Cent says he’s leaving Instagram over censorship of his photos following alleged sex tape share
    • 50 Cent Officially Leaves Instagram Over Censorship Battle
    • 50 Cent Mocks Kanye West’s Lipo Admission Again, Says He’s Leaving Instagram After Alleged Censorship
    • When governments censor websites and block messaging apps like Telegram, here’s where to turn for proof

      In Iran, use of the messaging app Telegram has officially been banned.

      For some 40 million Iranians, Telegram has been an integral part of daily life, a place to talk with friends and family beyond the reach of government censors. Which is why, after anti-government protests broke out in the final days of 2017, the government instructed the country’s internet service providers to implement temporary controls that would make Telegram harder to use — before outright banning its use this month.

      Anecdotal reports are one thing. But to understand how, exactly, Telegram was being blocked — and to what extent in different parts of the country — researcher Mahsa Alimardani turned to technical data gathered by a watchdog group called the Open Observatory of Network Interference, or OONI.

    • Reported Censorship at a Confucius Institute

      A journalist at Foreign Policy wrote that a reference to her reporting experience in Taiwan was deleted from her biography when she gave a talk at Savannah State University’s Confucius Institute, one of more than 500 such centers worldwide funded by the Chinese government to teach language and culture. The journalist, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, wrote that she later learned the reference to Taiwan in her biography was deleted at the request of the institute’s co-director, Luo Qijuan, who argued that it challenged Chinese sovereignty and threatened to boycott the event if it was not removed. Neither Luo nor the university responded to Foreign Policy’s request for comment.

    • Press Body States Over 94% of Journalists Impose Self-Censorship in Jordan

      Around 94.1 per cent of media practitioners in Jordan exercise self-censorship while only 3.9 per cent label media freedom as “excellent”, according to the Media Freedom Status in 2017 report by the Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ).

      Launched on Wednesday, the report indicated that a total of 17 violations were committed against media practitioners in Jordan in 2017 during which no physical assaults were reported by authorities against journalists.

      “The rate of self-censorship among journalists in 2017 is the highest since 2014 and this is mainly due to journalists’ fear of some legislation that may result in their imprisonment as well as the declining financial conditions of media outlets,” Nidal Mansour, president of the CDFJ, told The Jordan Times, adding “journalists do not want trouble with authorities and do not want to lose their jobs…they just want to make ends meet and avoid conflicts, which automatically make them resort to self-censorship.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Ticketmaster finds a new way to be terrible: facial recognition!
    • Business Is Booming for the U.K.’s Spy Tech Industry

      Driving into Cheltenham from the west, it is hard to miss the offices of Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s surveillance agency. The large, doughnut-shaped building sits behind high-perimeter fencing with barbed wire and many levels of security. The facility – used to eavesdrop on global emails and phone calls – is located on the edge of the sleepy Gloucestershire town, which feels like an incongruous location for one of the world’s most aggressive spy agencies.

      Cheltenham has a population of just 117,000 people, and GCHQ’s presence has turned the area into one of Europe’s central hubs for companies working in the fields of cybersecurity and surveillance. GCHQ says it employs almost 6,000 people in Cheltenham and at some smaller bases around the U.K., although the agency has in recent years secretly expanded its workforce, reportedly employing thousands more staff.

    • EFF and ACLU Can Proceed With Legal Challenge Against Warrantless Searches of Travelers’ Smartphones, Laptops

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Massachusetts won a court ruling today allowing their groundbreaking lawsuit challenging unconstitutional searches of electronic devices at the U.S. border to proceed—a victory for the digital rights of all international travelers.

      EFF and ACLU represent 11 travelers—10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident—whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at the U.S. border. The case, Alasaad v. Nielsen—filed in September against the Department of Homeland Security—asks the court to rule that the government must have a warrant based on probable cause before conducting searches of electronic devices, which contain highly detailed personal information about people’s lives. The case also argues that the government must have probable cause to confiscate a traveler’s device.

      A federal judge in Boston today rejected DHS’s request throw the case out, including the argument that dismissal was justified because the plaintiffs couldn’t show they faced substantial risk of having their devices searched again. Four plaintiffs already have had their devices searched multiple times.

    • The Secure Data Act Would Stop Backdoors

      The bipartisan Secure Data Act would stop any government agency or court order from forcing a company to build backdoors into encrypted devices and communications.

      This welcome piece of legislation reflects much of what the community of encryption researchers, scientists, developers, and advocates have explained for decades—there is no such thing as a secure backdoor. Just last week, EFF convened a panel of true experts on Capitol Hill to explain why government-mandated backdoors face insurmountable technical challenges and will weaken computer security for all. Given that the DOJ and FBI continue to rely on flawed theoretical approaches to key escrow in pushing for “responsible encryption,” we’re glad to see some Congress members are listening to the experts and taking this important step to protect anyone who uses an encrypted device or service.

      EFF supports the Secure Data Act, introduced by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). You can read the full bill here.

    • Companies Respond To The GDPR By Blocking All EU Users

      We’ve talked a bunch about the GDPR recently. While the effort is well-meaning (some may disagree with this) and does have some good ideas concerning data control and transparency, we still feel that it was put in place by people who had little idea of the impact it would actually have, and will have disastrous consequences on online speech, in particular. And, since the GDPR has a long-arm aspect that will impact people across the globe (not just in the EU), there has been plenty of scrambling by companies to “become compliant” with the GDPR. This is almost certainly going to lead to a huge number of lawsuits over the next few years, with an awful lot of uncertainty. While some consultants have cleaned up in helping companies become what they hope is “compliant” (hence you probably receiving dozens of updated privacy agreements and terms of service notices lately), some companies have realized it’s just too much of a hassle and decided to block all access to EU users.

      [...]

      It would have been much better if those crafting the GDPR had actually bothered to listen to the wider concerns. And, barring that, if they hadn’t made the reach of the law go so far beyond EU borders where it will rule over the internet and the rest of us have to deal with. They could have preserved some of the good ideas concerning control and transparency, without creating so much of a mess for everything else. But they chose not to, and now we’re all going to leap off the cliff together and see how everyone ends up.

    • Need to address Aadhaar authentication failures: SC
    • Trump administration approves 10 new drone projects around the country

      Formally known as the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot, the program encourages US cities and states to partner with companies on drone trials that expand how the aircraft are used around the country. This includes, in some cases, allowing drones to fly over crowds, beyond the pilot’s line of sight, and at night — situations that are usually prohibited unless the person flying obtains an official waiver from the FAA.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • “Muslims Don’t Believe In Photos, Why Worry Over Jinnah Portrait”: Ramdev

      On May 3, 28 students and 13 cops were injured in clashes that broke out between AMU students and the police, over the former demanding action against right-wing protesters who entered the campus and wanted Jinnah’s portrait removed from the student union office, where it has been hanging for decades.

    • Please keep Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s portrait, banish his bigotry

      The demand to remove Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s portrait from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) misses the point. The problem is not the portrait. The problem is the toxic ideas the portrait represents.

    • Sex with 10yo not rape, Finnish court rules in migrant’s case

      In a case that has triggered public outrage, a top Finnish court has upheld a ruling that sex between an asylum seeker and a 10-year-old girl didn’t constitute rape. Critics are calling for harsher sentences for child abuse.

    • Haspel Says CIA Won’t Torture Again as Ray McGovern is Dragged Out of Hearing

      Instead of facing a judge to defend herself against prosecution for violating U.S. law prohibiting torture, 33-year CIA veteran Gina Haspel on Wednesday faced the Senate Intelligence Committee in a hearing to confirm her as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Haspel does not look like someone who would be associated with torture. Instead she would not be out of place as your next door neighbor or as a kindly grade-school teacher. “I think you will find me to be a typical middle-class American,” she said in her opening statement.

      Haspel is the face of America. She not only looks harmless, but looks like she wants to help: perhaps to recommend a good gardener to hire or to spread democracy around the globe while upholding human rights wherever they are violated.

      But this perfectly typical middle class American personally supervised a black site in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded. It remains unclear whether she had a direct role in the torture. The CIA said she arrived at the black site after the waterboarding of senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah had taken place. Some CIA officials disputed that to The New York Times. The newspaper also reported last year that Haspel ran the CIA Thai prison in 2002 when another suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded.

    • How Will the Supreme Court Treat Donald Trump?

      On April 25, the Supreme Court heard its final argument for the current term—fittingly, in Trump v. Hawaii, the challenge to President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban.” That case will provide the first direct Supreme Court test of this administration’s excesses. But it is only one of the many blockbuster cases still to be decided this term—in nearly all of which the administration has urged the Court to adopt radical positions, overruling or disregarding precedent to further the White House’s political ends. By the end of June, when it recesses for the summer, we will have a much better sense of whether the newly reconstituted Roberts Court, joined by Neil Gorsuch last term, will prove a brake on the president, or an aider and abettor in his radical schemes. (Disclaimer: The ACLU, where I serve as national legal director, is counsel in several of the cases discussed here and has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in most of the others.)

      In the Muslim-ban case, the administration argues that the Court should simply ignore abundant evidence that Trump intended to ban Muslims by using nations as proxies for religion. This argument breaks from precedent instructing that, in assessing whether the government has violated the establishment clause by favoring or disfavoring a particular religion, judges must review all “publicly available evidence” and cannot “turn a blind eye to the context in which [the] policy arose.” Solicitor General Noel Francisco sought to close his oral argument with a flourish by claiming that Trump had been “crystal-clear…that he had no intention of imposing the Muslim ban.” But the opposite is true, and the following week Trump insisted, yet again, that he would not apologize for the ban. To side with the president and uphold an unprecedented bar to entry for 150 million people, virtually all of them Muslim, would mark a radical and disturbing departure from the Court’s establishment-clause precedent.

    • Police ‘Command and Control’ Culture Is Often Lethal — Especially for People With Disabilities

      When Milwaukee police killed Adam Trammell, a Black resident of the city, he was unarmed and alone in his locked apartment, just taking a shower. The police came because a neighbor had called them and reported that Trammel was acting “oddly.” Police arrived to do a “wellness check,” already knowing Trammell had schizophrenia. Trammell was not wanted for a crime. He was not a threat. But he wound up dead at the hands of law enforcement.

      Footage from a police body camera shows what happened.

      Police called out to “Brandon” — the wrong name. They got no answer, so officers broke down his front door. They found Trammell showering in the bathroom, pulled back his shower curtain, and told him to come out of the shower. When he did not respond immediately, they tased him. Trammell screamed, fell down in the shower, and passed out. As soon as he came to, police again began demanding that he exit the shower. When he sat there rocking, they tased him again. He screamed again. Over the next 30 minutes, the police tased him 18 times.

      Trammell died on his living room floor. He was 22.

      When police know — or should know — that they are interacting with a person with a disability, police have a legal obligation to proceed in ways that take into account the person’s disability. Most such changes are simple: recognize that it may take time for the person to understand what is happening, create a calm environment, have one person communicate simply and clearly, allow time for the person to respond to questions or instructions, and exercise patience.

    • McCain urges Senate to reject Haspel’s nomination
    • Court: FBI Agents Can Be Held Accountable For Tossing Immigrants On The No-Fly List Because They Refused To Be Informants

      The Second Circuit Appeals Court has revived a lawsuit brought by a group of Muslim men who allege the FBI placed them on the “no fly” list after they refused to become informants. This is not unusual behavior — on the part of the FBI. Documents obtained by The Intercept show the CBP and FBI routinely pressure immigrants and visitors to become informants, threatening them with deportation or adverse decisions on visa requests.

      In this case, the lead plaintiff, Muhammad Tanvir, claims the FBI pursued him for months. The effort to convert Tanvir into an informant led to him being detained for hours any time he tried to fly, as well as being subjected to periodic visits from FBI agents at his workplace. Despite being a lawful resident, Tanvir was threatened with arrest and deportation for refusing to submit to a polygraph test. After returning from a trip to Pakistan to visit his family, Tanvir was detained for five hours by federal agents and his passport confiscated for six months. This confiscation was leveraged against Tanvir, with agents telling him he would be deported if he did not cooperate.

      These tactics are expressly forbidden by the DOJ and yet, they appear to be in common use. Tanvir’s experience with the FBI roughly aligns with that of his co-litigants. They sued the FBI agents who harassed and threatened them, claiming the tactics violated their religious freedom. In the plaintiffs’ view, becoming an informant meant violating their religious beliefs. The district court ruled they could not pursue these claims against the federal agents under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why the Internet is suddenly protesting on net neutrality all over again
    • FCC Boss Celebrates As Net Neutrality Gets An End Date: June 11

      Of course if you’ve been following the net neutrality fight this claim is laughable. Giving telecom monopolies operating in a broken market unchecked authority to abuse a lack of competition will raise rates and stifle free expression in a myriad of ways. From bogus usage caps and zero rating to interconnection shenanigans (where ISPs use their power to drive up costs for transit and content competitors), these costs and unfair restrictions, sooner or later, will be dropped in the lap of consumers, startups and smaller competitors across the entire internet ecosystem.

    • The WIRED Guide to Net Neutrality

      Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon should treat all content flowing through their cables and cell towers equally. That means they shouldn’t be able to slide some data into “fast lanes” while blocking or otherwise discriminating against other material. In other words, these companies shouldn’t be able to block you from accessing a service like Skype, or slow down Netflix or Hulu, in order to encourage you to keep your cable package or buy a different video-streaming service.

    • The Senate has forced a vote to restore net neutrality

      So far, 50 senators have come out in support of the bill: 48 Democrats together with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Activists have targeted moderate Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) as a possible 51st vote. The 2015 net neutrality rules are still broadly popular, which activists hope will make members of Congress wary of voting against them.

    • Net neutrality, mergers, AT&T, and Michael Cohen: what we know so far
    • AT&T Continues Fight To Gut FTC Authority Over Broadband Monopolies

      For years, massive broadband providers (and the lawmakers and think tankers paid to love them) have repeatedly stated that gutting net neutrality and FCC oversight of ISPs is no big deal because the FTC will rush in and protect consumers. When ISPs like Comcast convinced the Trump FCC to kill net neutrality, they repeatedly proclaimed that the FTC would step in and ensure that nothing bad would happen. When ISPs lobbied Congress to kill off some modest consumer privacy protections, again they proclaimed that this was no big deal because the FTC would ride in and keep consumers safe from monopoly bad behavior.

      But while ISP lobbyists are claiming that neutering the FCC is a great idea because the FTC will fill the void, they consistently “forget” to mention that AT&T has been busy in court trying to gut FTC authority over ISPs entirely. You’d think that’s kind of important to mention, but large ISP mouthpieces are understandably busy these days, so perhaps it just got lost in the lobbyist paperwork shuffle.

    • T-Mobile pays ex-FCC commissioner to lobby for Sprint merger

      The author is Robert McDowell, a Republican who served on the Federal Communications Commission from 2006 to 2013. McDowell’s position on T-Mobile’s $26 billion purchase of Sprint is no surprise because T-Mobile is paying him to help secure government approval of the merger.

    • Senate will vote to kill or keep net neutrality rules by June 12

      The Senate will have to vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval, which would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2017 vote to repeal the nation’s net neutrality rules. The CRA was filed in February, and Democrats today filed the discharge petition that will force the full Senate to vote on it.

    • La Quadrature is ten years old! Assessing the past and opening fresh perspectives

      This year, La Quadrature du Net celebrates its ten year anniversary. It has been a long road since March 2008, where in the face of a disturbing wave of repressive policies, five activists – Christophe Espern, Jérémie Zimmermann, Philippe Aigrain, Gérald Sedrati-Dinet and Benjamin Sonntag, who had met during the fight against the DADVSI law and software patents and for the promotion of commons – decided to create a collective to carry the values of the Free Internet against repeated mercantile and securitarian threats.

      La Quadrature has since had its share of successes. It has become an important defender of fundamental rights in the digital era, both at a French and International level. Along the way, it has developed strong and productive ties with many activists groups and individuals.

  • DRM

    • Apple Plans to Sell Video Subscriptions Through TV App

      For the first time, Apple plans to begin selling subscriptions to certain video services directly via its TV app, rather than asking users to subscribe to them through apps individually downloaded from the App Store, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Decoding the Scope of Patent Protection: Singapore after Eli Lilly v. Actavis [Ed: The most important question is, where to put limits on patents? There must be limits, based on economic/scientific evidence. Otherwise patents won't be worth the paper they're printed on.]

      Prior to Actavis, the Singapore courts both endorsed and applied the purposive approach to patent construction developed by the UK courts in Catnic Components v. Hill & Smith [1982] RPC 183; Improver Corporation v. Remington [1990] FSR 181; and Kirin-Amgen v. Hoechst [2005] RPC 9 (“Kirin-Amgen”). The adoption of UK jurisprudence was a natural consequence of the close similarities between the governing legislation in Singapore and the UK, respectively, namely the Singapore Patents Act (the “PA”) and the UK Patents Act. For example, s 113 of the PA, whose terms are materially similar to s 125 of the UK Patents Act, provides that the invention for a patent shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be taken to be that specified in a claim of the specification as interpreted by the description and any drawings contained in that specification.

      Post Actavis, the Singapore Court of Appeal recently had the occasion, in the matter of Lee Tat Cheng v. Maka GPS Technologies Pte Ltd [2018] SGCA 18 (“Lee Tat Cheng”), to determine whether the principles espoused by the UK Supreme Court ought to be similarly applied in Singapore. The Court of Appeal first observed that in Actavis, the UK Supreme Court was bound to give effect to the Protocol on the Interpretation of Article 69 of the EPC (the “Protocol”) in interpreting s 125 of the UK Patents Act. In particular, the Court of Appeal noted that Actavis made a distinction between the interpretation of a claim in a patent from the extent of the protection afforded by that patent. This distinction was said to lie in the need to take account of equivalents and represented a significant departure from the established position that the extent of the protection conferred under a claim is exactly what that claim, properly construed, encompasses.

    • As ZTE struggles to stay afloat, don’t expect its patent portfolio to hit the open market

      Several weeks into the ZTE crisis, it is becoming clear that the sanctions imposed on the firm by the US government really do constitute an existential threat. But even if the company does end up shuttering or selling off major parts of its operating business, I don’t think we’ll see its considerable IP portfolio hit the open market. The Shenzhen-based telecom major is reeling from a seven-year ban on acquiring US technology imposed by the Trump Administration.

    • Top court in China’s high tech manufacturing heartland issues SEP guidelines

      On 26th April, the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong issued official guidance on deciding SEP disputes in the field of telecommunications. The provisional guidelines are set for trial implementation, and they offer an important clue as to what factors courts in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and other parts of the southern Chinese province will consider when making FRAND determinations. The document covers issues including infringement determinations, royalty rate calculations, and antitrust considerations. They come just one year after the Higher People’s Court of Beijing included SEP rules as part of a broader guide to patent infringement cases.

    • Hatch-Waxman filing in Delaware surged 60% in 2017

      Hatch-Waxman pharma patent litigation filings last year rose to near-2015 levels. Lex Machina’s new ANDA litigation report also reveals data on judges, plaintiffs, defendants and law frms

      Lex Machina’s Hatch-Waxman ANDA Litigation Report 2018 report reveals the number of pharmaceutical patent cases filed in district court rebounded to 417 filings in 2017 from 324 filings in 2016 – coming up on 2015’s high of 475 filings.

    • Trademarks

      • Doctor! Doctor! My trade mark opposition has been dismissed!

        This Kat had to study for her Dr title, unlike Andre Romelle Young who gave himself the stage name Dr Dre. The world- famous rapper and producer, recently failed to oppose the application of a trade mark filed by medical Doctor Draion M. Burch.

        [...]

        Both parties submitted evidence which included printouts of websites, such as pages purporting to show the notoriety, strength, and fame of Dr Dre and his trade marks, and Internet printouts from Amazon.com regarding Applicant’s principal Draion Burch’s book sales. This evidence is admissible [Trademark Rule 2.122(e)(2), 37 C.F.R. § 2.122(e)(2)].

        However, the parties were reminded by the US Patent and Trade Mark Office that it only constitutes hearsay and may not be relied upon for the truth of the matters asserted unless a competent witness has testified to the truth of such matters [Fed. R. Evid. 801(c) and 803; Safer, Inc. v. OMS Invs., Inc., 94 USPQ2d 1031, 1040 (TTAB 2010)]. But, Board goes on, where a party acknowledges as fact any portion of the evidence, those portions are submitted to the record as truth.

    • Copyrights

      • As NAFTA Negotiations Finish Up, Hopefully The USTR Remembers That The Internet Has Been Good For Creators Too

        Over at MorningConsult I have an op-ed piece I co-wrote with Rachel Wolbers from Engine talking about why the continued attempt by Hollywood to portray debates over intermediary liability protections and fair use as being “tech” v. “creators” is completely misguided. As we’ve noted, Hollywood has used this framing to try to use the NAFTA renegotiations as a backdoor way to adjust US policy both here and in Canada and Mexico. And the end result would harm not just the internet but most creators who rely on the internet to create, promote, connect with fans, and to make money.

      • The More Copyright Holders Move Up The Stack, The More They Put Everyone At Risk

        We’ve raised some questions in the past about this process of copyright holders moving up the stack — and not just targeting the content hosts, but companies further upstream, including ad providers, domain registers and registrars, and the like. There are serious issues with each of these, but going after security certificates seems especially pernicious.

        But Matt was a bit off in his predicted timing on this. After his article ran, we learned of at least a few examples of copyright holders going after security certificate providers. Take for example this copyright notice that was sent to Squarespace (the host), Tucows (the domain register), and Let’s Encrypt (the security certificate provider).

      • Hearing Monday: EFF Asks Appeals Court To Rule Copyright Can’t Be Used To Control the Public’s Access to Our Laws

        EFF represents Public.Resource.org, a website by a nonprofit organization that works to improve public access to government documents, including our laws. To fulfill that mission, it acquires and posts online a wide variety of public documents, including regulations that are initially created through private standards organizations but later incorporated into mandatory federal and state law.

        Public.Resource.org was sued by six huge private industry groups that work on fire, safety, energy efficiency, and educational testing standards. The industry groups claim copyright over parts of laws—published online by Public.Resource.org—that began as private standards, and they claim they can decide who can access and copy that law, and on what terms.

      • ABS-CBN Targets ‘Pirate’ Streaming Box Vendor in Canada

        ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, is continuing its legal campaign against piracy.

        Over the past several years, the company has singled out dozens of streaming sites that offer access to ‘Pinoy’ content without permission, both in the US and abroad.

        This week it filed a new case in Canada, that’s different from the ones we’ve seen before. Instead of going after site operators, ABS-CBN is suing a ‘bricks-and-mortar’ store located at the Kennedy Square Mall in Brampton, Ontario.

        The company announced that it has filed a lawsuit at the Canadian Federal Court seeking CAD$2.5 million in damages for alleged copyright and infringement, and another CAD$2.5 million for trademark infringement.

      • Nike, Great Protectors Of IP, Found To Be Infringing On Copyright And Refusing To Pay After Software Audit

        A brief review of Nike’s history on matters of intellectual property will result in the impression that the company is a stalwart of IP protection. The company has been fond in the past of relying on intellectual property laws to take strong enforcement actions, even when the targets of those actions are laughably dwarfed by the company’s sheer size. Like many massive athletic apparel companies, it jealously protects its trademarks and patents. And, yet, it has been found in the past to be perfectly willing to infringe on the trademark rights of others.

      • Halifax police won’t charge teen arrested in Nova Scotia privacy breach

        Halifax Regional Police say they won’t be charging a 19-year-old man arrested last month for downloading files from Nova Scotia’s freedom-of-information portal.

        Spokesperson Neera Ritcey said in an email Monday that after a thorough investigation, police determined there were no grounds to lay a charge of unauthorized use of a computer against the teen.

        That charge carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.

        On April 11, the 19-year-old was arrested at his Halifax home, where he lives with his parents and siblings. In an interview with CBC News following his arrest, he said 15 officers raided the house.

      • Police Drop Charges Filed Against 19-Year-Old Who Downloaded Public Documents From Gov’t FOI Portal

        Last month, we covered the incredible case of an unnamed 19-year-old who was facing criminal charges for downloading publicly-available documents from a government Freedom of Information portal. The teen had written a script to fetch all available documents from the Nova Scotia’s government FOI site — a script that did nothing more than increment digits at the end of the URL to find everything that had been uploaded by the government.

        The government screwed up. It uploaded documents to the publicly-accessible server that hadn’t been redacted yet. It was a very small percentage of the total haul — 250 of the 7,000 docs obtained — but the government made a very big deal out of it after discovering they had been accessed.

      • Developer Accidentally Makes Available 390,000 ‘Pirated’ eBooks

        A developer who forgot about an old DNS setting has revealed how he unknowingly became a prolific eBook pirate. Nick Janetakis pointed a sub-domain towards a DigitalOcean droplet but failed to delete the record after the droplet expired. It was subsequently picked up by persons unknown who used it to make available more than 390,000 ‘pirated’ eBooks. Or did they?

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