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08.03.18

Links 3/8/2018: GammaRay 2.9.1, Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS, Firefox 63 Linux Out-of-process Extensions, LibreOffice 6.0.6

Posted in News Roundup at 3:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Docker 18.06 CE Debuts Alongside New Release Cadence

      While new Docker CE versions are set to debut every six months, Docker has pledged to support each new CE release for seven months.

      While Docker CE Stable is moving to a longer release cycle, the Docker CE Edge release is now moving to faster cycle. Docker CE Edge editions which were previously released on a monthly basis. The Edge release is now being replaced with a new Nightly build of Docker.

      “Nightly builds are created once per day from the master branch.” Docker’s release documentation states. “These builds allow for testing from the latest code on the master branch. No qualifications or guarantees are made for the nightly build.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • [Podcast] PodCTL #44 – Looking at 3yrs of Kubernetes

      With Kubernetes recently celebrating it’s 3rd anniversary, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at what has made the project successful, the growth of the ecosystem, the adoption by companies around the world, as well as areas where the market feels that there is still room for improvement.

    • Ars on your lunch break: Tim O’Reilly on why the future doesn’t have to suck

      In today’s installment, Tim rejects the fashionable forecast that automation will eradicate all human jobs next week. Being closer than most of us to Jeff Bezos, he knows a thing or three about operations at Amazon, which presents a fascinating case in point.

      The company began a hugely successful two-year robot buying spree in 2014. The robots automated countless repetitive and dangerous human tasks. And during that time, the company hired more than 100,000 new people in its warehouses. It turns out, these robots amplify the productivity of the folks who work with them. And when bosses get more bang for their buck from a category of worker, they tend to hire more of them.

    • S11E21 – The Twenty-One Balloons

      It’s Season 11 Episode 21 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope and Mark Johnson are connected and speaking to your brain.

  • Kernel Space

    • Zinc: The New Crypto Library Being Worked On As Part Of WireGuard

      As part of this week’s volleying of WireGuard onto the Linux kernel mailing list included as part of that is Zinc, a new cryptography API for the Linux kernel.

      Zinc offers up a variety of cryptography primitives and is lower-level than the current kernel crypto code. For now Zinc is complementary to the kernel crypto interfaces but WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld acknowledges that someday Zinc could replace the current Linux kernel crypto API.

    • A Number Of AMDGPU DRM Fixes Prepped Ahead Of Linux 4.19

      Following AMD staging numerous AMDGPU DRM improvements in DRM-Next for Linux 4.19, they have moved onto further testing this code and providing various fixes for some of the early fallout to these changes ahead of the next kernel cycle.

      AMDGPU in Linux 4.19 will be bringing PowerPlay support for GCN 1.1 hardware and many other power management enhancements. For Raven Ridge APUs there is a lot specifically with “stutter” mode support, GFXOFF support, JPEG VCN engine support, and other Raven specific work. Improving power management seems to have been one of the big themes for AMD open-source Linux driver developers for the Linux 4.19 kernel cycle.

    • Drink this potion, Linux kernel, and tomorrow you’ll wake up with a WireGuard VPN driver

      The developer of WireGuard has laid the groundwork for pouring his open-source privacy tool directly into the Linux kernel in hope of making secure communications easier to deploy and manage.

      Jason Donenfeld, creator of WireGuard and the founder of Edge Security, on Tuesday submitted a proposed set of patches to the Linux kernel project to integrate the secure VPN tunnel software as an official network driver. The code is now awaiting review by the kernel maintainers. Initially released and still available as an optional kernel module for Linux, WireGuard is also available for Android, macOS, Windows, and other platforms.

      “Even as an out-of-tree module, WireGuard has been integrated into various userspace tools, Linux distributions, mobile phones, and data centers,” said Donenfeld in the notes accompanying his patches. “There are ports in several languages to several operating systems, and even commercial hardware and services sold integrating WireGuard. It is time, therefore, for WireGuard to be properly integrated into Linux.”

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • Writing a Wayland compositor with wlroots: shells

        I apologise for not writing about wlroots more frequently. I don’t really enjoy working on the McWayface codebase this series of blog posts was originally about, so we’re just going to dismiss that and talk about the various pieces of a Wayland compositor in a more free-form style. I hope you still find it useful!

        Today, we’re going to talk about shells. But to make sure we’re on the same page first, a quick refresher on surfaces. A basic primitive of the Wayland protocol is the concept of a “surface”. A surface is a rectangular box of pixels sent from the client to the compositor to display on-screen. A surface can source its pixels from a number of places, including raw pixel data in memory, or opaque handles to GPU resources that can be rendered without copying pixels on the CPU. These surfaces can also evolve over time, using “damage” to indicate which parts have changed to reduce the workload of the compositor when re-rendering them. However, making a surface and filling it with pixels is not enough to get the compositor to show them.

        Shells are how surfaces in Wayland are given meaning. Consider that there are several kinds of surfaces you’ll encounter on your desktop. There are application windows, sure, but there are also tooltips, right-click menus and menubars, desktop panels, wallpapers, lock screens, on-screen keyboards, and so on. Each of these has different semantics – your wallpaper cannot be minimized or dragged around and resized, but your application windows can be. Likewise, your application windows cannot cover the entire screen and soak up all input like your lock screen can. Each of these use cases is fulfilled with a shell, which generally takes a surface resource, assigns it a role (e.g. application window), and returns a handle with shell-specific interfaces for manipulating it.

      • Wayland Shells From The Perspective Of WLROOTS

        The lead developer of the Sway Wayland compositor, Drew DeVault, has for the past year also been working on the “wlroots” Wayland compositor library that is modular and can perform a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to writing new Wayland compositors. Way-Cooler, Purism’s Phosh, and other projects have also been investigating wlroots for their own use-cases.

      • Mesa 18.2 Branched, Mesa 18.3 Enters Development

        As expected, the Mesa 18.2 feature development is now over with the code having branched. Now open on Git master is Mesa 18.3-devel.

        Mesa 18.2 is anticipated for release before the end of August assuming no major release blockers. The first release candidate of Mesa 18.2 should be out shortly and there should be a few more over the month of August.

      • kms_swrast: A hardware-backed graphics driver

        Presenting kms_swrast, a new, hardware-backed, software graphics driver, built upon the Mesa gallium driver framework, which uses kernel kms drm nodes for memory allocation.

      • Collabora’s Work On KMS_SWRAST For Android Graphics Fallback

        Robert Foss at Collabora has recently been working on supporting the “kms_swrast” code under Android.

        KMS_SWRAST is a Gallium component that supports utilizing DRM nodes for the memory allocation but for the actual OpenGL rendering still falls back to LLVMpipe (or Softpipe).

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The Clear Linux Performance For July 2018

        Given our fascination with Intel’s Clear Linux performance in the plethora of performance benchmarks we frequently run at Phoronix and this open-source operating system being maintained in a rolling-release style, here’s a look at how the performance for this x86_64 Linux distribution evolved over the past month.

        For those curious about the performance of Intel’s Clear Linux for July 2018, here are benchmarks of its state as of 1 July 2018 to where it was at in ending out the month on 31 July. Tests were done on nine different Intel systems from desktop systems to Xeon workstations/servers.

        Clear Linux began July with build 23370 that was using the Linux 4.17 kernel, GCC 8.1.1, and Python 3.6.5 as some of the important versions to point out for this testing. At the end of July they were up to build 24090 with the Linux 4.17.11 kernel, GCC 8.2.0, and Python 3.7, among many other package upgrades and changes throughout the month.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • An Assistant on KDE Plasma?

        Today, I learned that KDE and Mycroft collaborated to create a Mycroft AI assistant plasmoid.

        Of course, this is not a final product yet and the easiest installation seems to be for Fedora.

        Mozilla is also working on an assistant.

      • Engineering Plasma: Extensions and stability — Present and future

        This week, we have received a number of inquiries into how Plasma extensions, particularly those found on the KDE Store, relate to the stability and safety of a Plasma system. With an engineering focus, this blog hopes to provide answers.

      • GammaRay 2.9.1 Release

        We have released version 2.9.1 of our Qt application introspection tool GammaRay. Besides important improvements for use in Android APK bundles this release fixes a number of corner cases in the Qt Quick remote view, including crashes and corrupt view content when encountering certain non-integer high DPI scaling factors. Problems with activating the Qt 3D inspector when attaching to a running target have also been addressed, as well as build issues with pre-release versions of Qt 5.12.

      • Going to Akademy!

        Here in beautiful Deventer, in the Netherlands, with Boud and Irina Rempt, the first leg of the journey to Akademy is done. The plane ride as always was dreadful, however the train from Amsterdam through the countryside was nearly silent, fast, and beautiful. I’m recovering from jetlag, eating great salads, wonderful cheese, drinking good beer, and most important, chatting up Irina and Boud, and watching the birds play on the nieghboring roofs.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME and GIMP Receive $400K from Handshake Decentralized Certificate Authority

        The Handshake organization apparently launched today at handshake.org, and they already donated $10.2 million US dollars that they’ve collected from various project sponsors to several Free and Open Source Software projects, including GNOME Foundation, which received $300,000, and the GIMP project, which received the rest of $100,000 USD.

        GNOME Foundation is the non-profit organization behind the popular GNOME desktop environment used by numerous Linux-based operating systems by default, including Ubuntu, or available in their software repositories. On the other hand, the GIMP Project is the creator of the famous GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) open-source image editing and viewing software for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms.

      • GNOME 3.29.90 (3.30 beta) RELEASED

        GNOME 3.29.90 is now available. This is the beta release for the
        upcoming stable GNOME 3.30 release. At this point, we have entered
        feature freeze, UI freeze, and API freeze, so developers should be
        focused on bugfixes and stability improvements for the next month as we
        approach GNOME 3.30.

      • GNOME 3.29.90 Out Ahead Of Next Month’s GNOME 3.30 Release

        The GNOME 3.30 Release Candidate (v3.29.90) is now available that also marks the UI, API, and feature freezes for this next desktop environment update debuting in September.

      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Environment Enters Beta, Final Release Arrives September 5

        The GNOME Project through Javier Jardón announced today the release and general availability of the beta version of the forthcoming GNOME 3.30 desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems.

        GNOME 3.30 is the next major release of the acclaimed desktop environment used by numerous GNU/Linux distributions, including the popular Ubuntu, and it promises to bring lots of new features and improvements when it will hit the streets next month on September 5. A beta version is available today for bleeding-edge users brave enough to install it on their computers.

        “GNOME 3.29.90 is now available. This is the beta release for the upcoming stable GNOME 3.30 release. At this point, we have entered feature freeze, UI freeze, and API freeze, so developers should be focused on bug fixes and stability improvements for the next month as we approach GNOME 3.30,” writes Javier Jardón on behalf of the GNOME Release Team.

  • Distributions

    • Distrochooser Helps Linux Beginners To Choose A Suitable Linux Distribution

      You might wondering how to choose a suitable Linux distribution for you. Of course, you might already have consulted some Linux experts to help you to select a Linux distribution for your needs. And some of you might have googled and gone through various resources, Linux forums, websites and blogs in the pursuit of finding perfect distro. Well, you need not to do that anymore. Meet Distrochooser, a website that helps you to easily find out a Linux distribution.

    • ExTiX 18.7 Is Not Quite an ‘Ultimate Linux System’

      The ExTiX 18.7 release was a disappointment. Given the maturity and variety of the previous Linux distros maintained by the Exton OS and ExTiX developer, I can only conclude that the problems I encountered were an anomaly. No doubt, a fix is in the works.

      I hope so. ExTiX and the LXQt desktop have much to offer. This latest release comes with Firefox instead of Google Chrome as the Web Browser. This makes it possible to watch Netflix movies in Firefox while running Linux.

      Among many other programs included are LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GParted, Brasero, SMPlayer, Gimp, Flash and win32 codecs. In addition, Java and all necessary additions are supplied to let you install programs from source.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux 2018.08.01 Out Now with Linux Kernel 4.17.11, Latest Security Updates

        Arch Linux 2018.08.01 is an up-to-date installation medium of the popular Linux-based operating system, incorporating all the software updates and security patches released throughout July 2018, since the Arch Linux 2018.07.01 ISO release, and a new kernel version, namely Linux 4.17.11.

        Linux 4.17.11 is currently the most advanced stable kernel there is, at the moment of writing, and it is recommended for all Arch Linux users, as well as for users of other GNU/Linux distributions if they’re able to install it from the official software repositories of their favorite operating systems.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Istio Service Mesh Becomes Generally Available

        Brian “Redbeard” Harrington, product manager for Istio at Red Hat, says Istio provides the glue needed to, for example, balance microservices workloads running on top of a Kubernetes cluster. The latest version of Istio adds improved handling of role based access controls (RBAC), improved transport layer security (TLS) handling, component and additional (and refactored) test suites in addition to being generally more stable, says Harrington.

      • Container-native integration testing

        Integration testing is still an important step in a CI/CD pipeline even when you are developing container-native applications. Integration tests tend to be very resource-intensive workloads that run for a limited time.

        I wanted to explore how integration testing technologies and tools could leverage a container orchestrator (such as Red Hat OpenShift) to run faster and more-dynamic tests, while at the same time using resources more effectively.

      • Automation Broker Discovering Helm Charts

        The Automation Broker works in conjunction with the Kubernetes Service Catalog to make services and applications easily deployable. An end user selects a service to be provisioned, selects a “plan” that describes the level of service (small, large, paid, free, persistent, ephemeral, etc), and then provides any required parameters. In this scenario, Helm charts can be utilized in two possible ways.

      • Red Hat Releases OpenShift Container Storage 3.10

        This week Red Hat announced the latest version of its popular enterprise Kubernetes platform Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 3.10 (formerly known as Red Hat Container-Native Storage). Just to point out this is a follow up to OpenShift Container Storage 3.9 and should be thought of as three-point-ten not three-point-one-o. This update adds several features such as arbiter volume support for replication for increased container-based data protection and full production support for block-based workloads.

      • Red Hat’s Relentless Focus on Open Source Software Challenges Status Quo in Supercomputing

        Supercomputers and scientific research tend to go hand-in-hand. Designed for solving fundamental scientific problems, supercomputers have increasingly become more open in terms of collaboration and information exchange. In the past, supercomputer designs and implementations were relatively closed, often built by a single vendor from their inventory of components. Today, this model is evolving: As science becomes more accessible through global community, so to are supercomputers opening up via vendor collaboration.

        Two recent examples are the Summit and Sierra supercomputers rated #1 and #3 in the world, respectively. The result of multi-year cross-vendor collaboration efforts, these systems are using CPUs from IBM, GPU accelerators from NVIDIA, Infiniband networking from Mellanox, and a Linux operating system from Red Hat in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This highlights a new path for not just supercomputing, but enterprise computing: more seamless multi-architectural support. Access to a broader range of architectural choices enables organizations to choose the computing backbone that best meets their unique needs, whether it’s a traditional datacenter environment or a high-powered supercomputer.

        The compute resources required by supercomputers go well beyond how we would normally talk about flexibility and scalability for IT operations. Supercomputing often pairs standard hardware at scale with additional, highly-specialized components. All of these components are commoditized, in that they can be (and often are) deployed into enterprise datacenters. Linux forms a common bridge to effectively link all pieces together, making it easier for individual application stacks to take advantage of the specific resources that they need. So it should not come as a surprise that, according to the most recent Top500 list, all supercomputers in the world run a variant of Linux.

      • Design thinking as a way of life

        Over the past few years, design has become more than a discipline. It has become a mindset, one gaining more and more traction in industrial practices, processes, and operations.

        People have begun to recognize the value in making design the fundamental component of the process and methodologies aimed at both the “business side” and the “people side” of the organization. In other words, “thinking with design” is a great way to approach business problems and organizational culture problems.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora’s Documentation Website has been overhauled

          Today, a lot of hard work and effort from a multi-year process pays off. The Fedora Documentation website, https://docs.fedoraproject.org/, is receiving a major upgrade. Thanks to Adam Šamalík for converting everything to the Antora publication engine, and to many members of the docs team for significant work in converting from DocBook to AsciiDoc format.

        • The New Fedora Documentation Website, The Rest Of The Story

          Today, a lot of hard work and effort from a multi-year process pays off. Our new docs site is live at https://docs.fedoraproject.org/. Thanks to Adam Šamalík for a converting everything to the Antora publication engine, and to many members of the docs team for significant work in converting from DocBook to AsciiDoc format. This piece picks up where the announcement in the Fedora Magazine stopped. It has more details that may be of interest to contributors.

        • On Flatpak updates

          Maybe you remember times when updating your system was risky business – your web browser might crash of start to behave funny because the update pulled data files or fonts out from underneath the running process, leading to fireworks or, more likely, crashes.

        • Fedora 28 : Godot example with linux .
    • Debian Family

      • DebConf18 thanks its sponsors! [Ed: Worryingly enough, Debian accepted some cash from Microsoft ("Gold Sponsor") and it makes one wonder what might happen if high-level Debian people criticise this company, if they dare...]

        DebConf18 is taking place in Hsinchu, Taiwan, from July 29th to August 5th, 2018. It is the first Debian Annual Conference in Asia, with over 300 attendees and major advances for Debian and for Free Software in general.

        Thirty-two companies have committed to sponsor DebConf18! With a warm “thank you”, we’d like to introduce them to you.

      • DebCamp18: Reporting my experience and technical work of my first DebCamp

        Last week I was attending my first DebCamp which was an amazing and enjoyable experience. In a nutshell, I was in the right environment to leverage my GSoC project since I was able to develop new features for Distro Tracker while interacting with other experienced Debian contributors who provided me highly valuable feedback and ideas. However, in this post, I will focus on reporting my main activities during DebCamp and presenting my early impressions.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Opera web browser for Linux available as a Snap — install on Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, and more!

            There is no shortage of web browsers for Linux. Two of the most popular browsers — Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox — are easy to install and work quite brilliantly. Another fairly popular option is available too — Opera. All three aforementioned browsers are cross-platform, making them great options not only for Linux, but Mac and Windows too.

          • Opera launches as a Snap for Linux users

            Opera and Canonical today announce that Opera, the popular web browser, is now available as a Snap in the Snap Store. Opera is the latest notable addition to the Snap Store providing ever more choice to Linux users via an easy to install, always up to date application direct from the software vendor.

            Opera, founded in 1995 in Oslo has been delivering browsers and AI-driven content delivery products to 322 million users worldwide across a range of devices and operating systems. It is responsible for now standardised browser features such as tabs or speed dial. Currently, it is the browser of choice for more demanding users who seek features such as a built-in VPN, ad blocker or a separate messengers sidebar.

          • ​Opera is available in a Snap on Linux

            They’ve done this by packing Opera into a Snap in the Snap Store. The Opera snap is supported on Debian, Elementary, Fedora, Linux Mint, Manjaro, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and other Linux distributions.

            Snaps are containerised software packages. They’re designed to work securely within any Linux environment across desktop, the cloud, and IoT devices. Thousands of snaps have been launched since 2016. Users like them because they come with automatic updates and roll-back features.

            Snaps also are a bit more secure than most Linux apps. They make it easier for developers to roll out their programs. When your program in encased in a Snap, you don’t need to worry about the distribution’s native packaging or whether the desktop distro includes a vital library your application needs.

          • Opera Web Browser Is Now Available as a Snap on Ubuntu, Other Linux Distros

            Canonical and Opera Software informs Softpedia today about the availability of the Chromium-based Opera web browser as a Snap package in the Snap Store for Ubuntu and supported Linux-based operating systems.

            Used by more than 322 million users worldwide on a wide range of devices and computer operating systems, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, Opera is a very popular web browser based on the latest technologies from the open-source Chromium project. On Linux platforms, users can install Opera as DEB and RPM packages.

          • Opera Browser is Now Available in the Ubuntu Snap Store

            It just got a whole lot easier to install the Opera web browser on Ubuntu and other Linux distros. Canonical has announced that the well-known web browser is now available as a Snap app in the Ubuntu Snap store.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Released as Last in the Series, Download Now

            Every LTS (Long Term Support) version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system is supported by Canonical with security and software updates for five years on the Ubuntu Desktop, Server, and Cloud images, and they received a total of five point releases every six months or so.

            Dubbed Xenial Xerus, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was released on April 21, 2016, with the Unity desktop environment, and it’s supported until April 2021. The Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS point release is the last in the series and like all the previous point releases, it represents an up-to-date installation medium for those who want to install a fresh Ubuntu 16.04 LTS system.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS Released For Those Not Yet Upgrading To Ubuntu 18.04
          • Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS Released on Heels of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Bundles All Past Stable Release Updates

            A few days ago we covered the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and also the NCSC’s guidelines on Ubuntu 18.04 security, but there’s more news yet from the Ubuntu team – they just released Ubuntu 16.04.5 Xenial Xerus LTS (Long Term Support) for folks who will not upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

            This latest update to Ubuntu 16.04 has a new hardware enablement stack intended to work with the latest hardware out-of-the-box. Support for this is offered on all architectures except 32-bit powerpc, and it is installed by default when using the desktop images as an installation media. Ubuntu Server will default to installing the GA kernel, but users can optionally choose to install the HWE kernel instead.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS Released, Available to Download Now

            Download Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS, the fifth (and final) point release of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. It features Linux kernel 4.15, Xorg updates, and various bug fixes.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            Like previous LTS series’, 16.04.5 includes hardware enablement stacks for use on newer hardware. This support is offered on all architectures except for 32-bit powerpc, and is installed by default when using one of the desktop images. Ubuntu Server defaults to installing the GA kernel, however you may select the HWE kernel from the installer bootloader.

            As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Lubuntu 16.04.5 has been released!

            Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, we are pleased to announce that Lubuntu 16.04.5 LTS has been released!

          • UBports’ Ubuntu Touch Unlikely To Move To Ubuntu 18.04 Anytime Soon

            Given that it was only earlier this summer when UBports’ Ubuntu Touch OTA-4 upgraded to an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS base, you might be wondering when they intend to transition to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS… But don’t hold your breath.

            During the latest Ubuntu Touch Q&A, the matter came up of if/when they will transition from Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 18.04 as the newest Long Term Support release. But long story short is they have no immediate plans to do so.

            The resources of the community-driven UBports is limited as is and the migration to Ubuntu 18.04 would require systemd, among other changes, as well as 18.04 using newer versions of Mir, Unity 8, and libhybris that would conflict with the current UBports work.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How blockchain will influence open source

    What Satoshi Nakamoto started as Bitcoin a decade ago has found a lot of followers and turned into a movement for decentralization. For some, blockchain technology is a religion that will have the same impact on humanity as the Internet has had. For others, it is hype and technology suitable only for Ponzi schemes. While blockchain is still evolving and trying to find its place, one thing is for sure: It is a disruptive technology that will fundamentally transform certain industries. And I’m betting open source will be one of them.

  • Q&A with JD.com: Kubernetes, Cloud Native, and CNCF Projects Driving Big Data and AI

    Haifeng: The goal of our Retail as a Service (RaaS) strategy is to open up our capabilities and resources to empower our partners, suppliers, and other industries. This is very much in line with our commitment to open source technologies. We’ve already benefited tremendously from the CNCF projects we have been a part of and our new commitment to CNCF enables us to build even stronger collaborative relationships with the industry’s top developers, end users, and vendors and ultimately enables us to contribute more to the open source community. Joining CNCF is an important step for us as we develop new container-native technologies towards an open platform to realize our RaaS vision.

  • Bringing Home Automation to Life with Open Source Technology

    Over the course of several generations, automation of the domestic environment has met with a fairly mixed response from homeowners. While appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, have been welcomed warmly since their inception, smarter technologies like automatic lighting have received a more tepid reaction. There are several reasons for this. In the past, smart technologies have been relatively expensive and installation has been difficult, usually involving disruptive rewiring. The skills of installers have typically lagged behind the technology, and customer demand has tended to come from small numbers of wealthy homeowners or technophiles.

    The situation could change as the prices of smart devices, like sensors and controllers, continue to fall and as suitable wireless technologies have emerged to make extensive rewiring unnecessary. In addition, the advent of almost universal consumer access to the Internet and smartphones greatly simplifies interactions with smart home equipment. With the emergence of digital home assistants, such as Google’s Alexa, the home automation market may now be gaining real traction. So far, however, major brands have not succeeded in dominating, and opportunities remain for start-ups to find a successful formula and establish a presence.

  • Web Browsers

    • Top web browsers 2018: IE, Edge and Firefox return to the road of ruin

      It’s increasingly becoming a Google Chrome online world, even for Mac users.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 69 Beta: CSS tricks, and more

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 69 on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 69 is beta as of August 2.

      • Chrome 69 Beta Released With AV1 Decode & Various CSS Additions

        Google has rolled out the Chrome 69 beta web-browser update today for Linux, Android, and other supported platforms.

        Chrome 69 Beta is quite exciting in that it introduces initial support for AV1 video decoding support — albeit still in very early form but now possible thanks to AV1 v1.0 being firmed up. There are also a number of CSS styling enhancements with Chrome 69 Beta including support for conic gradients, new margin/padding/border properties, scroll snap positions, display cutouts, and more.

      • Google Chrome 69 Enters Beta with Notch Support, Adopts the AV1 Video Decoder

        Google promoted today the Chrome 69 web browser from the Developer channel to the Beta one for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, giving us a first look at the new features and improvements.

        One of the coolest new features that will be available on the Google Chrome 69 release when it launches next month its support for the next-generation and efficient AV1 video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media. AV1 promises to fix the current video streaming issues supported by most users by improving the compression efficiency with up to 30% compared to existing codecs.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox is (Finally) Bringing Out-of-Process Extensions to Linux

        Firefox users on Windows have been benefitting from out-of-process extensions for almost a year — now the feature is finally making its way to Linux.

        Firefox 63, due for release later this year, will be the first release of the browser on Linux to make web extensions run out-of-process by default.

        The move will help improve general security and overall stability of the browser.

      • Firefox Quantum 63 expected to improve as out-of-process WebExtensions are introduced

        Just recently, Mozilla has introduced a new feature to Firefox Quantum 63 which had previously been brought to other operating systems such as Windows (Firefox 56) and macOS (Firefox 61). This new release allows for Linux WebExtensions to run on their own process, separating them from those used for browser core and tabs. This switch towards out-of-process extensions will be activated in Linux by default. Through this latest feature, Mozilla expects that users will observe improvement in the browser’s performance, stability, and security with regards to extensions, once they are enabled.

        As different iterations to Mozilla’s web browser were released in 2017 including a latest Rust-powered CSS engine, many other updates to the browser were also introduced. Since these updates, many others have also been brought to the market including an option for automatically blocking the autoplaying media and Windows 10 dark themes for Firefox Nightly builds. The latest improvement to WebExtensions has been received warmly in the tech community.

      • Out-of-process extensions to finally debut on Linux in Firefox Quantum 63

        Perhaps the most significant recent iteration of Mozilla’s web browser released in the last year was Version 57, going by the name of Firefox Quantum, thanks to a number of overhauls under the hood, including a new Rust-powered CSS engine. Since then, other features have sprung up, such as the option to automatically block autoplaying media and support for Windows 10 dark themes in recent Firefox Nightly builds.

      • Firefox 63: Linux out-of-process extensions

        Mozilla plans to enable out-of-process extensions for Firefox running on GNU/Linux systems in Firefox 63. The organization plans to release Firefox 63 on October 23, 2018 for all supported desktop and mobile operating systems.

        Mozilla added multi-process capabilities to Firefox 49 and improved the functionality in future releases. Multi-process separates different parts of the web browser, for instance browser tabs and the core browser, to improve security and stability.

        Work on Firefox’s security sandbox continues, and so does work on moving additional elements to their own process. Mozilla added supported for out-of-process extensions in Firefox 56 on Windows, and added the functionality in Firefox 61 to installations of the web browser running on Mac OS X.

      • Things Gateway 0.5 packed full of new features, including experimental smart assistant

        The Things Gateway from Mozilla lets you directly monitor and control your home over the web, without a middleman.

        Today the Mozilla IoT team is excited to announce the 0.5 release of the Things Gateway, which is packed full of new features including customisable devices, a more powerful rules engine, an interactive floorplan and an experimental smart assistant you can talk to.

        [...]

        How to Get Involved

        To try out the latest version of the gateway, download the software image from our website to use on a Raspberry Pi. If you already have a gateway set up, you should notice it automatically update itself to the 0.5 release.

      • Mozilla Announces Things Gateway 0.5, Reddit Security Incident, Docker Moving to a New Release Cycle, Artifact Coming in November and LibreOffice 6.0.6 Now Available

        The Mozilla IoT team announced the 0.5 release of the Things Gateway this morning, which is “packed full of new features including customisable devices, a more powerful rules engine, an interactive floorplan and an experimental smart assistant you can talk to.” If you want to try out this new version of the gateway, you can download it from here and use it on your Raspberry Pi. According to the press release, “A powerful new ‘capabilities’ system means that devices are no longer restricted to a predefined set of Web Thing Types, but can be assembled from an extensible schema-based system of ‘capabilities’ through our new schema repository. This means that developers have much more flexibility to create weird and wacky devices, and users have more control over how the device is used.”

      • Mozilla’s Things Gateway 0.5 offers Interactive Floorplan View and a Smart Assistant

        Mozilla’s Things Gateway software just received a new update today in its version 0.5 and it offers several interesting features. These new features include support for custom devices and new protocols, safe authorisation of third party applications for accessing gateway, strengthened rules engine, an interactive floor plan view which lets the user lay out devices on the home map and most importantly, an ‘experimental’ smart assistant which can directly be spoken to.

        Things Gateway is a Project Things’ component which aims at providing everyone with the services and software required for bridging communication among connected devices. This software is an operating system which is Raspberry Pi-compatible and lets the user control and monitor their home over the internet. The latest update to the software has further expanded the controls for its users. According to Ben Francis at Mozilla Hacks, this software allows for the management of all devices being used in the house through ‘a single secure web interface’. He further wrote, “Today I’m excited to tell you about the latest version of the Things Gateway and how you can use it to directly monitor and control your home over the web, without a middleman. Instead of installing a different mobile app for every smart home device you buy, you can manage all your devices through a single secure web interface.”

      • Announcing Rust 1.28

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.28.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • Ctrl-Q issue or “are Firefox developers using Linux at all?”

        When I started using Linux on my desktop there was only Mozilla based browsers which were usable. They had different names: Galeon, Firebird, Phoenix, Mozilla Suite and finally Firefox.

        It worked better or worse but did. There were moments when on 2GB ram machine browser was using 6 gigabytes (which resulted in killing it). Then were moments when it started to be slower and slower so I moved to Google Chrome instead.

        But still — Firefox had all those extensions which could do insane amount of things with how browser looks, how it works etc. But then Quantum came and changed that. Good bye all nice addons. Hope we meet in other life.

        But what it has with question from post title? Simple, little, annoying thing: “Ctrl-Q” shortcut. Lovely one which everyone is using to close application they work with. Not that it does not work — it does. Perfectly. And this is a problem…

  • Databases

    • Open source DBMS software gains foothold in enterprise IT

      Adrian: Although open source RDBMS [relational database management system] options have typically been aimed at providing good enough functionality for a reduced total cost of ownership, they have matured and gained ground. Sometimes, though not always, open source databases can be used for significant, mission-critical applications.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0.6 Office Suite Released with 55 Bug Fixes, Download Now

      Coming about six weeks after the LibreOffice 6.0.5 maintenance update, the LibreOffice 6.0.6 point release is here to further improve and stability and reliability of the LibreOffice 6.0 office suite series for all supported platforms by addressing a total of 55 bugs and other issues reported by users lately for various core components. Detailed changelogs are available here and here.

      When they released the LibreOffice 6.0.5 update back in June 2018, The Document Foundation said that the LibreOffice 6.0 series is now ready for mainstream users and enterprise deployments. LibreOffice 6.0.6 continues this trend by offering mainstream users a more stable, reliable, and secure office suite that’s ready to replace popular commercial alternatives.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Respects Your Freedom certification program continues to grow

      We recently had some exciting news for our Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification program. Our program helps users to find hardware that they can trust to come with freedom inside. When a retailer receives certification on a device, it means users know they will receive hardware that meets with our strict standards on free software and documentation.

      First up, on May 15th, we certified the Zerocat Chipflasher “board-edition-1″, which can be purchased from the Zerocat Label. This device is a really exciting addition to the program. The Zerocat Chipflasher enables users to flash their own devices using only free software, replacing proprietary firmware with free software. One of the big steps currently for a retailer in creating an RYF-certified laptop is flashing laptops to replace proprietary boot firmware with Libreboot. With the Zerocat Chipflasher, for the first time ever, retailers (or any user) can flash their laptops with a device that can likewise be trusted to respect the rights of users. It means many more users will be able to free their own devices using only free software, and could even help spur the creation of more RYF-certified devices in the future. Currently they are selling a limited edition version, signed by the founder of the Zerocat Label, which will help to fund future availability of the device. Only five remain at this point, but once they are sold, there will be enough funding for future runs of the device.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Shojinmeat Scores Grant for Open Source Clean Meat Initiative

      If you’re not familiar, Chris Albrecht covered Tokyo-based Shojinmeat a few months ago for the Spoon:

      “Shojinmeat is now an active Slack channel that connects roughly 30 DIY citizen scientists from across Japan. They gather to talk about their homegrown meat experiments and related topics such as tissue engineering, animal welfare, and regenerative medicine. Shojinmeat has also put out ‘zines with articles and pictures about their work, and recently made a move to the West by creating an English-speaking Slack channel.”

      Essentially, Shojinmeat is an informational platform for DIY clean meat enthusiasts — more like a club than an actual company. So it’s easy to see why the Shuttleworth Foundation, who supports open knowledge resources, would want to support them.

      Shojinmeat isn’t founder Yuki Hanyu’s only project. He also created Integriculture; a startup which is making clean meat infrastructure for B2B sale. On our call Hanyu said that Integriculture is gearing up for their first product launch this fall: a food-grade culture media, which is the “food” which clean meat needs to grow. This plant-based media is composed of sugars, amino acids, and vitamins, and Hanyu said he anticipates customers will range from companies to biohackers.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Internet Publication of 3D Printing Files About Guns: Facts and What’s at Stake

        Most of us are not familiar with the process of manufacturing a gun, but there are many tutorials available both offline and online for doing so, as well as multiple sources for designs that could be used in a 3D printer. Federal law and many states permit a person to engage in gunsmithing, creating an unlicensed, unregistered firearm for their own use. The materials are generally not difficult to buy either. While making guns is allowed many places, whether the firearm is made through 3D printing or by simply buying and assembling the materials, it is generally unlawful to sell or distribute the unmarked firearms you make without a license.

        Most of the files at issue in the Defense Distributed case are “Computer Aided Design” (CAD) files, a type of file that engineers use describe three-dimensional objects. Programs like “Slic3r” can interpret these shapes and figure out the path that a 3D printer would have to move its nozzle, or a milling machine would have to move its cutter, to form that object. Slic3r creates a 3D print file that can then be understood by the machine itself and used by its operator to create an object.

        Once you’ve got your 3D printer or milling machine, your raw materials, the software to run it, and the design files, you can tell the machine to make whatever shapes you want, including shapes that can be assembled into a gun. You can’t print bullets, of course – you need to buy them or acquire gunpowder to make your own.

        So, following all these steps, it is possible to 3D print or CNC mill a gun, go acquire bullets, and fire it.

        Your 3D-printed gun will likely be made of plastic. This is not an ideal material for a gun, because it is weak and it melts, but plastic guns are capable of firing. The plastic part will not be detectable by metal detectors, but would be detectable by the scanners at airport security. And it’s illegal under the Undetectable Firearms Act to manufacture an entirely plastic gun unless you insert a bar of metal that can be detected by a metal detector.

      • Would-be censors seek ban on 3D gun guides

        On July 30, National Public Radio reports, “[a] coalition of attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration … to stop a Texas-based company from publishing instructions for 3D-printed guns on its website.”

        In English: Nine state attorneys general including North Carolina AG Josh Stein want the federal government to censor the internet, in violation of the First Amendment, for the purpose of making the Second Amendment less effectual.

        Defense Distributed, a nonprofit started by libertarian activist Cody Wilson, creates and publishes files that tell 3D printers and CNC milling machines how to make guns. After a five-year battle with the U.S. State Department, which demanded censorship of these files on the risible claim that publishing them violated weapons export restrictions, Defense Distributed prevailed: The feds said uncle, paid the organization’s legal fees and got out of the way.

        Cue bizarre claims — actor/activist Alyssa Milano, writing on behalf of the anti-gun lobby, calls these files “downloadable guns” in a CNN op-ed — open cries for internet censorship, and a conspiracy of state attorneys general to give those cries legal effect.

      • Ignorant Hysteria Over 3D Printed Guns Leads To Courts Ignoring The First Amendment

        A year and a half ago, we wrote about a troubling ruling by the 5th Circuit siding with the US State Department waving a magic “national security” wand to ignore the First Amendment implications of banning the internet distribution of the CAD files for 3D printing components for guns. As we pointed out over five years ago, the hysteria over these 3D printed gun plans was silly. Attempts to ban them from the internet wouldn’t just fail, but would actually draw much more attention to them.

        However, in the last few days the hysteria has returned… and much of it is misleading and wrong, and while most people probably want to talk about the 2nd Amendment implications of all of this, it’s the 1st Amendment implications that are a bigger deal. First off, most of what you’ve probably heard about the case is either wrong or misleading. David French has a pretty good post separating fact from fiction. This is not (as some claimed) the Trump administration “legalizing” 3D printed guns. It is already legal to make guns yourself, so long as they are not undetectable. Undetectable guns are already illegal under the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 and nothing has changed or is changing on that front.

        [...]

        So a bunch of states sued to somehow try to stop this whole thing from going forward — though it’s unclear what there is to actually stop. Can states stop the US government from settling a lawsuit? That seems odd. Either way, at least three courts rushed forward to issue injunctions against posting the files, including Washington State, where the judge didn’t even seem to consider the First Amendment issues at hand, and issued a ruling that seems to be a classic case of prior restraint. I mean, the ruling literally doesn’t even discuss the First Amendment concerns. Instead, it argues that there’s a likelihood of success under the Administrative Procedures Act, effectively arguing that because the government is modifying the munitions list, it needs to go through a more thorough administrative process. That… seems weak, especially given the First Amendment issues at play.

        Again, no matter how you feel about the 2nd Amendment, guns or gun control… that’s not really the issue here, even if it’s clouding much of the reporting on it. Nothing in this case is about legalizing 3D printed guns. It is entirely about exporting computer files that might be used by people outside of the US to make guns, but which are already widely available in many places on the internet and aren’t going to go away (note that this case only applies specifically to Cody Wilson and his organization, and doesn’t directly impact third parties who are already distributing the files elsewhere).

      • Build your own NASA space rover: Here are the DIY JPL blueprints

        NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been quietly working on a way to let students and interested hobbyists build a planet-exploring rover that’s a scaled-down version of the American agency’s six-wheeled ‘droids.

        For the past few months, JPL eggheads have been toiling away on the project over on GitHub, basing their work on an outreach rover, “ROV-E”, that’s toured schools and museums since 2015. The boffins went public with their designs on July 31.

      • Want a Raspberry Pi-powered Mars rover designed by NASA? Here’s how to build one
      • NASA’s Open Source Rover Is a Miniature Curiosity You Can Build Yourself
      • Raspberry Pi space rover: NASA open-sources its mini Mars robot
      • Build your own Mars rover using plans from NASA
      • JPL Open Source Rover Project Lets You Build Your Own Working Robot Rover
  • Programming/Development

    • Well, this makes scents: Kotlin code quality smells better than Java

      Kotlin, which Google blessed last year as an alternative to Java for programming Android apps, has already made its way into almost 12 per cent of open source Android apps, and in so doing has elevated their code quality.

      So we’re told by computer scientists Bruno Gois Mateus and Matias Martinez, affiliated with University of Valenciennes in France, who observed that Google at the end of 2017 said Kotlin had infiltrated more than 17 per cent of Android apps developed with its IDE, Android Studio 3.0.

    • PHP 7.3.0.beta1 Released

      The PHP team is glad to announce the release of the fifth PHP 7.3.0 version, PHP 7.3.0beta1. The rough outline of the PHP 7.3 release cycle is specified in the PHP Wiki.

      For source downloads of PHP 7.3.0beta1 please visit the download page. Windows sources and binaries can be found on windows.php.net/qa/.

    • PHP 7.3 Enters Feature Freeze & Releases Beta

      The end of July marked the code branching and feature freeze for PHP 7.3 followed by the creation of the first beta.

      PHP 7.3 introduces a net_get_interfaces() function to enumerate detected network adapters in a cross-platform manner, adds is_countable() for determining if a variable can be counted, drops support for BeOS, adds WebP support for the GD image create from string function, updates against a newer SQLite library, improves PHP garbage collection performance, and a lot of bug fixes.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Tokyo medical school altered test scores to keep women out

      The newspaper said the test scores of female applicants had been lowered across the board by administrators, who applied a fixed coefficient to women’s results.

    • These Professors Don’t Work for a Predatory Publisher. It Keeps Claiming They Do.

      But Traynor and other supposed board members contacted by The Chronicle said they’ve never been associated with the publication, nor did they grant it permission to use their names. A few have spent years attempting and failing to correct it. All the while, emails have trickled in to their inboxes from disgruntled submitters of papers, asking where their money went or why the edits were so paltry.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Special Report: CBD Advisory Bodies Make Recommendations On Sequence Data, Global Mechanism, Implementation

      The UN Convention on Biological Diversity advisory bodies met last month to consider issues in preparation of the high-level Conference of the Parties later this year in Egypt. Among the topics were how to deal with genetic resources DNA information under the CBD protocol on access and benefit-sharing (Nagoya Protocol). Another was concerns met by countries implementing the protocol, in particular developing countries, and the need for capacity building.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Behind The Magical Thinking: Lessons from Policymaker Relationships with Drones

      This paper is the second in a CNAS series dedicated to understanding how 16 years of extensive drone use have affected the dynamics of national security decision- making, based on interviews with former senior officials primarily from the Obama administration.

    • Former Malaysia intelligence chief lodges police report over leaked letter to CIA

      The former director-general of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) Hasanah Abdul Hamid on Tuesday (Jul 31) lodged a police report over a letter she wrote to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which she said should not have been leaked.

      Hasanah said the contents of the letter were “nothing unusual” and it was not a letter that could be described as a form of treason because the mandate of the MEIO is to protect national security.

    • Leaked CIA letter real, ‘sending it not treason’
    • ‘Ex-MEIO chief revealing contents of CIA letter may be treason’
    • Treason? Nonsense, says ex-intel officer over letter to CIA

      A former top intelligence officer under the previous government has defended herself against accusations of treason over a letter she wrote to the CIA director urging Washington to back Barisan Nasional in the event of a slim victory in the last polls.

      “Those who say so are lying. It’s nonsense and it does not make sense,” Hasanah Ab Hamid, who headed the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, said in a statement today.

    • The Deep Betrayal Of Kwame Nkrumah By Ghana And The American CIA

      In October 1965, Kwame Nkrumah, the president of Ghana, published his future book, ‘Neocolonialism: The last stage of imperialism.’ The book was dedicated to “The living and the dead African freedom fighters.”

      In the book, Nkrumah accused the CIA of numerous crises and regressions in the third world and Eastern Europe. Later Nkrumah wrote: “The American government sent me a note of protest and soon refused to give Ghana $ 35 million planned to help the country.

      Four months later, he was deposed in a military coup organized by the CIA. Of course, the organizers of the coup, members of the Ghanaian army and police, had their own motives. They feared that the Nkrumah was creating its own private army that would take their powers away, and were determined to promote their own professional careers and status.

      [...]

      The United States wanted to get rid of him. Great Britain, the former colonial masters of Ghana then called the Gold Coast (Gold Coast), also wanted to remove Nkrumah. France and West Germany also didn’t like Nkrumah. Those Ghanaians who accomplished the coup did not doubt that the movement against Nkrumah would be supported by the Western powers.

      During the coup, the Soviet press accused the CIA of participation; in 1972. The conservative London Daily Telegraph reported that by 1965, the CIA’s headquarters in Accra, the capital of Ghana, had about forty staff members who generously distributed donations to the secret opponents of President Nkrumah.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks: Australia Has ‘Obligation’ to Protect Julian Assange, Lawyer Says

      Julian Assange is “homesick for Australia” and will need to be protected by the Malcolm Turnbull government if he is expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy, his lawyer has said.

      Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Assange’s welcome at the London embassy—where he has lived under political asylum since 2012—is coming to an end. Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, recently confirmed that discussions with British officials were ongoing about the WikiLeaks chief. “I have never been in favor of Mr. Assange’s activity,” Moreno stated.

      Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s legal representative in London, told Australian media Wednesday that the situation had become “untenable.” She suggested that Australia should offer aid.

      “Julian is still an Australian citizen and they have an obligation—and I think a duty—to exercise rights of protection over an Australian citizen,” Robinson told News.com.au. “They could usefully engage in this to help solve the impasse.” The lawyer said that it was “disappointing” that the Turnbull government had not yet stepped in. “I very much hope that they will,” she stated.

    • Roger Stone: Trump should pardon Julian Assange to defend journalism
    • WikiLeaks’ Assange Facing ‘Very Grave Juncture’ As Potential Extradition Looms

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange faces an uncertain future as Ecuadorian officials consider whether to comply with pressure to extradite him from confinement at the South American nation’s diplomatic safe haven in London.

      Earlier this month, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have to leave Ecuador’s embassy in London, where Assange took refuge in June 2012 out of fear of extradition to Sweden for a since-dropped rape case, and where he has remained for fear of extradition to the US on espionage charges for leaking thousands of classified documents related to US military operations.

    • Julian Assange’s Health Deteriorating as Speculation Over Future Continues
    • Assam NRC draft: Congress protected illegal migrants, spoke against IMDT Act in 2005, reveals Wikileaks

      A Wikileaks cable, dated 16 February 2006, authored by a US consulate officer in Kolkata had alleged that then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, campaigning for the May 2006 state Assembly election in Assam, “in a brazen appeal to the Muslims, offered to amend the Foreigners Act to prevent deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants”.

      The cable said that the relationship between the Congress party and its traditional vote bank soured in July 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) (IMDT) Act as unconstitutional. It said the Congress supported the act, which made identification, detection and deportation of foreigners in Assam an incredibly complex task, and also protected post-1971 illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

    • Declassified records show extent of CIA’s involvement in efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg

      A previously classified document that the Central Intelligence Agency provided to Congress during the investigation of the Watergate affair shows that G. Gordon Liddy used papers that CIA had provided – without authorization – while traveling to California to break into the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. This newly released document shows that CIA’s Inspector General report on Watergate left out key details, and exposes CIA’s Deputy Director Vernon Walters’ claim that the assistance was provided in response to a “duly authorized extra-Agency request” as false.

    • Are whistle-blowers the heroes or villains of our time?

      Julian Assange’s six-year confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London seems to be approaching its end. Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has confirmed reports that he has been conducting talks with the British government to end the standoff between the founder of WikiLeaks and the British authorities. In 2012, Assange sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where police wanted to interview him regarding allegations of sexual assault. Ironically, even though that criminal investigation was dropped last year, there is still an active arrest warrant against him in the UK for breaking bail while his extradition case was before the court.

      It remains to be seen what the future holds for the man who orchestrated break-ins to the most sacred secrets of a large number of countries and made them public. Assange’s main concern is the prospect of being sent to the United States. Although there are no legal charges against him there, only a few months ago US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange’s arrest was a “priority,” while then CIA director and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed suit, arguing that “it’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

    • Fears for Julian Assange as his ‘health WORSENS in last two days’ amid extradition battle

      The WikiLeaks founder is said to be unwell as concerns were raised he could be forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy and deported to the US.

      He has been holed up in the embassy building for the last six years after first claiming asylum after a warrant for his arrest was issued.

      This was in response to rape allegations from a woman in Sweden.

      But Assange has claimed he will be deported to the United States to face espionage charges over his WikiLeaks disclosures.

    • Julian Assange’s lawyer: Australian government has a “duty” to protect him

      As the danger mounts that WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange will soon be forced to leave London’s Ecuadorian embassy, where he was granted political asylum in 2012, a member of his legal team has called for the Australian government to guarantee his right, as an Australian citizen, to return to the country.
      The lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said Assange wants to exercise his right to return to Australia, provided he is protected from extradition to the United States, where the Trump administration, the FBI and the CIA are intent on jailing the WikiLeaks editor for many years, or executing him, on concocted espionage-related charges.
      Speaking to news.com, Robinson said Assange was grateful for the support of the Australian public. “I would say he is homesick for Australia, he would love to go back, but we have been disappointed by previous governments’ failure to take action and it is time the Australian government listens to that and takes action.”

    • Sen. Richard Black: Why the Censors Hate Assange

      As a military officer, I was trained to strictly observe security protocols. So when I first heard of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, I was instinctively critical. But upon reading his released documents, I saw how Julian gave people accurate insights into the inner workings of their own government.

      Government “of the People” cannot flourish beneath a suffocating cloak of secrecy. And secrecy is often aimed, not at protecting us from enemies abroad, but at deceiving us about the dark machinations of our own government. The most consequential secrets are those used to conceal steps taken to establish predicates for future wars – unwarranted conflicts that seem to roll off an endless assembly line. No-fly zones, bombings, sanctions, false flags, blockades, mercenaries, bloodthirsty terrorists have all become stock in trade. Sanctions destabilize our targets through hunger and suffering. We terrorize and blow body parts into the streets like calling cards. Regime change is the end game; coups and assassinations are fair play.

      Before Assange, those who “broke the code” and detected the Deep State’s patterns of misbehavior were labeled “conspiracy theorists” or worse. But with the advent of WikiLeaks, original, unchallenged source documents have proven our arguments, and revealed the truth to citizens.

    • No quick solution to Assange case: Ecuador FM

      Given the complexity of the diplomatic deadlock surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, it is impossible to “set a timeline or determine when a solution” might be found, Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Valencia said Thursday.

      Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. Ecuador granted the anti-secrecy activist political asylum and citizenship, but Britain has refused to give him safe passage to leave the country, threatening to arrest him should he step foot outside of the building.

      “The United Kingdom has not changed its position … we are trying to do what we can so the matter moves along and we can reach an understanding,” Valencia said in an interview with Radio Publica.

  • Finance

    • Nordic countries can fill EU leadership void after Brexit

      What gives them an advantage is their pragmatic politics based on common values.

    • Auf wiedersehen, Britain: Brexit is forcing my German family to leave the country we call home

      ‘So you’re going home.” This is something I hear a lot when I tell people that my wife and I have decided to move to Germany after 14 years of living in London. My reply is always the same: “Actually, we are leaving our home. This is our home.” We are moving to a country that my wife and I were born in and are citizens of, but which our children know only as a holiday destination. There was – and is – no burning desire on our part to live in Germany. I never missed the impoliteness, control freakery and permanent moaning that I associate with much of German public life.

      There is, however, a definite urge to leave Britain, a country that has lost its way and, with it, many of its best qualities. In public discourse, pragmatism, level-headedness and tolerance (or at least benevolent indifference) have been largely replaced by uncompromising partisanship. The result of the EU referendum dismayed me, but did not surprise me. Ever since my time at Oxford University in the mid-90s, I had been aware of the deeply entrenched anti-EU sentiment, especially among politics graduate students – some of whom would go on to work with pro-Brexit politicians and in the media.

    • VCs Are Investing Big into a New Cryptocurrency: Introducing Handshake

      The entire landscape of how we authenticate domain names likely will see a complete overhaul, all powered by blockchain technologies. Just released, Handshake brings with it the much needed security and reliability on which we rely. Backed by venture capitalists and industry-established blockchain developers, Handshake has raised $10.2 million to replace the current digital entities maintaining our current internet infrastructure.

      The project and protocol has been led by Joseph Poon (creator of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network), Andrew Lee (CEO of Purse), Andrew Lee (founder of Private Internet Access or PIA) and Christopher Jeffrey (CTO of Purse). The effort also is backed by 67 individuals with funding coming from A16z, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Polychain Capital and Draper Associates.

      The Handshake project pledges to donate its initial funding of $10.2 million to FOSS projects, university research departments and more. The list of recipients includes projects and foundations such as the Apache Software Foundation, FreeBSD, Reproducible Builds, GNOME, FSF, SFC, Outreachy, ArchLinux, systemd and many more.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Republicans block $250 million to beef up election security
    • Collusion Is Worse Than a Crime

      To debate whether Trump acted criminally is to miss the greater point: He’s a national-security threat.

    • Why Paul Manafort’s $15,000 Ostrich Jacket Wasn’t the Biggest Revelation as His Trial Begins — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      As the first investigation by the team of special counsel Robert Mueller to reach trial, the case of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s one-time presidential campaign manager, has generated copious quantities of press coverage. Manafort’s trademark as a political operative (and as a spender) was his audacity, and, no surprise, the press focused on his lawyer’s audacious position on day one of the trial, which could be summarized as Don’t blame Manafort! He didn’t know what his subordinate was doing with his financial matters. Manafort’s lawyer maintained his client wasn’t responsible for the series of maneuvers that led to felony charges of bank fraud and tax evasion, as well as other alleged financial chicanery committed in the service of laundering the millions Manafort received for his political consulting for Ukrainian oligarchs.

      Then, of course, there was the revelation of Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich jacket, a largely extraneous detail that lit up social media, and which could become the epitome-of-modern-excess equivalent of Dennis Kozlowski’s $6,000 shower curtain, back in the days when corporate scandals from the likes of Tyco and Enron dominated the news.

    • Congress rejects proposal for more state election security funding

      The Senate voted down a measure on Wednesday that would allocate $250 million worth of election security funding.

      The big picture: The failed vote comes a day after Facebook announced it had discovered a political disinformation campaign ahead of the mid-term elections. Some Democrats are concerned states do not have the resources to properly secure their election systems from potential threats.

      The funding push, led by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is even smaller than the House-side proposal of $380 million that failed to make it past the House in July.

    • Election Security Has Become A Partisan Issue As Senate Votes Down Funding

      It shouldn’t matter which party you belong to (or if you belong to no party at all): fixing our totally broken election security should be a priority. This is a topic we’ve written about on Techdirt for nearly 20 years. The broken system of electronic voting has always been a security disaster, and now with more direct attempts to influence elections happening, it should be even more of a priority. And yet, following the lead in the House, this week the Senate voted down an amendment from Senator Patrick Leahy providing more funding for election security.

    • Judge rejects suit by parents of slain Democratic staffer

      A lawsuit brought against Fox News by the parents of a Democratic National Committee employee killed in 2016 was dismissed Thursday by a judge who said it lacked the detail necessary to proceed to trial.

      U.S. District Judge George Daniels said the lawsuit brought by Seth Rich’s parents required specific instances of wrongdoing by the defendants to survive.

    • Judge dismisses lawsuit against Fox News filed by parents of Seth Rich

      A federal judge on Thursday dismissed in its entirety a case filed by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich against Fox News, one of the network’s reporters, and a Texas businessman.

      Judge George B. Daniels of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in his opinion that he had granted Fox News’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit over the plaintiffs’ “failure to state a claim.”

      More specifically, Daniels said that “each of the Plaintiffs’ claims fail to adequately allege essential elements of the causes of action asserted.”

    • Judge rejects suit by parents of slain Democratic staffer
    • Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by parents of Seth Rich against Fox News
    • Judge rejects suit against Fox News brought by parents of Seth Rich, slain Democratic staffer
    • Federal judge dismisses Seth Rich case against Fox News
    • Our Rebuttal to Kris Kobach’s Critique

      Earlier today, the press team for Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach distributed a detailed statement asserting that an article published by ProPublica and the Kansas City Star about him was rife with inaccuracies and bias. The article explored Kobach’s role in defending immigration ordinances in four small towns, focusing on the high costs (a total of $9.5 million) and meager results (laws that are defunct or defanged).

      We believe our extensive reporting on this article, including interviews with more than 40 people and 30 public records requests, unequivocally supports the conclusions we reached. In addition, as is standard in ProPublica’s reporting process, Kobach was made aware of every assertion about him before the article was published, first in a phone interview with reporters from the Kansas City Star, and then in a detailed list of questions emailed several days before publication. His answers from the interview are included extensively in the article. However, he declined to respond to the emailed questions, some of which involve pieces of the story he asserts are false.

    • The Koch network threatens to hold GOP to account

      Frustrated with Republican lawmakers and recent policy developments out of Washington, the juggernaut Koch network appears poised to rethink or scale back its involvement in GOP politics in what would be a surprising shift as the midterm elections near.
      In a rare question-and-answer session with reporters Sunday, the network’s billionaire founder Charles Koch expressed “regret” over his network’s past support for some candidates, who he believes have not done enough in office to defend its libertarian principles and policy priorities.
      “So, we’re going to be much stricter,” Koch said, adding that the network would “hold people responsible for their commitments.”

      The shift would seem to confirm the worst fears of some Republicans, who have quietly worried about becoming too reliant on the Koch network, which is not a partisan group, but an ideological one. Politics and government are just one of several areas to which the Koch network commits its resources and collective energy, in addition to business, education and community programs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How to Teach Information Literacy in an Era of Lies

      I would argue that, whatever your discipline, you should be teaching information literacy — the capacity to understand, assess, evaluate, and apply information to solve problems or answer questions — as part of your courses. It’s a necessary skill to teach, even if you don’t see educating students to navigate the outside world as part of your mission as an instructor.

      Here are ways to incorporate much-needed information literacy into your courses this fall.

    • If Silicon Valley won’t stop fake news, we will

      We live in a world where people increasingly see social media not just as a gateway to the [I]nternet, but as a main source of news. That’s why we have to look at the threat that campaigns of disinformation, which spread through websites like Facebook and Twitter, pose to our democracy.

    • The rise of social media censorship

      Social media: love it or loath it, it is here to stay, or is it? The evolution of social media has been a monumental boost for public self-expression. With roughly 36% of the world’s population owning a social media account, political regimes and cultures that do not uphold the principle of freedom of speech are becoming increasingly threatened by the power of social media to influence, giving rise to endless arrests, detentions, internet shutdowns and social media taxes.

    • Fake News, Censorship, and Slush Funds

      Writing in the Daily Telegraph, former British Conservative leader William Hague becomes yet another politician trying to use fake news as an excuse to extend the reach of the state into areas where it should not go. Inspired by the recent report of a parliamentary committee (which I discussed here), which was in turn itself partly inspired by Angela Merkel’s strikingly illiberal social-media law, Hague wants to take things even further:

    • Bad Reporting, Grandstanding Congressmen, Tweeting President Combine For Clusterfuck About Twitter

      So… remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about a House Judiciary Committee in which the supposedly “free market / free speech” supporting Republicans on the Committee were grilling private companies about how they need to be regulated as utilities to stifle free speech? Well, not surprisingly, the whole situation has gotten much worse and much, much stupider. It started, of course, with a bit of pretty bad reporting by a Vice reporter named Alex Thompson, who wrote an article incorrectly claiming that Twitter was “shadowbanning” Republicans.

      Shadowbanning, of course, is the well known moderation technique in which certain sites allow certain users to think they’re participating, but really making it so that no one else can see their contributions. It’s been shown to be fairly effective against trolls. Either way, Thompson’s report was wrong on multiple levels — which was disappointing. Vice has a whole separate site called Motherboard, which has some of the best tech reporters in the business, who likely could have set Thompson straight and prevented the company from running such a misleading story, but that did not happen. First of all, Twitter was not shadowbanning anyone. The issue at hand was that for some users, if you searched on their names, those accounts did not show up in the autocomplete. That’s it. If you clicked return at the end of your search, the accounts still showed up. If you followed the users, you still saw their tweets. It was not shadowbanning by any stretch of the imagination.

    • PepsiCo gets John Doe order to take down thousands of tweets and posts on Kurkure; even jokes

      PepsiCo has obtained an interim order from the Delhi High Court to delete hundreds of posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, documents obtained by MediaNama reveal. PepsiCo confirmed the development in a statement to MediaNama. These posts, PepsiCo said in its petition, furthered the myth that PepsiCo’s Kurkure corn puffs product contains plastic. The civil defamation suit compiles years of posts on the social media platforms, demanding that they be taken down. There are 3412 Facebook links, 20244 Facebook posts, 242 YouTube videos, 6 Instagram links, and 562 tweets that have been ordered removed. The Delhi High Court pronounced an interim John Doe order, telling the social media platforms to immediately block the posts that the petition brings forward, after considering “just exceptions”. A John Doe order, known as an “Ashok Kumar” order in India, allows the company to get posts deleted from any unnamed person. The petition was first reported by Mint when it was limited to a few Lay’s chips-related posts.

    • Indian Court Grants PepsiCo’s Takedown Request Targeting Thousands Of ‘Disparaging’ Social Media Posts

      A global conglomerate concerned about the reputation of its plastic “safe vegetarian” snack has talked an Indian court into ordering the blocking of thousands of posts it finds disparaging. MediaNama has more details (and links to court docs!) on PepsiCo’s social media purge.

    • Disappointing: Google Makes Plan To Return To China With Censored Search Engine

      Given how in the last few months we’ve seen employees at various large tech companies protest internally various efforts to get big government deals that create sketchy ethical situations, it seems highly likely that the same is going to happen here as well. I would imagine that a large number of Google employees — the same ones who supported the company’s decision to pull out of China — will make a pretty big stink about the possibility of going back into China with a censored version.

      The general thinking on this is that China is such a huge market it’s difficult for tech companies to ignore. And it seems likely that Wall Street’s constant push for growth is playing into this plan. But there are certain steps that are not worth taking, and Google should seriously rethink this plan.

    • China’s Government Censorship Agency Is Hiring a Crypto Expert

      The state-level Chinese government agency responsible for censoring media output in the country may soon have a cryptographer on the payroll – and with expertise in blockchain technology.

      The research center of the State Administration of Press – which is directly administrated by the State Council – is looking for a cryptographer who “keeps abreast of the most advanced cryptography applications in areas such as blockchain.”

      According to the job description published by the government agency on Tuesday, the ideal candidate would be a technologist with strong skill-set in cryptography algorithms and performance optimization.

    • Judge: Free speech not threatened by University of Michigan anti-bias team

      A federal judge on Tuesday indicated she doesn’t buy arguments that the University of Michigan is hindering free speech by appointing a team of staffers to investigate expressions of bias on campus.

      A nonprofit seeking a preliminary injunction against UM’s Bias Response Team (BRT) argued in court that the team’s policies have the potential to interfere with open expression and alter students’ views.

    • Judge Says University of Michigan’s ‘Bias Response Team’ Not Intrinsic Threat to Student Speech: Reason Roundup

      “Bias Response Team” doesn’t violate student rights, federal judge says.* Although no ruling was issued, the University of Michigan’s “Bias Response Team” (BRT) isn’t an implicit threat to student free speech rights, said U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker. The program relies on student reports of “biased” speech on campus and contacts the alleged speaker to offer guidance on speaking in a school-approved way. Students who are contacted are not required to respond.

      The issue may seem relatively minor, but it was big enough for the U.S. Department of Justice to get involved in May, issuing a statement of interest that accused the University of Michigan of imposing “a system of arbitrary censorship of, and punishment for, constitutionally protected speech.”

    • The Censorship Battle of Alex Jones and Why It Affects Us All

      Bombastic talk-show host Alex Jones knows how to get under people’s skin, and he does so regularly. Currently, he is facing no less than five defamation suits against him in Texas courts, a 30-day suspension of his personal Facebook account, constant scrutiny and strikes against him by YouTube, calls for him to be banned from Spotify, and a coordinated attempt by mainstream media outlets such as CNN to marginalize him.

      [...]

      Besides the Pozner case and the four other Texas cases against him, Jones faces another defamation suit in Connecticut over his Sandy Hook conspiracy reporting. Jones is also the defendant in a Virginia defamation suit brought by a witness to the Charlottesville unrest, Brennan Gilmore, who claims that Jones smeared him as a “shill for the deep state.” In addition, Jones is being sued over his coverage of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

      Jones appears confident in his ultimate victory in these lawsuits, letting his lawyers do most of his talking for him. In all, Jones has been sued more than a dozen times in the past year, settling one of the suits against Idaho-based yogurt maker Chobani. Jones was forced to apologize for making statements about Chobani importing “migrant rapists” to work for them.

    • How Censorship by Facebook Reinforces This Writer’s Point on Liberals’ Intolerance

      Less than a third of the way into his upcoming book on nationalism, Israeli philosopher and scholar Yoram Hazony warns about the growing censorship constricting debate in Western societies when the opinion in question runs counter to the views of politically correct liberalism.

    • Does Instagram have a hair trigger with male images when it comes to censorship and applying a fair standard?

      This story, which comes to us from our friends at the Greeks Come True site (calendars, movies, various delights), is becoming a more common one. The photos they post are not necessarily gay, but they are male nudes — nudes that would seem to fit within Instagram’s standards.

    • Forbes’ Russian staff revolt over ‘censorship’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Cyber Command chief will weigh in on split from NSA

      One of the most hotly contested debates surrounding the maturation of U.S. Cyber Command is its eventual split from the National Security Agency. Top officials have long maintained the so-called dual-hat relationship, where one leader oversees both organization, was temporary.

      But Cyber Command’s new leader, Gen. Paul Nakasone, has said he will re-examine the issue in an assessment to the Secretary of Defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff within his first 90 days in charge.

      That 90 day mark falls on Aug. 2. A Cyber Command spokesman confirmed Nakasone is working on the report.

    • Engineers vs. Re-engineering

      A few months ago, I was driving through Los Angeles when the Waze app on my phone told me to take the Stadium Way exit off the 110 freeway. About five other cars peeled off with me, and we became a caravan, snaking through side streets and back onto the freeway a few miles later. I knew Waze had to be in charge of us, since Waze is the navigation app of choice in Los Angeles, and it was beyond coincidence that all these cars took the same wild maze run through streets only locals knew well.

      What was Waze up to here, besides offering its users (or a subset of them) a way around a jam? Was it optimizing traffic by taking some cars off the highway and leaving others on? Running an experiment only some AI understood? There was no way to tell. I doubt anyone at Waze could say exactly what was going on either. Algorithms are like that. So are the large and constantly changing data sets informing algorithms most of us with mobile devices depend on every day.

      [...]

      Surveillance of people is now the norm for nearly every website and app that harvests personal data for use by machines. Privacy, as we’ve understood it in the physical world since the invention of the loincloth and the door latch, doesn’t yet exist. Instead, all we have are the “privacy policies” of corporate entities participating in the data extraction marketplace, plus terms and conditions they compel us to sign, either of which they can change on a whim. Most of the time our only choice is to deny ourselves the convenience of these companies’ services or live our lives offline.

      [...]

      But what happens when our senses extend beyond the metal carapace we wear when we drive a car—outward through the unseen systems guiding our selves and every other car on the road? In this state we are not GPS satellites and Google data centers, but rather puppets at the ends of digital strings pulled by AI puppeteers.

      We surely appreciate and rely on what they provide us, but we also yield agency in the process of blurring between our automotive selves and a vast system of dependencies, which even if they are doing good things for us, make us less than human—or, in Brett and Evans’ words, “simple machines under the control and influence of those in control of technologies”. Inevitably, they also say, “traffic engineers will assume the role of social planners.” But the traffic engineers they’re talking about are not the human kind working for highway departments, but machines run by companies making navigation apps, all of which have purposes beyond providing personal and civic goods.

      The challenge Brett and Evan pose in their concluding chapter is “how to sustain the freedom to be off, to be free from techno-social engineering, to live and develop within undetermined techno-social environment”.

    • Facebook Granted ‘Unprecedented’ Leave To Appeal Over Referral Of Privacy Shield Case To Top EU Court

      Those are crucial issues not just for Facebook, but also for the validity of the entire Privacy Shield framework, which is currently under pressure in the EU. It’s not clear whether the Irish Supreme Court is really prepared to overrule the High Court judge, and to what extent the CJEU will take note anyway. One thing that is certain is that a complex and important case just took yet another surprising twist.

    • Supreme Court to hear Facebook appeal over data transfers referral

      The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an unprecedented appeal by Facebook over a High Court judge’s decision to refer to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) key issues concerning the validity of EU-US data transfer channels.

      The five-judge Supreme Court, in a significant decision on Tuesday, said it would hear the appeal as a matter of urgency before the end of this year and would notify the High Court, which has already forwarded the reference to the CJEU, of its decision.

      Last May, the High Court’s Ms Justice Caroline Costello directed a referral “immediately” to the CJEU of 11 issues concerning the validity of European Commission decisions approving data transfer channels known as standard contractual clauses.

    • Inspector General Says NSA Still Hasn’t Implemented Its Post-Snowden Internal Security Measures

      In the immediate aftermath of an NSA contractor springing numerous leaks back in 2013, the NSA vowed this would never happen again. It has happened again and it hasn’t just been documents. It’s also been software exploits, which contributed to a worldwide plague of ransomware.

      The NSA was going to make sure no one could just walk out of work with thousands of sensitive documents. It laid out a plan to exercise greater control over access and fail safe procedures meant to keep free-spirited Snowdens in check. The NSA is the world’s most powerful surveillance agency. It is also a sizable bureaucracy. Over the past half-decade, the NSA has talked tough about tighter internal controls. But talk is cheap — at least labor-wise. Actual implementation takes dedication and commitment. The NSA just doesn’t have that in it, according to a recent Inspector General’s report.

    • Mission First: The Story of an NSA Hacker [Ed: Cracker, not hacker. Just because you work for a government doesn’t make your sabotage, intrusion and extortion any more benign. This is the NSA's news site.]

      He expresses concern that future threats will involve malware that exploits vulnerabilities in hardware as well as software. The specialist offers Spectre and Meltdown as two recent examples. An Intel website explains that the exploits are based on side-channel analysis. A side channel is some observable aspect of a computer system’s physical operation, such as timing behavior, power consumption or even sound. “The statistical analysis of these behaviors can, in some cases, be used to potentially expose sensitive data on computer systems that are operating as designed,” according to Intel.

    • NSA hasn’t closed security windows Snowden climbed through
    • Facebook kills user data access for hundreds of thousands of third-party apps

      Legions of apps didn’t meet that deadline according to Ime Archibong, the excellently named vice president of product partnerships at Facebook.

      “As a result, we are cutting off API access for hundreds of thousands of inactive apps that have not submitted for our app review process,” Archibong explained.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chinese Police Remove Professor During Broadcast of VOA Program

      While “professor Sun was on a live telephone interview from his home, he reported to the VOA anchor that local police had forcibly entered his residence and demanded he end the interview,” Serchak said in the statement. “When professor Sun refused, the phone line went dead on live television. Subsequent efforts by VOA to re-engage with him for this interview have been unsuccessful.”

    • CNN exclusive: TSA considering eliminating screening at smaller airports

      The internal documents from June and July suggest the move could save $115 million annually, money that could be used to bolster security at larger airports.

      According to the proposal, passengers and luggage arriving from these smaller airports would be screened when they arrive at major airports for connecting flights instead of the current practice of joining the already screened population at the larger airport. The high-volume airports have greater capacities and more advanced security measures than smaller locations, the documents say.

    • TSA reportedly considering an end to passenger screening at small airports
    • She Got Her Baby Back From Immigration Foster Care. Now, What?

      Sendy Karina Ferrera Amaya clutched a stuffed unicorn outside the airport arrival gate Saturday morning, as her fiancé Juan Barrera Bucio paced back and forth.

      He spotted the baby first.

      “There’s someone coming with a little girl,” he said. “Yes, it’s her.”

      It had been 103 days since Ferrera’s 1-year-old daughter Liah landed in foster care for immigrant children, separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy after crossing the border with her uncle. Ferrera had left Honduras months earlier, when Liah was too small to travel. Ferrera made it into the U.S. undetected, and the plan was for her brother to do the same with Liah, but he was caught and deported. Then the Department of Health and Human Services had to be convinced to give the baby back to Ferrera.

      The department has argued that stringent vetting is necessary to ensure children vulnerable to human trafficking are kept safe. But for Ferrera, the process felt opaque, full of never-ending questions.

    • Worker Charged With Sexually Molesting Eight Children at Immigrant Shelter

      A youth care worker for Southwest Key has been charged with 11 sex offenses after authorities accused him of molesting at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys over nearly a year at one of the company’s shelters in Mesa, Arizona, federal court records show.

      The allegations against Levian D. Pacheco, who is HIV-positive, include that he performed oral sex on two of the teenagers and tried to force one of them to penetrate him anally. The other six teens — all between 15 and 17 — said Pacheco had groped them through their clothing. All of the incidents are alleged to have taken place between August 2016 and July 2017, according to a court filing last week that laid out the government’s case.

      [...]

      Trump administration officials have repeatedly asserted that the shelters are safe, even fun, places for kids. But there has been increasingly intense scrutiny of the federally funded, privately run shelters after the administration separated some 3,000 children from their parents at the border and sent them to shelters and foster homes across the country. Last week, ProPublica reported that police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting possible sex crimes at shelters that serve immigrant children. One of those calls resulted in the conviction of a Tucson shelter worker for molestation.

      Now further documents have emerged describing alleged incidents in Arizona involving Southwest Key, the largest operator of immigrant youth shelters nationwide.

    • Video: The Truth About MS-13

      ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier is spending the year reporting on MS-13 on Long Island, and Vox senior reporter Dara Lind has covered the story behind the rhetoric. Watch the video above to find out the most common misunderstandings about the gang, and how MS-13 actually originated in the U.S.. As local and federal officials debate what to do, it’s worth keeping the facts front and center.

    • A Truck’s Flying Wheel Kills a Motorist, and the Sanitation Industry’s Safety Record Is Again an Issue

      The army of private sanitation trucks that race through New York City’s streets every night are often in poor repair, with trucks routinely being declared unsafe and pulled off the road by government regulators.

      But Century Waste, a New Jersey company with more than 30 trucks operating in the city, is worse than most. In the past two years, Century Waste trucks have failed 65 percent of the government inspections performed, a review of city and federal records shows. Brakes, axles, steering mechanisms — they’ve all been found faulty. In February, yet another truck was ordered off the streets after inspectors found “wheel fasteners loose and/or missing.”

    • 3 Reasons Why Immigration Detention Centers Are Not Like ‘Summer Camp’

      During a congressional hearing this week, a Trump administration official compared immigrant detention centers to a summer camp.

      In the first and possibly only congressional oversight hearing on family separation, top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official Matthew Albence made a truly shocking statement — even by Trump administration standards — claiming that the best way to describe the detention centers where hundreds of immigrant families are currently locked up “is more like a summer camp.”

      Albence didn’t keep it at that, though. Instead, he doubled down saying amenities include that “24-7 access to food and water” as well as “basketball courts,” “exercise classes,” and “soccer fields.” (These kinds of euphemisms aren’t entirely new — the Obama administration played around with the term “family-friendly” to describe these detention centers — only cruder.)

      It’s a ludicrous statement, entirely disconnected from reality or any semblance of humanity. The Trump administration, which bears full responsibility for forcibly separating thousands of immigrant parents and children and subjecting them to incalculable trauma, went before Congress and had the nerve to equate family incarceration to a stay at a summer camp.

      We shouldn’t even have to say this, but we will. There are so many, many reasons why Albence is dead wrong.

    • Report: TSA’s Ground-Based VIPR Teams Are Expensive, Quite Possibly Useless

      It’s been awhile since we’ve discussed the TSA’s ground-focused efforts. It’s going to get acronym-heavy here shortly, so I’ll set the stage. The TSA oversees more than just airports. It’s also been known to wander around bus stops and weigh stations, hoping to catch less upwardly-mobile terrorists before they can kill us for our freedoms.

      The teams dispatched to keep an eye on the ground have perhaps the coolest acronym in government: VIPR. Yes, the cool name probably had the acronym applied after the fact, but being suspicious of buses and truck drivers is what the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response unit is all about. It’s not composed of the retail rejects and petty tyrants the TSA staffs screening areas with. Rather, it makes use of Flying Air Marshals (FAMs) who team up with local law enforcement to hang out at bus depots and weigh stations.

      Since VIPR is there to catch terrorists, the Fourth Amendment is generally overlooked to remove the warrant requirement standing in the way of national security efficiency. VIPR units rely on citizen tipsters and their own unassailable hunches to search trucks, buses, rental vehicles, luggage… pretty much anything it can get its hands on. It must be working because no one has blown up a federal building with a Uhaul truck since the last time the government failed to prevent it from happening.

      This may be the only metric being used by the TSA to justify the existence of its VIPR squads. A recent Inspector General’s report [PDF] notes VIPR activities blow through a whole lot of taxpayer cash, but seem to have little to show for it.

    • Records Reveal “Lax” Supervision, Sexual Activity at Chicago-Area Shelters Housing Immigrant Children

      Soon after Christmas 2015, three boys were left unattended in the TV room of a Des Plaines shelter that houses immigrant children and is operated by Heartland Human Care Services.

      One boy performed oral sex on an older boy, state child welfare records show. The older boy then tried to penetrate him from behind. When that was unsuccessful, the younger boy performed oral sex on the older boy a second time.

      The third boy in the room, the youngest, had been playing video games. He then walked to the door to act as a lookout, according to documents based on video of the incident.

      The Department of Children and Family Services, the state agency charged with licensing the facilities and investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect, cited Heartland for not providing appropriate supervision — a failing that has been repeated multiple times during the past 3-½ years, ProPublica Illinois reporting has found.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Charter CEO Apparently Unaware He Runs One Of The Most Despised Companies In America

      As we recently noted, New York state was forced to take some pretty dramatic steps in its quest to hold Charter Spectrum accountable for terrible service and its failure to adhere to merger conditions affixed to its $79 billion union with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The short version: the company was found to be repeatedly misleading regulators in terms of whether it was adhering to some relatively modest built out requirements affixed to the merger.

      Under the deal, Charter was supposed to expand broadband to around 149,000 additional unserved homes across New York State. Charter not only failed to do that, the New York State Public Service Commission repeatedly found that the company was actively trying to mislead regulators in terms of how much of that work was actually completed. After ample warnings and $3 million in fines, the PSC last week took the unprecedented step of voting 4-0 to revoke the company’s cable franchise in the state in a bid to force Charter to shape up or ship out.

      Charter, for its part, is showing absolutely zero interest in doing so. In a letter to employees, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge stated that the company is gearing up for years of litigation.

    • Why Democrats Should Embrace ‘Internet for All’

      In reality, this was just a dressed-up corporate handout. The bill provided $45 million in subsidies for Comcast and AT&T to provide rural Internet access—and to make matters worse, the companies are only required to offer 10Mbps rates, hardly high-speed service.

      But what if the government decided access to the Internet was a basic right, and that profit motives didn’t have to be a central part of the equation? As a new generation of politicians is asking whether it’s time for some new ideas, a public option for Internet access—call it “Internet for All”—might fit the bill. According to our research, it appeals to voters in both the deepest blue and the deepest red districts across the country.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Get ready for a new UK disclosure menu

      The judiciary in England and Wales has announced a pilot scheme for the new rules on disclosure that may affect intellectual property disputes

      Dame Elizabeth GlosterThe Civil Procedure Rule Committee last month approved the new rules on disclosure which were proposed by a group of court users and judges including Mr Justice Birss (an IP judge).

    • Trade Secret Thief Hid Files In Digital Photo Of Sunset

      An alleged thief caught stealing trade secrets from General Electric in New York hid the electronic files inside an innocent-looking digital picture of a sunset, according to the United States Department of Justice.

      [...]

      The charge filed against Zheng carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The charge in the complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

    • #IPSC18 Preview: Design Patents, Trade Secrets, and Right of Publicity

      To get ready for IP scholar speed dating at Berkeley next week, I’ve previewed the panels focused on patents and innovation, copyright, and trademarks. Today: design, right of publicity, and trade secrets (including some notes on other panels where you can also find papers on these topics).

    • Trademarks

      • Easy peasy trade mark squeezy

        The core issue was whether the sign “EasyRoommate” and its variants which were owned by the Claimant, W3, infringed any of the the easyGroup’s EU trade marks. Related issues included the validity and revocability of both party’s trade marks, passing off and alleged groundless threats made by the easyGroup to W3.

        [...]

        As regards the threats, Justice Arnold essentially held that the threats were not actionable as a reasonable person in the position of W3 would have understood that the threat of proceedings only addressed the services provided by EasyRoommate.

        What emerged from this judgement is that the descriptive character of the ‘EASY’ part of the trade mark, even though the trade marks of the easyGroup themselves had acquired distinctiveness in some countries, set the bar high to fight for infringement and validity, thus putting a high standards for trade mark families in general.

        It will be interesting to see whether the judgment will be subject to an appeal and if that will make it any easier on the parties.

      • A Midwestern chain told Hawaiians to stop using ‘Aloha’ with ‘Poke,’ igniting a heated debate

        The letter came to Jeffery Sampson’s home outside of Honolulu in January, with a return address for a law office on the 36th floor of a building in Chicago.

        The lawyers with the firm represented a company from the city, the Aloha Poke Co., that had jumped on one of the latest food trends – selling the Hawaiian staple poke, made from raw marinated ahi tuna – in 2016 and quickly expanded their reach to more than a dozen locations in Chicago and cities such as Milwaukee, Denver, and Washington D.C.

        Sampson also operated a poke shop, a luncheonette of 20 seats that he had opened with three friends in downtown Honolulu that shared little in common with the Chicago chain besides the dish and, coincidentally or not, given the commonality of the Hawaiian word, the name. When Sampson and friends opened the luncheonette about a year and a half ago, they had named it the Aloha Poke Shop, using the traditional Hawaiian greeting and word of welcoming.

      • Chicago Poke Chain Sends C&D To Hawaiian Poke Joint Demanding It Not Be Named ‘Aloha Poke’

        Usually a trademark bully bullying over a mark that is fairly generic is enough to get the hair on our backs to stand up. When you add in a little irony in the form of the bully engaging in fairly blatant cultural appropriation for that generic mark, things get even more salty. But when you then have the bully spout off thinly-veiled political language of the most annoying variety in response to the backlash, you have something of a unique dish of hatred.

        Which brings me to Aloha Poke Co. of Chicago. Aloha Poke Co. is a chain of restaurants cashing in on the poke craze. It is not owned by Hawaiians, the language from which the word “Aloha” is quite famously taken. It does not operate in Hawaii. And, yet, it has seen fit to fire off a cease and desist notice to the Aloha Poke Shop in Honolulu, demanding that it immediately change its name and branding.

      • ‘Piracy down, legal sales up’ says new IViR study

        The percentage of internet users in Europe that occasionally download or stream content illegally has decreased between 2014 and 2017. The decrease occurs for music, films/series and books. For games, the pattern is mixed. Meanwhile, expenditure on legal content has increased in most countries. This follows from the Global Online Piracy Study conducted by the Institute for Information Law (IViR) together with Ecorys.

      • Nestlé Loses KitKat Appeal

        The European Court of Justice today dismissed the appeal by Nestlé in its long-running battle with Cadbury over the shape of its KitKat chocolate bar.

        The Court upheld the General Court’s judgment that the acquisition of distinctive character by a mark that was initially devoid of inherent distinctive character must be shown throughout the EU, and not only in a substantial part of the territory of the EU.

      • Monster Energy Opposes Trademark For Liquor Company Logo, But Will Have A Fight On Its Hands

        Long-time Techdirt readers will likely hear the name Monster Energy and immediately roll their eyes. The energy drink company’s reputation for being an insanely aggressive trademark bully probably actually competes with its reputation for making beverages. The company has attempted to trademark bully companies that range from differently-named root beer makers to companies that make video games. Notable in most of these bullying attempts is how little likelihood for confusion there actually is between Monster’s marks and those who it attempts to bully. And, of course, the sad reality that many victims bend to Monster’s demands rather than put up a legal fight.

        But one liquor distillery that has had Monster Energy oppose the trademark application for its logo is claiming it’s going to fight back.

      • Small Virginia distillery takes fight to Monster Energy over ‘M’ logo

        Family-owned MurLarkey Distillery in Bristow says it is taking the fight to Monster Energy, the energy drink company, over the right to trademark its “M” logo, which appears on its liquor bottles and merchandise.

        After MurLarkey applied for the trademark, Monster Energy lodged an objection with the U.S. Patent Trade Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in May.

    • Copyrights

      • Cheese opinion could leave a bad taste for copyright law

        Copyright flexibility throughout the EU could be seriously limited if the CJEU follows the Advocate General’s reasoning behind his opinion that taste should not be copyright protected. One lawyer describes it as the “right decision based on flawed logic”

      • Court Awards $12,500 For ‘Emotional Harm’ From Bogus Copyright Lawsuit

        Almost a year ago, we wrote about a somewhat complex set of cases involving a woman named Shirley Johnson, who posted videos to YouTube that were critical of the New Destiny Christian Centers and Paula White Ministries. Paula White did not take kindly to this criticism and sued Johnson… for copyright infringement (though, the details suggest that the decision to sue actually came from White’s son, Brad Knight, and White agreed to it at Knight’s suggestion). This was because Johnson used video clips and images in her own videos. This seemed like a pretty clear copyright abuse case as it was obviously filed to stop criticism that involved fair use, and not for any legitimate purpose. The case was dismissed, but Johnson countersued for “malicious prosecution.” As we noted in our article from last September, Johnson then also filed a separate lawsuit for a DMCA 512(f) abuse claim. If you don’t recall, 512(f) is the (mostly toothless) part of the DMCA that bars “misrepresentations” in DMCA claims. So, there are two parallel cases going on, brought by Johnson (representing herself, without a lawyer), against Paula White and her various entities, for filing a bogus copyright claim against Johnson.

      • Universal Retracts DMCA On Journalist Video Of Prince Fans Singing Purple Rain

        Well, that was quick. We had just been talking about Universal’s insane decision to DMCA a journalist’s video of Prince fans singing Purple Rain shortly after his death, made particularly strange as it occurred in the wake of it settling the Dancing Baby DMCA case to avoid being punished for not considering Fair Use. That retreat from a decision which would have provided precedent for whether issuing a DMCA without giving even a modicum of thought to whether Fair Use would apply was irritating to many of us for a number of reasons, but primarily because it would give room for bad actors to DMCA away without the assurance of consequence. For Universal to provide an example of that itself, and to do so immediately after the Dancing Baby case was settled, was particularly frustrating.

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