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08.08.18

Links 8/8/2018: KDE Neon for Testing, New LibreOffice Release, Dart 2.0

Posted in News Roundup at 1:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • What The Future Holds? You Are More A Part of it Than You Know.

      But when it came down to it, the core of the class settled on Cinnamon as their DE of choice. Possibly because it was the closest thing to Windows for them? Maybe. Or as one student noted, “it gives me what I want without having to go looking for it.” And it doesn’t hurt that it’s easy on the eyes. My Cinnamon desktop with the joy-blue controls theme.

      Now, I do have some quibbles with Cinnamon. I’m all about customization. I tried the latest Kubuntu, as I like the theming options KDE gives me; but so much has changed within that structure, I just can’t get it to the level of aesthetics I achieved with KDE4. My problems with Cinnamon are silly to some. I like to be able to change the icons in my system tray. Unfortunately, those seem to be fixed. And yeah, there’s Mate. Mate allows those changes but try as I may, and again this is just me; but when I’ve done all that I can do with my Mate Desktop, it still looks like 2003.

    • Installing Windows apps on Linux is about to get easier with Winepak

      If you’ve ever wanted to make the switch to Linux, but the idea of leaving behind Windows apps always seemed to be a stumbling block, you might know about Wine. Wine is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX-compliant operating systems. However, to many users, Wine itself has been a bit of a hurdle, as it isn’t always considered the most user-friendly tool. That is about to change.

      How? Have you ever heard of Flatpak? If not, Flatpak provides a sandbox environment in which users can run applications in isolation from the rest of the system. These applications are containerized, so you don’t have to worry about dependencies. You install the container and it runs. Simple as that.

    • Debian Linux Package Support Hits Chrome OS Canary

      Google’s Chrome OS can now install and run Debian Linux packages with the .deb extension, at least in the Canary channel. This happens by simply double-clicking the file in your file browser. From there, the automated installer takes over. Once a Linux application is installed, it will be available in your terminal, invoked in the same way as a Chrome OS app, and some apps may show up in your Chrome OS launcher, depending on the metadata present in them and whether they support such operations. Most Linux apps that have a graphical user interface fall into this category, though there are many command line utilities out there for Linux users to enjoy. Both are now available to Chrome OS users. You still cannot replace default Chrome OS utilities, so don’t expect to run an i3 desktop with a brand new ALSA media handler unless you’re willing to gut your Chromebook entirely and install Linux.

    • Debian Linux Packages Now Working In Chrome OS Developer Channel

      A recent update to the experimental Canary Channel of Chrome OS brought about the ability to install Debian packages with a simple double-click. The only prerequisite being you are on a Chromebook or Chromebox that has support for the Crostini Project.

      Now, thanks to our Brother in Chrome Kevin Tofel, we’ve learned this ability has already found its way into the Developer channel of Chrome OS. Again, there are some requirements but if your device supports the Crostini Linux project, you can have this feature up and running with just a few, simple steps.

    • Can You Get By with a Chromebook in College?

      When heading off to college, finding the right laptop for your money is a challenge—you don’t want to spend more than you have to, but not having enough laptop is arguably worse. That’s what makes Chromebooks so appealing.

      Chromebooks have a relatively low entry point for everything they offer. Since the operating system is so lightweight, even modest hardware can keep everything running nice and snappy. Where a Windows laptop for a similar price can get bogged down quickly, a Chromebook will often remain zippy even during heavier use.

      Given the low price point and very usable performance, Chromebooks are often looked at by college students—but it may not be that straightforward. There are several things to think about before jumping right into a Chromebook to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

    • 5 best Chromebooks for school in 2018

      Some people still think you need a Windows PC or an Apple device for school. That’s so not true. But you don’t have to take my word for it. By FutureSource’s count, 59.6 percent of K-12 schools bought Chromebooks in 2017. You should too.

      It’s easy to see why. While Microsoft is pushing its new cheap Surface Go, there are many great inexpensive Chromebook available for a few hundred dollars. Apple? Its first real mass market may have been in education, but it’s been decades since the Apple II arrived. No, today’s education market belongs to the Chromebook.

      As as FutureSource pointed out, Chromebooks combine “affordable devices, productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third-party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom, and easy device management remains extremely popular with US teachers and IT buyers alike.”

  • Server

    • 3 tips for moving your team to a microservices architecture

      Microservices are gaining in popularity and providing new ways for tech companies to improve their services for end users. But what impact does the shift to microservices have on team culture and morale? What issues should CTOs, developers, and project managers consider when the best technological choice is a move to microservices?

      Below you’ll find key advice and insight from CTOs and project leads as they reflect on their experiences with team culture and microservices.

    • Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service mucked my cluster!

      Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) was launched to world+dog in June, however, a few disgruntled customers say the managed container confection isn’t fully baked yet.

      In a blog post published on Monday, Prashant Deva, creator of an app and infrastructure monitoring service called DripStat, savaged AKS, calling it “an alpha service marked as GA [generally available] by Microsoft.”

      Deva said he moved his company’s production workload to AKS last month, and has been plagued by random DNS failures for domains outside of Azure and hostnames inside the Azure Virtual Network.

      He characterized the response from Microsoft support – advice not to use excessive memory and CPU resources – as ridiculous, and said Microsoft failed to respond when told the DNS issues occurred mainly during application startup when memory and CPU usage is minimal.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Linux Driver Gets Fleshed Out For 2.5G Ethernet Controller Support

      Taking shape on a branched version of the Linux kernel is the initial “IGC” driver providing support for Intel 2.5G Ethernet controllers.

      The Intel IGC driver that’s in development is supporting the I225-LM/I225-V 2.5G Ethernet adapters in its current stage. I haven’t seen much listed on the Intel I225 2.5G Ethernet hardware but Intel.com lists it as a pre-release product under the “Foxville” codename.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • xorg-server 1.20.1

        This bugfix release fixes several issues in RANDR, Xwayland, glamor, the modesetting driver, and elsewhere. Everyone is encouraged to upgrade. Thanks to all who contributed to this release!

      • X.Org Server 1.20.1 Released With Many Bug Fixes

        As the first point release to X.Org Server 1.20 that debuted in May, xorg-server 1.20.1 is available today with dozens of fixes.

        X.Org Server 1.20.1 is quite a big point release to address the initial fall-out from X.Org Server 1.20 after that release was in development for more than one year and shipped with a ton of changes and new features.

      • X.Org Server 1.20.1 Point Release Addresses Many Bugs including XWayland and Mesa

        The first point release for X.Org Server 1.20 has been released today (xorg-server 1.20.1) and it is chock full of fixes.

        X.Org Server 1.20 was in development for more than a year, but its initial release in May was not exactly smooth, as there were numerous bug fallouts and things that needed adjusting. Fortunately, X.Org Server 1.20.1 is the first point release to address a myriad of issues that were effecting the initial release – which is great news, as this point release is just in time to hopefully make it into the various Linux distros that utilize X.Org Server (Ubuntu 18.10, Fedora 29, etc).

      • AMD Radeon Pro 18.Q3 Linux Driver Released

        AMD has released their Radeon Pro 18.Q3 enterprise driver update, including for supported Linux distributions, as their QA-tested professional-grade driver update for the quarter.

        Radeon Pro Software 18.Q3 is available for RHEL/CentOS 7.5, RHEL/CentOS 6.9, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server 12 SP3. This is basically the QA-vetted enterprise driver stack of “AMDGPU-PRO” intended for workstation graphics hardware while for the most part those on consumer Radeon GPUs are generally best off riding the latest Linux+Mesa releases for the leading open-source driver coverage.

      • AMDGPU LRU Bulk Move Patches Yielding OpenCL & Vulkan Performance Boosts

        AMD’s Huang Rui and Christian Konig are working on LRU bulk move functionality that can yield performance improvements for Vulkan and OpenCL workloads.

        This AMDGPU kernel change is about migrating PD/PT buffer objects onto the LRU (least recently used) list in bulk in a single operation. For end-users, what matters is the performance difference as a result.

      • NVIDIA Vulkan Beta Update Brings Hang Fixes, Device Diagnostic Checkpoints

        NVIDIA has just published their latest Vulkan beta driver release for Windows and Linux.

        The newest NVIDIA Vulkan beta for Linux out today is version 396.51.02. Most notable with this driver update is that it adds support for the VK_NV_device_diagnostic_checkpoints extension. This extension was recently made public by Vulkan 1.1.82 and is for inserting device diagnostic checkpoints.

    • Benchmarks

      • Toshiba RC100 NVMe SSD Ubuntu Linux Benchmarks

        Back in June Toshiba introduced the RC100 NVMe solid-state drive as a new low-end offering. The RC100 is now a bit blindsided by Intel’s just-launched 660p SSD that delivers incredible storage capacities per dollar, and I’ll have some Intel 660p Linux benchmarks in a few days, but for those curious about the RC100 here are some Ubuntu Linux benchmark results for this low-cost NVMe SSD.

        The Toshiba RC100 is a Ball Grid Array (BGA) SSD with the controller and flash memory on a single package. With that the RC100 NVMe SSDs are single-sided and fit on an M.2 2242 PCB rather than the longer and more common M.2 2280 NVMe SSDs. But with being M.2 2242 is limited to PCI Express x2 lanes rather than x4 bandwidth. The RC100 doesn’t have any DRAM cache but does support NVMe Host Memory Buffer (HMB) and the drive uses 64 layer BiCS3 3D TLC NAND flash memory.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • 11 Best Linux Desktop Environments And Their Comparison

      Linux is all about what you want and having it from the ocean of free and open source software. The same applies while performing a comparison of desktop environments as they comprise of different applications and a GUI via which the user interacts with the operating system. Just like a plethora of Linux-based free operating systems, are many options available and our list of best Linux desktop environment and their comparison includes the likes of KDE, Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, etc.

      The Linux world is full of open source software. You have the option of choosing from hundreds of distributions and customize them as per your will. No one slaps you with a copyright even if you change the source code of a distro to fork your Linux distro and release it with a new name. That’s the beauty of free software and open source. Only one thing the creators may ask you is to give them proper credits because they have also invested their efforts and time. Well, that’s a different story.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE neon Bionic Preview Images Available for Testing

        Our QA tests have turned green which means we have switched on the preview publishing for the KDE neon Installable Images based on Bionic.

      • KDE Neon Powered By Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Now Available For Testing

        Fans of KDE Neon relying upon this OS/package-set for experiencing the latest and greatest KDE innovations can now enjoy it paired with an Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” base.

        KDE Neon maintainers have begun publishing their preview images of Neon based upon the “Bionic” (Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) packages. Up until now Neon has remained based against the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS packages. This now gets you the newer Ubuntu packages with a fresh kernel, Mesa, etc, while still being able to enjoy the bleeding-edge KDE packages not found otherwise in Ubuntu 18.04. Neon continues being offered in various forms ranging from using KDE stable releases up through Git unstable branch builds, depending upon you tolerate risk.

      • KDE Had A Very Successful Google Summer of Code 2018

        Google Summer of Code 2018 is quickly reaching an end. We’ll be featuring some of the interesting and successful work accomplished this summer by these students engaging in hundreds of different open-source projects. One of the open-source projects slotted with a lot of participants this year was KDE.

      • GSoC Fwupd Integration in KDE Discover (Phase – III)

        Hey everyone, one more month has passed now, Fwupd-Backend is now finally merged in discover master branch, though it took quite a number of changes. This post will relatively small as in the past month I have worked mainly on fixing the mistakes and improving the code and getting it merged.

      • Enable localization for KStars on Android

        As a first KDE application, KStars got localization working on Android. KStars has the traditional gettext translations in the KDE system and these translations had to be downloaded, converted and packaged inside the apk.

      • Aurelien Gateau going to Akademy!

        So after a (too long) break, I am going back to Akademy this year! Having been away from KDE work for a while now, this will be the first time I attend the conference as a user. It’s going to be interesting to see how this feels. In any case, I am looking forward to the sessions and to catching up with old friends.

        I will only be attending the first two days unfortunately, but I will try to make the best of these days to meet as many people as possible.

      • I am going to Akademy!

        So, After a month-long delay, I finally managed to got my VISA approved, it was a really close call. I reached the VISA agency, today for receiving my application and after opening the application, I saw my visa on my passport! So yes I am coming to Akademy, this will be my first Akademy to attend, I am really excited to meet my mentors and all the people who make KDE awesome :D. Looking forward to attend, all the events, workshop and see the beautiful Vienna city!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Five-or-More Modernisation: Now You Can Properly Play It

        As Google Summer of Code is officially drawing to an end, all of my attention was focused towards making the Five or More Vala version feature-complete. As you probably already know from my previous blog post, the game was somehow playable at that time, but it was missing some of the key features included in the old version.

        So what’s new this time? First and foremost, you can surely notice the game board now sports a grid, which wasn’t there until now. On the same note, there are also animations used for clicking a piece on the board, for an improved gaming experience. For further accessibility, some header bar hints are available at different stages in the game: at the start of any new game, at the end of each game, as well as whenever there is no clear path between the initial position and the cell indicated by the user for the current move.

  • Distributions

    • Linux Distros: 10 Best Linux Distributions of all time

      Linux is the fast and coming Enterprise in the world of system modulations. With each passing year, it has strengthened its foothold in the technological game with loads of free and Open Source Softwares (OSS) and that includes its fair share of excellent distributions or more popularly known as Linux Distros.

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 42.3 End of Life is Extended

        The usual lifetime of openSUSE Leap minor versions have traditionally received updates for about 18 months, but the minor version of Leap 42.3 is being extended.

        The last minor version of the Leap 42 series was scheduled to be maintained until January 2019, but that has changed thanks to SUSE committing to additional months of maintenance and security updates. Leap 42.3 is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Service Pack (SP) 3 and SUSE has agreed to keep publishing updates for Leap 42.3 until June 2019.

        This means the extended End of Life for Leap 42.3 will increase the total lifetime of the Leap 42 series to 44 months.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Exclusive: How Red Hat encourages digital transformation

        IT Brief recently had the opportunity to talk to some of Red Hat’s partners about open source, their digital transformation journey and how being a part of a partner network influenced that journey.

        During the interview, we had the opportunity to talk to Red Hat A/NZ Director of Channels Garry Gray as well as Leonardo Consulting MD Adam Mutton.

      • OpenShift Commons Briefing: Istio 1.0 Release Update and Introduction with Brian “redbeard” Harrington (Red Hat)

        In this briefing, Red Hat’s Brian ‘redbeard’ Harrington gives an awesome introduction to Istio andt walk us thru what’s new in Istio 1.0 Release.

        Istio, an open source tool to connect and manage microservices, has become a category leading service mesh (essentially a configurable infrastructure layer for microservices) for Kubernetes. This week, Istio celebrated a milestone of the general availability of Istio 1.0.

        Istio provides a method of integrating services like load balancing, mutual service-to-service authentication, transport layer encryption, and application telemetry requiring minimal (and in many cases no) changes to the code of individual services.

      • The CEO of Red Hat Wants to See His Employees Cussing and Crying. The Reason Behind It Is Priceless

        Jim Whitehurst is president and chief executive officer of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT software solutions and services.

        Since joining Red Hat, Whitehurst has grown the company to nearly $3 billion. Under his leadership, Red Hat was named one of the best places to work by Glassdoor in 2016, 2014, and 2013. On top of that, Whitehurst was recently named one of the World’s Best CEOs by Barron’s.

        In Whitehurst’s book, “The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance,” he advocates for open principles of management based on transparency, participation, and community.

      • Red Hat partners have played an important role in our company journey

        As Red Hat celebrates 25 years, I would be remiss not to mention the role Red Hat partners have played in our company’s story. Partners have been an important multiplier for Red Hat and building our customer success. They are important to our future.

        [...]

        In order to continue to scale, Red Hat needed to work with distributors and resellers. The first call I made was to Peter Larocque, from Synnex, who I’d worked with in the channel for more than 20 years. I introduced him to Red Hat’s upstream open source model, which at the time probably sounded a lot like asking him to get into the business of selling “free” software. He was a little incredulous, but he said he’d give it a try. We had our first distributor partner on board. Six monthslater, we had our first global reseller. Red Hat was on the map in the channel.

        Not long after, Red Hat began generating interest in the industry and among prospective partners through acquisitions and new technologies. We had a growing base of partners, technologies and customers who realized their IT partners could work with Red Hat to: provide full solutions for their business needs (Global Systems Integrators and Independent Software Vendors); offer consumption or pay-as-you go models (Service Providers); take them to the cloud (Certified Cloudand Service Providers); and provide industry expertise beyond open source (including healthcare, financial andtelecommunications).

      • Cloudification Is Coming, but Service Providers’ Processes and Culture Must Change

        Communications service providers (CSPs) across the world are looking to claim their position at the heart of the digital society, but they first need to become more agile and lean. There are many innovations that can help in this quest: NFV, SDN, the convergence of Networks and IT, cloudification, DevOps, and more. In most cases the required technologies are now available and ready for mission-critical environments. However, the surrounding operational processes and mindset are often in need of a thorough review.

      • Autoscaling the Red Hat Cache Service on OpenShift

        Earlier this year, Red Hat announced the Red Hat Cache Service which is a distributed in-memory caching service that runs on Red Hat OpenShift. Red Hat Data Grid is used as the core of the cache service. The cache service is one of the things you can easily install on OpenShift through the OpenShift Service Catalog. You can find the cache service in the Red Hat OpenShift Online Pro tier.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Feedback needed on Fedora event guidelines

          The Fedora Diversity & Inclusion Team is working on a new set of best practices and guidelines for Fedora-organized events. The team is looking for feedback from the wider Fedora community, both remote and in-person at the upcoming Flock 2018 conference.

        • Flock 2018 – day -2 and -1 (travel, it’s a blur)

          This year flock ( https://flocktofedora.org ), our yearly Fedora mega get-together is in Dresden Germany.

        • 5 applications to manage your to-do list on Fedora

          Effective management of your to-do list can do wonders for your productivity. Some prefer just keeping a to-do list in a text file, or even just using a notepad and pen. For users that want more out of their to-do list, they often turn to an application. In this article we highlight 4 graphical applications and a terminal-based tool for managing your to-do list.

        • Fedora Might Start Dropping Packages With Consistently Bad Security Records

          Fedora’s Engineering and Steering Committee is mulling over the idea of dropping software packages from the distribution that have notoriously bad security track records.

    • Debian Family

      • DebConf19 Debian GNU/Linux Conference to Take Place July 21-28, 2019, in Brazil

        The Debian Project’s developer conference for 2019, DebConf19, will be hosted in the city of Curitiba, Brazil, and it will take place between July 21 and July 28, 2019.

        Curitiba is the capital of the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, a beautiful city with numerous attractions. To celebrate 11 years since the first DebConf Debian developer conference was first held in South America, the Debian Project announced earlier this year that next year’s DebConf event would be hosted in Curitiba, Brazil.

      • Lucas Kanashiro: DebCamp and DebConf 18 summary

        Come as no surprise, Debcamp and Debconf 18 were amazing! I worked on many things that I had not had enough time to accomplish before; also I had the opportunity to meet old friends and new people. Finally, I engaged in important discussions regarding the Debian project.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mir’s EGMDE Desktop Is Now Available From The Snap Store

            While Mir has long been focused on its Snap support, now available via the Snap Store is offering EGMDE.

            EGMDE as a reminder is the Example Mir Desktop Environment. It’s basically a proof-of-concept / example Mir desktop shell implementation primarily for experiments by the upstream Mir developers and those wanting to learn about the internals of Mir for developing their own shell or integration bits. You can think of EGMDE as akin to Wayland’s Weston compositor.

          • Fresh Snaps from July 2018

            Another month, and another bumper crop of snaps for you! This time around we have a great mix of developer tools, productivity applications and of course games. All of these are available as snaps which can run on millions of Linux computers around the world.

            You can stay up to date with our editorial picks by following Snapcraft on Facebook where we share three new and interesting snaps a week. We’d also love to hear what your favourite snaps are, perhaps you’ve found something we’ve missed. Let us know!

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 07 August 2018
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sharing open source alternatives to Google’s online tools

    In an earlier article, the crew from French non-profit Framasoft discussed their mission to help people slip the bonds of internet giants and take control of their own data. While promoting free and open source software is at the core of Framasoft’s mission, the group is also dedicated to educating people about both free software and free culture. What’s refreshing is that the group’s approach isn’t steeped in ideology. Instead, they’re more concerned with helping people take back their privacy and digital freedom.

  • Getting to know Grommet, an open source UI dev tool

    While Grommet has been around since 2016, it is not among the best-known open source development tools. The library of reusable UI components helps developers create web applications. This overview explains what Grommet can do, the problems it addresses, and what makes it appealing.

    It is time consuming and difficult to making web applications both beautiful and functional. The skills that make a programmer successful at building an application back end don’t always translate to good user interface (UI) design or creating an ideal user experience (UX). Even when developers get UI help from design specialists, creating the code to control how the software looks—its dialog boxes, information layout, the organization of application features—sometimes seems like a black art. Trying to make a beautiful page work quickly on every device with a consistent appearance seems nearly impossible.

  • Events

    • 20 Years with, and at OSCON

      OSCON, the annual open source conference organized by O’Reilly Media, is always a great event for the open source community to come together to acknowledge the advancements of the open source software movement and the communities that enable it. However 2018 was a special year as several open source projects and communities marked significant milestones and celebrated anniversaries, including the OSI (you may have heard, it’s our 20th).

      In recognition of the success of the open source software movement, and successes of so many organizations that have contributed to software freedom, the OSI organized a full-day of presentations, discussions, and activities. The track, “Open Source Anniversary: Our Shared Successes”, not only celebrated the founding of the open source software movement and the OSI itself in 1998, but also the anniversaries of several other key initiatives that have enabled the free and open source software movement to thrive.

    • Keynote Speakers for Open Source Summit Europe and Embedded Linux Conference + OpenIoT Summit Europe Announced Including Open Source Experts, Scientists, Researchers and More
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Dev Channel Update for Desktop

        The dev channel has been updated to 70.0.3514.0 for Windows & Linux, and 70.0.3514.2 for Mac.

      • Chrome 70 Dev Release With Shape Detection API

        While Chrome 69 was released last week, today Google has shipped their latest “dev” release of Chrome 70 for interested testers.

        New Chrome 70 dev channel releases are available today for Linux, macOS, and Windows. Key features for Chrome 70 is the introduction of the Shape Detection API, disabling some touch event APIs by default on desktop hardware, CSS Grid Layout behavior updates, WebUSB support within dedicated worker contexts, several security enhancements, and various other minor updates.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Offers Recommendations with Latest Test Pilot Experiment: Advance

        The internet today is often like being on a guided tour bus in an unfamiliar city. You end up getting off at the same places that everyone else does. While it’s convenient and doesn’t require a lot of planning, sometimes you want to get a little off the beaten path.

        With the latest Firefox experiment, Advance, you can explore more of the web efficiently, with real-time recommendations based on your current page and your most recent web history.

        With Advance we’re taking you back to our Firefox roots and the experience that started everyone surfing the web. That time when the World Wide Web was uncharted territory and we could freely discover new topics and ideas online. The Internet was a different place.

      • Firefox Test Pilot: Advancing the Web

        The web runs on algorithms. Your search results, product recommendations, and the news you read are all customized to your interests. They are designed to increase the time you spend in front of a screen, build addiction to sites and services, and ultimately maximize the number of times you click on advertisements.

        Without discounting the utility that this personalization can provide, it’s important to consider the cost: detailed portfolios of data about you are sitting on a server somewhere, waiting to be used to determine the optimum order of your social media feeds. Even if you trust that the parties collecting that data will use it responsibly, it has to live somewhere and has to be transmitted there, which makes it a juicy target for bad actors who may not act so responsibly.

      • In Memoriam: Gervase Markham

        Gerv was Mozilla’s first intern. He arrived in the summer of 2001, when Mozilla staff was still AOL employees. It was a shock that AOL had allocated an intern to the then-tiny Mozilla team, and we knew instantly that our amazingly effective volunteer in the UK would be our choice.

        When Gerv arrived a few things about him jumped out immediately. The first was a swollen, shiny, bright pink scar on the side of his neck. He quickly volunteered that the scar was from a set of surgeries for his recently discovered cancer. At the time Gerv was 20 or so, and had less than a 50% chance of reaching 35. He was remarkably upbeat.

        The second thing that immediately became clear was Gerv’s faith, which was the bedrock of his response to his cancer. As a result the scar was a visual marker that led straight to a discussion of faith. This was the organizing principle of Gerv’s life, and nearly everything he did followed from his interpretation of how he should express his faith.

      • Thunderbird email client gets a new look, new features, and a new logo

        A new version of Thunderbird is now available to download.

        Thunderbird 60 is the first stable release of the ephemeral desktop email client since the launch of Thunderbird 52 way back in early 2017.

        A year in development — but has it been worth the wait?

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 60.0 Ships With New Photon Look, Important Changes

        After more than one year since the previous major stable release (52.0), Mozilla Thunderbird 60.0 was released with some important changes, including a new Firefox-like “Photon” look, new logo, and attachment management improvements, among others.

        The free and open source email, news, RSS and chat client Thunderbird version 60.0 includes a Firefox-like Photon look, in which the tabs are square (and other theme improvements), along with new light and dark themes. WebExtension themes are enabled in Thunderbird with version 60, and you’ll also find multiple chat themes.

      • Firefox Advance Uses Your Browser History to Recommend Web Content

        If you’re short on things to read — seriously? — be sure to check out the latest experiment in the Firefox Test Pilot program.

        It’s called Advance and it aims to ‘advance’ you past the site you’re currently gawping at and on to the next. How? By giving you a list of articles and web pages based on your browsing history, of course.

        Don’t scream. Honestly. This feature is not part of the default browser (not yet, anyway). You have to explicitly choose to enable it.

        [...]

        Now, before anyone screams “I already use this! It’s called Google Chrome!” let me stress that this is an entirely optional, opt-in feature for Firefox. You have to go out of your way to install it. It is not part of the default install. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to use it.

        You remain in control when Advance is running. You can, at any point, see what browser history Laserlike has processed and — GDPR box check — request the deletion of that information.

        Advance by Firefox limits its remit to your search history, specifically web page addresses. It doesn’t monitor what you write/say/do when using a website, or the specific content that’s on it.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.1, a major release which shows the power of a large and diverse community of contributors

      LibreOffice 6.1’s new features have been developed by a large community of code contributors: 72% of commits are from developers employed by companies sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other contributors such as SIL and Pardus, and 28% are from individual volunteers.

      In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking care of other fundamental activities such as quality assurance, software localization, user interface design and user experience, editing of help system text and documentation, plus free software and open document standards advocacy at a local level.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Released with ‘Major Changes’

      You can now download LibreOffice 6.1, the latest stable release of the super popular open source office suite. LibreOffice 6.1 is billed as “a major release” in the ‘fresh’ series and features numerous user interface tweaks, improved documentation and help, and is said to be more compatible with Microsoft Office files than ever before.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Shipping Today As A Big Update For This Open-Source Office Suite

      LibreOffice 6.1 will officially be hitting the web in a short time as the latest major feature release to this newest cross-platform, open-source office suite.

      Since LibreOffice 6.0 shipped in January, many improvements have went into making LibreOffice 6.1 an even greater release. Found with LibreOffice 6.1 is better KDE integration as well as continued GTK3/GNOME improvements, Microsoft file importing enhancements for Excel and other Microsoft Office products, improved image handling, a new database engine, various enhancements for Libreoffice Online, better EPUB exporting, support for parallel formula evaluation on the CPU, other speed optimizations like greater VLOOKUP performance for Calc, various localization work, and more.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Open-Source Office Suite Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

      The Document Foundation announced today the official release and general availability for download of the LibreOffice 6.1 open-source office suite, the second major update of the LibreOffice 6 series introduced in early 2018, for all supported platforms.

      LibreOffice 6.1 has been in development for the past six months and it’s not ready to conquer your Linux, Mac, or Windows office workstations with new features like revamped image handling functionality that’s significantly faster and smoother, especially when opening documents created in Microsoft Office.

      LibreOffice 6.1 also adds a new Page menu and re-organizes the menus of the Draw component for better consistency across the different modules, improves the EPUB export filter with additional options for customizing metadata and better support for links, images, tables, footnotes, and embedded fonts.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Released With New Colibre Icon Theme, Native Gtk3 Dialogs, Improved EPUB Export

      The Document Foundation announced LibreOffice 6.1 today, a release which includes a new icon theme called Colibre, native Gtk3 dialogs (if the Gtk3 backend is used), faster image handling, improved EPUB export, and more.

      The free and open source office suite LibreOffice 6.1 includes a new icon theme, called Colibre, with this release. The icon theme is based on Microsoft’s icon design guidelines, and its purpose is to make the application more visually appealing to users coming from the Windows environment. Calibre is set as the default icon theme on Windows.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Released For Windows, Linux, macOS: Brings New Icon Style, Improved Image Handler

      After waiting for almost half a year, The Document Foundation has finally pushed the first point release for LibreOffice 6. The latest update LibreOffice 6.1 is important in the sense it packs a plethora of big features.

      The update brings performance improvement when loading proprietary Microsoft formats. It has a new graphics manager and an improved image lifecycle that makes image loading in documents better. The background image dialog has been redesigned to make it easier to use.

  • Education

    • Harnessing the Power of Open Source Research and Teaching to Transform Education

      Zenke’s goals get to the heart of what Aria Chernik envisioned when she founded OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation) at Duke in 2016. Through funding from Red Hat, OSPRI is upending traditional models of higher education, and working to create a collaborative, student-centered environment where content is shared, and students are empowered to pursue their interests and develop a lifelong love of learning.

      “Knowledge shouldn’t be locked away or proprietary,” Chernik said. “OSPRI is committed to open knowledge and access to information.”

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD has its own TCP-queue-of-death bug, easier to hose than Linux’s SegmentSmack

      Hard on the heels of the Linux kernel’s packets-of-death attack dubbed SegmentSmack, a similar vulnerability has been disclosed and fixed in FreeBSD.

      Attributed to SegmentSmack discoverer Juha-Matti Tilli of Aalto University in Finland, the FreeBSD TCP issue is related to how the operating system’s networking stack reassembles segmented packets. Much in the same way Linux kernel versions 4.9 and higher can be brought down by bad network traffic, a sequence of maliciously crafted packets can also crash FreeBSD machines.

      FreeBSD 10, 10.4, 11, 11.1, and 11.2 are affected, and the maintainers have released patches to mitigate the programming cockup. In the open-source operating system project’s advisory for CVE-2018-6922 (Linux’s SegmentSmack was assigned CVE-2018-5390), the problem was this week described as an “inefficient algorithm” involving a segment reassembly data structure.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Stop Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh to protect free software!

      United States Supreme Court judges serve from the time they are appointed until they choose to retire — it’s a lifetime appointment. One judge recently stepped down, and Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the empty seat. He comes with a firm stance against net neutrality.

      Last year he wrote:

      Supreme Court precedent establishes that Internet service providers have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial discretion over whether and how to carry Internet content.

      Here, Kavanaugh argues that controlling the way you use the Internet is a First Amendment right that ISPs — companies, not people — hold. The First Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to congregate, is one of the most dearly-held amendments of the United States Constitution. With this statement, he says that net neutrality protections — policies that prevent companies from “editorializing” what you see on the Web — is a violation of the Constitution. He believes net neutrality is unconstitutional. We know he’s wrong.

    • LibreJS 7.15 released
  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • NASA wants you to build your own Mars rover

        It’s just not practical for a private citizen to own an actual car-sized NASA Mars rover, as cool as that would be. But with an assist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, you can build a mini version to explore your own backyard.

        The JPL Open Source Rover Project tells you everything you need to know to build a scaled-down rover.

        While the actual Curiosity rover cost into the billions in US dollars, NASA estimates you can makes its mini-me for about $2,500 (£1,900, AU$3,400) using off-the-shelf parts. JPL published the detailed open-source design on GitHub.

      • Explore New Worlds With JPL’s Open Source Rover

        NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars rovers have a special place in my heart. I loved seeing pictures of Sojourner nuzzling up to rocks, and I still wonder whether it managed to drive around the Pathfinder lander after contact was lost. Spirit going silent was heartbreaking, and Opportunity continues to inspire so far beyond its expected lifetime, even as a dust storm threatens to starve it to death. And I particularly remember thinking how insane it was that Curiosity was going to drop onto the surface from a hovering robotic sky crane (!), and then being entirely overwhelmed to watch it happen flawlessly from the media room at JPL.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Apple Might Ditch Lightning Connector After Pressure From The EU

      Apple might have to part ways with the lightning connector after the EU is planning to launch an investigation against the issue of different types of chargers present in the smartphone industry.

      In 2009, 14 companies including Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia signed a voluntary memorandum of understanding (MoU) in favor of bringing universal chargers for the smartphones coming into the market from 2011 onwards. The EU clearly directed companies to coordinate and come up with a universal type of charger; micro-USB was the mutually decided type then.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Top 10 Talks to See at Black Hat USA 2018
    • Batten down the ports: Linux networking bug SegmentSmack could remotely crash systems

      A networking flaw has been discovered in the Linux kernel that could trigger a remote denial-of-service attack.

      Versions 4.9 and up are “vulnerable to denial-of-service conditions with low rates of specially crafted packets”, according to a US CERT ADVISORY. The bug is being tracked as SegmentSmack (CVE-2018-5390).

      SegmentSmack – which sounds a bit like an American wrestler whose speciality is to close bouts just before an ad break – has prompted fixes for a wide variety of networking kit.

    • SegmentSmack Kernel Bug Discovered, Android 9 Pie Now Available, Google’s August Security Bulletin for Android, Kernel 4.19 to Get STACKLEAK Feature and GNOME Releases Keysign 0.9.8

      Security researchers have discovered a bug in kernel 4.9 called SegmentSmack. Red Hat comments that “a remote attacker could use this flaw to trigger time and calculation expensive calls to tcp_collapse_ofo_queue() and tcp_prune_ofo_queue() functions by sending specially modified packets within ongoing TCP sessions which could lead to a CPU saturation and hence a denial of service on the system”. There’s no known workaround other than a fixed kernel at this time. See also the story on ZDNet for more information.

    • “SegmentSmack” Linux Network Bug Could Lead To Remote Denial of Service

      The latest high profile Linux kernel vulnerability has been dubbed “SegmentSmack” and could result in a remote denial of service attack.

      With the Linux 4.9 and newer, the kernel can be forced to make expensive calls for every incoming network packet that in turn can lead to the denial of service. Any malicious actor would just need to send specially modified packets within ongoing TCP sessions and implies an open port on the system for attacking. Also lessening the likelihood of attack is the need for having a two-way TCP session.

    • Ubuntu and Debian Stretch Receive Linux Kernel Security Update to Fix TCP Flaw

      Canonical and Debian Project released new Linux kernel security updates for their supported operating systems to address a critical vulnerability affecting the TCP implementation.

      Discovered and reported by security researcher Juha-Matti Tilli, the security flaw (CVE-2018-5390) could allow a remote attacker to cause a denial of service on affected machines by triggering worst-case code paths in Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) stream reassembly that has low rates using malicious packets.

    • Ring 0 Army Knife (r0ak) Read, Write, and Debugging Execution Tool Released ahead of Black Hat USA 2018
    • iPhone Chip Manufacturing Halts as TSMC’s Network is Hit by WannaCry Variant Virus

      TSMC was forced to shutdown its operations as many of its computer systems and manufacturing machines were caught in the grasp of a WannaCry variant ransomware according to a statement release. The company claims that its systems were not attacked remotely or locally, but the virus took its origin from when a supplier installed faulty software onto the company’s network without running a virus scan. The virus spread rapidly to over 10,000 of the company’s machines across its factories, impacting the plants that cater to Apple’s chip production heavily.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • US-CERT Warns of New Linux Kernel Vulnerability

      Denial-of-service attacks aren’t just about external floods: A new US-CERT vulnerability note is a reminder that operating system kernel services can be used to effectively launch a DoS campaign against a system.

    • Good Lockdown vs. Bad

      The patch gave birth to an odd debate, but a familiar one by now. Matthew Garrett, ultimately the main proponent of the patch, kept defending it on technical grounds that Linus Torvalds felt were meaningless and dishonest, hiding a secret agenda that included helping companies like Microsoft lock users out of making changes to their own systems.

      Andy Lutomirski was another critic of Matthew’s defense of the patch. The debate circled around and around, with Linus and Andy trying to get Matthew to admit the true motivation they believed he had and Matthew attempting to give solid reasons why the patch should go into the kernel. Things got ugly.

      James Morris initially accepted the patch, planning to send it up to Linus for inclusion, and Andy reviewed the code. Among his comments, Andy said the goal of the patch was not clearly stated. He said for the purpose of his code review he would assume the goal was to prevent the root user from either reading kernel memory or intentionally corrupting the kernel.

      But, he didn’t think those were proper goals for a kernel, even a UEFI Secure Boot kernel. He said, “the kernel should try to get away from the idea that UEFI Secure Boot should imply annoying restrictions. It’s really annoying and it’s never been clear to me that it has a benefit.” He singled out the idea of preventing the root user from accessing kernel memory as one of these annoying restrictions.

    • ‘SegmentSmack’ – Critical TCP Vulnerability Found In Linux 4.9 Triggers DoS Attack

      Recently, a researcher has discovered a critical TCP vulnerability in the Linux Kernel that could trigger cyber attacks. Precisely, by exploiting this flaw, any potential bad actors could trigger resource exhaustion attacks through an open port. This vulnerability, termed as ‘SegmentSmack’, primarily targets Linux 4.9 and above. Fortunately, Linux developers have released a patch for it.

    • Linux vulnerability could lead to DDoS attacks

      A Linux kernel vulnerability affecting version 4.9 and up could allow an attacker to carry out denial-of-service attacks on a system with an available open port, according to an Aug 6 security advisory from the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.

      “Linux kernel versions 4.9+ can be forced to make very expensive calls to tcp_collapse_ofo_queue() and tcp_prune_ofo_queue() for every incoming packet which can lead to a denial of service,” the report states. “An attacker can induce a denial of service condition by sending specially modified packets within ongoing TCP sessions.”

    • Linux vulnerability could lead to DDoS attacks

      A Linux kernel vulnerability affecting version 4.9 and up could allow an attacker to carry out denial-of-service attacks on a system with an available open port, according to an advisory.

      The CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute said that patches for the vulnerability have been released.

      “Linux kernel versions 4.9+ can be forced to make very expensive calls to tcp_collapse_ofo_queue() and tcp_prune_ofo_queue() for every incoming packet which can lead to a denial of service,” the advisory states.

    • Snapchat Source Code Leaked and Posted to GitHub

      GitHub is often the go-to place for hackers or researchers to archive interesting code or data dumps. But sometimes affected companies do their best to remove exposed data from the code repository site.

      Earlier this year, Snap—the company behind social media network Snapchat—exposed some of the source code of the network’s iOS app, Snap confirmed to Motherboard on Tuesday. After someone archived that exposed code on GitHub, Snap told GitHub to remove the data with a copyright act request, Snap told Motherboard.

    • Snapchat’s Source Code Leaked Online, Archived on Github

      Hackers leave no chance of obtaining the source codes of popular apps as they aren’t public. However, in a recent incident, someone has archived Snapchat’s source code and posted it on Github.

      The incident was confirmed by the social networking app to Motherboard on Tuesday. The hackers got hold of the code after the app and exposed a portion of the source code of the network’s iOS app.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • MDC Alliance, Zanu-PF urged to unite

      OUTSPOKEN Mutare-based war veteran Ivan Mbengo has started lobbying for the setting up of a government of national unity to address the deepening political impasse between the country’s two major political parties, Zanu-PF and MDC Alliance.

      This came as the MDC Alliance accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of rigging the just-ended elections in favour of Zanu-PF and is set to challenge the poll result in court.

    • Mnangagwa Rules Out GNU

      President elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has ruled out a Government of National Unity (GNU) with the MDC Alliance saying there is no need.

    • America Is Not Ready for Exploding Drones

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was intoning something about economic renewal, flanked by his wife and a handful of high officials, in a country gripped by poverty, starvation, and shortages. Then, in a moment broadcast live on television that has since gone viral, his wife’s face changed. For an instant she seemed to duck as she reached for the official next to her; Maduro glanced up with apparent concern. The camera panned to the National Guardsmen in formation on the street before him as dozens suddenly started running. According to the government and witnesses, they had seen explosions in the sky.

      By the government’s account, those explosions were part of an attempted assassination by drone—which if correct would be the first instance of such an attack targeting a head of state, and a possible portent of things to come.

    • ‘A lot worse than CIA letter’ – Najib wants inquiry on IRI-Harapan link
    • Israeli Mossad May Be Behind Scientist Assassination in Syria, Reports Say

      srael’s Mossad secret service may have been behind the assassination of a top Syrian weapons expert, according to reports.

      If the shadowy organization was indeed behind the death of rocket scientists Aziz Asbar, it would be at least the fourth Israeli killing of an enemy arms engineer on foreign soil in the past four years, according to an investigation by the New York Times.

    • The CIA takes on Marvel Comics tech it considers a real possibility

      Before you laugh it off and remind us all that Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War are just movies (and/or comics) and should not be taken seriously, let me remind you there are numerous examples of sci-fi and fantasy leading to the development of real-world technology. Video calling, holographic projections, tablets, Bluetooth devices, and even tractor beams were all inventions of fiction that later became reality. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the U.S. is currently building the TALOS suit, an Iron Man-inspired suit of mechanical armor.

    • Kit Siang dares Najib to support bipartisan probe on alleged US interference in polls

      DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today called for a bipartisan investigation into two allegations that linked the Americans in the manipulation of results of the 14th general election (GE14).

      He said claims that International Republican Institute (IRI) had helped Pakatan Harapan (PH) win the election, and former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation director-general Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid allegedly writing to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking an alliance just days before the polls, must be investigated.

      “I myself would like to know how IRI had collaborated with PH to topple the Umno/BN Government from power in Putrajaya, which is a most far-fetched version of what happened on May 9, 2018,” the Iskandar Puteri MP said in a statement.

    • Will Najib support a bipartisan investigation into IRI and leaked letter to CIA, asks Kit Siang
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pilger Excoriates Media on Assange Silence

      Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and investigative reporter John Pilger takes the gloves off on the continuing attempts to upend WikiLeaks and arrest its founding publisher, Julian Assange, in this interview with Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico.

      Pilger talks about Assange’s deteriorating health and the physical dangers he faces during this period of virtual isolation. Pilger also excoriates the western media for their silence and pro-government stand on the marginalizing and potential prosecution of Assange, even after they collaborated with WikiLeaks and major high-profile breaking stories. The interview is part of a continuing national radio series—Assange: Countdown to Freedom. Pilger was interviewed on August 3rd, 2018.


    • Pamela Anderson opens up about ‘romantic connection’ with Julian Assange

      Playboy model-turned-activist Pamela Anderson has described her relationship with Julian Assange as having a “romantic” element, and explained how she bonded with the WikiLeaks founder over vegan food.

    • Ecuador’s President Names Condition For Assange to Leave London Embassy

      More than six years after Julian Assange moved into the confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the WikiLeaks founder may finally end his self-imposed isolation.

      Julian Assange is free to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London any time, but only if Britain guarantees his safety, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has said.

      According to Moreno, Ecuadorian authorities are currently in talks with Assange’s lawyers to work out an agreement that would ensure the security of the WikiLeaks’ founder “‘in line with the norms of international law.”

      [...]

      Late last month Moreno said that Julian Assange should leave the premises of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      Shortly afterwards, media reports said that the Australian journalist planned to walk out of the Ecuadorian mission due to health problems related to his long-time isolation.

  • Finance

    • If Brexit negotiations have taught us anything, it’s that our future should not be left to 650 politicians in London

      The parliamentary recess starts on Wednesday. As ever, it will be reported that MPs are about to start a long five-and-a-half-week “holiday”. Except that’s not quite how it works.

      The hundreds of letters and emails we get every week keep rolling in and have to be dealt with – putting an “out of office” auto-response on is not an option (save perhaps during Christmas week). Most MPs take advantage of the fact we are not chained to Westminster to vote during recess, so people spend much more time in the constituency, attending summer events, visiting organisations and the groups it is usually impossible to diarise due to parliamentary commitments. And the nature of this unusual job is such that there will always be unforeseen, exceptional events that you have to intervene in or speak about as one of the main advocates for the community you represent – the August 2011 riots, which affected my area, were a good example.

    • Wells Fargo Admits ‘Computer Glitch’ May Have Contributed to 400 Foreclosures

      Well shucks, it only seems like yesterday that Wells Fargo first found itself under fire for a cavalcade of fraudulent behavior.

      First, the company was busted for creating 2 million unwanted accounts to saddle users with fees in order to meet quarterly numbers. From there, the company was subsequently caught hitting 110,000 customers with inaccurate “mortgage rate lock extension fees” to prevent them from being able to lock in better interest rates. Wells Fargo wagon was then caught forcing more than half a million customers into signing up for auto insurance they didn’t need, resulting in a number of those users defaulting on their loans or having their vehicles repossessed due to unnecessary added costs.

      Apparently undaunted by the recently proposed $2.1 billion fine for the mortgage snafu alone, the company this week is making headlines once again. This time, Wells Fargo is under fire for hundreds of customers losing their homes due to an apparent computer glitch.

    • Ben Carson Declared Mission Accomplished in East St. Louis — Where Public Housing Is Still a Disaster

      The city’s administrative building was decorated for a festive affair when U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson arrived here last September. An Americana themed banner draped the back of a raised stage. Red, white and blue balloons floated in the foreground.

      “This is really an exciting day,” Carson told a crowd of a few dozen city and community leaders. “It is a day of transition and a day of progress.”

      In October 1985, HUD officials arrived here unannounced and seized control of the East St. Louis Housing Authority, citing poor living conditions and fraud. Carson was in town to return it to local control.

      In a brief speech, Carson said that when former President Ronald Reagan’s HUD took over the housing authority five presidential administrations ago, “the residents were at risk, and the future of our children was at risk.”

      “Not anymore,” he boldly declared.

      In the months leading up to Carson’s visit, however, HUD’s own inspectors had failed nine of East St. Louis’ 12 sprawling public housing projects, citing a wide variety of health and safety violations, according to federal records obtained by The Southern Illinoisan.

    • What Do You Know About Public Housing in the U.S.? Help Us Investigate.
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter botnets are becoming more sophisticated

      Twitter bots are becoming more sophisticated, at the same time that Trump administration officials are warning of an ongoing Russian disinformation campaign fueled by automated social media accounts.

      A wave of Twitter accounts are spoofing celebrity profiles, engaging in fraud and using verified profiles that have been hacked, according to new research from Duo Security, a protection company based out of Michigan. Researchers from there will present their research at the Black Hat conference this week in Las Vegas.

    • The Shadow Rulers of the VA

      Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

      O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

      More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

      Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

    • Funneling Trump Rally Attendees Directly Into A Violent Anti-Trump Crowd Costs Officers Their Qualified Immunity

      Law enforcement officers have no duty to protect citizens. So many offer up “protect and serve” as a credo, but the Supreme Court ruled cops have no obligation to uphold the first half of that saying and law enforcement agencies have made it pretty clear the second half isn’t going to be getting much attention either.

      While officers may have no obligation to protect citizens, they do have to ensure they don’t make things worse for those they’re serving. The line isn’t drawn especially clearly, but if you’re policing the denizens of a frying pan, you definitely shouldn’t push them into the fire. (h/t Volokh Conspiracy)

      The frying pan in this Ninth Circuit Appeals Court decision [PDF] was a June 2016 Trump rally held in San Jose, California. The fire was the anti-Trump protesters gathered outside the arena. Aware that Trump rallies tended to produce violent clashes (of ideologies, but mainly fists and other thrown objects), 250 officers were sent to patrol the scene.

      Things started to go badly quickly. According to the plaintiffs, the city instructed officers to stand back and let pro- and anti-Trump forces work it out between themselves. The rationale? “Intervention might cause a riot.” There is some pragmatism to this statement, but not a whole lot of wisdom. Either way, it does clearly show the city understands officers have no duty to protect. If beatings were going to occur on their watch, they weren’t going to jump in the middle of it and possibly become part of the problem.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Illegal Attacks on Asylum Seekers

      The Trump administration is illegally eviscerating asylum protections for domestic violence survivors and other refugees at the border. We’re suing.

      Grace,* an indigenous woman from a small village in Guatemala, came to the United States seeking protection from beatings, sexual assault, and death threats. Grace made the long and treacherous journey from Central America, arriving at the border in June. She was deeply traumatized, having been raped, beaten, and threatened with death for more than two decades at the hands of her abusive partner, a non-indigenous man, who frequently disparaged and mocked her for being indigenous and unable to read and write.

      After she tried to leave him, her abuser and his gang member sons continued to pursue and terrorize her. The local authorities could not or would not protect Grace from this unrelenting violence. In fact, at one point, they even helped her abuser forcibly evict her from her home.

      Under our asylum laws, Grace has a strong claim to receive protection in the U.S. and — under rules established by Congress more than 20 years ago — she should have been given a fair chance to prove her case in court. Instead, she was swept up in the Trump administration’s attack on refugees, particularly women and children seeking safety from Central America. Her asylum claim was quickly denied, and she now faces deportation back to the all-too-real threat of death.

      Today, Grace and a group of other asylum seekers, predominantly women and children from Central America, filed a major challenge to the Trump administration’s campaign to eviscerate our asylum laws. In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions intervened in an individual asylum case, Matter of A-B, issuing a deeply flawed legal decision. While the issues actually presented by the case were narrow, Sessions took the opportunity to launch an assault against longstanding elements of U.S. asylum law, in particular, the standards by which claims like Grace’s are evaluated.

    • Top Official at U.S. Embassy in Israel Is Owed Money From Israel Advocacy Group

      A top aide to the U.S. ambassador to Israel has financial ties to entities involved in Israel policy or that could have business with the government, according to newly released disclosure forms.

      One of the groups, an anonymously funded nonprofit called Shining City Community that has been involved in U.S. and Israeli politics, owes perhaps as much as $50,000 to Aryeh Lightstone, a senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, according to his financial disclosure forms.

      Lightstone, a Long Island businessman and rabbi, reported he is also retaining three positions outside his government job. Separately, he reported receiving outside income from two firms after he was hired in July 2017 by the State Department.

      Lightstone pledged to recuse himself for one year from matters related to Shining City. “The Ethics Agreement that Mr. Lightstone signed is very clear that he will not participate in any matter in which he has a direct financial interest,” a State Department spokesperson said. “His government position does not obligate him to divest from all of his investments, and every investment was declared to and cleared by the U.S. Department of State ethics lawyers.”

    • High-Stakes Races in Ohio and Kansas Are Too Close to Call

      Two high-stakes elections in Ohio and Kansas during the homestretch of primary season were too close to call late Tuesday, foreshadowing the fierce battle to come around the nation in November’s midterms.

    • Trumpism Found Wanting

      In Kansas, Trump endorsed a real loser, Kobach, who edged out a legitimate candidate for the GOP (perhaps not… with 88% reporting Kobach is a few votes behind – stay tuned). Kobach is despised in Kansas… Kobach is Trump’s man because he wasted $millions unsuccessfully trying to find millions of invalid voters in the 2016 election. Kansas voters don’t easily succumb to conspiracy theories like that. Trumpism is one huge conspiracy based on conspiracy theories, madness. Trump won Kansas by 21% but Kansas won’t be fooled twice by the same lying bastard. Many who voted for Trump have their regrets.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Transit System’s Censorship Ruling Appealed

      The ACLU is appealing a court ruling that allows a county transit system to ban ads from an atheist group. The County of Lackawanna Transit System refused to allow the Northeast Pennsylvania Freethought Society to place ads on its vehicles that contained the word “atheist” and the group’s website. The transit system said the ads were too controversial.

      According to ACLU staff attorney Brian Hauss, when a government entity such as a transit authority opens up a space for public speech, the First Amendment puts strict limits on its ability to censor that speech.

    • VIPS Asks Twitter to Restore Van Buren’s Account

      We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are greatly disturbed by the recent decision of your management to permanently suspend the Twitter account @WeMeantWell of our colleague Peter Van Buren. Peter is a highly respected former Foreign Service Officer possessing impeccable credentials for critiquing current developments that might lead to a new war in Eastern Europe or Asia, something which we Americans presumably all would like to avoid.

      In 2011 our colleague Peter published a book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, about the poor decision- making by both civilians and military that led to the disastrous occupation and faux-democracy development in Iraq. It is Peter’s concern that our country may well be proceeding down that same path again — possibly with Iran, Syria and other countries in the Middle East region.

      [...]

      Your action suggests three possibilities — all of which are quite plausible given that your system for punishing users is far from transparent. First, you may be engaged in systematic manipulation if some of your users are able to complain and have their friends do likewise in order to sully the reputation of a Twitter user who is doing little more than engaging in heated debate over issues that concern all of us.

      Second, there is a distinct possibility that you are responding to either deep pocketed or particularly strident advocacy groups that may themselves have agendas to silence opposition voices. We note that Google is currently working with some powerful foundations to censor content they object to which comes up in search engine results.

      Finally – third — we also suspect a possible government hand in that companies like yours, to include Facebook, have become very sensitive to alleged “subversive” content, deleting accounts and blocking users. Kowtowing to government suggestions to silence critics of administration policies may well be considered a desirable proactive step by your management as well as by other social media companies, but censorship is censorship, no matter how you dress it up.

    • Real Sin for Social Media Companies Not ‘Censorship,’ but Getting into Bed with Government

      Social media outlets have been filled with commentary this week about the decisions by Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify to remove content created by talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. This is a useful opportunity to clarify what actually counts as “censorship” and what responsibilities that media platforms have to the public.

      Facebook, Apple, and Twitter have been more than happy in recent years to shut out conservatives and other “thought criminals,” and while it may have offended me, I have defended their right to manage their services as they see fit, as these entities are private platforms, not governmental bodies. They are incapable of “censoring” in the proper meaning of the term. Censorship is what government does—with force.

    • Opinion: Jones, Cottrell and ‘censorship’ questions

      Back home, United Patriot’s Front leader Blair Cottrell, who advocated for hanging a picture of Hitler in every Australian classroom, received an interview slot on Sky News this week. Public outcry and advertiser chaos coincided with a swift withdrawal of the slot from Sky News online.

      The increasing Fox-ification of Sky News in their after-dark programming aside, Cottrell, a self-employed builder from Melbourne, made himself infamous through his pro-anglosphere views that align with neo-Nazi ideology. Cottrell, who declared ‘Yes, I am a racist’ on ABC2’s Hack Live in 2016, was convicted of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims last year and has also called into question the evidence of the bloody indigenous massacres that splatter Australian history.

    • Huggies and Specsavers pull ads over Sky News far-right extremist interview
    • Why is the Australian media promoting white nationalist ideas?
    • Australian Hitler sympathiser Blair Cottrell’s Twitter account is shut down after his vile comments about raping a Sky News presenter on air following the network’s embarrassing interview
    • Facebook won’t ban Cottrell ‘rape’ comments; more brands cut Sky ties

      Facebook has refused to ban right-wing nationalist Blair Cottrell, despite a recent post regarding his interview on Sky News being reported for inappropriate rape comments.

      The former United Patriots Front leader was banned on Twitter for making similar comments, yet his page still remains active on Facebook.

      In both posts he stated that it was as if he had “raped the entire Sky News staff”, referring to reaction on his appearance on The Adam Giles Show – which enraged the public and has seen advertisers pull support from Sky.

    • That Sky News Neo-Nazi Has Been Suspended By Twitter After Tweeting About Raping A Journalist

      Cottrell kicked off a storm of controversy after the former United Patriots Front leader appeared on Adam Giles’ Sky News show for an interview about immigration . on Sunday evening. Since the interview aired, Sky News journalists (and even some advertisers) have condemned the move.

      Cottrell has previously said that he wants a copy of Mein Kampf in every Australian classroom. He’s also been convicting of inciting contempt for Muslims after staging a mock beheading in Bendigo, Victoria.

    • ‘It was my error’: Sky News boss gave Cottrell interview the go-ahead

      The former news director has told told staff he gave former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles the go-ahead to interview Cottrell because he thought his controversial views would be challenged on-air. Byrnes has since told staff he made the wrong call.

      In a statement, the former national editor said he regretted giving the interview the green light.

    • Sky News advertising pulled over Blair Cottrell interview

      Sky loses sponsors. The fallout from Sky News’ interview with far-right extremist Blair Cottrell has continued with companies pulling advertising from the pay-TV network. Credit card company American Express and nappy brand Huggies have both confirmed on their Twitter accounts they have pulled advertising from Sky News. Huggies said Cottrell’s interview “did not align with our values relating to diversity”, and Amex said “recent content on the channel does not reflect our brand values”.

    • Assange, Infowars and the Constitution

      This is about a principle engraved in the Constitution, and not just the American one. And of course there would always be people trying to get of that principle, because it got in the way of their personal power and interests. But that’s exactly why it’s in the Constitution. So it can’t just be eradicated at whim.

      New media, social media, have taken the world by storm, and everyone has to scramble to keep up and think about what this means. What it should never ever mean, though, is that some parties get to use the confusion in order to trample on the Constitution. But that is what’s happening today.

      We’ll resolve this eventually. You can’t let companies that have half the world as their clients continue as private enterprises; there’s far too much in the way of monopoly and anti-trust law to allow that to continue. But as long as this is not solved, Google and Facebook will be used as political tools, even while their legal status, and that of their policies, will be increasingly questionable.

      So, you know, standing up for Alex Jones today equals standing up for the Constitution. That is harder for people to understand than it is that calling for Julian Assange to be protected and freed is, But it is the same thing. This is proven more than anything by the fact that Jones gets shut down at the very moment he seeks to protect Assange.

    • Collins on fake news tweet: ‘I don’t believe in censorship’

      The senior MP yesterday posted on Twitter an article wrongly suggesting France is making it easier for paedophiles to escape rape charges.

      The website she shared is known for pushing Russian narrative propaganda, and was apparently involved in Brexit and US election interference.

      It’s also known for conspiracy theories regarding pop stars, ‘revealing’ Katy Perry as a cannibal and Justin Bieber as a shapeshifter.

      A Twitter user pointed Ms Collins to an article on the same website reporting a “real life vampire outbreak” in New Zealand.

    • ‘I don’t believe in censorship’ – Judith Collins stands firm over tweeting from ‘fake news’ site

      National’s Judith Collins has continued to defend her decision to share a controversial story on social media from a site described as promoting “fake news”.

      When asked if she accepted the story about French consent laws she tweeted was fake news, Ms Collins said that “some of the information is correct and some of it, not quite”.

      “But plenty of other stories like the Independent, the Guardian, Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph have run similar stories on the same thing.”

    • Google Welcome in China but Must Comply With Censorship: State Media
    • Alex Jones’ Infowars Site Accuses ‘Big Tech’ Of Censorship
    • Chad’s Morning Brief: Free Speech, Censorship, and The Problem The Big Tech Companies Have [WATCH]
    • Christopher Robin: Winnie the Pooh film denied release in China
    • Chinese censors poo-poo new Winnie the Pooh movie
    • ‘Christopher Robin’ won’t play in China amid government censorship of Winnie the Pooh
    • Chinese censors poo-poo new Winnie the Pooh movie
    • WHAT THE-EFFING-EFF?! YouTube censors video criticizing censorship and all is STUPID with the world
    • Alex Jones, Sarah Jeong, and the Unwinnable Battles of the Censorship Wars
    • Sen. Chris Murphy calls for more Silicon Valley censorship: ‘Survival of our democracy depends on it’
    • Censoring Alex Jones will only make him stronger: Today’s talker
    • Apple Kicked Alex Jones Off Its Platform, Then YouTube And Facebook Rushed To Do The Same
    • Alex Jones is a loathsome windbag — let him speak
    • YouTube isn’t infringing on Alex Jones’ freedom of speech, it’s enforcing the rules
    • Is It ‘Censorship’ for Platforms to Delete InfoWars Content? Not According to InfoWars.
    • Alex Jones pleads with Donald Trump to fight ‘censorship’ after Infowars host is banned by YouTube and Facebook
    • Infowars saga proves tech companies can act, they just don’t want to
    • Donald Trump Jr. Worries About Conservative ‘Censorship’ in Unintentionally Revealing Tweet

      Donald Trump Jr., as many others are have on social media, has reacted to the Great Purge of Alex Jones on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify with worries about censorship. Let’s just say that Sen. Chris Murphy‘s (D-Conn.) commentary on the matter didn’t exactly help assuage those fears. Actually, Murphy confirmed them, but Trump Jr.’s response also missed the mark.

    • China Reshuffles Its Censorship Chiefs

      China has been reshuffling its propaganda and censorship chiefs recently.

      On July 31, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) — the top regulator of China’s internet — announced that Zhuang Rongwen, age 57, had been appointed as its new chief. Prior to that, Zhuang had been vice minister in the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, which controls China’s propaganda machine. Meanwhile, the CAC’s current chief, Xu Lin, 56, will be replaced and “assigned to another appointment.”

      The announcement didn’t clarify when the reshuffle will start officially or what Xu’s future appointment will be. But multiple non-Chinese mainland media outlets, including the South China Morning Post, cited anonymous sources saying that Xu, who had previously worked for Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, is to oversee the State Council Information Office and the Party’s external propaganda arm, replacing Jiang Jianguo.

      On July 25, the State Council announced in an extremely short notice that Jiang, 62 (not yet at retirement age), had been removed from the position of director of the State Council Information Office. The notice did not say, as is customary, that Jiang would be “assigned to another appointment.”

    • WikiLeaks points to Democrats after InfoWars takedown, warns it could be ‘next’

      WikiLeaks warned it could be “next” if “political pressure can be used to censor publishers,” as the controversial secrets-publishing organization on Tuesday defended its support of Infowars’ Alex Jones.

      Several technology platforms, including Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Spotify, pulled years of Infowars content in recent days, citing violations of their codes of conduct relating to hate speech.

      Calling the purge a display of “suspiciously simultaneous censorship,” WikiLeaks tweeted that it came soon after “hawk” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democratic senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee, circulated a policy paper in tech circles “threatening new regulation against those same media companies.”

    • Democrat Senator: More Facebook censorship needed for ‘the survival of our democracy’

      It is crucial for “the survival of our democracy” that Facebook censor more websites, according to one Democrat Senator.

      Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted his support of this week’s mass social media censorship of Infowars, urging censorship of other websites he says promote “lies and hate.”

    • Censorship of Infowars Exposes Larger Problem of Silicon Valley Bias

      This week, the conspiracy website Infowars, which is run by Alex Jones, was either “banned” or had content stripped from most social media platforms.

      YouTube cited “hate speech and harassment” as reasons to remove Infowars from the platform, Apple explained that “hate speech” wouldn’t be tolerated, and Facebook announced: “Upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence … and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • German police hacking hit by volley of complaints: Can ‘state trojan’ law survive?

      Civil rights activists and politicians will in the coming days launch a volley of constitutional complaints against the German government over its use of state-sponsored malware in criminal investigations.

      On August 24 last year, a new law came into effect that drastically expanded the number of investigations where hacking could form part of the authorities’ arsenal.

      The complaints are coming now because there’s a one-year deadline for making such objections to the Constitutional Court.

      One of the complaints is being prepared by the Society for Civil Rights, GesellschaftfürFreiheitsrechte, or GFF, which is taking a two-pronged approach.

    • Apple Says “Customer Is Not Our Product”: Answers 16 Hard Questions From Lawmakers

      Other services like data collection via microphone, third-party apps’ ability to collect data, etc. that can compromise the privacy of users were also discussed in length.

    • Lawmakers Question Apple and Google on Personal Data Collection Policies

      The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning sent letters to Apple and Google parent company Alphabet to ask 16 multi-part questions about how the companies handle customer data, according to a press release.

      The letter to Apple [PDF] cites recent media reports as the reason for the inquiry, referencing November news suggesting Android collects extensive user location data even when location services are disabled along with reports that smartphones collect and store “non-triggered” audio data from user conversations near a smartphone to hear a trigger phrase such as “Ok Google” or “Hey Siri.”

    • Internal Facebook Note: Here Is A “Psychological Trick” To Target Teens

      When Facebook purchased TBH last October it got more than just a viral polling app that amassed 2.5 million daily users, mostly teens, a few months after launch. The social network also acquired a carefully honed growth strategy targeted toward high school kids.

      An internal document from Facebook, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows TBH’s leadership explaining a well-tested method the startup used to attract teens at individual high schools to download its app. The note provides a window into Facebook’s growth-at-any-costs mentality and the company’s efforts to keep a key demographic engaged as its popularity among teens declines and it simultaneously runs out of people in the connected world to bring to its platform.

    • How Facebook Learned A “Psychological Trick” To Target Teens

      In October 2017, Facebook acquired TBH–an anonymous social media app popular in the high schools of the United States. About one year after the acquisition, Facebook decided to discontinue the app due to its low usage; the app was once attracting 2.5 million teens daily.

      But, prior to ditching the app and focusing on its own money-printing applications, Facebook learned a carefully strategized strategy focused on the high school teenagers.

    • Instapaper Works in the EU Again

      The bookmarking service wasn’t ready for GDPR, the EU privacy law, so the site’s owners opted to block EU residents from accessing the site while they made the necessary changes. We offered a workaround, but it’s no longer necessary.

    • Privacy respecting health monitor / fitness tracker?

      I wonder, is there a fitness tracker / health monitor available for sale today that respect the users privacy? With this I mean a watch/bracelet capable of measuring pulse rate and other fitness/health related values (and by all means, also the correct time and location if possible), which is only provided for me to extract/read from the unit with computer without a radio beacon and Internet connection. In other words, it do not depend on a cell phone app, and do make the measurements available via other peoples computer (aka “the cloud”). The collected data should be available using only free software. I’m not interested in depending on some non-free software that will leave me high and dry some time in the future. I’ve been unable to find any such unit. I would like to buy it. The ones I have seen for sale here in Norway are proud to report that they share my health data with strangers (aka “cloud enabled”). Is there an alternative? I’m not interested in giving money to people requiring me to accept “privacy terms” to allow myself to measure my own health.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • On-Again, Off-Again: Where Do Things Stand With DACA?

      A federal court in Washington D.C. ordered the government to begin accepting new DACA applications, but a court in Texas could stop it.

      It was nearly a year ago that President Trump announced the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that gave some 800,000 young people who grew up in this country the opportunity to live and work here legally. Since then, there have been multiple lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s decision to shut down the program, but also one challenging the legality of continuing it.

      With new developments every few weeks, it is easy to lose track of what’s been happening in the courts. Here’s what you need to know.

    • Facebook Asked To Change Terms Of Service To Protect Journalists

      There are plenty of things to be concerned about regarding Facebook these days, and I’m sure we’ll be discussing them for years to come, but the Knight First Amendment Center is asking Facebook to make a very important change as soon as possible: creating a safe harbor for journalists who are researching public interest stories on the platform. Specifically, the concern is that basic tools used for reporting likely violate Facebook’s terms of service, and could lead to Facebook being able to go after reporters for CFAA violations for violating its terms.

    • 48 Hours in Charlottesville: Fear, Nausea, and a Sad Lack of Surprise

      I was driving through the lush Virginia countryside along Route 29 last August when I saw it: a long convoy of military vehicles, most of them troop carriers.

      After a few moments, I realized what was going on. The soldiers were headed south to Charlottesville, where, in a few hours, hundreds of white supremacists were expected to convene for the largest public gathering of racial extremists in decades. I was going there, too, on assignment to cover the rally.

      Given what had happened in the previous months — three people stabbed at a Klan rally in Anaheim, seven people stabbed at a neo-Nazi event in Sacramento, street fighting that stretched on for hours in Berkeley — I feared it might be a bloody scene in Charlottesville.

      As the convoy trundled along in the slow lane, I shivered a little despite the heat. The authorities, I thought, must be expecting a storm of violence if they were mobilizing National Guard.

    • Intelligence Oversight? Dianne Feinstein Employed A Chinese Spy For Several Years

      The FBI interviewed the spy and determined he hadn’t passed on anything of value. I guess that’s a relief, but it also may indicate just palling around with Feinstein doesn’t result in much actionable intelligence. Of course, it may be the spy didn’t even know he was a spy. The SF Chronicle source says the suspected spy just considered his State Security a friend who liked to chat about US politics.

      What should be concerning is how quietly this was handled. When intelligence oversight members can’t keep from being spied on by staffers, there’s a problem. It may be impossible to prevent every attempt, but having a long-time employee turn out to be a foreign intelligence source is more than embarrassing, it’s potentially dangerous. This was simply swept under the rug by Feinstein and never discussed publicly.

      Trust isn’t a one-way street. Our surveillance oversight should be accountable to the public just as surely as the intelligence community should be accountable to its oversight. This should have been acknowledged and discussed publicly, not left to anonymous sources and/or FOIA warriors with the tenacity and funding to force the government to hand over documents dealing with its hidden screw-ups.

    • Five questions on Israel’s controversial Jewish nation law

      Israel’s Arab minority fears the law legalizes discrimination that will allow them to be openly excluded from housing, for example, or see state budgets skewed against them.

      Fuchs said the immediate impact is more symbolic than practical, but over the long-term he can envision gradual changes.

      That could include laws such as forcing parliament members or new citizens to take an oath saying they are loyal to a “Jewish and democratic” state.

      But even if there are no immediate practical effects, Fuchs said the symbolism of it remains powerful.

      “Whoever you talk to who is an Arab or not Jewish will tell you, and rightly so, that this sends a message that you are not full citizens in this country,” he said.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ajit Pai Throws His Employees Under The Bus After Investigation Proves FCC Made Up DDOS Attack

      Eventually, e-mails obtained via FOIA request made it clear that the FCC CIO either made up the DDOS attack or misinterpreted legitimate Oliver viewer traffic as a malicious act. But those e-mails also made clear that Pai’s FCC then pushed the DDOS attack narrative to numerous tech reporters, apparently in a bid to try and downplay the public’s massive opposition to Pai’s controversial policies. This act was only compounded by the FCC’s refusal to seriously address the identity theft and fraud that polluted the repeal’s comment period, the only real time consumers had a chance to have their voices heard.

      Fast forward to this week. After a lengthy investigation into the whole idiotic affair, the FCC’s Inspector General has released a report (pdf) again making it very clear that the FCC not only made up the DDOS attack, but repeatedly misled Congress when asked about it. The report notes how the FCC under Pai’s watch “misrepresented facts and provided misleading responses to Congressional inquiries related to this incident,” and that investigators were unable “to identify any evidence that FCC staff or contractors analyzed server logs or conducted any substantive analysis.”

      The FCC IG report notes that some of these false claims several FCC staffers made to Congress were passed on to the DOJ for an additional investigation, but the DOJ has thus far declined to follow through. The fact the press was also routinely misled (as discovered in FOIA-obtained e-mails) and fed false statements doesn’t appear to have warranted much concern in the report.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Vague Interrogatories a “Gift” to Answering Party

      The court granted in part plaintiff’s motion to compel further interrogatory responses regarding defendants’ offers to sell the accused surgical products.

    • Defense Counsel’s Past Representation of Party to Confidential Settlement Agreement Does Not Justify Disqualification

      The court denied plaintiff’s motion to disqualify defense counsel who represented a third party as a defendant in another case involving the same patent-in-suit that resulted in a confidential settlement agreement.

    • Conclusory Disclaimer Stricken From Expert’s Report

      The court granted plaintiff’s motion to strike portions of the reports of defendant’s invalidity experts which included disclaimers.

    • Victory at Trial Does Not Justify Increase in Rate for Ongoing Royalty

      Following a jury trial, the court partially granted plaintiff’s motion for an ongoing royalty and awarded the same royalty rate imposed by the jury.

    • Cannabis Extract Patent Assertion Underscores Issue of Limited Prior Art for Marijuana Inventions

      On July 30th, Golden, CO-based medical marijuana biotech firm United Cannabis Corporation filed a suit alleging patent infringement claims against Conifer, CO-based wellness company Pure Hemp Collective. The suit, filed in the District of Colorado, involves the assertion of cannabis patent claims which cover liquid formulations of highly enriched extracts of plant cannabinoids.

      The patent at issue in this case is U.S. Patent No. 9730911, titled Cannabis Extracts and Methods of Preparing and Using Same. Issued last August, it claims a liquid cannabinoid formulation wherein at least 95 percent of the total cannabinoids is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa). The resulting invention addresses the need for providing more effective and safer cannabis extracts for medical uses through an extraction procedure that provides the desired active ingredients for the medical purpose.

    • Denmark – No infringement held in case between former business partners after inspection of the products at-issue by both the court-appointed experts and the court

      In a recent judgement rendered by the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court (SH2018.T-3-16 – Hexa-Cover A/S et al v. Kirk Plast A/S et al), the court heard an infringement case based on the alleged infringement by virtue of the marketing and sale of a system of so-called floating tabs, which serve to provide a cover for tanks containing liquids, e.g. slurry tanks. Hexa-Cover, the proprietor of patent no. DK/EP 1697234 T3, claimed that the defendants had infringed the patent-in-suit (as well as the Danish act on fair marketing practices by passing off).

      The patent-in-suit concerned a special construction of a floating tab system used to cover a liquid surface, thus reducing evaporation, smell etc. The defendant’s floating tab system had many similarities with Hexa-Cover’s floating tab system, and visually the two systems appeared similar and as the defendant had previously manufactured the composite parts for a floating tab system developed by the patentee, the patentee brought suit against the defendant based on allegations of both patent infringement and passing off.

    • Otonomy, Inc. v. Auris Medical, AG (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      Last week, in Otonomy, Inc. v. Auris Medical, AG, the Federal Circuit reversed the decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board according to Auris Medical, AG the benefit of priority to its earlier-filed International application. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the Board’s determination that certain claims of Otonomy Inc.’s application are not anticipated by the publication of Auris Medical’s International application.

      The dispute between the parties concerns an interference between Auris Medical’s U.S. Patent No. 9,066,865 (“the ’865 patent”) and Otonomy’s U.S. Patent Application No. 13/848,636 (“the ’636 application”). The ’865 patent issued to Auris on June 30, 2015 from U.S. Patent Application 14/317,319 (“the ’319 application”), which was filed on June 27, 2014; the ’319 application is a continuation of U.S. Patent Application No. 11/992,632 (“the ’632 application”), which is a national stage application of International Application No. PCT/EP2005/010478 (“the ’478 PCT”), which was filed on September 28, 2005, and which was published as International Publication No. WO 2007/038949 (“the WO ’949″) on April 12, 2007. On the same day that Auris filed the ’319 application, it also filed a preliminary amendment adding claims directed to therapeutic compositions containing various claimed active ingredients, including fluoroquinolones, for use in the claimed methods. Otonomy’s ’636 application was filed on March 21, 2013.

    • Trademarks

      • European Court Of Justice: Louboutin’s Trademark For Red Shoe Soles İs Valid

        The Court of Justice of the European Union has declared the iconic red sole of Christian Louboutin’s shoes to be a trademark. The court considered the trademark’s validity and declared that it does not aim to protect the shoe’s shape (as the defendant claimed) but rather it sought to protect the application of red on the shoe’s sole. Therefore, the court held that the colour red applied to the sole of a shoe can be protected as a positional mark within the European Union.

        Christian Louboutin filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Dutch company. The company argued that the red sole of a shoe was not capable of trademark protection on the basis that the trademark solely constitutes the product’s shape. It claimed that Christian Louboutin’s trademark was invalid, relying on Article 3 of Directive 2008/95. This provision states (amongst other things) that marks which consist exclusively of the shape which gives substantial value to the goods will be declared invalid.

      • You are the Google of what…?

        Trademarks are, fundamentally, a short-hand way to identify the source of goods or services. We use the mark “Disney”, rather than refer to “entertainment studios located in Burbank, California and reaching back to entertainment products such as Mickey Mouse”. Using Google as a trademark is also a form of communications shorthand. The question is, how far does it extend? The New York Times headline puts the question into bas relief.

        [...]

        Under such a scenario, is there anything untoward, in a trademark sense, in referring to Tagwalk as the “Google of fashion?” A claim of fair use does not seem in place. In particular, there is no nominative fair use within the meaning of the term under U.S. law, because the Tagwalk search engine can be readily identified without using the Google mark (how about simply—“Tagwalk Wants to Be the Leading Search Engine for the Fashion Industry”).The fact is that Tagwalk is not the name of an automobile tyre nor fast-food restaurant, but of a search engine. And so, of course, is Google.

    • Copyrights

      • CJEU gives clearer picture of copyright law in Cordoba case

        Copying work onto a server and uploading is deemed “communication to the public” in a decision that also distinguishes between hyperlinking and posting online under copyright law

      • Real Estate Developer Found Using Video Game Footage In Marketing Material… Which Is Pretty Cool!

        We’ve featured a number of stories here about entities attempting to pass off video game footage as something in real life. On the one hand, since these stories usually feature governments doing this in a pretty bald-faced attempt at trickery, and since these attempts at trickery typically have something to do with the realm of war, it’s easy to take a negative view of the whole thing entirely. On the other hand, it’s hard to escape the notion that our video games have gotten so realistic so as to be able to fool large swaths of people into thinking they are depictions of the real thing, which is pretty damned cool.

      • CJEU rules that unauthorized re-posting of protected content may be an infringement

        Today the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its last copyright judgment [but also - incredibly - the first copyright judgment of 2018] before the summer break.

        In Renckhoff, C-161/17 it ruled – contrary to the Opinion of Advocate General Campos Sanchéz-Bordona [here and here; ALAI thought it was very bad, and criticized it here] – that in a situation like the one at issue the unauthorized re-posting of a copyright work would be an act of communication to the public within Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive.

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    Links for the day



  17. It's Almost 2019 and Team UPC is Still Pretending Unitary Patent (UPC) Exists, Merely Waiting for Britain to Join

    Refusing to accept that the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) has reached its death or is at a dead end, UPC proponents — i.e. lawyers looking to profit from frivolous litigation — resort to outright lies and gymnastics in logic/intellectual gymnastics



  18. IAM and IP Kat Are Still Megaphones of Battistelli and His Agenda

    IAM reaffirms its commitment to corrupt Battistelli and IP Kat maintains its stance, which is basically not caring at all about EPO corruption (to the point of actively deleting blog comments that mention such corruption, i.e. 'sanitising' facts)



  19. The EPO Under António Campinos Relaxes the Rules on Software Patenting and the Litigation 'Industry' Loves That

    EPO management, which is nontechnical, found new terms by which to refer to software patents -- terms that even the marketing departments can endorse (having propped them up); they just call it all AI, augmented intelligence and so on



  20. Links 17/10/2018: Elementary OS 5.0 “Juno” Released, MongoDB’s Server Side Public Licence

    Links for the day



  21. Improving US Patent Quality Through Reassessments of Patents and Courts' Transparency

    Transparency in US courts and more public participation in the patent process (examination, litigation etc.) would help demonstrate that many patents are being granted — and sometimes asserted — that are totally bunk, bogus, fake



  22. Ask OIN How It Intends to Deal With Microsoft Proxies Such as Patent Trolls

    OIN continues to miss the key point (or intentionally avoid speaking about it); Microsoft is still selling 'protection' from the very same patent trolls that it is funding, arming, and sometimes even instructing (who to pass patents to and sue)



  23. Links 1610/2018: Linux 4.19 RC8, Xfce Screensaver 0.1.0 Released

    Links for the day



  24. Judge-Bashing Tactics, Undermining PTAB, and Iancu's Warpath for the Litigation and Insurance 'Industries'

    Many inter partes reviews (IPRs) at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) leverage 35 U.S.C. § 101 against software patents; instead of putting an end to such patents Director Iancu decides to just serve the 'industry' he came from (a meta-industry where his firm had worked for Donald Trump)



  25. 'Cloud', 'AI' and Other Buzzwords as Excuses for Granting Fake Patents on Software

    With resurgence of rather meaningless terms like so-called 'clouds' (servers/hosting) and 'AI' (typically anything in code which does something clever, including management of patents) the debate is being shifted away from 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101); but courts would still see past such façade



  26. Corporate Media's Failure to Cover Patents Properly and Our New Hosting Woes

    A status update about EPO affairs and our Web host's plan to shut down (as a whole) very soon, leaving us orphaned or having to pay heavy bills



  27. Links 15/10/2018: Testing Ubuntu 18.10 Release Candidates, KaOS 2018.10 Released

    Links for the day



  28. USPTO FEES Act/SUCCESS Act Gives More Powers to Director Iancu, Supplying Patents for Litigation 'Business' and Embargo (ITC)

    Corruption of the US patent system contributes to various issues which rely on the extrajudicial nature of some elements in this system; companies can literally have their products confiscated or imports blocked, based on wrongly-granted patents



  29. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Decides That USPTO Wrongly Granted Patents to Roche

    Patent quality issues at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — motivated by money rather than common sense — continue to be highlighted by courts; the USPTO needs to raise the bar to improve the legal certainty associated with US patents



  30. Even Judge Gilstrap From Texas is Starting to Accept That Software Patents Are Invalid

    Amid new lawsuits from Texas (e.g. against Citrix) we’re pleased to see that even “reprehensible” Rodney Gilstrap (that’s what US politicians call him) is learning to accept SCOTUS on 35 U.S.C. § 101


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