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08.19.18

Links 19/8/2018: Skrooge 2.15.0, Wine 3.14, End of Akademy 2018

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Oracle puts GraphPipe into open source to standardize and deploy machine learning

    Oracle released a new tool, which is called GraphPipe, into open source in order to speed up real-world deployments of machine learning.

    GraphPipe, which Oracle has put into open source via GitHub, was designed to standardize and clarify machine learning models in order to scale out services and applications to customers.

  • Uber Open Sources Its Large Scale Metrics Platform M3

    Uber’s engineering team released its metrics platform M3, which it has been using internally for some years, as open source. The platform was built to replace its Graphite based system, and provides cluster management, aggregation, collection, storage management, a distributed time series database (TSDB) and a query engine with its own query language M3QL.

    [...]

    M3′s query engine provides a single global view of all metrics without cross region replication. Metrics are written to local regional M3DB instances and replication is local to a region. Queries go to both the regional local instances as well as to coordinators in remote regions where metrics are stored. The results are aggregated locally, and future work is planned wherein any query aggregation would happen at the remote coordinators.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Dev.to

    This week’s highlighted project comes courtesy of a community of developers who hope that their codebase will be used to foster communities like theirs, focused on education and collaboration among peers of any skill level. Dev.to’s codebase is open-source as of last week week and the community-building platform’s developers think that further community involvement in development will lead to great things.

    [...]

    Halpern made sure to clarify in the post that this release is not simply a library for creating the types of community-driven communication platforms that dev.to embodies, but the for-profit company’s entire codebase. “However, that is a perfectly valid use case in the future,” Halpern wrote in a post leading up to the release. “If you are interested in contributing such that we can eventually help people stand up their own version of this platform for their own business or society, we’ll definitely welcome that input.”

    The platform is a Ruby on Rails app with a Preact front-end. The company is hard at work on native apps for iOS and Android but say its technology choices are fluid.

  • Events

    • Testing & Fuzzing Microconference Accepted into 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Testing, fuzzing, and other diagnostics have greatly increased the robustness of the Linux ecosystem, but embarrassing bugs still escape to end users. Furthermore, a million-year bug would happen several tens of times per day across Linux’s installed base (said to number more than 20 billion), so the best we can possibly do is hardly good enough.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Bitslicing with Karnaugh maps

        Bitslicing, in cryptography, is the technique of converting arbitrary functions into logic circuits, thereby enabling fast, constant-time implementations of cryptographic algorithms immune to cache and timing-related side channel attacks.

        My last post Bitslicing, An Introduction showed how to convert an S-box function into truth tables, then into a tree of multiplexers, and finally how to find the lowest possible gate count through manual optimization.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 16

        On Monday Andrzej Mazur launched the 2018 edition of the JS13KGames competition. As the name suggests, you have to create a game using only thirteen kilobytes of Javascript (zipped) or less. Check out some of last year’s winners to see what is possible in 13k.

        This year Mozilla is sponsoring the new WebXR category, which lets you use A-Frame or Babylon.js without counting towards the 13k. See the full rules for details. Prizes this year includes the Oculus Go for the top three champions.

      • Share files easily with extensions

        When we want to share digital files, most people think of popular file hosting services like Box or Dropbox, or other common methods such as email and messaging apps. But did you know there are easier—and more privacy-focused—ways to do it with extensions? WeTransfer and Fire File Sender are two intriguing extension options.

        WeTransfer allows you to send files up to 2GB in size with a link that expires seven days from upload. It’s really simple to use—just click the toolbar icon and a small pop-up appears inviting you to upload files and copy links for sharing. WeTransfer uses the highest security standards and is compliant with EU privacy laws. Better still, recipients downloading files sent through WeTransfer won’t get bombarded with advertisements; rather, they’ll see beautiful wallpapers picked by the WeTransfer editorial team. If you’re interested in additional eye-pleasing backgrounds, check out WeTransfer Moment.

      • RLS 1.0 release candidate

        The current version of the Rust Language Server (RLS), 0.130.5, is the first 1.0 release candidate. It is available on nightly and beta channels, and from the 3rd September will be available with stable Rust.

        1.0 for the RLS is a somewhat arbitrary milestone. We think the RLS can handle most small and medium size projects (notable, it doesn’t work with Rust itself, but that is large and has a very complex build system), and we think it is release quality. However there are certainly limitations and many planned improvements.

        It would be really useful if you could help us test the release candidate! Please report any crashes, or projects where the RLS gives no information or any bugs where it gives incorrect information.

      • Mozilla brings back Stylish Add-on to Firefox after it was Banned Last Year

        The Stylish add-on, with which you can give websites their very own style, is back for Firefox. This improvement has been welcomed by many users. The history of this Add-on is quite complicated as it was supposedly twice removed and added back before it was removed again. Now it has been added back as reported by Vess (@VessOnSecurity).

        [...]

        The add-on Stylish has been brought back in the Mozilla’s add-on storehouse. What users should know: This expansion was criticized some time prior as a user data collector and has been prohibited and banned a year back from Mozilla’s Add-on store.

        Owing to its notoriety of collecting data of users’ website visits in a way which makes it convenient to reveal users’ identity to third parties, Google and Mozilla banned it last year. It is indeed surprising as to why Mozilla decided to bring it back to its browser after it was criticized for compromising users’ identity.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1: A week in stats

      On August 8, we announced LibreOffice 6.1, a new version of the suite with many great features and updates created by our worldwide community. Let’s look at some stats from the last week!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • How Changa Bell is taking an ‘open source’ approach to grow the Black Male Yoga Intiative
    • Microsoft open sources new framework for Windows driver development [Ed: openwashing Microsoft Windows by pretending that when you write proprietary drivers for a proprietary O/S that does DRM, spies on users etc. you actually do something "open"]
    • Microsoft to Open Source Its Network Replication Software [Ed: Microsoft is openwashing some more of its entirely proprietary 'offerings', a hallmark of a company of liars. Come to us! The traps are free, the cages will be "open".]
    • GitHub goes off the Rails as Microsoft closes in [Ed: Microsoft will take GitHub off the rail like it did Skype and LinkedIn (totally lost)]

      GitHub’s platform group is about 155 people at the moment and growing, said Lambert. And much of the group’s focus is on breaking GitHub apart.

      GitHub is about a third of the way through an architectural change that began last year. The company is moving away from Ruby on Rails toward a more heterogeneous, composable infrastructure. Ruby still has a place at GitHub – Lambert referred to the company as a Ruby shop, but he said there’s more Go, Java and even some Haskell being deployed for services. The goal, he explained, is to make GitHub’s internal capabilities accessible to integrators and partners.

      “Our monolith is starting to break up and we’re starting to abstract things into services,” said Lambert. “The platform we’ve chosen to put them on is Kubernetes.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Tesla open sources its security software, Hollywood goes open source, and more news
    • Open Access/Content

      • As Academic Publishers Fight And Subvert Open Access, Preprints Offer An Alternative Approach For Sharing Knowledge Widely

        That’s certainly true, but is easy to remedy. Academics who plan to publish a preprint could offer a copy of the paper to the group of trusted journalists under embargo — just as they would with traditional papers. One sentence describing why it would be worth reading is all that is required by way of introduction. To the extent that the system works for today’s published papers, it will also work for preprints. Some authors may publish without giving journalists time to check with other experts, but that’s also true for current papers. Similarly, some journalists may hanker after full press releases that spoon-feed them the results, but if they can’t be bothered working it out for themselves, or contacting the researchers and asking for an explanation, they probably wouldn’t write a very good article anyway.

        The other concern relates to the quality of preprints. One of the key differences between a preprint and a paper published in a journal is that the latter usually goes through the process of “peer review”, whereby fellow academics read and critique it. But it is widely agreed that the peer review process has serious flaws, as many have pointed out for years — and as Sheldon himself admits.

        Indeed, as defenders note, preprints allow far more scrutiny to be applied than with traditional peer review, because they are open for all to read and spot mistakes. There are some new and interesting projects to formalize this kind of open review. Sheldon rightly has particular concerns about papers on public health matters, where lives might be put at risk by erroneous or misleading results. But major preprint sites like bioRxiv (for biology) and the upcoming medRxiv (for medicine and health sciences) are already trying to reduce that problem by actively screening preprints before they are posted.

  • Programming/Development

    • MUMPS Masochism part I: Line and Block Scope

      It’s sort of an open secret that I sometimes use ANSI M, better known as MUMPS. It was developed in the 60′s, and it definitely still looks like something from the 60′s. But it’s 1,000 times uglier than anything from that decade. I’ve made plenty of people, from software testers at work to other developers on IRC, recoil in horror from showing them samples of even relatively mundane code like a simple “Hello, World!”.

Leftovers

  • Twitter’s fear of making hard decisions is killing it

    But rather than kill off third-party apps for good, it introduced a series of half-measures designed to bleed them out slowly: denying them new features, for example, or capping the number of users they could acquire by limiting their API tokens. While this spared some amount of yelling in the short term, the move — which was still hugely unpopular with a vocal segment of the user base — needlessly prolonged the agony.

  • Twitter shutters legacy APIs and borks third-party apps in the process

    In it there’s a “told you so” dating back to 2011, warning devs not to make apps that do what the official app does. In 2012 it warned that it would limit the use of the API, which it did.

    After that, it gave exceptions to certain apps, but warned: “We’ve repeatedly told developers that our APIs does not prioritise client use cases”.

  • Science

    • M&S ditches call centres for AI chatbots; nans run away screaming

      Staff can even sign up for longer courses in Python and AI, though we’re not sure what use that’s going to be on a checkout, though the company has been partnering with Microsoft to bring AI into the company along with digital transformation powered by specialist firm True.

    • A Bot Panic Hits Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

      But here’s the thing: It’s hard to know for sure if what Bai reported was the result of bots run amok. There are plenty of explanations for junk responses on MTurk. Bai recognizes this. “It might be bots, it might be human-augmented bots, or it might be humans who are tired of taking the survey and are just randomly clicking the buttons,” he says. It could also be the result of poor survey design, as Joe Miele, who operates an MTurk data consultancy, pointed out in response to the uproar.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Young doctors revolt, force AMA to consider backing single-payer healthcare for the first time

      This June at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting, a coalition of young doctors forced the AMA to debate its decades of opposition to single-payer healthcare. During the heated debate on the resolution, older doctors lectured their young challengers about the possibility that universal health care would erode doctors’ income.

    • Once Its Greatest Foes, Doctors Are Embracing Single-Payer

      Though they had tried for years to advance a resolution calling on the organization to drop its decades-long opposition to single-payer health care, this was the first time it got a full hearing. The debate grew heated — older physicians warned their pay would decrease, calling younger advocates naïve to single-payer’s consequences. But this time, by the meeting’s end, the AMA’s older members had agreed to at least study the possibility of changing its stance.

    • Single Payer Is Actually a Huge Bargain

      It’s easy to get lost in the weeds here. But at the end of the day, even according to Blahous’s errant projections, Medicare for All would save the average American about $6,000 over a decade. Single payer, in other words, shifts how we pay for health care, but it doesn’t actually increase overall costs—even while providing first-dollar comprehensive coverage to everyone in the nation. The Post’s fact-checker is wrong: Single-payer supporters can and should trumpet this important fact.

    • US invaded by savage tick that sucks animals dry, spawns without mating

      The tick, the Asian longhorned tick (or Haemaphysalis longicornis), has the potential to transmit an assortment of nasty diseases to humans, including an emerging virus that kills up to 30 percent of victims. So far, the tick hasn’t been found carrying any diseases in the US. It currently poses the largest threat to livestock, pets, and wild animals; the ticks can attack en masse and drain young animals of blood so quickly that they die—an execution method called exsanguination.

      Key to the tick’s explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one US population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females.

  • Security

    • OpenSSH Username Enumeration

      We realized that without this patch, a remote attacker can easily test whether a certain user exists or not (username enumeration) on a target OpenSSH server

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US suspect was ‘training children to commit school shootings’

      A man arrested after 11 malnourished children were found in a remote desert compound was training them to commit school shootings, US media report.

      According to prosecutors’ documents, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was teaching some of the children, who are aged one to 15, how to use weapons.

    • New Mexico compound suspects were training children for school shootings, prosecutors say

      If the defendants were to “be released from custody, there is a substantial likelihood defendant may commit new crimes due to his planning and preparation for future school shootings,” the court documents said.

    • A bubbling Islamist insurgency in Mozambique could grow deadlier

      Adding to the misery are reports of ruby-related land grabs. In London lawyers are pursuing cases against Gemfields on behalf of over 100 small-scale ruby miners, who claim they were shot at, beaten up and sexually abused by police officers and the company’s security guards.

    • Yazidis in US Mark IS Genocide Anniversary
    • Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by the US

      The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

      Working with local Yemeni journalists and munitions experts, CNN has established that the weapon that left dozens of children dead on August 9 was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defense contractors.

      The bomb is very similar to the one that wreaked devastation in an attack on a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016 in which 155 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. The Saudi coalition blamed “incorrect information” for that strike, admitted it was a mistake and took responsibility.

    • Why a retired Navy SEAL commander wants Trump to revoke his security clearance

      The former Navy admiral bashed Trump’s leadership and said that Trump used “McCarthy-era tactics” against his critics.

      “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation,” McRaven wrote.

      McRaven’s letter joined a chorus of detractors who have condemned Trump’s decision Wednesday to revoke Brennan’s security clearance.

    • Inside the Coup Plotting Before the Venezuela Drone Assassination Attempt

      This past April, a number of Venezuelan military dissidents were holed up in neighboring Colombia plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro when they were approached by a group with similar plans.

      The second group, mostly civilians, wanted to assassinate Maduro and suggested joining forces. They showed videos of armed drones shipped from Miami and being tested on a Colombian farm.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • No, Julian Assange is NOT a Fascist.

      No, Julian Assange is not a Fascist. Nor is he to blame for Donald Trump becoming US President. Assange did not support and does not support Trump, who certainly does not and never did support WikiLeaks. Sure, Trump repeatedly exploited WikiLeaks revelations to help himself win the election, but that’s just political opportunism. In 2010 Trump said WikiLeaks revelations merited “the death penalty or something”. After winning power he made his lack of support for WikiLeaks even clearer.

    • London: Ecuador embassy vigil marks six years since Julian Assange granted asylum

      Supporters of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange took part in a demonstration outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London Thursday to mark six years since he sought refuge there and was granted political asylum.

      Chanting slogans including “Protect all journalists, free Assange!” protesters held placards reading, “Free Julian Assange,” “Free Press! Free Assange!” “No Internet Censorship” and “Bring Julian Home.”

      Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno, under pressure from the United States with which he seeks closer relations and investment, has stepped up moves to eject Assange from the embassy.

      [...]

      World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke to some of those at the protest. Mr. Tan from Singapore, who is holidaying in the UK, said he fully supported Assange and was pleased to see people still defending him.

      “I think Julian Assange has done more than anyone this century to promote freedom of speech. In my own country, Singapore, we have been a so-called democratic state since independence [in 1965 from Britain] but it has been the same party in power, the People’s Action Party [PAP], ever since.

      “For a lot of that time the same man, Lee Kuan Yew, was the prime minister. So you could say Singapore is a one-party state. And even though it has absolute power the PAP uses the courts and all sorts of underhand ways to stop opposition parties growing.

      “We are ranked as one of the worst countries in the world in terms of press freedom. And it is getting worse, with more and more restrictive laws.

      “Although the government says it does not censor political opinion on the internet, nearly all the online news channels are owned by the big newspaper companies which are tightly controlled or censor themselves. I will have to look at the World Socialist Web Site when I get back home.

    • Julian Assange Can Vindicate Trump

      President Donald Trump and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) were once enemies as they vied for the presidency, but these days they are best buds working together to spread peace instead of war by pursuing diplomatic measures with countries such as Russia and North Korea, much to the chagrin of the deep state and military-industrial complex.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA docs don’t show any scientific evidence for Scott Pruitt’s climate claims

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not been able to offer any scientific evidence for statements made by the agency’s former Administrator Scott Pruitt when he went on CNBC in March 2017 and said that carbon dioxide was not known to be a major contributor to climate change.

    • Palm oil: A new threat to Africa’s monkeys and apes?

      Endangered monkeys and apes will almost certainly face new risks if Africa becomes a big player in the palm oil industry.

    • Trump administration delays Dakota Access Pipeline decision again

      In a status report filed in federal court on Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it needed until August 31 to complete its work on the final portion of the $3.8 billion project. The agency is reviewing information submitted by tribal opponents and Energy Transfer Partners, the firm behind the pipeline, government attorneys said.

    • Standing Rock protesters now protesting Line 5 pipeline

      Shomin, 54, and others have set up a camp to protest Canadian oil transport company Enbridge’s Line 5, which carries millions of gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day, splitting into two pipelines as it passes underwater through the Straits of Mackinac.

    • ‘Tears running down my face’: farmers turn to crowdfunding for support

      Tammy and Craig Whatman supply 1.2 million litres of milk to the Australian market from their Mayberry farm in Burrawang, NSW but their more than 300 cows are approaching starvation and drought conditions are pushing them to the edge.

    • On climate change, it’s time to start panicking

      Yet this is one of those issues in which — because there are so many twists and turns and overwhelming details — it is easy to lose sight of a crucial fact: If we do not resolve the problem of man-made climate change, it could quite literally spell the end of human civilization.

    • The world is losing the war against climate change

      Yet as the impact of climate change becomes more evident, so too does the scale of the challenge ahead. Three years after countries vowed in Paris to keep warming “well below” 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, greenhouse-gas emissions are up again. So are investments in oil and gas. In 2017, for the first time in four years, demand for coal rose. Subsidies for renewables, such as wind and solar power, are dwindling in many places and investment has stalled; climate-friendly nuclear power is expensive and unpopular. It is tempting to think these are temporary setbacks and that mankind, with its instinct for self-preservation, will muddle through to a victory over global warming. In fact, it is losing the war.

    • New South Wales drought now affects entire state

      A dry winter has intensified what has been called the worst drought in living memory in parts of eastern Australia.

      NSW produces about a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output. It was officially listed as “100% in drought” on Wednesday.

    • Finnish travel firms consider ban on parks with captive orca

      Finnish holiday companies such as Aurinkomatkat (Suntours), Apollomatkat (Apollo Travels) and TUI Finland are mulling whether they should join in a decision by one company in Britain to ban destinations with animal theme parks that feature captive orcas as entertainment.

      Thomas Cook Group, a British-owned travel group, announced on July 29 that it would be stopping trips and ticket sales to several destinations in 2019.

    • Is Climate the Worst Casualty of War?

      The Pentagon uses more petroleum per day than the aggregate consumption of 175 countries (out of 210 in the world), and generates more than 70 percent of this nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, based on rankings in the CIA World Factbook. “The U.S. Air Force burns through 2.4 billion gallons of jet fuel a year, all of it derived from oil,” reported an article in the Scientific American. Since the start of the post-9/11 wars, U.S. military fuel consumption has averaged about 144 million barrels annually. That figure doesn’t include fuel used by coalition forces, military contractors, or the massive amount of fossil fuels burned in weapons manufacturing.

    • VW’s CEO was told about emissions software months before scandal: Der Spiegel

      Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) Chief Executive Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said.

  • Finance

    • HUD accuses Facebook of Fair Housing Act violations

      The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint [PDF] against Facebook on Friday. HUD accuses the social media company of violating the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in print and online advertisements on the basis of race, religion, physical ability, gender, and other attributes.

      The HUD complaint [read it here, PDF] claims Facebook allowed advertisers to target prospective buyers or renters and filter out others– for instance, a person interested in “accessibility,” or another from a zip code associated with a given race or economic class.

    • HUD hits Facebook with housing discrimination complaint

      The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits home rental and sale advertisements from discriminating “based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

      In its complaint, the federal housing agency outlined several ways landlords or sellers can use Facebook ads to do just that. They could, for example, decide to show the ads to only men, or ensure that their ads don’t appear in the feeds of anyone with “accessibility” listed as an interest.

    • Walmart completes $16 bn acquisition deal; to hold 77% stake in Flipkart

      Founded in 2007, Flipkart has led India’s eCommerce revolution. The company has grown rapidly and earned customer trust, leveraging a powerful technology foundation, including artificial intelligence, and emerging as a leader in electronics, large appliances, mobile and fashion and apparel.

    • Walmart is now the largest shareholder of Flipkart

      Walmart’s $16 billion investment includes $2 billion of new equity funding to help accelerate the growth of the Flipkart business. The Bentonville-based company had announced its intent to acquire Flipkart on May 9 and in less than three months received an approval by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on August 8.

    • Japan’s habits of overwork are hard to change

      The model now holds Japan back. It is miserable for male workers, especially as companies no longer make the money to offer new employees the same benefits and guarantees. It is even worse for women. Those who succeed in a male-dominated workplace risk all if they have children, after which it is hard to pick up careers again. A large number of women don’t return to work at all. As for Japan’s young, many opt out of corporate life to open or staff boutiques, cafés and the like. There they accept low pay rather than toil in bleak offices. None of this helps companies either—Japan has the lowest productivity of the G7.

    • Appeal from a political economist: the left internationalist case for a second referendum on Brexit

      In 1975, a referendum was held on Britain’s membership of the European Union in which a substantial proportion of the left of the Labour Party, and of the labour movement more generally, voted in favour of withdrawal. Why? Because the EU’s institutional structures and trading arrangements favoured the interests of capital far more than they did the interests of labour. Rejecting Britain’s EU membership was therefore a clear-cut and correct class position for the left to take.

      But is that same position correct today, more than four decades later? As the EU’s political and economic structures are still weighted in favour of business interests, it would seem that the answer has to be affirmative: rejection of Britain’s membership of the EU appears to represent a consistency of class principle. However, this consistency is only valid if complete abstraction is made from the seismic changes in the world order that have occurred since 1975. Factor these changes into the equation and what appears to be a consistent class position turns out to be anything but that in reality.

    • Stephan Livera Podcast 15 – Intellectual Property, Bitcoin, and Internet Censorship

      Stephan Kinsella, Intellectual Property lawyer, and libertarian advocate joins me in this episode to discuss:

      His story with bitcoin
      Money as Sui Generis Good
      The imprecise application of Lockean property theory
      Why you can’t own bitcoin, but it probably doesn’t make a big difference anyway
      The harmful effects of patents and copyright
      ‘Internet Censorship’ as it relates to property rights and ownership of private social media platforms

    • Self-made entrepreneur behind Superdry fashion label hands £1m to Brexit referendum campaign

      The businessman behind the Superdry fashion label is donating £1m to the People’s Vote campaign for a new referendum on Brexit.

      Self-made entrepreneur Julian Dunkerton said he was giving the money because there is “no vision for Brexit” being offered by the government.

      It will be used to launch one of the biggest polling operations ever undertaken in UK politics, to bolster the campaign for a new public vote.

    • Brexit is a consequence of low upward mobility

      On June 23, 2016, the British public voted by a 52-48 percent margin for the United Kingdom to leave its membership of the European Union. A popular view is that British citizens favored Brexit because they were swayed by misplaced nationalism and base xenophobia. Most academic studies, however, find that the Brexit vote reflected economic grievances: economically distressed regions had higher “Leave” shares; and people under financial stress were more likely to vote for Brexit. Recent research shows that people who are economically marginalized and see their social standing slipping away are likely to identify themselves with nationalistic and xenophobic ideas and seek solutions for their grievances outside of the political mainstream. People who…see their social standing slipping away are likely to identify themselves with nationalistic and xenophobic ideas and seek solutions for their grievances outside of the political mainstream.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • OMG This This This This!

      Last night, one of my callers said we needed journalists and commentators willing to die for the truth,” Black tweeted. “I disagreed. We need journalists and commentators willing to give up their status, quit their jobs and make less money telling truth and sadly to most that’s the same as dying.”

      There’s so much truth in that I just want to unpack it a bit and riff on its implications from my own perspective. What would happen if a significant percentage of journalists got fed up with spoon feeding lies to a trusting populace and decided to place truth and authenticity before income and prestige? Or, perhaps more realistically, what if people who are interested in reporting and political analysis ceased pursuing positions in the plutocrat-owned mass media and pursued alternate paths to getting the word out instead?

    • Identity politics has conquered the Westminster bubble

      Something strange has happened to British politics: more and more social and political grievances are being aired and conducted through accusations and counter-accusations of Islamophobia or anti-Semitism or some other form of prejudice. This ‘racism’ game seems to be the only one in town at the moment.

    • Michigan Candidate for Governor Linked to Nation of Islam

      NOI has a long history of extremism. Imam Deen Mohammad’s former assistant Imam Mubarak affiliates himself with the mosque and regularly posts to the Center’s Facebook page, including posts describing Jews and Christians as untrustworthy.

      In addition to its connection to the Nation of Islam, the Muslim Center has several ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Brennan: “We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool”

      Last week Trump suspended former CIA head John Brennan’s security clearance.

      His defenders immediately rose to declare this shall not stand. Twelve former intelligence officials signed a statement criticizing Trump’s decision, claiming “We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case… this action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials to stay silent.”

      [...]

      All those statements are completely and idiotically wrong. My clearance was revoked by my then-employer, the State Department, in 2011 for political reasons, to silence me and others, as part of the Obama war on whistleblowers. And I wasn’t alone. Jesselyn Radack then of The Government Accountability Project wrote “Peter Van Buren is the latest casualty of this punitive trend. The government suspended his top-secret security clearance – which he has held for 23 years – over linking, not leaking to a WikiLeaks document on his blog and publishing a book critical of the government.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why should Islam be exempt from ridicule?

      However, this is the price of living in a free society where free expression is sacrosanct. Sometimes you have to listen to and tolerate views that may annoy you, and as an adult you should be able to cope with that. Islam cannot be given special exemption from scrutiny, criticism, ridicule or satire. No other religion, philosophy or ideology is, and yet our politicians and much of the mainstream media pander to such demands from some sections in the Muslim community. The silencing term ‘Islamophobia’ is also employed to conflate bigotry against peaceful individual Muslims, which is wrong, with any criticism of Islam. The witch hunt is back and Islamophobes are the new witches.

    • Google defends controversial China project in meeting with employees

      The Dragonfly project would reportedly involve censoring information in accordance with the Chinese government’s demands, which has prompted some employees
      to protest the company’s secrecy over the matter. “I think there are a lot of times when people are in exploratory stages where teams are debating and doing things, so sometimes being fully transparent at that stage can cause issues,” Pichai said, according to BuzzFeed News. “So I do think there are genuine issues teams are grappling with. We are as a company, I think, more committed to transparency than probably any company in the world.”

    • Google’s Brin Cops to Plan to Reclaim Lost Decade in China

      At the company’s weekly all-staff meeting, the project was discussed by co-founder Sergey Brin — the very executive most closely associated with the decision in 2010 to pull out of China. It was a widely lauded move by Google managers, led by Brin, who argued that they’d rather leave than subject their search tool to China’s stringent rules that filter out politically sensitive results, such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

    • Here’s What Happened At Today’s Google All-Hands Meeting

      Google leadership addressed Dragonfly, the company’s censored search product for Chinese markets that sparked internal furor when many employees first learned about it two weeks ago, for the first time at an all-hands staff meeting today.

      But according to a source with knowledge of the meeting, after answering a few questions on the subject, executives present at the meeting changed the topic because reporters were live tweeting what they were saying.

    • WordPress removes several alt-right blogs that spread Sandy Hook conspiracies

      Now alt-right bloggers and readers claim several sites have been removed, including conspiracies about Sandy Hook and 9/11. The timing of the move comes just after The New York Times reported on how WordPress was still allowing these bloggers to stay online.

    • Finnish court issues precedent “right to be forgotten” decision for Google to remove data

      The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that Google must remove a convicted man's information from its search engine data, as requested, in respect of his privacy.

    • Twitter Shut Down My Account For “Abusing” John McCain

      They’re calling it a “suspension”, but nobody can view my page and I can’t perform any activities on it, and it appears to be permanent unless I succeed in going through the anonymous and unaccountable appeals process. Now when people try to access my account, they get a screen that looks something like this depending on what device they’re using…

      [...]

      I posted this four days ago when John McCain was trending because Donald Trump didn’t pay him any respect when signing the bloated NDAA military spending bill that was (appropriately) named after him. My reason for doing so was simple: the establishment pundits responsible for manipulating the way Americans think and vote have been aggressively promulgating the narrative that McCain is a hero and a saint, and I think it’s very important to disrupt that narrative. If we allow them to canonize this warmongering psychopath, then they’ll have normalized and sanctified his extensive record of pushing for psychopathic acts of military violence throughout his entire political career. They’ll have helped manufacture support for war and the military-industrial complex war whores who facilitate it. Saying we’ll be glad when he’s gone is a loud and unequivocal way of rejecting that establishment-imposed narrative.

      Interestingly, I’ve been saying this exact same thing repeatedly for over a year. An article I wrote about McCain in July of last year titled “Please Just Fucking Die Already” received a far more widespread backlash than this one, with articles published about it by outlets like CNN, USA Today and the Washington Post. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar talked about me on The View. I was never once suspended or warned by any social media outlet or blogging platform at that time; it was treated as the political speech about a public figure that it clearly and undeniably is. The only thing that has changed since that time is the climate of internet censorship.

      [...]

      So it looks like anyone who voices a political opinion that is deemed sufficiently offensive to Centrist Twitter can be purged in this way now. If you can get enough people reporting the same thing over and over again for a few days, one of those reports will eventually land in the lap of an admin whose personal bias allows them to squint just right at political speech about a public figure and see a violation of Twitter policy.

      I’ve been writing about the dangers of internet censorship so much lately because this is becoming a major problem. In a corporatist system of government, wherein government power and corporate power are not separated in any meaningful way, corporate censorship is state censorship. The plutocratic class which effectively owns the US government also owns all the mass media, allowing that plutocratic class to efficiently manipulate the way Americans think and vote so as to manufacture public consent for the establishment status quo upon which those plutocratic empires are built.

    • Free Press with Craig Aaron

      On today’s program, we look at the state of the media as we hear updates from Craig Aaron, CEO and president of FreePress.net about their latest campaigns fighting big media consolidation at the FCC, including on matters of net neutrality, and spearheading initiatives to revive local journalism. In the second half of the show we’re joined by Jesse Franzblau, policy analyst with Open the Government coalition to discuss recent and ongoing attacks on journalists and the free press.

    • 1A Victory: SCOTUS Again Confirms ‘Hate Speech’ is Protected

      In the world we awoke to on November 8, 2016, a myth took hold among many progressive people that so-called “hate speech” — speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability — is not protected by the First Amendment. Even Howard Dean contributed to the falsehood.

      The Supreme Court just made it very, very clear that is wrong. Offensive and hateful speech is as protected as any other. It is vital to protect all speech, for the road of prohibiting speech one disagrees with is a slippery one. There is a right to offend; deal with it, snowflakes.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA hacked Al Jazeera & Aretha Franklin ‘disturbs the peace’ (E783)

      Former intelligence officer Philip Giraldi discusses the multitude of ways that sanctions harm the wellbeing of people in targeted countries, and talks about the NSA reportedly hacking Al Jazeera in 2006.

    • After call to implant microchips in people awaiting trial, are they about to become the next threat to our privacy?

      Last year, Privacy News Online wrote about the Swedish SJ Railways allowing customers to use under-the-skin microchip implants for “easy” ticket purchases. That might have seemed a one-off bad idea, but such implants have a surprisingly long history. More worryingly, they seem to be gaining in popularity, and cropping up increasingly in everyday situations, with evident privacy implications.

    • Google Goggles Goes to the Grave, Long Live Lens

      Google Goggles has been around for years, but it hasn’t been updated since 2014. Until now. The new app kills off Goggles entirely, directing users to install Google Lens.

    • Google Goggles is dead, now prompts users to install Lens

      When Google Lens was first announced a year ago, many pointed out its similarities to the long-abandoned Google Goggles app. Both were designed to identify objects in pictures, but Lens is far smarter thanks to a healthy dose of machine learning.

      Google Goggles just received its first update since 2014, which replaces the entire app with a “Hello, Google Lens!” message. It asks users to install the new standalone Lens app, and that’s it.

    • Exclusive: U.S. government seeks Facebook help to wiretap Messenger – sources

      The U.S. government is trying to force Facebook Inc (FB.O) to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect’s voice conversations in a criminal probe, three people briefed on the case said, resurrecting the issue of whether companies can be compelled to alter their products to enable surveillance.

    • US seeks Messenger data in case that could mirror one in Australia
    • Have British Spies Been Hacking the EU?

      Just after midnight on Aug. 16, I was called by LBC Radio in London for a comment on a breaking story on the front page of The Daily Telegraph about British spies hacking the EU. Even though I had just retired to bed, the story was just too irresistible, but a radio interview is always too short to do justice to such a convoluted tale. Here are some longer thoughts.

      For those who cannot get past the Telegraph paywall, the gist is that that the European Union has accused the British intelligence agencies of hacking the EU’s side of the Brexit negotiations. Apparently, some highly sensitive and negative EU slides about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for Brexit, the Chequers Plan, had landed in the lap of the British government, which then lobbied the EU to suppress publication.

      Of course, this could be a genuine leak from the Brussels sieve, as British sources are claiming (well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?). However, it is plausible that this is the work of the spies, either by recruiting a paid-up agent well placed within the Brussels bureaucracy, or through electronic surveillance.

    • Modern horror films are finding their scares in dead phone batteries

      Which is why, at this point, the “neutralizing the characters’ cellphones” moment has become a standard part of horror movie language. The most common way around cellphones in horror films is putting the characters in a dead spot where they can’t get reception, either because they’re too isolated or more often because of some kind of technological or supernatural interference.

    • Google clarifies location-tracking policy

      Google has revised an erroneous description on its website of how its “Location History” setting works, clarifying that it continues to track users even if they’ve disabled the setting.

      The change came three days after an Associated Press investigation revealed that several Google apps and websites store user location even if users have turned off Location History. Google has not changed its location-tracking practice in that regard.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A feeling of apartheid in Holland

      The harsh reality in Holland now is that people have their own barbers, their own shopping markets, their own foods, their own places to socialise, their own worlds. They are not comfortable living around one another, and where they are forced to do so by the rental market, they are not comfortable sharing the space. This is not an opinion – this is a fact backed by government research. The latest findings by the Dutch government explicitly state that feelings of mistrust and loss of identity rise in parallel with an increase in societal diversity.

      The Dutch seem insulated. You can get used to anything if it sticks around long enough. This is also one of the more nefarious effects of segregation: necessarily it is difficult to see and experience the problem if it is in a neighbourhood where you never go. Out of sight, out of mind. Again it harks very much back to South Africa, where the racial tension is so deeply embedded, so much part of the national psyche, that it would be unhealthy and unrealistic to spend your days obsessing over it. And so the poison lingers.

    • The burqa represents an ideology that looks down on women

      Non-Muslim protesters even wore burqas in ‘solidarity’ with Muslim women, standing on the wrong side of history by indirectly opposing the Muslim women who are defying the idea of full veil in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

      Anyone fighting the Danish ban is not only willing to compromise the security of their fellow citizens but they are also endorsing the extremist men who want to alienate their female members, despite the full veil having no roots in core Islamic scriptures.

    • ‘I was kidnapped in London and trafficked for sex’

      Anna came to London from Romania intending to study, but first she needed to earn some money. She took temporary jobs – waitressing, cleaning, maths tutoring. Then one day in March 2011 she was snatched off the street, flown to Ireland and put through nine months of hell.

    • The Perils of Housecleaning Abroad

      Better laws can reduce forced labor, but they will not end it. For starters, throughout much of the Arab world, such regulations operate within a much larger, inherently exploitative structure — the “kafala” system. This form of visa sponsorship is believed to have originated in Gulf states to accommodate foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Over the years, the scheme has evolved from helping protect migrants to severely limiting domestic workers’ rights. Under today’s kafala, a migrant is not allowed to leave her employer without the employer’s consent. She is also forbidden from changing employers or traveling out of the country. Escaping is a crime, punishable by arrest and deportation. Human Rights Watch has long argued that no secondary regulation can guarantee the safety of domestic workers as long as the kafala keeps them legally handcuffed to their employers.

    • Amanda Lindhout recounts 15-month Somalia ordeal on Australian TV’s Interview programme

      Young reporter Amanda Lindhout was aware of the risks, but three days after entering Somalia, she and her friend were seized. She told Andrew Denton of her 15-month ordeal.

    • Friday’s papers: Recognising shared parenting, cops feign ignorance, deterring repeat offenders

      National daily Helsingin Sanomat features an analysis of the preliminary investigation report from a trial that began on Tuesday, where top police leaders are suspected of dereliction of their official duties by not ensuring that a database of police informants was properly managed.

      [...]

      HS reports that the behaviour of the leaders of the police and security institutions in Finland when confronted with the problem of Aarnio’s rebel methods was nothing less than “embarrassing”. Throughout the investigation report, their responses to questions on the register were a consistent “I don’t know”, “I can’t answer that”, “I have no knowledge of that”, or “I don’t know.”

    • Slavery Survivor Recalls Trafficking Horrors
    • Facebook accused of helping traffickers by not blocking ads aimed at refugees

      Facebook has been accused of allowing refugees to be tricked into unsafe situations by not blocking advertisements from human traffickers on its site.

    • A Retrospective on Kofi Annan, Dead at 80

      Kofi Annan, the first United Nations secretary general from sub-Saharan Africa, ends his 10-year term on Sunday, leaving behind a complex legacy during an era of genocide, terrorism, and US dominance.

      The 2001 Nobel Peace Prize recipient charted a treacherous course between pleasing and antagonizing Washington while resisting persistent calls for his resignation over the worst corruption scandal in UN history.

      Annan was a secretary general of many contradictions: the first UN staff member to rise to the top, he was later reviled by much of the staff. A champion of developing world causes against entrenched First World power, he was lambasted as a toady of the West. And while critics say his inactions contributed to genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, he later became a leading advocate for military intervention to curb mass killings.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • NBN Co forced to back down on charging rural users more

      Under pressure from the Federal Government, the NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia’s national broadband network, has backed down on a decision to charge rural and regional users $20 more for their fixed wireless 50/20Mbps plans.

    • A Straightforward Timeline of the FCC’s Twisty DDoS Debacle

      This particular drama started last year, when comedian John Oliver urged viewers of his show, Last Week Tonight, to file comments through the FCC’s website asking the FCC to preserve its net neutrality rules. The next day, the FCC’s site went unresponsive. Rather than blaming the traffic generated by Oliver’s show, the FCC claimed it was the victim of a “distributed denial of service,” or DDoS, attack, meaning that someone had deliberately tried to overload its servers and cause them to crash.

      Security experts, journalists, and Congress immediately questioned the claim, but FCC chair Ajit Pai assured both houses of Congress that the agency had evidence of an attack. [...]

    • Ajit Pai knew DDoS claim was false in January, says he couldn’t tell Congress

      Making false statements to Congress can be punished with fines or imprisonment, but the US Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute any FCC employees, according to the IG report.

  • DRM

    • Netflix will now interrupt series binges with video ads for its other series

      In a statement given to Ars Technica, Netflix described the change as follows: “We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.” The reasoning, Netflix’s statement says, comes from its last controversial decision: to add auto-playing videos, complete with unmuteable audio, while browsing through Netflix content.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Property Rights, but only To the Extent Needed

      In addition to its patent law jurisprudence, the Federal Circuit also handles appeals from the US Court of Federal Claims (CFC). The CFC hears monetary claims against the U.S. Government – including breach of contract, takings, and unlicensed patent use under 28 U.S.C. Section 1498. The CFC also meets in the same Madison Place building as the Federal Circuit.

      The Federal Circuit’s new decision in Crow Creek Sioux Tribe v. United States, App. No. 2017-2340 (Fed. Cir. August 17, 2018), revolves around a water-rights takings claim against the U.S. Government. The particular claim stems from two dams across the upper Missouri River that limit the Tribe’s ability to use and enjoy river water. The tribe sued in 2016. However, the case was dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit has now affirmed that decision – holding that the tribal water rights are only a weak form of property. In particular, the appellate held that the tribal property right in the water flow only extends to the amount of “to the extent needed to accomplish the purpose of the reservation.” Quoting Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908) (known as “Winters rights” to water). In Cappaert v. United States, 426 U.S. 128, 138 (1976), the court reiterated the winters rule – noting that Winters rights entitle a tribe to “that amount of water necessary to fulfill the purpose of the reservation, no more.”

    • Big Bang: the “stupid patent” on teledildonics has expired
    • The 20-Year Patent on Teledildonics Has Expired

      On August 17, 1998, three men applied for a patent that envisioned how the future might fuck, before we even had the technology to apply it. Today, it’s officially expired, ending a complicated 20-year relationship between teledildonics and patent law.

    • Cybersex toy industry heats up as infamous “teledildonics” patent climaxes

      On Friday, US Patent No. 6,368,268 expired after being on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for 20 years. The company that had previously held the patent, TZU Technologies, LLC, of Pasadena, California, had filed 10 lawsuits alleging infringement since 2015—one as recently as December 2017. All suits appear to have been settled, with TZU Technologies receiving a payout in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

    • Trademarks

      • Getting Worse: The Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Jumps Into The Aloha Poke Situation As Chicago Chain Stonewalls

        It’s been a week or so since we last checked in on the Aloha Poke situation, so perhaps you were wondering how things were coming along with the Chicago chain that wasn’t founded by Hawaiians attempting to bully native Hawaiian poke joints across the country out of using their own language and culture over trademark concerns. You will recall that Aloha Poke Co. had sent cease and desist notices to many poke restaurants that dared to use the ubiquitous Hawaiian term “Aloha” in their names, including to proprietors on the Hawaiian Islands themselves. That many operations throughout the country had been chugging along sharing this name and food culture without issue apparently didn’t prevent Aloha Poke Co. from registering “Aloha Poke” as a trademark and then go the bullying route. The last touchstone in all of this was a hundreds-strong planned protest at the company’s headquarters in Chicago, which indeed ended up happening.

        So, how have things gone since? Well, Aloha Poke Co. appears to be simply digging in its heels and trying to ride this storm out rather than backing down, but it’s a strategy that doesn’t appear to be working all that well. Just this week, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, an organization that promotes and protects Hawaiian culture, has jumped into the fray, both voicing its displeasure at Aloha Poke Co.’s bullying and essentially filling up its homepage with news about the protests.

    • Copyrights

      • ISP Has No ‘Safe Harbor’ Defense in Piracy Case, Record Labels Argue

        Texas-based Internet provider Grande Communications has no right to a safe harbor defense, several major record labels have informed the court. The companies are requesting a summary judgment, arguing that evidence and testimony clearly show that the ISP’s acceptable use policy was a sham.

      • RIAA Paid Handsomely for BitTorrent Piracy Evidence

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has profited handsomely from the music industry’s efforts to hold ISPs accountable for pirating subscribers. According to a recent court filing, the company convinced the RIAA to pay $700,000 for notices related to Grande Communications.

      • Out-of-control censorship machines removed my article warning of out-of-control censorship machines

        A few days ago, about a dozen articles and campaign sites criticising EU plans for copyright censorship machines silently vanished from the world’s most popular search engine. Proving their point in the most blatant possible way, the sites were removed by exactly what they were warning of: Copyright censorship machines.

      • Prenda Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Pirate Bay Honeypot Case

        Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys behind the controversial law firm Prenda, has pleaded guilty to mail, wire fraud, and money laundering. The Pirate Bay provided important evidence in the case, where Hansmeier and his colleague were found creating and uploading porn movies to file-sharing sites to extract settlements from alleged pirates.

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