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12.28.18

Links 28/12/2018: Mesa 18.2.8 Released, Ubuntu/GNOME on a Tablet

Posted in News Roundup at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Nor-Tech Refreshes Existing HPC Supercomputers for Big Data Applications AI, DL, ML

      The project includes installation of Bright Cluster Manager; Scientific Linux 7.x, 16; PBS Pro Job Scheduler; and Bioinformatics software.

      Nor-Tech Executive Vice President Jeff Olson said, “We have an engineering team that rivals those at the top HPC technology companies in the world. Coupled with access to the brain trusts at organizations such as Intel, NVIDIA, Bright, Linux, etc., we can build and refresh HPC technology for almost any application.”

    • Open Source Domain Controller

      Is there an open source domain controller (DC) worth considering? There are a number of open source DCs available and many of them could end up representing interesting solutions for your organization. Often, solutions pertaining to the directory services realm end up functioning as domain controllers for organizations. Many of the solutions considered are either OpenLDAP™, FreeIPA, Samba, and a slew of others.

    • Using JupyterHub as a generic application spawner

      As part of my day job I occasionally need to give workshops on using OpenShift, Red Hat’s distribution of Kubernetes. The workshop notes that attendees follow to do the exercises we host using an internally developed tool called workshopper. We host the workshop notes using this tool inside of the same OpenShift cluster that users will be working in.

      To access the OpenShift cluster and do the exercises, attendees use the OpenShift command line clients oc or odo. They may also need to use kubectl. Because these are client side tools they would need to be installed somewhere where the attendees can run them, usually this is on their own local computer.

      Requiring that attendees install a client on their own local computer can often be a challenge. This is because when dealing with enterprise customers, their employee’s computers may be locked down such that they are unable to install any additional software.

      A solution one often sees to this problem is to enhance the tool used to host the workshop notes to embed an interactive terminal which is then used through the web browser. Behind the scenes that terminal would be connected up to some backend system where a shell environment is run for the specific user accessing the workshop. Finally, in that shell environment they would have access to all the command line tools, as well as other files, that may be needed for that workshop.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • 2018’s Deal Channels | Coder Radio 337

      The guys drink some Liquid Christmas Tree and reflect on the major trends of 2018, and the stuff they are preemptively freaking out about for 2019.

    • The Real McCoy | BSD Now 278

      We sat down at BSDCan 2018 to interview Kirk McKusick about various topics ranging about the early years of Berkeley Unix, his continuing work on UFS, the governance of FreeBSD, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs vs OpenZFS

      Btrfs or B-tree file system is the newest competitor against OpenZFS, arguably the most resilient file system out there. Both the file systems share some commonalities such as having checksum on data blocks, transaction groups and copy-on-write mechanism, making them both target the user groups. So what’s the difference and which one should you use?

    • Binderfs Sent In For Linux 4.21 Plus Thunderbolt Updates, Intel Stratix10 Additions

      Greg Kroah-Hartman began sending in his pull requests on Friday morning for the kernel code he maintains. With the char/misc changes does come the Binderfs file-system.

      Binderfs is the new file-system to Android’s Binder IPC mechanism. Binderfs will allow containers to access the Binder inter-process communication support from within their containerized environment.

    • Andes NDS32 Architecture Seeing Many Additions With Linux 4.21

      Early in the year with Linux 4.17 the kernel saw a port to the Andes NDS32 CPU architecture. With Linux 4.21, that CPU architecture is seeing a number of improvements.

      AndesCore NDS32 is a 32-bit RISC-like architecture with clock rates hovering around 1GHz and these CPUs used by IoT applications, wearables, medical devices, and other low-power devices. Open-source support for NDS32 has existed for years by the company albeit out of tree until the kernel support landed in Linux 4.17.

    • Systemd Hits A High Point For Number Of New Commits & Contributors During 2018

      With the end of the year upon us, the latest project we’re looking at the GitStats on and most popular milestones of the year is for systemd.

      As of writing this morning, systemd is up to 37,772 commits from around 1,317 different authors. The systemd Git repository has grown to include over three thousand files (3,026) that amount to around 1,158,511 lines of code.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Cage Is A New Wayland Compositor For Kiosk/Full-Screen-One-App Deployments

        Jente Hidskes, the developer who last year overhauled the Piper mouse configuration utility as part of libratbag via GSoC 2017, announced that he recently began developing his own Wayland compositor to fill a void.

        Hiskes’ “Cage” compositor isn’t just yet-another-Wayland-compositor hobbyist project, but is designed to fill a void where there hasn’t been much Wayland activity: a compositor focused on a kiosk mode where it’s effectively for supporting a single application running maximized the entire time and no other access to the system. There isn’t any major Wayland compositor exclusively focused on that use-case, well, besides Canonical’s Mir Kiosk work they have been pursuing that folds into their Wayland offering.

      • mesa 18.2.8
      • Mesa 18.2.8 Released With Driver Fixes To End Out The Series

        Mesa 18.2.8 was released today as what is the final planned point release for the Mesa 18.2 series. In order to continue receiving OpenGL/Vulkan open-source driver updates, users are encouraged to transition to Mesa 18.3.

        Mesa 18.2.8 backports the new Vega M PCI ID plus the other new Vega 10 and Vega 20 PCI IDs we’ve spotted in recent weeks for the AMD/Radeon Linux graphics driver stack for currently unannounced products. With building off the existing Vega (and Polaris, in the case of Vega M) support, it was safe for back-porting to the 18.2 stable series.

      • The X.Org Server Continues Cruising Along As We Approach 2019

        While it’s been ten years now that Wayland has been in development, a majority of the Linux desktops at the end of 2018 are still relying upon the X.Org Server. In 2018 we saw much better Wayland support out of GNOME Shell and KDE Plasma, but many Linux distributions — including Ubuntu — haven’t transitioned over (or in the case of Ubuntu, back-over) to running a Wayland session. While the xorg-server remains at the heart of most Linux desktops, its development pace remains very slow.

        The X.Org Server hasn’t seen any major/breakthrough features this year besides wrapping up the VR HMD work for improving SteamVR HMD support and rolling out the long overdue X.Org Server 1.20 that debuted after a year and a half in development compared to their prior six month release cycle. It looks like xorg-server 1.21 will be another long development cycle with not too much upstream activity for this mature display stack besides, well, security fixes in researchers continuing to evaluate the aging X11 code-base. It’s old but it “just works” for a majority of the Linux desktop users these days and doesn’t feature NVIDIA driver issues like is one of the main bottlenecks currently in Wayland adoption.

      • Mesa RadeonSI Lands FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync Support That Pair With Linux 4.21

        With the FreeSync support for AMD GPUs having been merged this week into Linux 4.21, the associated user-space patches are landing now for rounding out this AMD Radeon FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / VRR support as we enter 2019.

        Hitting Mesa 19.0-devel today was the DRI3 loader support around the new DRM Adaptive-Sync / Variable Refresh property and enabling the option for the RadeonSI OpenGL driver. At the moment there is no FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync support for RADV Vulkan. Also, we haven’t seen any FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync work on the Wayland front at this time.

    • Benchmarks

      • XFS RAID0 Benchmarks Across Twenty SSDs vs. EXT4 & Btrfs On Ubuntu Linux

        Earlier this month were the FreeBSD ZFS vs. Linux EXT4/Btrfs RAID With Twenty SSDs. Besides interest in seeing ZOL tests (they’re already planned upon the ZFS On Linux 0.8 release), there was also some interest by readers in seeing some XFS RAID tests side-by-side. Here are some of those XFS RAID benchmarks up against Btrfs and EXT4 from Ubuntu Linux.

        With the tests today are XFS results alongside EXT4 and Btrfs for a single disk and then across twenty Samsung 860 EVO SSDs. With the tests earlier this month were also RAID10 benchmarks, but when testing XFS on the twenty SSDs in RAID10 I was hitting MD RAID errors that prevented the tests from completing. So for now it’s just the single disk and 20 x SSD RAID0 benchmarks for those interested.

      • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti vs. TITAN RTX In 82 Linux Graphics / Compute Benchmarks

        Complementing our initial NVIDIA TITAN RTX Linux benchmarks and follow-up collection of more GPU compute benchmarks on the TITAN RTX compared to other NVIDIA hardware going back to the GeForce GTX 680, here is an expansive collection of side-by-side tests to the RTX 2080 Ti in more workloads.

        Here are 82 different graphics and compute benchmarks tested side-by-side on the TITAN RTX and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

      • Taking Radeon ROCm 2.0 OpenCL For A Benchmarking Test Drive

        Last week AMD officially released ROCm 2.0 as the newest major release of the Radeon Open Compute stack. Here are some initial benchmark figures for that Radeon Linux compute component on Polaris and Vega hardware.

        ROCm 2.0 was released last week with Vega 7nm (Vega 20) support, a new library (MIvisionX), updated TensorFlow port to ROCm, 48-bit virtual addressing for Vega, more OpenCL 2 work, and an assortment of other changes. For your viewing pleasusre today are some initial OpenCL benchmark figures with a Radeon RX 580, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64 while more ROCm 2.0 tests will be coming in the new year.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Patching Qt5Network for Christmas

        Qt5 and KDE Plasma 5 have been running smoothly on my workstation desktop for a year or more. I have a kind of boring desktop: there is one CPU, one graphics card, two network interfaces, and I use the default settings for just about everything. .. and everything (that I need) just works.

        But it didn’t work for everyone: there was this one weird bug report that when the system had VLANs defined, that most Qt5-based applications would crash or refuse to start up. That first manifested itself there as a build failure of kf5-syntaxhighlighting. After some discussion with Volker, I ended up with a workaround: don’t validate the schema’s during the build. That takes away the networking dependency, and things were OK again.

        Other similar bug reports trickled in. They’re now all closed as duplicates of this original. Some patches trickled in, which I didn’t particularly like because they were of the “comment this bit out and things work”. Thankfully the original reporter of the kf5-syntaxhighlighting build failure, Ting-Wei Lan, did a great deal of debugging work. Enough to give me a handle on where to continue looking. I hemmed and hawed, tried blaming the run-time loader, but really all the evidence pointed at memory corruption from inside Qt5Network.

      • TableView and Qt 5.12 / Qt Creator 4.8

        I finally got around to doing the final merge for QmlBook this year.

        I just merged the chapter on the brand new TableView. This let’s you show 2D data tables in an efficient way.

        I also merged the version upgrade, so the text should now reflect what is available from Qt 5.12 and be based on menus and screens from Qt Creator 4.8.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Ubuntu/Gnome on a tablet

        The ExoPC is a tablet device from Intel with regular Intel Atom x86 processor, 2 GB RAM, a 64 GB SSD, 2 USB ports, touch screen etc. Not a high-end tablet by today’s specs, but it was pretty nice back in 2013 when it came out. It is still a decent piece of hardware, and not the least because all of the device drivers for it can be found in the mainline Linux kernel and therefore Ubuntu 18.04 installed on it works fully out-of-the-box as expected.

        Installation is easy. Just boot the tablet with a USB installation drive inserted, and during the boot press the “BBS” icon and start the installation and the rest is familiar to anybody who has installed Ubuntu before. An external keyboard connected via USB is helpful during the process though.

        All of the hardware is detected as one would expect. WLAN works, camera works, sound, microphone and everything else we tested works. Even the rotation sensor works and the screen turns around as the tablet physically rotates. Since the tablet is very old, the experience is a bit sluggish though.

  • Distributions

    • Sparky repos changed

      There is a change in the Sparky repository as of 27 December 2018.

    • Reviews

      • A tour of elementary OS, perhaps the Linux world’s best hope for the mainstream

        Everyone is a Linux user, but almost no one knows it. The operating system is a strange beast. You’d be hard pressed to come up with another tool so widely used, so widely deployed, and so absolutely necessary to the functioning of the modern world that is simultaneously so utterly unknown outside the tech community.

        From ATMs, to phones, to in flight displays, to the Web server your browser got this page from, we are all using Linux every day even if we don’t all realize it. Yet even with that ubiquity, there’s one place Linux has never really succeeded: the desktop. Despite passionate communities of users (as seen in place like Ars comment threads), Windows and macOS dominate the desktop and that’s unlikely to change in the near term. Though if it ever does, it will likely be because of projects like elementary OS—an operating system that seeks to bring the polish of commercial desktops to the world of Linux.

    • New Releases

      • ExTiX 19.1, Build 181228, with KDE 4.17, Kodi 18 “Leia”, Calamares, Refracta Tools and kernel 4.20.0-exton

        I have made a new version of ExTiX – The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 19.1 KDE/Kodi Live DVD. (The previous KDE version was 18.6 from 180602). The best thing with ExTiX 19.1 is that while running the system live (from DVD/USB) or from hard drive you can use Refracta Tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. So easy that a ten year child can do it! As an alternative to KDE you can run Kodi 18 Leia. Just start Kodi like any other program while logged in to the KDE Desktop as the ordinary user extix. I have enabled a few addons in Kodi. Most important the Netflix addon.

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 126 released

        Finally, the next release of IPFire is available: IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 126 This update comes with a new kernel and security enhancements. This change log is rather short, but the changes are very important.

        Thank you very much to all of you who have supported our Donations Challenge so far. We have received a lot of nice words and support from you, but we are not there, yet! Please support our project and donate!

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The Ceph Foundation and Building a Community: an Interview with SUSE

        On November 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany, the Linux foundation formally announced the Ceph Foundation. Present at this same summit were key individuals from SUSE and the SUSE Enterprise Storage team. For those less familiar with the SUSE Enterprise Storage product line, it is entirely powered by Ceph technology.

        With Ceph, data is treated and stored like objects. This is unlike traditional (and legacy) data storage solutions, where data is written to and read from the storage volumes via sectors and at sector offsets (often referred to as blocks). When dealing with large amounts of large data, treating them as objects is the way to do it. It’s also much easier to manage. In fact, this is how the cloud functions—with objects. This object-drive model enables Ceph for simplified scalability to meet consumer demand easily. These objects are replicated across an entire cluster of nodes, giving Ceph its fault-tolerance and further reducing single points of failure. The parent company of the project and its technology was acquired by Red Hat, Inc., in April 2014.

    • Fedora

      • Best of 2018: Fedora for developers

        Building custom apps in Python on Fedora — using either a Python IDE that helps you learn understand the language, or a popular editor that also works with many other languages. And what about Rust — a very fast and safe programming language. Yes, it’s been a whole year again! What a great time to look back at the most popular articles on the Fedora Magazine written by our awesome contributors.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • I have a need, a need for snap

            Are snaps slow? Or slower than their classic counterparts (DEB or RPM, for instance)? This is a topic that comes up often in online discussions, related to various containerised application formats, including snaps. We thought this would be a good idea to run a detailed experiment to see what kind of numbers we get when running software as snaps and classic applications, side by side.

          • Top Snaps in 2018

            With 2018 drawing to a close, and many of us spending with family during the holiday season, I thought we’d take a look back over some of our favourite Linux applications in the Snap Store. Some have been in the store for over a year, and a few landed only recently, but they’re all great.

            Whether you’re a professional app developer, bedroom coder or enthusiastic Linux user, there’s something for everyone. Beyond these 10, there’s thousands more quality apps in the Snap Store, so have a browse, and find something new to install today.

          • Canonical shares the Top 10 Linux Snaps of 2018 — Spotify, Slack, Plex, VLC, and more!

            As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself doing much reflecting. Linux consumes much of my thinking, and sadly, this was not the year that it overtakes Windows on the desktop. You know what, though? Windows 10 was an absolute disaster this year, while the Linux-based Chrome OS has slowly become more and more mature. Other desktop Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora, continue to get better, and Android remains the undisputed king of mobile. As we all know, Linux powers many servers around the globe too. So yeah, maybe it isn’t the year of the Linux desktop, but the open source kernel still had a superb 2018 — I raise my glass to it.

          • Canonical Shares Top 10 Linux Snaps of 2018
          • The evolution of Canonical at KubeCon

            Stephan Fabel, director of products at Canonical spoke to Swapnil Bhartiya from TFIR at KubeCon in Seattle about the evolution of Canonical at KubeCon, the excitement around MicroK8s and Kubernetes announcements.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Chat with your friends on top of Matrix engine

              When Canonical launched Ubuntu Touch on the BQ 4.5 they had to make a decision about a messenger app, in response to the practical and ethical issues presented by the dominance of Whatsapp on closed, proprietary systems. The peer pressure from friends and the insistence of some educational establishments and employers that the Facebook owned app must be used are of course still a problem for us today.

              The Canonical solution was to go with Telegram instead. The Cutegram client was already established on Linux desktops and that was taken as the starting point for the Ubuntu Touch client. This was the situation inherited by UBports and indeed Telegram is still widely used on our platform. For the first year of operation, the builds relied heavily on back-porting from the Cutegram client but that approach ran into problems because not only was that client lagging around eighteen months behind those available for other platforms but the developers had bowed to that and allowed the project to fade. To give credit where it is due, Telegram have shared with UBports their template for a detailed revamp of their platform, enabling us to jump forward to a version which is as modern as those on other operating systems.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2019 Preview: Open RAN efforts gain momentum

    Perhaps nowhere is disruption more evident than in the efforts around the radio access network (RAN) and freeing that up for more competition. Advocates for the Open RAN characterize it as an evolution rather than a revolution, and they undoubtedly are on a mission to transform the way communications networks are built.

    [...]

    O-RAN also announced that it’s working with The Linux Foundation to establish an open source software community for the creation of open source RAN software. Collaboration with The Linux Foundation will enable the creation of open source software supporting the O-RAN architecture and interfaces.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox’s New Feature Is A Boon For Working On Multiple Tabs Simultaneously

        If you want to search a tab from the host of open tabs, type % followed by a space and the text featured in that particular tab’s title.

        For example, here if you want to search the opened Reddit tab then you will type “% red,” and all the tabs with “red” in the title will be displayed for you to choose. The feature will also search through the tabs opened in a different window.

  • Databases

    • How to Install Nginx, MySQL/MariaDB and PHP on RHEL 8

      Many of TecMint readers know about LAMP, but less people are aware of LEMP stack, which replaces Apache web server with the light weight Nginx. Each web server has their pros and cons and it depends on your specific situation which one you would choose to use.

    • What is BigchainDB?

      Sophia Armstrong, a computer science major at East Carolina University, provided an overview of BigchainDB in her Lightning Talk, “Blockchain database for a cybersecurity learning environment,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC.

      Sophia’s project, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant, gives students a hands-on, game-based experience to learn about cybersecurity. Her team uses BigchainDB, an open source blockchain database, behind the firewall to securely store the data they collect.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • HAMMER2 File-System Performance On DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1

      With the newly released DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1 having a lot of HAMMER2 file-system work on top of all of the changes introduced by DragonFlyBSD 5.4 at the start of December, here is a fresh look at the HAMMER versus HAMMER2 file-system performance on this BSD operating system.

      Using an Intel Core i9 7960X test system with Intel 800p 128GB NVMe SSD, fresh benchmarks were carried out of DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1 when installed with a root HAMMER file-system and again with the latest HAMMER2 file-system option that has matured quite nicely over the DragonFlyBSD 5.x releases.

    • FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 21 new GNU releases!

      bison-3.2.4
      datamash-1.4
      gama-2.02
      gcc-7.4.0
      gdb-8.2.1
      global-6.6.3
      gnun-0.12
      gnupg-2.2.12
      grep-3.3
      groff-1.22.4
      guix-0.16.0
      libmicrohttpd-0.9.62
      libredwg-0.7
      linux-libre-4.20-gnu
      mes-0.19
      mtools-4.0.23
      nettle-3.4.1
      parallel-20181222
      sed-4.7
      unifont-11.0.03
      wget-1.20

    • The dream of LILA and ZeMarmot

      I hinted that there were some cool stuff going on lately on a personal level, and now here it is: I have been hired by CNRS for a year to develop things in relationship to GIMP and G’Mic.

      This is the first time in years I have a sustainable income, and this is to continue working on GIMP (something I have done for 6 years, before this job!). How cool is that?
      For the full story, I was first approached by the G’Mic team to work on a Photoshop plug-in, which I politely declined. I have nothing against Photoshop, but this is not my dream job.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Software Freedom Conservancy: Governance & Federation are the Future

      This is part of our ongoing series on generous matching donors. Elana is the Queen of Debian Clojure, Empress of Symbol Versioning, Conqueress of ABIs, Python Packaging Authority, ELF Herder and the Winner of this year’s Award for most odd, but needful volunteer assistance this year (keeping people from eating pizza on top of the Conservancy tablecloth and so, so much more.) Elana and several other outstanding individuals are joining Private Internet Access and a big anonymous donor in offering a total of $90K in matching funds to the Conservancy for our continued work to provide both support for important free software and a clear voice in favor of community-driven licensing and governance practices.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open 2019
    • A Joint Front

      Another probable reason could be that even if we are keen, our present ecosystem does not encourage disruptive risk-taking projects. As someone who has helped design India’s own disruptive programme in innovation – an open source drug discovery programme (OSDD) – I would believe that disruptive innovations do happen in the country, albeit facing resistance. A decade after OSDD was launched to tackle the problems posed by diseases that are endemic to developing countries like India – with tuberculosis (TB) being its first disease target – the programme has been subsumed into the India TB Research and Development Consortium project.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Banana Pi Teases 24-Core ARM Server Board

        Banana Pi, a company that produces Raspberry Pi-type devices, is teasing its new 24-core server board running Ubuntu. The upcoming server board comes equipped with 24 ARM Cortex A53 cores, 32GB of memory and supports NVMe storage. The company posted a quick demo video and a few images, but hasn’t said whether the project will come to market as a full server or just as a server board. A Banana Pi representative also commented on LinkedIn that the board supports OpenSuse, Tensorflow, Docker, ROS and Raspbian.

      • Improving Router-Based Dev Boards With The Onion Omega2 Pro

        Before we had Raspberry Pis and Beaglebones, the art of putting a Linux system in a small, portable project was limited to router hacking. The venerable WRT54G controlled Internet-connected robots with a careful application of a Unix-ey firmware. Now, things are different but there’s still a need for a cheap, portable Linux system that’s just good enough to get the job done. Now, there’s an upgrade to the board that follows in the footsteps of that router hacking The Onion Omega2 Pro is up on Crowd Supply, and it’s got more buttons, more switches, and it’s still smaller than a breadboard.

      • 2018: As The Hardware World Turns

        2018 is almost over, and we have another year in the dataset: an improbable number of celebrities died in 2016. The stock market is down, and everyone thinks a crash is coming. Journalists are being killed around the world. Fidget spinners aren’t cool anymore. Fortnite. Trade wars.

        But not everything is terrible: Makerbot released a new printer and oddly no one complained. It was just accepted that it was an overpriced pile of suck. Elon Musk is having a great year, press and Joe Rogan notwithstanding, by launching a record number of rockets and shipping a record number of cars, and he built a subway that we’re not calling a subway. FPGA development is getting easier with new platforms and new boards. There is a vast untapped resource in 18650 cells just sitting on sidewalks in the form of scooters, and I’m going to keep mentioning this until someone actually builds a power wall out of scooters.

  • Programming/Development

    • Celery on Docker: From the Ground up

      Docker is hot. Docker is hotter than hot.

      Docker 1.0 was released in June 2014. Since then, it has been adopted at a remarkable rate. Over 37 billion images have been pulled from Docker Hub, the Docker image repository service. Docker is so popular because it makes it very easy to package and ship applications.

      How do you dockerise an app? And how do you orchestrate your stack of dockerised components? This blog post answers both questions in a hands-on way. We are going to build a small Celery app that periodically downloads newspaper articles. We then break up the stack into pieces, dockerising the Celery app. and its components Finally, we put it all back together as a multi-container app.

    • My New Year’s Resolution: Work Less to Code Better

      You may look at my job title (or picture) and think, “Oh, this is easy, he’s going to resolve to stand up at his desk more.” Well, you’re not wrong, that is one of my resolutions, but I have an even more important one. I, Jeremy Gibson, resolve to do less work in 2019. You’re probably thinking that it’s bold to admit this on my employer’s blog. Again, you’re not wrong, but I think I can convince them that the less work I do, the more clear and functional my code will become. My resolution has three components.

    • Worked On Migration Of Plone Addons To Python 3

      I created a new clean buildout from the Plone coredev Github repository using a checkout of the 5.2 branch. I added a local.cfg file to my local repo and added some packages to this file. This packages were checked out within the next run of buildout using the new local.cfg buildout file, extending buildout.cfg.

    • malloc in c language
    • Strings in Python
    • Using Plotly Library for Interactive Data Visualization in Python
    • PyPy Winter Sprint Feb 4-9 in Düsseldorf
    • PyCharm 2018.3.3 RC and PyCharm 2018.2.7
    • Developers Are Coding for the Love of It (Plus the Money)

      You know what they say about building software: It’s not just a job—it’s a passion.

      Okay, nobody really says that.

      Nonetheless, it’s true: when developers and other tech pros leave their jobs, they keep coding through the night and on weekends. Based on data in the annual Octoverse report, which breaks down the activity of 31 million developers on the Github platform, contributions to public and open-source code repositories dip but don’t flatten out on Saturday or Sunday, even as activity on private repositories plunges.

      [...]

      According to Stack Overflow’s (extensive and essential) Developer Survey, more than 80 percent of developers code as a hobby outside of work. Not only that, but those developers with extensive non-programming responsibilities, such as parenting or an affinity for the outdoors, were “slightly more likely to code as a hobby than other groups.”

    • Apache NetBeans 10.0 Released With JDK 11 & PHP7 Support

      The Apache NetBeans 10.0 release is now available as the latest release for this integrated development environment under the Apache incubator umbrella.

    • git-annex and funding update

      git-annex v7 was released this fall, the culmination of a long effort to add some important new features to git-annex. Rather than go into details about it here, see this LWN article comparing and contrasting git-annex with git lfs.

    • Calling subs and typing in Perl 6

      This is the ninth article in a series about migrating code from Perl 5 to Perl 6. This article examines the subtle differences in visibility of subroutines between Perl 5 and Perl 6 and the (gradual) typing core feature of Perl 6.

      This article assumes you’re familiar with signatures—if you’re not, read How subroutine signatures work in Perl 6, the fourth article in this series, before you continue.

    • ‘Update perl to 5.28.1′
    • PyPy Winter Sprint Feb 4-9 in Düsseldorf

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • On Planned Cellphone Obsolescence

      About a month ago, my Blu Studio M HD cellphone started misbehaving; it fired up apps at random and turned off by itself. Eventually, it was more difficult to start it again. Today, it barely refused to come back after I turned it on seven times. I checked how old the phone was. Interestingly, it was almost two years old.

      The suspicion was inevitable: is this a confirmation that cellphones are somehow built to fail when the two-year lifespan is reached?

      I know that most experts agree on the fact that it is not that the electronic components of the phone are designed to fail, but it is the battery that dies and causes the problems. That might be true, for the problems with my phone started when I noticed that the battery ran out of juice a lot faster than usual.

      However, there is a detail: I specifically bought this kind of cellphone because of its manually-replaceable battery, which, in theory, extends the lifespan of the device. Except that today it is practically impossible to find a spare battery.

  • Security

    • NPM security to use automated tools to boost community alerts

      Adam Baldwin: Open source is wonderful, right? We get the advantage of a large ecosystem of packages and a lot of different levels of quality of packages in there. There [are] some people just trying it out, and some that are really maintained by organizations and kept up to rigorous standards. They’re all mixed together in this ecosystem.

      So, we’ve got this web of dependencies, and companies consume those. And at the end of the day, you’re responsible for what you require. Hopefully, NPM is going to be able to provide some better tooling to help with that. It is a supply chain security problem for consumers of the software.

    • ESET joins global initiative to fight against ransomware [Ed: How about you start by pushing back against our oppressive governments that demand back doors in everything? Or advise people to dump proprietary software (with back doors in it)?]

      ESET recently announced that it has joined hands with No More Ransom, an international initiative between Europol, the Dutch National Police and major cybersecurity organizations in the fight against ransomware. The collaborative project helps victims of ransomware attacks recover their personal data and has so far managed to decrypt the infected computers of 72,000 victims worldwide.

      With its 130 partners, the No More Ransom online portal hosts a collection of 59 free decryption tools from multiple security software vendors, covering 91 ransomware families. Users from around the world can access the tools for free in order to recover data held hostage by ransomware attacks. Launched in 2016, No More Ransom decryption tools have so far kept around USD 22 million out of the pockets of cybercrimininals.

    • Cuckoo – Sandboxed Malware Analysis

      You can throw any suspicious file at it and in a matter of minutes Cuckoo will provide a detailed report outlining the behavior of the file when executed inside a realistic but isolated environment.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Host your website safely and avoid website cross-contamination issues

      This article discusses the hidden pitfalls of hosting multiple websites on one hosting account, and how you can remediate the consequences of website cross-contamination.

      The structure of virtual hosting (also known as shared hosting) can be illustrated by a bee hive: each website (bee) has its own folder (cell). At the same time, all bees share the same hive (hosting account resources, such as disk space, database, RAM, CPU, etc.).

      In most cases, hosting companies do not provide resource isolation for shared hosting accounts (plans that let you host multiple websites on one account). In practice, that means that all website files are owned by the same system user, and server scripts (using PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) on each website on the account run with equal access rights. So, we get into a situation where the scripts of one website on the account may create, remove or modify any file on any other website hosted on the same shared hosting account.

      [...]

      I hope this information helps you to avoid mass infection or hacking issues with your websites, or, if this has already happened, effectively resolve the incident. Along with professional security advice, a comprehensive security solution such as Imunify360 is essential to keep such incidents from happening in the first place.

    • Security updates for Friday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Iraqi Lawmakers Demand U.S. Withdrawal After Trump Visit

      Iraqi lawmakers Thursday demanded U.S. forces leave the country following a surprise visit by President Donald Trump that politicians denounced as arrogant and a violation of national sovereignty.

      Trump’s trip to U.S. servicemen and women at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq on Wednesday was unannounced and the subject of extreme security, which is routine for presidential visits to conflict regions. But it came at a time when containing foreign influence has become a hot-button issue in Iraqi politics, and it provoked vociferous backlash.

      Iraqi lawmakers were smarting after the U.S. president left three hours after he arrived without meeting any officials, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

      “Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over,” said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq’s parliament.

    • Muslim Ban: Meet the Yemeni Americans Suing Trump in an Attempt to Reunite with Loved Ones
    • The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

      Malcolm X reminded us that we had to be careful about the difference between the wolf and the fox. The wolf for black people were the hardcore, racist white folks with the hoods and clearly articulated stance in support of white supremacy. The fox, on the other hand were the liberals who were supposed to be our friends. Their ultimate support for white supremacy was always just as deadly but sugarcoated in diversionary language like “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” The game, according to Malcolm, was that black folks would recognize danger of the wolf and run from the wolf straight into the jaws of the fox with the consequence being just as fatal because both the fox and the wolf are members of the same canine family.

      This captures in many ways not only the nature of the ongoing saga of U.S. politics in general where there is really no substantial difference in the class interests and fundamental priorities of the two capitalist parties, but specific policies like U.S. policy in Africa.

    • Putin and Russia’s Turn to Capitalism

      Any book on Putin and Russia that departs from these stereotypes would be most welcome. When it turns out to be a first-rate Marxist analysis, it should be added to your must-read list for 2019. The good news is that book has arrived in the form of Tony Wood’s Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War, a ground-breaking study that departs from the lurid personality-driven narratives that are the stock-in-trade of MSNBC or the Washington Post. Additionally, for those on the left whose ideas are shaped by Stephen F. Cohen’s pro-Putin apologetics, the book will serve as a wake-up call to return to a class rather than a chess analysis. If Rachel Maddow is for the chess-master playing white, there is no reason to uncritically root for who is playing black. In keeping with the palette analogy, it is worth recalling Lenin’s citation of Mephistopheles’s words from Goethe’s Faust in his 1917 Letter on Tactics: “Theory, my friend, is grey, but green is the eternal tree of life.”

      Wood’s title communicates his basic thesis, namely that Russia must be understood as a product of a post-Communist system that is riven with unresolved contradictions. Those contradictions explain the domestic and foreign policies of the Kremlin, not some grand strategy by Vladimir Putin. Despite the tendency to view Putin as the negation of Boris Yeltsin, there is convincing evidence that he is instead a continuation of the status quo ante. In essence, Russia’s turn to capitalism has not resulted in the sort of social democratic Utopia Mikhail Gorbachev promoted. When it became obvious that Western Europe and the United States had little interest in such an outcome, Putin turned eastward in the hopes of creating an alternative economic and security bloc such as the kind Aleksandr Dugin advocated. With the prospects for such a solution growing increasingly dim, Russia is forced to carve out a new role for itself in a crisis-ridden world. No matter how adept Putin is as a master strategist, this might be beyond his powers.

      Putin continued Yeltsin’s policies along two fronts. In October 1993, Yeltsin ordered a tank assault on the Congress of People’s Deputies in a virtual coup. Afterward, he rewrote the constitution in order to increase the president’s powers.

    • The ‘Highest Danger’ of the Cold War Isn’t Behind Us

      The odds were stacked against the two authors of “The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson, America’s Man in Cold War Moscow” when it came to treating their subject with anything resembling journalistic precision or objectivity. That’s primarily because they resembled their subject a little too closely—in addition to being the book’s co-writers, Jenny and Sherry Thompson are also Llewelyn Thompson’s daughters.

      No matter. As Robert Scheer puts it in this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” in which he interviews the Thompson sisters, the pair produced a “first-rate work of journalism” as they profiled their father.

      Jenny and Sherry Thompson tell Scheer that their shared impulse in taking on the project was part intellectual and part emotional. The senior Thompson, who was stationed in Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union during two crucial stretches of the Cold War, died more than four decades ago, so the sisters were invested in his memory as well as his legacy. “We started this whole project for our families … we wanted to discover who he was,” Sherry says. “It really needed to be a proper book.”

      That it is, and then some. According to Scheer, who notes the book’s positive reception in the diplomatic community, “The Kreminologist” ranges far beyond a professional profile of Thompson himself. In fact, Scheer says, it’s “the indispensable book to understanding the trajectory of the Cold War.” Most important, it capably debunks the lingering “fundamental fallacy” about a conflict that remains dismayingly relevant to this day.

    • Japan Wants to Jettison Its Vow to “Forever Renounce War”

      On December 26 Japan announced it would leave the International Whaling Commission and resume whale-hunting which was banned since 1986 when it was acknowledged (albeit reluctantly by Tokyo) that some species had been driven almost to extinction.

      Irrespective of the moral aspects of the affair, and the fact that whale-killing is one of mankind’s cruelest commercial entertainments, the decision signals yet another move by Japan to assert itself on the world stage where it is demonstrating its determination to expand its military capabilities.

      On December 11 Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that “Japan plans to effectively upgrade its helicopter carriers to enable them to transport and launch fighter jets.” Concurrently the Indian Ministry of Defence noted that in the course of a large exercise being held in India by the US and Indian air forces, “two military pilots from Japan are also taking part in the exercise as observers.” There was also aReuter’s account of Tokyo’s plans “to boost defense spending over the next five years to help pay for new stealth fighters and other advanced US military equipment.”

      Coincidentally, these developments were reported in the same week as the anniversary of the Nanking Massacre of 1937-38, which was totally unreported by the Western media but remembered in China where “over a period of six weeks, Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people” and wreaked further death and destruction there and throughout Asia until 1945. They killed or otherwise caused the deaths of countless millions.

    • Fuck You, Dying American Empire: Reflections of an Aging Anti-Imperialist

      Last year at Jamia Millia Islamia Central University in New Delhi, India I met students and teachers who thought that it was cool that I’d written an anti-imperialist book and that it was still in print nearly fifty years after it was first published. It was easy to be an anti-imperialist at Jamia Millia. After all, the students and the teachers were anti-imperialists and all worked-up about U.S. drones, U.S. air strikes and about the Syrians on the ground who had been battered and bombed.

      It was also relatively easy to be an anti-imperialist in the late 1960s and early 1970s when anti-imperialism was a red badge of courage in SDS, the Venceremos Brigade, in anti-war circles and even among the Yippies, who were far more internationalist in their outlook than many on the Left assumed. Once upon a time, Jerry Rubin went to Cuba to check out the revolution, and later to Chile with singer and songwriter, Phil Ochs, to see what Salvador Allende was doing.

      But here in the U.S. in 2018, is it still possible to be an authentic anti-imperialist, an anti-imperialist in more than name? I thought about that question recently when a former comrade explained that he was still an anti-imperialist and wondered if I was one, too.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bearing Witness to Extinction

      According to a study by the WWF the earth has lost over half of its wildlife in just 40 years. A staggering statistic that should shake every conscious person to their core. Each of us is a witness to this Great Dying, the sixth mass extinction, the last one being 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs.Yet despite overwhelming evidence of a rapidly crashing biosphere many leaders, if not most, in the privileged global north seem oblivious or apathetic to the carnage.All around the planet wildlife populations are in a free fall, from birds to amphibians to mammals to marine life to insects. But today the interests of capital not only dominate our economic, media and political order, they dominate our consciousness.

      The Latin meaning for homo sapiens is “wise man.” But as I ponder our precarious position on theprecipice of the Sixth Mass Extinction I cannot help but be struck by its glaring irony. Standing in a cemetery crowded with the bones of countless species I am left with little room to marvel at our cleverness. The magicians and merchants of corporate consumerism have fostered this pernicious disconnection from the natural world and have created a labyrinth of distractions and doubts that numb the senses to our own looming demise. It is a difficult box to break free from. Insipid optimism is demanded of all subjects of the global corporate kingdom. Those who defy it are often derided or ridiculed as alarmists. Sometimes they are rendered invisible. It is a kind of optimism that eschews facts. A cult of thinking that chides anyone who dares look at things as they truly are.

    • We Need To Talk About Palm Oil

      We wash our hair with it, brush our teeth with it, smother our skin in it and use it to powder our cheeks, plump our lashes and color our lips. We clean our houses with it, fuel our cars with it and eat it in chocolate, bread, ice cream, pizza, breakfast cereal and candy bars.

      Palm oil: you may never have walked into a supermarket with it written on your shopping list but you’ve certainly walked out with bags full of it.

      An extremely versatile ingredient that’s cheaper and more efficient to produce than other vegetable oils, palm oil is found today in half of all consumer goods including soaps and toothpaste, cosmetics and laundry detergent and a whole array of processed food. Palm oil is also found in biodiesel used to power cars (more than 50 percent of the European Union’s palm oil consumption in 2017 reportedly went to this purpose).

    • Crime and Punishment at the EPA

      I tried, but could not reconcile, the mission of the agency – protect human health and the environment – with its timid actions. Yes, agribusiness was powerful and exercised considerable influence on Capitol Hill, the White House and the EPA.

      I simply could not explain the callous mindset of willfully approving the poisoning of the food and drinking water of the entire country. How could such a monstrous crime take place, I kept asking myself and others. It could not simply be a result of EPA irresponsibility under both Republican and Democratic administrations. And it could not happen because science certified farmers’ sprays innocent of all harm. On the contrary, studies funded by EPA and others have been connecting farmers’ sprays to ecocide, disease and death.

      I traced the catastrophic decline of honeybees to the neurotoxic pesticides of the farmers.

    • Japanese Prosecutors Demand 5 Years in Prison for Executives Facing Trial for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

      In March of 2011, the most powerful earthquake to ever strike Japan triggered a tsunami that caused three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to melt down, forcing hundreds of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate. In court on Wednesday, the prosecution accused TEPCO’s leadership of “postponing” safety measures designed to protect the plant from powerful tsunamis.

      “It was easy to safeguard the plant against tsunami, but they kept operating the plant heedlessly,” prosecutors said at the trial at the Tokyo District Court, according to The Asahi Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper. “That led to the deaths of many people.”

      While the prosecution claims at least 44 people died in connection with the incident, other estimates have put the number around 1,600. Prosecutors called for the five-year sentences, the maximum punishment allowed for the charges, during closing arguments on Wednesday.

    • Ten Grim Climate Scenarios If Global Temperatures Rise Above 1.5 Degrees Celsius

      The summer of 2018 was intense: deadly wildfires, persistent drought, killer floods and record-breaking heat. Although scientists exercise great care before linking individual weather events to climate change, the rise in global temperatures caused by human activities has been found to increase the severity, likelihood and duration of such conditions.

      Globally, 2018 is on pace to be the fourth-hottest year on record. Only 2015, 2016 and 2017 were hotter. The Paris climate agreement aims to hold temperature rise below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, but if humankind carries on its business-as-usual approach to climate change, there’s a 93 percent chance we’re barreling toward a world that is 4 degrees Celsius warmer by the end of the century, a potentially catastrophic level of warming.

    • New York Power Plant Explosion Seen as Glowing Reminder of Dire Need to Ditch Fossil Fuels

      While state authorities said they are investigating the incident and concluded that no one was injured, the transformer explosion briefly sparked panic and—according to environmentalists—offered yet another glowing reminder of the dire need to transition away from dirty energy.

      As the Huffington Post’s Alexander Kaufman noted, the Astoria Generating Station—where the Thursday night blast occurred—”burns 3,039,000 gallons of number 6 fuel oil a year.” The explosion at the facility, wrote Kaufman, could help call attention to New York City’s “dependence on antiquated oil-burning power stations.”

      Number 6 fuel oil is “considered one of the most polluting energy sources in the world,” Kaufman pointed out, and the Astoria power plant has been partly blamed for high air pollution in the surrounding area and the growing levels of asthma that have afflicted residents as a result.

      “Last year the city council passed a bill requiring the utility operators to stop using fuel oil number 6 by 2020 and number 4 oil by 2030,” Kaufman observed. “But the explosion on Thursday night could add new pressure to go further, phasing out fossil fuel use altogether and converting the stations to renewable sources.”

    • 10 Costliest Climate-Driven Extreme Weather Events of 2018 Caused at Least $84.8B in Damage: Analysis

      Christian Aid’s global climate lead, Kat Kramer, said in a statement that “climate change is something still often talked about as a future problem, not least because we know the consequences of the warming climate are so devastating and don’t want to face up to what is already happening.” But, he added, as the report clearly shows, “for many people, climate change is having devastating impacts on their lives and livelihoods right now.”

      Though some figures “are likely to be underestimates” due to data limitations, the report lists the following as the 10 costliest extreme weather events from 2018, the fourth-hottest year on record…

    • 2018 Was a Year of Deadly Climate Disasters and an ‘Ear Splitting Wake-Up Call’

      2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record — and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

      This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones, and, in Death Valley, a five day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

      2018 also brought the world’s highest-ever low temperature, as nighttime temperatures fell to a sizzling 109°F in Quiryat, Oman, on June 28, smashing a 2011 record-high low.

      A startling 95 percent of the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is now gone — and we’re losing Arctic ice at a rate of 14,000 tons per second, according to recent research, three times as fast as roughly three decades ago.

    • INSECT POPULATIONS ARE DECLINING AROUND THE WORLD. HOW WORRIED SHOULD WE BE?

      When Susan Weller traveled to Ecuador to study tiger moths in the 1980s, she found plenty of insects. A decade later, Weller, now director of the University of Nebraska State Museum, returned to conduct follow-up research. But the moths she was looking for were gone.

      “Just in that time frame, areas I had collected had been transformed. Forests had been taken out. … brand new cities had sprung up. I tried to go back and collect from other historic collecting sites, and those sites no longer existed. They were parking lots,” she says.

      Around the globe, scientists are getting hints that all is not well in the world of insects. Increasingly, reports are trickling in of unsettling changes in populations of not only butterflies and bees, but of far less charismatic bugs and beetles as well. Most recently, a research team from the U.S. and Mexico reported a startling decline between 1976 and 2013 in the weight of insects and other arthropods collected at select sites in Puerto Rico.

    • Fracking Future Shock in Colorado

      If fracking treated all people equally, that is, if every person in Colorado were threatened with anywhere from 10 to 50 fracked wells in their neighborhood, the oil and gas industry would be long gone. But it doesn’t, so only a minority of Coloradans reap the whirlwind in the state’s fracking fields.

      That Prop 112, a citizen setback initiative, made it onto the fall ballot and that about one million Coloradans supported it shows there is growing public awareness and concern over industrial fracking. It mandated 2500 foot drilling setbacks from homes and other essential human resources such as watercourses. The oil and gas industry defeated the initiative by spending $40 million to create uncertainty about the factual health and safety hazards of fracking. That money onslaught influenced statewide politicians from both parties who didn’t want those deep pockets turned inside out on them. For too many, it appears, the business of government is business.

      As a species we hate uncertainty. Like the cigarette industry before it, the oil business and their political allies have adopted uncertainty as their life blood. Sure, many people get sick living near fracking sites, but some don’t, say they. The air quality along the front-range is deteriorating and is a threat to all, but it’s not all the fault of frackers in Weld County, say they. And so it goes, for certainty is elusive in the complicated world we’ve created.

      Still, some things about fracking are certain. As an example, fracked wells decrease in production very rapidly, after which they must be properly closed. The state contains over 100,000 wells, and about half are closed or inactive. A small subset, of roughly 720 wells, are called orphaned wells. These are wells where ownership can’t be determined. The state quietly allocated over $5 million out of the General Fund to begin cleanup and closure of these orphaned wells this fiscal year.

  • Finance

    • The Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun

      These changes don’t go into effect until three years after NAFTA 2.0 does. But this vexing delay did not stop the Business Roundtable, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board from criticizing the gutting of ISDS—nor did a loophole under NAFTA 2.0 designed to protect nine US companies if their contracts with Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission are canceled without cause. These companies retain the broader ISDS rights if Mexico maintains agreements that provide such rights to investors from other countries. While none of the companies have used ISDS against Mexico, several have against other countries. Preserving access to broad ISDS rights for any corporation, much less oil companies, is bad.

    • The world’s largest maker of cryptocurrency mining chips will likely lay off more than 50% of its staff, according to reports

      The Beijing-based chip maker ballooned from 1,000 to 3,100 employees this year, an anonymous source told CoinDesk in the report. Part of that growth involved Bitmain’s investment into artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, which the company has decided to scale back on, according to the source.

    • The Brexit Pantomime and the Drone “Invasion”

      The period leading up to Christmas is the traditional pantomime season in Ukania. Celebrities take time off from their usual occupations to star with less well-known performers in farcical slapstick shows that have little or no appeal for anyone beyond the age of 10.

      This year, none of the regular pantomimes could compete with the biggest one of all, which took place in the House of Commons prior to its Christmas recess.

      Brexit was of course the main plot in Ukania’s preeminent pantomime.

      The House of Commons was due to vote that week on the final EU divorce deal Theresa May had submitted to EU leaders.

      May however postponed the vote until after the Christmas recess, knowing she would lose it by a large margin.

    • Universal Basic Income Is Easier Than It Looks

      Calls for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) have been increasing, most recently as part of the “Green New Deal” introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A UBI is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” among other vehicles.

      The Federal Reserve alone could do the job. It could buy “Green” federal bonds with money created on its balance sheet, just as the Fed funded the purchase of $3.7 trillion in bonds in its “quantitative easing” program to save the banks. The Treasury could also do it. The Treasury has the constitutional power to issue coins in any denomination, even trillion dollar coins. What prevents legislators from pursuing those options is the fear of hyperinflation from excess “demand” (spendable income) driving prices up. But in fact the consumer economy is chronically short of spendable income, due to the way money enters the consumer economy. We actually need regular injections of money to avoid a “balance sheet recession” and allow for growth, and a UBI is one way to do it.

    • Survey Shows Most Americans Agree With Ocasio-Cortez: $5 Billion Should Be Spent on Healthcare or Education, Not Trump’s Border Wall

      Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suggested last week that the $5 billion President Donald Trump is demanding for construction of his “border wall” would be better spent on education, healthcare, green jobs, and other priorities that actually have a tangible impact on people’s lives, and a new survey published on Thursday found that most Americans agree.

      According to a Business Insider poll—released as the government shutdown over wall funding continued into its sixth day—only 19 percent of respondents said a border wall would be “the best use” of $5 billion.

      Meanwhile, 36 percent said $5 billion would be better spent on healthcare and 30 percent said they would want the funds to go toward infrastructure.

    • For What It’s Worth: The Yellow Vests and the Left

      The “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) movement has upended French politics, at least.

      It has delivered a sharp and refreshing smack in the face to the smuggest of smug, entitled neoliberal brats, Emmanuel Macron, forcing him to retreat on substantive tax and minimum wage issues. It has also raised a raft of issues from wealth inequality (including demands for higher taxes on the rich) to a rejection of austerity and the dreaded Frexit.

      Most importantly, it has acted outside the gatekeeping of traditional opposition parties and institutions–including those of the left, which have all been thoroughly decaffeinated and beguiled by the fantasia of Third-Way EU becoming “Social Europe.” The Yellow Vest movement is millions of people out in the street, engaged in militant, confrontational protest, talking to and acting with each other unsupervised, telling the governing elite: “Va te faire foutre!”

      A self-mobilization of the working class: This is the specter of Europe past, which Third-Way politicians and intelligentsia thought they had once and for all banished to the netherworld a few decades ago. The Yellow Vest movement, now spreading to other counties, is striking a new body blow to the teetering edifice of neoliberalism that has been built on the bones of the working-class lives in Europe and America over those decades.

      This explains why the American mainstream media has avoided focusing on the Yellow Vest movement. The left, on the other hand, must be overjoyed, right?

    • Federal Workers Face Grim Prospect of Lengthy Shutdown

      Three days, maybe four. That’s how long Ethan James, 21, says he can realistically miss work before he’s struggling.

      So as the partial government shutdown stretched into its sixth day with no end in sight, James, a minimum-wage contractor sidelined from his job as an office worker at the Interior Department, was worried. “I live check to check right now,” he said, and risks missing his rent or phone payment. Contractors, unlike most federal employees, may never get back pay for being idled. “I’m getting nervous,” he said.

      Federal workers and contractors forced to stay home or work without pay are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse affecting hundreds of thousands of them. For those without a financial cushion, even a few days of lost wages during the shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall could have dire consequences.

    • How We Measured Involuntary Job Losses Among Older Workers

      Today, we’re reporting that more than half of older U.S. workers — those 50 and over — get laid off or pushed out of career positions on their way to retirement, and few ever again make what they did before these setbacks.

      [...]

      After the story ran, we heard from others who described similar experiences with their employers.

      This made us wonder more broadly about older workers’ decisions to retire or quit and how freely chosen those decisions are. We wanted to know how pervasive are the patterns we saw at IBM in the American workplace?

      To answer these questions, we turned to the government-funded Health and Retirement Study, or HRS, working with the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, and Urban economist Richard Johnson.

    • If You’re Over 50, Chances Are the Decision to Leave a Job Won’t be Yours

      Tom Steckel hunched over a laptop in the overheated basement of the state Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota, early last week, trying to figure out how a newly awarded benefit claims contract will make it easier for him do his job.

      Steckel is South Dakota’s director of employee benefits. His department administers programs that help the state’s 13,500 public employees pay for health care and prepare for retirement.

      It’s steady work and, for that, Steckel, 62, is grateful. After turning 50, he was laid off three times before landing his current position in 2014, weathering unemployment stints of up to eight months.

      When he started, his $90,000-a-year salary was only 60 percent of what he made at his highest-paying job. Even with a subsequent raise, he’s nowhere close to matching his peak earnings.

    • ‘Shameful’: As Shutdown Continues, Trump Administration Suggests Unpaid Federal Workers Do Odd Jobs for Landlords to Cover Rent

      With the partial government shutdown expected to extend into January with no funding agreement in sight, the Trump administration suggested on Thursday that the hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal workers who have been furloughed could do odd jobs and chores for their landlords to help cover rent.

      In a tweet on Thursday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—led by Margaret Weichert, whom President Donald Trump picked to head the agency in October—offered a Word document featuring sample letters purportedly aimed at helping unpaid federal workers negotiate with landlords, mortgage companies, and creditors amid the government shutdown, which was caused by Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

    • What I Learned Covering HUD: Oversight Failures Are Symptoms of Deeper Dysfunction

      When I pulled my Jeep into the Clay Arsenal neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut, in July, I knew intuitively that I had arrived by the sights of neglect: Beautifully crafted brick homes in varying stages of decay. Boarded up buildings. A feeling of isolation in an otherwise bustling city.

      I had driven 1,100 miles from southern Illinois for an appointment with Josh Serrano. He was among a handful of tenants who had led a monthslong campaign to implore the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to take action against an absentee landlord over poor conditions. I wanted to meet Serrano because I had covered poor living conditions and seeming federal indifference in places like the Illinois cities of Cairo and East St. Louis, in my region, and he was optimistic that by speaking with one voice, a community could achieve change.

      I recognized Serrano’s neighborhood from online photographs. It’s what journalists would call “distressed,” a catchall word that quickly and diplomatically describes many of the places I visited this year while reporting on the affordable housing challenges facing economically struggling rural towns and midsize cities for The Southern Illinoisan, and supported by ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network.

      [...]

      Eventually, the tenants won action from HUD. In May, the agency announced that it was ending its contract with Serrano’s landlord, and that he and the 150 families living in his building and others would receive vouchers to subsidize their rent in the private market. But it’s hard to celebrate the dismantling of a neighborhood and the loss of affordable housing, even if that’s the best of bad options. There is a shortage of subsidized four- and five- bedroom units in Hartford, the state capital, making it challenging for some larger families to find alternative rentals that will accept their vouchers, commonly known as Section 8, in the neighborhoods where they want to live.

    • Bergen County Ended Chronic Homelessness, So Can Every Other Community

      When I signed up to attend a symposium on Ending Homelessness in Newark, New Jersey on November 25th of this year the best I was expecting to hear was a much needed morale boosting pep rally for those of us who have experienced homelessness and are working on the front lines of this seemingly intractable situation.

      Why?

      Chief among my reasons for feeling so despairing about ever ending homelessness is the fickle and careless way most social service agencies I’ve encountered function in relation to the people who come to them for emergency housing services. Here are just a couple of examples. In order to receive emergency assistance an applicant must provide proof that no one in their family is declaring them a dependent on their tax forms. Many young homeless are homeless because they are estranged from their families and not on speaking terms. Applicants for emergency housing assistance must also prove that they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are, and even if those benefits don’t amount to enough to pay rent and live on, you are nevertheless turned down for emergency assistance.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

      Disinformation and propaganda disseminated online have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.

    • Freedom on the Net: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism

      Out of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net, 26 experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. Almost half of all declines were related to elections.

    • 2018 Was a Rough Year for Truth Online

      Oft asked and rarely satisfactorily answered, the question of impact is the disinformation research community’s white whale. You can measure reach, you can measure engagement, but there’s no simple data point to tell you how one coordinated influence campaign affected an event or someone’s outlook on a particular issue.

    • Selling Fear and Amusement: News as Entertainment

      The news media have contributed to our deteriorating—but entertaining—political situation. Mr. Trump is President partly because he is entertaining. My research on TV news shows that the promotion of the politics of fear is a byproduct of entertaining and sensationalized reports to build audience ratings. Contemporary news practices have increasingly been wedded to new information technologies that provide visuals and images, particularly portable cameras and smart phones. The entertainment format of much of U.S. TV news promotes the use of video or other visuals that are dramatic, conflictual, and emotional. Screen images dominate broadcast news as well social media. Investigations of news coverage of numerous local, national, and international news reports reveal how our current “news code” operates. Basically, TV tells time with visuals. Although the intent may be to use visuals to tell a story about something, the logic in use amounts to telling a story about the visual at hand. Events that are more likely to satisfy these format criteria are more likely to be broadcast.

      Our work over the last 4 decades also demonstrates that politicians and others who provide visual events and dramatic performances are more likely to receive news coverage. We have documented the profound effects this format-driven media coverage has had on social institutions ranging from sports, news, politics, education, and religion.

      Contemporary news practices continue this trend. Indeed, even the prestigious evening network newscasts have adopted this approach, especially as social media have provided seemingly ubiquitous videos of a wide array of events, many of which are posted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. As newscasts seek higher ratings, it should not be surprising that they have adjusted their selection of news items to include visually interesting bits that have already been viewed—or gone viral—on the internet and social media.

    • A New Playing Field for Democracy Reform

      So, it looks like Fixing Our Democracy is officially Cool. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have announced that their first bill out of the box—H.R. 1—will be an omnibus democracy reform bill including voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, campaign-finance reform, and ethics reform. For many people who have worked on these issues for years, this is a significant moment. Of course, there is the Senate, and the president, so no one thinks H.R. 1 will become law in anything close to its original form. But the message is major: that putting democracy reform front and center is not just “good government”; it is good politics.

      But if you want to see where democracy reform was Really Cool in 2018, let’s take a look at what happened in the states, and how the stage has been set for even further reforms.

    • The Republican Party as Presently Constituted Must Be Torn Down to Its Foundations. The Planet Depends on It.

      So, over the weekend, another child died in the custody of the United States because of the president*’s brainless immigration policy. The president* flew halfway around the world for a 30-minute photo-op with some soldiers because he was shamed into doing so, and this was shortly after he was shamed into submarining a deal on the southern border by Rush Limbaugh and a chorus of lower primates. At this point, I think he could be shamed into jumping off the Truman Balcony dressed as Queen Mathilde of Belgium. Nonetheless, out in the country, his administration is doing damage that will take years to reverse, even assuming we can, and likely will cost the lives of people he sees only as members of his most recent constituency of suckers.

    • Ahead of Bolsonaro’s Inauguration in Brazil, Groups Vow to Fight ‘Hateful Rhetoric and Acts of Violence, Intimidation, or Persecution’

      The statement (pdf), published in English and Portuguese, highlights the president-elect’s notable history of making racist, misogynistic, and homophobic proclamations—from declaring that if any of his sons were gay, he’d hope that they would die in an accident, to telling a female fellow lawmaker that she didn’t deserve to be raped by him.

      “Bolsonaro’s hate speech has targeted numerous groups with long struggles against oppression and discrimination,” the statement notes. “Beyond these abhorrent verbal attacks, we are particularly concerned about a number of Bolsonaro’s policy proposals that, if implemented, can be expected to inflict far-reaching and lasting damage on Brazilian communities and on the environment.”

    • Elections Don’t Make Israel a Democracy

      It’s official, Israel is racing towards early elections. But no one is talking about who can vote in them.

      New elections were nearly called in November 2017 after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned in protest of Israel not going to war with Gaza and right-wing leader Naftali Bennett threatened to pull his party from the coalition if he was not given the defense portfolio. However, Netanyahu outfoxed Bennett by claiming that it was too dangerous a time to go to elections and retained the defense portfolio for himself (Netanyahu is now Israel’s prime minister, defence minister, and foreign minister), utilizing a slim 51% ruling majority.

      Until last week it looked like the coalition would hold together with its small majority. But following the Knesset’s inability to reach agreement on a bill dealing with military conscription of the ultra-orthodox, and, much more importantly, leaked information that the ministry of justice was recommending Netanyahu’s indictment on charges of bribery, on Monday Netanyahu announced “It’s too difficult [to pass laws], we need elections.” With that, the Israeli national election is scheduled to take place on April 9.

    • Who Cares Which Democrat Comes Out on Top?

      The new Congress will not be sworn in until after the New Year, but, at long last, the results of the 2018 midterm elections are finalized and certified. It looked good for Democrats from the moment the polls closed on Election Day; it looks even better now.

      The “blue wave” Democrats were hoping for, along with everyone else aware of the clear and present danger Donald Trump poses, materialized; the Trump Party got schlonged.

      Trump knows it; so do the miscreants in his administration who are working hard night and day to “deconstruct” the worthwhile things the government does. So do House and Senate Republicans, respectable media columnists, and the talking heads on the cable networks.

      Except for Trump himself, most of them also know that Trump has mainly himself to thank for the GOP’s defeat.

      Those of us who appreciate the urgency of minimizing the harm Trump and his minions do should give thanks for his narcissism-driven obtuseness and for his ineptitude. Not just us: were reason more in control, everyone would be giving thanks.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Year of the GDPR: 2018’s Most Famous Privacy Regulation in Review

      To the extent that 260-page regulations can ever be said to be “famous,” Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) certainly had its moment in limelight in 2018. When it came into force on May 25, it was heralded by a flurry of emails from tech companies, desperate to re-establish their absolutely bona-fide relationships with your email address before the regulations’ stricter rules around user consent came into force.

      The barely-concealed panic in some corners led to editorials, memes, and even a meditation app that marketed itself (presumably in compliance with the GDPR) by offering to lull its users to sleep with spoken excerpts from the law.

      Did the GDPR live up to the year’s hype, good or bad? As Premier Zhou Enlai didn’t quite say about the French Revolution, it’s too early to say. There are plenty of ways that the GDPR can help with defending privacy online, but the real proof of the GDPR’s provisions will be in how they are enforced, and against whom. And those patterns will only emerge as European regulators begin to flex their new powers.

    • Pushing Back Against Backdoors: 2018 Year in Review

      This wasn’t a great year for those of us whose job it is to defend the use of encryption.

      In the United States, we heard law enforcement officials go on about the same “going dark” problem they’ve been citing since the late 90s, but even after all these years, they still can’t get basic facts straight. The National Academy of Sciences was entirely (and unsurprisingly) unhelpful. And in the courts, there was at least some action surrounding encryption, but we don’t know exactly what.

      The real movement happened on the other side of the Pacific, so we’ll start there.

    • The Verge 2018 tech report card: Facebook

      Despite those efforts, Facebook had a catastrophic year. Whether you’re evaluating the company by its financial performance, its public perception, or its ability to contain and avoid scandals, the company will end the year in worse shape than it began. In the aftermath of the 2016 US election, Zuckerberg has long said fixing the platform is a three-year project. But the cumulative effect of this year’s news was to cast doubt on whether that project would be completed on time — or at all.

    • EFF Wins FOIA Lawsuit Against DEA, Forces The Release Of More Info About Its Hemisphere Program

      Thanks to a FOIA lawsuit, the EFF has lifted a number of redactions from documents detailing the DEA’s Hemisphere program. This program was first exposed in 2013 when the New York Times obtained documents showing AT&T was working side-by-side with government agents to hand over massive amount of call records in response to DEA subpoenas.

      AT&T has always considered itself to be an integral part of federal government surveillance programs, often going beyond what’s required to comply with demands for info. In the case of Hemisphere, it appeared to be operating as an unofficial arm of the government by “embedding” personnel in the DEA to expedite its surveillance efforts.

      More documents obtained by other FOIA requesters have peeled back a little bit of the secrecy. Even with redactions in place, the astonishing breadth of Hemisphere’s https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20181223/09123641283/eff-wins-foia-lawsuit-against-dea-forces-release-more-info-about-hemisphere-program.shtml capabilities was evident. Communications contained in the documents showed both the DEA and AT&T encouraged hiding the program from criminal defendants and the courts overseeing their cases. Parallel construction was the de facto policy, preventing anyone outside of US law enforcement from attacking the origin of evidence used against them.

    • [Old] China Aims For Near-Total Surveillance, Including in People’s Homes

      Soon, police and other officials will be able to monitor people’s activities in their own homes, wherever there is an internet-connected camera.

      A Chinese internet user who asked to remain anonymous said the social media platform WeChat has also begun issuing warnings to anyone posting messages that the government deems undesirable.

      “The internet and our smartphones have been under government surveillance for a long time already,” the user said. “A friend of mine in Anhui is under surveillance, and he tried to buy a plane ticket to go overseas, but he couldn’t leave the country.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Hundreds of Thousands of Churches’ Are Victims of China’s Ongoing Communist Crackdown

      In August, Jin, who led Zion Church, the largest unregistered congregation in Beijing, refused a government order to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras in the sanctuary.

    • Is This the Turning Point in the Fight Against Amazon?

      If Amazon is going to determine the future of retail, workers say they want jobs that have a real future. Today, Nafai says Amazon’s labor structure is unsustainable by design: “Nobody stays there more than five, six months.… I think that’s what the management is looking for. They need new blood, you know…. They need everybody coming excited in the beginning. And then when they get tired of you, they fire you and they bring in another.” He laughed, musing about how his life seemed to move on Amazon’s time long after he quit. “It’s like they bring you in young, and they turn you old.”

    • Amber Heard: I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence and Faced Our Culture’s Wrath

      I was exposed to abuse at a very young age. I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told. I knew that men have the power — physically, socially and financially — and that a lot of institutions support that arrangement. I knew this long before I had the words to articulate it, and I bet you learned it young, too.

      Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.

      Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

      Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies “Justice League” and “Aquaman.”

      I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.

    • County Agrees To Pay $390,000 To Students Arrested By A Sheriff ‘Just To Prove A Point’

      Back in September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unshockingly decided that it’s illegal to arrest schoolchildren just to “prove a point.” The Fourth Amendment demands probable cause for an arrest, even an arrest of students who have (slightly) diminished Constitutional rights.

      This was Deputy Luis Ortiz’s solution to a problem he shouldn’t even have been attempting to solve. Ortiz decided the students he was speaking to about alleged bullying weren’t taking him seriously enough, so he tossed a few in squad cars and took them to the Sheriff’s office. Nothing about this was legal, but the county decided to defend this all the way to the appellate level. The Ninth Circuit’s assessment of Ortiz’s actions was harsh but far more fair than Ortiz deserved.

    • Investigation Finds at Least $800M in Taxpayer Money Went to Funding For-Profit Immigrant Prisons in 2018

      While President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has been disastrous and deadly for asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, a Daily Beast investigation published on Thursday found that the White House’s xenophobic policies have been a major boon for the private prison industry—at the expense of American taxpayers.

      According to the Daily Beast’s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.

      “For 19 privately owned or operated detention centers for which the Daily Beast could find recent pricing data, ICE paid an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018,” Rawnsley and Ackerman reported. “Those 19 prisons hold 18,000 people—meaning that for-profit prisons currently lock up about 41 percent of the 44,000 people detained by ICE. But that’s not a comprehensive total, and the true figures are likely significantly higher.”

    • Report: Private Immigration Prisons Receive $800 Million in Taxpayer Money in 2018

      For-profit prisons are a lucrative industry in the United States. After falling out of favor in the Obama years, they’ve found a new purpose—and extensive profits—in the Trump administration by incarcerating undocumented immigrants.

      These prisons have come under scrutiny from advocates alleging extensive human rights abuses, but as The New York Times explained in October, the biggest companies in the industry defend themselves by touting their efficiency, claiming they “build and operate prisons more cheaply than governments can, what with the public sector’s many mandates.”

      A new investigation by The Daily Beast however, found that rather than saving public money, private prison companies are actually costing taxpayers $807 million, while inmates work for $3 a day or less. In 2018, The Daily Beast writes, “For-profit immigration detention was a nearly $1 billion industry underwritten by taxpayers and beset by problems that include suicide, minimal oversight, and what immigration advocates say uncomfortably resembles slave labor.”

    • Sending Ladders, Hedges, Money, Beaded Curtains Or Pretty Much Anything Else Besides A Friggin’ Wall

      It seems people are getting some fed up with Trump’s stupid devoutly-wished-for wall, that chimera meant to keep out what critics note are “our migrant siblings and fellow human beings.” Increasingly desperate and caught in an unpopular shutdown of his own petulant making, Trump keeps moving the goal-posts – from Mexico to taxpayers, from concrete to steel slats that designers have trashed as “unfathomably stupid,” “stunning in its vapidity,” wildly impractical, morally repugnant, eerily reminiscent of pointy KKK hats, and, oh yeah, wide enough for a person to squeeze through. By now, notes Nancy Pelosi, “he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something.”

      No matter: His red-meat fans have now donated over $14 million to Make America White Again in a GoFundMe campaign started by a disabled veteran who argues “too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens” and who feels “deeply invested to (sic) this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today.” Alas, it may all be for naught. Both GoFundMe’s terms of service and federal rules about fundraising make it likely the $14 million will have to be refunded. Still, hope springs eternal: If it doesn’t, at their current rate of donations, they will have raised the estimated $21.7 billion needed for their blessed wall in a mere 35 years. And until then, they can buy their kids the Lego-like wall-building kit by Keep and Bear to keep the red meat fresh.

    • Quit America! The Case for Moral Disengagement from American Politics

      There continues to be a gross underestimation, even amongst politically aware liberals, of what we are really up against, and how to counter it. Increasingly, our fellow citizens are resorting to the concepts of fascism to describe the current situation, but this is not necessarily followed by any cogent reflection on what the political subject under fascism needs to do. Ordinary liberal prescriptions have no chance of success under a regime that has moved into an overt fascist mode; moreover, the unacknowledged continuities from the recent neoliberal past, which led to the fascist overture in the first place, mar any consistency of thought amongst intellectuals, activists, and ordinary citizens.

      The time has come to explore modes of existence that only make sense under a fascist regime, or rather, they are the only modes that make sense under fascist conditions. Above all, the question of moral disengagement from any existing political practice must be taken seriously, and this includes so-called “resistance.” Are there things that pass under the activist rubric today that are actually strengthening rather than weakening fascism? If that is the case, then those activities must undergo severe scrutiny, because it may well be that what seems like activism is actually passivism, and vice versa.

      I started writing about a “soft” American totalitarianism for the first time in 1998, in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. American civic institutions seemed to me to have stopped functioning for the first time in 1994, after the Gingrich takeover, which made me take a step back, only to reemerge, awakened, when the Lewinsky scandal happened. I was not interested in the content of the scandal, which was a mere pretext to engineer reaction in a form we had never seen before without the instrument of twenty-four-hour cable news, but the way in which perceptions were being manipulated seemed to me to be mortally dangerous for democracy.

    • On a Reservation, a Second Chance for Prisoners and Their Warden

      As the warden of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation adult correctional facility patrols the cells, he sees Native American inmates who might be leading productive lives on the outside if they had graduated from high school. And Jackson, a member of the Assiniboine tribe, says he feels partly responsible.

      Before becoming warden, he served on the Wolf Point, Montana, school board for 15 years, 10 as its chairman. He pushed to curb discrimination in the town’s schools against Native Americans, who make up more than half of the student body but less than one-fifth of the staff. He fought for more reading instruction and other support for Native children and challenged decisions to expel them. But his efforts mostly fell flat as the white majority on the board outvoted or ignored him.

      Now he’s been meeting some of those dropouts as adults on the other end of the school-to-prison pipeline.

    • When the Calendar Requires the Release of Insanity Defendants in Oregon, Harm Often Follows

      After Sean Rieschel punched a woman at a laundromat for refusing to give him $3.50, he was found “guilty except for insanity” in 2010 and sent to the Oregon State Hospital.

      There, he was treated for bipolar and substance-use disorders — help he would not have received in prison if he’d been convicted of assault — and twice improved enough to live in group homes.

      But in 2015, the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board abruptly released Rieschel, ending the state’s oversight of his case and forcing him to leave the group home.

      It wasn’t because officials believed his mental illness had abated or that he wasn’t a threat to Oregonians.

    • California Town OKs Destruction Of Police Shooting Records Days Before They Could Be Obtained By The Public

      California has long protected police officers from accountability. Most police misconduct records are impossible to obtain via public records requests. The restrictions covering these personnel files even prevent defense attorneys and prosecutors from accessing them, allowing cops with lousy track records for telling the truth present testimony as if they’ve never committed a misdeed or told a lie.

      After years of legislative surrender to police union pressure and an overall deference to all things law enforcement, this year’s model finally managed to get a records reform bill to land on the governor’s desk. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2019, opening up access to a number of records Californians have never seen.

    • In 2018, a Spate of Partisan Attacks on State Courts

      A new Brennan Center analysis finds that attempts by state legislators to politicize or weaken courts were particularly widespread this year. That’s troubling, because when politicians drag courts and judges into the partisan muck, it becomes harder for courts to be, and appear, independent from the political actors they’re supposed to check. The three-legged stool of our democracy can stand only if the three branches are equally able to check each other.

      In all in 2018, lawmakers in at least 18 states considered at least 60 bills that would have diminished or politicized the role of the judiciary. Several stories stand out, and may foreshadow what’s ahead.

      The North Carolina General Assembly continued a multi-year effort to gain an upper hand in the courts. In 2018 alone, this included largely unsuccessful proposals to gerrymander judicial districts and to cut judicial terms from eight years to two. In support of the latter proposal, one legislator remarked, referring to judges: “If you’re going to act like a legislator, perhaps you should run like one.”

    • District of Despair: On a Montana Reservation, Schools Favor Whites Over Native Americans

      The faint scars on Ruth Fourstar’s arms testify to a difficult life on Fort Peck Indian Reservation — the physical and emotional abuse at home, the bullying at school, the self-harm that rotated her through mental health facilities and plunged her from the honor roll to a remedial program.

      A diploma from Wolf Point High School could be the teenager’s ticket out of this isolated prairie town. Instead, she sees her school as a dead end.

      The tutoring she was promised to get her back on track didn’t materialize. An agreement with the high school principal to let her apply credits earned in summer courses toward graduation fell through. The special education plan that the school district developed for her, supposedly to help her catch up, instead laid out how she should be disciplined. Her family fears that she will inflict the pain of not graduating on herself.

      “I’m just there,” the 17-year-old said. “I feel invisible.”

      Ruth’s despondency is shared by Native students in Wolf Point and across the nation. Often ignored in the national conversation about the public school achievement gap, they post some of the worst academic outcomes of any demographic group, a disparity exacerbated by decades of discrimination, according to federal reports. The population is also among the most at-risk: Underachievement and limited emotional support at school can contribute to a number of negative outcomes for Native youth, even suicide. Among people ages 18 to 24, Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide in the nation: 23 per 100,000, compared with 15 per 100,000 among white youths.

    • A Path to Freedom? Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal Wins Chance to Reargue Appeal in 1981 Police Killing

      Former Black Panther and award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner but has always maintained his innocence. On Thursday, a Philadelphia judge ruled Abu-Jamal can reargue his appeal in the case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The judge cited then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille’s failure to recuse himself from the case due to his prior role as Philadelphia district attorney when Abu-Jamal was appealing. We get an update from Johanna Fernández, professor of history at Baruch College-CUNY and one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. She has been in the courtroom for much of this case and is the editor of “Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Minnesota AG Just The Latest To Ding Comcast For Shady Fees

      How many lawsuits does it take to get Comcast to back off of shady fees designed to falsely inflate the company’s advertised prices? Good question.

      For several years now cable and broadband providers have been using hidden fees to covertly jack up their advertised rates. These fees, which utilize a rotating crop of bullshit names, help these companies falsely advertise one rate, then sock the consumer with a significantly higher-rate post sale (often when locked into a long-term contract). The practice also allows the company to falsely claim they’re not raising rates on consumers. They omit that they’re talking about the above-the-line rate being charged, implying that anything below the line (where real fees like taxes are levied) is outside of their control.

      Back in 2014, Comcast introduced a new $1.50 per month surcharge it called its “Broadcast TV Fee.” Said fee was really just a portion of the cost of doing business for Comcast (programming), busted out of the full bill and hidden below the line — again to help the company falsely advertise a lower price. Over the last four years Comcast has quietly but quickly pushed this fee skyward, this week informing customers that — alongside numerous other rate hikes like its “Regional Sports Network” fees — the company’s Broadcast TV fee would now be up to $10 per month for some cable TV customers.

    • CBS Eyes Ditching Nielsen As Streaming, Cord Cutting Change The Game

      For years, we’ve noted how popular TV ratings firm Nielsen has turned a bit of a blind eye to cord cutting and the Internet video revolution, on one hand declaring that the idea of cord cutting was “pure fiction,” while on the other hand admitting it wasn’t actually bothering to track TV viewing on mobile devices. It’s not surprising; Nielsen’s bread and butter is paid for by traditional cable executives, and really, who wants to take the time to pull all those collective heads of out of the sand to inform them that their precious pay TV cash cow is dying?

      Eventually, the cord cutting trend became too big to ignore, forcing Nielsen to change its tune and start acknowledging the very real trend (though they called it “zero TV households” instead of cordcutters). Broadcasters (especially those hardest hit by cord cutting) didn’t much like that, and began bullying the stat firm when it showed data that didn’t jive with the view a foot below ground. While Nielsen slowly improved its methodologies, it would occassionally back off on certain data collection and reporting changes if the cable and broadcast industry complained loudly enough.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Ruling of Barcelona Commercial court no. 5, Spain

      Furthermore, the patent holder must dispel any suspicions that it might be using the injunction in bad faith. Filing the application well in advance of the fair might be critical for this purpose.

    • Copyrights

      • Millions Upon Millions Of ‘Takedown’ Notices To Google… For Links That Aren’t Even In Google

        But here’s the thing about that quote: it’s almost entirely bullshit. First off, the numbers have started going down, but you don’t suddenly hear Chris Ortman and the MPAA saying “look, the notice and takedown system is now working!” Because Ortman wasn’t being honest when he made the original statement.

        But, the larger point, is that takedown requests, by themselves, don’t mean a damn thing about how much infringement there actually is. The requests may be bogus. Indeed, millions of the requests to Google turn out to… not even be in Google’s index. Torrentfreak had a recent story pointing out that the top 3 copyright owners alone sent Google over a billion takedown requests. That article further shows just how top heavy the requests are, with the top 16 copyright owners reporting more than 50% of all the takedown requests to Google. In other words, a very small group of organizations very much have their fingers on the scales of how many takedown requests Google receives. So, for those very same organizations to whine that more takedown requests proves anything… is questionable, at best.

      • Doxxing Pirates or Even Anti-Pirates is No Way to Solve Disputes

        Some of the most closely guarded secrets in the online piracy space are people’s identities. Staying anonymous is often the most important tool for longevity, whether that’s within piracy groups or even anti-piracy outfits that recruit staff from the underground scene. Sadly, for all parties, there appears to be those who think such behavior is clever. It’s not, and only leads to more trouble.

      • Top 3 Copyright ‘Owners’ Sent Google a Billion Takedown Requests

        The three most active ‘copyright owners’ have asked Google to remove more than a billion allegedly infringing links from its search engine results. While more than 160,000 rightsholders have asked Google to remove content, 0.0001% are responsible for the majority of the flagged links.

      • Bahnhof: The ISP That Fights For Privacy and a Free Internet

        Customers of Swedish ISP Bahnhof can consider themselves part of a unique movement. Unlike many other operators in the same space, Bahnhof is both a staunch supporter of the open Internet and a fierce opponent of what the company perceives to be over-reaching copyright holders. Jon Karlung, the company’s CEO, informs TorrentFreak that the fight will continue.

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    Links for the day



  7. The EPO Needs a President Who Obeys the Law, Not One Who Obeys Battistelli

    Succession based on nepotism at Europe's second-largest institution served to shown how inherently broken things had become and why cover-up of injustices is nowadays paramount (not fixing the flaws/ills but merely perpetuating them)



  8. With Water (Treatment) Already Patented It Won't Take Long for Patents (and Patent Royalties) on Air

    A 'paper economy' is what Europe turns into if the current trajectory is followed (led by lawyers, not producers)



  9. Bill Gates Said He Was on a “Jihad” Against GNU/Linux, But GNU/Linux Users/Developers Engaged in Self-Defense Are Foul-Mouthed 'Microsoft Haters'?

    Microsoft, which routinely commits very serious crimes, tries to come across as some sort of philanthropy whereas those who share their work with the public (for greater good) are described as erratic, rude and unworthy of respect from corporations (outcasts basically, deprived of income source)



  10. What Patents the EPO Has Just Awarded (With a Special Reward), Not Just Granted

    The EPO's practice of elevating some patents over the other patents (European Patents) is perhaps more of a societal liability than the EPO cares to realise



  11. Required Reading: Mental State of Team Battistelli/Campinos

    On the heels of yesterday's article about Team Battistelli/Campinos, here are some recommended/required papers on the problem which likely plagues the Office



  12. Links 23/6/2019: Wine 4.11, FreeBSD 11.3 RC2

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Apparently Did a Patrick Durusau on Wim Coekaerts to Broaden Its Control Over GNU/Linux

    Microsoft tactics for defection and takeover of the competition (without coming across as hostile) aren't new tactics; internal documents from Microsoft explain how to achieve this



  14. EPO Directors Would be Wise to Rebel Against Team Campinos While They Still Have the Job

    As the EPO continues its bold journey towards dictatorship (where presidencies are passed between friends and ‘circles’ are former colleagues or close confidants) Techrights urges those who have power to speak out — e.g. EPO judges and Directors — to do something before it’s too late



  15. American Front Group Open Invention Network (Riding the Linux Brand) is a Proponent of Software Patents in Europe

    The impact of American multinationals in Europe is difficult to deny; in fact, we're observing the same old lobbying/lobbies still working hard albeit more covertly (typically using front groups)



  16. Say 'Hey Hi' to Software Patents

    Using the “AI” (“HEY HI”) hype the ‘community’ of patent maximalists hopes that every little (and possibly very old) algorithm will suddenly sound amazing and innovative — to the point where it becomes unthinkable to deny a patent monopoly on it



  17. A Personal Note From Ted MacReilly (How Microsoft Works Against GNU/Linux)

    A tongue-in-cheek write-up highlighting the ways Microsoft insiders think and how they strategise against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software



  18. The Linux Foundation's New Vice Chair, Wim Coekaerts, Worked for Microsoft

    The Linux Foundation is boosting the Microsoft boosters and calls that "community"



  19. Links 21/6/2019: GNOME 3.33.3, 32-Bit Support Further Neglected, DragonFlyBSD 5.6.1 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Leaked: Harassment of EPO Directors by Team Campinos

    “New BIT organisation and staff changes,” a novel kind of newspeak, means that Directors are being severely punished without due process at all (“hidden disciplinary measure without disciplinary proceedings”)



  21. Patent Professionals in Europe Have Devolved Into a Marketing Industry

    Lies, buzzwords and hype waves is all that the patent bubble in Europe boils down to these days; loads of bogus patents get granted only for European judges to smack these down (if one can afford the court battle)



  22. Almost Six Months After Iancu Said He Would Make Software Patents Great Again Nothing Has Actually Changed

    We're just a fortnight away from the ludicrous plan of Iancu celebrating 6 months (without accomplishing anything)



  23. Links 20/6/2019: Kubernetes 1.15, Alpine 3.10.0 and Librem 5 June Software Update

    Links for the day



  24. Ignore the EPO's Dumb Festival and Focus on the Abuses Against the Workforce and Its Quality of Work

    Don’t lose sight of the appalling behaviour of the management of the EPO; the last thing it wants is press coverage about its gross abuses and corruption — an aspect it spent literally millions of euros to bury (gaming the news cycle)



  25. Microsoft Attempting to Destroy the Careers of Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents

    Microsoft isn't changing and has not changed; the tactics described above are still being used, even by its "Open Source" (or "Open at Microsoft") people, who did this to me



  26. Links 19/6/2019: Linux Mint Vs Vista 10, Qt 5.13 Released

    Links for the day



  27. The Linux Foundation's Business Model

    The Linux Foundation's plan, illustrated



  28. Links 18/6/2019: i386 Abandoned by Canonical and a New osquery 'Community'

    Links for the day



  29. Indifference or Even Hostility Towards Patent Quality Results in Grave Injustice

    The patent extravaganza in Europe harms small businesses the most (they complain about it), but administrative staff at patent offices only cares about the views of prolific applicants rather than the interests of citizens in respective countries



  30. Links 18/6/2019: CentOS 8 Coming Soon, DragonFly BSD 5.6 Released

    Links for the day


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