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01.18.19

Links 18/1/2019: Mesa 18.3.2, Rust 1.32.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • New Deepin Linux Gets Even Better With Touchscreen Gesture Support

      Easily the most welcome new feature is enhanced touchscreen support, especially during a time when 2-in-1 devices are becoming more popular. And in many Linux distributions, touchscreen functionality is a bit of a weak point. Deepin 15.9 adds support for multiple touch gestures including click, double click, a long press to bring up the context menu, as well as sliding up and down.

      Also added is an onscreen keyboard plugin, available from the dock.

    • Popular open source laptop maker Purism announces new series

      Hackers and hustlers who have been looking for fully open source laptops have often turned to Purism, a small but feisty distributor that pairs high-end hardware with completely open software. The laptops are generic enough to ensure that you won’t be locked down by Windows or any other closed-source players but high-end enough for programming work.

      The best thing? Both laptops feature a physical on and off switch to control the Wi-Fi, camera, and microphone, thereby ensuring complete privacy when talking biz. The laptops are excellent for folks specifically interested in security as users can manage everything from the OS to their crypto wallet with complete transparency.

    • The best Linux apps for Chromebooks

      Being able to install Linux apps on Chrome OS opens up some fascinating new possibilities — particularly if you’re an advanced user.

      After all, while a Chromebook’s standard combo of web apps, Chrome apps, and Android apps is more than sufficient for most folks’ needs, some of us still require (or maybe just prefer) traditional local programs for certain specific purposes. The presence of Linux apps on Chrome OS means we can have our cake and eat it, too — by enjoying the speed, simplicity, and security of a Chromebook while also embracing the occasional heavy-duty desktop app.

  • Server

    • Modern web applications on OpenShift: Part 3 — Openshift as a development environment

      Welcome back to the final part of this multipart series about deploying modern web applications on Red Hat OpenShift. In the first post, we took a look at how to deploy a modern web application using the fewest commands.

      In the second part, we took a deeper look into how the new source-to-image (S2I) web app builder works and how to use it as part of a chained build.

      This third and final part will take a look at how you can run your app’s “development workflow” on OpenShift.

    • Survey Indicates Container Security Concerns Limit Adoption

      A new survey indicates that 60 percent of IT pros working with containers experienced at least one container security incident in the last year.

    • SUSE teams with Intel & SAP on persistent memory in the datacentre

      SUSE has announced support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory with SAP HANA.

      Persistent memory is typically defined as any method or apparatus for storing data structures such that they can continue to be accessed using memory instructions or memory APIs even after the end of the process that created or last modified them – and that often means ‘when the power is off’.

      Running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, SAP HANA users can now use Intel Optane DC persistent memory in the data centre.

    • Red Hat Shareholders Greenlight $34B IBM Acquisition

      IBM’s $34 billion deal to acquire Red Hat took a big step closer to completion, as Red Hat shareholders nearly unanimously approved the deal on Wednesday.

    • How VMware Is Advancing Kubernetes Cloud-Native Technology With Heptio
    • Top 5 Linux Server Distributions

      However, in the name of opening your eyes to maybe something a bit different, I’m going to approach this a bit differently. I want to consider a list of possible distributions that are not only outstanding candidates but also easy to use, and that can serve many functions within your business. In some cases, my choices are drop-in replacements for other operating systems, whereas others require a bit of work to get them up to speed.

      Some of my choices are community editions of enterprise-grade servers, which could be considered gateways to purchasing a much more powerful platform. You’ll even find one or two entries here to be duty-specific platforms. Most importantly, however, what you’ll find on this list isn’t the usual fare.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.3
    • Linux 4.19.16
    • Linux 4.14.94
    • Linux 4.9.151
    • Linux 4.4.171
    • Ditching Out-of-Date Documentation Infrastructure

      Long ago, the Linux kernel started using 00-Index files to list the contents of each documentation directory. This was intended to explain what each of those files documented. Henrik Austad recently pointed out that those files have been out of date for a very long time and were probably not used by anyone anymore. This is nothing new. Henrik said in his post that this had been discussed already for years, “and they have since then grown further out of date, so perhaps it is time to just throw them out.”

      He counted hundreds of instances where the 00-index file was out of date or not present when it should have been. He posted a patch to rip them all unceremoniously out of the kernel.

      Joe Perches was very pleased with this. He pointed out that .rst files (the kernel’s native documentation format) had largely taken over the original purpose of those 00-index files. He said the oo-index files were even misleading by now.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Check Out the 2019 Linux Foundation Events and Expand Your Open Source Experience

        The Linux Foundation just recently announced its 2019 events schedule, featuring all your favorite events as well as some brand-new ones to cover the latest technologies. Make plans now to speak or attend and expand your experience with open source.

      • The Role of Hyperledger in the Development of Smart Contracts

        Businesses constantly look to improve. A great part of that improvement is optimizing the costs-to-revenue ratio, which obviously favors revenue. Developing decentralized applications (dApps) with smart contracts has opened exciting avenues for businesses. Blockchain developers are exploring this practical aspect of smart contracts to create dApps that solve several issues current businesses struggle with: too many intermediaries, too much time, and too many conditions attached to executing a business transaction.

        The sum of these issues comes down to spending too much money on completing business contracts. Expectedly, the solution would be to reduce most of the complicated aspects to do business in a more affordable way than ever before.

        [...]

        The Hyperledger is different from other blockchain endeavors. It not only offers a dApp platform for creating practical solutions but it also provides collaborative partnership and unique smart contract technology as well as rich resources such as plug-in tools and frameworks that businesses can use in the process of dApp development. In the spirit of Linux, it also features a very active online community.

        Despite the permissioned blockchain model, it’s important to keep in mind Hyperledger’s open-source software orientation, which means the platform offers its newly developed code to partners for free. Apart from the membership fee, there are no additional fees for licenses and royalties. In a way, seeing blockchains as completely open or partially open networks is similar to the conundrum associated with the different benefits of open-source and proprietary software.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 18.3.2

        Mesa 18.3.2 is now available.

        In this release candidate we have added more PCI IDs for AMD Vega devices and
        a number of fixes for the RADV Vulkan drivers.

        On the Intel side we have a selection ranging from quad swizzles support for
        ICL to compiler fixes.

        The nine state tracker has also seen some love as do the Broadcom drivers.

        To top it all up, we have a healthy mount of build system fixes.

        Alex Deucher (3):
        pci_ids: add new vega10 pci ids
        pci_ids: add new vega20 pci id
        pci_ids: add new VegaM pci id

        Alexander von Gluck IV (1):
        egl/haiku: Fix reference to disp vs dpy

        Andres Gomez (2):
        glsl: correct typo in GLSL compilation error message
        glsl/linker: specify proper direction in location aliasing error

        Axel Davy (3):
        st/nine: Fix volumetexture dtor on ctor failure
        st/nine: Bind src not dst in nine_context_box_upload
        st/nine: Add src reference to nine_context_range_upload

        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (5):
        radv: Do a cache flush if needed before reading predicates.
        radv: Implement buffer stores with less than 4 components.
        anv/android: Do not reject storage images.
        radv: Fix rasterization precision bits.
        spirv: Fix matrix parameters in function calls.

        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (3):
        nir: properly clear the entry sources in copy_prop_vars
        nir: properly find the entry to keep in copy_prop_vars
        nir: remove dead code from copy_prop_vars

        Dave Airlie (2):
        radv/xfb: fix counter buffer bounds checks.
        virgl/vtest: fix front buffer flush with protocol version 0.

        Dylan Baker (6):
        meson: Fix ppc64 little endian detection
        meson: Add support for gnu hurd
        meson: Add toggle for glx-direct
        meson: Override C++ standard to gnu++11 when building with altivec on ppc64
        meson: Error out if building nouveau and using LLVM without rtti
        autotools: Remove tegra vdpau driver

        Emil Velikov (13):
        docs: add sha256 checksums for 18.3.1
        bin/get-pick-list.sh: rework handing of sha nominations
        bin/get-pick-list.sh: warn when commit lists invalid sha
        cherry-ignore: meson: libfreedreno depends upon libdrm (for fence support)
        glx: mandate xf86vidmode only for “drm” dri platforms
        meson: don’t require glx/egl/gbm with gallium drivers
        pipe-loader: meson: reference correct library
        TODO: glx: meson: build dri based glx tests, only with -Dglx=dri
        glx: meson: drop includes from a link-only library
        glx: meson: wire up the dispatch-index-check test
        glx/test: meson: assorted include fixes
        Update version to 18.3.2
        docs: add release notes for 18.3.2

        Eric Anholt (6):
        v3d: Fix a leak of the transfer helper on screen destroy.
        vc4: Fix a leak of the transfer helper on screen destroy.
        v3d: Fix a leak of the disassembled instruction string during debug dumps.
        v3d: Make sure that a thrsw doesn’t split a multop from its umul24.
        v3d: Add missing flagging of SYNCB as a TSY op.
        gallium/ttn: Fix setup of outputs_written.

        Erik Faye-Lund (2):
        virgl: wrap vertex element state in a struct
        virgl: work around bad assumptions in virglrenderer

        Francisco Jerez (5):
        intel/fs: Handle source modifiers in lower_integer_multiplication().
        intel/fs: Implement quad swizzles on ICL+.
        intel/fs: Fix bug in lower_simd_width while splitting an instruction which was already split.
        intel/eu/gen7: Fix brw_MOV() with DF destination and strided source.
        intel/fs: Respect CHV/BXT regioning restrictions in copy propagation pass.

        Ian Romanick (2):
        i965/vec4/dce: Don’t narrow the write mask if the flags are used
        Revert “nir/lower_indirect: Bail early if modes == 0″

        Jan Vesely (1):
        clover: Fix build after clang r348827

        Jason Ekstrand (6):
        nir/constant_folding: Fix source bit size logic
        intel/blorp: Be more conservative about copying clear colors
        spirv: Handle any bit size in vector_insert/extract
        anv/apply_pipeline_layout: Set the cursor in lower_res_reindex_intrinsic
        spirv: Sign-extend array indices
        intel/peephole_ffma: Fix swizzle propagation

        Karol Herbst (1):
        nv50/ir: fix use-after-free in ConstantFolding::visit

        Kirill Burtsev (1):
        loader: free error state, when checking the drawable type

        Lionel Landwerlin (5):
        anv: don’t do partial resolve on layer > 0
        i965: include draw_params/derived_draw_params for VF cache workaround
        i965: add CS stall on VF invalidation workaround
        anv: explictly specify format for blorp ccs/mcs op
        anv: flush fast clear colors into compressed surfaces

        Marek Olšák (1):
        st/mesa: don’t leak pipe_surface if pipe_context is not current

        Mario Kleiner (1):
        radeonsi: Fix use of 1- or 2- component GL_DOUBLE vbo’s.

        Nicolai Hähnle (1):
        meson: link LLVM ‘native’ component when LLVM is available

        Rhys Perry (3):
        radv: don’t set surf_index for stencil-only images
        ac/nir,radv,radeonsi/nir: use correct indices for interpolation intrinsics
        ac: split 16-bit ssbo loads that may not be dword aligned

        Rob Clark (2):
        freedreno/drm: fix memory leak
        mesa/st/nir: fix missing nir_compact_varyings

        Samuel Pitoiset (1):
        radv: switch on EOP when primitive restart is enabled with triangle strips

        Timothy Arceri (2):
        tgsi/scan: fix loop exit point in tgsi_scan_tess_ctrl()
        tgsi/scan: correctly walk instructions in tgsi_scan_tess_ctrl()

        Vinson Lee (2):
        meson: Fix typo.
        meson: Fix libsensors detection.

      • Mesa 18.3.2 Released With Many Fixes As Users Encouraged To Upgrade

        With the Mesa 18.2.8 release at the end of December being the last release of that driver series, users should really consider upgrading to Mesa 18.3. Fortunately, Mesa 18.3.2 is out this morning with dozens of fixes.

        This point release to Mesa 18.3 is quite big as it’s arriving a few weeks late due to the holidays and the release manager having been ill. Mesa 18.3.2 has more than six dozen changes including the new Vega 10/20 PCI IDs along with the new VegaM ID too, Gallium Nine fixes, Intel Icelake fixes, Meson build system updates, a few Broadcom VC4/V3D fixes too, and rounding out with a few RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes too.

      • Nouveau Open-Source Driver Will Now Work With NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti On Linux 5.0

        Among the many Linux 5.0 kernel features is initial open-source NVIDIA driver support for the latest-generation Turing graphics processors. Missed out on during the Linux 5.0 merge window was “TU102″ support but now that is coming down as a fix for the 5.0 kernel.

        Back in December, Ben Skeggs of Red Hat posted the initial Turing support for Nouveau in the form of the TU104 (RTX 2080) and TU106 (RTX 2060/2070) but was lacking coverage of the TU102, which is for the flagship RTX 2080 Ti and TITAN RTX. He wasn’t able to test the support at the time and thus left it out. Skeggs has now been able to verify the TU102 support is working and that patch is now on its way to the mainline kernel tree.

      • Quake 2 Gets Real-Time Path Tracing Powered By NVIDIA RTX / VK_NV_ray_tracing

        For those Linux gamers with a NVIDIA RTX “Turing” graphics card, there’s finally an interesting open-source workload to enjoy that makes use of the RTX hardware and NVIDIA’s VK_NV_ray_tracing extension… A real-time path tracing port of the legendary Quake 2 game.

        While Quake II recently saw a Vulkan port, university students have now done an “RTX” port for Quake 2 with the new Q2VKPT project.

    • Benchmarks

      • Mesa 19.0 RADV vs. AMDVLK 2019.Q1.2 vs. Radeon Software 18.50 Linux Vulkan Performance

        With the latest AMDVLK Vulkan driver improvements back to coming out on a weekly basis by AMD and Mesa 19.0 development progressing ahead of its feature freeze later this month, here is a fresh Linux gaming benchmark comparison of the AMD Radeon Vulkan driver options on Linux. Tested this round with a Radeon RX 590 and RX Vega 64 was the latest Mesa 19.0 development state for RADV, this week’s new AMDVLK 2019.Q1.2 driver snapshot, and the Radeon Software 18.50 proprietary driver while running a slew of Vulkan-powered Linux games and DXVK.

      • WLinux & WLinux Enterprise Benchmarks, The Linux Distributions Built For Windows 10 WSL

        Making the news rounds a few months back was “WLinux”, which was the first Linux distribution designed for Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 10. But is this pay-to-play Linux distribution any faster than the likes of Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Debian already available from the Microsoft Store? Here are some benchmarks of these different Linux distribution options with WSL.

        WLinux is a Linux distribution derived from Debian that is focused on offering an optimal WSL experience. This distribution isn’t spun by Microsoft but a startup called Whitewater Foundry. WLinux focuses on providing good defaults for WSL with the catering of its default package set while the Debian archive via APT is still accessible. There is also support for graphical applications when paired with a Windows-based X client. For this easy-setup, quick-to-get-going Linux distribution on WSL, it retails for $19.99 USD from the Microsoft Store though often sells for $9.99 USD.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.15 Beta

        Today KDE launches the beta release of Plasma 5.15.

        For the first release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE’s Usability & Productivity goal. We have teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the papercuts in our software that make your life less smooth, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use.

        Plasma 5.15 brings a number of changes to our configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations. Many icons have been added or redesigned. Our integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox has been made even more complete. Discover, our software and add-on installer, has received a metric tonne of improvements to help you stay up-to-date and find the tools you need to get your tasks done.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop Environment Enters Beta, Promises Numerous Improvements
      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Released With Some Grand Improvements
      • Help Test KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta

        KDE’s flagship project Plasma has a new beta out. There’s now three weeks to sort out the bugs to make the release a work of perfection. We need your help.

        Plasma has a new testing release out with a final release due in three weeks. We need your help in testing it and reporting problems.

        KDE neon Developer Git-Stable Edition now has Plasma 5.15 beta and can be used for testing.

      • On Wallpapers

        I’ll be switching to releasing new wallpapers every second Plasma release, on even-numbered versions.
        This is just a post to refer to for those who have asked me about Plasma 5.15 and a new wallpaper. Since I started working on Plasma 5 wallpapers, there has always been a number of factors determining how exactly I made them. After some agonising debate I’ve decided to slow the wallpaper release pace, because as time has gone on a number of things have changed since I started contributing them [....]

        LTS Plasma versions & quality. While it may seem irrelevant to wallpapers, LTS stands out to as the place where we really need to pour love and care into our designs. With each new wallpaper I’m pushing things a bit harder and a bit further which means taking more time to create them, and I’m realising that at the quality I want to drive out LTS wallpapers with, it might take 3 to 5 dedicated days to produce a final product. That’s not including post-reveal tweaks I do after receiving feedback, or the wallpapers I discard during the creation process (for each wallpaper released, it’s likely I got halfway through 2 other designs). In other words, it’s becoming less sustainable.

        The wallpapers aren’t crap anymore. It’s no secret, my first wallpapers were rough. When a new wallpaper was finished there were real quality incentives for me to take the lessons learned and turn-around a better wallpaper. Nowadays though most new wallpapers are visually pleasing and people don’t mind if they stick around for a bit longer. I know a lot of people even go back to previous wallpapers. Adding to this, it’s gotten easy to get older wallpapers; OpenDesktop, GetHotNewStuff both serve as easy access, and we now have some of the most popular default wallpapers in the extended wallpapers package. While new wallpapers are always nice to have, it’s no longer bad to keep what we’ve got.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Wayland Run Through

        In this video, we look at KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta the Wayland Session. Please keep in mind that it is still in development and the Xorg session is perfect.

      • Qt 5.13 Might Add QTelemetry For Opt-In Anonymous Data Collection

        The next release of the Qt5 tool-kit might introduce a potentially controversial module to facilitate anonymous data collection of Qt applications.

        The addition of Qt Telemetry has been under code review since last September. There was some reviews taking place and code revisions happening but since November that review dried up.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Builder IDE Goes Through Its Biggest Code Refactoring Ever

        The lead developer of the GNOME Builder integrated development environment, Christian Hergert, has just led his project through its largest code re-factoring yet. Builder 3.32 coming out in March with GNOME 3.32 features more than 100k lines of code changed with various underlying improvements as well as some new features for developers.

      • GNOME Software 3.31.2 Debuts With Flatpak Improvements, Many Fixes

        Now available for testing ahead of GNOME 3.32 in March is GNOME Software 3.31.2, the first development release for this “app store” / software center seeing its first release since v3.31.1 last October.

        Given the time since the prior development release, GNOME Software 3.31.2 has a lot of fixes and other improvements in preparing for the 3.32.0 stable release.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Tumbleweed Starts Year with New Plasma, Applications, VIM, curl

        This new year has brought several updated packages to users of openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed.

        Three snapshots have been released in 2019 so far and among the packages updated in the snapshots are KDE’s Plasma, VIM, RE2, QEMU and curl.

        The 20190112 snapshot brought a little more than a handful of packages. The new upstream Long-Term-Support version of nodejs10 10.15.0 addressed some timing vulnerabilities, updated a dependency with an upgrade to OpenSSL 1.1.0j and the versional also has a 40-seconds timeout that is now applied to servers receiving HTTP headers. The changelog listed several fixes for the highly configurable text editor with vim 8.1.0687, which should now be able to be built with Ruby 2.6.0 that was released at the end of December. Google’s re2 20190101 offered some performance tweaks and bug fixes. The fast real-time compression algorithm of zstd 1.3.8 has better decompression speed on large files. There was a change in the yast2-firewall package, which arrived in the the 20190110 snapshot, that allows new ‘forward_ports’, ‘rich_rules’ and ‘source_ports’ elements in zone entries with yast2-schema 4.1.0.

    • Slackware Family

      • Uploading 15 GB of new Slackware Live Edition ISO images

        The squashfs modules in the XFCE ISOs are compressed with ‘xz’ to keep them as small as possible (so they will fit on a CDROM medium). All of the other ISOs are compressed with ‘zstd’ which gives the Live OS a speed boost of ~20% at the cost of 10% increase in the ISO size.

    • Fedora

      • How Do You Fedora: Journey into 2019

        Jose plans on continuing to push open source initiatives such as cloud and container infrastructures. He will also continue teaching advanced Unix systems administration. “I am now helping a new generation of Red Hat Certified Professionals seek their place in the world of open source. It is indeed a joy when a student mentions they have obtained their certification because of what they were exposed to in my class.” He also plans on spending some more time with his art again.

        Carlos would like to write for Fedora Magazine and help bring the magazine to the Latin American community. “I would like to contribute to Fedora Magazine. If possible I would like to help with the magazine in Spanish.”

        Akinsola wants to hold a Fedora a release part in 2019. “I want make many people aware of Fedora, make them aware they can be part of the release and it is easy to do.” He would also like to ensure that new Fedora users have an easy time of adapting to their new OS.

        Kevin is planning is excited about 2019 being a time of great change for Fedora. “In 2019 I am looking forward to seeing what and how we retool things to allow for lifecycle changes and more self service deliverables. I think it’s going to be a ton of work, but I am hopeful we will come out of it with a much better structure to carry us forward to the next period of Fedora success.” Kevin also had some words of appreciation for everyone in the Fedora community. “I’d like to thank everyone in the Fedora community for all their hard work on Fedora, it wouldn’t exist without the vibrant community we have.”

    • Debian Family

      • Understanding Debian: The Universal Operating System

        “And my final test as to whether or not Debian succeeded was: could the founder step away from the project and could the project keep going because that is the only point at which you know that the project has basically taken a life of its own.” ~ Ian Murdock

      • Week 5: Resolving the blocker

        This post is about my work on the subscription feature for Debian derivatives – first of the two main issues to be resolved within my internship. And this week’s topic from the organizers is “Think About Your Audience”, especially newcomers to the community and future Outreachy applicants. So I’ll try to write about the feature keeping the most important details but taking into account that the readers might be unfamiliar with some terms and concepts.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • How to replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint

              Many of you are Windows 7 users. I get it. Windows 7 just works. But the clock is ticking for Windows 7. In less than a year, Windows 7′s free support ends.

              Come that day, you’ll have a choice: You can either run it without being certain you’ll get vital security patches (that would be really stupid), or you can pay for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. We don’t know how much that will be, but I think we can safely assume it won’t be cheap. Or, you can migrate to Windows 10. And, yes, for now, you can still update to Windows 10 for free from Windows 7.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • CNC milling with open source software

    I’m always looking for new projects to create with my 3D printer. When I recently saw a new design for a computer numeric code (CNC) milling machine that mostly uses 3D printed parts, I was intrigued. When I saw that the machine works with open source software and the controller is an Arduino running open source software, I knew I had to make one.

    CNC milling machines are precision cutting tools used in creating dies, engravings, and models. Unlike other milling tools, CNC machines can move on three axes: the Z axis moves vertically, the X axis moves horizontally, and the Y axis moves backward and forward.

  • Attackers Leverage Open Source in New BYOB Attack [Ed: A "phishing site impersonating the Office 365 login page," but hey, let's blame "open source"]

    An attack leveraging the open-source Build Your Own Botnet (BYOB) framework has reportedly been intercepted by Israeli cybersecurity firm Perception Point’s incident response team. According to the team, this appears to be the first time the BYOB framework has been found to be used for fraudulent activity in the wild.

    While these tactics and techniques have historically been limited in used to financially backed advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, they are now more easily accessed by novice criminals, in part because of the more widespread popularity of plug-and-play hacking kits, researchers said.

  • Try ‘Puffer’: An Open-Source Free Live TV Streaming Service By Stanford

    A new free TV streaming service called “Puffer” has been launched as a part of a nonprofit academic research study by a group of Stanford researchers.

    The team, led by Francis Yan, a doctoral student from the computer science department at Stanford Universty, aims at improving Internet transmission and video-streaming algorithms by using AI.

  • H2O.ai Empowers MarketAxess to Innovate and Inform Trading Strategies

    H2O.ai, the open source leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), today announced that its open source platform, H2O, provides critical machine learning capabilities to MarketAxess, the operator of a leading electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities and the provider of market data and post-trade services for the global fixed-income markets. MarketAxess’ Composite+, powered by H2O open source, delivers greater insight and price discovery in real-time, globally, for over 24,000 corporate bonds. Composite+ has won several awards for its use of AI including the Risk Markets Technology Award for Electronic Trading Support Product of the Year and the Waters Technology American Financial Technology Award for Best Artificial Intelligence Technology Initiative.

  • 2019 AI Trend To Watch: Open Source and RAPIDS

    Nvidia aims to increase its GPU platform usage by offering open source tools to help accelerate machine learning workloads.

  • How to Preserve Your Privacy on Android Without Tearing Your Hair Out

    It can seem intimidating, but you can gain some semblance of mobile privacy with a few quick tweaks.

    [...]

    If you had unlimited time and some familiarity with the Android platform, you could go to extremes like rooting to disable system components, flashing custom ROMs, or even building your own privacy-focused ROM. For most people, that’s not feasible. Not only are such activities incredibly complex, but they also make your phone less useful.

    The fact of the matter is, most Android users want access to the Play Store, Google apps, and high-security apps (e.g. banking) that rely on Google’s TrustZone system. However, you can make some simple but not always obvious changes to Android phones to preserve your privacy.

  • Blast from the Past: Retrieving Old Game Source Code

    Way back in 1985, I created games on the ZX Spectrum/Timex and CBM-64. A friend and I set up a small software house, and in addition to creating our own games, we also (and more lucratively) converted games for other publishers from CBM-64 to other formats.

    During this period, I wrote several original games in Z80 and 6502 assembler. I kept their sources on 5 1/4″ floppy disks, but after a few years I lost the floppy drive that could read the disks, and they were shoved in a cupboard. Somewhere between house moves, I lost the disks for all time.

    Fast-forward to this past December. In a store, I spotted a cheap game console for roughly $100 (get a look at this absolute unit, sold under the brand name “RetroPi”). It came with 18,000 games for various old computers and consoles, including SNES, ZX Spectrum and CBM-64. The hardware was a Raspberry PI clone in a case, and included Nintendo-type game controllers, along with HDMI and USB power cables.

    [...]

    I priced out the hardware for the console, and reckon it would cost about $70 for the Pi, controllers and cables, so I don’t feel ripped off… especially as it gave me a chance to play “Legend of Zelda” and “Secret of Mana” for the first time in 25 years via the SNES emulator!

  • How Open Source Culture Is Battling Skepticism Successfully

    The software industry has also witnessed vital changes. One of the biggest methods of evangelising this grown lies in open sourcing. One may think open source is just about free software and data, but, that is not the only thing; open source is about the code that becomes publicly available for people to modify and use it.

  • VLC, that magic open source video player, might be making a play for more consoles

    Speaking to VentureBeat, Jean-Baptiste Kempf revealed that VLC had reached three billion downloads to date and will continue to push HDR support as much as they can via the AV1 format, and further support VR videos.

    As far as gaming devices go, Kempf says that in addition to their already existing Xbox app they’re also interested in releasing VLC for the Switch, Roku devices and the PS4. As VentureBeat points out these aren’t a top priority given that only 12 people actually contribute to the VLC project, but it’s something they’re thinking about.

  • Mastodon is crumbling—and many blame its creator

    It’s 9am on a Tuesday, early morning by cybre.space’s standards. Few have logged on to the microblogging social network, and it shows: A follower feed filled with more than 31 users updates at a snail’s pace. It’s much slower than one would expect on Twitter. But then again, cybre.space isn’t Twitter. It runs off a decentralized social media software called Mastodon, and is part of a much larger network of Mastodon communities.

    Over on Twitter, users post jokes about President Donald Trump, this time of a fast food feast he prepared for the Clemson Tigers football team amid the ongoing government shutdown. But the words “Trump” and “shutdown” only appear once each on cybre.space’s “local timeline,” which shows posts on the site and any other connected “instances,” or Mastodon communities. It’s even more barren on this reporter’s home timeline: No one is talking about hamberders.

    Posting works differently on cybre.space than Twitter. It’s much more like living in a queer house, one that prefers to talk about political theory over current events. Some users chat about democratic socialism and queer identity, while others talk about games, music, fandom, or their difficulties navigating trans healthcare. One user posts a message that reads “re: hrt” with a few lines about their hormone replacement regimen hidden underneath, accessible only via the “show more” content warning (CW) button next to it. Another boosts a post praising Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats, calling it a “visceral experience.”

    Cybre.space has just over 2,000 users. Over on Mastodon’s flagship community, Mastodon.social, there are over 300,000 users. But despite the larger userbase, discussions are even less political. On the community’s local timeline, one user troubleshoots installing a Linux distribution. Another shares a news story about a man who tried to turn his home into a restaurant. A third links to an article about Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford. Here, Trump is not the sun; tech, gaming, and the occasional NSFW post largely prevail. It’s as if the outside world doesn’t exist.

  • The Best Open Source Software in 2018 (Users’ Choice)

    LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite written in C++, Java, and Python. It was first released in January 2011 by The Document Foundation and has since known to be the most reliable open source office suite.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Announcing Rust 1.32.0

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.32.0. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

      • Rust 1.32 Released With New Debugger Macro, Jemalloc Disabled By Default

        For fans of Rustlang, it’s time to fire up rustup: Rust 1.32 is out today as the latest feature update for this increasingly popular programming language.

        The Rust 1.32 release brings dbg!() as a new debug macro to print the value of a variable as well as its file/line-number and it works with more than just variables but also commands.

      • Is It Time to Rewrite the Operating System in Rust?

        Bryan Cantrill explores Rust, explains why it has captured the imagination of so many systems software engineers, and outlines where it might best fit in the deep stack of operating system software.

        [...]

        Bryan Cantrill is the CTO at Joyent, where he oversees worldwide development of the SmartOS and SmartDataCenter platforms. Prior to joining Joyent, he served as a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, where he spent over a decade working on system software, from the guts of the kernel to client-code on the browser.

      • Julien Vehent: Maybe don’t throw away your VPN just yet…

        At Mozilla, we’ve long adopted single sign on, first using SAML, nowadays using OpenID Connect (OIDC). Most of our applications, both public facing and internal, require SSO to protect access to privileged resources. We never trust the network and always require strong authentication. And yet, we continue to maintain VPNs to protect our most sensitive admin panels.

        “How uncool”, I hear you object, “and here we thought you were all about DevOps and shit”. And you would be correct, but I’m also pragmatic, and I can’t count the number of times we’ve had authentication bugs that let our red team or security auditors bypass authentication. The truth is, even highly experienced programmers and operators make mistakes and will let a bug disable or fail to protect part of that one super sensitive page you never want to leave open to the internet. And I never blame them because SSO/OAuth/OIDC are massively complex protocols that require huge libraries that fail in weird and unexpected ways. I’ve never reached the point where I fully trust our SSO, because we find one of those auth bypass every other month. Here’s the catch: they never lead to major security incidents because we put all our admin panels behind a good old VPN.

      • Reflections on a co-design workshop

        Co-design workshops help designers learn first-hand the language of the people who use their products, in addition to their pain points, workflows, and motivations. With co-design methods [1] participants are no longer passive recipients of products. Rather, they are involved in the envisioning and re-imagination of them. Participants show us what they need and want through sketching and design exercises. The purpose of a co-design workshop is not to have a pixel-perfect design to implement, rather it’s to learn more about the people who use or will use the product, and to involve them in generating ideas about what to design.

        We ran a co-design workshop at Mozilla to inform our product design, and we’d like to share our experience with you.

        [...]

        Our UX team was tasked with improving the Firefox browser extension experience. When people create browser extensions, they use a form to submit their creations. They submit their code and all the metadata about the extension (name, description, icon, etc.). The metadata provided in the submission form is used to populate the extension’s product page on addons.mozilla.org.

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 51
      • WebRender newsletter #36

        Hi everyone! This week’s highlight is Glenn’s picture caching work which almost landed about a week ago and landed again a few hours ago. Fingers crossed! If you don’t know what picture caching means and are interested, you can read about it in the introduction of this newsletter’s season 01 episode 28.

        On a more general note, the team continues focusing on the remaining list of blocker bugs which grows and shrinks depending on when you look, but the overall trend is looking good.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
  • Databases

    • Unlock Hybrid Everything with MariaDB Platform X3

      As customers, we expect businesses to provide us with useful information. And as our expectations rise, so too must the usefulness of the information. For example, it’s useful to know a product is on sale. It’s more useful to know that it will be sold-out within hours. It’s also useful to know the balance on my credit card. But it’s even more useful to know if it’s going be higher than the automated payment I scheduled.

    • MariaDB Platform X3 combines transaction processing and analytics

      With MariaDB Platform X3, an organization may use a single database both for conventional customer-facing workloads (transactional, or OLTP) and internal business-intelligence workloads (analytical, or OLAP). The same data is available for either kind of work and is kept automatically in sync between the two sides.

      MariaDB Platform is priced at a flat per-node cost, regardless of whether nodes are OLTP or OLAP. This allows for more flexible deployments, where the number of nodes in a given deployment can be moved freely between OLTP and OLAP workloads as demand changes.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Bash shell utility turns 5.0

      A few months prior to celebrating the 30th birthday of the Bash command language interpreter, the GNU Project has released Bash 5.0, featuring bug fixes and new shell variables.

      As we look forward to the release of Linux Kernel 5.0 in the coming weeks, we can enjoy another venerable open source technology reaching the 5.0 milestone: the Bash shell utility. The GNU Project has launched the public version 5.0 of GNU/Linux’s default command language interpreter. Bash 5.0 adds new shell variables and other features and also repairs several major bugs.

      New shell variables in Bash 5.0 include BASH_ARGV0, which “expands to $0 and sets $0 on assignment,” says the project. The EPOCHSECONDS variable expands to the time in seconds since the Unix epoch, and EPOCHREALTIME does the same, but with microsecond granularity.

    • Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp pose privacy risks, warns free software guru Richard Stallman

      Think twice before posting anyone’s photo on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram, says free software guru Richard Stallman. As a few among the strongest centralised surveillance mechanisms in the world, even with a picture of the back of head, they would be able to track where you go and what you do, he added.
      The software guru’s lecture titled Education Freedom Day lecture, organised by International Centre for Free and Open Source Software and Society for Promotion of Alternate Computing and Employment (SPACE) in Thiruvananthapuram, had first bewildered information technology professionals and academicians when he asked them to “switch-off the geo-location feature of your smartphone, if you are taking my photos”.
      He said that 90% of the 1,000 free applications in Google Play stores can spy, according to the latest studies and asked why should the fleshlight application be linked to the server. Even the data on the sex toy go to the server, with its thermometer readings sharing the time of contact. He argued that owners of the firms who spy on a user’s personal data should be jailed. Richard Matthew Stallman, according to Wikipedia, “is an Amercian freedom activist and a computer programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in such a manner that a user receiving it, likewise receives with it the freedom to use, study, distribute and modify that software”.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Red Hat drops MongoDB over concerns related to its Server Side Public License (SSPL)

      It was last year in October when MongoDB announced that it’s switching to Server Side Public License (SSPL). Now, the news of Red Hat removing MongoDB from its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora over its SSPL license has been gaining attention.

    • The Need for Sustainable Open Source Projects

      The point of the article is a lot of companies that support open source projects, like RedisDB, are moving to more closed source solutions to survive. The cloud providers are called out as a source of a lot of problems in this article, as they consume a lot of open source software, but do not really spend a lot of time or effort in supporting it. Open source, in this situation, becomes a sort of tragedy of the commons, where everyone thinks someone else is going to do the hard work of making a piece of software viable, so no-one does any of the work. Things are made worse because the open source version of the software is often “good enough” to solve 80% of the problems users need solved, so there is little incentive to purchase anything from the companies that do the bulk of the work in the community.

    • MongoDB’s licensing changes led Red Hat to drop the database from the latest version of its server OS

      After MongoDB decided last year that it was changing the license for its open-source database to a more restrictive version, Red Hat decided it would no longer include MongoDB in the latest version of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

      The change apparently went unnoticed until a Hacker News thread took off earlier today, but it was included in the release notes for RHEL 8.0, which was released in beta last November. In those notes, Red Hat states “note that the NoSQL MongoDB database server is not included in RHEL 8.0 Beta because it uses the Server Side Public License (SSPL).”

    • Red Hat drops MongoDB over SSPL; MDB -3%

      Amazon responded by launching DocumentDB, a managed database that’s compatible with existing MongoDB applications and tools. DocumentDB works with MongoDB version 3.6, which predates the SSPL license.

    • Governance without rules: How the potential for forking helps projects

      The speed and agility of open source projects benefit from lightweight and flexible governance. Their ability to run with such efficient governance is supported by the potential for project forking. That potential provides a discipline that encourages participants to find ways forward in the face of unanticipated problems, changed agendas, or other sources of disagreement among participants. The potential for forking is a benefit that is available in open source projects because all open source licenses provide needed permissions.

      In contrast, standards development is typically constrained to remain in a particular forum. In other words, the ability to move the development of the standard elsewhere is not generally available as a disciplining governance force. Thus, forums for standards development typically require governance rules and procedures to maintain fairness among conflicting interests.

  • Programming/Development

    • Django 2.2 alpha 1 released

      Django 2.2 alpha 1 is now available. It represents the first stage in the 2.2 release cycle and is an opportunity for you to try out the changes coming in Django 2.2.

      Django 2.2 has a salmagundi of new features which you can read about in the in-development 2.2 release notes.

    • Eliminating PHP polyfills

      The Symfony project has recently created a set of pure-PHP polyfills for both PHP extensions and newer language features. It allows developers to add requirements upon those functions or language additions without increasing the system requirements upon end users. For the most part, I think this is a good thing, and valuable to have. We’ve done similar things inside MediaWiki as well for CDB support, Memcached, and internationalization, just to name a few.

      But the downside is that on platforms where it is possible to install the missing PHP extensions or upgrade PHP itself, we’re shipping empty code. MediaWiki requires both the ctypes and mbstring PHP extensions, and our servers have those, so there’s no use in deploying polyfills for those, because they’ll never be used. In September, Reedy and I replaced the polyfills with “unpolyfills” that simply provide the correct package, so the polyfill is skipped by composer. That removed about 3,700 lines of code from what we’re committing, reviewing, and deploying – a big win.

    • Polonius and region errors

      Now that NLL has been shipped, I’ve been doing some work revisiting the Polonius project. Polonius is the project that implements the “alias-based formulation” described in my older blogpost. Polonius has come a long way since that post; it’s now quite fast and also experimentally integrated into rustc, where it passes the full test suite.

    • Serious Python released!

      Well, Serious Python is the the new name of The Hacker’s Guide to Python — the first book I published. Serious Python is the 4th update of that book — but with a brand a new name and a new editor!

    • Radeon GCN Compiler Backend Merged Into GCC 9 – To Allow OpenMP/OpenACC Offloading

      The long-in-development AMD “GCN” back-end for the GNU Compiler Collection that allows targeting recent generations of Radeon GPUs for compute offloading has been merged into the upcoming GCC 9 release.

      This AMD Radeon GCN back-end is what has been in development for many months by Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics with the ultimate goal of allowing Fortran/C/C++ compute work to be offloaded Radeon graphics processors via the OpenMP and OpenACC APIs, similar to the NVPTX offload support within GCC already for NVIDIA GPUs as well as Xeon Phi offloading on the Intel front.

    • Getting Started with MySQL and Python

      For any fully functional deployable application, the persistence of data is indispensable. A trivial way of storing data would be to write it to a file in the hard disk, but one would prefer writing the application specific data to a database for obvious reasons. Python provides language support for writing data to a wide range of databases.

    • Webinar Recording: “Live Development of a PyCharm Plugin” with Joachim Ansorg
    • How to implement Download Manager in python
    • “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” – Differentiating between bugs and non-bugs using machine learning
    • Beyond the “hello, world” of Python’s “print” function
    • Leaving Mozilla and (most of) the Rust project
    • RcppArmadillo 0.9.200.7.0

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump Administration Backs Slow-Motion Right-Wing Coup In Venezuela

      A slow-motion coup by right-wing opposition forces is underway in Venezuela. It has the support of President Donald Trump’s administration, and if successful, President Nicolas Maduro will be undemocratically removed from power though he was re-elected last May.

      Juan Guaido of the Popular Will Party in Venezuela was elected to lead the National Assembly, Venezuela’s congress. He said on January 11 that he was ready to replace Maduro.

      “The constitution gives me the legitimacy to carry out the charge of the presidency over the country to call actions. But I need backing from the citizens to make it a reality,” Guaido stated.

      On January 15, the National Assembly called Maduro’s presidency “illegitimate” and passed a resolution indicating the body no longer believes he has any legal authority.

      Trump administration officials immediately voiced their support. Vice President Mike Pence, who called Guaido, indicated the United States supports the effort to “declare the country’s presidency vacant.”

      “The Maduro regime is illegitimate,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared, echoing the rhetoric of opposition forces in Venezuela. He said America was hopeful it could be a “force for good” and help those who oppose Maduro “restore a real democracy to that country.”

    • Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran

      The United States’ international windbag, Secretary of Defense (read: War) Mike Pompeo has been acting the imperial blowhard throughout the Middle East. With his boss busy denying that he’s a Russian agent, watching advisors and cabinet members come and go with dizzying alacrity, and dodging porn-star accusations, Pompeo is trotting through the Middle East, sounding war drums.

      It seems that Iran, which has long been in the crosshairs of U.S. gunboat ‘diplomacy’, remains firmly targeted. In Cairo, Pompeo promised a “…campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world”.

      It is with a firm shake of the head that this writer reads such statements, wondering how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence can take such pronouncements seriously. If one is to discuss ‘malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world’, shouldn’t one look, first and foremost, at the United States?

    • Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East

      If you’re an American, he’s still out there among the “maybe” candidates. But if you live in the Middle East – whether you’re Arab or Israeli, Muslim, Jew or Christian – you should keep your eye on Bernie Sanders.

      He’s no shoo-in, of course – certainly not after his pitiful handover to the awful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. I still remember shouting “No!” myself when I heard his fans cursing his decision to stand down in favour of Clinton. But the guy just might have the guts, even the courage, to stand up to the ally to whom the US always gives groveling, uncritical, slavish, immoral support.

      Note how at this point I don’t need to identify Israel as the ally in question. Nor did I have to mention in my first paragraph that Sanders is one of the two most prominent Jewish members of the US Senate. In fact, Sanders wears his origins, race, religion, social background and integrity so easily that he comes across, even to a cynical European still living in a pre-Brexit world (just), as a patently nice guy. Unlike Donald Trump, he’s sane. But unlike Obama, he’s not so goody-two-shoes or optic-obsessed to think that he can fandangle voters with ageing good looks and the right heart.

      It’s one thing for a black candidate to go for the black vote in the US, but for an American Jew to go for the American Jewish vote is a very different matter.

    • War Whores

      From the beginning of recorded history through the end of WWII the term “war” was understood as armed conflict between states or governments. This definition obtained through the Korean and Vietnam wars, gradually losing precision by adoption of such terms as “conflict” and “insurgency”, presumably so as not to dignify grossly unbalanced contests with the glorious name bestowed on mutual slaughter by giant, equal adversaries.

      Since Vietnam–with the shameful, degrading brutality involved in the Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti and other “police actions”–and signally since the Iraq/Kuwait Turkey Shoot, the old, abused term has lost any solid relation to its original meaning and is pathetically applied to any violent rape by the American War Machine of any putative “enemy”, regardless of the incommensurate forces involved, often when the victim–not even a legitimate adversary–has no capacity at all to strike back or defend itself.

      This suits the psychopaths who govern us perfectly, which is no surprise considering what they are. The system of War Capitalism that owns their contemptible, diseased souls can only burgeon and grow fatter by extortion of literally uncountable sums of our money, every dollar diverted from any beneficent use in our society or the least social profit for our people.

      Schumpeter said it best and it can’t be too often repeated: “Created by the wars that required it, The Machine now creates the wars it requires.”

      The tragedy–no surprise, either–is that the American people are so deeply steeped in the pretty poison of Exceptionalism that they are, if not overtly, then tacitly, fully behind the mindless military vandalizing and brutalization of people just like them in all essentials: powerless, no better and no worse.

    • Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump

      Donald Trump and his “war cabinet” have struck again. In the wake of record defense spending; the creation of a Space Force that would violate the Outer Space Treaty agreed to fifty years ago; the abrogation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty from thirty years ago; and the chaos of random decision making for use of force, the Trump administration is returning to the madness of President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” idea with costly and ineffective ideas regarding missile-defense technologies.

      Trump’s Pentagon is reviving ideas that were abandoned after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, including weapons that can shoot down missiles from space and high energy lasers that can destroy missiles shortly after they are launched, the so-called boost phase. Trump plans to go further than Reagan by deploying missile defense in Europe and Asia to protect U.S. forces and regional allies. Congress was skeptical of Reagan’s “Star Wars” in the 1980s, but the current Congress has been unwilling to challenge the outrageous national security policies of the Trump administration.

      Unlike Reagan’s “Star Wars,” which was designed to protect against a strategic attack from Russia or China, Trump’s version is oriented to stopping an attack from so-called rogue nations such as Iran or North Korea. According to the Washington Post, the United States would put high-powered lasers on drones flying off the Korean coast and create a third ground-based missile interceptor site in the United States to defend against Iran. The North Korean and Iranian scenarios are quite fanciful, but then again the exaggeration of the threat from the Soviet Union and China in the 1980s was equally far-fetched.

    • The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has joined with the chorus of Western countries supporting Canada’s protestations against the “arbitrary,” and “politically motivated” death sentence imposed by a Chinese court on Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg.

      Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland praised Pompeo’s “recognition of the principle that we are speaking about.” She argues that the application of the death sentence to a Canadian national in this case is “inhumane”, and represents a, “way of behaving which is a threat to all countries.”

      Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, echoed Freeland’s cry of victory for having won US support. “I hope they continue to back Canada in this particular dispute,” MacNaughton said.

    • “Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency

      As Trump projects his Imperial power in the direction of our southern border, demanding to reinforce its security by building a wall, the real threat to America’s safety – weather terrorism (Bruno Latour’s term for the biospheric backlash aimed at the vast hubris of humanity) – goes unheeded. Trump’s posturing with regard to establishing a national emergency to facilitate wall building, obscures a genuine emergency in just one more case of the Fake eclipsing the Real.

      The president is supported in this passive, climate change denialism by the misdirection of the mainstream (and much of the alternative) press, which expends an immense amount of journalistic energy impugning him. We know he’s an intensely solipsistic president who uses political issues sociopathically – for their sole value in aggrandizing his sense of self-worth. Can we move on? That logorrheic energy might better be used in raising the issue of weather terrorism to a scare factor in excess of his bogus issue of illegal immigration. Ironically, south of the border emigration is itself a climate change phenomenon. Most of those making up the migrant caravans originate in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries whose lands are devastated by drought, giving their farming families little choice but to seek a life elsewhere.

      Violent acts of extreme weather come and go with virtually no political will to prepare for them or mitigate their consequences. Existential crises, it seems, must be matched with the pre-existing Imperial-Fossil-Capital agenda to warrant a meaningful response. Rising sea levels, global warming exacerbated hurricanes, storm surges, floods, drought and wildfire are the real dangers at our borders, along 12,383 miles of coastline, in our cities, on our islands and farmlands, in our wilderness and hinterlands. Yet they elicit little in the way of a concerted public outrage at the failure of a supine federal government to make efforts to protect against them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • US subpoenas Ecuadorians over alleged Manafort Assange visit

      Six diplomatic staff at the Ecuador embassy in London have been issued subpoenas by the US Department of Justice, which wants to question them in the wake of a story published by The Guardian claiming that former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, visited WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
      In a statement, WikiLeaks said the questioning was scheduled for 18 January US time (which would be approximately 19 January Australian time), adding that it had been made in 7 January.

      It said the request had been made to the Ecuadorian authorities who had approved it, despite it being “highly unusual to permit foreign interrogations of former diplomatic officials over their diplomatic work, or to provide foreign investigators information about those who have been afforded political asylum in relation to them”.

    • Hacker behind ‘Football Leaks’ arrested in Hungary

      Since 2015, the Football Leaks website operated a-la WikiLeaks, publishing secret documents that it claimed it obtained from anonymous sources. The site, a mere WordPress.com blog, made the documents available for everyone, but also to teams of investigative journalists across Europe.

      The documents helped reveal the football world’s shady inter-club player transfers that included shell companies and a slew of intermediaries that siphoned off huge bonuses from each player transaction.

    • US officials to ask Ecuador embassy staff about Assange visitors

      US investigators will on Friday begin to question diplomatic staff who were stationed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London during WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s years-long stay about his visitors, according to the whistleblower group.

      It follows international subpoenas from the US Department of Justice, which is probing a report that President Donald Trump’s disgraced former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort held secret talks there with Assange, Wikileaks said.

      The Justice Department, which declined to comment on the matter, wants to talk to six staff members from the embassy and will start to interview them in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Friday, it added.

      Britain’s The Guardian newspaper claimed in November that Manafort — who was convicted of multiple charges including bank fraud and money laundering in two separate cases last year — met Assange on several occasions from 2013 to 2016.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Scientists Call for ‘Global Agricultural Revolution’ and ‘Planetary Health Diet’ to Save Lives—and Earth

      The commission brought together 37 experts in agriculture, environmental sustainability, human health, and political science from 16 countries. Over three years, they developed the “planetary health diet,” which aims to address the global food system’s devastating environmental impact as well as mass malnutrition.

      Noting that more than 800 million people worldwide “have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,” co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University said the “world’s diets must change dramatically” to reverse the damage that’s been done.

      “To be healthy,” he explained, “diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”

    • The Fox in Charge of the Henhouse: Activists Decry Trump’s EPA Pick, Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler

      Senate confirmation hearings began Wednesday for former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, whom President Trump has nominated to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler has been the acting head of the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals. We speak with Heather McTeer Toney, national field director for Moms Clean Air Force and former Southeast regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. We also speak with Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

    • New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice

      Another country has banned the cruel practice of ritual slaughter––kosher slaughter, sanctioned by Jewish law and halal slaughter, sanctioned by Islamic law. In both practices, cattle, sheep, goats and poultry have their throats cut while they are fully conscious and capable of experiencing great fear and pain.

      Starting in 2019, Belgium will no longer grant exemptions from humane slaughter laws (that require an animal be stunned before it is killed) for ritual slaughter, joining Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia which also outlaw the practice.

      Other European countries are considering tightened slaughter laws. The Netherlands, for example, has considered a law that states that no more animals can be killed for kosher and halal meat than “necessary to meet the actual need of the religious communities present in the Netherlands” and that if an animal is not “insensitive to pain” within 40 seconds of slaughter, it must be put out of its misery and shot.

    • Battery boom aids climate change battle

      Billions of dollars are being invested worldwide in the developing battery boom, involving research into storage techniques to use the growing surpluses of cheap renewable energy now becoming available.

      Recent developments in batteries are set to sweep aside the old arguments about renewables being intermittent, dismissing any need to continue building nuclear power plants and burning fossil fuels to act as a back-up when the wind does not blow, or the sun does not shine.

      Batteries as large as the average family house and controlled by digital technology are being positioned across electricity networks. They are being charged when electricity is in surplus and therefore cheap, and the power they store is resold to the grid at a higher price during peak periods.

    • Haiti by the Numbers

      Years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti: 9

      Estimated number of aftershocks that measured 4.5 or greater: 59

      Number of people who died in the earthquake, according to Haitian government: 316,000

      Number of people displaced: 1,300,000

      Number of people who remained in internally displaced persons camps, as of September 2017: 37,867

      Estimated population of Canaan, a barren hillside north of the capital, pre-earthquake: 0

      Estimated population of Canaan now: 300,000

      Minimum number of new homes necessary to meet demand: 500,000

  • Finance

    • Backing Teachers, Sanders Says LA Strike Exposes National Need for ‘Revolution in Public Education’

      Tens of thousands of public school teachers and support staff with the Los Angeles Unified School District—the second-largest district in the country—continued the city’s first strike in three decades on Thursday.

      The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) kicked off the long-promised strike on Monday over unmet demands for higher payer; smaller class sizes; more special education staff, bilingual education instructors, nurses, counselors, and librarians; and stricter regulation of the city’s many charter schools.

    • The L.A. Teachers’ Strike Is About So Much More Than Wages

      Los Angeles public school teachers began a historic strike on Monday, for the first time in 30 years. Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) walked out of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that had dragged on for nearly two years. The specific battle is being fought over LAUSD’s refusal to tap into its record $1.86 billion reserve in order to reduce class sizes, hire more support staff, including counselors and nurses, improve infrastructure and more. But more broadly speaking, the L.A. teachers’ fight is symbolic of a bigger struggle to maintain and expand quality public education for all Americans and to secure the rights that the critical stakeholders—teachers, students, parents—have within that system.

      The L.A. teachers’ strike comes after several high-profile fights last spring in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, where educators tired of poverty-level wages fought for raises and won. But the L.A. strike is broader than those others, not just in terms of the sheer size of the district and the union, but in the demands the union is making. Although LAUSD has offered a 6 percent raise over two years (not nearly enough of what teachers deserve), teachers want an overall better experience for their 600,000 overwhelmingly nonwhite students. They want more nurses and counselors, smaller class sizes and a halt to the expansion of charter schools.

    • LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters

      LAUSD has taken over $100 million in revenue losses in the first four days of the strike, since the district is paid for each student who attends and few are attending. At my high school, for example, attendance Thursday was down to 128 students–a mere 6% of the total student body. As in several previous days, we had almost half as many students on our picketline as were in school.

    • WaPo Misses the Story: Either Scott Walker Doesn’t Understand Taxes or He Lies to Fifth Graders

      Ocasio-Cortez is right on this point and Walker is wrong. He either does not understand how our income tax system works, or is deliberately lying to advance his agenda. Either way, the Post should have pointed out that Walker was wrong.

      Many people are confused about the concept of a marginal tax rate. (The higher tax rate only applies to the income above a cutoff.) Opponents of high marginal taxes on the rich try to take advantage of this confusion in the way Scott Walker did with his class of fifth graders. It is the media’s responsibility to try to inform people about how the tax system works and to expose politicians who misrepresent the issue.

    • Bitcoin Interview: Edge Wallet’s Paul Puey on the Future of Money

      CCN had a chance to speak with Paul Puey, founder of Edge Wallet and veteran crypto entrepreneur. Edge Wallet was previously called Airbitz. In the early days of crypto, Airbitz was a Bitcoin-only wallet that featured a directory of brick and mortar businesses which accepted Bitcoin. It was one of the only mobile wallets which allowed the user to own their private keys without having to see them.

      While it was very popular as Bitcoin wallets go, the era of Ethereum and beyond made it necessary to adapt to people who expect to be able to use more than one cryptocurrency.

    • An Education in Fraud

      Most investors couldn’t have seen it coming, but those in the business were thrilled. The day after The Trump was given the keys to the best playroom he’d ever had, the stock in Strayer Education, Inc., the company that owns the for-profit Strayer University, jumped almost 20%. Stock in other for profit universities enjoyed a similar increase. Investors were prescient. Betsy DeVos was named Secretary of Education.

      A fan of school choice, charter schools, and a major supporter of the Republican party, Betsy was a great choice for the position, even though she had no experience in the realm of education, other than her passionate support for the reportedly less than successful charter schools in Michigan.

      After Betsy was confirmed by the Senate, she made up for her own lack of knowledge about the world of education by hiring people who had been closely identified with the for-profit college business. Among them was Julian Schmoke, who was placed in charge of the unit that investigates fraud in higher education. From 2008 to 2012 Mr. Schmoke was associate dean of the College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University. That university engaged in assorted fraudulent activities, for which it paid more than $1 million in fines and penalties.

      Another Betsy hire was Robert Eitel who, prior to joining the Department, had been at Bridgepoint Education. That institution was fined $30 million on account of deceptive student lending practices.

      According to a report by the Associated Press, Betsy took steps designed to improve the lives of the for-profit colleges, while making it more difficult for defrauded students to be made whole. As she explained, if a former student borrows money from the government to attend a for-profit college that defrauds the student, and the debt is forgiven or reduced, the cost of the forgiveness lands on the backs of the taxpayer. The defrauded students should, she believes, share in bearing some of the pain of having been defrauded. It should not all land on the backs of the taxpayers since they were not the ones defrauded. Happily for students, Betsy did not have the last word.

    • A Question of Loyalty

      When asked in an interview during the last Indyref where his loyalty would lie if Independence won, then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael replied without hesitation that of course he was a Scot and he would be loyal to Scotland. Where, I wonder, would Fluffy Mundell’s loyalties lie? The border is a short hop for him. Colonel Ruthie Davison has always had her eyes on high office at Westminster, and I expect she would be quickly down the A1. As for Labour, I don’t suppose anyone in England especially wants Richard Leonard. To be fair, I suspect Gordon Brown is not going anywhere and would reconcile himself to being the Scot who, in his own mind, saved the World. Wouldn’t it be lovely if J K Rowling upped sticks and went to be closer to her beloved Tony Blair?

      With Scotland in the EU and England outside, would Andrew Neil be allowed to “queue jump” and stay as a top Tory at the England and Wales Broadcasting Corporation? Or would he fall victim to a hostile environment? Surely the mighty Laura Kuenssberg would demand a larger field for her snide right wing jibes than her home country?

    • Facebook Employees Think They Are Robbing Unsuspecting Children & Parents

      Every year several unsuspecting children end up spending hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars from their parent’s credit cards while playing online games on Facebook. Now, the company’s internal documents have revealed that even Facebook’s own employees believe the company is inappropriately making money off such children and their parents.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Steve King Isn’t the Only Elected Official Pursuing a White Supremacist Vision for America

      itch McConnell says racism has no place in the Republican Party. The evidence, however, demonstrates that’s not true.
      Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve King, Republican from Iowa, posed a question to a New York Times reporter that laid bare his racist ideology: “White nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” He didn’t stop there. In the same interview, he expressed resentment toward the record-breaking gender and racial diversity of the 116th Congress: “You could look over there and think the Democratic Party is no country for white men.”

      His words were not taken out of context, as he now argues. Nor is such racism new for him. During the Republican National Convention in 2016, King responded to a critique about older white men dominating the Republican Party by questioning the contributions that people of color have made to civilization. “I’d ask you to go back through history, and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about – where did any other sub group of people contribute more to civilization?” he said on an MSNBC panel.

      “Than white people?” host Chris Hayes asked.

      “Than western civilization itself that is rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King replied. He was clear about his beliefs then and now.

      I won’t waste space rebutting his ignorance by describing the incredible advances and discoveries made by people from African, Asian, and other cultures that were not white or Christian. These facts would not make a difference to King, who has chosen the path of deliberate ignorance. But he cannot use his ignorance to hide who he is.

    • ‘Terrible News’ for GOP as Survey Shows Generation Z Shaping Up To Be Most Progressive Ever

      From their strong belief that humanity played a central role in causing the climate crisis to their overwhelming dislike of President Donald Trump, the young Americans who have been classified as Generation Z—comprised of those between the ages of 13 and 21—could be even more progressive than the slightly older millennial generation, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Thursday.

      “Gen Z looks a lot like millennials politically, which is terrible news for Republicans,” Acadia University lecturer Jeffrey Sachs wrote in response to Pew’s survey, which found that 70 percent of Gen Zers disapprove of Trump, 54 percent believe the planet is warming because of human activity, and 70 percent believe the government should be doing more to solve the nation’s problems.

      “This data suggests there is a reason why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets so much heat from conservatives—she and this new congressional class not only represent the demographic changes that scare some, but she embodies the ideological trends, too,” argued Anthony Michael Kreis, visiting assistant professor of law at Chicago-Kent College.

    • ‘We Have Monsters Leading America’: Trump’s DHS Locked Up More Children Than Previously Known

      Confirming the fears of human rights groups, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported on Thursday that thousands more children were separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border by the Trump administration, long before it first publicly unveiled the family separation policy last spring.

      “The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown,” reads the report, and the inspector general found that children were separated over a longer period of time as officials “observed a steep increase in the number of children who had been separated from a parent or guardian” by the Department of Homeland Security starting in July 2017—nearly a year before the administration officially announced its family separation policy in May 2018.

    • Trump Administration Likely Split Up Thousands More Migrant Families

      It seems likely that thousands more migrant children were split from their families than the Trump administration has acknowledged, in part because officials were stepping up family separations long before the border policy that prompted international outrage last spring, a government watchdog said Thursday.

      It’s unclear just how many family separations occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border. Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with caring for migrant children, did not adequately track them until after a judge ruled that children must be reunited with their families, according to the report by the agency’s inspector general.

      Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluations, said the number of children removed from their parents was certainly larger than the 2,737 listed by the government in court documents. Those documents chronicled separations that took place as parents were criminally prosecuted for illegally entering the country under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

    • Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers

      “Over the past three decades,” reported Steve Reilly in a June 2016 USA Today article, Donald Trump “has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits.” Many of these lawsuits, Reilly notes, “involve ordinary Americans…who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.” Dishwashers, plumbers, bartenders, painters, waiters, real estate brokers, lawyers–this broad swath of workers Trump routinely relied on to build his wealth, and yet he didn’t see fit (it is alleged) to compensate them for the work that they had done. Trump, it seems, thought he was entitled to their unpaid labor.

      But that’s not all.

      “Trump’s companies,” Reilly continues, “have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage.”

      While, admittedly, all of this is old news, Donald Trump’s anti-labor practices are actually instructive regarding the current #TrumpShutDown. Like his refusal to pay his former employees, for example, Trump’s shutdown is his willingness to sacrifice working women and men for his own personal gain. The shutdown also expresses his sense of entitlement–to which the lawsuits attest–to the unpaid labor of others, as well as his disregard for the fact that the workers upon whom he relies need to pay their rent, their gas and electric bills, their water bills, their student loan debts–even their transportation to the local food bank. And like his treatment of his former employees, Trump’s shutdown reveals an inability on his part to “relate” to any workers struggling to make ends meet.

    • ‘Our Nation’s Capital Has Officially Become a Playground’: Trump Sends ‘Childish’ Letter Canceling Pelosi’s Overseas Trip

      A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the delay of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address due to security concerns caused by the government shutdown, Trump responded on Thursday with a letter of his own informing Pelosi that he has “postponed” her planned congressional delegation trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan.

      “Our nation’s capital has officially become a playground,” declared CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he detailed the “childish” contents of the president’s letter in a television appearance shortly after it was made public.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Is on the Financial Committee, and Banks Are Afraid

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s assignment to the powerful House Financial Services Committee has triggered a fresh round of handwringing, this time with some merit. Banks are afraid of her — and they should be. The addition of Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken advocate for financial reform, to the committee represents one of the greatest challenges to big banks’ interests since the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Though she joins other strong voices like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, on the committee, Ocasio-Cortez will give a voice to her generation, which came of age in the financial crisis.

      Now under the leadership of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), the Financial Services Committee is considered one of the House’s most active committees and wields great influence. The committee is described as a “magnet for campaign contributions,” and its members hold tight relationships with the industries they are tasked with overseeing. Public disclosures show that the financial, insurance and real estate sectors spend at least twice as much on campaign contributions to the committee’s members as any other sector. Both Rep. Sinema (D-Arizona) and Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) received over $1 million in contributions from Securities and Investment donors in the last congressional cycle.

      By contrast, Ocasio-Cortez will join the committee as an independent, unbought politician. She boasted the largest number of small donors of any 2018 midterm candidate, with nearly 62 percent of her war chest coming from small donations. She’s built her brand and reputation on standing for working-class interests and, along with some other prominent Democratic candidates, has publicly eschewed big donors and corporate money.

    • Protesting Outside GOP’s ‘Lavish Retreat,’ Federal Workers Demand End to Shutdown Amid Growing Calls for Strike

      Amid growing calls for federal workers to walk off the job in protest as President Donald Trump continues to hold their paychecks hostage and downplay their financial hardship, government employees rallied outside of the Washington Nationals’ ballpark in the frigid D.C. weather on Thursday to demand an end to the government shutdown as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow Republicans held a “retreat” inside the stadium.

      “Clearly McConnell thinks his lavish retreat is more important than 800,000 families,” declared the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), one of several unions that took part in the demonstration.

      Facing severe economic pain from the shutdown—which is now the longest in U.S. history—the workers called on McConnell to immediately allow a vote on House-passed legislation that would reopen the government and put an end to the pervasive financial anxiety and safety risked posed by the lapse in federal funding.

      “It’s past time for McConnell to call the vote instead of partying with his colleagues at Nationals stadium,” the AFL-CIO wrote on Twitter.

    • 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020

      But perhaps the threshold question is what if he does not run? What policy issues would be off the table? What demands for transformation would be watered down? The answer is that most progressive initiatives Sanders and his supporters have championed will never see the light of day.

      Many of us have waited a lifetime for a leader with so deep a commitment to fundamental change to come along and galvanize our existing movements. While there will be a large and diverse field of candidates, the opportunity to elect someone who has dedicated his life to economic and social justice also gives us the chance to bring forth a more perfect union – one genuinely of the people, by the people, and for the people.

      Without Bernie in 2020, what follows is just a partial catalog of what disappears or is seriously compromised.

    • Facebook finds and kills another 512 Kremlin-linked fake accounts

      Two years on from the U.S. presidential election, Facebook continues to have a major problem with Russian disinformation being megaphoned via its social tools.

      In a blog post today the company reveals another tranche of Kremlin-linked fake activity — saying it’s removed a total of 471 Facebook pages and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts, which were being used to spread propaganda in regions where Putin’s regime has sharp geopolitical interests.

      In its latest reveal of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” — aka the euphemism Facebook uses for disinformation campaigns that rely on its tools to generate a veneer of authenticity and plausibility in order to pump out masses of sharable political propaganda — the company says it identified two operations, both originating in Russia, and both using similar tactics without any apparent direct links between the two networks.

    • President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”

      It is possible that President Donald Trump never suspected this, but among his many yet never-acknowledged talents is that of being a novelist. A novelist in the Latin American tradition of magic or “magical realism.”

      Magical realism is a style of fiction writing that combines a realistic view of the modern world while also adding some magical elements. Writer and literature professor Matthew Strecher defined magical realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”

      Magical realism has been often associated with Latin American authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. Now President Donald Trump has joined the rank of these illustrious authors. His assertion that there is a serious national crisis at the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico seems to challenge reality, making it too strange to believe.

      According to official data, the number of people caught trying to cross the southern border peaked at 1.6 million in 2006 and have been in decline since then. According to the Customs and Border Protection, there were 303,916 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal 2017, the lowest in more than 45 years.

      In magical realism, writers reveal the magical element in the real world and the supernatural blends smoothly with the familiar world. This was notably done by Gabriel García Márquez in his seminal work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. When President Trump says that he has already started building the wall in the border with Mexico he is bending reality. So far, Congress has only appropriated money for bollard fencing, replacement fencing, or secondary fencing. What started in California is bollard fencing that had already been planned in 2009.

    • Russia’s federal censor says Facebook and Twitter have responded to data-localization demands

      Last month, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, sent formal letters to Facebook and Twitter, demanding that the social networks report on their compliance with Russian regulations requiring companies to store Russian users’ data on servers located inside Russia. If they refused, both companies faced small fines of 5,000 rubles ($75), though Roskomnadzor was careful to point out that it has no current plans to block the social-media giants.

      On January 18, the agency announced that it has received answers from both Facebook and Twitter. The agency says it is currently reviewing the information and will issue a statement on January 21.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Twitter Bug Exposed Android Users’ Private Tweets For 5 Years

      Twitter users who tweet from their Android devices should review their settings now — especially if they have tweeted at any time between 2014 and 2019. Apparently, a bug has been plaguing Twitter since 2014 which exposed the tweets of some Android users that were supposed to be private.

    • New GitHub authorization expands agency access to open source resources

      Government IT offices now have access to a vast range of open source software resources and developers since GitHub gained FedRAMP operating authority for its Enterprise Cloud, according to a new special report.

    • NY Court Tells NYPD It Can’t Hide Surveillance Of Protesters Behind A Glomar Response

      Another lawsuit over the NYPD’s surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities continues. Records requests by Black Lives Matter offshoot Millions March detailing surveillance methods used by the NYPD against protesters have been met with the usual opacity by the PD. It has done what it always does in cases like these: throw FOIL exemptions around and stonewall the hell out the request. The PD has also added a few Glomar responses to the mix, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of sought records.

      Fortunately, the judge presiding over the case — Arlene Bluth — isn’t in a charitable mood. Greeted with the NYPD’s incessant opacity, the judge has called bullshit — repeatedly — over the course of a 14-page ruling [PDF]. The plaintiffs are seeking records related to the NYPD’s use of surveillance tech targeting cellphones. It is well known the NYPD owns and has access to Stingray devices. What these records would show is the use of Stingrays in an untargeted manner — either to gather cellphone identifiers indiscriminately or simply to disrupt phone service during protests by funneling all phones in the area into the NYPD’s cell tower spoofer.

    • Decipher Podcast: Nate Cardozo

      Dennis Fisher talks with Nate Cardozo, senior information security counsel at the EFF, about a proposal from the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, that would insert a backdoor into encrypted communications by adding a “ghost”, or invisible third party, to two-party conversations.

    • How The GDPR Is Still Ruining Christmas

      Late last year, I wrote about how the GDPR almost ruined Christmas in one German town, where it was determined that the annual tradition of kids putting their wishes on a tree in the center of town (to be fulfilled by local town officials) would violate the GDPR. Some people did figure out a “workaround” involving some pointless bureaucracy in getting parents to first sign “consent” forms to allow the town to do the same thing they’ve always done for years without a problem.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Attorney General Nominee Seems Willing To Let The DOJ Jail Journalists Over Published Leaks

      Jeff Sessions did everything the president wanted him to do: roll back civil rights investigations, get tough on immigration, amp up the War on Drugs, blame everyone but law enforcement for spikes in crime. It didn’t matter. The president shitcanned Sessions because he recused himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Trump’s Russia-related activities.

      His replacement, William Barr, is undergoing the formality of a confirmation hearing. It’s assumed there’s no way he can blow it. But he’s trying.

      Barr would be no improvement over the departed Sessions. Barr thinks marijuana should be illegal everywhere. He’s a fan of expanding executive power. As attorney general under George Bush Sr., he ordered phone companies to comply with DEA demands for millions of call records originating in the United States, laying the groundwork for the NSA’s Section 215 collections.

      He also doesn’t seem to care much for the First Amendment. As attorney general, he pushed for a Constitutional amendment banning the burning of American flags in the wake of a Supreme Court decision offering First Amendment protection for this form of expression.

      Thirty years later, Barr seems just as reluctant to respect the First Amendment. During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar lobbed what should have been a softball to the AG nominee. Moving on from the appalling murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by members of the Saudi government, Klobuchar asked if the Justice Department would jail journalists for doing their jobs.

    • Rochester Could Break Through the Thin Blue Line Protecting Abusive Police

      How the city could create New York’s first independent review board with the power to discipline officers.
      We know what happens when we allow police to police themselves. Too often, they escape punishment when they abuse the people they are supposed to protect. A lack of meaningful police accountability not only skirts justice, but people’s lives are in danger when officers who repeatedly harm civilians keep their jobs.

      The Rochester City Council in New York introduced a draft bill this week that addresses this fundamental problem. The bill would create a civilian-controlled Police Accountability Board with the power to investigate complaints from residents and to discipline officers who the board determines have abused people. Rochester would be the first municipality in New York State — and one of just a handful in the country — with a civilian board that has the power to discipline officers.

      Most civilian review boards only have the power to make recommendations for what consequences officers should face, with final disciplinary decisions usually left up to the chief of police. Rochester already has a civilian review board, but that board lacks the authority to conduct its own investigations or to impose punishments. This bill would change that.

      The Rochester bill is part of a national trend towards creating independent mechanisms for oversight and accountability of police. This trend encompasses calls for the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate police killings, inspector generals to oversee police policies, and even legislation that takes decisions about acquiring surveillance tools out of the hands of police departments.

    • Sex trainers Nastya Rybka and Alex Leslie allegedly arrested in Moscow airport

      The Bell reports that Anastasia Vashukevich, a model and sex trainer who goes by the name Nastya Rybka, and her colleague Alexander Kirillov, better known as Alex Leslie, have been arrested in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. They and their travel companions had been deported to Russia from Thailand. While other sources have not yet confirmed The Bell’s report, the outlet has been in contact with the pair’s friends and relatives.

    • Russia’s Federal Protective Service wants to hide its procurement deals from prying eyes

      Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) has drafted legislation that would grant it secrecy privileges awarded to the Defense Ministry and Federal Security Service, allowing the agency to classify its procurement contracts. If the law is adopted, the FSO could conduct these deals on closed electronic platforms, according to Vedomosti.

      A source in Russia’s intelligence community told the newspaper that federal officials believe current transparency levels could leak information about the technical equipment used to secure government communications. The deputy director of Transparency International Russia, however, warns that this could open the door to even more corruption.

    • Native American Communities Bear Brunt of Shutdown with Medicine Shortages & Suspended Food Programs

      We look at the widespread impact of the government shutdown on Native American communities, as the Indian Health Service goes understaffed and a federally funded food delivery program to Indian reservations has halted. Democratic members of Congress held a hearing Tuesday on the effects of the shutdown on health, education and employment in Native communities. We speak with Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today and member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

    • Russian police arrest two more human rights activists on suspicious drug charges

      A year after the suspicious arrest of Chechen human rights advocate Oyub Titiev, two activists connected to Alexey Navalny and Mikhail Khodorkovsky have been arrested in the city of Pskov, MBK Media reports. Leah Milushkina and her husband, Artyom Milushkin, have been charged with selling drugs in large quantities, their attorney Tatyana Martynova told MBK. Mediazona reports that Milushkina is the local coordinator of Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia movement in Pskov while Milushkin works in Navalny’s local headquarters.

    • Judge Acquits 3 Chicago Officers of Laquan McDonald Cover-Up

      A judge on Thursday acquitted three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, dismissing as just one perspective the shocking dashcam video of the black teenager’s death that led to protests, a federal investigation of the police department and the rare murder conviction of an officer.

      In casting off the prosecution’s entire case, Judge Domenica Stephenson seemed to accept many of the same defense arguments that were rejected in October by jurors who convicted officer Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

      The judge said the video showed only one viewpoint of the confrontation and that there was no indication the officers tried to hide evidence.

      [...]

      In her ruling, the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving and posing a threat even after he was shot.

      “An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent,” she said. “It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground” and refused to relinquish a knife.

      The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.

    • Judge Acquits Cops in Laquan McDonald Cover-Up Trial

      When Police Officer Jason Van Dyke let loose a hail of gunfire on 17-year-old McDonald, murdering him in October of 2014, the police code of silence quickly sprang into action. Van Dyke’s partner, officers on the scene, investigating detectives, and their superior officers all collaborated to manufacture, record and promote a false story: that Van Dyke shot McDonald in an act of justified self-defense.

      Meanwhile, a video that revealed the lie behind the police’s cover story was kept secret by high-ranking city and county officials, including then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, for more than a year — until it was released by a Cook County judge in November 2015 in the wake of the publication of an autopsy report that showed that McDonald had been shot 16 times.

      The reaction was seismic: Outraged people took to the streets, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired, Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly admitted that there was a police code of silence and Alvarez was defeated at the polls. Later, the Mayor’s Police Accountability Review Commission and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division each issued scathing condemnations of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) racist policies and practices.

      To top things off, Emmanuel recently announced he will not seek another term.

    • Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General

      Many Senate Democrats are throwing in the towel on the nomination of William Barr for Trump’s Attorney General (a prospect assured by Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, declaring his personal vote against Barr). Let’s ask why?

      One would think that Senate Democrats would be appalled at Barr’s long-time unyielding conduct and writings asserting that the President can start any wars he wants even if Congress votes against it! An example of this is the constitutionally undeclared criminal invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush. Barr was also George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General and has been a long-time defender of executive branch lawlessness.

      One would think that Barr’s insupportable drive for more corporate prisons and more mass incarceration would upset these Senators.

      One would think that Barr’s view of the separation of powers, which has meant separating Congress from its constitutional powers and handing them over to the “unitary presidency,” would alarm these Senators. (Didn’t James Madison believe that Congress would jealously guard its authority vis-à-vis any new emergence of a modern King George III?)

      One would think that Barr’s inflexible position giving Presidents—including the embattled Donald Trump—effective immunities for obstructing justice and from blocking ongoing investigations, including limitless pardons even of himself and his family, would infuriate the Democrats.

    • Strike! Barbara Ehrenreich Calls on TSA Workers to Walk Off Job in Protest of Government Shutdown

      The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is now on Day 27. As 800,000 workers continue to go without pay, federal employees around the country are rising up to demand an end to the shutdown, which has run public institutions ragged and left hundreds of thousands financially strapped. We speak with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-seller “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.” She is calling for TSA workers around the country to strike.

    • The ‘Shameful’ Answer to #WheresMitch? Not Ending Shutdown, But Voting on Extremist Anti-Choice Bill

      Freshman members of Congress and others who have been demanding to know the whereabouts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in recent days got their answer on Thursday, as McConnell held a Senate vote not on whether to reopen the government, but on a bill that would restrict abortion rights for low-income women.

      The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (S.109) would have permanently restricted federal funds from going to abortion care, codifying the Hyde Amendment so the Senate doesn’t have to pass it—as it has since 1976—in annual appropriations bills. The legislation would have also banned abortion care in federally funded medical facilities and barred healthcare plans subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from covering abortions.

    • Center for American Progress, a Liberal Think Tank, Fires Two After Media Leaks

      Two staff members from The Center for American Progress (CAP), a leading Washington think tank, were fired amid concerns that they were involved in leaking internal emails to the media, The Intercept reported Wednesday. Other CAP staff, who spoke to The Intercept anonymously, believed these emails “reflected improper influence by the United Arab Emirates within the think tank.”

      The emails, which The Intercept says were not leaked by the fired employees, revealed that CAP staff members argued over how CAP should respond in a public statement to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and U.S. citizen who, according to a C.I.A. report, was killed on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

      Initially, according to The Intercept, CAP’s public statement both condemned the killing and called for specific consequences for Saudi Arabia. Then, as The Intercept reports, “Brian Katulis, a Gulf expert at CAP, objected to the specific consequences proposed in an email exchange with other national security staffers.” Demands for Saudi Arabia to face specific consequences as a result of its role in Khashoggi’s killing were cut from the statement, replaced with a general, milder request to “take additional steps to reassess” U.S.-Saudi relations.

    • Russian activist faces police charges for posting video on Facebook that shows her civic movement’s logo

      Police in Krasnodar are pressing misdemeanor charges against Yana Antonova, a pediatric surgeon and the regional coordinator for the “Open Russia” protest movement, because she shared a video on Facebook showing an appeal to the State Duma asking for federal subsidies to build 10 new schools in the city. What was the problem with the video? It featured Open Russia’s logo.

      According to Radio Liberty, Antonova is being charged with “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization” and faces a fine as high as 15,000 rubles ($225).

    • Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal

      Donald Trump comes under fire from the neoliberal establishment whenever he does something digestible. I am amazed the liberals are mad at him so often, considering 99.9% of the time he is doing something awful. Anytime Trump has a unique thought about the vicious imperialist structures, the crippling trade deals, or the draconian CIA, the neoliberal establishment loses their heads. Now Donald Trump, in spite of his nefarious history, is attempting to stop sex trafficking. This somehow is his greatest crime and “leftists”, “liberals” and “feminists” of all stripes are losing their heads.

      Donald Trump’s latest delinquency: The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, which puts 430 million in federal funds towards preventing human trafficking. I wrote about Donald Trump’s denial of asylum to domestic violence victims here. .On the Douglass act, one has to be happy that this prevention attempt is getting some much-needed funding. Domestic violence shelters and other government resources are already hurting under the government shutdown and through Trump’s budget cuts in general. If Trump will fund anything, it’s the police. But with no other alternative in sight, and the Democrats surely to blow it again to Trump in 2020, the Douglass act will save some lives.

      Now there is opposition to the bill by all sorts of people. The first argument against: free speech and a tyrannical government. I always wonder what people’s worst-case scenarios are for the big government complaints. Is your theoretical (hopefully, theoretical) right to buy a prostitute really more important than someone’s right not to be bought by you? I mean is the government really going to inflict something worse than ownership of another human being? Trafficking is already a dire situation. Sorry, we shouldn’t consider buying another human being to be an expression of free speech. Maybe the First Amendment believed that, but that was written by slaveholders. We should believe that buying another human being is wrong and we should know that the United States is willing to support it precisely because our society was founded on such principles of freedom that relied on ownership of others.

    • A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment

      The first Saturday of 2019 didn’t start well for Rahaf al-Qanun, the Saudi teen, who wanted to make a dash for freedom in Australia via Thailand.

      The forces of “order” blocked her path in the Thai capital.

      On the second Saturday, January 12, she landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario. Chrystia Freeland, the foreign minister of Canada, was among those who welcomed her to her new homeland.

      What catapulted this unknown Saudi teen into stardom is an incredible story of freedom and its glorious victory with the help of Twitter, journalists and ordinary people with smartphones all over the world.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Sudden Vacancies At Some International Agencies, Industry Sees New Top Officials, Lawyers Engage In Firm-Hopping

      While the World Bank Group and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are looking for new leaders following the unexpected resignations of their heads, the International Telecommunication Union re-elected its secretary general. The European Patent Office got two new vice-chairs, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) a new president, both starting in January. Associations for the creative industry and the pharmaceutical industry also elected new top officials, and lawyers continued to practice firm-hopping.

    • Trademarks

      • Supermacs Beats McDonalds To Have ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Cancelled In Europe

        You may be surprised to find that a search of our story archives involving fast-food giant McDonald’s returns pretty scant posts here at Techdirt. Regardless, the company is known to be quite protective on trademark matters, often times using the trademarks it holds to swat at legitimate competition, pretending at potential public confusion that doesn’t really exist. Given the size of the company’s legal war chest, these bullying efforts are typically successful.

        But not always. One victim of this bullying was Supermacs, an Irish fast-food chain with an appropriately Irish name. Supermacs has for years wanted to expand throughout Europe, but was largely unable to due to McDonald’s claiming that its trademark registration for “Big Mac”, the name of its famous sandwich, meant that any attempt by Supermacs to expand into Europe would cause public confusion. This is typically where the story would end. Instead, Supermacs went on the offensive and decided to try to get McDonald’s “Big Mac” trademark cancelled entirely so that it could no longer be wielded as a bully-stick. And, much to this writer’s surprise, Supermacs won.

      • EUIPO cancels McDonald’s ‘BIG MAC’ trade mark due to lack of genuine use

        Can the word EU trade mark (EUTM) ‘BIG MAC’ owned by McDonald’s be revoked for non-use? The answer is ‘yes’.

        The EUIPO Cancellation Division provided it further to an application for revocation filed by Irish company Supermac (Cancellation No 14 788 C).

    • Copyrights

      • Latest EU Copyright Directive Still Demands Internet Companies Wave Magic Wands

        The whole thing remains an utter disaster that is moving forward even as no one is left who really seems to support it. The public doesn’t want this shit. The big entertainment companies are now asking for Article 13 to be set aside. The big internet companies have always been against it. And yet it rolls ever forward, with a bunch of clueless, technically illiterate bureaucrats basically saying “well, if we just say big companies should do this without allowing any negative consequences to happen, surely they can figure it out…” and tossing it over the fence.

        This is not how sane policy is made. This is how you fuck up the internet.

      • Activists Publish ‘An Illegal Book?’ to Defend Popcorn-Time News Site in Court

        A seized domain name of a website that provided information about the Popcorn Time software, has resulted in an intriguing legal battle. Several organizations, including Electronic Frontier Norway informed a local court that the seizure went too far. To prove their point, EFN published “An illegal book?” which consists of a printout of the site in question.

      • Copyright’s Safe Harbors Preserve What We Love About the Internet

        How is the Internet different from what came before? We’ve had great art, music, film, and writing for far longer than we’ve had the World Wide Web. What we didn’t have were global conversations and collaborations that millions can participate in. The Internet has lowered barriers to participation in culture, politics, and communities of interest. Copyright’s safe harbors for intermediaries are essential to making this possible. But today, those safe harbors are under threat from laws like Article 13 of the EU’s proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. And some voices in the U.S. want to gut the safe harbors here.

        In the U.S., the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protect Internet companies of various kinds against the possibility of massive copyright infringement damages when one of their users copies creative work illegally. In return for that protection, Internet companies have to take some concrete steps, like adopting and enforcing a repeat infringer policy. Some companies—the ones that store user-uploaded content—have to register an agent to accept and act on takedown notices from rightsholders (the familiar “DMCA notices”). The law is explicit that Internet companies aren’t required to surveil everything uploaded by users to find possible copyright infringement. It also provides a counter-notice process for users to get non-infringing uploads put back online.

        This system is far from perfect. At EFF, we spend a lot of time calling out abuses of the DMCA notice and takedown regime—abuses that the law makes far too easy. We’ve also fought to make the penalties for improper takedowns a meaningful deterrent. But for all our criticism of the existing safe harbor, it is vital to preserving many of the things we all love about the Internet—especially the ease of participation that it enables.

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