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01.24.19

Links 24/1/2019: Kubic, Opera 58 and More

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Open edX and OpenStack for complex learning environments

      Almost every new technology developed in recent years has been complex, distributed, and built for scale: Kubernetes, Ceph, and OpenStack are a few examples. These systems are quite different from the ones we saw just a few years ago. Practically any non-trivial software solution today comes with loose coupling, asynchronicity, and elasticity—properties usually absent from systems of the past.
      People comfortable with building and operating such complex systems are rare and in high demand. This presents a problem for organizations struggling to adopt new technologies precisely because they lack people who understand them: we are dealing with a skills gap, not a technology gap.

    • Kubic is now a certified Kubernetes distribution

      The openSUSE Kubic team is proud to announce that as of yesterday, our Kubic distribution has become a Certified Kubernetes Distribution! Notably, it is the first open source Kubernetes distribution to be certified using the CRI-O container runtime!

    • openSUSE’s Kubic Distro Is Now a Certified Kubernetes Distribution, ModemManager 1.10 Released, The Linux Foundation Announces LF Edge, Creative Commons and the Cleveland Museum of Art and Kexi 3.2 Beta Ships

      openSUSE’s Kubic team announced that the Kubic distribution is now a Certified Kubernetes Distribution, making it the “first open source Kubernetes distribution to be certified using the CRI-O container runtime”. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation validates the Kubernetes Conformance Certifications to ensure that “versions, APIs, and such are all correct, present, and working as expected so users and developers can be assured their Kubernetes-based solutions will work with ease, now and into the future.”

    • Dockter: A container image builder for researchers

      Dependency hell is ubiquitous in the world of software for research, and this affects research transparency and reproducibility. Containerization is one solution to this problem, but it creates new challenges for researchers. Docker is gaining popularity in the research community—but using it efficiently requires solid Dockerfile writing skills.

      As a part of the Stencila project, which is a platform for creating, collaborating on, and sharing data-driven content, we are developing Dockter, an open source tool that makes it easier for researchers to create Docker images for their projects. Dockter scans a research project’s source code, generates a Dockerfile, and builds a Docker image. It has a range of features that allow flexibility and can help researchers learn more about working with Docker.

      Dockter also generates a JSON file with information about the software environment (based on CodeMeta and Schema.org) to enable further processing and interoperability with other tools.

    • Build your skills at Red Hat Summit with Power Training
    • Red Hat recognized as one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies for second consecutive year

      For the second year in a row, we’re excited to announce that Fortune has named Red Hat to its list of the Most Admired Companies. Last year was a standout year for us. It was full of compelling customer results, Red Hat milestones (like our 25th anniversary), new and expanded collaborations (such as our solution announcements with Microsoft and IBM at Red Hat Summit 2018), exciting product innovations (including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, the CoreOS integration with Red Hat Openshift Container Platform, Red Hat Fuse Online, and Red Hat Process Automation Manager 7), community engagement (GPL Cooperation Commitment expansion), and continuing to help spread open source throughout tech and into other industries. In recognition of this momentum, we are ranked eighth within the computer software category.

    • Aspects You Need To Consider When Investing In Linux VPS Hosting

      In Linux VPS hosting, the VPS server runs of a Linux operating system. Undoubtedly, a Linux server hosting is an ultimate solution for those who are looking for robust hardware and software.

    • Playing The Long Game In Systems

      The secret to the longevity of any big corporation is a nearly constant process of reinvention. Those that can adapt to the times are the ones who survive, and one need only look at the recent and sad history of General Electric to see how quickly a stalwart contributor to the global economy can implode. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, IBM is a company that is still more or less successfully adapting to the fast-changes in the information technology sector. Although, we concede, it may not look like it from the financial results that IBM has turned in during 2018 and prior years.

      Big Blue still has one of the largest systems businesses on the planet, and it is even more profitable, in terms gross profits as a percent of revenue, than the very large server, storage, and networking chip business that Intel has amassed over the decades, which is just a little bit bigger than IBM’s systems business. (The net effect is that they are both throwing off about the same amount of cash each year.) The comparison is a bit apples to orange, since Intel makes processors, chipsets, and motherboards while IBM does all of that and makes operating systems, middleware, databases, other software, and provides support and financing for systems on top of that.

    • Why I love containerd…and Docker!

      I talk a lot about containerd. I write blog posts about it, speak at conferences about it, give introductory presentations internally at IBM about it and tweet (maybe too much) about it. Due to my role at IBM, I’ve helped IBM’s public cloud Kubernetes service, IKS, start a migration to use containerd as the CRI runtime in recent releases and similarly helped IBM Cloud Private (our on-premises cloud offering) offer containerd as a tech preview in the past two releases. Given that backdrop of activity and the communities I participate in, I obviously hear a lot of chatter about replacing Docker with {fill in the blank}. Given my containerd resume, you might assume that I always think replacing Docker is the right step for anyone working with container runtimes.

    • What does DevOps mean to you?

      It’s said if you ask 10 people about DevOps, you will get 12 answers. This is a result of the diversity in opinions and expectations around DevOps—not to mention the disparity in its practices.

      To decipher the paradoxes around DevOps, we went to the people who know it the best—its top practitioners around the industry. These are people who have been around the horn, who know the ins and outs of technology, and who have practiced DevOps for years. Their viewpoints should encourage, stimulate, and provoke your thoughts around DevOps.

    • New talk: High Reliability Infrastructure Migrations
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Approaching the kernel year-2038 end game

      In January 2038, the 32-bit time_t value used on many Unix-like systems will run out of bits and be unable to represent the current time. This may seem like a distant problem, but, as Tom Scott recently observed, the year-2038 apocalypse is now closer to the present than the year-2000 problem. The fact that systems being deployed now will still be operating in 2038 adds urgency to the issue as well. The good news is that work has been underway for years to prepare Linux for this date, so there should be no need to call developers out of retirement in 2037 in a last-minute panic. Some of the final steps in this transition for the core kernel have been posted, and seem likely to be merged for 5.1.
      There have been numerous phases to this work, which has been carried out primarily by Arnd Bergmann and Deepa Dinamani. Timekeeping within the kernel has been reworked to use 64-bit values throughout, even on 32-bit systems, for example. A lot of work was required to get there, but that was, in some sense, the easy part; since the changes were all internal to the kernel, the developers involved were free to change interfaces when needed. Life becomes more difficult when it comes to the system-call interface, since that cannot be changed at whim without breaking user-space applications.

      The approach that has been taken here, for many of the relevant system calls, is to recognize that most systems already have a 64-bit solution for 32-bit applications. Most 64-bit kernels are able to run 32-bit processes; to do so, they provide a set of compatibility (or “compat”) system calls to perform impedance matching. Typically, these compat calls simply reformat 32-bit types into their 64-bit equivalent, then pass the result to the native 64-bit implementations. In other words, the compat calls do exactly what is needed to connect a user space process using 32-bit times to a kernel that uses 64-bit times throughout.

    • Ringing in a new asynchronous I/O API

      While the kernel has had support for asynchronous I/O (AIO) since the 2.5 development cycle, it has also had people complaining about AIO for about that long. The current interface is seen as difficult to use and inefficient; additionally, some types of I/O are better supported than others. That situation may be about to change with the introduction of a proposed new interface from Jens Axboe called “io_uring”. As might be expected from the name, io_uring introduces just what the kernel needed more than anything else: yet another ring buffer.

    • Adiantum: encryption for the low end

      Low-end devices bound for developing countries, such as those running the Android Go edition, lack encryption support because the hardware doesn’t provide any cryptographic acceleration. That means users in developing countries have no protection for the data on their phones. Google would like to change that situation. The company worked on adding the Speck cipher to the kernel, but decided against using it because of opposition due to Speck’s origins at the US National Security Agency (NSA). As a replacement, the Adiantum encryption mode was developed; it has been merged for Linux 5.0.

      Eric Biggers has been spearheading the effort; he posted version 4 of the Adiantum patch set in mid-November and it was pulled by kernel crypto maintainer Herbert Xu shortly thereafter; it will appear in the 5.0 kernel. Meanwhile Speck was removed from the kernel in 4.20 for lack of any maintainer or users. The Adiantum patch description is lengthy and informative, but there is also a paper by Biggers and Paul Crowley (who did much of the work in coming up with Adiantum and its predecessor HPolyC). Incidentally, the paper notes that the name “Adiantum” is the genus of the maidenhair fern.

      Adiantum is intended to be a choice for the encryption and decryption algorithm for disk encryption on Linux systems. It can be used either for block-level encryption as part of dm-crypt or for file and directory encryption as part of fscrypt. Adiantum and its supporting crypto primitives needed to be added to the kernel so that it can be used from these kernel subsystems. Most of the 14-part patch set is adding various crypto primitives used by Adiantum.

    • Allwinner Continues Work On Linux Patches To Dump Kernel Errors To Block Devices

      While Allwinner Technology isn’t known as one of the most gracious contributors to the Linux kernel, their continued work on the “pstore_block” kernel patches will be of interest to many especially in the ARM/embedded space and just not for those using Allwinner SoCs.

      For the better part of a decade there has been the Linux kernel pstore implementation for access to persistent storage that can survive reboots that could log information in the system’s “dying moments” with the dmesg log or MCE data in the case of show-stopping problems, but this obviously requires the system to have exposed some persistent storage dedicated for this task. With newer x86_64 hardware there is Linux Pstore support with flash memory and ACPI ESRT standard, but less so in the ARM/embedded space. Especially with these embedded devices often lacking any batteries, the options for storing any crash data to survive reboots is much more limited.

    • ModemManager 1.10 Released With New Functionality For Fwupd, New Modem Support

      ModemManager is the FreeDesktop.org project for controlling mobile broadband devices/connections that is akin to NetworkManager for networking. Last week ModemManager 1.10 was quietly outed as the latest feature release.

    • New WireGuard Snapshot Released With Linux 5.0 Support, Other Fixes

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld has announced the release of WireGuard 0.0.20190123 as the latest snapshot for this secure VPN tunnel implementation for Linux systems and other platforms.

      WireGuard sadly didn’t make it into the Linux 5.0 mainline kernel and there are no indications yet if it will be ready for Linux 5.1, but even being out-of-tree its adoption on Linux and other operating systems from Android to iOS continues to grow as well as receiving new endorsements.

    • Read-Only Apple File-System Support Is Being Worked On For The Linux Kernel (APFS)

      The past few years Apple has been developing APFS as the successor to the long-used HFS+ file-system. The Apple File-System is in use with macOS 10.13+ iOS 10.3, and their other platforms for offering a lot of features not found in HFS+ including much better performance. There is an open-source APFS kernel driver now under development for Linux in supporting this file-system.

      To date we haven’t seen much activity for supporting this Apple File-System on Linux. The only other implementation previously has been a commercial, closed-source APFS Linux driver. But it turns out an open-source kernel module has been in the works and eventually could make it into the mainline kernel.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux’s Hyperledger to give developers supply chain building blocks

        The Linux Foundation’s blockchain initiative – Hyperledger Project – has created a set of developer tools to allow the creation of supply chain-specific applications running atop the distributed ledger technology (DLT).

        The Hyperledger Grid project, as it’s called, will initially offer businesses modular software and smart contract components to address problems such as tracking and tracing shipped goods, electronic certifications and bill of lading exchange.

      • Linux Foundation launches Hyperledger Grid to provide framework for supply chain projects

        The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project has a singular focus on the blockchain, but this morning it announced a framework for building supply chain projects where it didn’t want blockchain stealing the show.

        In fact, the foundation is careful to point out that this project is not specifically about the blockchain, so much as providing the building blocks for a broader view of solving supply chain digitization issues. As it describes in a blog post announcing the project, it is neither an application nor a blockchain project, per se. So what is it?

        “Grid is an ecosystem of technologies, frameworks and libraries that work together, letting application developers make the choice as to which components are most appropriate for their industry or market model.”

        Hyperledger doesn’t want to get locked down by jargon or preconceived notions of what these projects should look like. It wants to provide developers with a set of tools and libraries and let them loose to come up with ideas and build applications specific to their industry requirements.

        Primary contributors to the project to this point have been Cargill, Intel and Bitwise IO.

      • The Linux Foundation Launches New LF Edge to Establish a Unified Open Source Framework for the Edge

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the launch of LF Edge, an umbrella organization to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system. LF Edge is initially comprised of five projects that will support emerging edge applications in the area of non-traditional video and connected things that require lower latency, faster processing and mobility.

        LF Edge includes Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, and Open Glossary of Edge Computing, formerly stand-alone projects at The Linux Foundation. The initiative also includes a new project contributed by Samsung Electronics, which will create a hub for real-time data collected through smart home devices, and another project from ZEDEDA, which is contributing a new agnostic standard edge architecture.

        “The market opportunity for LF Edge spans industrial, enterprise and consumer use cases in complex environments that cut across multiple edges and domains. We’re thrilled with the level of support backing us at launch, with 60 global organizations as founding members and new project contributions,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, the Linux Foundation. “This massive endorsement, combined with existing code and project contributions like Akraino from AT&T and EdgeX Foundry from Dell EMC, means LF Edge is well-positioned to transform edge and IoT application development.”

      • LF Edge: Bringing Complementary Initiatives Together to Advance Emerging Applications at the Edge

        Earlier today, we announced the launch of LF Edge, a new umbrella organization designed to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system. The goal is to foster a unified, open framework that brings complementary projects under one central umbrella to create collaborative solutions that are compatible and support the ecosystem.

        LF Edge is comprised of five anchor projects, which includes the existing Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, and Open Glossary of Edge Computing, as well as two new projects – Home Edge Project, and Project EVE, with seed code and initial architecture donated by Samsung and ZEDEDA, respectively. (More details on these projects are available on the new LF Edge website.)

      • Embedded Linux Conference North America

        Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) is the premier vendor-neutral technical conference where developers working on embedded Linux and industrial IoT products and deployments gather for education and collaboration, paving the way for innovation. Attend, and join 800+ technical experts paving the way for transformation in these key areas from across the globe for education, collaboration and deep dive learning opportunities.

      • Kubernetes Day India
      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces CoreDNS Graduation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which sustains open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus™, today announced that CoreDNS is the first project of 2019 to graduate, following last year’s graduations of Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy. To move from the maturity level of incubation to graduation, projects must demonstrate thriving adoption, diversity, a formal governance process, and a strong commitment to community sustainability and inclusivity.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Freedreno Lands An A2xx NIR Backend, Other Improvements For Mesa 19.0

        While we are most often focused on the Radeon and Intel drivers within Mesa as being the most commonly used Mesa-based drivers on Linux systems, Freedreno and friends have also been seeing some nice improvements for Mesa 19.0 with its feature freeze quickly coming upon us.

        Freedreno, for the uninformed, is the open-source driver for Qualcomm Adreno hardware. It’s been a community-based, reverse-engineering led effort with the MSM DRM kernel driver that is mainlined as well as the Freedreno Gallium3D driver in Mesa for OpenGL support. While it supports the latest Adreno hardware, recently there has been a bit of resurgence in going back to support the original A2xx series hardware.

      • Mesa EGL Extension Needed For Universal Driver Configuration GUI Is Almost Landed

        The MESA_query_driver extension for EGL is of fundamental importance if there is to be a “universal” graphics driver control panel / configuration GUI for Mesa 3D drivers. The extension briefly landed today in Mesa but ended up being reverted due to build problems.

        MESA_query_driver provides an EGL extension that exposes the name of the driver as well as that driver’s option list. The option list is a list of options defined in XML that could be exposed to the user. In other words, all the practical per-driver configuration options that might be useful for an enthusiast/gamer to configure based on their preferences exposed via a standardized interface.

      • AMDGPU Kernel Driver Is Working Out Well On Linux 5.0

        While no measurable performance changes for either Polaris or Vega, the AMDGPU kernel driver in Linux 5.0 appears to be in largely good shape now mid-way through the cycle.

    • Benchmarks

      • The AMD Radeon RX Vega Launch Performance Compared To 2019 Linux Drivers

        With the AMD Radeon VII graphics card shipping in two weeks as the second-generation Vega GPU at 7nm, I figured it would be an interesting time to see how far the original Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 graphics card performance has evolved since their launch back in August 2017. Here is a fresh look at the current Radeon RX Vega 56/64 GPU performance today using the bleeding-edge Linux graphics drivers compared to the driver state back in 2017 for OpenGL and Vulkan gaming performance.

  • Applications

    • Executive Viewpoint 2019 Prediction: IGEL – Linux Will Power Virtualization Growth

      The rapid adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), continued transition of workloads to the cloud, and the enterprises’ ever-increasing pressure to protect data in a connected world are three key happenings that will drive the growth use of Linux in 2019 and beyond.

      There are an estimated six billion IoT devices in use today, and the vast majority of these devices are running a Linux kernel. If analyst estimates are correct, the number of IoT devices will increase exponentially over the next few years, and all of these devices will be communicating with virtualized data collectors. According to Gartner, there will be 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020. Most of these will be running a Linux kernel.

    • What is QEMU in Linux?

      QEMU is free and open source (FOSS) hardware virtualization toll developed by Fabrice Bellard distributed under GPL license. It supports a wide range of operating systems including Windows and MacOS. Bochs, PearPC, etc. are similar, but do not have many of its features, such as high-speed and cross-platform features. It is like VirtualBox and VMware virtualization software but natively it is command based tool unlike the two mentioned. To get the near-native speed of hardware in a virtualization environment one can use it with the KVM with the help of hardware extensions such as Intel VT-x.

      qemu of 0.9.1 and earlier can use the kqemu accelerator. In the version after qemu1.0, kqemu cannot be used , mainly using the qemu- kvm acceleration module, and the acceleration effect and stability are significantly better than kqemu.

    • Best Free Virtualbox Alternative for Linux

      Hundreds of different Linux distros are around over the internet and we cannot install all of them our PC for testing or learning purposes. However, one thing we can do is to run them on Linux as virtual machines to experience before actually switch to a new Linux Distro.

      For Windows, there are lots of Virtualization software available those let you install almost any kind of operating system virtually but what about Linux the users? When we talk about Virtualization on Linux, Windows or MacOS, the first Virtual Machine creating software comes in our mind is Oracle’s VirtualBox. This virtualization solution is also open source and free to use but wait, does any other solution or software is available, especially for the Linux operating system. As I said, Windows and MacOS have a couple of good Virtualization options available but all these solutions are not available for Linux distros because of their sundry nature.

    • Woof – Easily Exchange Files Over a Local Network in Linux

      Woof (short for Web Offer One File) is a simple application for sharing files between hosts on a small local network. It consists of a tiny HTTP server that can serve a specified file for a given number of times (default is once) and then terminates.

      To use woof, simply invoke it on a single file, and the recipient can access your shared file via a web browser or using a command-line web-client such as cURL, HTTPie, wget or kurly (a curl alternative) from the terminal.

      One advantage of woof over other file sharing tools is that it shares files between a different operating system, or different devices (computers, smartphones, tablets etc.), provided the recipient has a web browser installed.

    • Top 10 Free Open Source Cloud File Sharing Platforms

      Cloud file sharing involves a system where users are allocated storage space on a server and are allowed to perform read and write operations on the data they save in their space online.

      A popular service is Dropbox and while it offers a free version, it is not open source. There are also many Dropbox alternatives for Linux, but this article focuses on the best free open source cloud file sharing platforms.

    • Orpie: A command-line reverse Polish notation calculator

      Orpie is a text-mode reverse Polish notation (RPN) calculator for the Linux console. It works very much like the early, well-loved Hewlett-Packard calculators.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Run Windows apps on Linux with the newly released Wine 4.0

        It used to be, people would scoff at the idea of switching to a Linux-based operating system due to a lack of software. While that is still true for some folks — especially business users — it is less of a concern these days. Why? Well, so many things are done through the web browser nowadays, lessening dependence on Windows software. For many consumers, just having the Google Chrome browser on, say, Ubuntu, is more than enough to accomplish their wants and needs. Not to mention, there are many quality Linux apps like GIMP and DaVinci Resolve.

        But OK, lets say you really want to use a Linux-based operating system, but there’s some Windows-only software that you absolutely cannot live without. Thankfully, you may still be able to ditch Windows and upgrade to something like Fedora or Linux Mint. How? Thanks to the excellent Wine. This compatibility layer (don’t you dare call it an emulator), can sometimes enable you to run Windows software on Linux. Today, version 4.0 is released.

      • Wine 4.0 released with Vulkan, Direct3D support among other features

        Wine 4.0 stable version has been released yesterday. It comes with four main features including support for Vulkan, Direct3D 12, Game controllers and High-DPI support on Android.

        In total, there are over 6,000 individual changes and improvements. Wine is an implementation of the Windows Application Programming Interface (API) library. makes it possible to run Windows programs alongside Linux or any other Unix-like operating system. Wine can also be used to recompile a program into a format that Linux can understand more easily, though access to the Windows program source code is required.

      • Run windows apps on Linux with Brand New Released Wine 4.0

        People would generally scoff to switch to using Linux OS because of software shortfall. Though this holds for a few people still, it’s not much of a concern nowadays. This is because a variety of things can be done via internet browser these days. This as such lessens one’s reliance on Windows software. For most people now, having a Chrome web browser is enough to meet their requirements.

        However, what if you want to run some Windows games and apps which can run only on Linux OS? In such a case, it’s quite possible to avoid Windows and use something such as Linux Mint or Fedora. Thanks to the Wine software which can prove to be helpful in such a case. Wine developers have released Wine version 4.0 comprising of several new features.

      • Wine 4.0 Available with Vulkan, Direct3D 12, Game Controller Support

        The Wine authors released the Wine 4.0 release, the latest major stable released of their open source and free compatibility layer designed to allow Linux, Mac, FreeBSD, and Solaris users to install and use Windows programs on their Unix-based operating systems.

        Wine 4.0 adds a number of major new features such as support for the cross-platform Vulkan and the Windows Direct3D 12 3D graphics APIs, as well as for Android High-DPI and game controllers.

      • Windows compatibility layer Wine reaches version 4.0

        Wine is a free and open-source compatibility layer that can run Windows software on Unix-like operating systems. It has been in development since 1993, and the project released its first official Android builds in early 2018. Wine v4.0 is now available, and it has plenty of major improvements across all platforms.

        To start with, Wine can now scale applications to work on high-DPI displays, like those found on most smartphones. This feature works on all Wine platforms, but is only enabled in the Android version for now. You can definitely tell the difference compared to older versions — the taskbar and command line used to be ridiculously tiny on my OnePlus 6T.

      • Wine hits 4.0, Valve’s Proton extends outside Steam

        The Wine project has announced the release of Wine 4.0, which brings with it official support for the Direct3D 12 and Vulkan application programming interfaces (APIs), even as Valve updates its forked Proton alternative to support non-Steam titles.

        A recursive acronym for ‘Wine Is Not an Emulator’, the Wine tool is designed to provide a compatibility layer allowing Windows-exclusive binaries to run on non-Windows operating systems including Linux, macOS, and Android. Although compatible with almost any software, its primary usage is for games – and it’s on that strength that it became the basis of Valve’s Steam Play compatibility system as a forked and modified variant dubbed Proton.

      • Wine Developers Are Exploring A Vulkan Backend To WineD3D

        While Wine developers have already been working on VKD3D as Direct3D 12 implemented on top of Vulkan for Windows programs, it turns out Wine developers are exploring getting WineD3D on top of Vulkan for older versions of Direct3D using Vulkan rather than OpenGL.

        This new effort is akin to DXVK for running Direct3D 10/11 to Vulkan or VK9 for Direct3D on Vulkan. Right now Wine’s WineD3D code is mapping D3D calls to OpenGL while some developers happen to be exploring the viability of using Vulkan here, just like VK9 and DXVK. Apparently they did investigate DXVK but was deemed that it wouldn’t workout for reasons unmentioned.

    • Games

      • Cultist Simulator’s free update is out adding a “positively unfair end-game mode”

        Cultist Simulator, the roguelike narrative card game from Weather Factory has expanded with a new end-game mode that’s “positively unfair”.

      • Plenty of new content is coming to Don’t Starve Together in 2019

        Don’t Starve Together, the excellent multiplayer standalone of Klei Entertainment’s dark survival game is set for plenty of upgrades this year.

      • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire just got a beta to add in a turn-based mode

        Obsidian Entertainment have updated Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire in quite a big way, with an open beta for owners to try out the new turn-based mode. It’s an optional mode of course, no one is forcing you into it.

        I must admit, this would probably make me appreciate it a lot more. I do honestly much prefer turn-based systems for these types of RPGs.

      • Get Deponia: The Complete Journey free in the Humble Winter Sale Encore

        Humble are doing an encore of their Winter Sale and they’re giving away another free game with Deponia: The Complete Journey. On top of that, if you spend at least $5 they give you a copy of Insurgency free too.

      • Pikuniku is an absolute surprise, what a joy to play and it’s out now with Linux support

        Pikuniku took me by surprise so much that I’m struggling to describe the feeling after playing it, an absolute joy for sure.Pikuniku took me by surprise so much that I’m struggling to describe the feeling after playing it, an absolute joy for sure.Pikuniku took me by surprise so much that I’m struggling to describe the feeling after playing it, an absolute joy for sure.Pikuniku took me by surprise so much that I’m struggling to describe the feeling after playing it, an absolute joy for sure.Pikuniku took me by surprise so much that I’m struggling to describe the feeling after playing it, an absolute joy for sure.

      • Setting up a Bluetooth Controller for Linux Gaming

        Recently I solved an issue for setting up my Wireless (via Bluetooth) controller on Steam for Linux, and decided to elaborate a little better about my experience, and share my results and observations with you all.

        The controller I have used as a reference for the procedures here below is the ASUS Gamepad TV500BG, whose specs are detailed here. Alternatively, I have verified that the same procedures apply with any other Bluetooth device.

        The important thing I would like to highlight is that my approach was to find a procedure that could work in several scenarios, such as for both native games (with or without Steam) and games running via Wine or Proton/Steam Play.

        According to the approach mentioned above, I discarded immediately the use of the x360ce driver, which it is largely used for games running on Wine but it represents a limited solution from an architectural point of view.

      • Insurgency: Sandstorm should still release for Linux this year

        Now that the fantastic looking FPS game Insurgency: Sandstorm is out for Windows, I’ve seen a few people worried about the status of a Linux version. I spoke to New World Interactive to clear up the situation.

        The worry, seems to be how they’ve adjusted their wording about future platforms for the game. They previously noted in December last year that a Linux version would be coming “post-release”, however their recent wording has changed to talk about consoles and how they will “explore additional platforms in the future”.

      • Finally, the mesh has been exported to Panda3D

        These two days I am really busy working on the new video editing project and I also had suffered a flu yesterday, therefore, I have missed out a few posts on this website. I promise you that starting from now on this site will continue to progress and I will write as many posts per week as possible. We will create two projects at the same time, the pygame’s project and the Panda 3D project.

      • Jon Shafer’s At the Gates, the indie strategy game from the designer of Civilization 5 is out

        With same-day Linux support which is awesome to see, Jon Shafer’s At the Gates is officially out today.

      • Putting games across multiple stores is not easy, as developers keep noting recently

        One thing we see often, is that developers stick to one store. When they do put their game across multiple stores, the Linux version is often late or left out entirely. There are reasons for that, as developers have spoken about recently.

        The most recent one I’ve seen is from Alexis Kennedy (Cultist Simulator) who made a Twitter thread about the issues of putting a game across many stores.

      • Reassembly, the awesome spaceship builder and exploration game has its first expansion out now

        Reassembly is a game that I was seriously addicted to when it came out a few years ago, I fear I’m going to lose many more hours with the new ‘Fields Expansion’. In a really old article, I said Reassembly was “The space game I’ve been waiting for”, some high praise!

        In addition to the paid expansion, it also received a free update to the base game. This included a free for all tournament option, SDL updates, many bug fixes and some improvements to modding support.

      • Some thoughts on Gravel from Milestone, the ‘ultimate off-road experience’ tested

        The second racer from Milestone officially arrived on Linux recently with Gravel, shortly after MXGP3. Both ports from Virtual Programming so let’s take a look.

        First impressions are everything and frankly I was disappointed very quickly with it. Much like the Linux port of MXGP3, even the intro videos stuttered. The cutscenes stutter and even the menus stutter to the point that they don’t always pickup your input. Honestly, it feels like you’re fighting all the in-game menus for control constantly and that’s terrible.

      • TANGLEWOOD, the seriously retro puzzle-platformer is now on GOG

        Another day, another new GOG release for your DRM free fans to pick up your gamepad for. They now have the super retro TANGLEWOOD available with Linux support.

      • The magnificent deck-building roguelike ‘Slay the Spire’ has left Early Access

        What time is it? Gone 9AM already? Sorry, I’ve been up all night playing Slay the Spire and it’s absolutely brilliant.

        It’s hard to remember a time when I was this completely captured by a game. It’s not exactly revolutionary by any means, it’s a game where the sum of all things just comes together in such a way that it’s so entertaining to play.

      • Up for a little reading? GOG have released another round of Visual Novels

        Your friendly neighbourhood DRM free store GOG has another varied selection of Visual Novels now available with Linux support.

      • Steam Play for Linux update supports more games (including non-Steam games)

        Valve is making it a little easier to be a gamer with a Linux computer. A few years ago the company started encouraging game developers to port their titles to run on Linux… but the vast majority of PC games are still Windows-only.

        So last year Valve introduce Proton, a new tool for Steam Play, a tool that lets Linux users use a custom fork of WINE to run Windows software on a non-Windows device. In this case, Proton is optimized to let users run Windows games on a machine running a GNU/Linux operating system, even if the developers don’t officially support that OS.

      • Steam For Linux Now Lets You Play Windows Games From Other Stores

        That’s worth reading again. If you happened to purchase a game like The Witcher 3 for Windows on GOG, you can now add the game’s executable to Steam for Linux and run it. The same presumably goes for any .exe game launcher. Then Proton will work its compatibility magic to make that native Windows title run on Linux (with admittedly varying degrees of success). This short video demonstrates how it works.

        Before now this was possible for very advanced users, but introducing this functionality into Steam Play blasts Proton’s potential wide open.

        A second Proton-related feature allows games that ship with their own native clients to be launched using Proton from inside Steam for Linux. This has positive implications beyond just convenience. As Boiling Steam points out…

      • Linux gamers rejoice: Wine 4.0 is here

        Gaming on Linux picked up some pace in recent years in large parts thanks to Valve Software’s investment in growing gaming on Linux.

        Mike listed some AAA games on Linux that Steam users could run back in mid-2018; Steam improved Windows games support significantly in the same year on Linux, by introducing a modified version of Wine that Valve Software called Proton.

        The team behind Wine released a new major version of the software that adds support for many Windows games and applications on non-Windows systems such as those running Linux or Mac OS.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • A slow start to openSUSE’s board election

        What if you announced a board election and nobody ran? That is the quandary the openSUSE project faced as recently as January 4, when the nomination deadline loomed and no candidates for the three open seats had come forward. The situation has since changed, and openSUSE members will have a wide slate of candidates to choose from. But the seeming reticence to come forward may well be a reflection of some unresolved tensions that exploded into a flame war several months ago.
        The openSUSE board is not a hugely powerful organization. It serves as a central coordinating point for the project, and it commands a small budget that can be used to promote the project and its initiatives. The board is also the decision maker for conduct issues, with the authority to suspend or expel members from the project. It is made up of six members: a chair appointed by SUSE, and five members elected by the project membership for two-year terms.

        The five-week nomination period for the current election began on December 11; it closes on January 13. After that campaigning begins, with ballots being returned in the first half of February; results are set to be announced on February 16. All of that, of course, assumes that candidates actually show up to campaign for those seats; at the beginning of January, that had not happened. The backup plan, as noted in the article linked in the introduction, is that “the three remaining members of the openSUSE Board will be tasked to choose new Board Members, based on their own personal choices, to fill those three vacant seats” (emphasis in the original). That doesn’t strike anybody as the best way to properly represent the openSUSE community.

        There are plenty of reasons why candidates for a volunteer board might be in short supply. People are busy and do not always have time available for that sort of commitment. The nomination period coincided with the holidays when potential candidates are occupied with vacations, travel, and finding the perfect gift for that impossible-to-please relative. Not everybody wants to take on the stress of campaigning for an office and possibly being rejected by one’s peers. And so on. But it may also be that potential candidates saw a side of the board that they didn’t like back in August and have chosen not to be a part of it.

      • 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections: Meet Sébastien Poher

        My name is Sébastien Poher, aka sogal or sogal_geeko. I am 35 years old now and live in France, between Lyon and Grenoble, where I work.

        I am a GNU/Linux system administrator, but this is a second professional life. Before that I got graduated in logistics and transport and I worked as logistician in the civilian world and, during several years, in the French army. Right after that, I wanted to do something different and went back to school for 2 years in order to study system and networking administration.

      • How Do You Get Even More Value From SUSECON?

        SUSECON Pre-Conference Training Workshops are incredible opportunities to have technology experts guide you through an intimate software experience. Take advantage of this chance to spend Monday, April 1st, getting to know the solution of your choice in more detail than ever before.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora, UUIDs, and user tracking

        “User tracking” is generally contentious in free-software communities—even if the “tracking” is not really intended to do so. It is often distributions that have the most interest in counting their users, but Linux users tend to be more privacy conscious than users of more mainstream desktop operating systems. The Fedora project recently discussed how to count its users and ways to preserve their privacy while doing so.

        Ben Cotton brought up the topic in the context of a proposal for Fedora 30. Instead of the current method of counting unique IP addresses that request updates from the DNF mirrors, which is an unreliable estimator of Fedora usage, the proposal would create a unique user ID (UUID) for each installed system that would be sent with DNF mirror-list requests. It explicitly calls out privacy concerns: “We don’t want to track; just count.”

        The proposal outlines the kind of information that the project would like to count, including the version of Fedora, the Fedora variant (or spin), and the architecture of the machine. It would also be useful to have some way to distinguish long-lived installations from one-off test systems in virtual machines. Currently, variants cannot be distinguished and the unique IP counting method both undercounts systems behind network address translation (NAT) and overcounts systems that change IP addresses frequently. The UUID is similar to what openSUSE uses, so “this is ground already traveled”.

      • Mind map yourself using FreeMind and Fedora

        A mind map of yourself sounds a little far-fetched at first. Is this process about neural pathways? Or telepathic communication? Not at all. Instead, a mind map of yourself is a way to describe yourself to others visually. It also shows connections among the characteristics you use to describe yourself. It’s a useful way to share information with others in a clever but also controllable way. You can use any mind map application for this purpose. This article shows you how to get started using FreeMind, available in Fedora.

      • Fedora – My way back #1

        Well it all came together quite nicely last night. I’d backed up my machine and decided that I wasn’t going to dual boot, I was going to remove Windows completely and install Fedora 29 on the whole of my drive. Scared the hell out of me, but hay, 2019 let’s do it.

      • New maintainers needed for these packages

        I’ve recently realised that I am now busy enough to need to prioritise what tasks I undertake. Apart from my research work (PhD and related activities), I’d like to focus my time on NeuroFedora. Therefore, I’m giving up a lot of the packages that I’ve accrued over the years but no longer use. If any of these interest you, please take them from me. Otherwise, I will orphan them at the end of the month.

        I am quite happy to mentor contributors who are not yet packagers to help them learn the necessary skills. You can become a package maintainer by helping to co-maintain packages, as documented here.

      • New openQA tests: update installer tests and desktop app start/stop test

        It’s been a while since I wrote about significant developments in Fedora openQA, so today I’ll be writing about two! I wrote about one of them a bit in my last post, but that was primarily about a bug I ran into along the way, so now let’s focus on the changes themselves.

        [...]

        My colleague Lukáš Růžička has recently been looking into what we might be able to do to streamline and improve our desktop application testing, something I’d honestly been avoiding because it seemed quite intractable! After some great work by Lukáš, one major fruit of this work is now visible in Fedora openQA: a GNOME application start/stop test suite. Here’s an example run of it – note that more recent runs have a ton of failures caused by a change in GNOME, Lukáš has proposed a change to the test to address that but I have not yet reviewed it.

        This big test suite just tests starting and then exiting a large number of the default installed applications on the Fedora Workstation edition, making sure they both launch and exit successfully. This is of course pretty easy for a human to do – but it’s extremely tedious and time-consuming, so it’s something we don’t do very often at all (usually only a handful of times per release cycle), meaning we may not notice that an application which perhaps we don’t commonly use has a very critical bug (like failing to launch at all) for some time.

        Making an automated system like openQA do this is actually quite a lot of work, so it was a great job by Lukas to get it working. Now by monitoring the results of this test on the nightly composes closely, we should find out much more quickly if one of the tested applications is completely broken (or has gone missing entirely).

      • Fedora 29 : The AppImage tool and Krita Next.
    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 “Stretch” Released with Patched APT Package Manager

        security vulnerability affects the APT package manager on Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu, as well as other derivatives from the two, allowing a remote attacker to install malicious packages users’ machines. APT considered the packages as valid, thus allowing the attacker to execute code as root and possibly crash the host.

        Both Debian and Ubuntu released patched versions of APT in their supported distributions, but the Debian Project also respined their installation and live images by releasing the Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 “Stretch” point release to avoid any complications in new deployments of their operating system.

      • MATE desktop in Debian buster becomes remote desktop aware (RDA)

        The MATE desktop environment in Debian will be the first desktop environment in Debian that has (still basic) support for detecting its graphical context (esp. detecting, if it is run inside a remote session).

        With the packages mate-panel 1.20.4-2 and mate-screensaver 1.20.3-3, two new (preview) features entered Debian recently.

      • MATE On Debian Becomes Remote Desktop Aware

        Now included in the Debian 10.0 Buster release and pending as part of the upstream MATE desktop environment is support for making it remote desktop aware.

        Debian developer Mike Gabriel has been working on making MATE remote desktop aware so it can behave differently if running over a remote/VNC connection versus running on local hardware. He’s been working since last June on getting the patches into upstream MATE, which haven’t landed yet, but for now is part of the Debian packages of MATE for the upcoming 10.0 Buster release.

      • Andrej Shadura: Bug Squashing Party: Bratislava, 9/10 February 2019

        As I previously announced, I’m organising a BSP in Bratislava during the weekend following FOSDEM. It will be happening at the same time as the BSP in Berlin, so if it’s not practical or possible for you to come to Berlin, consider coming around here.

        The venue this time is Lab.cafe, café/coworking space/maker space in the centre of Bratislava in the building of the old market hall.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Dell XPS 13 9380 Developer Edition with Ubuntu Linux

            Dell continues to be one of the few major PC manufacturers to offer some of its laptops with a GNU/Linux operating system as an alternative to Windows.

            Just a few weeks after introducing the 2019 version of the Dell XPS 13 laptop, Dell is now selling XPS 13 9830 Developer Edition models with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

          • Dell Launches New Ubuntu-Powered XPS 13 9380. Nose Cam Not Included

            Newer hardware, better suspend-to-idle support, and no nose cam. The best Ubuntu laptop gets even better.

          • Dell XPS 13 (9380) Developer Edition now available with Ubuntu Linux

            If you are a Linux desktop user, it is time to get very excited. Why? Because Dell has finally refreshed its XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop — a very well-respected machine. Don’t let the “Developer” in the name scare you — it not only a great computer for devs, but home users, business users, and students too. This “Developer Edition” moniker simply indicates it is pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux.

            This newest version of the notebook, dubbed “9380,” continues with Dell’s focus on beauty and thinness, but it now has improved specs. Webcam users in particular will be delighted to know that the newest XPS 13 now has the camera on the top of the display rather than the bottom! Yes, there will be no more showing off the inside of your nostrils while video-conferencing.

          • Ubuntu Core 18 Released With 10-Year LTS Support

            Earlier this week, Canonical announced the release of Ubuntu Core 18 for embedded Linux devices. This container OS also brings the benefit of 10-year long term support to ensure that the devices remain safe and updated for a long time.

            The base OS image has very few packages installed to ensure better security. It has also helped in reducing the size and frequency of security updates. Moreover, users also get more freedom to store data and applications.

          • Ubuntu Core 18 Seeks to Make IoT and Embedded Easier

            Ubuntu’s IoT-ready Linux distribution makes developers lives easier and boosts security through use of Snaps.

          • Canonical releases Ubuntu Core 18 for embedded devices with 10 years of support

            Canonical has announced Ubuntu Core 18 which brings the latest technologies from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to embedded devices. One of the key highlights for those running Ubuntu Core 18 is that Canonical plans to deliver security updates for 10 years; this should allow businesses to hold on to hardware for quite a while before it needs to be replaced.

            Due to the more limited nature of IoT devices, which Ubuntu Core is aimed at, Canonical has made the decision to limit the number of packages that it’s shipping with this update. By reducing the number of packages it means that security updates both smaller in size and fewer in frequency.

          • Canonical Brings IoT Security to Ubuntu Core

            Embedded systems and IoT devices in the field often are hard or impossible to reach and are vulnerable to hackers and crackers. That makes systems that are self-sufficient and inherently secure a good thing – and why Canonical has brought the features of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to these devices in Ubuntu Core 18.

            The platform was announced today but has been available since last month. Ubuntu Core is the version of the Ubuntu OS designed for IoT and container deployments. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (long-term support), which was introduced last April, will add three elements to Ubuntu Core. Or, more accurately, it will reduce three things: time to market, software development risk, and security maintenance costs, the company says.

          • Canonical goes all fortress on us with Ubuntu Core 18 for IoT devices
          • Canonical brings Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to high-security embedded devices.
          • Ubuntu Core 18 released for secure, reliable IoT devices
          • Ubuntu Core 18 boosts IoT device security, reduces cost
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio 19.04 Has New Tricks Up Its Sleeve For Linux Creatives

              few months ago Ubuntu Studio was on its deathbed. Development of the project — which aims to provide a complete open source solution for creatives — had stagnated since 2016, seeing virtually no progress between versions 16.04 and 18.04. A call was made to form a council focused on breathing new life into it, but no response came. That’s when Erich Eickmeyer stepped in.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Get started with LogicalDOC, an open source document management system

    There seems to be a mad rush at the beginning of every year to find ways to be more productive. New Year’s resolutions, the itch to start the year off right, and of course, an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude all contribute to this. And the usual round of recommendations is heavily biased towards closed source and proprietary software. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Here’s the 12th of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019.

  • GStreamer WebRTC: A flexible solution to web-based media

    Currently, WebRTC.org is the most popular and feature-rich WebRTC implementation. It is used in Chrome and Firefox and works well for browsers, but the Native API and implementation have several shortcomings that make it a less-than-ideal choice for uses outside of browsers, including native apps, server applications, and internet of things (IoT) devices.

    Last year, our company (Centricular) made an independent implementation of a Native WebRTC API available in GStreamer 1.14. This implementation is much easier to use and more flexible than the WebRTC.org Native API, is transparently compatible with WebRTC.org, has been tested with all browsers, and is already in production use.

  • Review: 4 open-source network management tools improve usability, performance

    Network management tools have come a long way from the early command-line products with arcane, text-based configuration files that kept everyone except the resident (typically Linux) guru in the dark. Today’s management tools, replete with desktop or web-based GUIs, easy installs and configuration wizards, are far more accessible. With each iteration vendors find ways to make these tools more powerful and easier to use.

    For this review, we evaluated newer versions of three established open-source network management products – OpenNMS, Zenoss Core and NetXMS – as well as a relative newcomer, Sensu Core. All four products are free and open source.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • multi-store – Custom Telemetry with shared data

        In order to understand how Firefox performs in the wild, it can collect a bunch of performance metrics and other information. How and why we do this and what data we collect is explained in more detail in a blog post by Rebecca Weiss, Director of Data Science here at Mozilla: It’s your data, we’re just living in it.

        I work on the Telemetry component inside Firefox. It provides APIs that are used by the various other parts of the browser to gather data and is responsible for storing, collecting and sending this data in what we call “pings”, a periodic collection of measurements. Telemetry data is only ever sent out if the user agreed to it (see “Data Collection and Use” in the “Privacy & Security” preferences of your Firefox).

        Most data is collected in one of 3 different formats: histograms, scalars & events (see our collection overview). Firefox sends this data in the “main” ping once in a while (usually roughly daily) and clears out the stored data locally. A “main” ping always corresponds to a subsession, which itself is part of a session. This is further explained in our Session concepts.

      • WebRender newsletter #37

        Hi! Last week I mentioned picture caching landing in nightly and I am happy to report that it didn’t get backed out (never to take for granted with a change of that importance) and it’s here to stay.
        Another rather hot topic but which didn’t appear in the newsletter was Jeff and Matt’s long investigation of content frame time telemetry numbers. It turned into a real saga, featuring performance improvements but also a lot of adjustments to the way we do the measurements to make sure that we get apple to apple comparisons of Firefox running with and without WebRender. The content frame time metric is important because it correlates with user perception of stuttering, and we now have solid measurements backing that WebRender improves this metric.

      • 2018 Roundup: Q2, Part 1

        Another problem that I discovered during this refactoring was bug 1459335. It turns out that some of the interceptor’s callers were not distinguishing between “I have not set this hook yet” and “I attempted to set this hook but it failed” scenarios. Across several call sites, I discovered that our code would repeatedly retry to set hooks even when they had previously failed, causing leakage of trampoline space!

        To fix this, I modified the interceptor’s interface so that we use one-time initialization APIs to set hooks; since landing this bug, it is no longer possible for clients of the DLL interceptor to set a hook that had previously failed to be set.

        Quantifying the memory costs of this bug is… non-trivial, but it suffices to say that fixing this bug probably resulted in the savings of at least a few hundred KiB in committed VM on affected machines.

        That’s it for today’s post, folks! Thanks for reading! Coming up in Q2, Part 2: Implementing a Skeletal Launcher Process

      • Mozilla VR Blog: How I made Jingle Smash
      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!

        It’s hard to believe, but we’ve laned nearly 70 commits this year. In this update comments get make-over, APIs got faster and certain types of bots are shown the door. Also, bug fixes.

      • Firefox 65 new contributors

        With the release of Firefox 65, we are pleased to welcome the 32 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 27 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • fx_cast Adds Chromecast Support To Firefox

        While Firefox doesn’t natively support Chromecast on desktop, there’s a new third party tool called fx_cast, that adds Chromecast support to Firefox, on Windows, macOS and Linux.

        fx_cast is currently “very work in progress”. Its developers say it’s currently incomplete and likely buggy.

        fx_cast is made of two parts: a Firefox extension and a companion application that needs to run in the background. To work around Google’s proprietary protocol, fx_cast needs a companion bridge application that uses Electron (a bit of an inception here) to be installed on the computer, which then connects with the receiver devices. Right now there are bridge companion app binaries for Linux (RPM and DEB) and macOS only. While Windows is supported, there are no Windows binaries for now because the fx_cast developer doesn’t use Windows.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 community focus: Quality Assurance

      LibreOffice’s worldwide community of volunteers and certified developers has been working hard on the many updates in LibreOffice 6.2. But while shiny new features are great for users, it’s important that they’re well-tested too! That’s where our QA (Quality Assurance) community comes into play. So today we talk to Xisco Fauli, The Document Foundation’s QA engineer, about the upcoming release…

    • LibreOffice on Chromebooks

      Until recently, Chromebooks could browse the Web and run dedicated ChromeOS and Android applications, and that was that. But things are changing now since Google announced Crostini, a technology to run arbitrary Linux applications on ChromeOS.

      What you get, in short, is a Linux distribution running in a virtual machine. It is sandboxed, but with some channels set up between the virtual machine and the surrounding ChromeOS, so that e.g., icons of applications installed in the Linux VM show up in the ChromeOS launcher, and windows opened from within the VM are integrated with the overall ChromeOS desktop.

      The default Linux distribution provided by Google is a Debian 9, and one should be able to also plug other flavours of Linux, at least in theory. But we can install applications as flatpaks there, at which point the exact Linux distribution becomes rather irrelevant, anyway.

  • Education

    • Moodle 3.6 for Mobile (iOS, Android) and Moodle Desktop 3.6 (Windows, Mac, Linux) Available

      The Moodle App, version 3.6.0 is now available for Android and iOS devices. The Moodle Desktop app for Windows, Mac and Linux is also ready.

    • Python in Education – Request for Ideas

      The Python Software Foundation Board Committee for Python in Education wants to hear how the PSF can help members of our community increase the presence of Python in education.

      Our first goal is to gather ideas from the community on ways the PSF can fund work to improve Python in education. We want to collect a broad spectrum of ideas and projects at all levels and in all disciplines. After the ideas phase, we will use the ideas provided to guide our request for proposals.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Why free software evangelist Richard Stallman is haunted by Stalin’s dream

      More than 30 years ago, Richard Stallman quit a doctorate program at the MIT to start the GNU Project, a free software operating system. Not only has he been an uncompromising purveyor of free software, but he also founded the free software movement, which now has thousands of volunteers and many more supporters across the world.

      So when Stallman turned up to deliver a talk in Mandya, a small town about 100 kilometres from Bengaluru, hundreds of students and a few teachers turned up.

      “I’ve been following his work for the last 17 years,” Vishwa Kiran, assistant professor at BMSIT, tells me on the sidelines of the talk organised by the Free Software Movement-Karnataka. Kiran had just bid Rs 6,500 (about three times the selling price) to buy a stuffed baby Gnu at an auction conducted by Stallman himself. He’s travelled nearly 100 kilometres to listen to the talk on a Sunday evening. Such is Stallman’s appeal.

      Despite his eccentricities, and views that some might consider extreme, Stallman the idealist, the ultimate free software evangelist, is a crowd-puller even in small-town India.

    • GCC Unlikely To Adopt A “-Weverything” For Exposing All Possible Code Warnings

      While the LLVM Clang compiler has a -Weverything switch to enable every possible warning, it’s unlikely the GNU Compiler Collection will offer a similar option.

      Since yesterday has been a mailing list discussion about adding the “-Weverything” option to enable every possible compiler warning, but the overwhelming consensus is that it’s a bad idea. Contrary to the naming of the common “-Wall” that doesn’t technically enable all warnings, the -Weverything option with Clang does; this includes superfluous warnings and warnings that are too niche or generate too much noise than assistance to developers.

    • To do in Boston Mar 23/24: The Free Software Foundation’s Libreplanet conference

      The Free Software Foundation has announced the keynotes for its 2019 Libreplanet conference: Debian pioneer Bdale Garbee; Micky Metts from the MayFirst People Link Leadership Committee, Solidarity Economy Network and Agaric; Shuttleworth fellow Tarek Loubani who develops open source hardware, 3D printed medical equipment used in Gazan hospitals; and FSF founder Richard Stallman.

  • Programming/Development

    • Announcing the general availability of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 7.2

      Today we are announcing the general availability of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Appplication Platform (EAP) 7.2, which brings greater compliance with Java Enterprise Edition (EE) 8, JDK 11/Java SE 11, and further support for Microsoft Windows and enterprise Java microservices. With this release, Red Hat is continuing our commitment to Java EE 8 and Jakarta EE, the new home for cloud-native Java, a community-driven specification under the Eclipse Foundation.

      JBoss EAP is an open source Java EE 8-compliant application server and is used by organizations around the world to deploy and manage business-critical enterprise Java applications, whether in bare metal, virtualized, containerized, on-premises, private, public or hybrid cloud environments. JBoss EAP 7.2 is Java EE 8 certified, which means new functionality as well as updates to a variety of existing capabilities.

    • Coding on a Chromebook: I’m all in with Crostini and the Pixel Slate

      One of the most read posts on About Chromebooks is from last April when I detailed how I was coding with my Pixelbook. Technically, I wasn’t coding on the Pixelbook, because my solution was to remotely access a Raspberry Pi that had Python installed on my local network. Thanks to the addition of Linux containers through Project Crostini in Chrome OS, I don’t have to rely on — or be limited to — another computing device for my coding.

    • Reflections on HPC Past, Present, and Future

      What you need are the tools to enable you to use these systems effectively. This comes down to engineering your network, your storage, and so forth, to meet your criteria. Part of this work is to iterate quickly, which does imply common toolsets across environments. And it generally suggests local resources for development, that at least mirror some aspects of the large remote systems. Again, to minimize friction.

      Watching the toolchains grow up has been fairly uplifting. You can write your own CUDA code to handle GPU work. Or, in ML, you can leverage higher level toolkits such as TensorFlow, MXnet, PyTorch, etc. For a number of reasons, ML folks seem to have converged around Python as their lingua franca, though given its many issues (GIL, format as structure, etc.), the door is open to other systems.

      One of my favorite is Julia language. It has a wonderful interface to GPUs via the JuliaGPU project. Unlike Python, it doesn’t have a GIL, as it is compiled and built for parallelism, nor does it have structure by indentation. It has a native GPU compiler built in to its LLVM stack, meaning that it can optimize not merely for the CPUs, but also for the GPUs. It is rapidly maturing, so there are a few rough spots, but I expect tools like this to become more standard for HPC applications.

    • What’s New In Python 3.7.2: Look At 7 Features That You Should Know

      There’s a lot of new material in Python Latest version and much of it is pretty simple. For example, str, bytes and bytearray now have an isascii() function that returns ‘true’ if they only include ASCII characters.

      In this article, we list down 7 essential features of the latest version which Python aspirants must get updated with.

    • [llvm-dev] [8.0.0 Release] rc1 has been tagged

      8.0.0-rc1 was just tagged (from the branch at r351980).

      It took a little longer than planned, but it’s looking good.

      Please run the test script, share your results, and upload binaries.

    • LLVM 8.0-RC1 Tagged Ahead Of Release Next Month

      While LLVM 8.0 embarked on its feature freeze and subsequent code branching last week, tagged today the first release candidate was tagged for this upcoming compiler stack release.

      Release manager Hans Wennborg announced, “It took a little longer than planned, but it’s looking good.” RC1 binaries are not yet available but the sources are out for testing.

    • Daniel Stenberg: HTTP/3 talk on video

      Yesterday, I had attracted audience enough to fill up the largest presentation room GOTO 10 has, which means about one hundred interested souls.

      The subject of the day was HTTP/3. The event was filmed with a mevo camera and I captured the presentation directly from my laptop as well, and I then stitched together the two sources into this final version late last night. As you’ll notice, the sound isn’t awesome and the rest of the “production” isn’t exactly top notch either, but hey, I don’t think it matters too much.

    • WebExtensions v3 considered harmful

      The Open Web Platform is a careful and fragile construction billions of people, including millions of implementors rely on. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, the Document Object Model, the Web API and more are all standardized one way or another; that means vendors and stakeholders gather around a table to discuss all changes and that these changes must pass quality and/or availability criteria to be considered “shippable”.

      One notable absent from the list of Web Standards is WebExtensions. WebExtensions are the generalized name of Google Chrome Extensions that became mainstream when Google achieved dominance over the desktop browser market and when Mozilla abandoned its own, and much more powerful, addons system based on XUL and privileged scripts.

    • Our Software Dependency Problem

      For decades, discussion of software reuse was far more common than actual software reuse. Today, the situation is reversed: developers reuse software written by others every day, in the form of software dependencies, and the situation goes mostly unexamined.

      My own background includes a decade of working with Google’s internal source code system, which treats software dependencies as a first-class concept, and also developing support for dependencies in the Go programming language.

      Software dependencies carry with them serious risks that are too often overlooked. The shift to easy, fine-grained software reuse has happened so quickly that we do not yet understand the best practices for choosing and using dependencies effectively, or even for deciding when they are appropriate and when not. My purpose in writing this article is to raise awareness of the risks and encourage more investigation of solutions.

    • Introductory Go Programming Tutorial

      You’ve probably heard of Go. Like any new programming language, it took a while to mature and stabilize to the point where it became useful for production applications. Nowadays, Go is a well established language that is used in web development, writing DevOps tools, network programming and databases. It was used to write Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform and Ethereum. Go is accelerating in popularity, with adoption increasing by 76% in 2017, and there now are Go user groups and Go conferences. Whether you want to add to your professional skills or are just interested in learning a new programming language, you should check it out.

    • C++17 projections even without ranges

      There’s a nice post by Ryou about the projections feature of Eric Niebler’s ranges that we’re going to get in C++20.

      I’ll try to provide a more general look at what projections are – not only in the context of ranges. I recommend reading Ryou’s post before or after this one for completeness.

    • AI introduction in healthcare
    • Five Habits for Fast Learning
    • RPM and Debian Repositories for Miniconda
    • Everything is terrible (but more so inside a keypress event handler)
    • Episode #196: Datalore: Hosted smart notebooks
  • Standards/Consortia

    • Khronos Gears Up For A Busy GDC 2019 With Vulkan, OpenXR

      There still is two months to go until the annual Game Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco while on Wednesday, The Khronos Group published their initial sessions for their developer day during the highly anticipated event.

      To no surprise, The Khronos Group and their members will be having a large presence given the increasing trajector of Vulkan, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) continuing to be very hot topics, and their other standards like glTF and WebGL also being well received by the game developer community.

Leftovers

  • Celebrity Bullshit

    Even though I’ve long ago forgotten the brand name and baseball player, I vividly recall the the conversation. When I was about nine years old, still too young to shave, I walked in on my father who was shaving in front of the bathroom mirror.

    Being inordinately inquisitive when it came to things like consumer products and leisure time, I innocently asked my dad why he wasn’t using the brand of shaving cream being endorsed by a famous baseball player. We’d both seen the advertisement, and were both ardent baseball fans.

    Without sounding cynical or contemptuous, he answered by saying that the reason this player was publicly recommending the shaving cream was because the manufacturer had paid him to do it. That was it in a nutshell. He was being paid to say he liked it. In fact, truth be told, it was entirely possible that the player had never even used this product, much less preferred it over others.

    Not to sound overly dramatic, but my dad’s casual explanation altered my life ever so slightly. Here I was, young enough to still believe in Santa Claus (which I did), but already old enough to regard celebrity endorsements as bullshit. Later of course, my belief in Santa fell by the wayside, as did the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and, predictably, my belief in God.

    All of which brings us to Tom Selleck, an actor I’ve always enjoyed watching. How could this charismatic former TV star (“Magnum P.I.”) have been reduced to shilling for a shady mortgage company? It was disgraceful.

    And it was more than the mere fact that he had allowed himself to become a glorified carnival barker. What was most annoying about the commercial was Selleck’s overly earnest manner. The eruption of phony vitality and near manic sincerity brought to mind a pesky boil being lanced.

  • “The Linux of social media”—How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging

    Last April, famed writer and hero-murderer George R.R. Martin announced that he was hoisting his ancient blog from his moldering LiveJournal onto his personal website. For casual Game of Thrones fans, it was a minor hiccup at best—most clicked the new link and never looked back. For a certain strata of enthusiasts, however, this was a far more momentous move. Described as “the last holdout” by longtime LiveJournal volunteer-turned-employee Janine Costanzo, Martin’s blog was perhaps the once-blogging-giant’s last bond to the world of great pop culture. So while the author may never finish his most beloved literary series, his simple act of Web hosting logistics truly marks the end of an era.

    Growing up on the Web at the dawn of the social media age (circa 2007), it felt like all the connectivity-obsessed sites forming the burgeoning core of the new Internet were haunted by a faded spectre called LiveJournal. As a teen, I never actually knew anyone who had one, but I heard whispers and rumors about drama on the service all the time. And based on candid conversations with some of the figures who made LiveJournal what it was, it turns out that impression isn’t far off. LiveJournal, or LJ, as its users lovingly called it, was a different kind of social media service, one that is almost unrecognizable in a world dominated by the anonymity-shattering power of a Facebook or Twitter. But, as many of its former employees attest, LJ ultimately had the opportunity to become one of these “second-generation” social behemoths. Instead, a stubborn userbase and questionable business decisions harried those ambitions. And now, Martin’s latest figurative casualty—the severed LiveJournal—serves as a brief reminder of the platform’s ascendance and the decisions that brought this blogging icon crashing down.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Roe: 47 Years and Counting

      On January 20, 1973, Richard Nixon was inaugurated to his second term as president. His landslide victory over Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) — who had been labeled the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” — was driven by a “Southern strategy” that reconfigured national politics.

      Two days after Nixon’s inauguration, on the January 22nd, the then all-male Supreme Court voted 7-2, in Roe v Wade, to overturn a Texas law making it a crime to assist a woman to terminate her pregnancy. The Count found the law violated a woman’s due process rights.

      Often forgotten, Justice Harry Blackmun noted, “… throughout the 19th Century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn ….” The Roe decision forced 46 states to liberalize their abortion laws and became the defining issue of the culture wars.

      Personal privacy is at the heart of the debate over Roe as well as many of the other sex-related Court decisions over the last half-century. Before Roe, each state had the authority to determine the limits of a woman’s privacy, especially in terms of determining her pregnancy … and, possibly, an abortion.

  • Security

    • Hackers Mine Monero (XMR) after Breaching Linux Systems in China [Ed: Characterising this as a "Linux" problem, focusing on mining of coins, almost no attention paid to how GNU/Linux gets cracked in the first place (often nothing at all to do with Linux or even GNU)]
    • Remote Code Execution Flaw in APT Linux Package Manager allows man-in-the-middle attack

      Yesterday a remote code execution bug was found in the APT high-level package manager used by Debian, Ubuntu, and other related Linux distributions. Max Justicz, the security researcher who discovered the bug, says that the bug “allows a network man-in-the-middle (or a malicious package mirror) to execute arbitrary code as root on a machine installing any package.”

      Justicz’s blog post states that the vulnerable versions of APT don’t properly sanitize certain parameters during HTTP redirects. An attacker can take advantage of this and perform a remote man-in-the-middle attack to inject malicious content, thus tricking the system to install certain altered packages.
      HTTP redirects while using apt-get

    • Flaw in APT Utility Allows Malicious Package Installation

      A couple of popular Linux distributions have a vulnerability in the main package-management interface that an attacker could use to trick a user into installing a malicious package that would then give the attacker root access on the target machine.

      The vulnerability is in the APT package manager, which handles the way that software packages are downloaded and installed on Linux systems, including Debian and Ubuntu. Researcher Max Justicz discovered a flaw in APT that involves the way that the utility handles redirects during the installation process that an attacker on the network could exploit to get root privileges on a victim’s machine.

    • Remote Code Execution Bug Patched in APT Linux Package Manager

      Independent consultant and security contractor Max Justicz discovered a remote code execution issue in the APT high level package manager used by Debian, Ubuntu, and other related Linux distributions.

      As described by Justicz, the APT vulnerability present in the package manager starting with version 0.8.15 “allows a network man-in-the-middle (or a malicious package mirror) to execute arbitrary code as root on a machine installing any package. The bug has been fixed in the latest versions of apt.”

    • Fearless Security: Memory Safety

      Last year, Mozilla shipped Quantum CSS in Firefox, which was the culmination of 8 years of investment in Rust, a memory-safe systems programming language, and over a year of rewriting a major browser component in Rust. Until now, all major browser engines have been written in C++, mostly for performance reasons. However, with great performance comes great (memory) responsibility: C++ programmers have to manually manage memory, which opens a Pandora’s box of vulnerabilities. Rust not only prevents these kinds of errors, but the techniques it uses to do so also prevent data races, allowing programmers to reason more effectively about parallel code.

      [...]

      Memory management is crucial to both the performance and the security of applications. This section will discuss the basic memory model. One key concept is pointers. A pointer is a variable that stores a memory address. If we visit that memory address, there will be some data there, so we say that the pointer is a reference to (or points to) that data. Just like a home address shows people where to find you, a memory address shows a program where to find data.

      Everything in a program is located at a particular memory address, including code instructions. Pointer misuse can cause serious security vulnerabilities, including information leakage and arbitrary code execution.

    • What Makes Linux More Secure Than Windows?

      In reality, this isn’t necessarily thanks to Linux being a better operating system. Instead, it’s mostly because of the inherent issues with a system like Windows. Updating Windows 10 takes up so many system resources that a lot of people will simply turn it off, losing crucial security updates which they can’t afford to live without. This has resulting in huge issues over the last couple of years, with a couple of notable examples cause widespread chaos for users around the world. Depending on the distro you choose, Linux won’t cause this issue, with updates being handled quietly in the background.

      Along with being laced with update-related drawbacks, Windows has a built-in feature which a lot of modern users would consider to be very insecure; data collection. As part of the recommended install settings for the OS, data about your usage will be sent to Microsoft to help them to “improve their products”. While they may promise not to sell or share this information, a lot of companies have made this promise over the last few years, and it doesn’t often mean much.

    • Security Enhancements to the LVFS

      I’ve just deployed two security enhancements to the LVFS. It’s important to note that is is proactive in response to suggestions from OEMs, and there has not been any security issue with the service.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Debian 9.7 released with fix for RCE flaw
  • Defence/Aggression

    • What does Russia stand to lose in Venezuela?

      Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has once again slammed “progressive Western society” for flouting “international law, state sovereignty, and the principle of noninterference.” The latest catalyst for these truth bombs is the presidential crisis in Venezuela, where the U.S. and others have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the new acting leader, following protests that have already killed more than a dozen people. Moscow’s support for President Nicolás Maduro, whose landslide 2018 reelection is now in question, is no surprise, given Russia’s massive loans to Venezuela. What does the Kremlin stand to lose, if Guaidó comes to power? The website The Bell studied this question, and Meduza summarizes that report.

      [...]

      What does Russia get in return for all this trouble? First, there’s the international publicity. In an era of sustained sanctions and attempted isolation by the West, Moscow takes the friends it can get. Chavez visited Moscow eight times between 2006 and 2013, Maduro has come four times over the past 5.5 years. First as deputy prime minister and later as Rosneft president, Igor Sechin has been the Kremlin’s point man in Venezuela, visiting Caracas once or twice a year since the mid-2000s.

      Venezuela was the only major country to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (apparently Sechin’s personal negotiating feat), and Maduro’s rhetoric on Crimea has been sympathetic to Moscow (though Caracas hasn’t formally recognized Russia’s annexation).

    • The Coup in Venezuela Must Be Resisted
    • Colombia’s President Urges Maduro of Venezuela to Step Aside
    • Trump’s move on Venezuela is ‘setting off possible civil war’ in oil-rich country, WikiLeaks warns

      The US President’s decision to recognize Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido as the county’s “interim president” may set off a “possible civil war” in the oil-rich nation, WikiLeaks has warned.
      Donald Trump’s move on recognizing Guaido as the “interim president” of Venezuela might prove disastrous for the country, which has endured years of instability, and spark an open full-blown conflict, the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks tweeted.

    • Former U.N. Expert: The U.S. Is Violating International Law by Attempting a Coup in Venezuela

      As President Trump announces that the U.S. will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new leader and sitting President Nicolás Maduro breaks off relations with the United States, we speak with a former U.N. independent expert who says the U.S. is staging an illegal coup in the country. Alfred de Zayas, who visited Venezuela as a U.N. representative in 2017, says, “The mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. … This reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003.” We also speak with Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of “The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela” and “Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

    • Trump Backs Overthrow Of Venezuelan President, Recognizes Right-Wing Opposition Figure As Leader

      President Donald Trump recognized a right-wing opposition leader in Venezuela as the country’s interim president.

      To date, the statement was the Trump administration’s clearest show of support for a slow-motion coup unfolding against President Nicolas Maduro, who was re-elected on May 20.

      “I am officially recognizing the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim President of Venezuela,” Trump proclaimed. “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate and the office of the presidency therefore vacant.”

      “The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Trump added.

      Trump pledged to continue the administration’s agenda of sanctions against the economy and prominent figures in Venezuela until Maduro steps aside or is ousted.

    • Warmongering Over Warmbier: US Hypocrisy and a Double Standard on North Korea

      Otto Warmbier enjoyed New Year’s Eve in 2015 in Pyongyang a few weeks after his 21st birthday. In a country with freedom of expression that is not at war with the US, that would not have been any kind of risky behavior, but Pyongyang has been at war with Washington for 70 years. That is one long, very costly fight, and tensions were high in December 2015. A fellow traveler said of Warmbier, “Oh gosh, he’s really out of his league here.” They stayed at Yanggakdo Hotel where there was a hidden floor. Forbidden fruit that got him in trouble? Even with such rare and exotic luxuries as a “swimming pool, a bowling alley, and a mini mart,” nobody would have blamed Warmbier for wanting to take a look around, especially on New Year’s Eve. Little did he know that he was partying inside a “garrison state” that has been under threat of invasion and a second holocaust ever since 1953.

      On January 1st in the early hours of the morning, there were 2 hours when Warmbier was incommunicado, but nobody worried about that until January 2nd, when he was detained by North Korean authorities at the airport on his way back to the States. Two and a half months later, on the morning of March 16, 2016 he found himself sentenced to 15 years hard labor in the Supreme Court of North Korea, accused of taking down a “framed propaganda poster.” According to the staff at Friendship Hospital in North Korea, “they received Otto the morning after the trial,” and he was “unresponsive” at that point (Doug Bock Clark, “The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage,” GQ, July 23, 2018)

      In other words, he may have already lost consciousness on March 17th. There seems to be a consensus among experts that he sustained brain damage “sometime in the month following his trial.” One doctor is quoted in a CNN video saying “the earliest images are dated April 2016. Based upon our analysis of those images, the brain injury likely occurred in the preceding weeks,” corroborating what the Friendship Hospital staff said (CNN video “Questions Surround Warmbier’s Injuries,” starting at 0:55 ). If his brain damage occurred very soon after his trial, especially if it was only 24 hours later, what happened in that short period of time? Did he have an allergic reaction to a sleeping pill? Was there some kind of accident? Did he lose all hope and attempt suicide? Sadly, nobody knows and we may never find out, especially without a peace treaty ending the Korean War.

      Warmbier arrived back in the US on June 13th, 2017 in a comatose state, after 17 months in North Korea. The doctors said he would never recover. December 24th last month (2018), Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the US District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that when Warmbier was arrested “he was a healthy, athletic student of economics and business in his junior year at the University of Virginia” with “big dreams.” When he was released to US officials 17 months later, “he was blind, deaf and brain dead.” Healthy one day. Brain dead 17 months later. Conclusion: without a doubt, now we all know, the government of the DPRK killed him. That judgment was made after the judge had been the recipient of 3 years of US propaganda about this case, just like the rest of us.

    • What Makes America Great?

      On Saturday January 18th, 2019 during the Indigenous People’s March in Washington D.C. Nathan Phillips showed what makes America great. The videos of his experience show the Native American elder singing a healing song to defuse a conflict brewing between four young African Americans and a much larger group of white youth from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. The Covington students then began taunting and ridiculing Phillips with “build the wall” chants. Grotesque behavior like this is a choice.

      One choice is to see the Make America Great Again hats, the defamation of decency, and make a decision to hate these haters. We see them everywhere—sometimes in large groups, sometimes just a few. These types called me a race traitor while I was in high school, they got angry when I didn’t participate in the racist jokes, it was just joking after all (or so they said). Under this social pressure, I did tell such jokes at times, shamefully.

      Watching this growing intolerance is a nauseating manifestation of Trump’s campaign of racism. They trample the boundaries of morality, and their chanting is proof that “the Wall” has always been a racist symbol.

      The other choice is to see the love. Nathan Phillips models that for us all. First, he must love himself and his cause. Curious people probably want to know more about how the American Indian Movement and being an Omaha has cultivated such peace and love in him, I know I do. Drawing on the divine has been a source for so many of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. to Mohandas Gandhi, who find something bigger—this is their source for principled nonviolence.

      This is not the first time Phillips has had to keep his cool. He’s had to face harassment at previous events, Eastern Michigan University students put on stereotypical costume and taunted him, and upon returning home from Vietnam this veteran reported: “People called me a baby killer and a hippie girl spit on me.”

    • We’ve Reached Peak Political Absurdity

      American telescreens broadcast an endless theater of the political absurd. Take, for example, the ongoing saga over the government shutdown and President Trump’s border wall that has been playing out on screens across the nation for weeks.

      Recently, news channels showed Donald Trump telling reporters he can empathize with 800,000 federal workers struggling to pay their bills thanks to the government shutdown he ordered on the pretext of a “national security” crisis on the United States’ southern border.

      “I can relate,” Trump said. “And I’m sure that the people that are toward the receiving end will make adjustments. They always do. … People understand exactly what’s going on.”

      According to CNN, the government even gave unpaid workers sample letters “explaining the situation” to creditors.

      The closure could go on “for years,” claimed the president, adding that given federal government workers support the move, it was better to call his payment stoppage a “strike.”

    • The Organization of American States Shouldn’t Be Run by Regime Change Enthusiasts

      With a Venezuelan opposition leader declaring himself the country’s president and the Trump administration appearing to back a coup, Venezuela is lurching toward a new phase of crisis. And that crisis could be worsened by hardline leadership at the Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest and most influential regional organization.

      Luis Almagro, the OAS Secretary General, recently announced his bid for another 5-year term at the helm of the organization. That would be a major setback for good governance in the region.

      Throughout his tenure, Almagro has acted against many of the basic principles and mandates of the organization and consistently represented U.S. interests above those of its neighbors, generally supporting allies and punishing adversaries of the U.S. government. In particular, he’s actively sought regime change in Venezuela.

      [...]

      Tensions between Almagro and the anti-corruption commission had been building for months. The MACCIH had recently taken on some major investigations in the midst of a political crisis in the country. Since the 2009 coup d’etat, Honduras has lurched from one crisis to the next. The nation has suffered a series of corruption scandals under the post-coup regimes, rule of law has deteriorated, and state and criminal violence have soared, often hand in hand.

      In November 2017, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was re-elected in a vote viewed as illegitimate by the majority of the population and many experts. Although the OAS declared the elections essentially too dirty to call, the Honduran opposition criticized the OAS for tacitly supporting the U.S. embassy in propping up Hernandez (JOH), as massive protests called for him to step down and government forces killed at least 16 protestors.

      In early 2018, with continuing post-electoral conflict, the MACCIH uncovered a corruption scheme involving members of the Honduran congress. The case alleges that legislators syphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money (in a country where 25 percent of the population lives on $5.50 a day or less). The MACCIH has filed several similar cases against government corruption since then, the latest on December 11. As the mission attacked corruption, it began to receive threats and encounter what one member, the Peruvian prosecutor Julio Arbizu, called “serious obstacles” to its work directly from Almagro.

    • “The Bleeding Wound” : Afghanistan and the Implosion of America

      As I approach 75, I’m having a commonplace experience for my age. I live with a brain that’s beginning to dump previously secure memories — names, the contents of books I read long ago (or all too recently), events, whatever. If you’re of a certain age yourself, you know the story.

      Recently, however, I realized that this experience of loss, like so much else in our world, is more complex than I imagined. What I mean is that such loss also involves gain. It’s turned my mind to, and made me something of an instant expert on, one aspect of twenty-first-century America: the memory hole that’s swallowed up parts of our all-too-recent history. In fact, I’ve been wondering whether aging imperial powers, like old men and women, have a tendency to discard what once had been oh-so-familiar. There’s a difference, though, when it comes to the elites of the aging empire I live in at least. They don’t just dump things relatively randomly as I seem to be doing. Instead, they conveniently obliterate all memory of their country’s — that is, their own — follies and misdeeds.

      Let me give you an example. But you need to bear with me here because I’m about to jump into the disordered mind of a man who, though two years younger than me, has what might be called — given present-day controversies — a borderline personality. I’m thinking of President Donald Trump, or rather of a particular moment in his chaotic recent mental life. As the New Year dawned, he chaired what now passes for a “cabinet meeting.” That mainly means an event in which those present grovel before, fawn over, and outrageously praise him in front of the cameras. Otherwise, Trump, a man who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of advice or of a meeting, held a 95-minute presidential ramble through the brambles in front of a Game of Thrones-style “[Iran] Sanctions Are Coming” poster of… well, him. The media typically ate it up, even while critiquing the president’s understanding of that HBO TV series. And so it goes in the Washington of 2019.

      Excuse me if I seem to be wandering off subject (another attribute of the aging mind), but I’m about to plunge into history and our president is neither a historian, nor particularly coherent. Read any transcript of his and not only does he flip from subject to subject, sentence by sentence, but even — no small trick — within sentences. In other words, he presents a translation problem. Fortunately, he’s surrounded by a bevy of translators (still called “reporters” or “pundits”) and, unlike the translators in the president’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, we have their notes.

    • So-Called ‘Trump Resistance’ Mostly Silent as US President Openly Foments Coup d’Etat in Venezuela

      “There’s a deafening silence from progressive Democrats on Venezuela,” declared Lucia Baca, a research and policy associate at Colombia Diversa. “Democrats and Republicans may be diametrically opposed on domestic policy but they’re cut from the same cloth when it comes to foreign policy.”

      With the notable exceptions of Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)?most congressional Democrats have yet to publicly condemn the Trump administration’s announcement of official support for Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, which prompted current President Nicolas Maduro to demand that all U.S. diplomats leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

      U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected Maduro’s demand in a statement late Wednesday, referring to him as the “former president” and threatening to take “appropriate actions” if the Venezuelan military does not protect American diplomats.

    • The Democratic Party Is Further to the Right Than Most Voters

      Communists. Socialists. Subversive revolutionaries hell-bent on spreading their radical vision of Bolshevism into every nook and cranny of the country. This is the image of the modern Democratic Party you might have if your only source of news spews out from the frothing mouths of the right-wing punditry or from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. But as many a disappointed Democratic Socialists of America member knows all too well, this characterization is, to say the least, not entirely accurate.

      Perhaps a more proper depiction of the party might rein things in just a little. At least among those not steeped in the magical thinking of Fox and Friends, it probably wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows to suggest that the Democratic Party exists on the moderate left of the political spectrum. Of course, it’s a big tent, so one can imagine there would be a wide range of positions between Democratic Congress members — positions that might even cross the left-right axis from time to time. But, once you account for the outliers, surely the party represents at least the center-left dimension, right?

      Well, as it turns out, neither of these depictions is accurate. The Democratic Party is certainly no bastion of the socialist left, but in fact, when it comes to some of the most pressing policy issues of the 21st century the Democratic Party leadership lies to the right not just of its base, but of the voting population in general.

    • Democrats Must Hold Firm Against Trump and His Wall

      It took more than a month, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally returned from his vacation on Neptune and will allow legislation to end Trump’s government shutdown onto the Senate floor today for a vote. Yes, the two bills being introduced — one Democratic, one Republican — are almost certainly doomed to failure. Still, two DOA bills are at least a marginal improvement over the sound of silence we’ve been hearing while furloughed workers, federal contractors and the Coast Guard are selling their furniture to buy medicine and food.

      The Democratic bill — a simple stopgap measure bereft of border wall funding intended only to re-open the government until February 8 — is doomed because the Republicans still hold the Senate majority, and they have once again chosen to stand with Donald Trump even as the ground crumbles beneath them. The Republican bill, a version of Trump’s gibberish “offer” last week, would fully fund the wall while providing some gossamer protections to the 700,000 “Dreamers” whose fate hangs in the balance with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act. The GOP bill is also doomed, but for slightly more convoluted reasons.

      First, the Supreme Court kicked the legs out from under Trump’s leverage on DACA by refusing to grant cert to the issue’s key lawsuit. As matters stand, the high court won’t take that case until at least the fall, and no ruling will be coming until 2020. “In the meantime,” reports Dara Lind for Vox, “the 700,000 or so unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children and are currently protected from deportation will continue to be allowed to renew their protections and work permits.” Democrats don’t need to support Trump’s proposal in order to protect the Dreamers; for the time being, they are safe.

      Second, the Republican bill needs seven Democratic votes to crack the required 60-vote threshold. Thanks to the strong guiding hand of Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the other chamber and in spite of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s less-than-electric minority leadership, the Democrats in Congress appear, by and large, to be willing to hold together against the nonsense proposals coming from Trump and the GOP. Because of that, the Trump bill can look forward to a bright future in a landfill with the rest of the garbage.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange Attempts to Unmask US Extradition Effort With Legal Challenge Against Trump Administration

      Assange has been living as a political asylee at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden—which has dropped its request—or the United States, where he could face prosecution for his work as journalist and publishing classified information.

      Reports have circulated since last summer that Ecuador’s government has made Assange’s stay in the London residence “increasingly inhospitable” and has been in talks with the U.S. government to strike a deal over revoking his asylum protections.

      As Ecuador faces pressure from the Trump administration to acquiesce and hand him over, Assange’s attorneys are requesting that the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) urgently intervene to protect him from extradition.

    • WikiLeaks Sues to Unseal Any Charges Against Founder Assange
    • Assange files legal challenge to prevent extradition to US: report
    • WikiLeaks sues to force the Trump administration to unseal charges against Julian Assange
    • WikiLeaks: DOJ offering immunity in exchange for testimony against publisher Julian Assange
    • Julian Assange Takes Legal Action Against US Justice Department
    • Wikileaks’ Julian Assange fights U.S. extradition efforts: Report

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is reportedly seeking to head off extradition to the United States by demanding prosecutors unseal any evidence they have against him.
      Mr. Assange’s attorneys filed an urgent application with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, an organization that hears appeals on human rights cases in the Americas, the Guardian reported Wednesday.
      The 1,172-page submission by Mr. Assange’s lawyers demands the U.S. unseal any secret charge against him and urges Ecuador to cease “espionage activities” against him, the report said.
      The document also says U.S. prosecutors have approached some people associated with WikiLeaks‘ joint publications and offered immunity in exchange for testimony against Mr. Assange.

    • Assange sues his chum Donald Trump

      The 1,172-page submission by Assange’s lawyers calls on the US to unseal any secret charges against him and urges Ecuador to cease its “espionage activities” against him.

      Baltasar Garzon, the prominent Spanish judge who has pursued dictators, terrorists and drug barons, is the international coordinator of Assange’s legal team.

    • Julian Assange pushes back against U.S. government, wants to know what’s in ‘secret’ court file

      Julian Assange is trying to force the Trump administration to open up a “secret” court file and reveal if he is facing charges in the U.S.

      Lawyers for the Wikileaks founder have filed a 1,172 page “urgent” submission with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a Washington, D.C.-based tribunal that monitors state abuses in the Americas.

      The 47-year-old Australian, who has been living inside the cramped confines of Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012, is trying short-circuit any attempt to extradite him to the United States.

    • This Time It’s Russia’s Emails Getting Leaked

      The site, Distributed Denial of Secrets, was founded last month by transparency activists. Co-founder Emma Best said the Russian leaks, slated for release Friday, will bring into one place dozens of different archives of hacked material that, at best, have been difficult to locate, and in some cases appear to have disappeared entirely from the web.

      “Stuff from politicians, journalists, bankers, folks in oligarch and religious circles, nationalists, separatists, terrorists operating in Ukraine,” said Best, a national-security journalist and transparency activist. “Hundreds of thousands of emails, Skype and Facebook messages, along with lots of docs.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Junk fossil fuel plants and stay below 1.5°C

      British scientists have worked out how to make sure of a better-than-even chance that 195 nations can fulfill a promise made in Paris in 2015 to stop global warming at 1.5°C by the end of the century: junk fossil fuel plants.

      The answer is simple: phase out fossil fuel hardware as soon as it reaches the end of its effective life. Scrap the old petrol-powered car and buy electric. Shut down the coal-burning power generator and get electricity from the wind or the sunlight. Find some renewable fuel for jet planes. Deliver transoceanic cargoes with a marine fuel that isn’t derived from oil or coal.

      There is a catch. Those 195 nations should have already started doing all these things by the end of 2018. To delay a start until 2030 could mean failure, even if – little more than a decade from now – the world then accelerated its escape from fossil fuel addiction.

    • Greta Thunberg’s Demand to Davos Elite: Act Urgently on Climate for ‘Sake of This Beautiful Living Planet”

      Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg threw down the gauntlet to the global elite gathered in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week, urging them to work towards meaningful climate action in order to “safeguard the future living conditions for humankind.”

      “Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie,” the Swedish teen says in a video posted to Twitter. The video was also posted on the WEF Facebook page and was intended to be shown to the attendees inside.

    • Animals, Workers and Consumers Suffer Under USDA Slaughter Programs

      One of the US’s most dangerous industries is becoming even more hazardous for workers, as animal welfare and consumer safety are also put on the line. The federal government is allowing more and more slaughter plants to kill animals at increasingly dangerous rates.

      At the end of September, the Trump administration announced that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be granting waivers allowing chicken slaughter plants to operate at higher kill speeds — going from a staggering 140 birds killed per minute (or more than two birds every single second) to 175.

      This misguided decision benefits only the profit-driven meat industry. It does so at the expense of millions of animals, workers and consumers.

      Four waivers have recently been granted to chicken plants that will join 20 already killing as many as 175 birds each minute. A gut-wrenching new undercover investigation by my organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK), reveals high-speed horrors behind the closed doors of one of those initial 20 plants, and why these waivers must come to a screeching halt.

    • Tackling the twin challenges of climate change and inequality

      As the elite descends on Davos for this year’s World Economic Forum, the world faces a twin crisis of rising inequality and climate disruption.

      Already this year Thailand has seen its worst storm in 30 years rip through coastal areas. In the Alps, just east of Davos, extreme weather is causing snow chaos. Meanwhile, the world’s richest one percent took home 82 percent of all new wealth last year and, according to the World Bank, almost half of all people worldwide are one medical bill or crop failure away from destitution. Inequality continues to rise as the world warms.

      These crises are interlinked. The richest 10 percent are responsible for nearly half of carbon emissions caused by consumption, and yet all around the world, it’s the poor and marginalised that are most at risk from the devastating effects of climate change.

    • ‘March Now or Swim Later’: As Elites Chit-Chat in Davos, Climate Strike Swells With 35,000 Students Marching in Brussels

      Thursday’s student demonstration in Brussels confirmed that the global climate strike movement is showing no signs of slowing down, with an estimated 35,000 young people marching through the European Union capital to demand that world leaders take bold action to stem the climate crisis.

      The protest drew nearly three times as many marchers as last week’s demonstration, when more than 12,000 people gathered in Brussels. Thursday’s march was the third student strike in the past three weeks—each one significantly bigger than the last—as students across Belgium and other European countries have skipped their high school and college classes in order to shame those in power who refuse to move urgently.

      “A massive mobilization once in a while, like that of December 2, is clearly not enough,” Marie Hayens of the grassroots group Rise for Climate told the Brussels Times. “So we will be pressuring continuously and also outside Brussels.”

    • Is the Trump Administration ‘Gaming the Shutdown’ to Serve Energy and Hunting Special Interests?

      Two years into the Trump administration, its attacks on environmental regulations, policy and science are already well documented. But the current partial government shutdown, now more than a month long, provides a unique lens through which to view the administration’s priorities. The list of what isn’t being done is long and troubling, but equally concerning is what is being done during the shutdown.

      Over the past several weeks national parks have been trashed, climate change research stalled and crucial wildfire prevention work halted — all while oil and gas drilling efforts continue to cruise along and national wildlife refuges are reopened to hunters.

      Lawmakers and nonprofits are calling out the administration for using the shutdown to cater to special interests like the oil and gas industry while there’s limited oversight, and with possible suspect use of funds.

  • Finance

    • The Shutdown Is Disproportionally Hurting Native Americans

      The federal government is failing to honor its promises and obligations as the shutdown blocks needed funding for tribal communities.
      The federal government shutdown has stretched to more than 30 days with no clear end in sight, as President Trump continues to demand his border wall. The crisis has shaken the lives of everyday people across the country, from federal prisoners to low-wage government workers. But there is one especially vulnerable population in times like these: Native Americans.

      Most Indian tribes have only recently begun to prosper economically after nearly three centuries of oppression and efforts by the federal government to annihilate them. They face two challenges that have particular application now: Many tribal members are poor, and many tribes are dependent on federal programs to provide basic services to their members. A government shutdown in a situation like that is devastating. One tribe has already warned that “people will die because of the shutdown.”

      At least one-fourth of Native Americans live in poverty, the highest poverty rate of any racial group in the United States. On many reservations, unemployment exceeds 40 percent. Tens of thousands of Native Americans, both on and off the reservation, were having difficulty obtaining adequate food, shelter, clothing, and medical care before the shutdown. These problems have only gotten worse as the shutdown prevents federal funding — a major source of resources — from reaching the reservation.

    • Davos Attendees Must Accept That They Have Too Much Money

      A global gathering of world elites is taking place in Davos, Switzerland, this week, claiming—as it does every year—to “define priorities and shape global, industry and regional agendas.” The World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting, held in the rarified elite space of the snow-capped Swiss Alps, consists, in its own words, of “leaders of global society.” In reality, it represents no formal body. There is no public mandate, no accountability for crafting goals or achieving them. It is a private, invitation-only gathering bringing together corporate elites and liberal technocrats, along with elected representatives and nonprofit leaders, for discussions about how to solve the world’s problems—on their terms.

      The WEF’s attendees are so cut off from the rest of society that of the 3,000 attendees, about 1,500 flew into Davos in their own private jets. Most are men, and a majority are either North American or European. The WEF does not like to focus on how wealthy private interests dominate the forum, boasting instead of the myriad high-profile political officials and human rights leaders who have been invited. They will tout speeches by Jane Goodall and David Attenborough—but not by the CEOs of GE or ExxonMobil. Indeed, more than half the attendees are from the business sector—a fact that is revealed on the WEF’s website in only a fragment of a sentence: “… the private sector will be represented by more than 1,700 leaders.” The influence of these representatives on the WEF, and by extension, on government policies, is as invisible as their identities.

      Among the human rights leaders invited to Davos is Oxfam International’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, a woman who pulls no punches in the presence of global elites. She wrote ahead of the forum, “Every January I get a glimpse into a different world. A world of billionaires, of business and political elites.” Byanyima explained, “For Oxfam, Davos is an opportunity to take stock of the crisis of extreme inequality.” In fact, each year Oxfam releases its report on global inequality to coincide with the start of the WEF, and this year’s report clearly blames global inequality on the continuously lowered tax rates of the wealthy.

    • How Worried Should We be If China’s Growth Rate Slows to 6.4%?

      But the striking part is that a slowing economy is treated as something unexpected. China had been maintaining extraordinary double-digit growth through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The idea that China could continue to grow at this rate seemed pretty far-fetched. In fact, if we go back to 2016 and look at the IMF’s forecast for growth in China in 2018 and 2019, it was 6.0 percent for both years. The IMF’s forecasts are generally in the middle of professional forecasts. For this reason, it is a bit strange to read an article in the NYT telling us that China’s slowdown to 6.4 percent growth last year is really bad news for the world economy.

    • L.A. Teachers Strike Dispatch #9: What We Won

      One of LAUSD’s most egregious practices is its repeated scrapping of contractually-agreed to class size limits. Section 1.5 of the contract allows the district to set aside these limits during a financial crisis. The district abuses this provision by claiming a dubious crisis to invoke 1.5 on an almost annual basis. This wounds children by ripping away dedicated teachers with whom they’ve built important bonds. It also raises class sizes.

      UTLA prioritized eliminating this harmful clause. Several very knowledgeable people told us that LAUSD would “never” give up Section 1.5. When LAUSD and UTLA went before the California Public Employment Relations Board fact-finding panel in December, arbitrator David A. Weinberg, the Neutral Chair, came down on the side of UTLA on this issue.

      Nonetheless, LAUSD held out as the strike approached and then well into the strike. At around 5:30 AM on Tuesday January 22—after roughly 20 straight hours of bargaining—LAUSD finally agreed to give up Section 1.5. From there the deal was easy to complete, and the Tentative Agreement was announced at 9:30 AM.

    • Betsy DeVos and the Privatizers She Backs Have Met Their Match

      It took a week, but the public school teachers of Los Angeles won. Over 30,000 teachers and school staff, members of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union, went on strike for the first time in 30 years, demanding more resources for their classrooms, nurses and librarians in every school, smaller class sizes and higher wages. In rain and shine, they were joined on their picket lines by students, parents and other allies. On Tuesday, LAUSD, the Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation’s second-largest school system, with about three-quarters of its students Latino — agreed to meet the strikers’ demands. Classes resumed Wednesday. This major strike also joins a wave of similar labor actions around the country confronting the attempt by corporate interests to privatize public education.

      “We went on strike, in one of the largest strikes that the United States has seen in decades,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said Tuesday night, after a supermajority of union members ratified the agreement. “The creativity and innovation and passion and love and emotion of our members was out on the street, in the communities, in the parks, for everyone to see.”

      Arlene Inouye, a speech and language specialist with 18 years’ experience in the LAUSD, chaired the UTLA’s bargaining committee. “This was a historic agreement and gave us more than we expected,” Inouye said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. All of their principal demands, including a cap on charter schools to reverse the trend toward privatization, were met. Additionally, Inouye explained, “we were also able to bring in some non-mandatory subjects of bargaining into our schools … like green space on campus, stopping the criminalization of youth. We were able to bring in an immigrant defense fund. We’re making a statement of our values.”

    • Davos Attendees Are Worried About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the Least of Their Problems.

      Attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, are worried about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). So says CNBC, which reports that the multimillionaires and billionaires at the annual elite gathering are all but quaking in their expensive winter boots at the thought of her proposed 70 percent marginal income tax rate. “It’s scary,” claimed Scott Minerd, a high-ranking executive at investment firm Guggenheim Partners. Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio predicted the call for a 70 percent top tax rate would pick up steam ahead of the 2020 election. Michael Dell, the head of Dell Technologies, with an estimated net worth of slightly more than $31 billion, proclaimed that it wasn’t necessary. “I do not think it will help the growth of the U.S. economy.”

      But no one could top Ken Moelis, the head of the Moelis & Co investment bank, who claimed the freshman congresswoman’s proposal would “be disastrous for the economy,” because it would take away the incentive to work. He also asked:” “What’s going to happen to the two-workforce family? You forget where 70 percent starts to kick in.”

      For the record, Ocasio-Cortez would like to see that top marginal rate kick in at $10 million. I don’t know too many families earning that sort of money even if they send all their children and assorted pets to work, and I doubt you do either, unless you live next door to the owner of a hedge fund.

    • L.A. Teachers on What Was Won—And Which Battles Are Next

      Following a six-day teachers’ strike over inadequate public-school funding, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) reached a tentative agreement Tuesday. While tallies haven’t yet been released, UTLA has confirmed that teachers voted in favor of the contract and, as of Wednesday, have returned to their classrooms.

      The agreement, which was preceded by a nearly 21-month bargaining period, reverses some of the trends the union was protesting, including bloated class sizes, insufficient staffing of nurses and counselors, excessive standardized testing and a lack of resources for special education. (UTLA’s protests, including the strike, were largely the product of a reform movement among educational unions nationwide.)

      It also calls for a greater reckoning with charter schools: publicly funded, privately operated schools boosted primarily by wealthy financiers and executives. UTLA members rebuke these schools for siphoning funding from public schools and view a pro-charter district agenda as the cause of the aforementioned problems.

    • LA’s school counselors strike back

      Thirty years ago, when United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the union representing rank-and-file educators in the county’s public schools, went on strike, Nadia Morales and Pedro Martinez were students at Los Angeles High School. Morales was the straight-A, Advanced Placement type and Martinez a class clown, so they had never before shared a classroom. But with all their teachers out on strike, classes were combined, and the two found themselves chatting in what amounted to a massive communal study hall.
      After graduation, Morales and Martinez got married and trained for careers in education that led them back to their alma mater. Morales started out as an elementary-school teacher, then switched to academic counseling, which she’s done at LA High for the past eleven years; Martinez worked there, too, teaching history and social studies, until six years ago, when he was transferred to another high school in the district. And so, last week, when the couple and their two young children joined the picket line outside LA High, Morales thought of her teachers from three decades ago. “Now, I’m on that side, following their footsteps and what they fought for — for students and future teachers,” she said.
      The strike of UTLA’s 33,000 members across some 1,200 schools, the first since 1989, began last Monday, January 14. It was, like most work stoppages, about pay and benefits and an expired collective bargaining agreement. It was also about unteachably large class sizes (of 40, sometimes 50 students) and similarly burdensome ratios for nurses, social workers, librarians, and counselors. The union’s demand for more counselors, in particular, emerged more strongly than in other recent teacher strikes — because, Morales says, of the increasingly acute needs of LA’s majority brown and working-class student population. Counselors are essential mentors to new immigrants and first-generation college-goers. They connect students and parents to social services and help them integrate into the community. In this sense, the strike was as much about an ideological question as a labor dispute: Who is the public being served by public education?

    • ‘Fly at Your Own Risk, Friends’: As Trump Shutdown Continues, Airline Safety Workers Issue ‘Terrifying’ Warning

      “We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) said in a joint statement on Wednesday. “In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”

      “Due to the shutdown, air traffic controllers, transportation security officers, safety inspectors, air marshals, federal law enforcement officers, FBI agents, and many other critical workers have been working without pay for over a month,” the statement noted. “We find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day. To avoid disruption to our aviation system, we urge Congress and the White House to take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Media’s Profitable, Indefensible Addiction to Mugshots

      The Columbia Journalism Review (10/24/18) ran a piece by Corey Hutchins on the practice of using mugshots by the media—both in terms of using mugshots for routine crime stories, and the broader practice of mugshot galleries that simply generate clicks. The piece didn’t take a clear editorial position on the ethics of ss

      The response was mostly muddied, with a fair amount of hand-wringing and qualified endorsements, but none of the academics or journalists outright opposed the practice. (One expert even pontificated that the problem, such that it was, could be solved with “artificial intelligence” that “might facilitate” efforts to follow up each case presented in a mugshot gallery.) The piece featured journalists, academics in the field of journalism and—as usual with these ethereal debates—zero people whose lives are actually at stake, those who’ve been subject to the practice of having their name sullied by plastering a mugshot online.

      To get a fuller picture, I interviewed three such people (whose names have been changed to protect their identities). Each had their lives up-ended because their mugshots were posted online, pre-trial, without any consideration for their well-being or innocence. What Hutchins painted as a thorny theoretical dilemma was, to those profiled, not a particularly difficult problem to figure out: The practice is wrong. It leads to summary public shaming, firings, diminished social status—all before a trial has even taken place. In the age of SEO, it’s a form of extrajudicial punishment that largely harms the poor and people of color.

    • It’s Off: Pelosi Says No State of Union While Gov’t Shut

      In a high-stakes case of dare and double-dare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi served notice Wednesday that President Donald Trump won’t be allowed to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress next week. She took the step after Trump said he planned to show up in spite of Democratic objections to the speech taking place when big swaths of the government are shut down.

      Denied that grand venue, Trump promised to come up with some sort of alternative event. But the White House was scrambling to find something matching the gravitas of the traditional address from the dais of the House to lawmakers from both parties, Supreme Court justices, invited guests and a television audience of millions.

      “I think that’s a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love,” Trump said. “It’s a great, great horrible mark.”

    • Eyeing the White House: the Democratic Field

      The Democratic field is wide, expansive and not necessarily satisfactory in coping with the Trump phenomenon. The orange hell beast still has them in a tangle, the anti-thesis yet manifestation of so much that is US political behaviour. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders bear the heavy baggage of wearing and timing. Sanders’ failure, one also assisted with the customarily ruthless guile of the Clinton machine in 2016, will handicap him. Biden seems primed for the sunset ride rather than the imperial throne.

      Senator Elizabeth Warren, who fell for the gibes and challenges of President Donald Trump on the issue of Native American heritage, pushed her way into contention with an announcement on the eve of the new year that the White House was in her distant sights. Even Warren’s own hometown publication, The Boston Globe, felt that she might not make the cut and should best forget it. The reason? Divisiveness.

      Groups such as the Progressive Change Campaign and Justice Democrats disagree, insisting that Warren embraces “multiracial populism” in an effort to tackle “Trump’s divide-and-conquer agenda”. Such formulae, however, do little to deal with the actual divisions that translate into votes, whatever the clotted rhetoric suggests. What the Trump era has shown with such brutal force is that division does win depending on where the votes fall. The demagogic factor is no longer a matter of fringe politics.

    • Fears of US-Backed ‘Coup’ in Motion as Trump Recognizes Venezuela Opposition Lawmaker as ‘Interim President’

      In addition to vowing to “use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power” to restore what he called “democracy” in the country, Trump also encouraged “other Western Hemisphere governments” to recognize Guaido. Shortly later, CBC News reported that Canada, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was making plans to follow Trump’s lead.

      In his remarks from Caracas, Maduro told his supporters “the very existence of our Bolivarian republic” was under threat and urged them to resist “at all costs” what he explicitly described as a “coup” attempt by the “interventionist gringo empire” and the “fascist right” within his own country.

      “They intend to govern Venezuela from Washington,” Maduro declared. “Do you want a puppet government controlled by Washington?”

    • ‘Why Are They So Terrible at This?’: Democrats Reportedly Plan to Offer Trump Billions for So-Called ‘Smart Wall’

      While the plan would not include any funding for Trump’s physical wall, the Democratic proposal—which has yet to be finalized—is expected to offer billions of dollars for border surveillance technology that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) called a “smart wall.”

      “If you look at all the things that we are proposing, more judges, more border patrol, additional technology, these are the kinds of things that we are going to be putting forth,” Clyburn told reporters on Wednesday. “And I think that they can be done using the figure that the president has put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves fulfilling that request only doing it with what I like to call using a ‘smart wall.’”

      “Walls are primitive—what we need to do is have border security,” Clyburn added. “Use technology, use scanners, use x-ray equipment.”

    • ALEC’s Union-Busting Toolkit Intended to Bankrupt Unions Not Protect Workers

      It’s becoming an annual ritual. The Koch-funded cluster of groups, which has long abused their 501(c)3 IRS “charitable” designation by working to destroy political enemies, has concocted another “union busting” toolkit, giving ammunition and guidance to Republican politicians on how to attack and dismantle a major funder of the Democratic Party.

      The toolkit appears to have been prepared by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) staff shortly after the Supreme Court’s June 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME decision, which held that unions could no longer require individuals in a bargaining unit who did not want to be members of a union to pay agency or “fair share” fees. Fair share fees compensate union staff who are required by law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit in their quest for better wages and working conditions.

      ALEC is a collection of state politicians and corporate lobbyists from many of the largest corporations in the country. The Janus case was spearheaded by ALEC’s sister group, the $80 million State Policy Network (SPN), made up of 66 right-wing think tanks and other Koch-funded institutions.

      The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) uncovered a secret SPN “toolkit” that coaches politicians to replace anti-union rhetoric with phrases like “worker freedom” and “worker choice.” Also uncovered by CMD and published in the Guardian, were SPN private fundraising letters bluntly detailing strategies for dismantling unions and striking a “mortal blow” to progressive politics and the Democratic Party.

      Today, CMD brings to light another iteration of the toolkit, which makes it clear that the ultimate goal of the ALEC-SPN groups is the end of worker power. The “Public Sector Union Legislative Toolkit” marked “draft” and dated August 2018, is authored by ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force along with anti-union zealot “Vinnie” Vernuccio of Michigan’s Mackinac Center.

    • Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Subpoenaed by Senate Intel Committee

      According to CNN, it remains unclear how Cohen will respond to the subpoena. The source for the story, CNN explained, indicated that “Cohen has the same concerns regarding the safety of his family that led him to try to postpone his appearance before a House Oversight Committee hearing.”

      Appearing on MSNBC shortly after the news broke, one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, confirmed the subpoena and, in regards to what his client might do, said: “Well, he has to comply with subpoenas.”

      Despite efforts by outlets breaking the story, committee spokespeople have so far refused to comment on the existence of a subpoena.

    • Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich sentenced to 13 years in prison

      A Kyiv court has sentenced Viktor Yanukovich, the former president of Ukraine, to 13 years in prison. Yanukovich was convicted of treason and of complicity in the initiation of an aggressive war. He was acquitted of violating a statute concerning infringement on Ukrainian territorial sovereignty.

      The Obolonsky District Court wrote that the former president was guilty of “aiding a foreign government — specifically, the Russian government — in conducting seditious operations against Ukraine.” His sentence is set to begin from the moment of his arrest.

    • More Women Are Running for Office in 2020, But Will Voters Support Them?

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard came soon after. Now we have Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Kamala Harris announcing, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar rumored to be not far behind. Are we following up a ‘women’s wave’ election with a women’s wave primary — and can that be the first step towards finally getting a woman in the White House?

      With California Senator Kamala Harris the latest to make her candidacy official, we now have four women in the candidate pool for 2020 — and more potentially on the way. That has advocacy groups — especially those who lean towards or only endorse female candidates — extremely excited about the new trend.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case That Threatened CDA 230

      As we noted earlier this year, the California Supreme Court wisely sided with Yelp in a legal fight over whether or not the company could be forced to remove reviews based on another legal dispute of which Yelp was not a party. The crux of the case was about Section 230 of the CDA. As we detailed back in 2016, a lower court had initially ordered Yelp to take down a review that the court found to be defamatory (though, it was on default judgment as the defendant in the case decided to not show up in court). The case was brought by a lawyer, Dawn Hassell, who sued a former client, Ava Bird, claiming that Bird had posted a negative review of Hassell’s legal work. Bird then ignored the lawsuit, leading to the default judgment — all of which is fine. But then the court issued an injunction against Yelp, ordering it to take down the review, despite Yelp not even being a party to the lawsuit.

    • Russian lawmakers move forward with legislation banning online insults of state officials and outlawing the spread of ‘fake news’

      Russian federal lawmakers have passed the first readings of two controversial bills that would prohibit online insults against state officials and ban the publication of “fake news.” Under the former law, offenders would face up to 15 days in jail, while media outlets and individuals who violate the latter law would be subject to fines.

      The legislation’s most outspoken co-author, Senator Andrey Klishas, refused to attend Thursday’s plenary session, despite an official request from the State Duma Council that he personally present the draft texts of his laws. Senator Lyudmila Bokova, who also co-authored the bills, was present, instead. Deputies from the Communist Party and LDPR voted against the legislation, arguing that it was worded too vaguely.

    • Arizona The Latest To Explore Dumb Porn Filter Law, This Time To Help Fund Trump’s Fence

      For some time now, a man by the name of Chris Sevier has been waging a fairly facts-optional war on porn. Sevier first became famous for trying to marry his computer to protest same sex marriage back in 2016. He also tried to sue Apple after blaming the Cupertino giant for his own past porn addiction, and has gotten into trouble for allegedly stalking country star John Rich and a 17-year-old girl. Sevier has since been a cornerstone of an effort to pass truly awful porn filter legislation in more than 15 states under the disingenuous guise of combating human trafficking.

      Dubbed the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” all of the incarnations of the law would force ISPs to filter pornography and other “patently offensive material.” The legislation would then force state residents interested in viewing porn to pony up a one-time $20 “digital access fee” to whitelist the internet’s naughty bits for each internet-connected device in the home. The proposal is patently absurd, technically impossible to implement, and yet somehow these bills continue to get further than they ever should across a huge swath of the boob-phobic country.

      Once people have realized the ignorant futility (and under-handed sales pitch) of such model legislation, it usually fails to gain any steam in most states. But it’s back this week with a decidedly new wrinkle in Arizona, where State Rep. Gail Griffin is pushing Arizona House Bill 2444. HB 2444 would mandate that any Arizona internet user would need to file a request if they want to access porn online, proving they’re at least 18 years of age. Porn seekers would then pay a one-time fee of $20 (plus additional fees) to access porn. Of course since this effort (like past efforts) is technically futile, the proposal is going nowhere.

    • China Has Blocked Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine: Report
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tech sector meekly waves arms in another bid to get Oz to amend its crypto-busting laws

      An alliance of Australia’s tech and industry advocacy groups hopes, yet again, to have the country’s encryption-busting legislation tweaked before the government goes to an election no later than May.

      Rather than a complete repeal of the Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act, the Communications Alliance-led group is asking for amendments, some proposed by the Australian Labor Party (but withdrawn to let the bill pass), that it hopes would improve citizens’ protection under the legislation.

      The focus seems to be “the art of the possible”: there’s no call for a repeal of the legislation, but rather, an extension of judicial oversight, and more defined limits on agencies’ powers under the various notices permitted in the laws.

    • Facebook and Airbus hold secretive drone tests in the Australian bush

      Facebook’s ambitions are astronomic. 20,000 meters high, to be precise. The company has been working for months on a secret project to transform it from a social network to a global Internet provider. We publish a document that shows Airbus and Facebook are planning drone tests in the Australian bush.

      With the help of the Airbus Zephyr drone, the social media company plans to beam Internet connectivity from the Earth’s stratosphere. The drones operate at an altitude of 20 kilometers and connect back to the ground via millimeter-wave radio. Facebook wants to bring connectivity to the 3,8 billion humans who don’t yet use the internet – and hook them up with its services.

    • Facebook Joins Hands With Airbus For Its Internet Drone Venture: Report

      It seems like social media giant Facebook hasn’t got over its drone obsession! After giving up its drone project back in June 2018, the company now appears to be in talks with Airbus for drone tests in Australia.

      According to a document (thanks to Australian Freedom of Information Act) acquired by Netzpolitik, Facebook, with the use of Airbus’s Zephyr drone, has plans to start its solar-powered drone business to spread internet all over the world.

    • Seattle Newspaper Wins Federal Court Case, Opens Up Reporting On Secret Law Enforcement Surveillance

      Late last year, a Seattle newspaper petitioned the court to unseal dockets related to electronic surveillance by law enforcement. The position was clear: the First Amendment provides citizens with a right to information, hence the presumption of openness that’s supposed to govern court proceedings. The government has long argued the need to protect law enforcement means and methods outweigh the public’s right to know, and has secured a lot of compliance from judges at all levels of the court system.

      In recent years — no doubt at least partially as a result of the Snowden leaks — courts have begun pushing back. Warrant affidavits are receiving more scrutiny from some judges and litigation has resulted in courts agreeing to unseal large numbers of proceedings involving law enforcement surveillance tech.

      The Seattle case deals with the same concern: law enforcement is increasingly deploying secretive tech and locking the public out of the discussion by sealing documents and dockets. The good news is the federal court presiding over the case agrees with the EFF and The Stranger, the Seattle publication that put the litigation in motion.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Judges Prove Laquan McDonald’s Life Didn’t Matter Very Much to the System

      The judicial results in the police killing of Laquan McDonald are a chilling reminder that race and racism matter.

      Last October, a jury convicted Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke of second degree murder and aggravated assault for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Prosecutors asked for between 18 and 19 years in prison. On Friday, however, the judge in the case, Vincent Gaughan, sentenced Van Dyke to less than seven years in prison.

      In response to these events, activist William Calloway, who fought for the release of the video of the killing and related police reports, said what many Black Americans felt: “We are devastated, we’re heartbroken, but we’re not deterred… 81 months in the Illinois department of corrections, that’s a slap in the face to us and a slap on the wrist to him.”

      The same week, police officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and Detective David March — who were charged with obstruction of justice, official misconduct, and conspiracy for lying in statements and police reports to protect Van Dyke — were found not guilty of all charges by Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson in a trial without a jury. The judicial decisions surrounding the McDonald case send a clear message: Black lives matter, they just matter less than those of white law enforcement.

    • Two Years In, Trump’s Global Gag Rule Responsible for ‘Immeasurable Suffering and Death’ Around World

      The rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy, cuts off U.S. funding for global health organizations that offer abortion care and counseling. The reestablishment of the policy was one of Trump’s first actions as president in January 2017. Echoing their calls when the policy was first reinstated, rights groups are sounding alarms about the vital health services that have been taken away from communities, as they call for an end to the global gag rule.

      “The truth is that the effects of the global gag rule will be far reaching and deadly,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global, in a statement. “We’ve seen the impact of these policies for women around the world.”

      “The #GlobalGagRule that Trump signed into policy two years ago is closing clinics around the world, putting real lives at risk,” the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet tweeted. “We support…all efforts to repeal this disgraceful policy.”

    • An Essay on Grief

      Human beings are social creatures. Not only do they need companionship; they derive satisfaction from helping and supporting one another. Human beings, and indeed all mammals to some extent, are naturally nurturing creatures. They are drawn to protect the weak and the frail. Usually, this impulse to nurture finds fulfillment in the care parents take of their children. That’s the origin of the phenomenon of “empty-nest syndrome,” the feeling parents experience when their children first leave home, when there is no longer anyone for them to take care of, no one who needs their care.

      This need to nurture, wherever it originally came from, was undoubtedly reinforced by natural selection. Human beings need a particularly extended period of parental care before they are able to survive on their own, much longer than is required by any other animal. Parents must care for their children for many years before those children have any hope of being able to care for themselves. This arguably creates an enormous debt on the part of children toward their parents. Of course, parents rarely expect to be repaid for the care they take of their children and most children rarely have an opportunity to do that.

      I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to repay my father for at least some of the care he took of me when I was a child. My mother and sisters expressed concern for my father’s situation when we were all together for the last Thanksgiving my father hosted a few years ago. It seemed to them that my stepmother was already showing signs of dementia. I hadn’t noticed because I lived closer to my father than they did and saw my stepmother more frequently. They saw her only once or twice a year, if that often, so the changes in her behavior more obvious to them. I lived only a couple of hours away from my father, so I promised to visit as often as I could. For five or six years, I spent every other weekend with him.

    • A Dream Where Our Differences Are Erased

      Improbably, we found a welcome break from MAGA-hatted punks and the debacle that is D.C. in Wichita, Kansas, where immigrant artists are breaking down barriers, celebrating disparate cultures, bringing together Latino and African-American neighborhoods, and oh yeah painting reportedly the world’s largest, wildest mural by a single artist, on grain elevators yet. The eruption of art and activism is the work of Horizontes, (“horizons” in Spanish), a grant-funded initiative created by artist and community organizer Armando Minjarez, who immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and seeks to celebrate both immigration and the rich culture and history it brings to communities. An exhibit of Horizontes’ projects opens this weekend at Wichita’s African-American Museum.

      Over the past couple of years, Horizontes has helped create scores of murals around Wichita, always deliberately choosing artists who grew up in those neighborhoods to offer art that “serves the community.” The project’s centerpiece is the massive work on the Beachner Grain Elevato, which honors the Mexican laborers who built the city’s train tracks a century ago. Minjarez commissioned Colombian street artist GLeo, who designed hopeful images of people of color – “a dream where our differences are erased.” Says Minjarez, “We’re Latinos, immigrants, African-Americans, women, queer people that are making the project happen…This represents everything that we are capable of doing.” The goal above all: “It’s building that black and brown solidarity…telling our stories…reclaiming our space.”

    • Rebranding Canada’s Solitary Confinement Policy Doesn’t Change What It Is

      There was a time when an unconstitutional government policy was not something lamented then simply rebranded. Once a court found it unconstitutional, the practice just … ended, especially when politicians had campaigned against it. Not so solitary confinement – an old practice that today’s Canadian Parliament loves to hate, hates to love, but just keeps on doing.

      Reading the latest court decision on solitary confinement (R v. Prystay, from Alberta), one doesn’t know whether to sigh with relief that another court got it so right, or cry over what took place. How could it be that a person in our country was held for 400 days in the deplorable conditions and extreme isolation that make up solitary confinement?

      Justice Dawn Pentelechuk held that placing an inmate in solitary confinement for 400 days – where he suffered physical and psychological harms – was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of Section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She wrote:

      “Societal views on what is acceptable treatment or punishment evolve over time. Forced sterilization, residential schools, lobotomies to treat mental disorders, corporal punishment in schools and the death penalty are all examples of treatment once considered acceptable. Segregation ravages the body and the mind. There is growing discomfort over its continued use as a quick solution to complex problems.”

    • Why Does the State Hate Alex Salmond?
    • What Would MAGA-Jesus Do? (Video)

      The social media firestorm that erupted after a group of MAGA-hat-wearing high school students taunted a Native American man on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial has yet to die down. Unlike many of the pundits out there, I don’t think this event is all about the evils of social media and confusion over video angles.

      This event is about a large group of students from a Catholic high school in Kentucky getting into a confrontation with a handful of Hebrew Israelites — which led the students into a confrontation with an old Native American man. Yes, the Hebrew Israelites are a nutty and foul-mouthed bunch of zealots, but that does not justify a racist tomahawk-chop display by dozens of high school kids, many who were wearing MAGA hats (and at least one MAGA ski hat).

    • A Disturbing Number of Missouri Towns Evict Residents for Calling the Police

      The ACLU is urging towns across Missouri to repeal unjust ‘nuisance ordinances.’
      Over the last few decades in towns and cities across America, local authorities have passed laws that punish people for calling 911 with steep fines and eviction, even when they are seeking police protection. Known as nuisance ordinances, these laws present victims of crime with an impossible choice. As a domestic violence survivor in St. Louis put it: “If I can’t protect myself, [and] you’re not protecting me, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to just . . . let him beat me or let him kill me?”

      Our client, Rosetta Watson, faced this reality when she was evicted from her home and banished from the city of Maplewood, Missouri, simply because she called the police four times. Her ex-boyfriend kicked down her door and assaulted her. Maplewood’s ordinance defined a “nuisance” as more than two calls to police related to domestic violence within 180 days. As a result, the city revoked Ms. Watson’s occupancy permit for six months and forced her to leave Maplewood, despite the city’s own records revealing that she was a victim of domestic violence.

      In response, the ACLU brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Watson in 2017, challenging Maplewood’s ordinance under federal and state law. In a victory for her and other Maplewood residents, the city agreed in 2018 to a major overhaul of the ordinance and will no longer enforce it against victims of crime or penalize residents based on calls for police or emergency services.

    • Russian opposition leader launches labor union to hold regional officials accountable for Putin’s salary promises

      Anti-Corruption activist and opposition politician Alexey Navalny is launching his own labor union for public sector workers. Navalny says his new organization will advocate the pay raises Vladimir Putin promised millions of government employees in a series of executive decrees issued in May 2012.

      The president’s “May Orders” instructed the government to raise salaries for civil servants (including doctors and teachers) to between 100 and 200 percent of the average pay in their regions, but local officials often find loopholes to shortchange workers, Navalny argues. The new labor union will offer legal help to civil servants who want to sue for their missing income, and the organization will also file complaints with state regulators.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Pie Company Has A Rogue Twitter Impostor, But Decides To Be Totally Cool With It

      In the dual golden ages of internet and snark, individuals and companies are offered many opportunities to decide how to deal with people using social media to have fun at their expense. In most cases, this goes exactly how you’d imagine: strong-arm tactics to shut down social media accounts, lawsuits to silence fake or parody accounts, and even entire government agencies getting upset over one of its own tweeting against the agency line. Missing in all of this, as you may have noticed, is any sense of humor or fun about this sort of thing.

      But level heads do occasionally prevail. Such appears to be the case with the folks at Table Talk Pies, a century-old pie-slinging company that decided in the past few years to have a better online presence, but also recently discovered someone out there is impersonating the company on Twitter.

    • Patent office and Qualcomm’s litigation tactics render prof’s fanboy testimony on patents unreliable

      Yesterday (Tuesday, January 22) was Day 8 of the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in San Jose (Northern District of California). The parties don’t have much trial time left for testimony on Friday and Monday, and closing arguments have been moved up from next week’s Friday to Tuesday. Thereafter, we’ll have to wait. As Judge Koh said after the trial session: “Sadly, this opinion’s gonna take some time.” But that’s because she’ll presumably deliver something extremely well-reasoned (which doesn’t mean that reasonable people might not be able to disagree here or there). The combination of two Apple v. Samsung cases with this landmark antitrust case and numerous other Silicon Valley disputes makes her the world’s #1 technology industry judge–and apart from political considerations it’s time for her to serve on an appeals court.

      The way I see the current state of affairs, Qualcomm really doesn’t appear to have any silver bullets. Practically all major players have now testified against Qualcomm (I’ll talk more about that on or after Friday since a handful of videotaped Samsung depositions are on the list, though we’ve already heard testimony from Samsung that supports the FTC). Qualcomm’s efforts to impeach industry witnesses have been largely unsuccessful.

      Industry consensus hurts Qualcomm in two ways: much of what was said has probative value (even on such questions as whether supra-FRAND royalties were charged), and beyond that, Judge Lucy H. Koh has simply heard from multiple sides now what the issues are. The only company siding with Qualcomm here is Nokia, a company that actually brought the first antitrust complaint over Qualcomm’s supra-FRAND patent royalties that I’m aware of. At the time, the EU had a tendency to underenforce (now it is, except with respect to some cases such as Qualcomm, quite the opposite). Meanwhile Nokia’s handset business has gone down the tubes, and it’s become a patent troll, so it’s Qualcomm’s natural ally. Nokia’s anti-FRAND lobbyist at ETSI and other organizations, Dirk Weiler, claimed not to know whether Nokia was a net licensor. If true, that might make him the only Nokia employee above the level of a receptionist not to know the answer…

    • Judge Koh will stay consumer class action pending Qualcomm’s Ninth Circuit appeal of certification

      Given that Qualcomm is under massive pressure in the FTC’s antitrust case in the Northern District of California (with its exorbitant royalties–towering above all other licensors–being indefensible, virtually the entire industry apart from Nokia complaining about it sconduct, and key questions relating to its refusal to license rival chipset makers having been decided on summary judgment), its lawyers will be glad to have some preliminary good news to report to their client:

      The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has just granted Qualcomm’s October 2018 petition to appeal Judge Lucy H. Koh’s certification of a class of up to 250 million consumers. Attorneys for the consumer class are seeking $5 billion for their clients–an average of $20 per class member. The class is defined as people (apart from a few exceptions) who bought one or more smartphones in the U.S. during (roughly) the last eight years.

      The consumer case was consolidated with the FTC case in the Northern District of California. The current trial is exclusively about the FTC’s case, but the consumer case builds on top of it. The FTC isn’t seeking monetary damages (just injunctive relief to “redress and prevent” certain types of conduct. With injunctive relief being an equitable remedy (as opposed to a remedy at law like damages), there’s no need for a jury, which is why it’s a bench trial. But the consumer case is about money.

    • Prior art shortage could strain US cannabis innovation

      Counsel at Steep Hill Labs, Phylos Bioscience, Medical Genomics and the Open Cannabis Project explain how cannabinoid innovation could be blocked by overly broad or weak patents at the USPTO, and what the industry is doing to develop, collect and record prior art

    • US Supreme Court backs the Federal Circuit’s pre-AIA on-sale bar interpretation

      The Supreme Court’s unanimous Helsinn v Teva decision, delivered by Justice Thomas on January 22, leaned on pre-America Invents Act (AIA) precedent to affirm the Federal Circuit’s stance on what activates the on-sale bar.

    • Copyrights

      • The CNY 260 million fine on QVOD is final!

        On 29th December 2018, in a final ruling the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province upheld the hefty fine of CNY 260.148 million (approximately EUR 33.3 million) for copyright infringement issued against video-sharing player QVOD (case details: Administrative Judgment No. 492 [2016], Final, the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province).

      • Author Ken MacLeod: Please Don’t Pass The EU Copyright Directive In My Name

        As a full-time writer I have an interest in copyright. However arguable its principles and arbitrary its scope, I benefit from it. When I trip over an online pirate version of one of my books, I shamelessly snitch the pirates to my publishers.

        But would I want the platforms that enable this piracy to be liable for it? No. Because then the platforms – mostly giant corporations whose names we all know – would have every incentive to screen for any content that might conceivably breach copyright. Given the volumes involved, they would have to attempt to automate their filters. Good luck with designing an algorithm that can distinguish rip-offs from fair dealing!
        Far greater than my interest in copyright is my interest in a free and open internet – or, failing that, in keeping the internet as free and open as it is now. The internet is already a long way from the wild wonderland I first stepped into in the mid-1990s. Predictably enough, that early free-for-all has shrunk to a handful of giant corporations, who — like some fast-forward cartoon version of the last chapter of Marx’s Capital: Vol 1 — usurp and monopolise all the advantages of this process of transformation.

      • Why Article 13 is not just dangerous law-making, but deeply dishonest too

        The EU Copyright Directive is now in the last stages of its passage through the EU’s legislative system. Given the advanced nature of the discussions, it is therefore highly surprising that the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee responsible for steering it through the European Parliament has recently published a “Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive“. But it’s not hard to guess why this document has been published at this time. More and more people are waking up to the fact that the Copyright Directive in general, and Article 13 in particular, will cause huge harm to the Internet in the EU. This Q and A is an attempt to counter the objections being raised, and to quell the growing calls for Article 13 to be scrapped.

        The first question of the Q & A – “What is the Copyright Directive about?” – underlines the core problem of the proposed legislation. The response is as follows: “The proposed ‘Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market’ seeks to ensure that artists (especially small ones, for example musicians), and news publishers and journalists benefit from the online world and the internet as they do from the offline world.”

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