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02.04.19

Links 4/2/2019: GNU Binutils 2.32, Eclipse GlassFish 5.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Big NUMA Servers May See Better Boot Performance With Linux 5.1 Kernel

      A patch series queued into Linux’s driver core infrastructure ahead of the 5.1 kernel cycle is set to enhance the boot performance particularly for larger NUMA servers/systems. This latest round of kernel work was another contribution to the core kernel code thanks to Intel.

      Queued into driver-core-next is a set of patches by Intel’s Alexander Duyck that have long been in the works and are for allowing NUMA-aware async_schedule calls. The goal is to ensure better locality of async_schedule calls that are used to provide deferred initialization and initially started to help out the NVDIMM subsystem.

    • The World’s Fastest Supercomputer Breaks an AI Record

      Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are training Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to model climate change using machine learning…

    • Red Hat: Why I’m Playing The IBM Deal Spread

      IBM is paying a heavy price for RHT but its motives are clear. IBM is looking for areas of revenue growth as several of its legacy businesses slowly melt away. The acquisition creates the number one company in hybrid cloud which is projected to be a $1 trillion market by 2020. Red Hat is essentially a pure play bet on enterprise cloud computing and is expected to grow sales at a mid-teens rate for years to come.

      Red Hat is a marquee cloud asset with 90% penetration in the fortune 500.

    • Forget snowmageddon, it’s dropageddon in Azure SQL world: Microsoft accidentally deletes customer DBs

      The Azure outage of January 29 claimed some unexpected victims in the form of surprise database deletions for unlucky customers.

      The issue afflicted a number of Azure SQL databases that utilize custom KeyVault keys for Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), according to a message sent to users seen by The Register. Some internal code accidentally dropped these databases during Azure’s portal wobble yesterday, forcing Microsoft to restore customer data from a five-minute-ago snapshot.

      That means transactions, product orders, and other updates to the data stores during that five-minute window were lost. That may warm you up with red-hot anger if you’re in the middle of a particularly nasty cold snap.

      The note explained that the cockup happened automatically during what Redmond delicately called an network infrastructure event: a CenturyLink DNS snafu that locked essentially half of Microsoft 365 customers out of their cloud accounts, a breakdown that began at 1045 UTC.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 132 – Bird Scooter: 0, Cory Doctorow: 1

      Josh and Kurt talk about the Bird Scooter vs Corey Doctorow incident. We then get into some of the social norms around new technology and what lessons the security industry can take from something new like shared scooters.

    • Ubuntu vs Windows

      Ubuntu vs Windows. What is the difference between Ubuntu and Windows? Today I examine how Ubuntu and Windows compare.

    • Episode 53 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we got some exciting new app releases from Kodi, Lutris, Firefox, and some video editors Olive and LosslessCut. There’s a new kickstarter that might be of interest to any designers out there with Akira, it plans to be an open source Linux alternative to Sketch, Figma and Adobe XD. We got some new Distro releases from Makulu Linux, Alpine Linux, and Tails. We’ll also discuss the potential plans that Linux Mint outlined in their January community report. Later in the show, we’ll check out some new hardware announcements. Raspberry Pi announced a new Compute module, System76 announced a refresh coming to their Darter Pro laptop and the Pine64 team announced some new devices coming later this year including a smartphone, a tablet and a new enhanced version of their Pinebook. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

    • Linux Action News 91

      Firefox is standing out, Pine64 has a lot more cheap Linux hardware coming, and the good and the bad with the new Kodi Release.

      Plus HP Joins LVFS, why you shouldn’t expect a Raspberry Pi 4 in 2019, and more.

    • Stranger Distro Danger | User Error 58

      New JB team member Ell joins us to discuss e-waste, the motivations for our distro choices, and letting children out of your sight.

      Plus some solid #AskError questions about food and aliases.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds

      I’m happy to report that things seem to be calming down nicely, and
      rc5 is noticeably smaller than previous rc’s. Let’s hope the trend
      continues.

      About a third of the changes are to drivers (networking, rdma, scsi,
      block, misc), with the rest being spread out all over (tooling,
      networking, filesystems, arch updates, core kernel..)

      Nothing looks particularly worrisome, so assuming the trend holds, we
      look to be on track for a fairly normal release cycle despite the
      early hiccups due to the holidays.

    • Linux 5.0-rc5 Released: This Kernel Release Is Calming Down Nicely

      Linus Torvalds just issued the fifth weekly release candidate for the upcoming Linux 5.0 kernel.

      Being five weeks past the feature merge window, the kernel changes at this stage are all about bug and regression fixing. Linux 5.0-rc5 brings a variety of fixes from enabling generic PCIe by default for RISC-V to better handling of AMD CPU microcode versions to networking and various ARM64 fixes.

    • EXT4 Patches Continue Working On Case-Insensitive Filenames & Encoding

      For those that have been wanting to see case-insensitive filename support or even encoding of filenames in UTF-8 or other character encoding, the work is still on going.

      Gabriel Krisman Bertazi of Collabora has been working on this encoding-aware file-name look-ups for the EXT4 file-system and as part of that allowing case-insensitive filenames. The patches are now up to their fifth revision in recent months, but is going back a bit to the drawing board at the “request for comments” stage following some critiques to the design by Linus Torvalds.

    • Linux Foundation

      • CNCF answers vendor-handholding with community meetups

        The serfs revolt, seize the land from feudal lords, only to find freedom is not what they imagined. Sounds like the plot to a Russian novel. It might also be a parable about enterprise customers wading into open source. They love all the software choices but miss the guidance of proprietary vendors.

        Working with open-source tools requires a new mindset, according to Cheryl Hung (pictured), director of ecosystem at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

      • Linux Foundation launches edge computing organization

        The Linux Foundation, a non-profit that looks after some of the world’s most active open source projects, has launched a separate entity to manage software tools designed for edge computing.

        The new organization, LF Edge, will initially take charge of five projects: Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, Open Glossary of Edge Computing, Home Edge Project and Edge Virtualization Engine (EVE).

        The initiative is already supported (i.e. funded) by more than 60 industry members, including giants like Ericsson, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Juniper Networks, Nokia, NTT, Seagate and Tencent.

      • The Linux Foundation welcomes 22 new members

        The Linux Foundation announced the addition of 17 Silver members and 5 Associate members.

      • Italian Postal Service Joins Hyperledger Blockchain Community
      • Even without Kubernetes Google dominates code commits across CNCF

        Google dominates all code contributions made across projects of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), dwarfing all other contributors, according to the analysis done via Stackalytics, an open source code analysis framework hosted by the OpenStack Foundation. Google is not only the largest contributor with 52.9% of all code commits, but it has seven times more contributions than the second largest contributor, Red Hat, with only 7.4%.

      • Google announces Kubernetes Operator for Apache Spark

        Apache Spark is a hugely popular execution framework for running data engineering and machine learning workloads. It powers the Databricks platform and is available in both on-premises and cloud-based Hadoop services, like Azure HDInsight, Amazon EMR and Google Cloud Dataproc. It can run on Mesos clusters too.

        But what of you just want to run your Spark workloads on a Kubernetres (k8s) cluster sans Mesos, and without the Hadoop YARN strings attached? While Spark first added Kubernetes-specific features in its 2.3 release, and improved them in 2.4, getting Spark to run natively on k8s, in a fully integrated fashion, can still be a challenge.

      • 5TONIC lab develops open platform for multi-site NFV experimentation

        The 5TONIC co-creation laboratory in Madrid has successfully designed and deployed an open Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) platform based on ETSI’s open source management solution (OSM) that is capable of deploying services across multiple sites.

        The 5TONIC MANO platform will enable industry partners and projects using the co-creation laboratory, the opportunity to define and deploy trials and experiments within a functional production-like NFV environment.

      • Open source data and software for real-time mapping

        An open source mapping platform focused on the core components of map display including search and navigation, Mapzen joins the Linux Foundation to become its latest open source project.

        Used by organizations such as Eventbrite, Foursquare, Mapbox, The World Bank, Snapchat, HERE Technologies, and Mapillary, Mapzen provides developers with open software and wide-ranging data sets that are customizable and easy to access. Using Mapzen, developers are able to take the open data and build vibrant maps equipped with search and routing services, augment their own libraries and also process data in real-time.

        This is something not available from conventional, traditionally proprietary mapping or geotracking services. Launched by mapping industry veterans in 2013 in combination with architects, urban planners, movie makers, and video game developers, Mapzen will continue its mission to provide an open, sustainable and accessible mapping platform.

      • Mapzen, an open-source mapping platform, joins the Linux Foundation project

        Yesterday, the Linux Foundation announced that Mapzen, an open-source mapping platform is now a part of the Linux Foundation project. Mapzen focuses on the core components of map display such as search and navigation. It provides developers with an open software and data sets that are easy to access. It was launched in 2013 by mapping industry veterans in combination with urban planners, architects, movie makers, and video game developers.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Greenfield Is Still Progressing As An HTML5 In-Browser Wayland Compositor

        Two years ago we covered Greenfield as an in-browser HTML5-based Wayland compositor. While at first it may seem like just a short-lived toy, it turns out the project is still around and advancing with its functionality for running Wayland apps inside modern web browsers without any browser plug-ins.

        Greenfield lead developer Erik De Rijcke talked about this in-browser Wayland compositor during FOSDEM 2019′s graphics track on Saturday. Greenfield is a functioning Wayland browser written in JavaScript and with a bit of WebAssembly. Greenfield live encodes application contents to H.264 using GStreamer and sent to the web browser via WebRTC and presented using WebGL and an HTML5 canvas.

      • Igalia’s VkRunner Is Helping To Check The Quality Of Vulkan Drivers

        VkRunner is a tool inspired by Mesa’s Piglit shader runner and developed by consulting firm Igalia initially as part of their work on the Intel Linux graphics driver stack. VkRunner allows for running a variety of Vulkan shaders for testing a driver’s compiler back-end.

      • Waffle Is Still Cooking For X11/Wayland Agnostic OpenGL/GLES Apps

        Waffle is the seven year old project that started out as an Intel side-project to allow run-time selection of X11/Wayland support as well as OpenGL or OpenGL ES. It’s been a while since hearing much about Waffle, but it is still being consumed and improved upon.

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov presented on Waffle at this past weekend’s FOSDEM 2019 conference in Brussels. He introduced Waffle for those unfamiliar with this means of making applications/games port portable by targeting this agnostic library that runs across the various windowing systems and graphics APIs. Waffle’s usage is mostly by the likes of Piglit and other testing/developer libraries, but there has been an open-source game or two making use of it for easier Wayland support.

      • Intel Mesa Driver Getting Better Support For ETC2 On Older Hardware

        For those running Ivybridge/Haswell era Intel graphics and older, better support for ETC2 texture compression is on the way.

        Eleni Maria Stea of Igalia has been working on patches to improve the ETC2 format support for these “Gen 7″ era graphics and older as they lack native ETC2 coverage. Following these improvements to better fake the ETC2 support, OES_copy_image support is now enabled for Gen 7 era graphics hardware.

    • Benchmarks

      • Glibc 2.29 Is Offering Up Some Nice Performance Improvements

        Glibc 2.29 was released a few days back and like most GNU C Library releases — particularly in recent times — does offer up more CPU performance optimizations… Some early benchmarks done this weekend do show some nice performance improvements in select workloads at least out of our initial benchmarking.

        Glibc 2.29 was just released this past Thursday while over the weekend Intel’s rolling-release Clear Linux distribution already moved from Glibc 2.28 to this newest stable release. Given the short time since they pushed out the update, I have only done tests on one system so far but the numbers are looking good. Tests were done on Clear Linux 27590 with Glibc 2.28 and then Clear Linux 27600 that switches over to the new Glibc 2.29.0.

      • More Benchmarks Of The Improved Linux Performance With Glibc 2.29

        Yesterday I posted some initial benchmarks looking at the performance improvements with Glibc 2.29, the newest feature release of the GNU C Library. Here are more benchmarks on eight different systems using Glibc 2.29 on Clear linux.

        With Clear Linux being the first distribution with Glibc 2.29 readily available, here are more performance tests of this rolling-release distribution before/after the Glibc 2.29 upgrade on an assortment of eight different Intel systems of varying generations.

  • Applications

    • 9 Best Free Linux Fractal Tools

      A fractal is a geometric shape or quantity which displays self-similarity and non-integer dimension. The property of self-similarity applies where a self-similar object is exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself. If you zoom in on any part of a fractal, you find the same amount of detail as before. It does not simplify.

      There are many mathematical structures that are fractals including the Koch snowflake, Peano curve, Sierpinski triangle, Lorenz attractor, and the Mandelbrot set. Fractals also describe many real-world objects, such as crystals, mountain ranges, clouds, river networks, blood vessels, turbulence, and coastlines, that do not correspond to simple geometric shapes.

      Fractals are rooted in chaos theory, and because of their nature they are perfect for organic looking artwork and landscapes.

      Fractal-generating software is any computer program that generates images of fractals. Linux has a great selection of fractal software to choose from.

    • wirehub – decentralized, peer-to-peer and secure overlay networks built with WireGuard

      Hello,

      I’ve been giving my free time on a side project called WireHub
      (https://github.com/gawen/wirehub), which is a simple tool to build
      decentralized, peer-to-peer and secure overlay networks. It dynamically
      configures WireGuard tunnels, discoverying peers’ endpoints via a
      authenticated
      DHT, going through NATs, and relaying the WireGuard traffic if no P2P
      communication is possible.

      Overlay networks are defined by a single human-readable file which lists the
      hostname and public key for each nodes of the network. Here’s an example:

      name test # network name is ‘test’
      subnet 10.0.42.0/24 # overlay subnetwork is 10.0.42.0/24
      workbit 8 # PoW parameter for DHT security

      # a public bootstrap node
      boot P17zMwXJFbBdJEn05RFIMADw9TX5_m2xgf31OgNKX3w bootstrap.wirehub.io

      # Add trusted node ‘a.test’ to the overlay network.
      # Each trusted node are at least identified by an human-readable
      hostname
      # and a base64 public key.
      trust a.test KJ7YGrBeqLLm_JJ1huIS26OnqAVFy57z5UJqjyMagW4

      # If the endpoint of a peer is static, it might be set after the public
      key.
      # Note that this is optional, as endpoints can be dynamically found in
      the
      # DHT.
      trust b.test eIix5ldvqDzOIrG9ViKTe9TSBlF4g9nUwKi20C06hFM 12.34.56.78

      # By default WireHub assigns nodes an (overlay) private IP, but a static
      # private IP might be defined
      trust c.test 10.0.42.254 kKZzuIm11zkBSHL9ETRwEthIBbLTvz840F_k4mhI_Hs

      To start a peer,

      # wh up ./config private-key ./sk

      When a network is up, the node’s hostnames are resolved in userland.

      # ping b.test
      PING 10.0.42.2 (10.0.42.2): 56 data bytes
      64 bytes from 10.0.42.2: seq=0 ttl=64 time=106.801 ms
      64 bytes from 10.0.42.2: seq=1 ttl=64 time=49.778 ms

      WireGuard and WireHub uses the same Curve25519 key. WireHub keys must be
      generated with `wh genkey`, which adds a Proof-of-Work to the generation of
      the
      Curve25519 key, in order to mitigate Sybil attacks on the DHT. A high
      workbit
      will require more work to generate a valid key.

      # wh genkey workbit 8 # fast
      MFaqLuutFvNs79Xc9zhOUofIbL3xSLz1uo+RB1xB73s=
      # wh genkey workbit 8 | wh pubkey | wh workbit
      8
      # wh genkey workbit 16 # will take more time to generate
      kLfotsCIfB/7OcDGeLenptfy2Dzav9wmVZjVQ0Gvnk0=
      # wh genkey workbit 16 | wh pubkey | wh workbit
      16

      # wg genkey | wh pubkey | wh workbit # WireGuard keys have 0 workbit
      0

      Under the hood, WireHub runs its own UDP protocol, binding the same UDP port
      than the WireGuard interface (for NAT trasversal technique reasons). It
      does so using
      libpcap. The first byte of a WireHub packet is 0xff, which corresponds to an
      invalid WireGuard packet with message type outside the valid range
      0×00-0×03.

      WireHub currently authenticates its packets with a custom cryptographic
      scheme
      based on the node’s keys. In the future, it might be better to tunnel
      WireHub
      packets through WireGuard, yet I’m not sure how to do that simply at the
      moment,
      as WireHub packets are not IP packets but more like authenticated messages.

      There’s much room for improvement (security, allowed-ips management, more
      UDP
      hole punching techniques, faster relaying), but it’s usable. Docker images
      are
      provided to ease quick starting.

      Feel free to test and give some feedbacks!

      Also, I’ll be at FOSDEM 2019 next week-end, so see you there!

      Gawen

    • WireHub Is Building Off WireGuard With Decentralized, P2P Secure Overlay Networks

      WireHub is a new open-source project aiming to provide decentralized, peer-to-peer and secure overlay networks that is tooled around the WireGuard secure VPN software.

      Thanks to building off WireGuard tunnels, in less than ten thousand lines of code itself supports creating secure overlay networks while being decentralized with peer discovery, peer-to-peer and relayed communication, and other features.

    • PipeWire Should Be One Of The Exciting Linux Desktop Technologies For 2019

      One of the Linux desktop technologies that is quite exciting and will hopefully see more widespread adoption this year is the Red Hat backed PipeWire initiative.

      PipeWire has been in development now for two years to overhaul the Linux desktop’s audio/video processing in trying to fulfill the roles currently handled by PulseAudio and HACK, among others, while handling video input too and also tieing into the Wayland desktop/screen remote capabilities too. Oh yeah, and supporting Flatpaks as part of its design.

    • Teleirc v1.3: Developers map out next release

      On Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, the Teleirc community in Rochester, NY held the first developers’ meeting. Starting this month, weekly meetings are held to discuss blocking issues and plan ahead for the future of the project. Current project lead Justin W. Flory met with Tim Zabel and Nic Hartley to finish planning the v1.3 milestone for Teleirc. Notably, this marks the next feature-release of Teleirc since v1.2 in October 2018.

      Read on to learn more about what’s coming in Teleirc v1.3.

    • Futatabi: Multi-camera instant replay with slow motion

      I’ve launched Futatabi, my slow motion software! Actually, the source code has been out as part of Nageru for a few weeks, so it’s in Debian buster and all, but there’s been a dash the last few days to get all the documentation and such in place.

    • Knot Boards

      First step is to pull out Inkscape and design the graphics. I grabbed a rope border from Open Clipart and grabbed some knot graphics from a Scouting PDF (which I can’t find a link to). I put those together to create the basic design along with labes for the knots. I also added a place for each Scout to sign their name as a Thank you to the Den Leader. I then make some small circles for the laser cutter to cut out holes for the ropes. I made a long oblong region on the right so the board would have a handle and a post to tie the hitches around. Then lastly I added the outline to cut out the board.

      To get the design into the laser cutter I exported it from Inkscape in two graphics. I exported the cut lines as a DXF and I exported the etching as a 300 DPI PNG. The cut lines were simpler and the laser cutter software was able to handle those and create simple controls for the cutter. The knots on the other hand were more complex vector objects and the laser cutter software couldn’t handle them. Inkscape could, so I had it do the rendering to a bitmap. The laser cutter can then setup scans that use the bitmap data which worked very well.

    • Getting started with Scalar, a semantic web publishing platform

      Budget cuts at universities and the increased cost of printing journals have created a crisis in academic publishing. These factors plus the desire for open access to academic publishing have accelerated interest in alternatives to traditional print publications, such as Scalar.

      Scalar is open source publishing software that enables authors to create rich, long-form scholarly content. In other words, according to its website, it “gives authors tools to structure essay and book-length works in ways that take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital writing, including nested, recursive, and non-linear formats.”

    • 7 Best Opensource VPN Services For 2019

      At least 67 percent of global businesses in the past three years have faced data breaching. The breaching has been reported to expose hundreds of millions of customers. Studies show that an estimated 93 percent of these breaches would have been avoided had data security fundamentals been considered beforehand.

      Understand that poor data security can be extremely costly, especially to a business and could quickly lead to widespread disruption and possible harm to your brand reputation. Although some businesses can pick up the pieces the hard way, there are still those that fail to recover. Today however, you are fortunate to have access to data and network security software.

    • 8 Free & Open source Virtual machine manager for Linux

      Virtual Machine Manager which is a software program to create Guest virtual machines on the host machine. It’s also known as Hypervisor or Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM). So, basically, the Virtual Machine Manager provides a Graphical user interface. That allows the users to create, delete, manage, allocate different hardware resource from the host machine to guest operating systems also known as virtual OS.

      Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) helps the administrators to provide a unified management interface. And free them from using long commands to create or manager Virtual machines on the server. For example, Qemu or KVM based Virtualization server without any VMM GUI tool, the user has to run and remember the long command to execute operations.

      Here, we are not talking about VMMs software like Proxmox because they are complete Linux distros. We are comprising the list of GUI tools those can give an interface to QEMU or KVM installed on Linux OSes like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, RedHat etc.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Nine-Standalone Offers Up New Release For Making Use Of Gallium D3D9 On Wine

        Last month I shared the work going into Gallium-Nine-Standalone that aims to make it easier to utilize the Gallium3D Direct3D 9 “Nine” state tracker on Wine. There is now a new release of that code, including easy-to-use binaries, for those pursuing faster D3D9 Windows gaming performance on Linux.

        With the Wine developers resisting support for the Gallium3D Nine state tracker due to the driver/support spectrum being limited, Gallium-Nine-Standalone was started to make it easier to deploy the Wine integration bits that can be installed on top of any Wine release, rather than needing a specially patched version of Wine. And, of course, your graphics driver needs to be Gallium3D based (primarily Radeon or Nouveau NV50/NVC0 at this point) for this support to work out.

      • Best Free Linux Home Computer Emulators

        Emulation refers to the duplication of functions of one system using a different system. Specifically, an emulator is software specifically written to emulate aspects of the original console or computer, primarily the CPU, I/O and memory system.

        This article focuses on software which emulates home computers, a class of personal computer which reached the market in the late 1970s, and became immensely popular in the following decade, selling many millions of units. Leading home computer companies included Commodore, Sinclair, Atari, Apple, Acorn, Tandy Radio Shack, and Amstrad.

        Many of the earlier machines (in particular the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64) often ended up being very game oriented. However, the later home computers had more sophisticated hardware which widened their use in other areas. For example, the Atari ST was used professionally in music studios, in desktop publishing, and had a wide selection of office software available. However to many users it was still regarded as a games machine.

    • Games

      • DUSK, the popular retro-inspired FPS now has a Linux testing build up, out for everyone next week

        DUSK, a retro-inspired FPS from David Szymanski and New Blood Interactive looks awesome and you can test it out on Linux right now.

        Inspired by the likes of Doom, Quake, Blood, Heretic, Hexen, Half-Life, Redneck Rampage it’s certainly got a lot to live up to. Seems it has done so, with an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating on Steam.

      • Details on how Slay the Spire sold on Linux plus some thoughts

        In the past, I’ve spoken to many developers about how their games sold on Linux and this time we have information on Slay the Spire to share.

        First, we need to take into account that according to the Steam Hardware Survey that Linux only currently represents around 0.82% of the Steam market. Also, this is only on Steam and so it’s not counting Humble Store where it’s also sold.

      • Million to One Hero looks like a great platformer that will let you make your own stories

        Million to One Hero from developer Over the Top Games is a promising looking platformer, one that will enable you to build your own campaigns.

        So it sounds quite similar to DASH, with a built-in editor that will give you quite a lot of freedom to build levels, drop in some story and bring it all together. I think it’s great to see more like this on PC, especially for those with a bit of a creative side and for the younger audience too.

      • Road to your City, the sporty-themed city-builder is now on Kickstarter with a demo

        After releasing a demo before it went live, Road to your City can now be supported on Kickstarter to get another interesting game on Linux.

      • The developer of ‘Rise to Ruins’ is doing so well, they’re paying back supporters

        Here’s a rather nice tale to warm you up on a Monday. The developer behind Rise to Ruins has closed their Patreon account as they’re doing so well, they’re even paying back supporters.

      • The latest update on Black Mesa shows some good progress on this Half-Life fan game

        I’m quite excited for the final release of Black Mesa, as someone who only completed the original Half-Life in the last few years (after it came to Linux) playing through a heavily improved version is going to be great.

        Anyway, the Black Mesa team recently put out another progress report which shows off various work going towards the final release.

      • The sweet looking roguelike ‘Rogue Fable III’ is heading to Linux

        The developer of Rogue Fable III, a roguelike aimed at short sessions has confirmed it’s coming to Linux.

      • Will you join the hackers or help bring them down? Tech Support: Error Unknown is releasing this month

        Tech Support: Error Unknown will throw you into the role of a tech support specialist but all is not as it may seem. Releasing February 27th with Linux support, as confirmed by the developer recently.

        You will be thrown into the thick of a conspiracy apparently, which will see you make some choices and pick a side. Will you take down your employer and join a rogue hacktivist group, help take the hacktivists down or go your own way?

      • A quick run over some details from the recent ProtonDB data

        Every now and then, the people behind ProtonDB release data dumps from user generated reports of games tested in Steam Play.

        What is ProtonDB? It’s an unofficial statistics website, where you can note how good or bad various games run on Steam when played with Steam Play. It’s a fun one to track, so with a new data dump I thought it might be interesting to try my hand at getting something out of the data for anyone curious.

        The latest data dump is available here, which shows a total of 29,823 reports so it’s getting rather massive. It goes to show just how many people are testing a wide variety of games!

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 56

        Here are the results of week 56 of KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative. We’ve been working on Plasma 5.16 features and fixing old bugs in Plasma 5.12 and beyond.

        One additional thing I’d like to mention is that we’re aware that many users of Discover in Plasma 5.14 are suffering from an inability to either check for updates or update their systems. This issue is fixed in Plasma 5.15 and beyond, but we’re working on a fix for Plasma 5.14 users that can be backported. Sorry for the breakage, everyone!

        Anyway, onto the good stuff…

      • Krita Interview with Raghavendra Kamath

        My name is Raghavendra Kamath (raghukamath on the internet), I am a freelance Illustrator from Mumbai India, I have been painting and creating digital Illustrations for some well-known brands in India since past 10 years. I have also worked in the comic industry here collaborating with publishers and storytellers. I am also a Free and Open-source Software enthusiast, I use only free software to create my artwork and I try to contribute back to community in whatever way I can.

      • Getting rid of things is not easy

        Every now and then, a KMyMoney user asks why he or she cannot delete an account, category or another other object in his data set.

        Well, the answer is easy: KMyMoney prevents them from destroying the integrity of their data. This means, the object may be referenced by another object in the data set and this is why KMyMoney disables the delete operation in such a case. The technical term for this is referential integrity. But what are the rules for this to happen?

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Settings: more GNOME, more settings

        Before deep diving into the more extensive architectural changes that I’ve been working on GNOME Shell and Mutter, let’s take a moment to highlight the latest changes to GNOME Settings.

        Being the (co)maintainer of Settings for a full year now, the development pace has been great so far. I would go as far as to say that the project is healthy and sustainable now. The shared maintainership model that we adopted allows us to decrease the review time, and yet make sure that every single contribution is reviewed by at least one maintainer.

  • Distributions

    • Don’t want to watch Super Bowl LIII today? Install the Kodi 18 Leia-focused LibreELEC 9.0 Linux distro instead!

      Well, folks, it is finally here. After a rather lengthy beta period, LibreELEC 9.0 is available for download. Wait, are you not familiar with this specialized Linux-based operating system? Please know it is a lightweight OS that only exists to run Kodi — the very popular open source media center. It provides an easy to use environment for consuming media, such as movies and music. This new version of LibreELEC is based on the recently released Kodi 18 Leia and can run on a lot of different hardware, including the very popular Raspberry Pi devices. Yes, with LibreELEC, you can turn a Pi (or many similar devices) into a powerful media box!

      If you are dreading watching Super Bowl LIII later today, why not install and play around with LibreELEC 9.0 instead? Look, not everyone enjoys spectating sports — don’t let society make you feel bad about preferring to tinker with Linux than watch football. This new version of LibreELEC even has game emulation support, making it far more interesting than merely watching video and listening to music.

    • New Releases

      • Sparky 5.7~dev20190203

        There are development live/install media of Sparky 5.7 20190203 of the rolling line available for testing.

        The new iso images features improved Advanced Installed which provides a bug fixing around wrong detecting partitions.

        If a number of partitions you have is bigger than 9, and if you choose the first partition as the first choice (swap partition on Bios machines; UEFI partition on machines with UEFI motherboard), sda1 for expample, the installer cut out from a next window all of existing partition with the number starting you already choosen (sda1 – sda10, sda11, sda12, etc.).

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Slackware Family

      • Updated multilib, chromium. Arriving soon: new libreoffice

        The Chromium 72 code was released a few days ago by Google. I built new Slackware packages for Chromium 72.0.3626.81 during the weekend and they are ready for download now on slackware.com or slackware.nl, or any other mirror of course.
        There’s a sizable number of CVE’s mentioned in the ChangeLog that were fixed in this release. Therefore it’s a good idea to upgrade today.
        I verified that the Widevine CDM is still working, so your Netflix movie streaming is not affected by the upgrade.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora Community Blog: Open Power Summit 2018 event report

        With some rather unfortunate delays is my report from last year’s Open Power Summit. Let’s dive in it, without further delay.

        It took place between 3th and 4th October 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is event organized by the Open Power Foundation, steward of the Open Power CPU ISA. It is open and builds on top of the heritage of the past Power architectures, enabling any vendor or individual to dive in to the technical deeps of it or even implement it on their own.

        At the venue there have been booths of different foundation members and affiliated organizations. Like Raptor engineering with their Talos II and Blackbird platforms on showcase, Mellanox with accelerators cards, Yadro with big-data memory(RAM) dense servers or OpenCAPI consortium with bunch of accelerators from various manufacturers that are leveraging the OpenCAPI standard, just to note few. To add on the OpenCAPI it is open offspring of the CAPI that has been introduced by IBM with their Power8 architecture.

    • Debian Family

      • Projects and mentors for Debian’s Google Summer of Code 2019 and Outreachy

        Debian is applying as a mentoring organization for the Google Summer of Code 2019, an internship program open to university students aged 18 and up, and will apply soon for the next round of Outreachy, an internship program for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in tech.

        Please join us and help expanding Debian and mentoring new free software contributors!

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Patches Linux Kernel Regression in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Update Now

            On January 27th, Canonical released a major kernel security update for the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, addressing no less than eleven vulnerabilities, seven of which affected the EXT4 file system implementation within the Linux kernel. The flaws affected Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and its derivatives.

            At that moment in time, users were urged to update their Ubuntu 18.04 LTS systems to the linux-image 4.15.0-44.47 kernel if they used Linux kernel 4.15, as well as to linux-image 4.18.0-14.15~18.04.1 if they used the Linux 4.18 kernel series. However, it would appear that the Linux 4.15 kernel update introduced an unwanted regression.

          • The Latest Okular Available to Install via Snap in Ubuntu 18.04/16.04

            KDE Okular document viewer now can be easily installed in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, and higher via the snap package.

            Okular is a universal document viewer developed by KDE. It supports PDF, PS, Tiff, CHM, DjVu, Images, DVI, XPS, ODT, Fiction Book, Comic Book, Plucker, EPub, Fax. It features annotations support, sidebar with contents, thumbnails, reviews and bookmarks.

            Okular snap is a containerized software package offered by KDE. It bundles all required libraries and auto-updates itself.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Kodi 18 “Leia” released (cross-platform, open source media center)

    Among other things, Kodi 18 “Leia” adds support for external DRM handlers (allowing you to stream some protected content), integration with game emulators (which lets you load and run some classic console games from the Kodi interface), and better filtering and sorting of your music library.

    It also features improved Blu-ray support, audio and video playback improvements, and some tweaks to the default skin, which is called Estuary.

  • Kodi 18 is now out with support for Android TV Leanback, gaming emulators, DRM decryption, and more

    Kodi is the most popular, free and open-source software for managing your personal multimedia collection, both offline and online. Its cross-platform nature lets you install it on almost any machine, even on IoT devices like the Raspberry Pi. Kodi has the power to turn your PC, laptop, TV, smartphone, or tablet into a set-top box. With the help of thousands of free plugins and add-ons, you can easily watch movies, TV, stream music, and so much more. Kodi was originally developed by the XBMC Foundation and they’ve maintained the platform ever since. Yesterday, they released the 18th major version of Kodi, “Leia,” which reached some great milestones:

  • Top 5 open source network monitoring tools

    Maintaining a live network is one of a system administrator’s most essential tasks, and keeping a watchful eye over connected systems is essential to keeping a network functioning at its best.

    There are many different ways to keep tabs on a modern network. Network monitoring tools are designed for the specific purpose of monitoring network traffic and response times, while application performance management solutions use agents to pull performance data from the application stack. If you have a live network, you need network monitoring to make sure you aren’t vulnerable to an attacker. Likewise, if you rely on lots of different applications to run your daily operations, you will need an application performance management solution as well.

  • Radio ham’s Open Satellite Project

    Radio amateur Lucas Teske PU2NVX explains the Open Satellite Project and its open-source weather satellite software

    “The final goal is to have a generic satellite receiver that is easy to configure to a new satellite or protocol,” project originator Lucas Teske PU2NVX explains of the Open Satellite Project and its open-source weather satellite software.

    Developer Lucas Teske has a very clear reason for having started the Open Satellite Project, an ongoing effort to develop open-source software for the receipt and decoding of satellite data using software-defined radio (SDR) hardware including the LimeSDR family.

  • Puppet makes a change at the top with new CEO Yvonne Wassenaar

    After years of buying enterprise technology from software vendors, new Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar will get a chance to run one.

    Puppet plans to announce Tuesday that Wassenaar will take over the CEO role from Sanjay Mirchandani, who informed Puppet’s board a few months ago that he had decided to pursue other opportunities. Wassenaar was CEO of drone image-analysis company Airware until last September, and might be familiar to the tech community in Puppet’s hometown of Portland after several years as CIO at New Relic.

  • 5 Advantages Of Open Source Software

    Over the years, open source software has become crucial to the running of many businesses around the world. Many businesses prefer the use of proprietary software because they know that the software packages are perfect for their business. However, many other businesses prefer the option of open source software and hardware because they can alter it to their needs. There are many advantages to using open source software and below we’ll have a look at some of the most beneficial reasons why many businesses prefer open source software.

    If you’re interested in getting your hands on open source software and hardware for your business, it could pay to look at Vilros.com, which is a supplier of all the top branded names, such as Arduino products, in the open source software and hardware industry.

  • At IndusInd Bank, Adoption Of Proprietary Technologies Is Being Surpassed By Pure Open Source Tech

    The product space includes keeping tabs on the developments taking place in the area of payments and e-commerce. The element of innovation, being taken up in many financial institutions has a lot of bearing on studying and exploring the potential avenues of strengthening the financial products. Understanding the process end to end across functions is also important. CIOs cannot afford to restrict themselves to having an understanding of just the technology part of the process and being unaware of how the process works in other functions. After product and process comes technology. A thorough understanding and grasp over product and process will help a CIO in taking a decision on whether to innovate with the product or process or both in order to come up with a sustainable innovation that will stand out in the market. It will not be a ‘me too’ innovation.

  • Drone companies to develop open source code for DGCA compliance

    A group of companies are working towards creating an open source code, certified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to meet the requirements of the ‘no permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT) software programme. The programme was mandated by the Drone Regulations which came into effect on 1 December 2018.

    Some of the companies which are a part of the Drones Working Committee at industry body Digital India Collective for Empowerment (DICE) are working on multiple pieces of the flight control software for drones in India which are NPNT compliant.

  • Keyhole Software Releases Open Source “Byzantine Tools” For Blockchain

    Keyhole Software has announced the release of Byzantine Tools, a series of blockchain open source projects to enhance Hyperledger blockchain networks.

    The new release includes Byzantine Browser, Byzantine Config, and Byzantine Flu open source tools. All add functionality to Hyperledger blockchains or show examples demonstrating the importance of blockchain to the enterprise-level organizations.

  • Red Hat notes open source rise

    Digital transformation and economic crises are pushing business organisations to embrace open source technology, says Red Hat Inc.

    “Business organisations are adopting open source software, lowering their operating costs and becoming more scalable, with better time to market, enabling digital transformation,” said Damien Wong, vice-president and general manager for Asian growth and emerging markets of Red Hat Inc.

    With the stagnant global economy, companies are taking a wait-and-see approach to technology spending, he said.

    Open source helps organisations lower upfront investment and leads to faster innovation.

    Open source leads to open organisations, configuring their architecture for the future in terms of interoperability and engagement with others through agile and adaptable processes, he said.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Hacktoberfest

    While not exactly an open-source project, Hacktoberfest is a monthlong celebration of open-source software, and provides many contributions to the open-source community. The sixth annual Hacktoberfest won’t be taking place until October, but organizer DigitalOcean wants to help developers looking to get in on the festivities this year by providing developers with a few things to know before they release their repos into the public.

  • The future of open source and DevOps

    The writing on the wall is clear: for large, independent software vendors not doing open source today, you’ll need to either start open sourcing your code or else purchase an open source vendor to stay relevant in 2019. Your open source will need to be layered on top of DevOps, responsible for bringing together everything from coding and building to deploying and monitoring applications.

  • What are the pros and cons of open source network monitoring tools?

    Open source network monitoring tools are increasingly attractive to IT groups trying to meet service-level agreement demands while operating under tight budgets that limit their ability to invest in sophisticated network monitoring services.

    The price point for open source network monitoring software — starting at free — makes these tools pretty appealing for enterprises seeking new and better ways to manage performance across complex and highly distributed networks.

    In the past, the knock on open source tools was that they were difficult to install and not user-friendly. And, unlike their commercial peers, open source network monitoring tools did not always have a strong customer support team that could help IT managers when they ran into problems.

  • Casa open sources its Lightning Network node software

    The Casa Node has easily been one of the most desired and sought-after Bitcoin-related items during the 2018 holiday season. The demand for the “Lightning node in a box” product has been so high that the shipping had to be delayed during the month of December just to keep up with the orders.

    However, some critics have pointed out that there isn’t anything special about the device: it takes the rather modest hardware capabilities of the Raspberry Pi 3+, adds a hard drive for storage, and completes the package with all the necessary cables to make the device work. But just like in the case of Apple products, the costumers are paying for three essential elements: software, user experience, and costumer support.

  • Capital One Banks on Open Source to Scale Innovation

    When they started their transformation journey, Capital One was opposed to open source. In 2012, they started developing their continuous integration pipeline with Apache Subversion, Jenkins, SonarQube, etc. But because of the risks posed by open source, they quickly engaged their legal department and together developed a formal due diligence approach and strategy. First, they identified and categorized all perceived risks associated with using open source software, such as security, trade secret disclosure, devaluation of patent portfolio, M&A devaluation, intellectual property infringement, etc. The key development risks were touching on security, licensing and reputation. They then identified a monitoring and remediation plan for each risk category, trained and empowered every employee involved in the process to act.

  • Simple Mobile Tools – A Collection of Open Source, Ad-Free apps

    “Be together, not the same” – that’s the slogan Google used back in 2016 to describe how every person in the world can set up Android to their liking. There are literally thousands of variations of thousands of applications, themes, and mods. But, every now and then, we like to settle and look for something simple. Unfortunately, Android isn’t as consistent as iOS. That’s exactly what XDA Junior Member tibbi2 is aiming to fix with his apps.

  • App developer releases open-source version of Chroma for the Razer Phone 2

    The Razer Phone 2 could be a solid option for fans of mobile gaming on Android. However, it may be less attractive to those who also like to have root access.

  • Logo+ is an open source version of the Chroma app on the Razer Phone 2

    Nowadays, the smartphone industry is as challenging for newcomers as it gets. It’s not so easy to stay relevant when dozens of flagship-tier smartphones are released each year. We all saw what happened to Essential and their pretty standard phone, which is a shame since they offer great software support. User feedback has shown that to keep afloat in the game, you need to have some unique features. Razer has managed to get its user base in just 2 years. Their “gaming phone,” AKA the Razer Phone 2, is aimed at Android enthusiasts. Apart from the obvious flagship specs, it features a 120Hz variable refresh rate HDR screen, stereo speakers, and a glowing RGB logo on the back which can be customized by a system app, Chroma.

  • Startup Behind Ubiquitous NGINX Web Server Ready To Embrace The Channel
  • Nginx: managing monolithic app traffic is an API game

    Nginx is the company that likes to be called NGINX, except it’s not… because it’s not an acronym, it’s supposed to say “engine-X”, which is a cool snazzy name, right?

    Actually, Nginx would only ever rank as Nginx, because almost all reputable press outlets only allow acronyms up to a maximum of three letters.

    There’s always an exception that proves the rule and SuSE might be the fly in the ointment. Or could it be TIBCo (who would prefer we say TIBCO, for The Information Bus Company) that makes this an imperfect rule?

  • Open Source & Machine Learning: A Dynamic Duo

    In recent months, machine-learning code has become readily available in the open source community, putting security analysts on a path toward easier data pattern recognition.
    As a data scientist, I’m always looking for new patterns and insights that guide action — especially ways to make data science more effective for cybersecurity. One pattern I see consistently throughout the industry is the inability to operationalize machine learning in a modern security operations center. The challenge is that the capabilities behind different machine-learning models are difficult to explain. And if those of us in security can’t understand how something works, and how to apply it to what we do, why on earth would we trust it?

  • Open Source for enterprise trends in 2019

    We know that open source is well established as the place where software innovation happens. Today enterprises are looking at open source even more closely for pro-active, adaptive and innovative technologies to deliver better customer experience. As we move into 2019, we see open source technologies further making its mark in some of the key trends we are already experiencing.

    Software Defined Approach to Data Management

    Industrial IoT, smart cities and wearables are bringing together and producing more sophisticated data than ever before. While the proliferation of data is nothing new, the volume of unstructured data and the way in which it is managed is. Additionally, many enterprise IT teams are moving to hybrid-environments that have on-prem systems and cloud environments, creating additional challenges for these teams. In 2019, more companies will adopt software-defined storage (SDS) to address the performance and availability challenges caused by the data explosion.

  • Intel Publishes Open-Source AV1 Video Encoder “SVT-AV1″

    Yet another open-source project out of Intel is SVT-AV1, which is a new AV1 video encoder implementation for Windows and Linux Systems.

    SVT-AV1 is short for the Scalable Video Technology AV1 encoder. Intel is aiming to make this encoder fast enough for video on-demand and live encoding/transcoding applications. Hearing their CPU-based performance plans for SVT-AV1 is certainly exciting and much welcomed, since there isn’t any speedy AV1 encoder at this stage nor any really dominant player among the open-source options… On the decoding front, dav1d is doing very well and hopefully SVT-AV1 will take over on the encoding front at least until GPUs begin supporting native AV1 accelerated encoding.

  • Web Browsers

    • Blockchain Browser Brave Offers Free Access to Premium Content on News Site Cheddar

      Blockchain-enabled web browser Brave has partnered with news website Cheddar to offer its users three months of free access to premium content, a press release reports Jan. 29.
      According to the press release, Brave Browser users will automatically obtain access to premium content on Cheddar’s website, without action on the user’s end. Jon Steinberg, founder and CEO of Cheddar, said that “the idea of unlocking our premium feeds for Brave users via crypto funding, with no sign-up, seemed like a natural way to engage a passionate community.”
      The Brave browser is an open-source, pay-to-surf browser based on Chromium that blocks ads and website trackers. The press release reports that Brave browser has 5.5 million monthly active users on its desktop and mobile versions.
      As Cointelegraph reported in December last year, Brave is now the default browser on Exodus, “the first native blockchain phone,” produced by major smartphone manufacturer HTC.

  • LibreOffice

    • Improving SmartArt import in Impress FOSDEM talk

      The next step in the recent SmartArt story is my Improving SmartArt import in Impress talk at FOSDEM 2019, in the Open Document Editors devroom. The room was a bit far away from the popular places, but the livestream worked out nicely.

  • CMS

    • FOLIO Launches Aster Release

      FOLIO, a community collaboration to develop an open source Library Services Platform (LSP), is kicking off 2019 with a release that will reach a variety of notable development milestones in accessibility. The FOLIO Aster Release is the first in a series of named releases that will begin to define the features and functionality of the open source LSP.

      Aster will include general UX improvements and accessibility features including WCAG 2.0 support for forms, focus components, keyboard shortcuts and colors/icons/images. The release will also include cataloging template capability and MARC editing along with improvements to searching and editing instances, holdings and items.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • FileZilla® joins EU-funded bug bounty program

      ileZilla®, the popular cross-platform file access and transfer software application, has joined the EU-funded bug bounty program to make open source software more secure.

      The European Commission, which proposes and enforces laws for the European Union, has made treating critical open source software as a public good a top priority. Realising the importance of the security and reliability of all digital infrastructures was the driving factor behind the Commission’s decision to identify open source programs that are critical to the European Commission, and to fund initiatives to make them more secure.

  • BSD

    • Review: FreeNAS 11.2

      In my opinion, FreeNAS is probably one of the easier NAS solutions to set up and it has probably the nicest web-based interface I have used. The web portal looks nice, I think it is well organized and there are a huge number of features. Further, FreeNAS offers good documentation and is fairly light on resources. The base system is smaller than 1GB on the disk and typically uses less than 1GB of RAM.

      I also like the support for ZFS, an advanced file system well known for its reliability, snapshots and ability to handle vast amounts of data. FreeNAS makes setting up ZFS volumes, and user accounts on these volumes, a point-n-click process and I applaud the developers for that.

      On the negative side of things, some features did not work for me. I struggled with plugins and file synchronization through the web portal (working with files from the command line worked fine for me) and getting networking set up properly took more effort than I had expected. I was also a bit concerned about the lack of local security. If your server is headless or in a locked room, it is not a big deal to have root logged in, but for a lot of environments it is not advisable to leave root logged in at the console.

      I think whether FreeNAS is a good choice for managing storage will depend a lot on how comfortable the administrator is with FreeBSD. For people who are comfortable setting up a FreeBSD server and manually adding storage pools, there may not be a lot of added benefit to FreeNAS. However, if you want to manage a lot of storage space and other services through a polished point-n-click web interface rather than manually doing everything through the command line, then FreeNAS is an excellent tool. There are a few rough edges to work out, I think, but on the whole I found FreeNAS made administering ZFS volumes and related services pleasantly straight forward.

    • OpenSSH Progress Display Missing Character Encoding Spoofing Vulnerability [CVE-2019-6109]

      A vulnerability in the Secure Copy Protocol (SCP) client utility of OpenSSH could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a spoofing attack on a targeted SCP client system.

    • Netflix Continues Experiencing Great Performance In Using FreeBSD For Their CDN

      It’s been a love affair going on for years, but should you not already know, Netflix has long been leveraging FreeBSD as part of its in-house content delivery network (CDN) for serving its millions of users with on-demand video. This weekend at FOSDEM, Jonathan Looney of the company talked about their usage of FreeBSD.

      Netflix remains one of the big FreeBSD studios and continues leveraging that BSD operating system for its network performance on their “Open Connect” CDN. What is even more unique about their FreeBSD setup is they closely track the CURRENT/head version of FreeBSD rather than sticking to the stable releases.

    • Enjoy Netflix? You Should Thank FreeBSD

      Netflix uses FreeBSD and open source software to deliver its content efficiently worldwide.

    • NetBSD 9.0 Will Have Performance & Security Improvements

      The recently releases of FreeBSD 12.0 and DragonFlyBSD 5.4 have been exciting in the BSD space while moving forward there is the NetBSD 9.0 release a ways out on the horizon.

      NetBSD 9.0 has yet to be branched, but it was talked about this weekend at FOSDEM 2019 by developer Benny Siegert. Enhancing the security of NetBSD 9.0 is now kernel ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), a kernel leak detector, Kernel Address Space Address Sanitizer (KASAN), Kernel Undefined Behavior Sanitizer (KUBSAN), user-space sanitizers, and other security work.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Binutils 2.32 is now available

      Hi Everyone,

      We are pleased to announce that version 2.32 of the GNU Binutils project
      sources have been released and are now available for download at:

      https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/binutils

      https://sourceware.org/pub/binutils/releases/

      md5 checksums:
      64f8ea283e571200f8b2b7f66fe8a0d6 binutils-2.32.tar.bz2
      d1119c93fc0ed3007be4a84dd186af55 binutils-2.32.tar.gz
      3f1013fc8c5b18e1c28ba5c018a4110c binutils-2.32.tar.lz
      0d174cdaf85721c5723bf52355be41e6 binutils-2.32.tar.xz

      This release contains numerous bug fixes, and also the following new
      features:

      * The binutils now support for the C-SKY processor series.

      * The x86 assembler now supports a -mvexwig=[0|1] option to control
      encoding of VEX.W-ignored (WIG) VEX instructions.

      It also has a new -mx86-used-note=[yes|no] option to generate (or
      not) x86 GNU property notes.

      * The MIPS assembler now supports the Loongson EXTensions R2 (EXT2),
      the Loongson EXTensions (EXT) instructions, the Loongson Content
      Address Memory (CAM) ASE and the Loongson MultiMedia extensions
      Instructions (MMI) ASE.

      * The addr2line, c++filt, nm and objdump tools now have a default
      limit on the maximum amount of recursion that is allowed whilst
      demangling strings. This limit can be disabled if necessary.

      * Objdump’s –disassemble option can now take a parameter,
      specifying the starting symbol for disassembly. Disassembly will
      continue from this symbol up to the next symbol or the end of the
      function.

      * The BFD linker will now report property change in linker map file
      when merging GNU properties.

      * The BFD linker’s -t option now doesn’t report members within
      archives, unless -t is given twice. This makes it more useful
      when generating a list of files that should be packaged for a
      linker bug report.

      * The GOLD linker has improved warning messages for relocations that
      refer to discarded sections.

      Our thanks go out to all of the binutils contributors, past and
      present, for helping to make this release possible.

      Cheers
      Nick Clifton

    • Binutils 2.32 Released With C-SKY Support, Linker Improvements

      After seeing a new GNU C Library release this week, the GNU toolchain has another update with the availability now of Binutils 2.32.

    • Replace libtool, turn full GNU Make?

      Every once in a while I start pondering ways to get rid of the slowness and overwhelming complexity of the autotools machinery, in particular autoconf and libtool. GNU Make has been a great companion for 20+ years, and automake helps with some of the complexity in getting compiler generated dependency tracking going, build libraries and have (un-)install, check, distcheck rules out of the box.

      But over the years I’ve had to re-implement or extend each one of these rules and features, and for much of the rest automake is more on the side of getting in the way, which makes me ponder if rolling my own Make rules from scratch isn’t the leaner and also easier way. A basic example to get started is Good Makefiles, except for shared library building.

    • GNU Hurd Can Build Around 75% Of The Debian Packages, But No 64-bit Or SMP Yet

      One of the sessions we look forward to each year at FOSDEM is in regards to the GNU Hurd status update… It’s one of the few times per year where we hear anything new presented on the Hurd. GNU Hurd is nearly three decades old and has yet to see its v1.0 milestone reached, but Samuel Thibault and a small group of other free software developers continue working on this GNU micro-kernel.

      Samuel Thibault once again presented at the Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) about the state of the Hurd. Recently the Hurd picked up a PCI arbiter, basic ACPI support for power management, and is now able to build roughly 75% of the Debian package set.

  • Public Services/Government

    • If Software Is Funded from a Public Source, Its Code Should Be Open Source

      If we pay for it, we should be able to use it.

      Perhaps because many free software coders have been outsiders and rebels, less attention is paid to the use of open source in government departments than in other contexts. But it’s an important battleground, not least because there are special dynamics at play and lots of good reasons to require open-source software. It’s unfortunate that the most famous attempt to convert a government IT system from proprietary code to open source—the city of Munich—proved such a difficult experience. Although last year saw a decision to move back to Windows, that seems to be more a failure of IT management, than of the code itself. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that the Munich project began back in 2003, when it was a trailblazer. Today, there are dozens of large-scale migrations, as TechRepublic reports:

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Innovation and Value Initiative Releases Open-Source Model for Assessing Value of EGFR+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment Sequences

      As an open-source model, the entirety of the IVI-NSCLC model package, including detailed methods documentation, R software package, source code and user interfaces, are available for access and download via IVI’s website. IVI’s open-source models are developed iteratively with feedback and suggestions from all interested healthcare stakeholders. IVI invites public input on all aspects of the first version of the IVI-NSCLC model during the public comment period, which ends April 1, 2019. All public comments will be reviewed by a Technical Expert Panel (TEP), engaged by IVI to synthesize feedback and recommend prioritized modifications for inclusion in the next model release.

    • Open-source drug discovery takes aim at malaria and neglected diseases

      The plates were part of the Malaria Box, packaged and shipped by the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a nonprofit drug research foundation based in Geneva. Between 2011 and 2015, MMV distributed hundreds of these boxes, free of charge, to almost 200 research groups in 30 countries. The goal was to make it easier for academic researchers to discover new malaria treatments among the compounds stored within. The only condition was that they should put their results in the public domain.

    • MMV and DNDi make compounds available for research into new drugs for pandemic diseases

      Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) have launched the Pandemic Response Box to provide researchers with free access to 400 diverse compounds to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for life-threatening pandemic diseases.

      The Pandemic Response Box is a collection of structurally diverse antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal compounds – selected by disease experts – for screening against infectious and neglected diseases. The compounds are in various phases of drug discovery or development. In return for receiving the drug-like molecules free of charge, researchers from around the world agree to make their screening results publicly available and to publish their findings in an open access journal two years following data generation.

    • Open Data

    • Open Access/Content

      • Few open-access journals meet requirements of Plan S, study says

        Only a small proportion of open-access scientific journals fully meet the draft requirements of Plan S, the initiative primarily by European funders to make all papers developed with their support free to read, a study has found. Compliance with the rules could cost the remaining journals, especially smaller ones, more than they can afford.

        Plan S, which takes effect next year, stipulates that any published research funded by its members must appear on open-access platforms that meet certain requirements. At most, only 889, or 15%, of 5987 science and medical journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) would fully comply with Plan S, according to data gathered by Jan Erik Frantsvåg of the University of Tromsø–the Arctic University of Norway and Tormod Strømme of the University of Bergen in Norway. They published their findings on the Preprints platform on 16 January. Even fewer journals in the social sciences and humanities complied fully: only 193, or 3%, of 6290 such publications.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How To Make Your Own Springs for Extruded Rail T-Nuts

        Open-Source Extruded Profile systems are a mature breed these days. With Openbuilds, Makerslide, and Openbeam, we’ve got plenty of systems to choose from; and Amazon and Alibaba are coming in strong with lots of generic interchangeable parts. These open-source framing systems have borrowed tricks from some decades-old industry players like Rexroth and 80/20. But from all they’ve gleaned, there’s still one trick they haven’t snagged yet: affordable springloaded T-nuts.

      • Blender 3D Printing Tutorial – 16 Easy Steps for Beginners

        One of the most appealing parts of 3D printing is the ability to create and produce your own ideas. While there are many good sources of downloadable 3D models, there’s growing interest in being able to design your own.

        Enter Blender, a wonderfully accessible program that allows you to design your own 3D models and export them to be 3D printed. It’s free and open source, so anybody can use it!

      • 3D Printed Speaker – 6 Projects That Rock the Most

        From designs inspired by Star wars to complex structures taking advantage of physics phenomena, we take a look at some of the coolest 3D printed speakers.

      • A Science Lab In Your Pocket?

        For the price, it isn’t a bad deal. But it really isn’t a proper replacement for nearly any of the included virtual instruments. On the other hand, for under $70 it might be worth a shot. There’s a Linux app, so that’s a plus. We like that it is all open source so you could fix anything you don’t like.

      • Cthulhu Shield Arduino open source sensory shield

        Developers, makers and electronic enthusiasts may be interested in a new open source sensory substitution and sensory augmentation development kit called the Cthulhu Shield. Created by engineer Joel Moritz Jr the Cthulhu Shield has been launched via Kickstarter this week and is now available to back from $75 with worldwide shipping expected to take place during July 2019. For more information on the new Arduino shield watch the demonstration video below

      • Leap Motion’s Project North Star Gets Hardware

        It’s been more than a year since we first heard about Leap Motion’s new, Open Source augmented reality headset. The first time around, we were surprised: the headset featured dual 1600×1440 LCDs, 120 Hz refresh rate, 100 degree FOV, and the entire thing would cost under $100 (in volume), with everything, from firmware to mechanical design released under Open licenses. Needless to say, that’s easier said than done. Now it seems Leap Motion is releasing files for various components and a full-scale release might be coming sooner than we think.

      • Leap Motion’s Project North Star AR Headset Went Open Source and Lost its Tether

        Leap Motion has provided developers with a do-it-yourself solution to build an augmented reality headset with its Project North Star. However, a self-proclaimed “AR wonk” is using the blueprints to go even further with the development of an untethered type.

        NOA Labs research and development project manager Noah Zerkin recently unveiled a picture on Twitter that shows a mobile computer, which uses a Windows 10 motherboard and includes a battery pack in a cardboard enclosure affixed to a shoulder strap.

      • SuperB open source Bee-compatible ESP32 module

        Makers, hobbyists, developers and electronic enthusiasts searching for a way to easily add wireless and Bluetooth connectivity to the next project may be interested in the open source SuperB module. Once the demonstration video below to learn more about the Bee-compatible ESP32 module designed and created by Macchina.

      • Cheap ESP32 Webcam

        Looking for a cheap way to keep an eye on something? [Kevin Hester] pointed us to a way to make a WiFi webcam for under $10. This uses one of the many cheap ESP32 dev boards available, along with the Internet of Things platform PlatformIO and a bit of code that creates an RTSP server. This can be accessed by any software that supports this streaming protocol, and a bit of smart routing could put it on the interwebs. [Kevin] claims that the ESP32 camera dev boards he uses can be found for less than $10, but we found that most of them cost about $15. Either way, that’s cheaper than most commercial streaming cameras.

      • Build Retro Games with Script-8

        A whole generation of programmers learned to program by writing — or at least typing in — game programs for relatively simple computers like a TRS-80, a Commodore 64, or any of a handful of similar machines. These days, games are way more complicated and so are computers. Sure, it is more fun to play Skyrim than Snake, but for learning, you are probably going to get more out of starting with a simple game. If you want to learn programming today — or maybe start someone else on that same journey, you should check out Script-8, a project by [Gabriel Florit]. You can get a taste of how it looks in the video below, or just surf over to the site and play or modify a game (hint: press “a” to launch the ball).

      • Open Source Biological Gear For the Masses

        At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, Hackaday exists because people are out there building and documenting open source gadgets. If the person who built a particular gizmo is willing to show the world how they did it, consider us interested. Since you’re reading this, we’ll assume you are as well. Over the years, this mentality has been spreading out from the relatively niche hacker community into the greater engineering world, and we couldn’t be happier.

      • K40 Gets A Leg Up With Open Source Z Table

        If you’ve done even the most cursory research into buying a laser cutter, you’ve certainly heard of the K40. Usually selling for around $400 USD online, the K40 is not so much a single machine as a class of very similar 40 watt CO2 lasers from various Chinese manufacturers. As you might expect, it takes considerable corner cutting to drive the cost down that low, but the K40 is still arguably the most cost-effective way to get a “real” laser cutter into your shop. If you’re willing to do some modifications on the thing, even better.

      • The RISC-V Foundation Announces a Search for a Chief Executive Officer

        The RISC-V Foundation, a non-profit corporation controlled by its members to drive a new era of processor innovation via the adoption and implementation of the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA), today announced the RISC-V Foundation Board of Directors has launched a search for a Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. This newly established role is part of the Board of Directors’ 2020 evolution plan for the expansive RISC-V community, and underscored by the overwhelming growth and momentum the RISC-V Foundation has witnessed since its inception in 2015.

  • Programming/Development

    • Get the closest prime number with python
    • Episode #197: Modern Python Standard Library Cookbook

      A recent twitter poll went around the web and it asked, what percentage of the Python standard library do you think you know? Someone copied me on it, maybe expecting some really high percentage answer. In reality, what I did answer and my rough estimate is that it’s probably around 50%.

    • Python Bytes: #115 Dataclass CSV reader and Nina drops by
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxiii) stackoverflow python report
    • PyDev of the Week: Ali Spittel

      Hey! I’m Ali. I am a software engineer at DEV, an awesome community of programmers that I was a member of for a while before joining. Outside of work, I rock climb and hang out with my puppy, Blair. I’m also really involved in the DC tech community, which is incredible.

      I’m mostly self-taught as far as programming goes — I was a government major at Hamilton College, but I took a few computer science classes and fell in love with it. Here we are!

    • Top programming languages to learn in 2019? Developers name their favorites

      The findings come from a survey by developer marketplace HackerRank, which asked 71,000 developers around the world about what languages they know today and what they want to learn this year. The results are released in its 2019 Developer Skills Report.

      Go, created in 2007 at Google, is the top language that developers say they want to learn in 2019, followed by Kotlin, Python, and TypeScript. Other languages that are high on developers’ agenda for the next year include R, Swift, and Scala.

    • Top 10 Machine Learning Programming Languages [Ed: "Microsoft-owned coding repository, GitHub has published a rundown of well-known programming languages utilized for machine learning" and we're supposed to judge all of FOSS based on Microsoft's own platform?]

      In 1959, Arthur Samuel mentioned the word machine learning out of the blue to investigate the development of algorithms that can be utilized to forecast on data by conquering static programming instructions entirely to settle on predictions and choices based on data. Machine learning is utilized today in various computing works where the utilization of unequivocal programming and designing algorithms isn’t practical like detection of a data breach by malevolent insiders or system intruders and so forth.

    • The programming languages and skills that pay the best in 2019

      While the Dice 2019 Tech Salary Report shows pay for technology professionals only crept up 0.6% in 2018, base wages remain high, with an annual average salary of $93,244.

      The 10 programming languages associated with the highest-paying jobs all earned developers an average salary above $100,000.

    • Java EE 8 Compatible Eclipse GlassFish 5.1 Released

      Eclipse Foundation completes migration of 13.5 million lines of code in 95,000 files with full testing of open source TCK and proprietary Oracle TCK

    • Eclipse GlassFish 5.1 Released

      The Eclipse Foundation yesterday announced the release of GlassFish 5.1, considered a major milestone release belying the modest increase in its version number. GlassFish 5.1 comprises the full migration of GlassFish and associated Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) code to Foundation stewardship.

      This release of the open source Java EE reference implementation is the first since the Foundation became the steward of enterprise Java last year. Now called Eclipse GlassFish, it has been fully tested under both the newly open source TCK and the proprietary Oracle Java EE 8 TCK. It represents more than 13 million lines of code and 95,000 files, the Foundation said in a statement.

      “We were able to onboard all of GlassFish, which has a huge, very mature code base,” said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, in a statement. “And we open-sourced the Java EE TCKs, which was an enormous change for the Java EE ecosystem. Shipping Eclipse GlassFish is a major milestone in fully establishing the Jakarta EE specification process, a major advance for the future of enterprise Java.”

    • Best GitHub Alternatives: 10 Hosting Services for Open Source Projects

      By its sheer size and number of active projects, Github showcases its power and popularity. Today, Github is a one-stop solution for hosting software projects. However, 2018 arguably brought in the biggest change in the history of platform’s operational policies. Github was officially acquired by Microsoft. It’s speculated that Microsoft would integrate its future mobile development with Github. Since the platform is an opensource marketplace, many developers were turned down by the idea of its acquisition by a for-profit brand. Condition are bound to change, as is always the case with such acquisitions. It’s time we hunt for some Github alternatives for our open source projects.

      We have compiled a list of hosting platforms that are most suited to the developmental trend of the current time. Here is our comprehensive list of 10 best Github alternatives.

    • Dynatrace goes for Go (Golang)

      Software applications need management, monitoring, testing and continual levels of deep tissue massage to ensure they run as intended and deliver to the user requirements for which they were initially built.

    • Dynatrace offers ‘free for life’ developer program
    • How to learn Rust: A resources guide for developers

      The Rust programming language was created in 2006 by Mozilla employee Graydon Hoare, and it is gaining traction as a fast and reliable alternative to C and C++. Rust is used by Firefox, Dropbox, Cloudflare, and hundreds of other companies. The open-source, community-developed systems programming language is memory-efficient, focuses on safe concurrency and memory safety, can power performance-critical services, can run on embedded devices, easily integrates with other languages, and has a number of useful built-in tools to ensure maximum productivity.

    • npm, Inc. Achieves Record Results in 2018, Doubles Down on Enterprise Strategy in 2019
    • Cosmic JS wants to simplify web development so you can focus on content

      If you are a web developer, you know how complex many of the traditional web content management systems have been. One of the big problems has been managing the underlying infrastructure for the system. Cosmic JS, a member of the Winter 2019 Y Combinator class, wants to simplify that by taking care of the infrastructure part for you, while providing a flexible front end for content creators.

    • How to Log Properly in Python

      Logging is one of the most underrated features. Often ignored by software engineers, it can save your time when your application’s running in production.

      Most teams don’t think about it until it’s too late in their development process. It’s when things start to get wrong in deployments that somebody realizes too late that logging is missing.

    • API/REST testing like Chuck Norris with pytest play using YAML
    • Best Way to Learn Python (Step-by-Step Guide)
    • Classic Computer Science For Pythonistas
    • PyPy Winter Sprint Feb 4-9 in Düsseldorf
    • Python Development in Visual Studio Code
    • Calculate if we have won the lottery with python
    • 12 Best Udemy Courses for Python Beginners in 2019

      Python is an interpreted, general-purpose, high-level programming language with millions of users all over the world and it seems to be more popular than ever these days and if you have ever wanted to learn to program, now is a great time!

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Microsoft deprecates MSI

    Well – obviously. At least, their current actions tell that: they deprecated CRT MSMs (which is reiterated in VS 2019 RC2 release notes), a technology designed to allow MSI-based installers to install the CRT libraries in a centrally-managed manner; and the only recommended way now is using vcredist executable, which is not MSI-compatible.

    What else, if not deprecation, might it mean, when an installer technology made unable to deploy applications created using vendor’s own flagship development tool?

    Well – I thought: maybe that was an oversight? Why not inform them about the problem that MSI-only installers would be left without any viable option?

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Administration Wants to Deny Health Care to LGBTQ People

      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last month that it is close to finalizing a conscience protection rule that would allow people to discriminate in health-care settings under cover of law.

      The final rule is at the Office of Management and Budget for review and not available to the public. But under the draft rule, which has been made public, health-care providers would be able to refuse to provide treatment, referrals, or assistance with procedures if these activities would violate their stated religious or moral convictions. The deliberately vague language could apply to everyone from receptionists refusing to book appointments to scrub nurses refusing to assist with emergency surgery.

      This could be devastating for many marginalized people in the country seeking health care. But it could be especially dangerous for LGBTQ people, who have fought hard to establish legal protections that would guard them against exactly these kinds of denials. When your very body and existence are considered objectionable, seeking health care at the best of times can be dangerous.

      “Trans and gender nonconforming people already face really severe discrimination in health-care settings,” said Bridget Schaaff, If/When/How’s reproductive justice federal policy fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force. Rules like these “are going to make this even harder.”

    • Medicare-for-All is Not a Fantasy

      In recent weeks several prominent Democrats have renewed the call for “Medicare for All” that Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted in his 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. This has drawn pushback from billionaires and potential presidential candidates Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg, who insist the country can’t afford it. Since it’s likely to be a major issue in the presidential campaign, it is worth looking at the question more closely.

      First, many countries do have national health care insurance along the lines advocated by proponents of Medicare for All. The list includes Canada, France and Denmark, among others. These countries all have healthy economies, with living standards comparable to those in the United States. In fact, in all three countries, a higher percentage of prime-age workers (ages 25 to 54) are employed than in the United States. Like all countries, these countries have some economic problems, but it is absurd to claim that the cost of providing universal health care is destroying their economies.

      Their health care systems also have comparable outcomes to the United States. This means not only do people live as long (actually they live somewhat longer on average), but people with health conditions such as cancer or heart disease on average do as well in countries with universal coverage as in the United States.

    • Insured SF General patients on the hook for pending bills despite new policy

      An excruciating pain jolted Zander Brandt awake at 1 a.m. on Nov. 1.

    • Bernie’s healthcare policies already won the 2020 election

      When all is said and done, there may be as many as two dozen Democratic hopefuls for the 2020 presidential nomination. But nearly all of them will have one thing in common: they’ll be trumpeting one of Bernie Sanders’ signature causes – upending our healthcare system in favour of a single payer system. We progressives call it, Medicare for All.

      Since 2016, when the Independent senator from Vermont used his White House bid to call for Medicare for All so that all Americans have access to high-quality healthcare, the Democratic Party has bolted to the left. Nearly all of the candidates who have, up to now, announced their intentions to run for president in 2020 – and many of those who seem to be preparing to enter the race – support Medicare for All.

      Julian Castro has said that passing Medicare for All would be his first priority as president. Elizabeth Warren has declared that she supports Medicare for All so “everyone gets covered and no one goes broke” because of the cost of healthcare. And Beto O’Rourke has said, “Medicare for All is the best way to get people covered.”

    • Photo Essay: The Military is Poisoning America’s Groundwater

      America is experiencing one of the greatest public health crises in its history with up to 110 million people potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS. A major source of the chemical contamination comes from the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used in routine fire-training on military bases. The military allows the poisons to leach into the groundwater to contaminate neighboring communities which use groundwater in their wells and municipal water systems.

      The Pentagon assumes no liability and refuses to pay for cleaning up the contamination it has caused. Army Col. Andrew Wiesen, the DOD’s Director of Preventive Medicine for the Office of Health Affairs says the contamination is the responsibility of the EPA. “We don’t do the primary research in this area,” he told the Marine Corps Times. “The EPA is responsible for that,” he said. “DoD has not independently looked at the compounds and does not have “additional research into this, about the health effects of PFOS/PFOA, at least as far as I know.”

      Meanwhile, the Air Force won’t reimburse three Colorado communities for the money spent responding to water contamination caused by toxic firefighting foam. The AFFF was previously used at Peterson Air Force Base, potentially leaving the towns with an $11 million tab. The Air Force claimed other sources likely contributed to the aquifer’s contamination, though none has been identified.

      More than 3,000 harmful PFAS chemicals have been developed. Two of the deadliest are Perfluoro Octane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluoro Octanoic Acid (PFOA). They’re extremely useful in extinguishing super-hot petroleum fires.

    • Concerning Medicare for All, It’s Not a Time for “Can’t”

      I have a request for the pundits, editorial boards, and especially politicians, seemingly sympathetic to Medicare for All, but who dwell on its supposed infeasibility and limitations: please take a time out.

      When it comes to seeking universal healthcare in the U.S. since the 1940′s (decades behind Germany even then), we have literally tried everything except what is popular and works: Medicare for All.

      So let’s do what everybody benefits from, on behalf of everybody. It’s literally true, and why it scares the elite so much: universal healthcare is… wait for it… universal!

      Who knew?

      The non-universal character of our present healthcare industry may be the biggest barrier to achieving an improved and expanded version of Medicare, the most efficient, cheapest, and provider-friendly—but not perfect—part of what could be a health system that promotes health, saves lives, and creates a sense of social solidarity.

  • Security

    • B&Q ‘exposed data about store thieves’
    • How to protect your data from cyberattacks

      Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.

      [...]

      Using a modern operating system with the latest security updates and built-in anti-virus protection is the best way to ward off unwanted intrusions. Major tech companies continually upgrade software to account for the latest cybersecurity threats so you can be confident your data is protected. By keeping your software current, you can avoid many cyberattacks before they cause problems.

    • Most of the Fortune 100 still use flawed software that led to the Equifax breach [Ed: Badmouthing Apache Struts because one company did not patch it for many months? That's Sonatype's FUD factory (marketing) in action, capitalising on Equifax's breach.]

      Almost two years after Equifax’s massive hack, the majority of Fortune 100 companies still aren’t learning the lessons of using vulnerable software.

      In the last six months of 2018, two-thirds of the Fortune 100 companies downloaded a vulnerable version of Apache Struts, the same vulnerable server software that was used by hackers to steal the personal data on close to 150 million consumers, according to data shared by Sonatype, an open-source automation firm.

      That’s despite almost two years’ worth of patched Struts versions being released since the attack.

    • Most Of The Fortune 100 Still Use The Flawed Software That Led To The Equifax Breach [Ed: Microsoft-connected Black Duck joins the FUD]
    • How Secure Is Open Source Software? [Ed: Looking to profit by exaggerating the threat -- a threat that proprietary software has too (even more so)]
    • Why you need to use DMARC and SPF on mail servers to prevent phishing and fraud
    • Security isn’t a feature

      As CES draws to a close, I’ve seen more than one security person complain that nobody at the show was talking about security. There were an incredible number of consumer devices unveiled, no doubt there is no security in any of them. I think we get caught up in the security world sometimes so we forget that the VAST majority of people don’t care if something has zero security. People want interesting features that amuse them or make their lives easier. Security is rarely either of these, generally it makes their lives worse so it’s an anti-feature to many.

      Now the first thing many security people think goes something like this “if there’s no security they’ll be sorry when their lightbulb steals their wallet and dumps the milk on the floor!!!” The reality is that argument will convince nobody, it’s not even very funny so they’re laughing at us, not with us. Our thoughts by very nature blame all the wrong people and we try to scare them into listening to us. It’s never worked. Ever. That one time you think it worked they were only pretended to care so you would go away.

      So it brings us to the idea that security isn’t a feature. Turning your lights on is a feature. Cooking you dinner is a feature. Driving your car is a feature. Not bursting into flames is not a feature. Well it sort of is, but nobody talks about it. Security is a lot like the bursting into flames thing. Security really is about something not happening, things not happening is the fundamental problem we have when we try to talk about all this. You can’t build a plausible story around an event that may or may not happen. Trying to build a narrative around something that may or may not happen is incredibly confusing. This isn’t how feature work, features do positive things, they don’t not do negative things (I don’t even know if that’s right). Security isn’t a feature.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • From Karachi to Caracas

      I am finding Karachi an interesting place from which to view the world. Four US Presidents have visited Pakistan – Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton and Bush Jr. Each of them visited a military dictator, in the friendliest of terms. No American President has ever visited a civilian government of Pakistan. The Americans have always been far too busy plotting the next coup.

      More recent neo-con practice has of course been to eschew open espousal of military dictatorship and to present CIA-organised coups as democratic revolutions. I was of course aware of their hand behind Juan Guaido in Venezuela, but I had not fully taken on board the extent to which Guaido is purely their creature. If you have not seen this superb article on Guaido’s history in Consortium News, please do read it. Guaido has been US-funded since 2005 specifically to undermine the socialist government of Venezuela. Notably the US sponsorship of this far right puppet started at a time when Chavez’ democratic and human rights credentials were impeccable, which rather undermines the current excuse for Guaido’s elevation.

    • Venezuela and Noam Chomsky’s “We Own the World.”

      Some thirty years ago, Noam Chomsky noted that “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” Starting at an early age, the doctrinal system subtlety limits the bounds of “acceptable thought.” To maintain the illusion of a functioning, free society, vigorous debate rages in the MSM all the way from points A to C, but never beyond. Although exceptions are not unheard of, elites in capitalist democracies prefer not to employ force and fear because citizens would be less likely to believe the elite’s propaganda. Moreover, this method is far more efficient than the Gulag because the people learn to police their own thoughts and behavior. All available evidence suggests it’s working well.

      On first hearing, the assumption that the U.S. has the transcendent right to use any means necessary to decide the legitimacy of representation in another country seems breathtakingly arrogant. But there’s something even more insidious going on and from a certain angle it has a diabolical logic. For example, the U.S. accusation that Cuba is interfering in Venezuela’s internal affaiirs, including the charge that Havana controls the armed forces, only make sense on one assumption, namely that “We Own the World.” Chomsky provides a classic example from the early days of the Iraq war: A high-level U.S. official’s solution to Iraq was the “Withdrawal of all foreign forces and foreign arms.” That official was Condeleeza Rice and her comment sounded eminently reasonable until it was clear she was only referring to Iran.

    • China’s new ‘carrier killer’ video is a treasure trove of military intel that should worry the US Navy

      China offered an unprecedented look at its new DF-26 “carrier killer” missile in a video seen by military experts as a direct warning to US aircraft carriers that they’re in danger of being sunk.

      The footage of the DF-26 broke with norms in several ways. China strictly controls its media, and any data on a its ballistic missiles or supporting infrastructure amounts to military intelligence for the US, which considers China a leading rival.

      And a close look at the video reveals a capable weapon with several strengths and features that seriously threaten the US Navy’s entire operating concept.

    • Back to the Dear Old Cold War

      President Donald Trump and the neocon sofa samurais who surround him seem determined to pick a fight with China or Russia, or both at the same time.

      Later this month, the US and China are due to try to end their long-running trade war which has damaged the economies of both nations. At the heart of the trade dispute are soya beans and pork, the two principal American exports to China, as well as China’s efforts to grab US technology.

      I find it amazing that, in 2019 high-tech America, the most important exports to China, aside from aircraft, are the humble soya bean and pigs. Of course, they come from farm country, the heartland of Trump’s political support.

      Not a thought has been given to the hellish mistreatment of the pigs themselves, intelligent animals who are turned into inanimate objects known as ‘pork’, or the foul conditions their industrial breeding creates.

    • Venezuela: The U.S.’s 68th Regime Change Disaster

      In his masterpiece, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, William Blum, who died in December 2018, wrote chapter-length accounts of 55 U.S. regime change operations against countries around the world, from China (1945-1960s) to Haiti (1986-1994). Noam Chomsky’s blurb on the back of the latest edition says simply, “Far and away the best book on the topic.” We agree. If you have not read it, please do. It will give you a clearer context for what is happening in Venezuela today, and a better understanding of the world you are living in.

      Since Killing Hope was published in 1995, the U.S. has conducted at least 13 more regime change operations, several of which are still active: Yugoslavia; Afghanistan; Iraq; the 3rd U.S. invasion of Haiti since WWII; Somalia; Honduras; Libya; Syria; Ukraine; Yemen; Iran; Nicaragua; and now Venezuela.

      William Blum noted that the U.S. generally prefers what its planners call “low intensity conflict” over full-scale wars. Only in periods of supreme overconfidence has it launched its most devastating and disastrous wars, from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. After its war of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. reverted to “low intensity conflict” under Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war.

    • Venezuela Crisis Resonates Loudly in Battleground Florida

      As Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro clings to power, many of the loudest American voices urging on the Trump administration in its campaign to push Maduro out are concentrated in one place: Florida.

      Florida has a large number of anti-Maduro Venezuelans and Cubans and is also likely to be a critical battleground state in the 2020 race for the White House. As a result, the crisis in the South American country is reverberating politically thousands of miles away in the U.S.

    • Despite Demand for End to ‘Dangerous’ US Meddling, Trump Says Troops to Venezuela ‘An Option’

      As demands intensify for the U.S. government to cease its “dangerous” and anti-democratic meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, President Donald Trump on Sunday morning said that sending U.S. troops to the politically fractured Latin American nation is “an option” he continues to consider.

      “Certainly, it’s something that’s on the—it’s an option,” Trump said during an interview with CBS’s “Face The Nation” with Margaret Brennan.

    • Interview With Journalist Roberto Lovato On Elliott Abrams, Venezuela Opposition, And Destabilization Welfare

      If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.

      Roberto Lovato is a journalist and educator, who has reported on immigration, the drug war, climate change, and national security. His work covers many parts of Latin America. In 2015, he wrote the article, “The Making Of Leopoldo Lopez,” for Foreign Policy.

      Recently, he contributed a piece to Latino Rebels on the appointment of Elliott Abrams to represent the President Donald Trump’s administration as special envoy to Venezuela.

      Lovato, who is of Salvadoran descent, joins the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast this week to discuss his work and comment on some of the recent developments in Venezuela.

      He describes the dread he experienced when the former State Department official implicated in massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s was given a job in the Trump administration to help advance their oligarchic agenda in Venezuela. He recalls bearing witness to a mass grave.

    • With the Super Bowl around the corner, NFL money blitzes Washington

      The youngest head coach in NFL history and his high-flying offense dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf 2.0.” versus one of the most-storied quarterbacks in NFL history at age 41 seeking yet another ring. In a rematch of the famous 2002 Super Bowl XXXVI, the revitalized Los Angeles Rams are taking on the always dominant New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on February 3. And much like politics can be, the NFL is all about the money.

      The Super Bowl is the most valuable sports event on Earth and in 2018 Super Bowl LII generated $414 million from ad revenue alone. For the Super Bowl LII host city of Minneapolis, hosting the most-watched television event every year brought in $370 million in new spending. And now that sports betting is legal in all 50 states, estimates are $6 billion is expected to be gambled on the game.

      The owners of the two Super Bowl LIII teams donated $1 million each to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. Russian President Vladimir Putin also allegedly took one of the Patriots’ Super Bowl rings.

    • Could Trump Really Launch a War With Iran?

      Keeping track of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is like trying to track a cat on a hot tin roof: We’re pulling out of Syria (not right away). We’re leaving Afghanistan (sometime in the future). Mexico is going to pay for a wall (no, it isn’t). Saudi Arabia, Russia, the European Union, China, Turkey, North Korea — one day friends, another day foes.

      Even with a scorecard, it’s hard to tell who’s on first.

      Except for Iran, where a policy of studied hostility has been consistent from the beginning.

      Late last year, National Security Advisor John Bolton pressed the Pentagon to produce options for attacking Iran, and he’s long advocated for military strikes and regime change in Tehran. And now, because of a recent internal policy review on the effect of U.S. sanctions, Washington may be is drifting closer to war.

    • Intel Chiefs Use “Global Threat” Report to Uphold US War Machine

      The corporate media’s reporting on the testimonies of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and the directors of CIA, NSA and FBI on their annual assessment of “worldwide threats” emphasized the fact that they contradicted President Donald Trump’s views on Iran, North Korea and Russia.

      Trump foolishly criticized the intelligence chiefs as “naïve” for refusing to support his unfounded accusation that Iran is systematically cheating on the nuclear deal. His remarks buttressed the media narrative of a struggle between an objective intelligence apparatus and a patently dishonest president who may even have colluded with Russia.

      But the media’s emphasis on this narrative has obscured a more important story: The intelligence chiefs used the annual presentation of their “global threat assessment” to protect key policies and programs that provide their massive organizations with enormous power and budgetary resources.

      The corporate media never discuss the fact that these annual presentations, far from being politically neutral, are used to defend the interests of the intelligence agencies themselves and their main customers – the Pentagon and the military.

    • Trump says use of military force in Venezuela is still on the table
    • Why We Should be Skeptical About Recent Reports on North Korea’s Biological Weapons Programs

      While the use of biological weapons (BW) can have great consequences and any state having them in their military arsenal is a major international concern, assessments are made about the extent and sophistication of North Korean BW capabilities that are based on very little information. A recent news story reviewing the danger that North Korea’s biological weapons capabilities may pose is a case in point. One former government official quoted in the report opined that North Korea is “Far more likely to use biological weapons than nuclear ones” and that “the program is advanced, underestimated and highly lethal.” These assertions may be true, but it is virtually impossible to know given North Korea’s secrecy and its track record of hiding military research and production facilities.

    • Make Venezuela Great Again?

      Have we not learned a thing? As the crisis in Venezuela continues to unfold, we are witnessing yet another blatant US regime-change operation “for the Venezuelan people.”

      Of course, it would make sense to dissuade the main operators–Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Senator Marco Rubio, or the recently appointed Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams, who was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. Unfortunately, they’ve proven they will not change.

      Instead, we should focus on those who can be moved, so that the interventionists lose their stranglehold on U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. citizenry should support a path in Venezuela which is created by the Venezuelan people without U.S. coercion. Supported by peace research, the case for non-intervention becomes clear.

      First, we need to explore the interests of the U.S. regime-change operators. For Trump, whose ignorance suggests that he is oblivious to the history of U.S. interventions in Latin America, a diversionary “Wag the dog” war might just be the needed distraction from his disaster presidency. When it comes to oil and US invasions, however, he has made it clear that he believes in naked imperialism, “to the victor belong the spoils.”

    • Disarmament, Not Low-Grade Nukes

      Seven-plus decades ago, as humanity was ensnarled in a monstrous world war, its instinct to win — to dominate others above all else — achieved ultimate manifestation: the capacity to annihilate all life on Planet Earth.

      Nuclear weapons are, you might say, the logical outcome of the 10,000-year journey of civilization: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.’”

      And so we have. And now we’re stuck with ourselves, as are all other forms of life.

      When the issue is nukes, and what to do with them, I think the first mistake we make is to put them into too narrow of a context, within which they seem “necessary” (because others have them) and “usable” (just in case, you know, a really evil country or terrorist organization starts threatening us) and there’s no larger sense of how to be alive and what survival actually means.

    • American Citizens are the Only Humans

      Now that the government shutdown has ended, the Trump administration has turned to hard science to bolster its argument for a border wall. The proposed 2,000-mile barrier, which would bar thousands of Latin Americans from illegal entry into the United States, received timely support today, with the announcement of a breakthrough scientific discovery. According to top anthropologists at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, only United States citizens – unique among any other people on planet Earth – possess qualities identifying them as true Homo sapiens.

      “I feel so clean – so human!” exclaimed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Frankly, there was something sub-par about those so-called ‘people’ invading our democracy. They’re … pushy. And their screaming kids – so ungrateful for those shiny new NASA space blankets. Hurtful.”

      Ms. Nielsen, who currently faces an FBI investigation for denying to Congress the existence of Trump’s policy separating immigrant families, asserted that this scientific breakthrough fully justifies the allotment of $5.7 billion for the wall.

      “It totally vindicates President Trump for calling immigrants rapists, murderers, terrorists, whatevers. Given this newfound scientific data, what could you expect from these human-being-wannabes?”

      The discovery was announced in Washington at ICE headquarters this morning by Assistant Director Henry Heinrich, who described it as a major paradigm shift. “This is a real morale booster,” said Mr. Heinrich. “I’d bet my opposable thumbs on it – the ones I use for strangling. And hey, being Caucasian helps, but this isn’t a ‘master-race’ thing. Just look at all the black people in the Trump administration.”

    • Gutting the INF: Bolton Must be Stopped

      John Bolton relishes in targeting nuclear arms treaties. He is very good at it.

      The U.S. national security adviser’s latest hit is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but his list of victims goes back decades. He had a hand in either the U.S. withdrawal or repeal of Richard Nixon’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Bill Clinton’s Agreed Framework with North Korea and Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

      Now he has helped put the knife into Ronald Reagan’s landmark treaty, one that broke the back of the nuclear arms race in 1987. It was the first time that the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to destroy, not just limit, nuclear weapons. Together they destroyed almost 2,700 perfectly good nuclear weapons that they had spent billions of dollars and many years building. It began the process of massive reductions in global nuclear arms that continued until the current administration.

      Why is Bolton against these nuclear security treaties that Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, have championed? Because he thinks they make America weak. In 1999, he decried the liberal “fascination with arms-control agreements as a substitute for real non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” A year later, he ridiculed “the Church of Arms Control.”

      For Bolton and others like him, these agreements are part of the effort by the global Lilliputians to tie down the American Gulliver. In his mind, we must have maximum flexibility and multiple military options to preserve our security and interests around the world. We must protect our nation with military might, not pieces of paper.

    • Will Trump Really Launch a War on Iran?

      Keeping track of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is like trying to track a cat on a hot tin roof: We’re pulling out of Syria (not right away). We’re leaving Afghanistan (sometime in the future). Mexico is going to pay for a wall (no, it isn’t). Saudi Arabia, Russia, the European Union, China, Turkey, North Korea — one day friends, another day foes.

      Even with a scorecard, it’s hard to tell who’s on first.

      Except for Iran, where a policy of studied hostility has been consistent from the beginning.

      Late last year, National Security Advisor John Bolton pressed the Pentagon to produce optionsfor attacking Iran, and he’s long advocated for military strikes and regime change in Tehran. And now, because of a recent internal policy review on the effect of U.S. sanctions, Washington may be is drifting closer to war.

    • Trump’s Illegal Regime Change Operation Will Kill More Venezuelans

      threat to the country, or even not a legitimately elected president?

      I don’t think so. But Trump, his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton all think that the United States should be able to choose a new president for Venezuela. So does “ouster in chief” ― as The New York Times recently described him ― Senator Marco Rubio. And this sordid bunch has just recruited an experienced war criminal from the 1980s, Elliott Abrams, to help make their dream come true.

      How could this go wrong? Well, we do have some twenty-first century experience with US-sponsored “regime change,” and it has ranged from murderous to horrific. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Honduras ― all have led to a lot of killing and suffering, mostly of civilians, including children. Many of the migrants fleeing Honduras in the caravans that Trump has recently demonized and manipulated politically were escaping from misery caused by the 2009 US-backed military coup in that country. Not to mention the much larger wave of migrants upending European politics, most of them escaping from the mess that the US government created with its regime change wars in the Middle East.

      We can put aside the fanciful notion that the Trump regime change operation in Venezuela has something to do with promoting democracy. Trump is still good buddies with MBS in Saudi Arabia ― that’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or “Mister Bone Saw,” as he was called after his underlings killed and chopped up a Washington Post journalist and US resident. And the murderous Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who has killed thousands in his own country; or Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, who stole his reelection last year in broad daylight. And so on.

    • Russian soldiers who fought in Syria denied official recognition as veterans of the Russian military

      The administrative offices of the Russian military have consistently refused to recognize Russian citizens who fought in Syria as war veterans who may receive military pensions from the Russian government, Kommersant has found. Soldiers who were killed in action in Syria are also being denied official military status.

      Kommersant’s report on the issue highlighted the case of Andrei Pylenok, who was killed in a plane crash on a Syrian base in March 2018. His widow was ultimately able to receive official recognition of his veteran status and a corresponding increase in the state pension she received for losing her family’s main breadwinner, but achieving that recognition required her to turn to Russia’s court system after an initial refusal from the military commissariat of Vladimir Oblast.

    • Trump Says He Wants US Troops in Iraq to “Watch Iran.” Iraqis’ Response: Get Out

      But U.S. troops have no right to do that, said Iraqi President Barham Salih, adding that Trump’s comments were “surprising.”

      “Trump did not ask us to keep U.S. troops to watch Iran,” Salih said at a forum in Baghdad. The agreement between Washington and Baghdad is for the troops to combat terrorism, he said, and doing otherwise would be “unacceptable.”

      “The Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country,” he said.

      “The U.S. is a major power … but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here,” he stated, and added, “It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran” and its other neighbors.

      According to NPR, Trump’s comments also sparked the ire of Iraq’s main militias, who said they could push for a vote in parliament to kick out U.S. troops. The outlet also noted a “growing sentiment” held by Iraqis that U.S. troops should go.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • UK Forum Hands Out Public Records Request-Dodging Guidance To Over 100 Government Agencies

      Freedom of information laws have given the public a peek inside the government agencies that were always supposed to be accountable to the public. Obviously, these laws have never been welcomed by government agencies. Plenty of documents have been released showing just how much of your tax dollars governments are wasting. But some of the most frustrating wastes are the tax dollars expended to keep documents out of the public’s hands.

      Most of that spending takes the form of playing defense against public records lawsuits. But some of it comes from preventative steps taken to keep as much information away from citizens as possible. Andrew Norton points us to a document leaked to a Kent (UK) press outlet which instructs Kent government entities how to keep the public as unaware as possible of the government’s Brexit contingency plans.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘The Climate Crisis You Haven’t Heard of’: Even if Carbon Emissions Fall, a Third of Himalayan Ice to Melt by 2100

      Even if policymakers around the world heed scientists’ urgent warnings and take immediate, ambitious actions to meet the primary goal of the Paris agreement—to limit global average temperature rise within this century to 1.5°C—about a third of the region’s glaciers will still melt, disrupting rivers across Asia, according to the new report from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

      If planet-warming carbon emissions are cut by half and the global average temperature rise hits 2°C, researchers predict the HKH region—home to Mount Everest—will lose about half of its ice. If carbon emissions continue unabated, global average temperature will soar 4-5°C, and a devastating two-thirds of glaciers will melt in what’s often called the world’s “Third Pole.”

      No matter the degree of melt, the consequences are expected to be dramatic, particularly for the 1.9 billion people reliant on regional resources. As lead author Philippus Wester of ICIMOD put it, “Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the HKH cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century.”

      “Impacts on people in the region, already one of the world’s most fragile and hazard-prone mountain regions, will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events,” Wester said. “But it’s the projected reductions in pre-monsoon river flows and changes in the monsoon that will hit hardest, throwing urban water systems and food and energy production off kilter.”

    • Trump Administration Drills Down on Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

      The Trump administration is barreling ahead with plans to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the country and an area of global ecological importance.

      Many refer to the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge — the very place where oil drilling is being planned — as the “American Serengeti.” A home for grizzly bears, wolves, musk oxen and a host of other species, the area is famous as the birthing ground for the enormous Porcupine caribou herd, which each spring floods across the refuge’s coastal plain in the tens of thousands, arriving in time to raise newborn calves amid fresh tundra grasses. The coastal plain is also the annual destination for millions of migrating birds, who come from nearly every continent on Earth to raise the next generation of swans, terns and over 200 other species. In late summer these avian visitors disperse to backyards, beaches and wetlands across the planet.

    • As the Climate Collapses, We Ask: “How Then Shall We Live?”

      This commentary is the first of our series, “How, Then, Shall We Live?: Finding Our Way and Peace of Heart Amidst Global Collapse.” It is about the moonlight leaking between the roof planks of this ruined house.

      It is not written to convince anyone of anything, or to get things back on track. It is not a survival manual. What we have to say is not written on the wavelength of fear.

      Dahr has been on the front lines digging out the truth around climate disruption for nine years. Before that, he spent more than a year in Iraq reporting, unembedded, on how the US occupation of that country was impacting the Iraqi people. He has, more recently, had to digest staggering climate information ahead of the wave of the general public, fielding in himself a cavalcade of disbelief, grief, anger, hopelessness and desperation. He thus describes this commentary as “the inevitable conclusion of all my war, political, environmental and climate reportage.”

      For 20 years Barbara’s work and writing has guided people through life-changing transitions, with an ear to a deeper sense of purpose and meaning behind chapters of life that are ending. Her understanding of what it takes to change, in fundamental ways, has been a setup for the mega transition necessary for us all as the world we have counted on dissolves.

    • In Response to Lies and Hate, Let Me Make Some Things Clear About My Climate Strike

      Recently I’ve seen many rumors circulating about me and enormous amounts of hate. This is no surprise to me. I know that since most people are not aware of the full meaning of the climate crisis (which is understandable since it has never been treated as a crisis) a school strike for the climate would seem very strange to people in general.

      So let me make some things clear about my school strike.

      In May 2018 I was one of the winners in a writing competition about the environment held by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. I got my article published and some people contacted me, among others was Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dalsland. He had some kind of group with people, especially youth, who wanted to do something about the climate crisis.

      [...]

      I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself. And I do what I do completely for free, I have not received any money or any promise of future payments in any form at all. And nor has anyone linked to me or my family done so.

      And of course it will stay this way. I have not met one single climate activist who is fighting for the climate for money. That idea is completely absurd.

      Furthermore, I only travel with permission from my school and my parents pay for tickets and accommodations.

      My family has written a book together about our family and how me and my sister Beata have influenced my parents way of thinking and seeing the world, especially when it comes to the climate. And about our diagnoses. That book was due to be released in May. But since there was a major disagreement with the book company, we ended up changing to a new publisher and so the book was released in August instead.

      Before the book was released my parents made it clear that their possible profits from the book, “Scener ur hjärtat,” will be going to eight different charities working with environment, children with diagnoses, and animal rights.

      And yes, I write my own speeches. But since I know that what I say is going to reach many, many people I often ask for input. I also have a few scientists that I frequently ask for help on how to express certain complicated matters. I want everything to be absolutely correct so that I don’t spread incorrect facts, or things that can be misunderstood.

    • Fossil Fuel Industry Attacks Budweiser’s Pro-Wind Super Bowl Ad

      The pro-wind power Budweiser ad that Anheuser-Busch will air during the Super Bowl on Sunday is being attacked by the fossil fuel industry.

      The Kentucky Coal Association is among the groups attacking the Budweiser ad, which has already racked up nearly 14 million views on YouTube. Their attack was echoed by the website ClimateDepot.com, a project of a coal-backed group called the Committee for Constructive Tomorrow.

      “Wind never felt better,” the Budweiser ad says. “Now brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.”

    • Climate Change in 2019: What Have We Learned From 2018?

      In September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) evaluated rainfall in Texas, concluding the old 100-year storm is now the 25-year storm. However, this is an understatement, because it is based on long-term rainfall changes. Because rainfall extremes have only begun their dramatic increases recently, the trend is averaged low. Research by Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may give us a truly important look into the future, using new modeling methods to simulate Harvey-like storms. Today, in our already changed and dangerous climate, Harvey-like storms will recur in Houston on average every 16 years. By 2100, they will happen every 5.5 years.

    • We’ll Soon Be Eating Woodlice
    • UN calls lethal Brazil dam burst a crime

      The latest Brazil dam burst, in the central state of Minas Gerais, happened less than a month after the country’s new climate-sceptic government came to office promising a relaxation of environmental laws and inspections to “take the yoke off producers”.

      So sudden was the calamity that alarm sirens were submerged by the tidal wave of waste before they could sound. The avalanche of sludge then engulfed hundreds of people in its path aboard buses and lorries or in buildings.

    • Thwaites Glacier Startles Scientists

      “It’s a disturbing discovery,” according to Pietro Milillo, a radar scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, who co-authored a recently published study: Heterogeneous Retreat and Ice Melt of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, Science Advances, Vol. 5, No. 1, Jan. 30, 2019.

      It’s only within the past 10 years that NASA’s IceBridge Mission has served as the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice, providing unprecedented three-dimensional views of Antarctica’s ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. Scientists are now able to peer into glaciers with remarkable accuracy to see what’s happening.

      Indeed, scientists are getting an eyeful, and they are discovering the true impact of global warming, which is much more powerful and happening considerably faster than they ever dreamed possible.

      After all, the ocean has been absorbing most of the planet’s heat, and that heat finds its way underneath in the water, thus creating gigantic melt holes, like the recently discovered Thwaites Big Cavity. As such, considerable damage is/has been hidden from view.

      The new NASA study, utilizing IceBridge, shows a surprising loss of 14B tons of ice in only three years from the Thwaites Glacier, where a humongous hole lurks beneath the glacier’s icy/snowy surface, a massive cavity nearly the size of NYC but hidden within the core of the ice sheet.

    • Kill That Bear: Anti-Grizzly Fever Hits Wyoming Again

      Anti-bear fever has again gripped Wyoming politicians in the wake of Judge Christensen’s restoration of endangered species protections for Yellowstone grizzlies. Last week’s press was peppered with hostile rhetoric from people in high places. Several inane bills are being debated in the state legislature that presume to strip federal grizzly bear protections and institute a grizzly bear hunt with the stated goal of “ensuring public safety.”

      Brian Debolt of Wyoming Game and Fish further fueled public confusion by publicly claiming that the 59 grizzly bears captured during conflicts last year was “about normal,” when that number is, in fact, twice the 2005-2017 annual average. And after only a few days in office as Wyoming’s Governor, Mark Gordon called for punitive management of grizzly bears by the state, saying to a group of reporters: “bears have no respect for us.” His statement fits squarely in the tradition of invoking violence and punishment as means of instilling “respect,” which is conservative shorthand for “fear.”

      Last week’s antics build on widespread anti-bear vitriol in the “Equality State” that seems to be increasing since the Judge’s ruling. Before getting into why this is happening, it’s worth first unpacking some facts, starting with Debolt and the 2018 Wyoming Game & Fish (WGF) report on grizzly bear conflicts.

    • Don’t Fence Me In

      Years ago, I recalled standing on the Arctic Coast in Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge looking south across the coastal plain towards the Brooks Range. One of my impressions was that I saw what the Great Plains might have looked like in the days before livestock. To me, it was the lack of fences which was one of the most remarkable features of that place.

      Yet fences are so ubiquitous that they are virtually invisible to most people—until you are someplace like the Arctic Coast where they don’t exist. Fences run across even some of the most remote parts of the West.

      The invention of barbed wire in 1874 provided an inexpensive and effective means of corralling domestic livestock on open ranges. Since that time, barbed wire has been strung across most of the western United States, including on public lands without any oversight or consideration of its negative impacts on wildlife. Not only is it a pain for humans to cross, but its influence on wildlife is also far more significant.

      In many respects, given the ubiquity of fencing, it impacts on wildlife is likely higher than roads which are recognized as a significant negative influence on wildlife. The amount of fencing is astounding. One study in Alberta found that the linear extent of fences was twice that of all roads per township, 16 times the extent of paved roads, 7 times the extent of two-track roads, and 4 times the extent of gravel roads!

  • Finance

    • ORG calls for public participation in digital trade policy after Brexit

      A key aspect of Brexit is the future of trade policy. The Government has committed to abandon the UK’s customs union with the EU to enter into myriad independent trade deals with countries across the world. We don’t want to get into a discussion about the merits of this approach or whether it is likely to succeed, but assuming it will go ahead we believe that transparency and participation are critical requirements for the development of future trade agreements after Brexit.

      ORG is interested in trade because these agreements include provisions that severely affect digital rights such as privacy and access to information. Copyright and other forms of IP have been part of trade deals for over 20 years, but countries such as the US now want to expand the scope to include a whole raft of issues into trade negotiations, including algorithmic transparency and data flows.

    • Report Warns Trump Giving Wall Street ‘Green Light to Ramp Up Risk’ as Penalties Against Big Banks Plummet

      “How can Trump call himself ‘tough on crime’ while he lets the industry that crashed our economy 10 years ago get away with slap-on-the-wrist penalties?” Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the new report, said in a statement. “Weak enforcement gives Wall Street wrongdoers a green light to ramp up risk and recklessness. We know how that ended last time.”

      According to Public Citizen’s analysis (pdf), in the four cases Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) settled last year against major banks for “financial crisis-era allegations of toxic securities abuses,” the penalties were 70 percent lower on average than those imposed by the Obama administration—which was widely criticized by progressives for letting Wall Street banks and executives off the hook for their role in the 2008 crash.

      “These four 2018 settlements, which the [Trump] DOJ entered into with Royal Bank of Scotland, Wells Fargo, Barclays Capital, and HSBC, reveal the reduced enforcement that big banks that triggered the Great Recession now face,” Public Citizen notes.

      The group goes on to point out that, “unlike the Obama-era cases, the banks were allowed to settle while disputing the DOJ’s allegations, and none of the settlements provided consumer relief. Taken together, Obama’s penalties average out to $8.1 billion per case while Trump’s penalties average $2.4 billion.”

    • In Estonia, students’ transit, school meals, and textbooks are all free

      Recently, Estonia’s minister of education, Mailis Reps, was visiting California, and her office asked me if I wanted to interview her about how the challenges of integrating IT and education in her home country. How could I say no?

      Reps is interesting, as this is her third tenure in this position: she previously served as minister at the age of 27 back in 2002. She is a member of the Estonian Centre Party, a self-described “middle-class liberal party.”

      What follows is our brief interview, lightly edited for length and clarity.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Nothing Amazon has done makes us think it could be a good neighbor in NYC

      “Why does a mega-corporation worth almost a trillion dollars, led by the richest man in the world, need our $3 billion in subsidies?,” Johnson wrote. “That’s what I asked Amazon execs yesterday.”

    • Ethereum 2.0 Pre-Release Kicks Off ‘Relatively Feature Complete’
    • Ethereum Hackathon ETHDenver Partners With UNICEF on Blockchain Bounty System
    • Crypto Startup Wants You to Trade on Exchanges Without Trusting Them

      A new protocol aims to allow crypto users to maintain control of their private keys while trading on centralized exchanges.

    • Iran Could Ban Bitcoin for Payments, Central Bank Report Suggests

      The Central Bank of Iran appears set to prohibit “unapproved” cryptocurrencies from being used for payments in the country, a draft report obtained by CoinDesk…

    • AirSwap Launch Open-Source DEX Pricing Data Aggregator

      Decentralized trading platform AirSwap has just released an open-source tool which aggregates real-time data from existing decentralized crypto exchanges (DEX’s) within the Ethereum ecosystem.

      DEX aggregator apps already exist through Totle and Fetch. However, these are proprietary applications which intend to monetize their offerings in due course. AirSwap is taking a different approach by offering the community a free, open source API which provides DEX pricing data in real time.

    • AirSwap is betting on open source as decentralized exchange volumes hit all-time lows

      Decentralized trading platform AirSwap unveiled a new data aggregator product today, a move that shows the firm is looking to stand out in the market for so-called decentralized exchanges.

      The new product, dubbed DexIndex, provides an overview of how different ERC20 tokens are trading across a number of decentralized exchanges, including AirSwap’s market. The tool could be useful for a number of participants across the Ethereum ecosystem, Graham Perich, a developer at AirSwap, told The Block.

    • TRON Up by Over 100% in 1 Month: Can BitTorrent Token’s Success Push it Further Up?

      In the past 30 days, the valuation of the crypto market dropped from $138 billion to $114 billion by $24 billion. Yet, TRON (TRX) recovered by 107 percent.

    • $190M In Crypto Lost As Exchange Founder Dies With Only Password

      Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX is unable to access most of its funds and owes around $190 million to its customers after the death of its founder Gerald Cotten.

      According to a report by CoinDesk, a court filing suggests that crypto exchange owes $250 million CAD as most of the funds were kept in a cold wallet (a physical device that isn’t connected to the internet) which could be accessed only by Gerald.

    • QuadrigaCX Owes Customers $190 Million, Court Filing Shows

      Troubled Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX owes its customers $190 million and cannot access most of the funds, according to a court filing obtained by CoinDesk.

      In a sworn affidavit filed Jan. 31 with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Jennifer Robertson, identified as the widow of QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten, said the exchange owes its customers roughly $250 million CAD ($190 million) in both cryptocurrency and fiat. The company previously announced it had filed for creditor protection on its website, but the filing itself provides greater details about its predicament.

      As of Jan. 31, 2019, there were roughly 115,000 users with balances signed up on the exchange, with $70 million CAD in fiat and $180 million CAD in crypto owed overall, according to the filing.

    • XRP Price Surge Follows Ripple’s ‘Increasing Stature’ in Fintech: Crypto Market Analyst

      Ripple’s efforts to become a dominant player in fintech are having an impact on the price of XRP, according to eToro’s senior market analyst. XRP jumped 11%…

    • OECD working on plans for minimum corporate tax

      The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is working on plans for a minimum corporate tax rate as part of a global revision of tax rules for the digital era, it said on Tuesday.

      The emergence of digital giants like Google and Facebook has pushed international tax rules to the limit because they can book profits in countries with the lowest taxes no matter where the customer is.

      Some 127 countries and territories agreed last week that a planned revision of global tax rules by 2020 would tackle some of the most vexed issues, such as how to divide up the right to tax digital firms’ cross-border income between countries, the OECD said.

    • Should Billionaires Even Exist?

      You know what’s not cool anymore? Billionaires.

      Their very existence is now the subject of political debate, sparked most recently by tax-the-rich proposals from two prominent politicians.

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed placing a 2 percent tax on wealth over $50 million and 3 percent on assets over $1 billion. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she wants to increase the marginal tax rate on those earning more than $10 million a year.

      Their ideas went viral, starting a mainstream conversation about inequality and wealth.

      This kind of talk has always existed among a certain group of hard-core progressives and left-leaning economists, but heading into next year’s presidential election, the idea that the super-rich should pay their fair share is gaining real momentum.

      Marshall Steinbaum, a research director at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, has advocated taxing the rich at higher rates for years. “We do not need billionaires,” Steinbaum told HuffPost. “The economy’s done better without billionaires in the past.”

    • AOC on Pharma & Public Funding

      In these short videos (which email subscribers to this blog need to click through to see), Ocasio-Cortez and Ro Khanna are seen asking questions during a Jan. 29 House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, “Examining the Actions of Drug Companies in Raising Prescription Drug Prices.” So far, @AOC’s three tweets about this issue have generated over 7,000 comments, 58,000 retweets, and 190,000 likes.

      Privatization of publicly funded research through patents is one of my main areas of research, so I love to see it in the spotlight. There are enough concerns with the current system that the government should be paying attention. But as I explain below, condensing Ocasio-Cortez and Khanna’s questions into a headline like “The Public, Not Pharma, Funds Drug Research” is misleading. Highlighting the role of public R&D funding is important, but I hope this attention will spur more people to learn about how that public funding interacts with private funding, and why improving the drug development ecosystem involves a lot of difficult and uncertain policy questions. This post attempts to explain some key points that I hope will be part of this conversation.

    • Government shutdown is over for now, but pain for contractors is lasting

      The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is over after President Trump signed a bill on Jan. 25 that funds the government through Feb. 15 — although Trump has made it clear that he is willing to force another shutdown if a deal is not struck soon to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

      Over 800,000 federal employees across the country will now receive back pay for the 35 days that they were furloughed or working without pay. The shutdown forced many of them to sell their belongings, dip into their savings, collect unemployment, or eat at local food banks to survive. For now, at least, their lives can return to normal.

      But the same is not true for many of the estimated 4 million federal contract workers nationwide, as these workers are not currently legally entitled to back pay. Many of them hold low-wage positions such as janitors, cafeteria servers, and security guards. Because a disproportionate number of Black businesses rely on federal contracts, many of these contractors are already a part of a racial group that is among the most underpaid, in a country where 40 percent of the population doesn’t have enough in savings to cover a $400 emergency expense.

    • Goodbye to the Dollar

      The inept and corrupt presidency of Donald Trump has unwittingly triggered the fatal blow to the American empire—the abandonment of the dollar as the world’s principal reserve currency. Nations around the globe, especially in Europe, have lost confidence in the United States to act rationally, much less lead, in issues of international finance, trade, diplomacy and war. These nations are quietly dismantling the seven-decade-old alliance with the United States and building alternative systems of bilateral trade. This reconfiguring of the world’s financial system will be fatal to the American empire, as the historian Alfred McCoy and the economist Michael Hudson have long pointed out. It will trigger an economic death spiral, including high inflation, which will necessitate a massive military contraction overseas and plunge the United States into a prolonged depression. Trump, rather than make America great again, has turned out, unwittingly, to be the empire’s most aggressive gravedigger.

      The Trump administration has capriciously sabotaged the global institutions, including NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF, which provide cover and lend legitimacy to American imperialism and global economic hegemony. The American empire, as McCoy points out, was always a hybrid of past empires. It developed, he writes, “a distinctive form of global governance that incorporated aspects of antecedent empires, ancient and modern. This unique U.S. imperium was Athenian in its ability to forge coalitions among allies; Roman in its reliance on legions that occupied military bases across most of the known world; and British in its aspiration to merge culture, commerce, and alliances into a comprehensive system that covered the globe.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The weaponization of ‘learn to code’

      But that history of “learn to code” has been bent to fit a narrative arc of the trolls’ choosing, and armed primarily with this one photo collage which shows that the Guardian, Bloomberg, NPR, and CBS News covered that one program by Justice, the far right has latched onto “learn to code” as a mantra for taunting the media. Its current usage, as formally documented by Know Your Meme, is as “an expression used to mock journalists who were laid off from their jobs, encouraging them to learn software development as an alternate career path.”

      [...]

      “It’s a pretty interesting example of a far-right brigading campaign,” Lavin said.

    • The Fetid, Right-Wing Origins of “Learn to Code”

      When I smelled the putrid odor of a brigade attack, I decided to do a little research into the origins of this sudden, and plainly coordinated, bombardment of “learn to code” tweets. (There were also death threats and a flood of anti-Semitic Instagram comments.) It was a fairly simple operation: I clicked over to 4chan’s /pol/ board and searched for the phrase.

      In a thread entitled “HAPPENING – Huffpo / Buzzfeed / other MSM garbage (((journalists))) FIRED,” which discussed the extant and impending layoffs, there were dozens of responses laying out the “learn to code” plan.

    • Dear Democrats, Stop Substituting the So-Called “Possible” for What’s Morally Necessary

      In a recent column in the New York Times, David Leonhardt cites a Kaiser survey on Medicare for all, and concludes that supporting it would be an “unforced error” for Democrats.

      Sherrod Brown, a genuine progressive, made the same observation. Richard Eskow, writing in Common Dreams last week shows why Kaisers’ survey is flawed. But there is a bigger flaw embedded in Leonhardt’s and Brown’s assumption—specifically, the entire notion that Democrats should only run on things that poll well. This perspective is shared by the party’s leadership, by most of the media, and virtually all of the political consultants and contributors.

      It’s not only wrong, it’s morally bankrupt and a prescription for at least two existential crises. It also explains why Republicans have been so successful despite being a minority party, and why the country has drifted to the right for more than three decades now, despite the fact that a firm majority of American voters remain progressive on an issue-by-issue basis.

    • Mitch McConnell Hates Democracy

      n response to House Resolution 1, the first bill produced by Speaker Pelosi and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on a mind-bending tirade against democracy itself on Wednesday. Why? Because HR 1, among other things, seeks to make it easier for people to vote.

      Included in HR 1, according to Truthout’s Mike Ludwig, are provisions for the national promotion of early voting and same-day voter registration; ending partisan gerrymandering and voter roll purging; recruiting and training more poll workers ahead of the 2020 election; making Election Day a holiday for federal employees, and encouraging private sector businesses to do the same for private citizens. “The bill,” reports Ludwig, “would address virtually every high-profile electoral controversy that has arisen over the past decade.”

      HR 1 is chock-full of other nutritional goodies besides these incredibly non-controversial proposals. The bill seeks to wipe the calamity of Citizens United from the books by supporting a constitutional amendment to end it once and for all. It promotes public financing of political campaigns, cleans out the Augean stables of big-donor secrecy and advertising financing, and adds a fifth member to the Federal Election Commission to end the longstanding gridlock there.

    • #ExecutiveTime Takes Off on Twitter After 3 Months of Trump’s Daily Schedules Leaked

      Somebody inside the Trump White House leaked three month’s worth of the president’s daily schedule, which Axios published on Sunday afternoon, and the internet quickly took up the cause by ridiculing the nation’s chief executive for the amount of time he reportedly spends holed up in his private residence each day watching television, reading newspapers, sending bizarre tweets, and making phone calls.

      Termed “Executive Time” by his former chief of staff John Kelley, the #ExecutiveTime hashtag was given new life on Sunday.

    • NBC News, to Claim Russia Supports Tulsi Gabbard, Relies on Firm Just Caught Fabricating Russia Data for the Democratic Party

      NBC NEWS PUBLISHED a predictably viral story Friday, claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.”

      But the whole story was a sham: the only “experts” cited by NBC in support of its key claim was the firm, New Knowledge, that just got caught by the New York Times fabricating Russian troll accounts on behalf of the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to manufacture false accusations that the Kremlin was interfering in that election.

    • Confronting the Great American Myth

      We grow up in the United States proud of our nation’s historic role in leading humanity’s transition from monarchy to democracy. We rarely ask, however, whether the system we have truly fits the definition of democracy.

      Merriam-Webster defines democracy as “government by the people.” What we have in the United States more closely resembles the Merriam-Webster definition of plutocracy, “government by the wealthy.” A nation ruled by big money is not a democracy.

      The 2018 midterm elections inserted a wave of new political blood into Congress and many state houses—younger, more female, more racially and religiously diverse, less beholden to big money, and attuned to a strong public desire for change.

    • Repeated flights to Syria and Africa Russian journalists track the private jet supposedly used by ‘Putin’s chef’

      In 2016, Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation identified a private jet likely used by catering mogul Evgeny Prigozhin and his family: a Raytheon Hawker 800XP with the tail number M-VITO, captured in a photograph shared on Instagram by Prigozhin’s daughter, Polina. The plane belongs to an offshore company registered in Seychelles whose owners are unknown, and Prigozhin’s family regularly appears in photos taken in the cabin of a similar-looking jet. Based on Navalny’s research, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta tracked M-VITO’s flights for the past couple of years for a new special report.

      The M-VITO plane travels most often between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The aircraft’s second favorite destination is Beirut (48 times in two years). Novaya Gazeta speculates that this was merely the usual layover for trips that ended in Syria or Africa. The jet was also tracked over Syria (21 times) and Egypt (27 times), and repeatedly near or over Libya. According to Kenya’s news media, the plane has also visited Sudan and Chad.

    • Politics Getting Worse?

      In assessing the present condition of things, the endemic corruption and open hostility on the part of our alleged representatives to the needs and concerns of the mass of the population, the question tends increasingly to revolve around whether politics is getting worse, or whether we are just getting a better handle on how bad it has always been. It does seem that western democracies, having failed to deliver on their promise of enabling the mass to take control over the conditions of our own lives, have delivered instead corrupt oligarchies serving vested corporate interests at the expense of everyone else. Less representatives of the popular will, our illustrious representatives better resemble wholly owned subsidiaries of financial institutions and transnational corporations whose idea of social responsibility is to instrumentalise global production for their own self-enrichment and reduce the global economy to a giant casino.

      This also raises the issue as to whether or not the pervasive corruption and injustice of the present represent some great betrayal of an idyllic past—of some pre-existing golden age where the political system was baseline sane and just. This seems a convenient belief in particular for middle-class liberals (or liberals who are poor as the rest of us but aspire to be middle class) who want to reform the system so they can benefit from it, but what evidence is there? Maybe in trying to decide if things are getting worse, or we are just getting a better handle on how bad they have always been, both are true.

    • It’s Rosa Parks’ Birthday. Let’s Honor Her Legacy by Continuing Her Struggle!

      February 4, 2019 marks the 106th birth anniversary of visionary movement leader Rosa Parks. Anniversaries such as this are not just moments for celebration. They are a time to rededicate ourselves to the struggles they commemorate.

      Rosa Parks is best remembered for her role in the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The legally sanctioned racial discrimination in access to public transit that the bus boycott campaign targeted has ended. But barriers to adequate public transit access remain, making it harder for people — particularly people of color and poor people — from being able to get to jobs, school, and wherever else they need to go. The lack of adequate public transit service also exacerbates environmental disparities and climate change.

    • Dark Money — Coming From a Shell Company Near You

      One dark money trail leads to Carter Lake, Iowa, population 3,785. Technically, the town is on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River in Omaha, and its horseshoe-shaped lake was once an oxbow bend of the river itself. Flooding changed the course of the river in 1897 leaving a two-mile square piece of Iowa forever marooned in Nebraska. It has a local reputation as a lower-income town of small houses, mobile homes, airport hotels, a few industrial businesses and a large abstract steel sculpture called “Tri-Point Column” by the late sculptor Rod Kagan sitting alone in a field on Abbott Drive.

      An obscure Carter Lake limited liability company (LLC) named DRT, LLC made a $250,000 contribution to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action in April 2018. The company made another contribution — $10,000 to the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) — two weeks before election day.

      The LLC’s address, 200 Owen Parkway Circle, is the same as Lone Mountain Truck Leasing, and its registered agent in Iowa is Andy Lucht, CFO of the truck company. The owner is Wayne Hoovestol, a midwest businessman who owns several farming and trucking-related businesses, including Hoovestol, Inc, many of which use the same Iowa address.

      Hoovestol and his wife Monica aren’t quite megadonors, but they have given $118,320 to Republican candidates and groups and just $1,050 to Democrats since 2002, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Their largest recipient is Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) with $25,700 in contributions.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • What You Need to Know About the Documentary AIPAC Blocked (Video)

      In the latest episode of “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges speaks with journalist Max Blumenthal and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah about “The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera film that was recently leaked online by Abunimah’s site and other publications.

      “News about this film is being suppressed, and as we’ll establish in this conversation,” Blumenthal tells Hedges, “[what this film] reveals is a foreign government running a malign campaign against citizens who are particularly progressive in order to prevent them from carrying out legal political activities in the United States.”

    • First Two Muslim Women in Congress Defend BDS Movement

      In their first month in office, Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, have endured scrutiny, in part over their stance on Israel and Palestine. While many progressives are putting pressure on the U.S. to cut military ties to Israel, the growing awareness around Palestinian rights is threatening to politicians aligned with the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee and pro-Israel donors.

      The Senate is likely to pass legislation drafted by Florida’s Marco Rubio, a top recipient of pro-Israel money, that would allow states and local governments to cut business ties with companies that participate in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which aims to put economic pressure on Israel to recognize Palestinians’ human rights. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that boycotts are constitutionally protected speech, 26 states have passed similar legislation targeting the BDS movement.

    • How the Murders of Journalists in the Middle East Are Brushed Aside

      It’s encouraging to hear that Agnes Callamard, the UN’s execution expert, is at last in Istanbul to lead the “independent international inquiry” into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Better late than never, perhaps, but the old UN donkey clip-clops upon the world stage according to the politics and courage of the panjandrums beside the East River in New York.

      Thus Callamard arrived all of four months after Khashoggi was butchered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. And she is now politely asking the Saudis themselves – “respectfully”, she tells us – to give her access to the murder scene “at some stage”.

      As we all know, Khashoggi wrote the truth about Saudi Arabia, was lured to his country’s consulate in Istanbul, got strangled, chopped up and secretly buried. And if we’re going to come down hard on those who kill members of our journalistic profession – alas, we’ll have to put aside for the moment all those Turkish journos banged up in their own country – Callamard has made a start. As opposed to all those like the boss of the Morgan Stanley investment bank, James Gorman, and the president of Switzerland, Ueli Maurer, who are keen to get back to business with Saudi Arabia.

      “We have long since dealt with the Khashoggi case”, Maurer has announced. Common sense, I suppose. But then there’s very little chance that Gorman or Maurer will be lured to a Saudi embassy, strangled, sawed into bits and dumped in an unknown grave.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • You got a smart speaker but you’re worried about privacy. First off, why’d you buy one? Secondly, check out Project Alias

      Project Alias is a homebrew gizmo that aims to deafen Alexa and Google Home until a user is good and ready for the creepy little cylinders to pay attention.

      By following an Instructable from Amsterdam-based Bjørn Karmann and Tore Knudsen, those confident with a soldering iron can build their own kit using a Raspberry Pi A+ and some inexpensive bits and pieces.

      If you have access to a 3D printer you can also add the cover, which looks like someone has been a bit poorly on top of your home automation assistant, or held it over a fire.

    • Here are 3 privacy-focused alternatives to Google Analytics

      In the last year, a swell of privacy-focused website analytics platforms have started to provide an alternative to Google’s tracking behemoth.

    • I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything

      Week 3: Google. Long ago, Google made the mistake of adopting the motto, “Don’t be evil,” in a jab at competitors who exploited their users.

    • Facebook turns 15
    • Facebook warned over privacy risks of merging messaging platforms

      Facebook’s lead data protection regulator in Europe has asked the company for an “urgent briefing” regarding plans to integrate the underlying infrastructure of its three social messaging platforms.

      In a statement posted to its website late last week the Irish Data Protection Commission writes: “Previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal.”

      Last week the New York Times broke the news that Facebook intends to unify the backend infrastructure of its three separate products, couching it as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asserting control over acquisitions whose founders have since left the building.

    • I’m a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks’ DNA data to FBI

      Some would argue he has broken every ethical and moral rule of his in his profession, but genealogist Bennett Greenspan prefers to see himself as a crime-fighter.

      “I spent many, many nights and many, many weekends thinking of what privacy and confidentiality would mean to a genealogist such as me,” the founder and president of FamilyTreeDNA says in a video that appeared online yesterday.

      He continues: “I would never do anything to betray the trust of my customers and at the same time I felt it important to enable my customers to crowd source the catching of criminals.”

    • Major DNA Testing Company Sharing Genetic Data With the FBI

      The decision by a prominent consumer DNA-testing company to share data with federal law enforcement means investigators have access to genetic information linked to hundreds of millions of people.

      FamilyTreeDNA, an early pioneer of the rapidly growing market for consumer genetic testing, confirmed late Thursday that it has granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to its vast trove of nearly 2 million genetic profiles. The arrangement was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

      Concerns about unfettered access to genetic information gathered by testing companies have swelled since April, when police used a genealogy website to ensnare a suspect in the decades-old case of the Golden State Killer. But that site, GEDmatch, was open-source, meaning police were able to upload crime-scene DNA data to the site without permission. The latest arrangement marks the first time a commercial testing company has voluntarily given law enforcement access to user data.

    • Google hit with first big GDPR fine over “forced consent”; eight new complaints filed over “right to access”

      Last June Privacy News Online wrote about complaints filed just six minutes after the EU’s tough privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), started to be enforced. They were brought by a new organization defending privacy rights, “None of your business” (NOYB), headed up by the Austrian lawyer Max Schrems. Four similar complaints were filed, against Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Because of the way that EU law operates, the complaints were filed with national and regional data protection authorities – respectively, those in France, Austria, Belgium and Hamburg, Germany. Each of those data protection authorities considers the case before them, and then issues a ruling if it is within their jurisdiction. Although the judgment only applies to the country in question, in practice, data protection agencies in the EU tend to follow each other to ensure a consistent approach to privacy law across the region. Last year’s complaints were over what NOYB called “forced consent” – the fact that users must agree to the use of their personal data if they want to access the service:

    • Revealed: Secretive UAE cybersecurity firm with a history of spying on dissidents is operating in Finland

      According to a report in Helsingin Sanomat the company has been operating under the title Zeline 1, which describes itself as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Dark Matter” in its latest financial statements. Information on the Finnish Trade Register shows that Dark Matter has around twenty employees in Finland and has an active presence in Oulu and Tampere.

    • U.A.E. Cyber Firm DarkMatter Slowly Steps Out of the Shadows

      He described DarkMatter as entirely privately held, with a customer base that is 80 percent government agencies and 20 percent commercial. He declined to name specific clients, but many suspect they include the Signals Intelligence Agency, the Emirati version of the NSA. The agency is also registered as having offices in the Aldar building.

    • AFP says it is readying notices under encryption law

      The Australian Federal Police says it is in the process of issuing technical assistance requests under the recently passed federal encryption law, and is discussing with the communications providers concerned what kind of assistance should be offered to them after the orders are issued.

    • 13-year-old arrested after telling Siri he was ‘going to shoot up a school’
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The dangers of de-Putinization

      In an article for Carnegie Moscow Center, political expert Tatyana Stanovaya says Vladimir Putin has left Russia’s elites to fend for themselves as he wanders off to worry almost exclusively about geopolitics. Stanovaya argues that the current murder investigation against Senator Rauf Arashukov recalls the 2016 arrest of then Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev, but today’s case has more sweeping political repercussions and weakens multiple political institutions, structures, and key influence groups.

      [...]

      Stanovaya says the biggest winners in the Arashukov investigation are the Federal Security Service (FSB) and North Caucasian Federal District presidential envoy Anatoly Matovnikov, whose unique background as a former special forces commander in Ukraine and Syria and reputed ties to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu make him a political figure with potential. Ahead of the arrest, Matovnikov worked closely with Kremlin official Dmitry Shalkov, who served as FSB deputy director until last year.

      Stanovaya says the operation against Arashukov demonstrates cooperation between the Putin administration and the FSB, despite attempts by the president’s team to distance Russia’s security forces from political cases, especially against regional elites. This policy apparently doesn’t apply to the North Caucasus, where federal agents have pursued a “decriminalization” mission, most recently in a major purge in Dagestan.

    • Immigrant Hunger Strike Grows; ICE Detainee Details Force-Feeding

      U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed there are now nine men—up from six last week—being force-fed under court order in a detention center in El Paso.

      One of the hunger strikers, a 22-year-old man from India who called The Associated Press on Friday, described being dragged from his cell three times a day and strapped down on a bed. He said a group of people force-feed him by pouring liquid into tubes pushed through his nose.

      The man, who AP is identifying only by his last name Singh out of family concerns for his safety, stopped eating more than a month ago. In mid-January, ICE obtained court orders to begin non-consensual hydration and feeding, and so for weeks they’ve had nasal tubes inserted in their noses and IVs in their arms.

      The AP first reported on the force-feeding Wednesday.

    • Federal Court Calls for Hearing Into Inhumane Power Outage at Brooklyn Prison, After DOJ Statement Contradicts Warden’s Denials

      A U.S. District judge called for a hearing Monday into a power outage at federal prison in Brooklyn which left 1,600 inmates without heat and hot water for more than a week amid temperatures that dropped to 2°, after the prison warden’s denial of the outage was contradicted by a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement Monday.

      Judge Analisa Torres ordered an evidentiary hearing for Tuesday regarding last week’s reports out of the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn. Several federal public defenders told the New York Times that their offices had been inundated with calls from about three dozen inmates, reporting little to no heating and hot water throughout the prison while temperatures dropped as low as two degrees in New York, no extra blankets, and no access to the prison commissary where they would have been able to buy sweatshirts and extra layers, due to a partial lockdown.

    • A Russian town shrugs at the murder of an elderly gay couple

      In a special report for Novaya Gazeta, correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko traveled to the town of Ilsky in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai to learn about the murder of an elderly gay couple. She found a community where homophobia is so common and accepted that many locals don’t even hide their relief to be rid of two men who enjoyed a loving relationship. Meduza summarizes Kostyuchenko’s report below.

      On January 10, neighbors reluctantly checked in on 70-year-old Vladimir Dubentsov and 64-year-old Nikolai Galdin and discovered their bodies. People in Ilsky repeatedly asked Novaya Gazeta correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko not to name them in her story — not because they were ashamed of how these two men were harassed or even murdered, but because they were embarrassed that a gay couple lived in their town at all.

    • Aiming to ‘Build a Movement Across Borders,’ Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn Discuss Climate, Immigration, and Economic Justice

      Two popular progressive figures indicated that they’d formed a new alliance this weekend, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke extensively with Jeremy Corbyn, head of the U.K.’s Labour Party, about their shared commitment to push bold, forward-thinking proposals.

      Corbyn thanked Ocasio-Cortez for “challenging the status quo” just a month into her first term in Congress following her surprise primary victory against 10-term, pro-business Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley.

      The congresswoman has already started a substantive national dialogue about the need to tax the wealthiest Americans at a much higher rate, pushing a plan to tax all income over $10 million at 70 percent. In the U.K., Corbyn has called for a tax system which demands far more of the wealthiest five percent of Britons, promoting a plan that would create £6.4 billion ($8.3 billion) in revenue.

    • Russian graduate student and anarchist activist faces closed hearing after alleged torture, intimidation, searches

      On February 1, plainclothes and uniformed officers searched the homes of a group of Moscow residents suspected of anarchist activity. The officers arrested 11 people, 10 of whom were then released. Three of those arrested said they had been tortured in custody, OVD Info reported.

      Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student in mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University, was not released. Officials have charged him with attempting to set up an improvised explosive device on a gas pipeline in Balashikha, a city on the outskirts of Moscow. The MGU Initiative Group, a student activist organization at Moscow State University, wrote that law enforcement officials later told TASS the device was a fake. However, prosecutors have maintained that Miftakhov is suspected of preparing a terrorist attack.

    • The National Emergencies Act Is Not a Blank Check

      For weeks, President Trump has been threatening to declare a “national emergency” in order to get funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to media reports, he plans to invoke a decades-old federal law called the National Emergencies Act to “declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States.” But there’s a flaw with this plan: there’s no “national emergency.” And that matters.

      The National Emergencies Act authorizes the President to declare a national emergency, and by doing so, to invoke special powers that Congress has, over time and through different provisions of law, authorized the President to exercise when a national emergency exists.

      Some have suggested that the biggest problems the President will face are the limitations imposed in the other statutes that are triggered once a national emergency is declared. And they’re not wrong to point to those limitations: many of those statutes do significantly limit what the President can ultimately do.

    • The Anti-Fascist March at Stone Mountain (Photo Essay)
    • Anti-Fascists Take a Victory Lap as White Supremacist Rally Collapses

      Near Atlanta, beyond the incessant hype and big-monied bluster of Super Bowl LII, another confrontation roiled over the weekend as white supremacists ultimately failed to hold an armed “white power” rally titled Rock Stone Mountain II when an anti-racist coalition organized to oppose them. Truthdig reported live from Stone Mountain Park, Georgia, where the planned white nationalist rally gave way to a counterprotest that focused on the need to end fascism by all means necessary.

    • Governor Northam Must Resign Over Blackface Yearbook Photo

      Calls are mounting for Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook page showing a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. On Friday, Northam apologized for the photo in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. However, on Saturday, he reversed course and claimed neither of the men in the racist yearbook photo was him as he initially thought. As Northam resisted growing calls for his resignation, he admitted to a separate instance of blackface: darkening his face to imitate Michael Jackson in a 1984 dance contest. Meanwhile, a separate 1981 yearbook from the Virginia Military Institute has surfaced revealing Northam was known by the racist nickname “Coonman” as an undergraduate student there. We get response from Lamont Bagby, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, who is calling for Governor Northam to step down.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Accused Of Colluding With Big Carriers On 5G Policy

      So we recently noted how the FCC pushed through some policy changes it proclaimed would dramatically speed up the deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology. According to the new guidance, cities will be limited in terms of how much money they can charge carriers to place cell technology like small cells on government property in public rights of way (traffic lights, utility poles). The policy changes also impose strict new timelines and operational restrictions making it harder for localities to stand up to giant nationwide cellular carriers.

      But cities like Philadelphia, numerous small counties, and consumer groups disagreed, stating that the FCC’s policy changes were little more than a hand out to large carriers, with the price caps barely covering local government costs to study, support and maintain the numerous small cell placements needed to fuel 5G. In some instances, the FCC’s new order invalidated existing contracts local governments had already taken months or years to negotiate with wireless carriers.

      Consumer groups say the FCC’s order also ties local governments’ hands in instances where they might need to actually hold AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile accountable for doing something wrong.

    • Net Neutrality Repeal at Stake as Key Court Case Starts

      The plaintiffs in the suit, led by the internet company Mozilla and supported by 22 state attorneys general, say the commission lacked a sound legal reason for scrapping the regulations. The government was expected to argue that the rules were repealed because of the burden they imposed on broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast.

      The case, before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, could wind through the courts for years. If the commission loses, it might try to rewrite its order rolling back the rules to avoid further legal challenges.

      The case is just one front in the fight over net neutrality. Here are two other forums where the subject continues to be fiercely debated.

    • Smartphones are a lifeline for the young homeless. If only they had Wi-Fi [iophk: "why are there any homeless in an ostensibly wealthy state?"]
    • Finland, Bulgaria remain only two countries not violating network neutrality principles – study

      There are only two countries in Europe – Finland and Bulgaria, where there are no violations of the network neutrality principles, according to the Report on network neutrality in Europe published by Austrian data protection NGO epicenter.works. The analysis of the European market was carried out with the support of the Chamber of Labour, two-and-a-half years since the implementation of net neutrality legislation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Great Wall Motor joins the Open Invention Network community
    • Great Wall Motor Joins the Open Invention Network Community

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Great Wall Motor has joined as a community member. As China’s largest manufacturer of SUVs and pickup trucks, as well as an innovator in electric vehicles, Great Wall Motor is demonstrating its commitment to open source software (OSS) as an enabler of electronic vehicle systems.

      “The automotive industry is undergoing a metamorphosis as digital technologies drive significant leaps in capabilities across systems that include telematics, advanced driver assistance, instrumentation and entertainment, among many others. The key driver of these advancements is open collaborative platforms such as Automotive Grade Linux,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “We greatly appreciate Great Wall Motor’s leadership in joining OIN and supporting patent non-aggression in Linux and adjacent open source technologies.”

    • Apple is patenting Swift features like optional chaining

      Apple’s application for patenting some of the Swift features has successfully reached the “Grant” stage.

      Swift is the Objective-C based programming language that Apple introduced in 2014 and open sourced in 2015 under the Apache License 2.0. By licensing its contributions under the Apache license, Apple grants developers a perpetual, royalty-free license to use all of its patents that are necessary in order to use Swift.

      Apple submitted two patents 9,329,844 in 2016 and 9,952,841 in 2018. Under the 9,952,841 patent, the company has made 23 claims and 22 claims under the 9,329,844 patent. These patents are mainly about supporting multiple languages in the same compiler, with various specific limitations. These patents will be infringed if you are implementing a Swift compiler, assuming it included Objective-C compatibility and also if another language wanted to add a similar built-in compatibility layer.

    • Apple Patents Swift

      This may be a storm in a teacup, or a typhoon massing off the port bow. Apple has applied for a patent that appears to cover the whole idea of the Swift language.

    • The patent pendulum swings

      The 12 CAFC judges — Sharon Prost (labor law), Pauline Newman (Ph.D. chemist, patent law), Alan David Lourie (Ph.D. organic chemist, patent law), Timothy B. Dyk (patent litigation but no technical background), Kimberly Ann Moore (MSEE from MIT, patent law), Kathleen M. O’Malley (patent litigation but no technical background), Jimmie V. Reyna (customs and trade law, but he is a U of R graduate, so he gets a pass!), Evan Wallach (international law), Richard G. Taranto (AB in mathematics, no patent law), Raymond T. Chen (BSEE, patent law), Todd M. Hughes (commercial litigation), Kara Farnandez Stoll (BSEE, patent law) — sit on randomly assigned, three-judge panels to adjudicate patent cases.

    • Apple files yet another appeal against $503m FaceTime patent payout

      Apple has filed its fifth appeal against a half-billion award, claiming that it redesigned its FaceTime system to avoid infringing VirnetX’s network security patents.

      The filing is particularly timely given the fact that on Monday Apple blocked group Facetime chats globally after a bonkers bug was revealed that let miscreants call you and secretly listen in to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac’s audio before you picked up via the app. A software fix is due to land this week.

    • Spotify Playlist Tech Target of Patent Infringement Claim

      Spotify’s personalized playlist technology infringes another company’s patents, according to a complaint filed Jan. 28.

      Excalibur IP LLC also accused Spotify of infringing its audio track identification software patents.

      Excalibur IP LLC owns U.S. Patent Nos. 7,454,509; 8,160,840; 8,352,331; and 8,932,148. The patents cover software that compares data thumbprints on audio files, tailors transmissions based on audience preferences, and discovers relationships and recommends items based on user behavior.

    • FTC, Qualcomm give closing arguments in trial over mobile chip licenses

      The US Federal Trade Commission’s case against Qualcomm is now in the hands of a judge.

      On Tuesday the two sides presented their hour-long closing arguments in a case that could have big implications for the technology world. The FTC has accused Qualcomm of operating a monopoly in the mobile chip market, which hurt rivals and caused handset makers to raise their prices.

      For the FTC to win the case, it has the burden of showing that Qualcomm had a monopoly, that it had market power and that it used that power in negotiations with handset makers to command high royalties. The FTC also has to show that Qualcomm’s conduct hurt competitors and that the anticompetitive actions continue or will start again in the future.

    • PTAB Axes VoIP Patent Claims In Samsung Challenge

      — Samsung has convinced the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to nix a slew of claims in five Uniloc patents related to voice messaging over an internet protocol network, as the board…

    • Copyrights

      • Article 13 Is Back On: Germany Caves To France As EU Pushes Forward On Ruining The Internet

        When last we checked in on the EU Copyright Directive it had been put on hold when the European Council (with representatives from all the member states) didn’t have enough votes to move forward on a so-called “compromise” draft. Most of the council rejected it for the right reasons — though a few (including France) were holding out to make the law worse. Since then there has been an ongoing back channel negotiation between France and Germany over whose vision would win out. Both of them support very problematic versions of the Directive, though France’s is worse. Specifically, France doesn’t want any exemptions for smaller internet websites in Article 13 (which will effectively make internet filters mandatory), while Germany wanted to include at least some safe harbors for smaller sites. After a bunch of back and forth, it’s now being reported that Germany has caved to France and will now support the Directive, with very little in the way of protections for smaller sites. This is on top of all the other awful stuff in the Directive, including mandatory filtering (that they pretend is not mandatory filtering), huge fines, and liability for any site allowing infringement. The draft apparently still includes a weird and mostly useless safe harbor for sites hosting user-generated content — which is what made the legacy entertainment industry bail out on its support of the Directive.

        So, to be clear, there is now a draft that is worse than the draft that couldn’t get the Council’s approval a few weeks ago, and that will have an even bigger impact on the internet by sweeping up tons of smaller sites as well as the larger ones, which will do serious harm to any sites that host user-generated content. And you can’t find anyone — outside of the company selling internet filters — who supports this. The internet companies are all still against the bill. The legacy entertainment companies are whining that it doesn’t go far enough.

      • Oracle v. Google: Will SCOTUS Take Up Case With Significant Software Implications?

        In a long-running legal battle between Oracle and Google, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has endangered software interoperability in two separate rulings, one in 2014 and one in 2018. Last week, Google petitioned SCOTUS for cert, asking the court to review whether copyright protection covers application programming interface (APIs) and, in the alternative, whether use of API in a new computer program is a fair use. (NB: Google petitioned for cert after the 2014 decision, but the Federal Circuit had not made a determination on the fair use issue; in this second go-round, Google has presented both questions for review. The Disruptive Competition Project has a great timeline, background, and blog posts for various stages of this case.)

      • Reddit ‘Shadowbans’ Posts With Openload URLs

        Reddit is actively shadowbanning posts that link to the popular file-hosting service Openload. To users it looks like their submissions are being published, but links are removed and posts are hidden from the public eye. Moderators can’t “approve” posts manually either, suggesting that Reddit doesn’t want any Openload content on its platform.

      • Does Piracy Create Online Word-of-Mouth? An Empirical Analysis in Movie Industry

        Anecdotal evidence suggests that counterfeiting/piracy can help create online word-of-mouth (WOM) and through this boost demand but how powerful is such WOM? To answer this question, we conduct a descriptive study with some attempts to establish near causality. We estimate the impact of piracy on WOM and ultimately revenue by applying a panel data method to all movies widely released in the U.S. from 2015 to 2017. In identifying the effects of piracy we make inventive use of Russian piracy data to construct instrument variables for piracy in the U.S. This is possible as the key piracy site, the Pirate Bay, has been blocked in Russia since 2015. We find movies with pre-release piracy are associated with lower revenues despite the WOM effect. Critically, however, we show a positive correlation between post-release piracy and WOM volume and, extend the field, by finding that the presence of post-release piracy is associated with about 3.0% increase in box office revenue. We also note the impact of a raid by the Swedish Police that temporarily took down the Pirate Bay website in December 2014. The period when the site was down experienced a decline in WOM volume and revenues, consistent with the effect of lower post-release piracy predicted by our models. Our findings suggest approaches to target scarce anti-piracy resources, such as focusing on tackling damaging pre-release piracy.

      • Torrent Site ‘Promotion’ Boosts Post-Release Box Office Revenue: Study

        Meanwhile, marketing professors from business schools at the University of Houston and Western University believe that shutting down torrent sites will do the opposite of what general belief is regarding content piracy.

        For their research, Lu and his co-authors Xin Wang and Neil Bendle, analyzed revenues generated from movies released just after the shutdown of PirateBay in 2014. The aim of the research was to estimate the impact of piracy on word-of-mouth and ultimately revenue gained by a sample of movies.

      • Pirate Bay ‘Promotion’ Increases Post-Release Box Office Revenue, Study Shows

        New research suggests that post-release movie piracy through The Pirate Bay is linked to increased box revenue. The counter-intuitive finding is driven by word-of-mouth promotion. The effect, which does not apply to pre-release piracy, results in rather interesting policy implications.

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