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02.09.19

Links 9/2/2019: Linux 4.4.174 and GTK+ No More (Now Just GTK)

Posted in News Roundup at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Some System76 Hardware Beginning To See Coreboot Support

      Several System76 laptops are beginning to see Coreboot support! This is a nice sign of progress in making System76 hardware more attractive to Linux/open-source users though they aren’t yet shipping Coreboot on the systems by default.

      Felix Singer has begun work on porting Coreboot for various motherboards used by different System76 laptops. It’s exciting to see and hopefully will expand to most of their product portfolio.

    • System76′s Most Powerful Linux Laptop to Get Major Refresh with RTX 20 GPUs

      System76, the American computer manufacturer specialized in the sale of Linux-powered laptops, desktops, and servers, informs Softpedia about the upcoming major refresh of its most powerful laptop, Serval WS.

      The Serval WS is already the most powerful Linux laptop you can buy from System76, but starting next week, it will get even more powerful as the computer manufacturer has refreshed the series with 9th generation Intel processors, 4K QFHD displays, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 graphics card series.

      “A pinnacle of performance, the workstation class Serval WS is a powerhouse enveloped in an exceptionally high-quality finish,” says System76. “The Serval WS is unlike any laptop you’ve ever experienced. A full desktop processor and the fastest GeForce GPUs available mean you can accomplish more complex tasks in less time.”

    • Challenge Accepted: An Adventure in Linux Part 2

      One week into this challenge and I must say that I have been enjoying this experience. Though the shortcuts configured for Elementary OS have given me a bit of a trying time.

      I know that in an ideal world every operating system would magically be configured in the exact way that we wanted right from install. However, as we all have different workflows, this may be an unrealistic hope. Once I incorporate the shortcuts into my workflow, I am sure I will enjoy a smooth transition between workspaces and applications overall. If you are following along on the Elementary OS challenge, I would recommend that you take some time to read over the workspace documentation. Over the last week, I have made quite a few changes regarding which hotkeys I am using and adjusting what actions hot-corners will be configured to perform. I am enjoying the experience and can already say I have noticed an increase in my productivity.

    • Defaulting to legacy Internet Explorer just to keep that one, weird app working? Knock it off

      Oddly enough, for the second time this week, Microsoft has been spotted telling the world that its software is, er, not very good.

    • I finally upgraded Windows 10 to Build 1809 – Results

      Build 1803 was the first Windows update ever where I had big glitches and errors. Then, Build 1809 came, went, came back, and I never actually got it. A sign of clear deterioration in quality. Microsoft’s software used to be the stuff of legends. Rock solid. I guess another old truth got eroded, another scar to my soul added.

  • Server

    • Party pooper Microsoft pulls plug on Party Cluster [Ed: Azure is dying, partly…]

      Microsoft has additionally lobbed the Service Fabric technology at Linux and will also cheerfully allow the creation of Service Fabric clusters on computers running the open source OS (although only Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are officially supported at present) as well as its own, so there are several options to keep the party going.

    • Singapore embraces AI with open source libraries and talent development

      THE economy of Singapore thrives on the back of the nation’s efficient services industry, especially since the industry makes up 72% of the country’s gross domestic product and 74% of national employment. With the benefits of automation embraced widely, Singapore has identified artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the frontier technologies to power its digital economy.

    • Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces Enables Full Kubernetes-Native Development

      Red Hat’s CodeReady Workplaces aims to save time and improve projects by enabling OpenShift developers to conduct entire projects in Kubernetes.

      The new product is based on the open source Eclipse Che integrated development environment (IDE) project. The key is creating efficiencies.

    • Kubernetes IDE Offered by Red Hat

      Kubernetes, getting more popular by the minute for its container orchestration expertise, now has its own integrated development environment (IDE) thanks to open source champion Red Hat.

    • Red Hat Extends Datacenter Infrastructure Control, Automation with Latest Version of Red Hat CloudForms
    • Organisations Will Embrace Open Source To Avoid Lock-In & Boost Interoperability: Subram Natarajan, IBM

      2018 was a landmark year for cloud business in India, with enterprises moving away from the “one-cloud-fits-all approach” and moving towards a multi-cloud or hybrid approach. Most companies were seen choosing multiple cloud providers and clouds such as public, private, software-as-a-service, to best meet their needs. As most companies are integrating cloud with existing IT to get more value, we had a detailed chat with Subram Natarajan, CTO of IBM India to understand trends that are relevant for the Indian enterprises and give insights into how cloud adoption is evolving in India.

    • Traditional banks should turn to open source to save themselves, argues expert

      Toine Van Beusekom, Head of Payments at consulting firm Icon Solutions, has compared the situation faced by banks today to that of tech giant IBM, as described by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner in his book ‘Who Says Elephants Can Dance’. In the book, Gerstner describes how he transformed IBM in the 1990s and argued that veteran companies can adapt and prosper. Van Beusekom contends that banks are at a similar fork in the road today.

      [...]

      Van Beusekom said that the banking market will increasingly be distinguished between those who are innovators and those who are not: “Payment transformation will be a pivotal point for those wanting to go further than glossy exteriors to deep and lasting transformation,” he added. “Those that embrace new technology models will lead the market. Those that continue to lean on legacy systems will become laggards and fall behind. It’s a simple choice, but it couldn’t be more important to the future of our industry.”

    • Intel Nauta: for Deep Learning on Kubernetes

      In an attempt to answer these challenges, we can look to Nauta as a new open source platform for distributed DL using Kubernetes.

    • Will The Harmonic Convergence Of HPC And AI Last?

      As Christopher Nguyen, a former Googler, pointed out to us four years ago, big data is precisely as much data as it takes for machine learning training to work, and the GPU is, at least thus far, the engine of choice for creating the neural networks because it has the right mix of threads and bandwidth – metrics that keep going up and up with each Moore’s Law jump – to allow the GPUs to handle more data and ever deeper neural networks that perform the machine learning training. This is why GPU-accelerated systems are, with a few exceptions, the default platform on which machine learning training runs today. If some other device comes along that can do it better, you can bet that the hyperscalers will port their machine learning frameworks to it in a heartbeat, and they have the technical chops to do it fast.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.4.174

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.4.174 kernel.

      All users of the 4.4 kernel series must upgrade.

      Many thanks to Ben Hutchings for this release, it’s pretty much just his
      work here in doing the backporting of networking fixes to help resolve
      “FragmentSmack” (i.e. CVE-2018-5391).

      The updated 4.4.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.4.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Google Launches ‘Adiantum’ To Faster Encrypt Low Spec Devices

      Google has unveiled a new form of encryption called Adiantum, which is specifically designed to encrypt data on budget smartphones and other devices that come with low processing power.

      Encryption is essential for security and privacy but it always comes with a trade-off in the form of speed as it can take a toll on the system resources. This issue can slow down a device to an extent where the device becomes practically unusable.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation’s LF Edge looks beyond telcos for a common framework

        Conventional standards bodies are often at their weakest when two separate worlds converge. When the mobile network also became an IP and data network, it required a massive adjustment by its core standards body, the 3GPP, and uneasy cooperation with previously alien groups like the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce, the main Internet standards body). Into that breach, proprietary solutions can too easily step, but so can open source initiatives.

      • Academy Scientific and Technical Award Winning OpenColorIO Joins Academy Software Foundation

        The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum for open source software development in the motion picture and media industries hosted at the Linux Foundation, today announced that OpenColorIO (OCIO) has been approved as the Foundation’s second hosted project. Initially developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, OCIO is an Academy Scientific and Technical Award winning color management solution for creating and displaying consistent images across multiple content creation applications during visual effects and animation production.

        “OpenColorIO is one of the fundamental open source projects in the motion picture industry, and it has become a critical resource for the entire visual effects (VFX) and animation community,” said David Morin, Executive Director of the Academy Software Foundation at the Linux Foundation. “Many developers across the industry already contribute to OpenColorIO, and we hope to make it easier for them to do so.”

      • [Older] Testing, one two three: How these OPNFV tools can help any open infrastructure project

        As the number of open-source projects booms, so does the need for resiliency and interoperability testing.
        The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) community spent about four years of collective brainpower developing testing tools that can come in handy for open-source projects.

        These tools can be run against many different types of deployments as well as test different components of a system (VIM, Vswitch, storage, etc.). They can also perform different types of testing including infrastructure verification, feature validation, stress and resiliency testing, performance benchmarking and characterization.

        OPNFV is a collaborative open-source platform for network functions virtualization. This niche specialty — even in the open-source community — explains why people from other communities weren’t aware what was being developed in this “weird telco NFV domain” says Georg Kunz, a senior systems designer at Ericsson, who gave a talk about the tools at the Berlin Summit. “That’s a little unfortunate. Most of the test cases and tools that we’ve developed and the methodology around them is actually valuable for for everybody.”

      • The Future of Edge Computing

        More data is being creating now than ever before, and enterprises need to analyze that data in real time. Edge computing has emerged as the latest solution to enable real-time insights of data.

        In January 2019, the non-profit Linux Foundation launched a new umbrella organization aimed at providing harmonization to accelerate deployment among the rapidly growing number of edge computing devices. Named LF Edge, the organization is establishing a unified open source framework for edge computing that is vendor agonistic.

        The development could help enterprises leverage the future of edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). It provides a horizontal framework with open APIs that have full central visibility and control.

      • Building trust in open source: a look inside the OpenChain Project

        Open source software provides businesses with a number of benefits including cost, flexibility and freedom. This freely distributed software can also be easily altered by any business that is familiar with its source code.

        However, licensing issues do arise which could present a major hurdle for an organisation’s legal team. This is why the OpenChain Project was set up to help introduce common standards regarding how companies declare their open source efforts are compliant with licensing standards.

        TechRadar Pro spoke with OpenChain’s General Manager, Shane Coughlan to gain a better understanding of how open source licenses work and to learn how the Linux Foundation is making it easier for businesses to take advantage of open source software.

      • Sony Pictures Has Open-Sourced Software Used to Make ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ [Academy Software Foundation]
    • Graphics Stack

      • IGT Is Helping Keep Intel’s Display Driver & Other DRM/KMS Drivers In Good Shape

        Formerly known as Intel GPU Tools, the scope of “IGT” has been expanding now for providing tools and functionality testing not only around the Intel DRM/KMS driver but also the other mainline Linux display drivers.

        The tool goes just by IGT these days with the scope expanding beyond just supporting the Intel driver, but the focus remains on providing good test coverage and various features for testing DRM/KMS code. IGT ships with tests around various hardware/driver-specific interfaces as well as PRIME buffer sharing, kernel mode-setting, GEM memory management, and other test/tooling programs.

      • Intel Sends In Their Last Batch Of Graphics Driver Feature Updates For Linux 5.1

        As anticipated with the DRM-Next feature cutoff upon us for the next kernel cycle, Intel’s open-source developers today sent out their last planned set of feature changes slated for the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle.

        In preparation for the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle that will officially get underway when Linux 5.0 debuts around the end of February, Intel has already queued a lot of new material into the DRM-Next staging area. That earlier work most notably includes enabling Fastboot graphics by default for newer generations of graphics hardware for enhancing the boot experience. That Fastboot support by default is for Skylake and newer as well as various Atom SoCs. Also notable is Coffeelake GVT support for graphics virtualization. And the pull requests to DRM-Next over recent weeks have also included various Icelake fixes and other low-level improvements and code clean-ups.

      • AMDGPU Sends In More Linux 5.1 Updates With Seamless Boot Bits, FreeSync Fixes

        With the cutoff this weekend of new material in DRM-Next that hopes to make it in the upcoming Linux 5.1 cycle, besides Intel sending in a last batch, so has AMD with some more AMDGPU changes for this next version of the Linux kernel.

        The Linux 5.1 material for AMDGPU already queued include PCI Express bandwidth utilization being exported to user-space now via sysfs, initial BACO (Bus Active, Chip Off) support for Vega, exposing shader and memory clocks via hwmon, delta color compression on scan-out surfaces, and other changes. A secondary pull brought Vega 20 fixes and other miscellaneous fixes.

      • Gallium Nine Is Working On NIR Support So It Can Be Used With Intel Iris, Zink Vulkan

        Developers working on the “Gallium Nine” Direct3D 9 state tracker are working on supporting the NIR intermediate representation as an alternative option to the default TGSI IR used traditionally by Gallium3D drivers. In supporting NIR, Gallium Nine opens up to some interesting new possibilities.

      • After more than 10 years in development Wayland still hasn’t replaced X.org

        For over 10 years, a display server protocol called Wayland has been in development. Its goal is to offer Linux-based systems a streamlined alternative to the widely adopted X Window System.

        Windowing systems like Wayland and X provide an interface for programs to draw graphics on your screen.

        This includes desktop environment software that offers similar functionality to the macOS and Windows desktops, as well as applications like games.

        The X Window System, also referred to as X11 or X, was developed at MIT as part of a project to create a graphics system that was hardware and vendor independent.

        X version 11 (X11) was released on 15 September 1987, and Xfree86, a version of X11 for IBM PC Compatibles based on Intel’s 386 architecture, was released in 1992.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 8/9 vs. LLVM Clang 7/8 Compiler Performance On POWER9 With The Raptor Talos II

        Earlier this week I delivered the results of our largest-ever GCC vs. LLVM Clang Linux x86_64 compiler comparison with a dozen systems from various generations of Intel and AMD CPUs and using 62 benchmarks tested on GCC 8/9 and Clang 7/8 releases. In this article the compiler performance is being looked at for the IBM POWER9 architecture with the benchmarks done on a Raptor Computing Systems Talos II workstation running Ubuntu Linux.

        All of these POWER9 compiler benchmarks were done using the Raptor Talos II with that being our lone POWER9 system at the moment for testing, which was kindly sent over by Raptor Computing Systems. This Talos II configuration has dual 22-core POWER9 processors yielding 44 cores / 176 threads, 64GB of RAM, Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD 500GB, and for this testing was running a daily snapshot of Ubuntu 19.04 PPC64LE with the Linux 4.18 kernel.

      • NVIDIA’s Jetson AGX Xavier Carmel Performance vs. Low-Power x86 Processors

        Back in our NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier benchmarks from December, besides looking at the incredible Carmel+Volta GPU compute potential for machine learning and other edge computing scenarios, we also looked at the ARMv8 Carmel CPU core performance against various other ARM SoCs on different single board computers. But how do these eight NVIDIA Carmel CPU cores compare to x86_64 low-power processors? Here are some of those benchmarks for those curious about the NVIDIA CPU potential.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Stream Videos, Music And Pictures From Gnome To Chromecast With Cast To TV Extension (v6 And v7 Released)

        If you own a Chromecast device and you’re using Gnome Shell, you should give Cast to TV a try. This Gnome Shell extension adds a new entry in the system menu which allows casting local files to Chromecast or other devices over the local network.

      • Report from the GTK hackfest in Brussels

        Thanks to the GNOME Foundation, various GTK developers were able to meet in Brussels right after FOSDEM, for one of our yearly hackfests.

      • GTK+ No More – It’s Just GTK As Developers Prepare For This Year’s GTK 4.0

        Beyond the FOSDEM conference itself this past week in Brussels, GNOME developers also used the occasion once again for hosting a developer “hackfest” as they prepare for the home stretch in GTK 4.0 development.

        First up, the developers did decide this week to do away with “GTK+” with the project formally just going by “GTK” now… The “plus” is no more. “The “plus” was added to “GTK” once it was moved out of the GIMP sources tree and the project gained utilities like GLib and the GTK type system, in order to distinguish it from the previous, in-tree version. Very few people are aware of this history, and it’s kind of confusing from the perspective of both newcomers and even expert users; people join the wrong IRC channel, the URLs on wikis are fairly ugly, etc.”

      • GTK+ renamed to GTK

        The GTK+ toolkit project has, after extensive deliberation, decided to remove the “+” from its name.

      • GNOME Photos: an overview of zooming

        One thing that I really wanted from the beginning was smooth zooming. When the user clicks one of the zoom buttons or presses a keyboard shortcut, the displayed image should smoothly flow in and out instead of jumping to the final zoom level — similar to the way the image smoothly shrinks in to make way for the palette when editing, and expands outwords once done. See this animated mock-up from Jimmac to get an idea.

        For the zooming to be smooth, we need to generate a number of intermediate zoom levels to fill out the frames in the animation. We have to dish out something in the ballpark of sixty different levels every second to be perceived as smooth because that’s the rate at which most displays refresh their screens. This would have been easier with the 5 to 20 megapixel images generated by smart-phones and consumer-grade digital SLRs; but just because we want things to be slick, it doesn’t mean we want to limit ourselves to the ordinary! There is high-end equipment out there producing images in excess of a hundred megapixels and we want to robustly handle those too.

        Downscaling by large factors is tricky. When we are aiming to generate sixty frames per second, there’s less than 16.67 milliseconds for each intermediate zoom level. All we need is a slightly big zoom factor that stresses the CPU and main memory just enough to exceed our budget and break the animation. It’s a lot more likely to happen than a pathological case that crashes the process or brings the system to a halt.

      • MPSC Channel API for painless usage of threads with GTK in Rust

        A very common question that comes up on IRC or elsewhere by people trying to use the gtk-rs GTK bindings in Rust is how to modify UI state, or more specifically GTK widgets, from another thread.

        Due to GTK only allowing access to its UI state from the main thread and Rust actually enforcing this, unlike other languages, this is less trivial than one might expect. To make this as painless as possible, while also encouraging a more robust threading architecture based on message-passing instead of shared state, I’ve added some new API to the glib-rs bindings: An MPSC (multi-producer/single-consumer) channel very similar to (and based on) the one in the standard library but integrated with the GLib/GTK main loop.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Parrot Security OS: Product Review

        Generally, Parrot OS is pretty great user friendly and lightweight distro. While using it, you’ll find it nearly equal to Kali Linux except for some minor differences. It may not offer a lot of tools that are present in Kali Linux but overall collection of tools is amazing. It also offers some tools that are not present in Kali and other similar distros. Parrot Security OS isn’t just for Ethical Hacking and Pentesting, it is also for development, anonymity and privacy

    • New Releases

      • Kodachi 6.0

        Linux Kodachi operating system is based on Xubuntu 18.04 it will provide you with a secure, anti-forensic, and anonymous operating system considering all features that a person who is concerned about privacy would need to have in order to be secure.

        Kodachi is very easy to use all you have to do is boot it up on your PC via USB drive then you should have a fully running operating system with established VPN connection + Connection established + service running. No setup or knowledge is required from your side we do it all for you. The entire OS is functional from your temporary memory RAM so once you shut it down no trace is left behind all your activities are wiped out.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • A promise for the best until OpenMandriva does better: OMLx 4.0 Beta

        Our first release in 2019 is OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta, a close preview of the upcoming final release.
        Since Alpha1, OMLx 4.0 got a huge number of fixes and improvements.
        You may already be aware of some of them having read OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Alpha1 follow-up, some more came afterwards.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta Brings Installer Improvements, Dnfdragora GUI Package Manager

        The long-awaited OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 distribution update entered alpha for Christmas and this weekend was finally succeeded by the Lx 4.0 Beta 1 milestone.

        The OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 cycle prior to reaching alpha transitioned from RPM5 to RPM4, now employs DNF as the software package manager, makes use of LLVM Clang 7.0 as the default system compiler, began shipping AMD znver1 “Zen” optimized binaries, introduced AArch64 (ARM 64-bit) support, and offered a wealth of updated system packages.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE Looking At Blacklisting Legacy & Less Secure File-Systems

        Following a move by SUSE blacklisting legacy / less-used file-systems in SUSE Linux Enterprise, OpenSUSE is looking at doing the same to blacklist the kernel modules for a number of esoteric file-systems as well as the likes of JFS and F2FS.

        While users will be able to adjust their modprobe configuration files to override these kernel module blacklist entries, OpenSUSE is looking at following SLES’ lead into trying to ween users off these legacy file-systems or file-systems that have history of security issues or other concerns.

    • Fedora

      • Microsoft Joins the OpenChain Project, Google Open-Sources ClusterFuzz, New Android Vulnerability, FSF Gives the Vikings D8 Mainboard and Workstation Its “Respect Your Freedom” Endorsement, and Fedora Is Redesigning Its Logo

        Fedora is redesigning its logo due to issues with its current logo, including “the lack of a single colour variant”, “the logo not working well on dark backgrounds”, “confusion with other well-known brands, and the use of a proprietary font.” See this article by Máirín Duffy for more on the history of the Fedora logo and other details on the change, and also see this post to join the discussion on the new options.

      • Fedora Logo Redesign Update (Spoiler: It’s Looking Great)

        Last month we mentioned that the folks involved with Fedora were scoping out feedback on a potential redesign of the Fedora logo and typeface.

        A number of possible designs were put forward, and based on the reaction the post got it’s clear a lot of you had very strong opinions on the revamp ideas!

        Well, things have moved on a bit since then.

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-06

        I’ve set up weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

      • New openQA tests: update live image build/install

        Hot on the heels of adding installer image build/install tests to openQA, I’ve now added tests which do just the same, but for the Workstation live image.

        That means that, when running the desktop tests for an update, openQA will also run a test that builds a Workstation live image and a test that boots and installs it. The packages from the update will be used – if relevant – in the live image creation environment, and included in the live image itself. This will allow us to catch problems in updates that relate to the build and basic functionality of live images.

    • Debian Family

      • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS/ELTS (January 2019)

        In January 2019, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 10 hours and on the Debian ELTS project for 2 hours (of originally planned 6 + 1 hours) as a paid contributor. The non-worked 5 ELTS hours I have given back to the pool of available work hours.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nextcloud 15 review

    Overall, we can’t help but be impressed with Nextcloud.

    It provides almost all the features that you can get from Google, Microsoft or Dropbox, at a fraction of the cost and with the flexibility that only self-hosting provides.

    The only caveat to self-hosting is that backing up the storage is the responsibility of the business, not the software provider.

    Therefore, anyone implementing this might want to merge it with an off-site secure storage solution for those scenarios where the worst happens.

    For those wanting to explore what Nextcloud has to offer, they have a free evaluation version where they do the hosting and an instant trial.

    Have a look around the evaluation, as you might find that it is substantially better fit for your business than what the big providers have.

  • The dangers of proprietary software

    Let us consider what would have happened if Apple was an open source software or project. First, you would not need to wait for the main developers to patch the issue. You could review the code, make changes and update them as you wish. You could also submit the change to the project’s repository – GitHub or GitLab – and if accepted, the updated code would be implemented for all people to benefit from.

    You wouldn’t need a resume or an interview to see if you are worthy to contribute. You would be judged based on your work. You could be a 10-year-old living in the Arctics, it would not matter.

    As for the reporting of bugs in an open source environment, you can use the available social media channels, messaging platforms or the repository management system to directly reach the main development team. A common practice within open source communities, whether it is involving public blockchains or open source software and projects.

    Such communities are openly available for collaboration, suggestions or participation via an array of social platforms – such as Telegram, Slack, Discord and IRC. This is why they are so powerful, adaptable and robust.

  • Keeping the Big Picture In Sight at H2O World

    In his time at H2O.ai, Ambati has made a big mark. The core of the operation is the open source H2O software itself, a package of supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms, such as K-means clustering, random forests, gradient boosting machines, Word2Vec, and others.

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

    It was designed to be maintained by an open source community, and in 2013, Presto was released under the Apache License and its development was opened up to the public.

    [...]

    The Presto Software Foundation will be led by its three original creators: Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstorm, and David Phillips. Founding members of the foundation include engineers from Starburst Data, Treasure Data, Qubule, and Verada.

  • Google makes Chrome bug detection tool open-source

    In its latest effort to aid developers in finding bugs in their software, Google has announced that its scalable fuzzing tool ClusterFuzz will now be open-source and available to all.

    The search giant has been using the tool internally for some years now and it has allowed developers to find over 16,000 bugs in Chrome.

    A few years ago, Google launched its OSS-Fuzz service which utilised ClusterFuzz, though it was only available to open-source projects.

  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz

    Google today announced that it is open sourcing ClusterFuzz, a scalable fuzzing tool that can run on clusters with more than 25,000 machines.

    The company has long used the tool internally, and if you’ve paid particular attention to Google’s fuzzing efforts (and you have, right?), then this may all seem a bit familiar. That’s because Google launched the OSS-Fuzz service a couple of years ago and that service actually used ClusterFuzz. OSS-Fuzz was only available to open-source projects, though, while ClusterFuzz is now available for anyone to use.

  • Bring Marie Kondo tidying to your Twitter feed with this simple tool

    Created in Glitch, the open-source app lets you go through each account you follow one by one, showing the most recent tweets from that account and asking you if the tweets still spark joy or feel important to you.

  • Kboard is an open-source, programmable keyboard designed to be used alongside your regular keyboard

    When you think of a keyboard on an Android device you generally only picture an image with a row of letters for typing. Some keyboards as of late have added in additional features such as searching for a GIF (to be inserted into a messaging app) or doing an actual web search with Google (Gboard) or Bing (SwiftKey). You can do a lot more with a keyboard on Android and this is especially true with Kboard from XDA Junior Member adgad. In fact, Kboard is actually meant to be used alongside your regular keyboard of choice.

  • An influential group sponsored by the Silicon Valley tech titans warns that efforts are underway to ‘undermine the integrity of open source’

    For hundreds of years, the definition of a kilogram has stayed exactly the same. It’s a measure of standardization that allowed traders from all over the world to know exactly what they were buying, and how they could sell it.

    Now, one of Silicon Valley’s most important industry groups warns that the definition of the term “open source” must be guarded just as zealously as that of the kilogram — and that “recently there have been efforts to undermine the integrity of open source” by stretching the definition to suit their own self-interest.

    “These efforts are motivated by the interests of a few rather than the benefit of all, and are at odds with the principles that have so demonstratively served us well in the past decades,” writes the board of directors of the Open Source Initiative, in an open letter published earlier this week.

    “If allowed to continue, these efforts will erode the trust of both users and contributors, and hinder the innovation that is enabled by open source software, just as surely as having multiple definitions of a kilogram would erode and undermine commerce,” the OSI board wrote. The letter is co-signed by industry groups including the Mozilla Foundation.

  • Yosemite X Announces the First Open Source Public Blockchain without a Native Cryptocurrency

    Yosemite X, a blockchain technology company, today announced the release of its open source public blockchain that operates without a native cryptocurrency, giving developers and businesses the ability to build solutions and reduce costs, without the price volatility of crypto. This approach enables companies to reap the benefits of blockchain – greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency, speed of transactions at scale – and pay for their network usage with more stable fiat currencies.

  • Blockstream Open Sources Development of Its Proof of Reserves Tool

    On February 4, 2019, blockchain tech company Blockstream announced the development of a “proof of reserves” tool to standardize the authenticity of exchanges’ crypto reserves. The Bitcoin development company has submitted a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) to the bitcoin-dev mailing list for consideration.

    Blockstream stated that it is “open-sourcing the development of the tool for feedback from the industry.” Citing high-profile hacks as a reason why such services would be in demand, Blockstream is hoping to create a “best-practice standard Proof of Reserves for the industry, that offers broad compatibility with the way most Bitcoin exchanges are storing their users’ funds.”

  • Blockstream’s tool to prove the exchanges’ reserves goes open source

    Blockstream is working on a more secure version of Bitcoin proof of reserves and is currently open-sourcing the tool to get much-needed feedback, the company announced. Traditionally, a proof of reserves is different for each exchange and requires movements of all funds an exchange possesses, creating a serious security risk.

    Blockstream’s Proof of Reserves tool is based on “tried-and-tested methods” that are already in use, while addressing the issues they present. The significant change the tool offers is that the exchange can prove how much in assets it has without actually making any transactions—providing transparency without posing a possible threat to the assets. All it needs to do is to create a transaction spending all of the exchange’s bitcoin UTXO and include an extra invalid input. The invalid input renders the entire transaction invalid; however, it can still be used as a proof.

  • Tesla Hacker Launches Open-Source Project ‘FreedomEV’ To Run On Rooted Teslas, Bring New Wi-Fi Hotspot and Anti-Tracking Features

    The Tesla Hacker, Jasper Nuyens — who uncovered Tesla’s “unconfirmed lane change” last year — now launched at FOSDEM an open-source project called “FreedomEV” to run on top of rooted Teslas. It adds new features to the vehicles, such as a “Hotspot Mode” for in-car Wi-Fi and a “Cloak Mode” to prevent all location tracking and more. It hopes to become available for other cars too. Full presentation video can be found here. The Github project and the website. He is looking for contributors and support from Tesla.

  • Guide for GPlus refugees to choose a new social network in the Fediverse

    Time is running out for GPlus refugees. G+ will close on April 2nd. So to help people that haven’t decided yet where to go in the Fediverse I made some pointers.

    I divided this guide in a number of sections. Each section describes a certain use of social networks and which networks are most suitable for this specific use. Combine this with your preferred use of a social network and you should be able make a decision.

  • Events

    • Ekaterina Gerasimova: Organising the FOSDEM stand

      Since my first FOSDEM, one of the most prominent features of the biggest F/LOSS European conference for me has been the GNOME stand. At my first FOSDEM it was in the packed building H, nowadays it’s moved to the not-quite-as-badly-packed building K. I started off as an attendee, then eventually got into merchandise printing and handling the GNOME events box as I was helping out with other events anyway.

    • Christof Damian: Fosdem 2019

      This year I managed for the first time to attend Fosdem in Brussels. Since I started to be involved in open source software I always wanted to go, but somehow something else always came up. This time I made an early effort to book my vacation days, hotel and flight.

    • 2019 OSEHRA Summit Dates Announced
    • FOSDEM 2019 and Plasma Mobile Sprint

      FOSDEM was fun and inspiring as usual, even if actually getting to see talks has become almost impossible, due to the limit amount of space and the ever growing amount of attendees. However the real value of FOSDEM for me is meeting people anyway, you can’t move a few meters without running into someone you know and want to catch up with.

      Adrian and Agustín have already written about KDE’s presence. My personal highlight was Alistair’s work of bringing Plasma Mobile to RISC-V. Open Source harware and Free Software are a perfect team, and it was also very nice to see our work on bringing KDE components to Yocto being used for this.

    • The Browser Tutorial

      Last week I was invited to give a talk at the first edition of the “Jornadas Tecnológicas Insert Coín” in Coín (Málaga, Spain) to the students of the high school I.E.S. Los Montecillos and other high schools of the area. The subject of the talk was cross-platform development with KDE and Qt. I think the talk was very well received and the students seemed to like it (at least, I think they did). I organized the talk in two sections, first some slides about Qt and KDE (mostly about KDE Frameworks), and then some “live” development to show how use Qt Creator to develop a small web browser with Qt in C++ and then how to use KDevelop to develop the same application in Python.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Using AVX2 With Android’s Bionic Library Can Yield Much Better Chromebook Performance

        Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has published a whitepaper looking at the Android application performance impact on Intel-powered Chromebooks when the Android Bionic Library is optimized for AVX2.

        To little surprise considering the AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) performance benefits we have seen on the Linux desktop when binaries are built with AVX support, and especially on platforms like Clear Linux that really exploit the potential of these instruction set extensions in modern CPUs, the performance improvement on Chromebooks can be quite profound.

      • Chrome 73 Beta: Constructable stylesheets, a new RegExp function, and passive mouse events

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 73 on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 73 is beta as of February 8, 2019.

      • Chrome 73 Rolls Out Into Beta With Linux Improvements & More

        Google developers on Friday pushed Chrome 73 into their beta channel as they prepare to button up this web browser update for debuting as stable around 12 March.

        On the Linux front with Chrome 73, they enabled the mojo video decoders. There are also more Wayland improvements within the Chrome 73 release, but sadly nothing new to report on the Linux desktop video acceleration front.

      • Google introduces Media key functionality with new Chrome 73 Update

        Google, while having a significant impact on how we interact with the internet, has established itself quite well in the market. Perhaps it was when they introduced their web browser, Chrome, back in 2008. Since then, their browser has evolved quite a bit to what it will be, come its update 73.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Kenya Government mandates DNA-linked national ID, without data protection law

        Last month, the Kenya Parliament passed a seriously concerning amendment to the country’s national ID law, making Kenya home to the most privacy-invasive national ID system in the world. The rebranded, National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) now requires all Kenyans, immigrants, and refugees to turn over their DNA, GPS coordinates of their residential address, retina scans, iris pattern, voice waves, and earlobe geometry before being issued critical identification documents. NIIMS will consolidate information contained in other government agency databases and generate a unique identification number known as Huduma Namba.

        It is hard to see how this system comports with the right to privacy articulated in Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution. It is deeply troubling that these amendments passed without public debate, and were approved even as a data protection bill which would designate DNA and biometrics as sensitive date is pending.

        Before these amendments, in order to issue the National ID Card (ID), the government only required name, date and place of birth, place of residence, and postal address. The ID card is a critical document that impacts everyday life, without it, an individual cannot vote, purchase property, access higher education, obtain employment, access credit, or public health, among other fundamental rights.

        Mozilla strongly believes that that no digital ID system should be implemented without strong privacy and data protection legislation. The proposed Data Protection Bill of 2018 which Parliament is likely to consider next month, is a strong and thorough framework that contains provisions relating to data minimization as well as collection and purpose limitation. If NIIMS is implemented, it will be in conflict with these provisions, and more importantly in conflict with Article 31 of the Constitution, which specifically protects the right to privacy.

      • Immersive Media Content Creation Guide

        Firefox Reality is ready for your panoramic images and videos, in both 2D and 3D. In this guide you will find advice for creating and formatting your content to best display on the immersive web in Firefox Reality.

      • 15 Firefox Addons To Consider Using Right Now

        Firefox is a hugging amazing browser. It’s fast, smooth and respects your privacy & security very much. Firefox also comes by default on most Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu/Fedora/openSUSE. It also has the ability to add addons, which will allow you to boost your productivity a lot depending on your user setup.

        In this post, we’ll take a tour on some extremely important Firefox addons that you should check right now.

      • Session Sync – A nice session manager for Firefox Quantum

        Back in the good ole days, Firefox had a wealth of excellent, powerful extensions. Among them, Tab Mix Plus with a superb built-in session manager. Come Firefox Quantum (57 onwards) and WebExtensions, a lot of goodies have gone away, forever. We are left with diminished functionality.

        One of the things that I’ve been hunting after the most is a flexible session manager akin to the old stuff, with the ability to manage multiple sessions in a smart, simple, elegant way. I think I’ve finally found an addon that does the trick. It’s called Session Sync, and I’m happy enough to actually write a whole article about this.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • MapR Open Source Analytics Pack Boosts Kafka and Kubernetes, Adds C#, Go

      Updated quarterly, MEP releases are bundled MapR Ecosystem projects labeled with specific versions. In the new v6.1 offering, MapR — now an “AI and analytics” company — said developers and data scientists gain maximum flexibility in accessing data and building artificial intelligence/machine learning, real-time analytics and stateful containerized applications.

    • MapR ecosystem pack amplifies Kubernetes connections

      Data analytics firm MapR Technologies has sealed the cellophane on the MapR Ecosystem Pack (MEP) at its 6.1 version iteration.

      The toolpack is meant to give developers (and data scientists, unless they happen to be the same person) flexibility in terms of how they access data and build AI/ML real-time analytics and, also, flexibility for building stateful containerised applications.

    • Red Hat gives thanks for Turkcell virtualization win

      Turkish operator Turkcell has launched a virtualization platform called Unified Telco Cloud that’s based on Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform.

      As the name implies this new platform is all about centralising all its services onto a single virtualized infrastructure. This NFVi then allows east selection and implementation of virtual network functions, or so the story goes. Examples of operators going all-in on this stuff are still sufficiently rare for this to be noteworthy.

      As a consequence this deal win is also a big deal for Red Hat, which has invested heavily in attacking the telco virtualization market from an open source direction, as is its wont. Red Hat OpenStack Platform is its carrier-grade distribution of the open source hybrid cloud platform. Turkcell is also using Red Hat Ceph Storage, a software-defined storage technology designed for this sort of thing.

    • Turkcell Catalyzes Digital Services Innovation Through its Unified Telco Cloud on Red Hat OpenStack Platform
    • 2018 OpenStack Foundation Annual Report

      As one looks back at the passing year, the events which often come to mind first are sometimes surprising. As I thought about 2018 while enjoying a hot cup of holiday cheer, the Dublin PTG was top of mind. As everyone who attended will recall, the event encountered the “Beast from the East.” This sudden, century level storm paralyzed the country, closed the airports, street cars, trains, taxis and of most critical to us Stackers – the PTG venue. Yet what pulled all of us out of our comfort zone turned out to be a very positive demonstration of the strengths of the OpenStack open source community. It was a defining moment for me, and a revealing one for the strength of our community.

    • The Taloflow Instance Manager (Tim)

      Taloflow is a Vancouver- and California-based startup, offering a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that seamlessly integrates into your preferred cloud service provider to set up alerts, capture metrics and automate a list of useful actions. The company is focused solely on bringing artificial intelligence (AI) automation and intelligence to cloud services. Currently, Taloflow is an operation of at least eight talented engineers coming from all business backgrounds (from startups to enterprises).

    • Databricks Continues To Grow Big Data Platform For Enterprise Apps

      Demand for advanced data analytics is helping to push Databricks and the open source Apache Spark project forward.

      At the core of many modern enterprise apps and services is a fundamental need for data analytics. It’s a need that Databricks and the open source Apache Spark project that it leads both help to fill.

      It’s also a need that a lot of organizations are willing to pay for. On Feb. 5, Databricks announced that it now generates over $100 million in annual revenue. Databricks still wants to grow more, and to that end the company raised a $250 million Series E funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue Management, Microsoft, and New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Total funding to date for Databricks now stands at $498.5 million, and the company has a publicly stated valuation of $2.75 billion.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 brings new interfaces, performance improvements to the open source office suite

      New interface styles and feature improvements are available in version 6.2 of LibreOffice—the most popular open-source office suite—released Thursday by The Document Foundation. As with any software update, bug fixes and feature enhancements are present, making this release a significant upgrade, particularly for users coming from Microsoft Office, or working with files created with those programs.

    • LibreOffice patches RCE flaw – Apache OpenOffice doesn’t
    • LibreOffice 6.2 released

      LibreOffice 6.1.5 also released, for enterprise class deployments and
      mainstream users looking for robust productivity

      Berlin, February 7, 2019 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice
      6.2 with NotebookBar, a significant major release of the free office suite
      which features a radical new approach to the user interface – based on the
      MUFFIN concept [1] – and provides user experience options capable of
      satisfying all users’ preferences, while leveraging all screen sizes in the
      best way.

      The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual flavors,
      each one with a different approach to the menu layout, and complements the
      traditional Toolbars and Sidebar. The Tabbed variant aims to provide a
      familiar interface for users coming from proprietary office suites and is
      supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar, while the Grouped one
      allows to access “first-level” functions with one click and
      “second-level” functions with a maximum of two clicks.

      The design community has also made substantial changes and improvements to
      icon themes, in particular Elementary and Karasa Jaga.

      LibreOffice 6.2 new and improved features:

      The help system offers faster filtering of index keywords, highlighting
      search terms as they are typed and displaying results based on the selected
      module.
      Context menus have been tidied up, to be more consistent across the
      different components in the suite.
      Change tracking performances have been dramatically improved, especially
      in large documents.
      In Writer, it is now possible to copy spreadsheet data into tables instead
      of just inserting them as objects.
      In Calc, it is now possible to do multivariate regression analysis using
      the regression tool. In addition, many more statistical measures are now
      available in the analysis output, and the new REGEX function has been
      added, to match text against a regular expression and optionally replace
      it.
      In Impress & Draw, the motion path of animations can now be modified by
      dragging its control points. In addition, a couple of text-related drawing
      styles have been added, as well as a Format Table submenu in Draw.
      LibreOffice Online, the cloud-based version of the suite, includes many
      improvements too. On mobile devices, the user interface has been
      simplified, with better responsiveness and updates to the on-screen
      keyboard.

      Interoperability with proprietary file formats has also been improved, as
      with every major and minor version of LibreOffice, for better compatibility
      with Office documents, including old versions which have been deprecated by
      Microsoft. The focus has been on charts and animations, and on document
      security features, with agile encryption and HMAC verification.

      LibreOffice 6.2′s new features have been developed by a large community of
      code contributors: 74% of commits are from developers employed by companies
      sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other
      contributors such as the City of Munich and SIL, and 26% are from
      individual volunteers.

      In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking
      care of other fundamental activities such as quality assurance, software
      localization, user interface design and user experience, editing of help
      system and documentation, plus free software and open document standards
      advocacy at a local level.

      A video summarizing the top new features of LibreOffice 6.2 is available on
      YouTube:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice 6.1.5 for enterprise class deployments

      The Document Foundation has also released LibreOffice 6.1.5, a more mature
      version which includes some months of back-ported fixes and is better
      suited for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important
      than robustness as the main objective is individual productivity.

      Enterprises willing to deploy LibreOffice on a professional basis should
      source value-added services – related to software support, migrations and
      training – from certified people
      (http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…
      and a
      LibreOffice LTS (Long Term Supported) versions provided by one of the
      companies sitting on TDF Advisory Board
      (http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Sourcing enterprise class software and/or services from the ecosystem of
      certified professionals are the best support options for organizations
      deploying LibreOffice on a large number of desktops. In fact, these
      activities are contributed back to the project under the form of
      improvements to the software and the community, and trigger a virtuous
      circle which is beneficial to all parties, including users.

      Availability of LibreOffice 6.2 and LibreOffice 6.1.5

      LibreOffice 6.2 and LibreOffice 6.1.5 are immediately available from the
      following web page:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Builds of the
      latest LibreOffice Online source code are also available, released as
      Docker images:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice Online is fundamentally a server service, and should be
      installed and configured by adding cloud storage and an SSL certificate. It
      might be considered an enabling technology for the cloud services offered
      by ISPs or the private cloud of enterprises and large organizations.

      LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can
      support The Document Foundation with a donation at

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice 6.2 is built with document conversion libraries from the
      Document Liberation Project:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Press Kit

      The press kit is here:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      [1]

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

    • LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

      While Microsoft was upending the scorn bucket on its own productivity tools, The Document Foundation shoved out an update of LibreOffice, replete with user interface tweaks and improved Office compatibility.

      Originally forked from OpenOffice back in 2010, LibreOffice comprises a word processor in the form of “Writer”, a spreadsheet in “Calc” and “Impress” for PowerPoint-esque presentations. It also includes tools for vector drawing, database and formula editing.

      The new version 6.2 is the first release in 2019. 6.0 appeared just over a year ago and 6.1 turned up in August. It remains free and can be downloaded in Windows, Linux and Mac flavours.

      We took a look at the Windows 10 version, the installation of which proved a little problematic.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 will protect you from Office 2019

      OPEN SOURCE Microsoft spoiler LibreOffice has released a major new edition, with a whole crop of new features and tweaks.

      The Document Foundation, custodians of the brand, announced LibreOffice 6.2, which brings a tabbed interface for the first time and even more file format compatibility.

      This is great news for Microsoft, which recently launched a series of adverts saying how you really shouldn’t buy Office 2019, though this is probably not what they had in mind.

    • Cyber Security Today: U.S. restaurant chain hacked, attack uses real document, patch open office suites

      U.S. restaurant chain has been hacked, an attack uses a real document to trip uses and patch open office suites

      [...]

      Speaking of patching, some people and businesses are saving money by using open source productivity suites like LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice for Windows, Linux or Macs. Well, they’re not immune from being attacked, just like Microsoft Office. A security researcher has discovered a severe vulnerability in the two open source suites. He reported them months ago, and LibreOffice was patched — which is another reason why you should update to the latest version if you haven’t done so already. OpenOffice, which may be vulnerable. hasn’t yet issued a fix. For technical details here’s a link to the researcher’s blog.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 is Here: This is the Last Release with 32-bit Support

      LibreOffice is my favorite office suite as a free and powerful alternative to Microsoft Office tools on Linux. Even when I use my Windows machine – I prefer to have LibreOffice installed instead of Microsoft Office tools any day.

      Now, with the recent LibreOffice 6.2 update, there’s a lot of good stuff to talk about along with a bad news.

  • Networking

    • The role of open source in networking

      Technology is always evolving. However, in recent time, two significant changes have emerged in the world of networking. Firstly, the networking is moving to software that can run on commodity off-the-shelf hardware. Secondly, we are witnessing the introduction and use of many open source technologies, removing the barrier of entry for new product innovation and rapid market access.

      Networking is the last bastion within IT to adopt the open source. Consequently, this has badly hit the networking industry in terms of slow speed of innovation and high costs. Every other element of IT has seen radical technology and cost model changes over the past 10 years. However, IP networking has not changed much since the mid-’90s.

    • Ericsson becomes newest member of O-RAN Alliance

      The vendor said that it will “actively support and drive discussions and development of network architecture evolution”

      Ericsson has joined the O-RAN Alliance, which focuses on evolving the radio access network (RAN) architecture and orchestration toward open-source, rather than proprietary, implementations.

      Ericsson said that joining the O-RAN Alliance “reinforces [its]commitment to network evolution, openness, and industry collaboration” and that it will “focus on the open interworking between RAN and network orchestration and automation, with emphasis on AI-enabled closed-loop automation and end-to-end optimization, with the aim of lowering operating cost and improve end-user performance.”

    • AT&T Inks ’8-Figure’ Kubernetes & OpenStack 5G Deal With Mirantis

      AT&T needs Kubernetes and OpenStack to provide the flexibility and agility required for a cutting edge, continent-spanning 5G network. “There really isn’t much of an alternative,” Van Wyk says. “Your alternative is VMware. We’ve done the assessments, and VMware doesn’t check boxes we need.”

      He adds, “We’re progressive, we’re on the bleeding edge. The 5G core and architecture we’re implementing — we’re doing it for the first time in the world. When you’re pushing the capabilities of the available software and you’re in the front end of that, you need to innovate fast. We believe the communities around open source projects are the way to do that.”

    • Mirantis signs huge networking deal with AT&T

      This is an eight-figure, three-year deal to build out AT&T 5G’s infrastructure using Airship. Airship is a project originally founded by AT&T, SKT, and Intel. It was launched as a pilot Open Infrastructure Project under the OpenStack Foundation in May 2018. Airship is designed to enable telcos to take advantage of on-premises Kubernetes infrastructure to support their SDN infrastructure builds.

      Mirantis will collaborate with AT&T and other core contributors to develop Airship’s critical features. This work will then be rapidly deployed in production at scale via AT&T’s Airship, Kubernetes, and OpenStack-based Network Cloud infrastructure.

    • Charter Might Paint Its Home Gateways & Devices ‘Prpl’

      Charter Communications is giving serious consideration to Prpl, a new open source software stack for broadband gateways and other devices, as the MSO mulls its next-gen plans for gateways and other broadband devices that can support and run a mix of new value-added smart home and IoT services and applications, multiple industry sources said.

      Prpl, an open source software effort run by the Prpl Foundation , has some linkages to OpenWrt, a generic platform that’s on millions of retail routers and has gained some traction with various telcos. As it’s been retail-focused, OpenWrt itself doesn’t have a service provider layer, but Prpl is adding those key elements, providing hooks into service provider backend systems. That effort emerges as carriers seek out open source software options that can provide consistency across different OEMs and establish a way for them to manage and orchestrate new services across their population of devices.

    • CPU Selection for uCPE Is About More Than Architecture

      I’ve often said that network functions virtualization (NFV) is about bringing cloud technologies to the telco network. One of the biggest benefits of such a transition is the replacement of closed appliances with open servers. The most common of these servers are built on Intel architecture (IA), but other architecture options are available, including ARM.

    • Coders and developers: The new heroes of the network?

      The news announcements came thick and fast, and at every turn, they were software-defined. From the extension of its intent-based networking (IBN) platform to the edge of the enterprise to support application innovation around the internet of things (IoT), to the introduction of HyperFlex for Branch, which supports “datacentre-class app performance” in branch offices and remote sites, software is on the march at Cisco, and is now well on its way to becoming firmly established at the core of Cisco’s customers’ networks.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • What matters most to open-source chat plat Mattermost? To shove this fresh $20m into security, privacy

      Slack-for-engineers Mattermost has said it plans to plough its $20m Series-A funding into privacy and security.

      Mattermost is open source and, its CEO Ian Tien told The Register, is “by developers for developers” – words that usually strike fear into the heart of UI designers.

      However, the messaging platform has proved popular with engineering teams, enamored by access to the code as well as the many, many add-ons published. A quick look at GitHub shows more than a thousand in various stages of development.

    • Slack Competitor Mattermost Raises $20 Million in Funding

      Mattermost, an open source messaging platform, this week announced it has closed a $20 million series A funding round led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from S28 Capital and Y Combinator.

    • Slack competitor Mattermost raises $20 million for its workplace chat app

      Private, open source Slack competitor Mattermost today closed a $20 million funding round to help members of its community create new plugins and integrations.

      The news comes a day after Slack shared plans to go public and workplace collaboration app Coda launched out of beta.

      Mattermost has shaped itself in Slack’s image. Like that popular real-time workplace messaging app, Mattermost began as a provider of communications for gamers, CEO Ian Tien told VentureBeat in a phone interview, but was later sold as a team communications service to enterprise customers.

    • How open source Mattermost is sneaking up on Slack’s messaging empire

      Slack may be making the headlines with its confidential, $8 billion filing to go public, but there’s another, under the radar open source phenomenon playing in that same enterprise messaging market. Mattermost, which just announced a $20 million, Redpoint-led Series A venture round, started as a gaming platform, like Slack, but unlike Slack Mattermost delivers enterprise messaging flexibility through open source, to the tune of 10,000 downloads per month, each of which supports hundreds of Slack-sized teams.

      While this may sound like an underdog story, Mattermost already boasts large customers as varied as Amazon, Uber, and the US Department of Defense. Indeed, Mattermost offers an interesting case study on how to do open source right as a component of a business strategy.

    • This Is How Open Source Companies And Programmers Keep The Cash Flowing

      Over the years, the popularity of open source has skyrocketed, and companies dealing with open source products are making a chunk of revenue. When we talk about open source, many believe that open source technologies are free. However, that is not always true; companies like Red Hat have built business models on open source technologies.

      Furthermore, it is widely believed that people create open source software out of their love for programming. But there is another question that needs to be answered. “How do open source companies and programmers make money?” So, in this article, we will give you an idea about the business model of an open source company. Open source also helps enterprises and small businesses benefit from tech innovations.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • How open source drives innovation in the UK public sector

      In the last decade or so, the UK public sector has accelerated through a sea change of tech-driven modernisation under the banner of digital transformation. A report released last week revealed that mobiles and tablets now account for the majority of internet traffic to GOV.UK services.

      Mobile access has been non-negotiable for most modern businesses for a number of years. Yet the figure truly crystallises the progress made in a segment not known for being on the pulse of tech trends, and one often satirised for lagging remarkably behind wider industry. Last July, in a dish seemingly readymade for farce-hungry twitter trolls, the Government’s new Digital Secretary was revealed to have not tweeted since 2015.

      To say that Government ministers are overflowing with enthusiasm for solutions that improve the speed, efficiency and quality of their services would be to put it mildly. The fervour is best exemplified by the new UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who since taking on the role has embarked on a PR stroke evangelical mission to eulogise how AI and other technologies can transform the NHS once and for all.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Free Software Foundation Europe Calls for Open Source 5G License

      The Free Software Foundation Europe has said the recent controversy surrounding Huawei shows governments and consumers don’t trust tech giants. However, FSFE believes one potential fix would be for companies to publish code through the Free and Open Source Software license.

      Huawei has been a long-time target of regulators around the world. The company is believed to be using its technology to backdoor spy for the Chinese government. There is an ongoing debate around Huawei’s 5G networks and concerns over privacy.

      Canada could block Huawei 5G and the Chinese government has responded. It seems China suspects Huawei will be blocked, and the country’s ambassador said Ottawa will face repercussions if a bad is imposed.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Researchers committed to open-science efforts

      Placing collaboration above competition, Western researchers are giving 300 labs around the world the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the mouse brain in hopes of unlocking the secrets Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders in humans. Led by BrainsCAN, this is the latest and largest project undertaken by the neuroscience initiative in a push for open-science research.

    • New Computer Program Aims to Reduce DNA Contamination in Microbial Samples

      A new, open-source software package created by researchers at NC State and Stanford could help reduce contamination in microbial samples.

    • New Version of HLN’s Award Winning Open Source Immunization Forecaster Released
    • Open Data

    • Open Access/Content

      • UI senate handily OKs resolution to lower textbook, classroom costs

        A measure to give University of Illinois students relief from rising textbook prices and classroom costs won overwhelming approval from the campus Academic Senate on Monday, though one provision was dropped at the urging of faculty voters.

        Also Monday, senators handily approved a resolution highlighting the tools professors can use to deal with disruptive students in their classes, which evolved from an earlier measure aimed at classroom “trolls.” Senate leaders said a separate task force is needed to study the emerging threat of cyberharassment.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • This guy created an open source 3D printable solution to A7III overheating issues

        We thought with the Sony A6500 that the overheating issue days with Sony would be over, but apparently not.

      • Someone Made an Open-Source Body Cooler for Overheating Sony Cameras

        Sony’s mirrorless cameras have been known to have overheating issues, prompting Sony to release firmware fixes and photographers to come up with novel solutions such as mounted sunshades. Now one guy has created an open-source design for a Sony camera body cooler.

        Brian Windle of Wilmington, Delaware, has shared a design for a Sony a7 III body cooler over on Thingiverse, where you can download all the files needed to 3D print and assemble your own.

      • Industry leaders to present Open Source on Arm insights at Linaro Connect Bangkok 2019

        Linaro Ltd, the open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the Arm® ecosystem, announced today the keynote speakers for Linaro Connect Bangkok 2019. Joining the hundreds of engineers at the Centara Grand in Bangkok, Thailand 1-4 April 2019, will be industry leaders invited to share their insights into different segments and topics relating to the Arm ecosystem.

      • Open Source LIDAR Lets You Get Down To The Nitty Gritty

        If you’re unfamiliar with LIDAR, you might have noticed it sounds a bit like radar. That’s no accident – LIDAR is a backronym standing for “light detection and ranging”, the word having initially been created as a combination of “light” and “radar”. The average person is most likely to have come into contact with LIDAR at the business end of a police speed trap, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Unruly is the open source LIDAR project you’ve been waiting for all along.

        Unlike a lot of starter projects, LIDAR isn’t something you get into with a couple of salvaged LEDs and an Arduino Uno. We’re talking about measuring the time it takes light to travel relatively short distances, so plenty of specialised components are required. There’s a pulsed laser diode, and a special hypersensitive avalanche photodiode that operates at up to 130 V. These are combined with precision lenses and filters to ensure operation at the maximum range possible. Given that light can travel 300,000 km in a second, to get any usable resolution, a microcontroller alone simply isn’t fast enough to cut it here. A specialized time-to-digital converter (TDC) is used to time how long it takes the light pulse to return from a distant object. Unruly’s current usable resolution is somewhere in the ballpark of 10 mm – an impressive feat.

      • DIY Arduino weather station is open source, tweets and more

        Hackster.io member Jonty has published a new project providing details on how to build your very own DIY Arduino weather station. Aptly named TWIST the open source environmental monitoring system is capable of sending tweets and collecting meteorological data thanks to its include gas, rain, light, temperature and humidity sensors. The weather station takes approximately two hours to build and has been classed at an intermediate skill level project.

        Powered by the Intel Edison Board the Internet of Things weather station can be modified further and is compatible with a variety of sensors. All code, design files, schematics and PCB layouts are open source enabling those interested to share their modifications and new sensor support with others.

        “Ever wanted to monitor your city’s Current Weather Conditions, Carbon Footprint, Noise and Pollution levels? Do you want be a Climate Change Crusader or set-up your own Tweeting Weather Station and share your local weather conditions with the world?”

      • Internet, meet things: This starter kit is perfect for makers

        Spend any time at all around creative-minded techies, and you’ll likely hear about Arduino. Whether you’re making a simple motion sensor or a fully internet-controlled robot, Arduino is the platform of choice. If you’re just diving in, we can’t think of a better entry point than the Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit & Course Bundle.

      • Arduino Enters the Cloud

        Love it or hate it, for many people embedded systems means Arduino. Now Arduino is leveraging its more powerful MKR boards and introducing a cloud service, the Arduino IoT Cloud. The goal is to make it simple for Arduino programs to record data and control actions from the cloud.

        The program is in beta and features a variety of both human and machine interaction styles. At the simple end, you can assemble a dashboard of controls and have the IoT Cloud generate your code and download it to your Arduino itself with no user programming required. More advanced users can use HTTP REST, MQTT, Javascript, Websockets, or a suite of command line tools.

        The system relies on “things” like temperature sensors, LEDs, and servos. With all the focus on security now, it isn’t surprising that the system supports X.509 authentication and TLS security for traffic in both directions.

      • SmartDV Supports RISC-V Movement with TileLink Verification IP for RISC-V Based Systems
  • Programming/Development

    • Write nbdkit plugins in Rust

      The news is you can now write nbdkit plugins in Rust. As with the OCaml bindings, Rust plugins compile to native *.so plugin files which are loaded and called directly from nbdkit. However it really needs a Rust expert to implement a more natural and idiomatic way to use the API than what we have now.

    • GCC 9 Status Report (2019-02-08)
    • GCC 9 Continues Stabilizing While GCC 8.3 Will Slip In Soon

      The GCC 9.1.0 release as the first stable version of GCC 9 is stabilizing at a rate where it should debut by/around April. For those sticking to the GCC 8 series a bit longer, the GCC 8.3.0 compiler update is also on the way.

      Red Hat’s Jakub Jelinek sent out a status report for GCC 8.3 with that release about due based upon its traditional timing. However, there was recently a P1 regression (the most severe) recently recorded. Once that regression gets tackled, the GCC 8.3.0 release will likely be tagged. There’s also a call for back-porting of any other relevant fixes back to the GCC8 stable series.

    • Clazy 1.5 released

      Clazy 1.5 is now available. This is a small release, mainly focused on bug fixing.

    • Machine learning with sparse, high-dimensional and large datasets
    • PyCon 2020-2021 Location [Ed: “Keystone Level” (highest level) sponsor is only Microsoft (with ad added to the page) because they hope to ‘hijack’ the project]
    • Wing Python IDE 7.0.0.6 Early Access

      The second beta release of Wing Python IDE version 7 is now available through our Early Access Program. Although you may find minor problems, this release is stable and usable for real work.

      [...]

      This release also improves display on high DPI monitors on Windows and Linux. On Linux, Wing may now suggest a scale factor configuration based on inspection of your primary display.

    • Counts the points of our team in the championship
    • Best Python open source projects for beginners

      For beginners, trying themselves in a Python open source project may become quite a cognitive time spending. Taking into account that during the last five years the Python is widely recognized as a “Most popular coding language”, in many, thanks to the high readability extent and the efficiency it gained the extensive fan-audience of developers. But how to start working with the Python if you have never had the luck to get closer to it? The answer is simple. Nothing is capable of teaching you to understand the Python code better than contributing to some of the open source projects.

      The open source project is a project publicly available. Everyone can take existing open-source projects, read its code, modify it, use it, and publish their own changes again under the relevant Open Source licenses.

      For the newbies, the open source is first of all the opportunity to get practice in a real project and a good chance to find help in exchange for their own time dedicated to the project.

    • Create a player object in pygame
    • 10 Machine Learning Projects Every Tech Aficionado Must Work On In 2019

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence have had a high impact on the evolving future of technology as well as human lives.

    • Clojure devs are all about Java 8 and functional programming

      What’s the state of the Clojure ecosystem in 2019? According to Clojure’s annual survey, Clojure devs are still in love with Java 8 and use it for web development and open source. We take a closer look at the 2019 results to see what’s really going on in this functional programming language.

    • Electron Apps Are Bad, So Now You Can Create Desktop Apps With HTML5 + Golang

      The Electron software framework that allows creating desktop GUI application interfaces using JavaScript and relies upon a bundled Chromium+Node.js run-time is notorious among most Linux desktop users for being resource heavy, not integrating well with most desktops, and generally being despised. For those that are fond of using web standards for creating desktop GUIs, now there is a way to create desktop application front-ends using HTML5 and Golang but with less baggage.

      Developer Serge Zaitsev presented at FOSDEM 2019 last weekend in Brussels about his work on the Webview and Lorca libraries. These libraries allow building modern desktop applications within the Go programming language while writing the interfaces in HTML5.

    • Return the day in a week with python

      In this example, we are going to develop a method which will receive a number from the user input and returns which day in a week is that numbers refer to. For example, 1 is Sunday and 2 is Monday. If the number is too large or too small then the program will return an error message. Below is the solution to this question, if you have a better solution don’t forget to leave your answer on the below tweet.

    • The Zen of Python
    • Moving iterators in C++

      This will be a short post about a feature in STL that seems to be not as well-known as it should be.

      Imagine we want to create a small function that collects files in the subdirectories of the current directory. So, a list that would be returned by ls */*.

      Note that namespace fs = std::filesystem; is used in the examples.

    • Catching up with the Anaconda distribution

      It’s time to catch up with the Anaconda crew and see what’s new in the Anaconda distribution. This edition of Python was created to solve some of the stickier problems of deployment, especially in the data science space. Their usage gives them deep insight into how Python is being used in the enterprise space as well. Which turns out to be a very interesting part of the conversation.

    • Düsseldorf Sprint Report 2019

      We are happy to report a successful and well attended sprint that is wrapping up in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the last week we had eighteen people sprinting at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf on various topics.

Leftovers

  • Does The Spotify Gimlet Purchase Signal The End Of The Open World Of Podcasting?

    If you follow this kind of news at all, you probably have heard that Spotify has recently purchased two podcasting companies: Gimlet Media and Anchor. Gimlet makes a ton of high quality, highly produced podcasts (it’s like the HBO of podcasting), while Anchor is a combination of a podcasting advertising network and a set of tools to let anyone create their own podcasts easily (it’s like the SqaureSpace of podcasts). On the one hand, it’s good to see podcasts getting some attention and interest, and Spotify is clearly one of the largest services for listening to audio files — though much more so on the music side.

    My concern, however, is about the potential walling off of the podcast world. The whole concept of podcasts from the early days was the idea that anyone could create them and anyone could access them. That’s been changing a bit of late. There have been a growing number of exclusive and walled off podcasts, including on Spotify (but also on Stitcher with its Stitcher Premium and Slate with its Slate Plus program — and likely others as well).

  • Science

    • Sizzling interest in lab-grown meat belies lack of basic research

      Private investment in lab-grown meat is soaring as companies chase the promise of boundless — and delicious — nuggets, steaks and burgers cultured in vitro rather than reared on the hoof. Clean-meat start-ups have raked in tens of millions of dollars in the last two years from billionaires such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and the agriculture giants Cargill and Tyson.

      But funding for academic research on lab-grown meat has lagged behind, and some researchers say that it is sorely needed. Despite the booming commercial interest in developing meat that is eco-friendly and ethically sound, critics argue that the industry lacks much of the scientific and engineering expertise needed to bring lab-grown meat to the masses. And any advances made by commercial firms are often protected as trade secrets.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Profit-Driven Healthcare Is Killing the Dreams of Young People. Young People Are Fighting Back.

      Briana Moss, 30, grew up in Dyersville, Iowa, site of the “field of dreams” (from the 1989 movie). Despite the reputation of her hometown, her own life dreams feel on hold. At age 30, when many young people are getting their careers off the ground, Moss’ life choices are guided by one thing: the need for insulin.

      “I know of people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. It’s very scary and very real,” says Moss, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12. She hadn’t yet finished college when her family insurance ended at 26, and after a few frantic months of insulin rationing, she found coverage through Iowa Medicaid. That’s where she remains, doing secretarial work at a family business, afraid to make any big life changes — which could be deadly.

      Emily Hibshman, of Allentown, Pa., 25, has spent her post-college years fighting for change, as an organizer for social justice organizations and a labor union. The path forward, however, seems to have a “stop” sign in it. With her budding career often pinned to campaign cycles, she laments her approaching 26th birthday and subsequent loss of family insurance, explaining, “If I had that social safety net of knowing I had health care, I might be able to continue doing organizing work.”

    • New High-Tech System Against Falsified Medicines Goes Live In Europe [Ed: Falsified, counterfeited and generic often conflated by professional liars and lobbyists of big pharmaceutical firms/execs, who want them all treated the same to guard monopoly pricing]

      A ground-breaking new high-tech system to catch falsified medicines in the supply chain in Europe went into effect today, allowing prescription medicines to undergo verification for authenticity before reaching patients.

    • Here Are ‘Most’ And ‘Least’ Radiation Emitting Smartphones In 2019

      Smartphone addiction is real and is slowly turning into an unhealthy obsession that is messing the minds of people. While we consider lengthy exposure to screens as a major issue, we often fail to neglect other harmful effects that smartphones can have on our health. The radiofrequency waves emitted by phones can even cause cancerous tumors, according to cancer.org.

      Every smartphone comes with a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value that quantifies the amount of radiofrequency waves emitted from a smartphone. Higher the SAR value, more are the chances of users getting exposed to the harmful radiation. You can usually find SAR value of your device at its official website or in the user manual.

    • Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana Abortion Clinic Law

      A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights.

      The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

      Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.

    • To Galvanize Local Organizing for Medicare for All, Nurses Union to Kick Off Nationwide ‘Barnstorms’ This Weekend

      Volunteers nationwide, coordinated by National Nurses United (NNU), are planning more than 150 events from Feb. 9 to Feb. 13.

      As NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo explained, “The barnstorms are about harnessing that momentum and continuing to build it out even further, into every community, conversation by conversation, neighbor by neighbor—until the people’s will for Medicare for All becomes the political will to get it done.”

      At the events, according to organizers, “you’ll gather with volunteers near you, talk about the plan to win, and begin organizing to knock doors, make phone calls, and more in your community.”

    • North Korean Missiles are Not the Threat to Hawaii—It’s Our Own U.S. Military’s Leaking Jet Fuel Storage Tanks

      In fact, disaster has already struck when in 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a tank that had been repaired with a welded patch. The welding gave way and tens of thousands of gallons of fuel leaked into the water supply. Over the years, studies have documented leaks dating back to 1947, the continued corrosion of the tank liners and the risk of a catastrophic fuel release.

      Drinking water is currently safe to drink, but traces of petroleum chemicals are being detected in the groundwater near the tanks.

      Concerned citizens on the island, have for decades been trying to get the U.S. Navy to take the dangerous tanks out of Red Hill. The military states that the underground fuel tanks are of strategic importance to U.S. national security and they are being maintained as good as 75-year old tanks can be. Yet, those who live on Oahu say: “That’s not good enough! You can’t have national security by jeopardizing the health security of your citizens.”

      It is not surprising that the U.S. Navy has made little effort to remove the tanks and put replacements in a less dangerous place. The military’s hold on the island of Oahu and its politicians is very strong both psychologically and economically. Oahu is filled with U.S. military bases and their accompanying corporations that supply the military with equipment and services.

    • We All Have “Skin in the Game.” That’s Why We Need Medicare for All.

      If there is one defining symbol of how horribly broken our health care system is, this is it: One-third of all GoFundMe campaigns are created to pay for medical expenses, a stunning 250,000 campaigns that have raised an astonishing $650 million, CBS recently reported.

      What’s behind this appalling portrait of tens of thousands of families having to beg for help to pay for critically needed care? A morbidly named concept branded as, “Skin in the Game.”

      The twisted thought is that requiring patients to pay up front through premiums, deductibles, and co-pays before they can walk in the door, will discourage patients who supposedly over utilize the system if not confronted with punitive out of pocket costs.

      As if undergoing invasive medical treatment or diagnostic procedures, or enduring long waits in Emergency Rooms or doctor’s offices is somehow an enticing experience.

      However, the volume of patient services, whether hospital stays, office visits, tests, or prescription drugs, is no greater in the U.S., and sometimes less, than in other highly developed nations. The U.S. vastly outspends the rest of the world not because of patient over use, but because prices are so much higher – to the benefit of the mammoth health care corporations at the enormous expense of everyone else.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Venezuelan Officials Say They Intercepted Arms and Ammo Delivered by US-Based Plane

      With tensions still dangerously high in Venezuela after the U.S. and major European nations recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as “interim president”—a move that was quickly condemned as illegitimate interference in the nation’s political affairs—Venezuelan authorities said they discovered weapons and ammunition in a “crate” that was delivered to a Valencia airport this week by an American plane.

      “An air freight company, 21 Air LLC, based in Greensboro, [North Carolina], operates the Boeing 767 aircraft that the Venezuelans allege was used in the arms transfer,” McClatchy reported on Thursday. “The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since Jan. 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America.”

      Bolivarian National Guard Gen. Endes Palencia Ortiz said the shipment—which reportedly included 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges, and 90 military-grade radio antennas—was “destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States.”

    • Pod Save Us From These Liberal Wonks

      I remember once being asked to explain the U.S. election system to a foreign classmate and the shame I felt at describing the Electoral College—a dusty old relic that somehow can’t be shoved into an attic somewhere. America frequently invites this kind of embarrassment, whether because its institutions are unjust, make no sense or simply beggar belief. Even worse, not only do the men and women who prop up those institutions sleep well at night, but it never seems to occur to them that they should do anything else.

      Which brings me to “Pod Save America.” Produced and distributed by the pseudo-ironically named Crooked Media, the podcast offers the kind of digestible, wonkish insights peddled by websites like Vox or Axios, but with the imprimatur of D.C. “insiders.” The flagship podcast’s hosts Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Daniel Pfeiffer are all former Obama staffers with the inoffensive clean dress and good looks of a Bonobos ad. Where presidential gatekeepers once merely fell ass-backwards into private-sector riches, they now have their own programming, this gang does the usual double-dipping but still wants more: to be prominent cultural voices cashing their checks in perpetuity, or at least as long as there’s a political class in America willing to pay them.

      Still, the podcasters’ greatest foible appears to be the lack of self-awareness that only the truly successful possess. (As of November 2017, the podcast drew 1.5 million listeners per episode.) Take the recent musings of Jon Lovett, snipped from a “Pod Save America” broadcast and promoted by the group’s social media account. In the clip, Lovett, the “funny one” in the boy band, attempts to explain the greater objective of health care reform, although it’s not entirely clear what that is; his digression recurs and bends, going wobbly for whole clauses at a time before finally settling on the construction “Medicare-access approach.”

    • In Navy Disasters, Neglect, Mistakes, and 17 Lost Sailors

      In recent days, ProPublica reported on the collisions of the Fitzgerald and the McCain, and showed how senior Navy leaders ignored years of warnings about the precarious state of their ships and sailors.

    • Congress Poised to Move Forward with Bold Agenda on Yemen

      Although the brutal assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi may have begun to recede from the American public consciousness, Washington has clearly not moved on. In fact, the new Democratic majority in the House is poised, in partnership with key Senate leaders, to advance a bold agenda to bring accountability to the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia and finally reassert congressional oversight of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

      In no place is congressional action more urgent than in Yemen, where approximately half of the population—nearly 14 million people—remain on the brink of starvation due to the war and the ensuing economic collapse in the country. Although congressional pressure caused the Trump administration to finally call for an end to the war last October and cut off U.S. refueling support in November, the United States remains intimately involved in the Saudi- and UAE-led military operations in the country.

    • Urging Defections, Trump Administration Reportedly Holding Secret Talks With Venezuelan Military

      According to Reuters, which cited an anonymous senior White House official, the U.S. “is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon President Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him.”

      “The Trump administration expects further military defections from Maduro’s side,” Reuters reported, “despite only a few senior officers having done so since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last month, earning the recognition of the United States and dozens of other countries.”

      As Common Dreams reported, Guaido’s move to declare himself “interim president”—which was denounced by experts and activists as the beginnings of a possible coup—was highly coordinated with the Trump White House, which vowed ahead of time to back the opposition leader in his attempt to seize power.

      In an interview with Reuters, the anonymous Trump official said the White House believes the few officers who have defected from Maduro are the “first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill.”

    • Building on Progress in 2018, Second Trump-Kim Summit Is Timely

      The announcement of a second summit meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, set for February 27-28 in Vietnam, comes after a year of astonishing steps toward reconciliation between South and North Korea led steadfastly by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. This second summit offers hope for further progress toward peace. Given the peculiarities of the principals, the shifting dynamics of inter-Korean relations, and regional and global security considerations, concrete outcomes will be key. Still, the Korean people want peace, and the momentum they’ve built seems unstoppable.

      Many U.S. and international commentators understandably focus on Trump’s seat-of-the-pants, willy-nilly pronouncements on foreign policy, and decry “bad process” in policy-making when the president goes rogue without the counsel of the alleged adults in his administration or the vaunted foreign policy establishment.

      While critics were on solid ground for criticizing last June’s Kim-Trump summit for being light on substance, it did bolster precious hope for peace for many Koreans and Korean-Americans. On the other hand, the lack of progress since then has been less a factor of Trump’s bad process than rigid U.S. policies on economic sanctions, including rolling back humanitarian aid exemptions (though there has been recent progress in correcting this situation, which will be very helpful not just to North Koreans needing food and medical aid, but also to overall U.S.-Korea relations).

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • California AG Steps Up To Help Cops Pretend New Public Records Law Doesn’t Apply To Past Misconduct Docs

      The bullshit debate over California police misconduct records continues. A new law granting the public access to police misconduct records for the first time in decades has resulted in a slew of public records requests. It’s also resulted in a slew of refusals and legal challenges.

      Some law enforcement agencies (and their unions) have chosen to believe the law erases their past misdeeds. Although the law says nothing limiting access to records created prior to January 1, 2019, some agencies have decided the lack of specific language allows them to draw this inference from the missing words. Multiple lawsuits have hit the California court system, which may soon force the state’s Supreme Court to deal with this miss, even if it took a hard pass on one law enforcement union’s attempt to get a preemptive declaration that past misconduct records are off-limits.

      If these law enforcement agencies were truly seeking clarity, they were given a crystal clear explanation of the legislative intent from none other than the law’s author, Senator Nancy Skinner.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Green New Deal Is the First Step Toward an Eco-Revolution

      A professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, John Bellamy Foster is also the editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review. He has written widely on capitalism, Marxism and ecological crises. In this interview, Foster discusses why a Green New Deal is just an entry point to an ecological revolution, and why any economic-social system that hopes to address the climate crisis must transcend capitalism. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

      [...]

      With respect to Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal on the Green New Deal, I am impressed by some aspects of it. She calls for mass mobilization, which is indeed necessary. She also calls for innovative forms of financing, such as setting up a network of public banks to finance it directly, modeled after the New Deal, and through much higher marginal tax brackets on the rich and corporations, going back to what we once had in the United States. The revenues could be used to finance a massive shift toward solar and wind power. She connects this to a wide array of social issues. But none of this will really work, even if it were possible to legislate it, given the system, unless it takes on the character of an ecological revolution with a broad social base. Hence, a radical Green New Deal is, at best, just the entry point to such wider, eco-revolutionary change, involving the self-mobilization of the population. If it does not spark an ecological revolution, its effect will be nil.

      As far as your question on the role of financial incentives and regulation, none of this will work as a strategy. It would be mere spitting into the wind. What kind of financial incentives could be given to energy companies when they own trillions of dollars in fossil fuel assets, and they have a vested interest in this system? Exxon-Mobil has declared they will extract and burn all the fossil fuel assets that they own, which are buried in the ground, because they own them and because they can profit from them — knowing full well that this would be a death sentence for humanity. There is no way that mere incentives are going to change that. So far, even the subsidies for fossil fuel exploration have not been removed. Regulation won’t work in the present system since corporations always capture the regulatory process. To alter the present political-economic-energy matrix would require changes in ownership of means of production — in this case, fossil fuels. It would not mean just the transfer of ownership but the destruction of trillions of dollars of financial assets globally, since fossil fuels would need to remain in the ground.

    • In Haiti, climate aid comes with strings attached

      Perhaps no people know better than Haitians just how dangerous, destructive and destabilizing climate change can be.

      Haiti – which had not yet recovered from a massive 2010 earthquake when Hurricane Matthew killed perhaps a thousand people and caused a cholera outbreak in 2016 – is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change.

      Scientists say extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts will become worse as the planet warms. Island nations are expected to be among the hardest hit by those and other impacts of a changing climate, like shoreline erosion.

      For poor island countries like Haiti, studies show, the economic costs, infrastructural damage and loss of human life is already overwhelming. And scientists expect it will only get worse.

    • Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Is a Product of Youth Uprising

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) led the rollout of the first resolution laying the foundation for the Green New Deal. It is one of several unprecedented efforts demanding that the government take aggressive action in the face of climate change.

      Though ideas for a Green New Deal have been kicking around for over a decade, Ocasio-Cortez catalyzed the framework after making it a cornerstone of her campaign. Defying skepticism that she would be able to pull centrist heavyweights on board, she introduced the proposal with wide party support just over a month after taking office. The nonbinding resolution included 64 House and nine Senate original co-Sponsors, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Despite a derisive response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this consensus effectively cements the Green New Deal as a defining policy for the Democratic agenda.

      The resolution is one of the strongest rebukes to President Trump, who boasted of deregulation and crowned the US the “number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world” during his State of the Union address this week. The preamble to the Green New Deal resolution starkly lays out the impacts of climate change in the US. Drawn from previous US and UN climate reports, the resolution restores the authority of the scientific community as the Trump administration scrubs climate data and prohibits the very mention of the term.

      As a blueprint for collective action on climate change, the Green New Deal has attracted a great deal of enthusiasm and reserved support, with crucial details still to come. The proposal raised eyebrows with its ambitious 10-year plan to cut carbon emissions by 2030, transition to renewable energy sources, and invest heavily in job creation and infrastructure. It amounts to nothing short of a wholesale transformation: The Green New Deal framework rests on the idea of a just economy.

      The resolution rejects the piecemeal carrot and stick approaches of previous Democratic legislation — the carbon tax cap-and-trade policy. It instead focuses holistically on the right to a clean and sustainable climate. It emphasizes the effects of climate change on frontline and vulnerable communities and recognizes the role of systemic inequalities and injustices. It ties together far-reaching ideas around sustainable work and wages, unionization, universal health care, housing and trade. In an era of political gridlock, these goals seem impossible but Ocasio-Cortez has placed them in the tradition of other great policy mobilizations, calling it “our moonshot.”

    • Big Oil Ally Derrick Hollie Dismisses Environmental Justice, Promotes Natural Gas at House Climate Hearing

      This week, during the House Committee on Natural Resources’ hearing on “Climate Change: Impacts and the Need to Act,” Representatives heard about the threats that climate change poses to the safety, prosperity, and general well-being of Americans, and particularly to marginalized communities of color. Multiple experts testified on environmental and climate justice issues. However, one of the Republicans’ experts, Derrick Hollie of Reaching America, told a dramatically different story, attempting to argue that climate-friendly policies actually harm low income and minority communities.

      During the hearing, Hollie did not disclose his organization’s involvement in multiple campaigns funded by the oil and gas industries.

    • A ‘Green New Deal’ Sounds Like Pie in the Sky. But We Need It.

      Let’s consider some real news, for a change: Last year was officially proclaimed the fourth-warmest on record; scientists predict that melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland could not only raise sea levels but also further destabilize weather patterns; and progressive members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal,” the first policy framework ambitious enough to meet the challenge of global warming.

      Please don’t stop reading. I know that climate change isn’t the sexiest of topics. I could be writing about President Trump’s latest tweetstorm, or the shade he was thrown by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the State of the Union speech, or the blackface and sexual assault scandals that could force Virginia’s top three officials to resign, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) ongoing racial-identity crisis, or the House Intelligence Committee’s new investigation of some anomalous Trump Organization deals that involved huge and unexplained amounts of cash.

      Those are all big and important stories, but climate change is the biggest, most important story of our time. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will judge us by how well we meet the challenge, and so far we are failing. Miserably.

      Scientists from NASA announced Wednesday that 2018 was the Earth’s fourth-warmest year since record-keeping began about 140 years ago. The warmest year of all was 2016, followed in order by 2017 and 2015; the fifth-warmest was 2014. Anyone who is not deliberately being obtuse can see the pattern.

    • WATCH: While Trump ‘Sadly and Pathetically’ Denies Climate Crisis, Sanders ‘Proud’ to Co-Sponsor Green New Deal

      “This is a very big deal,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says about the official Green New Deal proposal—of which he is a “proud” original co-sponsor—in a new video shared to his social media profiles on Friday.

      Unveiled on Thursday by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the proposal is not written “as specific, detailed legislation,” Sanders explains. “Rather, it is an excellent, in my view, broad outline, pointing the way forward to address the existential crisis of planetary climate change.”

      Between clips of Ocasio-Cortez and Markey, Sanders celebrates the effort to enact climate and economic policies that ensure a habitable and healthy world for “our children and our grandchildren” while also creating “millions of good-paying jobs in the United States.” In addition to expressing support for the resolution, the senator calls out the fossil fuel industry and President Donald Trump for stoking the flames of the climate crisis.

      “Unlike the president of the United States, who sadly and pathetically denies the reality of climate change, and the human causation of climate change,” the senator says, the Green New Deal “demands that the United States of America, the most powerful economy on Earth, lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and carbon emissions and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

    • The Green New Deal Is Out. Now What?

      Ocasio-Cortez was not kidding when she told NPR this morning that one of her main goals as an elected official is to help America “rediscover the power of public imagination.” This is more than just a plan to fight climate change. It’s a jobs plan, a justice plan, and an environment plan whose only real precedent is the actual New Deal (which did have strong environmental and justice components in its early stages, but ultimately benefited white men at the expense of pretty much everyone else, even going so far as using federal dollars to build segregated parks in the South).

    • Oil Spill Shuts TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Same County Where ‘Paper-thin’ Pipe Found in 2012

      On Wednesday, February 6, an oil spill in St. Charles County, Missouri, caused the shutdown of two major oil pipelines, one owned by Enbridge and the other by TransCanada, as investigators began searching for the source of the spill.

      Today, TransCanada confirmed in a statement that its Keystone pipeline — which has had severe corrosion issues in this area in the past — was the likely source of the oil spill, which Missouri officials initially estimated to have leaked 1,800 gallons. Meanwhile, officials from Enbridge said the company was “highly confident” its Platte pipeline was not the cause of the leak.

    • Food & Water Watch: Carbon Tax Is A Sham

      I spoke to Scott Edwards, the legal chief at Food & Water Watch, in order to discuss the activism of an organization with a name that defines why they’re so important in the modern world. Edwards is a lawyer who has spent his career fighting against the corruption that has festered in our system, in which corporations work to deceive the public and decrease their costs by polluting our environment.

      In this interview, he talks about why so many on the left have fallen for the “carbon tax” sham, and why so many of our laws end up written by corporate lawyers trying to enrich their companies.

  • Finance

    • How Elon Musk takes Wikipedia’s place

      Why does our culture promote Elon Musk – a PR-savvy businessman – as an icon of technological progress and invention, while silently omitting millions of real people taking part in knowledge-sharing projects such as Wikipedia?

    • Netflix Posted Biggest-Ever Profit in 2018 and Paid $0 in Taxes

      The popular video streaming service Netflix posted its largest-ever U.S. profit in 2018­­—$845 million—on which it didn’t pay a dime in federal or state income taxes. In fact, the company reported a $22 million federal tax rebate.

      [...]

      Netflix’s tax avoidance should come as no surprise to those who followed the debate leading up to the passage of the new tax law: A 2017 ITEP report identified Netflix as one of 100 profitable Fortune 500 corporations that paid a 0 percent federal income tax rate in at least one profitable year between 2008 and 2015. In fact, Netflix did it twice, and paid an average tax rate of 13.6 percent over the eight-year period, meaning that the company sheltered more than half of its profits from the 35 percent federal income tax rate in effect at the time.

    • Crypto Exchange Founder Dies In Jaipur, 1000 Crores Stuck Behind Passwords

      The firm can’t retrieve about C$190 million in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and other digital tokens held for its customers, nor can Vancouver-based Quadriga CX pay the C$70 million in cash those clients are owed.

      Cotten was always conscious about security — the laptop, email addresses and messaging system he used to run the 5-year-old business were encrypted. He took sole responsibility for the handling of funds and coins and the banking and accounting side of the business and, to avoid being hacked, moved the “majority” of digital coins into what’s known as cold storage, or unconnected to the internet, the filing said.

      The problem is, Robertson said she can’t find his passwords or any business records for the company. Experts brought in to try to hack into Cotten’s other computers and mobile phone met with only “limited success” and attempts to circumvent an encrypted USB key have been foiled, she said in the court filing.

    • “Don’t Let Door Hit You on the Way Out”: People Power Credited as Amazon Reportedly Reconsiders New York HQ2

      In the face of widespread and impassioned opposition from local politicians, progressive members of Congress, and ordinary New Yorkers, Amazon is reportedly having second thoughts about its plan to locate a second headquarters site in Long Island City.

      “Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) declared on Friday in response to the news, which was met with glee by advocacy groups that have opposed the New York government’s deal with Amazon since it was unveiled in November.

      “Bye, don’t let the door hit you on your way out,” wrote the North Brooklyn branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), echoing a sentiment that was shared across social media.

    • ‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism

      Socialism—whatever that means—is in vogue right now. A recent Gallup poll (8/13/18) found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters (FAIR.org, 1/23/19).

      Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.

      Leading the charge have been Fox News and other conservative outlets. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. (Back in the real world, while Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez identify as socialists, Warren is a self-described capitalist, and Booker is noted for his ties to Wall Street, whose support for his presidential bid he has reportedly been soliciting.) A second Fox News article (1/27/19) continues in the same vein, warning that, “At the heart of Venezuela’s collapse is a laundry list of socialist policies that have decimated its economy.”

    • Red for Ed Continues: Where Teachers’ Strikes Are Set to Spread Next

      The Red for Ed movement likely immortalized 2018 as a banner year for labor organizing among public school teachers. That fervor isn’t dissipating in 2019. Last month, the United Teachers of Los Angeles went on strike for six days, ultimately securing a 6 percent pay raise, lower caps on class sizes, and a commitment to hire more school nurses and counselors, among other concessions. Now, teachers in a variety of other cities and states are contemplating their own strikes and walkouts.

      The roots of the Los Angeles strike are older than Red for Ed, and the same was true of December’s strike by unionized educators at Acero charter schools in Chicago. Educators are not newly dissatisfied with underfunded schools and pay inequities; these sentiments have built up for years, and strikes and walkouts that invoke Red for Ed are sometimes the result of months of contract negotiations and years of strategy. A collective anger was un-bottled last year, so it’s not surprising that teachers are continuing to take collective action. Here are few worth watching in weeks to come.

    • Labor Strikes, once Blunted by GOP and Corporations, are Back and Shaping Public Policy

      If President Trump does try to start back up the government shutdown this month, he may face an insuperable obstacle. Just days before the (temporary?) ending of the government shutdown long time left scholar and activist Barbara Ehrenreich and former Teamster organizer Gary Stevenson urged TSA workers to go out on strike. Days later Sara Nelson, flight attendant union president, doubled down on Ehrenreich’s request by calling for a General Strike.: “Go back with the Fierce Urgency of NOW to talk with your Locals and International unions about all workers joining together – To End this Shutdown with a General Strike.”

      How much of a role declining air service and/or the possibility of a broad walkout played in ending the shutdown is not clear. These events did, however, illustrate the vulnerabilities of our air traffic systems and the growing leverage workers might enjoy. As Ehrenreich and Stevenson pointed out, these workers actually do possess substantial leverage, something most working class members have been unable to say for over a generation now.

    • ‘Exactly What I Was Worried About’: Warren Warns New Big Bank Merger Will Increase Risk of Another Crash

      In response to news that SunTrust and BB&T are attempting to merge in a deal that would create the sixth largest bank in the United States, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared that this is precisely the kind of financial sector consolidation she was warning about last year as congressional Democrats and Republicans teamed up to ram through a major bank deregulation bill.

      “Two of the country’s biggest banks—SunTrust and BB&T—are merging to form one of the biggest banks in the country. That’s exactly what I was worried about a year ago after Congress passed its big bank deregulation bill,” wrote the Massachusetts senator and likely 2020 presidential candidate, referring to the legislation that critics took to calling the “Bank Lobbyist Act.”

      As Common Dreams reported, 17 Senate Democrats and 33 House Democrats voted for the legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law last year.

      Warren went on to express concern that the merger—which, if approved, would be the largest since the 2008 financial crisis—could set the stage for another economic meltdown.

    • Research Supports The Growth Of Open, Decentralized Financial Tools

      According to a recent research report by Bloqboard, focusing on digital asset lending in 2018 via open protocols, active loans have skyrocketed by 1,200 percent from December 31st, 2017 to December 31st, 2018 – equating to $72 million at the end of the year.

    • University of Geneva launching blockchain development course featuring NEO module

      The University of Geneva in Switzerland is launching a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) on blockchain development. It is the first blockchain course to offer a full module on NEO and allow students to claim 12 European ECTS credits. Students have the option to study on campus or online via video conference.

      The course allows students an opportunity to “learn how to develop decentralized applications with blockchain and DLT” and features four modules.

    • Wall Street Blockchain Alliance Joins Enterprise Blockchain Consortium R3

      The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) has joined blockchain consortium R3 to develop applications and solutions on their Corda platform, a Feb. 5 press release reports.
      According to a statement made by the CEO of R3, David E. Rutter, the WSBA and R3 will collaborate in order to “advocate a strategic approach to collaborating with regulatory bodies so that financial markets, and beyond can gain the full benefits of blockchain’s capabilities.”

    • Gearing Up for Possibility of Another Trump Shutdown, Airport Workers Ready Mass Protests in 80 Major Cities

      Air traffic controllers and other airport employees were widely credited for creating the pressure that ended the longest shutdown in American history last month, and Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) president Sara Nelson told New York Magazine on Friday that workers are gearing up to mobilize if congressional negotiators fail to reach a deal—or if President Donald Trump unilaterally scuttles any agreement.

      As New York Magazine’s Sarah Jones reported, “Nelson says that the union will be out leafleting in airports in 80 major cities next week ahead of Saturday’s demonstrations.”

      “We are also working very hard to get information out to all of our members about what’s at stake,” Nelson told New York Magazine. “We need people to fully understand what the issues are so that we can be prepared to respond potentially with withholding our service, if that’s what it takes to stop a continuation of the shutdown.”

    • Amazon Threatens to Cancel New York City Headquarters if It Doesn’t Receive $3 Billion in Subsidies

      Fearful of losing nearly $3 billion in subsidies for its expansion in New York City, Amazon has moved to a new strategy, one involving threats. The Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) reported on Friday that the company is “reconsidering” its plan to place an office facility for up to 25,000 employees in Long Island City, Queens. In doing so, Amazon is signaling that it will squeeze opponents of the deal politically unless they support the massive subsidy package.

      New York City lawmakers who weren’t intimately involved with the “HQ2” bid to bring in Amazon have been sharply critical of giving billions in taxpayer dollars to the world’s most valuable corporation, so it can add to an already existing presence in the region. The deal bypassed city council approval, adding to the consternation.

    • Elizabeth Warren Is Not a Socialist, But She Still Makes Wall Street Squirm

      Not long ago, a presidential bid announcement by Elizabeth Warren would’ve been the biggest event of the year for many progressives. When she entered the national political scene more than a decade ago, her aggressive (if wonkish) critique of Wall Street greed resonated with liberals and rankled Republicans. Warren made financial regulations sound almost fun; she has PowerPoint presentations with more than a million views on YouTube. Soon groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee began to describe the left flank of the Democratic Party as the “Warren wing,” and several tried to draft her to run for the presidency in previous elections.

      Her announcement today is still a big deal for many, especially the thousands who attended official campaign launch in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

      “The man in the White House is not the cause of what is broken. He is just the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America,” Warren said of President Donald Trump. “A product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.”

      The location was chosen carefully: Lawrence is known as the “immigrant city” and home of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. This textile strike was successfully organized by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical labor union devoted to ending capitalism – although Warren is explicit that she does not share this goal.

      Her defeat of incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in 2012 was one of the most expensive Senate races in history. Warren’s fundraising from small donors – defined as under $200 — was a major strength and helped account for her lack of financial support from the financial sector.

      As of 2018, 56 percent of her money came from small donors. This is second among all senators (behind Bernie Sanders at 77 percent), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jeff Bezos Claims the National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Nude Selfie

      Bezos alleges that AMI used the photos as leverage to get him to issue a statement that basically said AMI didn’t have political interests in pursuing a story about his affair. Instead of making a deal with AMI, Bezos decided to go public, writing, “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

    • ‘Now the reality is hitting them, and they’re freaking out’: The National Enquirer’s former LA bureau chief says the tabloid is in over its head with Jeff Bezos

      On Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos published an extraordinary blog post detailing what he alleges to be an “extortion and blackmail” plot by American Media Inc. (AMI), the publishing arm of The National Enquirer.

    • Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer publisher of ‘extortion’

      The Amazon CEO included in his Medium post multiple emails allegedly sent by AMI representatives with descriptions of the photos they had obtained, including a “below the belt selfie  —  otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick.’”

      According to the emails Bezos shares, the AMI representatives say they will not publish the photos if Bezos agrees to publicly state that the Enquirer’s previous reporting on him wasn’t politically motivated.

    • Jeff Bezos goes public with alleged AMI blackmail over nudes

      The kerfuffle all started several weeks ago, when the National Enquirer published text messages it alleged proved an affair between Bezos—who is married—and another woman, Lauren Sánchez. As a result, Bezos commissioned an investigation into how the paper obtained the text messages, an act which he claims has enraged Pecker. Bezos writes that AMI subsequently contacted his lawyers demanding a halt to the investigation. Should Bezos’ lawyers not comply, the Enquirer would publish 10 purloined selfies of Bezos and Sanchez, one of which described as a “d*ck pick”.

    • Jeff Bezos: Amazon boss accuses National Enquirer of blackmail

      The world’s richest man, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has accused the owner of a US gossip magazine of trying to blackmail him over lewd pictures.

    • Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer is threatening to publish his nude photos

      (Through court documents, AMI was found to have used the “catch and kill” tactic to kill a story about Trump’s alleged affair with a woman prior to his presidential campaign by paying $150,000 for exclusivity on it. AMI CEO David Pecker, a close friend of Trump’s, was allegedly then rewarded for this and other support during Trump’s campaign with a White House dinner invitation for Pecker and someone close to the royal family of Saudi Arabia, where Pecker was pursuing business deals and looking for acquisition financing.)

    • Jeff Bezos Goes Hard Against National Enquirer

      In an extraordinary blog post published on Medium Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused The National Enquirer of attempting to blackmail him by threatening to publish 10 intimate photos unless Bezos stopped an investigation into how the tabloid obtained his private messages and images.

    • Whitaker Tells Congress He Hasn’t Interfered With Mueller Probe

      Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker insisted on Friday that he had “not interfered” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation as he faced a contentious and partisan congressional hearing in his waning days on the job.

      “We have followed the special counsel’s regulations to a T,” Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee. “There has been no event, no decision, that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation.”

      He also said he had never discussed with the White House special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

    • In Contentious Hearing, Defiant Whitaker Tells House Judiciary Chair, ‘Your Five Minutes Are Up’

      Moments into his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker helped set the tone for the hearing by refusing to directly answer questions from Democrats and drew audible gasps when he told committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that his “five minutes were up.”

      Nadler called the hearing to provide oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, which Whitaker has overseen since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired in November. Whitaker agreed to testify at the hearing where Democrats’ questioning largely focused on his oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

      The acting attorney general first challenged Nadler’s line of questioning when the chairman asked whether he had been briefed on Mueller’s investigation in December 2018, including just before announcing that he would not recuse himself from the probe. Whitaker demanded to know the “basis” of the question.

      “It is our understanding that at least one briefing occurred between your decision not to recuse yourself on December 19 and six days later, Christmas Day,” Nadler said.

      Whitaker then said he would not answer questions based on representatives’ “speculation.”

    • WATCH: This Viral Video of Ocasio-Cortez Explaining “Fundamentally Broken” US Democracy Has Been Viewed More Than 16 Million Times

      In a critique of campaign finance laws that has now gone viral, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) this week showed how the United States has “a system that is fundamentally broken” due to the pervasive influence of corporate money that infects every aspect of the nation’s democracy.

      The take-down—which took just under 5 minutes—occurred Wednesday during a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee. To make her point, she played “a lightning round game” with the watchdogs on the panel, including Common Cause’s Karen Hobert Flynn, CREW’s Walter Shaub, and Brennan Center for Justice’s Mehrbani Spitzer.

      With her creative attack, said Common Cause, the freshman lawmaker “exposes just how much ‘bad guys’ can get away with under the shameful state of our campaign finance laws.”

    • New Evidence Emerges of Possible Wrongdoing by Trump Inaugural Committee

      Federal prosecutors in New York are circling Donald Trump’s inaugural committee as part of a wide-ranging investigation into possible money laundering, illegal contributions and cash-for-access schemes. Now, WNYC and ProPublica have identified evidence of potential tax law violations by the committee.

      A spokesman confirmed that the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid the Trump International Hotel a rate of $175,000 per day for event space — in spite of internal objections at the time that the rate was far too high. If the committee is deemed by auditors or prosecutors to have paid an above-market rate, that could violate tax laws prohibiting self-dealing, according to experts.

      Tax law prohibits nonprofits from paying inflated prices to entities that are owned by people who also control or influence the nonprofit’s activities.

      “Every legitimate nonprofit is very concerned with this,” said Doug White, a veteran adviser to tax exempt organizations, speaking generally. “You’re benefiting a private person, and you’re using the nonprofit to do it.”

      The inaugural committee also spent at least $1.5 million at a hotel in which the investment firm of the committee’s chairman, Tom Barrack, held a small stake.

      In addition, the inaugural nonprofit appears not to have disclosed multiple gifts to the committee on its tax return, as required by law.

      Trump’s inaugural committee spent more than $100 million, almost twice the amount spent on the next-most expensive inaugural party, that of Barack Obama in 2009. In addition to probing how the nonprofit spent its money, investigators are examining whether the inaugural received improper donations from foreigners. Inaugural nonprofits are prohibited from receiving donations from people who are not U.S. citizens.

    • The Founders Created the Electoral College to Prevent a Foreign-Influenced Candidate From Winning—It Didn’t Stop Trump, so Let’s Scrap It

      America’s Founders and Framers thought they could use the Electoral College to prevent somebody like Donald Trump from ever becoming president. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and now we’re paying the price.

      Given how the Electoral College hasn’t protected us from getting a president beholden to a (or multiple) foreign power(s) as president, it’s time to do away with it.

      Most people have a pretty limited understanding of the Electoral College, but they know that it works against the democratic notion of the public electing its chief executive. There are organizations and a smattering of political figures who say as much. A recent poll indicates this, too.

    • Promising to Take on ‘Rigged System That Props Up the Rich and Powerful,’ Elizabeth Warren Launches 2020 Presidential Campaign

      During her remarks, Warren repeatedly lambasted the fundamental injustice of a political system that rewards those with the deepest pockets at the expense of the most vulnerable.

      “If you don’t have money and you don’t have connections, Washington doesn’t want to hear from you,” Warren said. “That is corruption, plain and simple, and we need to call it out.”

      “Now when I talk about this, some rich guys scream, ‘class warfare!’ Well let me tell you something: These same rich guys have been waging class warfare against hardworking people for decades,” the senator added. “I say it’s time to fight back.”

      As remedies to America’s deep-seated political and economic woes, Warren proposed a wide array of reforms, including overturning Citizens United, barring members of Congress from accepting lobbyist donations, and scrapping “every single voter suppression rule that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color.”

      Warren also vowed to spend no time “sucking up to a bunch of big donors on Wall Street” and promised to run a campaign free of PAC money and billionaire donations.

    • The Problem Is Not “Fake News.” It’s the Noise That Drowns Out the News.

      I put my head in a blender quite completely by accident on Thursday morning, and I’m still trying to get my legs back under me. It started just after 6:00 a.m. when I made the enormous unforced error of turning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Co-host Joe Scarborough and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart were discussing the ongoing debacle in Virginia, so I thought, “What the hell. Let’s see what the Hot TV Take is today.”

      Bad mistake.

      Scarborough, who has molted more times than a Screech Owl (right-wing lawyer to right-wing House Rep. to right-wing TV star to self-decreed martyred saint for “real” Republicans in the era of Trump), was attempting to wrap his mind around the phenomenon of blackface to the visible bemusement of Capehart, who is Black. “I’ve lived in the Florida panhandle, they call it the Redneck Riviera,” said Scarborough. “I’ve lived in Meridian, Mississippi. I’ve lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I never had a friend, I never had an acquaintance, I never knew anyone who wore blackface. Is this a Virginia thing, or was I sheltered?”

      Capehart favored Scarborough with a long Pelosi Pity Clap Look before responding, “You were sheltered.”

      There I was, first thing in the morning, listening to a man like Scarborough – who in his time has defended the assassin of abortion doctor David Gunn, sought to privatize the Departments of Education and HUD, voted to strip $270 billion from Medicare and voted to impeach President Clinton before changing careers in order to carry corporate water for a profoundly conflicted media outlet – sit there and whitesplain his ignorance of blackface and institutional Southern racism to an award-winning Black journalist. The experience is difficult to quantify, but it left me feeling a deep need to bathe.

      This was merely the appetizer, however. The National Prayer Breakfast was taking place at 8:30 a.m. that morning, and Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. When he addressed this gathering in 2017, Trump vowed to “get rid and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment.” This amendment, a provision of the tax code that prohibits churches and other non-profit institutions from endorsing or opposing political candidates, is probably the most oft-defied law in the country, but this was red meat for the audience. Thinking he might pull a similar number this year, I felt duty-bound to watch.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Hawaii The Latest To Push Bullshit Porn Filter Law Pushed By Sketchy Backers

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

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

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • What I Learned From the Hacker Who Spied on Me

      Our columnist asked an ethical hacker to get into as many of her webcams as he could. Along the way she identified important tips for keeping our computers safe.

      [...]

      When my nanny sends me a photo of my 18-month-old son busy at play, my immediate thought: He’s a genius.

    • Are Apps Really Recording Your iPhone’s Screen?

      First, let’s make this clear: iPhone and iPad apps can’t record everything you do on your phone’s screen. An app can only record what happens within the app itself.

      In other words, even if an app is trying to record everything it can, it can only record the swipes, taps, and data you enter within that app. The Expedia app was one of the few singled out here. So, if you’re using Expedia, the app can record everything you swipe, tap, and type into the Expedia app. But, after you leave the app, it can’t see anything you do on your home screen or anything you type into another app. Apple’s iOS operating system would prevent apps from recording your screen all the time, even if they wanted to.

    • Bundeskartellamt prohibits Facebook from combining user data from different sources

      The Bundeskartellamt has imposed on Facebook far-reaching restrictions in the processing of user data.

      According to Facebook’s terms and conditions users have so far only been able to use the social network under the precondition that Facebook can collect user data also outside of the Facebook website in the internet or on smartphone apps and assign these data to the user’s Facebook account. All data collected on the Facebook website, by Facebook-owned services such as e.g. WhatsApp and Instagram and on third party websites can be combined and assigned to the Facebook user account.

      The authority’s decision covers different data sources:

    • Germany Says Facebook Cannot Combine Data From WhatsApp, Instagram

      Germany’s competition watchdog has banned Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp, Instagram, and other Facebook apps, without users’ consent.

      The Federal cartel office ordered Facebook not to combine data from its own suite of social platforms without user consent. It also prohibited the social media giant from linking the data obtained from third-party websites using technologies like Facebook tracking pixel and social plug-ins.

    • Facebook Says It Needs to Collect All Your Data to Protect Against Terrorism and Child Abuse

      The German regulator noted that it didn’t take issue with Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram collecting data. It just didn’t like that one company was aggregating all of that data across multiple platforms. And the Bundeskartellamt alleges that Facebook has used this data collection in anti-competitive ways.

    • Germany just deleted Facebook

      Facebook’s practice of using clickthrough agreements to perform a kind of parody of consent was ruled invalid by the FCO, which pointed to Facebook’s market dominance as the basis for subjecting it to stricter scrutiny and controls.

    • German Regulators Just Outlawed Facebook’s Whole Ad Business

      On Thursday, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s antitrust regulator, ruled that Facebook was exploiting consumers by requiring them to agree to this kind of data collection in order to have an account, and has prohibited the practice going forward.

      “Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts,” FCO president Andreas Mundt said in a statement announcing the decision.

    • Facebook Wants You to Have Privacy, Just Not From Facebook

      Facebook Inc., which turned 15 on Feb. 4, spent the past year peppering you with apologias and promises about protecting your personal data from others. The company wants you to know that it doesn’t sell your data to advertisers, per se, and that you can limit data sharing with some other apps. It’s going to keep paying for pop-up kiosks and subway ads to reinforce that the thickets of data growing in its garden now are (imagine!) under your control. But Facebook still isn’t being transparent about the ways it collects information on you, and it’s quietly stepping up efforts to grab lots more.

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

      Significant as the Google fine may be, it’s worth emphasizing that it is likely to be only the start of a much wider crackdown on non-compliance with the GDPR. There are the three other complaints about “forced consent” filed against Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram: it is possible that the relevant data protection authorities will find further grounds for concern. In addition, NOYB has just filed eight more complaints under the GDPR. This time, the targets are online streaming services: Amazon Prime, Apple Music, DAZN, Flimmit, Netflix, SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube. At issue is the new “right to access” granted by the GDPR. This is a right to obtain a copy of all raw data that a company holds about a user, as well as additional information about the sources and recipients of the data, the purpose for which the data is processed, and information about the countries in which the data is stored and how long it is stored. Here’s what NOYB found, according to its director, Max Schrems:

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Dems Accuse Trump Admin of “State-Sponsored Child Abuse” as Separated Migrant Children Scandal Grows

      Trump administration officials are acknowledging that there may be thousands more missing immigrant children who were separated from their parents than originally reported. This was the focus of a hearing on Thursday of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. We speak to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. He is the lead lawyer on the ACLU’s national challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation practice. He testified at the hearing yesterday.

    • Sarah Aziza on Saudi Repression of Women, Dean Baker on Taxing the Rich

      This week on CounterSpin: US elite media have heralded Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a reformer—”young and brash,” as the New York Times editorial board had it—who is uplifting women, in particular, in the monarchy. It takes a lot to upset a narrative—particularly from a country that is mainly only reported in terms of its strategic partnership, i.e. usefulness to powerful US interests—but one would hope that reports that Saudi Arabia under MBS (as he’s called) is torturing women political prisoners would be sufficient. We’ll talk about story vs. reality with journalist Sarah Aziza.

    • Planned Parenthood: SCOTUS Halts Louisiana Abortion Law for Now, But Roe v. Wade Fate Uncertain

      The Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a restrictive Louisiana anti-choice law from going into effect Thursday, in a major victory for reproductive rights advocates. The case was seen as a litmus test for determining whether millions of women across the nation will continue to have access to abortions. The divided court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of an emergency appeal by a Louisiana-based abortion provider, Hope Medical Group for Women, to temporarily block a Republican-backed law that could have left the state with just a single doctor legally allowed to perform abortions. The law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. Pro-choice groups call such statutes TRAP laws, or “targeted regulation of abortion providers.” We speak to Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

    • Russia’s federal investigative bureau is putting a 10-foot statue of St. Michael the Archangel outside its headquarters

      Veterans of Russia’s federal Investigative Committee (SK) plan to install a 10-foot-tall statue of the archangel Michael outside the bureau’s headquarters in Moscow. The SK’s current director, Alexander Bastrykin, has already given his official support to the plan to honor his agency’s patron saint.

      The cost of the project has been estimated at 13 million rubles (nearly $200,000), and SK officials have agreed to collect some those funds from the agency’s current employees. While an official letter regarding the statue’s construction emphasized that donations would be voluntary, one SK division head has already announced that his employees voted unanimously to set aside 0.5 percent of their budgets for the statue’s construction. Officials wrote that each willing employee’s donation would amount to approximately 1,500 rubles (almost $23).

    • After No-Knock Raid Goes Horribly Wrong, Police Union Boss Steps Up To Threaten PD’s Critics

      Four Houston police officers were shot — allegedly by now-dead suspects — while serving a no-knock warrant on a Houston residence. The no-knock warrant was supposed to make everything safer for the officers, giving them a chance to get a jump on the suspects and prevent the destruction of evidence/officers. But as anyone other than cops seems to comprehend, startling people in their own homes with explosives and kicked-in doors tends to make everything more dangerous for everyone.

      Operating on a tip that from someone claiming to have purchased heroin from the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, the Houston PD SWAT team secured a no-knock warrant and kicked in the door roughly five hours later. No heroin was found. Some guns and an apparently small amount of cocaine and marijuana were recovered. According to cops, the 59-year-old Tuttle opened fire on officers and his wife tried to take a shotgun from a downed officer, resulting in her being killed as well. The married couple are now dead, having amassed a combined 21 years of marriage and a single criminal charge — a misdemeanor bad check charge — between them before this raid ended their lives.

      The cops have vouched for the reliability of their confidential informant despite there being a huge discrepancy between what the CI told them and what was actually found in the house.

    • NYPD Sends Letter To Google Demanding It Remove Cop Checkpoint Notifications From Google Maps

      The NYPD is upset because the new notifications allow drivers to route around DWI roadblocks. The NYPD apparently feels allowing drivers to bypass checkpoints will make the streets less safe and prevent the police force from enjoying the side benefits of dozens of suspicionless stops.

      There are a number of reasons drivers may not want to interact with the NYPD, most of which have nothing to do with driving drunk. A police checkpoint is a hassle for anyone wanting to go from Point A to Point B, especially when every driver in line is presumed guilty until cleared by officers. It’s win-win for the NYPD, which also assumes anyone avoiding a checkpoint is also guilty. These notifications might suck for cops, but it’s a stretch to assume the app is allowing a horde of drunk drivers to roam the city unmolested.

      But that’s exactly what the NYPD assumes. Its cease-and-desist letter [PDF] demands Google not only remove this feature from Google Maps but somehow prevent users from finding others ways to notify fellow drivers about law enforcement checkpoints. It also accuses Maps users of committing criminal acts simply by posting the location of cop checkpoints.

    • In Alabama, a Muslim Man Was Denied the Presence of His Imam During His Execution

      The Supreme Court’s ruling to move forward with Domineque Ray’s execution violates the Establishment Clause’s principle of religious neutrality.
      Domineque Ray was pronounced dead last night at 10:12 p.m. Thirty minutes prior, his execution by lethal injection began.

      His last words were a proclamation of his Muslim faith in Arabic. But Ray’s imam was missing from the room, despite Ray’s repeated requests to the state for his imam’s presence. In the days leading up to his death, Ray was also denied access to a Quran, though the state ultimately complied with an order to provide the holy text.

    • Domineque Ray Is Executed in Alabama After Supreme Court Bid Fails

      At 9:44 Thursday night, the curtain opened on the execution chamber at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. Domineque Ray lay strapped to a gurney, according to his lawyer, who was present. Looking into the witness room, Ray pointed his right index finger — an Islamic gesture to show the “oneness” of God — and spoke in Arabic, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the prophet.”

      Ray, convicted of three murders committed as a teenager, was soon dead by lethal injection, his last moments having been sealed by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier that day. Ray’s lawyers had won a stay from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after arguing that the prison’s refusal to allow an imam to be with him in the chamber was a violation of religious freedom protections. But in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court found that Ray’s appeal on religious grounds had come too late. Dissenting, Justice Elena Kagan called the decision “profoundly wrong.”

    • As Second Accuser Comes Forward, Growing Calls for Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to Resign

      After a second woman came forward on Friday and accused Virginia’s Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, rights groups and lawmakers described the allegations as credible and called on Fairfax to resign immediately.

      In a statement released through her lawyer, Meredith Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000.

      “Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive,” read Watson’s statement, which comes just two days after Dr. Vanessa Tyson—a professor of politics at Scripps College in Claremont, California—issued a statement of her own accusing Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004.

    • Virginia Governor Says He Won’t Quit; New Allegation Rocks Deputy

      —Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told top staff Friday that he is not going to resign over a racist photo as another sexual assault accusation was leveled at his lieutenant governor, who would succeed him if he stepped down.

      Northam called an afternoon Cabinet meeting to announce his intention to stay, a senior official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity

      Also Friday, a second woman came forward to accuse Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. The woman said in a statement that the attack took place when she and Fairfax were students at Duke University. The Associated Press is not reporting details of the allegation because it has not been corroborated.

    • New Bill Limits When California Police Can Use Deadly Force

      State legislators must pass legislation to stem California’s wider epidemic of police violence and to specifically protect communities of color.
      As a nation, we must address the brutal reality and deadly consequences of police violence. We have seen far too many people, particularly Black and brown people, killed by police. We have seen too many families and communities shattered by loss and tragedy. Enough is enough. We must limit when police officers can use deadly force and take someone’s life.

      Current laws in California fail to protect against unnecessary killings by police officers. Officers here — and in much of the country — can use deadly force regardless of whether it was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury. They can kill even when alternatives to deadly force — like issuing a verbal warning, repositioning and calling for backup, or using lower levels of force — are available, safe, and feasible.

      It is unacceptable that today in California police officers can legally kill someone even when they don’t have to.

    • The Right-Wing Press and Violence Against Women: Terrible When Abroad, Ignored When at Home

      When the U.K.’s Daily Mail ran a story about the rape of a woman in the southern Swedish town of Ljungby in April 2018, it spoke volumes about how the newspaper sees victims of assault, not to mention being one of the more grotesque examples of journalistic schadenfreude one could ever come across.

      A journalistic schadenfreude that is, unfortunately, all too common.

      The story was this: In December 2017, a woman in Ljungby met two 18-year-old men and followed them back to their residence. While there, she was forcibly held down and raped. In April 2018, both men were convicted: one of rape, the other of sexual assault. Given that there are thousands of women raped on a daily basis throughout the world, why would the Daily Mail decide that this rape, committed in a small town in southern Sweden, warranted coverage?

    • “Inspired and Inspiring”: 10-Year-Old Boy Scout Wins Praise After Taking a Knee During Pledge of Allegiance

      A 10-year-old Boy Scout won the praise of a local mayor as well as online observers Friday when the story of his decision to peacefully protest during the Pledge of Allegiance went viral.

      Liam Holmes and his Cub Scout Pack had been invited to recite the pledge at a city council meeting at City Hall in Durham, North Carolina on Monday. After a discussion with his father about professional athletes who have taken a knee in recent years to protest police brutality and the police shootings of unarmed black Americans, Holmes decided to stage his own demonstration.

      “What I did was took a knee against racial discrimination, which is basically [when] people are mean to other people of different colors,” Holmes told CBS 17, an affiliate station in Durham.

    • Activist Rosa Parks celebrated in exhibition as part of Black Heritage Month

      In celebration of Black Heritage Month and the birthday of human rights activists Rosa Parks, the college is currently hosting an exhibition of prints by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. that highlight statements made by Parks about segregation.

      The exhibition is titled ?Quotations of Rosa Louise Parks: Human Rights Activists? and is located at the Lass Gallery in Skillman Library from Jan. 28 to July 3.

    • ‘We Won’t Forget’: New Digital Ad Campaign Targets Susan Collins Over Kavanaugh Vote

      As part of a growing effort to unseat Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in 2020 over her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, the advocacy group Demand Justice on Saturday launched a new digital ad campaign targeting the four-term senator after Kavanaugh “declared war on Roe v. Wade” in his dissent in a major Louisiana abortion case.

      The ad recounts Collins’ comments ahead of her decisive vote to confirm Kavanaugh last year, in which she recited the judge’s assurances that he is not looking to overturn Roe v. Wade.

      “Collins promised to protect women’s rights,” the ad declares. “It was all a sham… We won’t forget.”

    • The lives of Russia’s sex workers today

      According to different estimates, there are between one and three million sex workers in Russia today. Compared to two decades ago, the industry also has a new look. Most prostitutes have moved indoors, finding their clients online instead of on street corners. The women are generally older (in St. Petersburg, the average age is 32), and a whopping 90 percent are mothers. Prostitution remains illegal, however, which exposes this labor force to additional violence, disease, and corruption. In a special report for the BBC’s Russian-language service, correspondent Nina Nazarova spoke to several Russian sex workers and a handful of human rights advocates who are trying to improve conditions for prostitutes in Russia. Meduza summarizes that text here.

    • Residential Racism

      Racism has despoiled our nation from its very inception. Slavery and Jim Crow have killed, maimed and degraded millions of human beings of African descent for centuries—a tragic legacy that continues, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly, into the early decades of the 21st century. Almost everyone knows the major features of this sorry history. Students who suffer through the distorted and inadequate history that this book’s author, James Loewen, chronicles in his magnificent “Lies My Teacher Told Me” usually learn at least something about American racism, even while they fail to learn many of its grimmer details.

      In this 2018 edition of “Sundown Towns,” an update of his groundbreaking 2005 version, Loewen fills in some of the gaps of public ignorance. His findings are appalling. He reveals that racism in America has been even more pervasive, more systemic, more geographically widespread, and therefore more grotesque than most people—even many progressives and well-meaning anti-racists—could ever imagine. The narrative in this supremely important book is chilling. It is essential to fully comprehend that, despite the formal end of segregation and the advances of the modern civil rights movement, racism has pervaded the entire fabric of American life.

      Click here to read long excerpts from “Sundown Towns” at Google Books.

      Loewen pulls no punches in the preface to his new edition: “[S]undown towns kept out African Americans. Some excluded other groups, such as Mexican Americans, Native Americans, or Asian Americans, Jews, even Catholics, and Mormons. These places get called ‘sundown towns’ because some, in past decades, placed signs at their city limits typically saying some version of ‘Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You in [name of town].’”

      Loewen’s new edition locates the history of sundown towns in the context of contemporary events, with the resurgence of racism in the Trump era and the resulting increase of overt white supremacist rhetoric and activity, but also with more energetic African-American resistance including the Black Lives Matter movement. In this edition, Loewen has augmented his earlier research. He concludes that sundown towns are declining, but despite some progress, residential exclusionary practices in the United States remain a fundamental feature of institutional racism.

    • Michelle Alexander and Vonya Quarles – Making Contact Radio

      “Prison Abolition” had been a widely discussed idea for centuries, and was adopted –even by centrists– in the 1970’s. During the last 40 years and a staggering boom in imprisonment – prison abolition seemed like a fringe idea. “Get rid of prisons?!” Only radical activists thought that was possible. But in the last decade the tide has been turning. We’ve had the work of Michelle Alexander and her book the New Jim Crow. We’ve seen people released from prison become advocates and lawyers, and change the terms of the discussion…people like Vonya Quarles. Even news personalities like Marc Lamont Hill now argue that abolition is a real and tangible goal. In this episode of Making Contact, we hear from all three of these thinkers about the state of the prison movement, and the growing reality of abolition.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Don’t Trust CloudFlare

      Outline:
      1. The immediate problem with CloudFlare, with a fix for lazy admins.
      2. The fundamental issue with CloudFlare and similar services.
      3. CloudFlare as a threat to federation.
      4. CloudFlare’s expansion into the decentralized web and beyond.

  • DRM

    • ChooseCo Inks Lucrative Deal With Amazon, Possibly Thanks To Netflix’s ‘Bandersnatch’

      When we discussed Chooseco, the company behind the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books from decades past, and its lawsuit against Netflix for having content that allowed watchers to choose paths within the narrative, we focused mostly on how silly the lawsuit was purely from a merit standpoint. The trademark suit rested mostly on a throwaway reference or homage made by a character in the Netflix work, and the claim that Chooseco has licensed its name in the past but lost the opportunity to do so for this work. None of that makes the public at all likely to be confused into thinking that Bandersnatch was somehow a Chooseco product, nor does such a reference somehow cause the work to be trademark infringement.

      But there’s another angle in all of this. The homage made in Bandersnatch was truly an homage, meaning that it called to mind for many of a certain age the fondness we had for these Choose Your Own Adventure books. Despite the films dark themes, the reference itself is a positive one. And, frankly, it probably caused many to think about the series of books for the first time in a long time, making it something of an advertisement for Chooseco’s products.

    • HP’s Ink Subscription Has DRM That Disables Your Printer Cartridges

      In mid-2016 I was running into a recurring issue. I was always out of printer ink, and new cartridges were expensive. Laser printers can be cheaper for many people, but my household does print as many color photos as it does text documents, which means they’re not a good choice for me. So I purchased a new inkjet printer on the promise of HP’s easy-to-use ink subscription service. For a low cost, I would always have all the ink I needed—as long as I kept to a page limit, that is.

      Now, years later, I’ve realized there was one other price of admission. The ink they’ve sent me isn’t mine; it’s theirs. And if I cancel the subscription when the billing cycle ends, the printer won’t use the ink anymore, and HP requires I send it back to them. I have to buy new ink to replace the ink that is already in my house.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The Justice Department Wants to Strip the Mongols Biker Club of Its Logo

        The First Amendment bars the government from stopping people from wearing clothes showing the logo of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.

        The Department of Justice is waging a long-running campaign to silence members and supporters of a controversial motorcycle club from expressing their affinity with the club by displaying its logo. This relentless attack should trouble anyone who cares about the freedoms of speech and association.

        In a filing Friday, we’re telling a federal court how the First Amendment prohibits the government from banning symbols, no matter what they represent.

        In 2008, the government filed RICO, or racketeering, charges against certain members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club. In the process, the Justice Department also sought forfeiture of the club’s trademark in its logo, a distinctive design that combined words and images to signify membership in the group.

        After members were indicted, the Justice Department obtained a pretrial order authorizing confiscation of items bearing the Mongols’ logo. The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles declared that any officer who saw any club member “wearing his patch” could “literally take the jacket right off his back.” Officers did just that, confiscating jackets, belts, shirts, and other items displaying all or part of the logo from club members and supporters — even though they were not charged with any crime.

      • ‘CHIARA FERRAGNI’ not confusingly similar to ‘CHIARA’, rules EU General Court

        The applicants appealed the decision to the EUIPO Fourth Board of Appeal, but without success.

    • Copyrights

      • If blockchain existed then, Ultraman copyright disputes would have never happened

        Ultraman, it’s one of Japan’s superheros like America’s Superman. A copyright holder of Ultraman, Tsuburaya Productions has been in dispute with Chinese production companies which produced and released a film featuring Ultraman in 2017. These Chinese companies now released another film featuring Ultraman. In response to this, Tsuburaya Productions made a statement on January 17 2019 that “we will take all necessary legal steps to protect our legal rights.” (The featured photo is a scene in the film trailer).

        This case is actually not so simple like typical Chinese copycat cases. The disputes began with a Thai businessman (Chaiyo Productions), who had friendship with a former president of Tsuburaya Productions, claiming right to use and exploit Ultraman worldwide, excluding Japan, more than twenty years ago. The Chinese companies described above appear to argue that they obtained a license from a Japanese company (UM Corporation) which took over the right from Chaiyo Productions.

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