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02.18.19

Links 18/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC7, RISC-V Spreading Fast

Posted in News Roundup at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux Vs. Unix: What’s the Difference?

    Linux and Unix are often compared to each other. If the similarity in their names wasn’t enough, Linux is technically a descendant of Unix, and they share a number of similarities in tool kits and overall structure. They aren’t exactly the same, though, and the approaches and philosophies behind them are radically different.

  • Desktop

    • How I got my job in Linux: from Newbie to Pro

      I was peeved, because I’d spent my own money on building a computer and buying Microsoft Windows to put on it. Money that I really needed to pay the rent and put food in my belly. I also felt sorry for all the people that I’d end up re-installing Windows on their PC to fix their problem. I knew that most of them would probably be back in the store six or so months later with the same complaint.

      Almost by accident, I found Linux. I was in the magazine section of the PC shop I worked in one day in late 1999. I saw a magazine called ‘Linux Answers’. On the cover was a copy of Red Hat Linux 6.0. Before long, I had done the unthinkable: I had deleted Windows in a rage of fury because it had completely crashed and wouldn’t start up. All of my MP3s, photos and documents, all but gone save for a few backups on CDs I had lying around. Back in those days I had no idea that I would have been able to salvage those files with Linux; I just blithely reformatted my hard disk and went cold-turkey, believing everything that the magazine said, I forced myself into the abyss of the unknown! These were exciting times!

      I remember the blue text-mode installer, the glare of the many lines of text flying by when the machine started up for the first time. It looked really un-user friendly. Eventually, the screen flipped into what I’d later know to be called ‘runlevel 5’ and I could see a graphical login screen. Little did I know it, but that flashing cursor was the beginning to a whole new world of computing for me.

  • Server

    • What is Knative, and What Can It Do for You?

      Kubernetes is great, as it is. But with Knative, a new, open source platform spearheaded by Google, Kubernetes can be even better.

      If you haven’t yet taken a look at what Knative is or how it can save developers time and headaches, you could be missing out on some powerful features that help you get more out of Kubernetes (and containers in general) with less effort.

      Keep reading for an overview of what Knative is and how it can help you double down on microservices and containers.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 93

      Google scrambles to repurpose Android Things, Microsoft wants to protect your Linux install really bad, and the first bank backed Crypto-coin makes a splash.

      Plus Void Linux issues a warning, running Linux on ARM laptops built for Windows, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0-rc7

      A nice and calm week, with statistics looking normal. Just under half
      drivers (gpu, networking, input, md, block, sound, …), with the rest
      being architecture fixes (arm64, arm, x86, kvm), networking and misc
      (filesystem etc).

      Nothing particularly odd stands out, and everything is pretty small.
      Just the way I like it. Shortlog appended,

      Linus

    • Linux 5.0-rc7 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds announced the release of the Linux 5.0-rc7 kernel on Sunday night.

      This seventh weekly release candidate to the Linux 5.0 kernel is now available for testing. This past week has been quite light on bug/regression fixing, which is good for this stage of development.

    • The Many Changes Lining Up So Far For The Linux 5.1 Kernel

      While Linux 5.0 isn’t even out yet, there are a lot of changes building up for the Linux 5.1 cycle that have us excited.

    • Nouveau Changes Sent In To DRM-Next For Linux 5.1 – Biggest Update In Several Releases

      Ben Skeggs, the Nouveau DRM maintainer employed by Red Hat, has sent in the big batch of open-source NVIDIA driver changes slates for the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      While the Nouveau changes for Linux 5.1 didn’t start off being too exciting but just another cycle of mostly mundane changes, in recent days the work has been more eventful with the merging of the HMM bits for Heterogeneous Memory Management.

    • Linux Foundation

      • ETSI MEC Creates Its First Working Group

        The group will be led by Walter Featherstone, a principal research engineer at Viavi.

        ETSI formed the MEC industry specification group (ISG) with 24 companies in December 2014. The group now boasts around 85 members. It set out to create a standardized, open environment for the integration of applications across multi-vendor MEC platforms.

        MEC will enable operators and vendors to provide cloud computing as well as an IT service environment at the edge of the network, which is characterized by low latency and high bandwidth. The technology is a rapidly developing application for 5G and IoT use cases.

        [...]

        The Linux Foundation, earlier this year, launched an edge computing initiative called LF Edge. The initiative will serve as an umbrella organization for five edge projects. The group has set out to build an open, interoperable framework for edge computing that is independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating systems.

      • Open Mainframe Project: Zowe Ready for Prime Time

        There is a lot of interest in updating mainframe technology/interfaces across traditional enterprises. As development environments and toolsets have evolved outside the mainframe, there is a struggle to keep up—partially because backward compatibility requirements make wild changes difficult and partly because the very architecture of mainframes is different.

      • These Are Not The Containers You’re Looking For

        It is a well-documented fact that the rise of cloud and open-source has been connected, which also brings some interesting tensions, as I explored in my previous article. In containers, this synergy seems stronger than ever. The juggernaut behind Kubernetes and many related open source projects, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), is part of the Linux Foundation. The CNCF charter is clear about the intentions of the foundation: it seeks to foster and sustain an ecosystem of open source, vendor-neutral projects. Consequentially, since the CNCF’s inception in 2014, it has become increasingly feasible to manage a complex cloud-native stack with a large mix of these open source projects (some interesting data in the foundation’s annual report). The more you get into container-native methodologies, the more open source you will use.

      • Zowe now at Version 1.0

        About six months ago, there was a lot of excitement with the announcement of Zowe (usually pronounced like Zoë). It provided a way for the mainframe to be treated like any other server by people whose computing skill set had been developed using open source tools rather than on the mainframe itself.

        As I’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest problems facing mainframe sites these days is their ageing population of experts. Many of their mainframe geeks, gurus, and mavens are starting to think about their pensions and their retirement. Some sites are looking to solve the issue of losing their human-based expertise by automating as much as possible – by incorporating into software as much of that expertise as they can. However, that doesn’t address the problem of how to create new applications or update existing applications to work in new ways, such as cloud, mobile working, or incorporating public APIs to create some completely new app. The big question for organizations that want to forge ahead in business is how do they ensure that they can digitally transform so that they can still operate successfully in the fast-evolving digital world? How do they make sure that any digitally disruptive technologies are included the way their company works in the future? The answer is to come up with a way of making everything on Z available to people who are used to working in other ways on other platforms. And that, in a nutshell, is where Zowe comes in.

      • Sony Makes Into the Spider-Verse Software Free and Open Source

        Sony Pictures Imageworks has made the color management tool OpenColorIO—which was used to create the recent hit animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—available to the open source community. The tool has now become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a Linux Foundation-owned open source association.

        In addition to Into the Spider-Verse, OpenColorIO has been used in the production of such other films as Hotel Transylvania 3, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Alice and Wonderland.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Preps For Discrete Graphics Cards With Linux Patches

        Intel has confirmed that recent patches to its Linux graphics driver were related to its continued work on preparing the ecosystem for its new line of discrete graphics cards.

        Phoronix reported that Intel released 42 such patches with more than 4,000 lines of code between them on February 14. The main purpose of the patches was to introduce the concept of memory regions in “preparation for upcoming devices with device local memory.” (Such as, you know, discrete graphics cards.)

        [...]

        Still, any information about Intel’s graphics plans is welcome. Right now the graphics market is dominated by AMD and Nvidia, and as we noted in December, Intel is probably the only company that even has a possibility of successfully introducing a new discrete graphics architecture. Why not enjoy the occasional glimpse behind the curtain as that architecture’s being built?

      • Intel begins talking up their open source efforts for their upcoming dedicated GPU

        With Intel’s brand new dedicated GPU due next year, they’ve begun talking up their efforts of getting Linux support in early.

      • SVT-VP9 Is Intel’s Latest Open-Source Video Encoder Yielding High Performance VP9

        At the start of the month Intel open-sourced SVT-AV1 aiming for high-performance AV1 video encoding on CPUs. That complemented their existing SVT-HEVC encoder for H.265 content and already SVT-AV1 has been seeing nice performance improvements. Intel now has released SVT-VP9 as a speedy open-source VP9 video encoder.

        Uploaded on Friday was the initial public open-source commit of SVT-VP9, the Intel Scalable Video Technology VP9 encoder. With this encoder they are focusing on being able to provide real-time encoding of up to two 4Kp60 streams on an Intel Xeon Gold 6140 processor. SVT-VP9 is under a BSD-style license and currently runs on Windows and Linux.

  • Applications

    • FocusWriter An App For Distraction-Free Writing

      FocusWriter is a distraction-free word processor program that hides all the interfaces: menu bar, toolbar, status bar, etc and starts in fullscreen mode to enable the user fully immersed in their work. The program’s primary feature is to focus only on user’s writing productivity and not provide another full-fledged word processor like LibreOffice Writer or Calligra Word Processor.

    • 7 Best Weather Apps for Ubuntu & Linux Mint

      Weather awareness is important to a lot of people, especially those who are always commuting, event planners, etc. And while we have covered several weather applications for Linux in the past but we never compiled a list that puts the best together.

      Today, we bring you a list of the best weather applications you can install on your Ubuntu and Linux Mint set up.

    • 5 Best Free Linux Typing Tutors

      Being able to touch type is the ability of typing without looking at the keyboard. When touch-typing, the individual uses all fingers instead of just a few fingers. Consequently, typing speed increases dramatically.

      It’s not only transcriptionists and secretaries that benefit from being able to type without looking at the keyboard. By concentrating on their thoughts and creative processes rather than the keyboard, all users will focus more on the content of the text, thereby increasing its quality. Moreover, touch-typing is less tiring, and less demanding on the brain. It also reduces the risk of Repetitive strain injury and Carpal tunnel syndrome.

      Typing tutor software teaches fast and accurate typing through a system of informative lessons and progress tracking. We think it is important that learning should be fun, so we have included some typing games in this feature.

    • fd – A Simple and Fast Alternative to Find Command

      Most of the Linux users are well familiar with the find command and the many cases it can be used. Today we are going to review an alternative to find command, called fd.

      fd, is a simple, fast and user-friendly tool meant to simply perform faster compared to find. It is not meant to completely replace find, but rather give you an easy to use alternative that performs slightly faster.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Developers Release Hangover Alpha To Run Windows x86_64 Programs On 64-Bit ARM

        Wine developers André Hentschel and Stefan Dösinger have been working on “Hangover” as a means of running Windows x86/x86_64 applications on 64-bit ARM (AArch64) Linux and Android or even Windows for ARM. They are out today with the project’s first alpha release.

        Hangover 0.4 is the first (alpha) release from this project for running x86/x86_64 Windows programs now on 64-bit ARM Linux distributions. Besides GNU/Linux platforms, Hangover can also run on Android as well. This also lays the groundwork for supporting Windows games on AArch64 using Direct3D/WineD3D though due to upstream Wine limitations that doesn’t yet work on Android due to WineD3D not working off OpenGL ES at this time.

    • Games

      • Escape room puzzle game ‘Escape Legacy: Ancient Scrolls’ lands Linux support

        Escape Legacy: Ancient Scrolls from Storming Tech is an escape room puzzle game that landed Linux support back in December.

        A little late on covering it, sure, but this is due to the fact that the Linux version didn’t actually work. I reached out personally to the developer, both through email and on their Steam forum and they have just this month fixed it. I actually discovered it thanks to Steam’s Discovery Queue feature, something I’ve not used often but surprisingly it has shown me multiple games I’ve not seen before so it’s quite handy.

        It has a demo available and from the small slice it offers up, it was actually reasonably impressive. The demo isn’t long and it is a bit abrupt as it doesn’t even let you finish the first level with a barrier stopping you going further but it does seem interesting.

      • Action RPG ‘Moonlighter’ had a massive free update recently making it a much more interesting game

        Moonlighter was already quite interesting, with the mix of action-RPG dungeon crawling along with working in a shop to sell your goods, now with the free Friends & Foes update it’s even more fun.

        The first of the major new stuff is the companions system, so once you kill a particular enemy type at least 10 times a special egg will appear. After three days in-game, it will hatch giving you a new friend to take on your journey. They’ve also added 8 mini-bosses, inventory sorting, a better system to show when shop prices update, an improve item pick-up mechanic and so on. Quite a feature-packed update!

      • PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3 shows off more great progress in their latest report

        When looking over it, at first glance it might seem like they’ve gone a little backwards in terms of supported titles. For example, they went from 1085 with a playable status in November to 1081 in December. However, this is due to a change in their compatibility list, which was revamped to bundle “multiple game IDs for the same game into one single entry”. On top of that, they’re also now bundling “IDs from the same region as well” so the compatibility list should be far more accurate going forward.

        Looking at the performance difference with the new “Approximate xfloat” feature, it’s quite impressive. They showed Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time going from 39FPS to 50FPS, God of War 3 saw a similar improvement going from 9FPS to 15FPS on AMD and 14FPS to 32FPS on Intel and they noted many other titles also seeing such improvements.

      • Top 20 Best Linux Terminal Console Games That You can Play Right Now

        Gaming on Linux has come a long way. There are thousands of amazing games available out there for you to play and enjoy. Today here, I will discuss some best games for the Linux terminal console. We all know that Linux users spend lots of time on Linux Terminal for doing the advance level task and sometimes it may be tiresome. And it will be great if you play some quick games on Linux terminal to remove the tiredness and boredom. So today I will only concentrate on making an amazing list of best Linux Terminal console games for you.

        I have already covered some write up on best Linux games, cheap steam games, top-rated steam games, and of course, best free steam games for Linux users. If you have not checked it yet, go there and choose your best one. So, guys, I am stopping further ado and jumping right to the point. Hence, let us head over to our topic.

      • Adventure Land, an MMO where you do a little coding is available on Linux with plans to go open source

        This is a bit of an odd one, Adventure Land is an MMO where you code characters using either the provided code or do a little of your own to help you progress. They plan to go open source too.

        Adventure Land sounds like quite a sandbox MMO, one with no specific quest-line to follow, no guides you have to follow and so on. They say you can “trade, gamble in tavern, party with friends, pvp solo with your rouge or go after rare loot”.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Interview with Noemie Scherer

        Hi! I’m a European Krita user.

        [...]

        That was more than ten years ago. I was something like ten, maybe twelve at most. A friend of mine had a photographer father, so I went to their house and could try his drawing tablet, and it was really cool; some time later my parents got me one (one of those small A6 ones), and my brother downloaded Gimp, probably for a birthday (he was -still is- really into open source).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Daniel García Moreno: I’m a hacker

        The hack computer is built on top of the Endless OS. Endless OS is based on debian and the desktop is a modified gnome shell, but it’s not the usual debian derivative, it’s based on OSTree. The main difference is that the root filesystem is read only and updates are managed with ostree, that’s like a git repository.

        This kind of Operating System is easier to maintain, because the user can’t modify the base system, so this means that he was unable to break it. All user applications are installed via flatpak, so are independent of the OS version and because of flathub you can install latests version of apps without the need to update the full operating system.

        This is the way that Fedora SilverBlue is trying to follow and is a new way to build and distribute GNU/Linux.

      • Geary Email Client 0.13 Released with Gnome Online Accounts Support

        Geary email client 0.13 was released today with great new features, performance improvements, and numerous bug fixes.

        The key feature in Geary 0.13 is that email accounts added via GNOME Online Accounts now is supported.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: GNOME at FOSDEM 2019

        Earlier this month, the annual FOSDEM conference happened again at ULB, Bruxelles, Belgium. I had the opportunity to go there, man the GNOME booth, sell socks, and catch up with other GNOME contributors.

        Prior to the conference I had booked La Chambre Haute, which is a great little rooftop apartment located in Etterbeek, around 1.7km from the FOSDEM venue. I arranged the apartment for sharing through the GNOME wiki and shared the apartment with fellow GNOMEies Florian, Tobias, Julian and Niclas. We had a really pleasant time there, including oriental cooking and hacking! I can recommend joining for FOSDEM 2020. ;-)

      • Tobias Bernard: FOSDEM 2019

        Earlier this month I attended FOSDEM in Brussels. This year was much more relaxed than last year because I didn’t have a talk or other major responsibilities. That meant I had a lot more time to talk to fellow GNOME people and other friends working on different projects.

        I spent a lot of time at our booth, talking to people coming by, and planning new projects with fellow developers. The only talk I ended up going to was Zeeshan’s on Rust. I really wanted to go see Jordan’s talk as well, but the Rust devroom was way too packed on Sunday. I also attended the Mobile Free Software BoF, where Nicole gave a status update about the Librem 5 to interested community members, and people could ask questions.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Slontoo 18.07.1 “LXDE”

        It is not often that I experiment with projects from the Gentoo family of distributions. This week I decided to enjoy a change of pace and experiment with a desktop oriented distribution from the Gentoo family called Slontoo. According to the project’s website,
        Slontoo is an operating system based on Funtoo Linux. It uses the Linux Mint live installer to simplify the installation procedure. Slontoo tries to provide most appropriate tools for home and office use.
        Funtoo is, in turn, based on Gentoo and strives to improve the technologies presented in the Gentoo meta-distribution.

        Slontoo is available in three editions: LXDE, MATE and Xfce. New users can download one unified ISO (1.7GB) that contains all three desktop environments, or select from one of three smaller ISO files that each include just one desktop. I decided to download the distribution’s LXDE edition which is 1GB in size. Slontoo is available for 64-bit systems only.

        Booting from the live media brings up a menu asking us to pick our preferred language. Then the system boots into a graphical mode and presents us with the LXDE desktop. A panel sits at the bottom of the screen, with the application menu in the bottom-left corner. Icons on the desktop open the file manager and launch the system installer. The live desktop was responsive and the distribution appeared to be working smoothly so I jumped immediately into the installer.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Sway in experimental

        A couple of days ago the 1.0-RC2 version of Sway, a Wayland compositor, landed in Debian experimental. Sway is a drop in replacement for the i3 tiling window manager for wayland. Drop in replacement means that, apart from minor adaptions, you can reuse your existing i3 configuration file for Sway. On the Website of sway you can find a short introduction video that shows the most basic concepts of using Sway, though if you have worked with i3 you will feel at home soon.

        In the video the utility swaygrab is mentioned, but this tool is not part of Sway anymore. There is another screenshot tool now though, called grim which you can combine with the tool slurp if you want to select regions for screenshots. The video also mentions swaylock, which is a screen locking utility similar to i3lock. It was split out of the main Sway release a couple of weeks ago but there also exists a Debian package by now. And there is a package for swayidle, which is a idle management daemon, which comes handy for locking the screen or for turning of your display after a timeout. If you need clipboard manager, you can use wl-clipboard. There is also a notification daemon called mako (the Debian package is called mako-notifier and is in NEW) and if you don’t like the default swaybar, you can have a look at waybar (not yet in Debian, see this RFS). If you want to get in touch with other Sway users there is a #sway IRC channel on freenode. For some tricks setting up Sway you can browse the wiki.

      • The Sway Wayland Compositor Is Now Available From Debian Experimental

        For those that have been wanting to try out the near-final Sway 1.0, this Wayland compositor has made its way into the Debian archive albeit only in the “experimental” section for now.

        At the end of January was the start of the upstream Debian packaging work around Sway and it’s kept up with the latest release candidates. Available from Debian Experimental is now the latest Sway 1.0-RC2.

      • Making debug symbols discoverable and fetchable

        Michael wrote a few days ago about the experience of debugging programs on Debian. And he is certainly not the only one, who found it more difficult to find debug symbols on Linux systems in general.

        But fortunately, it is a fixable problem. Basically, we just need a service to map a build-id to a downloadable file containing that build-id. You can find the source code to my (prototype) of such a dbgsym service on salsa.debian.org.

      • Debian 9.8 MATE Run Through

        In this video, we look at Debian 9.8 the MATE edition.

      • Derivatives

        • Slax 9.8 Linux Distro Released with Various Updates from Debian GNU/Linux 9.8

          Slax 9.8 is now available for download and comes about three weeks after the release of Slax 9.7, which improved compatibility with new USB devices and made the ISO image even smaller by using 1MB blocks to compress the SquashFS filesystem.

          Slax 9.8 is based on the recently released Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 operating system and incorporates all of the upstream security updates and miscellaneous bug fixes that were included in the Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 “Stretch” point release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Open sorcerers work to ARM Ubuntu

            A team of open sorcerers are trying to get Linux on Qualcomm-powered laptops from HP, Asus, and Lenovo.

            According to Tech Republic the idea could make for a higher performing experience than Windows 10.

            Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a partnership to pair Windows 10 and Snapdragon ARM processors for ultra-thin LTE-connected netbooks with a 20+ hour battery life.

            This Windows-on-Arm initiative has faced several stumbling blocks, with the the first-generation HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo slammed for poor performance and app compatibility in Windows 10.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Toyota Prepping ‘PASTA’ for its GitHub Debut

    Carmaker’s open source car-hacking tool platform soon will be available to the research community.
    The lead developer behind Toyota’s new cybersecurity testing tool said the carmaker plans to make its so-called PASTA (Portable Automotive Security Testbed with Adaptability) available via GitHub as early as next month or April.

    Tsuyoshi Toyama, senior researcher at Toyota InfoTechnology Center, told Dark Reading that he and his team are currently working on getting the PASTA specifications ready for availability online, and plan to offer as open-source the platform’s specs, CAN (controller area network) ID maps, ECU (engine control unit) program codes, and ECU circuit diagrams for vehicle testing. He says Toyota also hopes to offer PASTA’s driving simulator programs as open source, as well.

  • FAIR releases a new ELF OpenGo bot with a unique archive that can analyze 87k professional Go games

    It was last year in May when Facebook AI Research (FAIR) released an open source ‘ELF’ OpenGo bot, an AI bot that has defeated world champion professional Go players, based onits existing ELF platform for Reinforcement Learning Research. Yesterday, FAIR announced new features and research results related to ELF OpenGo, including an updated model, a Windows executable version of the bot, and a unique archive analyzing 87k professional Go games.

    ELF OpenGo, an open-source reimplementation of the AlphaZero algorithm, is the first open-source Go AI that has convincingly demonstrated superhuman performance, achieving a (20:0) record against global top professionals.

  • Novel software offers possible reduction in arrhythmic heart disease

    Potentially lethal heart conditions may become easier to spot and may lead to improvements in prevention and treatment thanks to innovative new software that measures electrical activity in the organ.

    The heart’s pumping ability is controlled by electrical activity that triggers the heart muscle cells to contract and relax. In certain heart diseases such as arrhythmia, the organ’s electrical activity is affected.

    Cardiac researchers can already record and analyse the heart’s electrical behaviour using optical and electrode mapping, but widespread use of these technologies is limited by a lack of appropriate software.

    Computer and cardiovascular experts at the University of Birmingham have worked with counterparts in the UK, Netherlands and Australia to develop ElectroMap – a new open-source software for processing, analysis and mapping complex cardiac data.

    Led by researchers from the School of Computer Science and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, at the University of Birmingham, the international team has published its findings in Scientific Reports.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 66 Beta 8 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday February 15th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 66 Beta 8.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: gaby2300, Priyadharshini A and Aishwarya Narasimhan.

  • Databases

    • DigitalOcean launches its managed database service

      DigitalOcean started as an affordable but basic virtual private server offering with a pleasant user interface. Over the last few years, the company started adding features like object and block storage, load balancers and a container service. Today, it’s expanding its portfolio once again by launching a feature that was sorely missing in its lineup: a managed database service.

      The first edition of these DigitalOcean Managed Databases only supports PostgreSQL, the popular open-source relational database. Later this year, it’ll add MySQL and Redis support (likely in Q2 or Q3). As for other databases, the company says that it’ll listen to customer feedback and use that to prioritize other offerings.

    • InfluxData Secures $60 Million in Series D Funding to Bring the Value of Time Series to the Enterprise Mainstream
    • InfluxData raises $60 million for time-series database software

      The amount of data generated today boggles the mind — U.S. companies alone produce 2.5 quintillion bytes daily, enough to fill ten thousand Libraries of Congress in a year — and much of it is of the time-series variety (i.e., data points indexed in time order). Given the sheer volume, it’s no wonder that only 12 percent of companies say they’re analyzing the data they have, according to Forrester Research.

      That’s one of the reasons Paul Dix — who’s helped to build software for startups, large companies, and organizations like Microsoft, Google, McAfee, Thomson Reuters, and Air Force Space Command — founded Y Combinator- and Bloomberg Beta-backed InfluxData (formerly Errplane) in 2012. The San Francisco startup develops an open source time series platform, InfluxDB, that is optimized to handle metrics and events in DevOps, internet of things (IoT), and real-time analytics domains. And after a banner year that saw revenue double, InfluxDB 2.0 launch in alpha, and Flux — a functional language for both querying and processing data — debut in technical preview, the startup is gearing up for growth.

    • Why you should use SQLite

      Lift the hood on most any business application, and you’ll reveal some way to store and use structured data. Whether it’s a client-side app, an app with a web front-end, or an edge-device app, chances are it needs an embedded database of some kind.

      SQLite is an embeddable open source database, written in C and queryable with conventional SQL, that is designed to cover those use cases and more. SQLite is designed to be fast, portable, and reliable, whether you’re storing only kilobytes of data or multi-gigabyte blobs.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Slovak advocates want parliament to push for open source

      Slovak proponents of the use of free and open source software are rallying for their country’s parliament to approve plans to share the source code of software solutions developed by and for public services. They are concerned that proprietary software vendors will lobby for changes to the eGovernment act, a strategic IT Government proposal that is to be discussed in parliament in March or April.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-science model for drug discovery expands to neurodegenerative diseases

      Medicines 4 Neurodegenerative Diseases (M4ND Pharma) will pursue promising new genetic drug targets for these intractable nervous system disorders, thanks to $1.5 million from the Krembil Foundation. It will be the world’s second drug discovery company committed to open science after Medicines 4 Kids (M4K Pharma), which launched in 2017 to develop a novel drug for an uncommon but fatal childhood brain cancer.

      Open science is a way for researchers to share their data and knowledge quickly and publicly, unencumbered by patents and the peer review publishing process, with the aim of speeding up scientific discovery. The movement gathered force in the life sciences in the 1990s with the Human Genome Project, and spread to protein structures and then early-stage drug discovery through the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC).

      The non-profit SGC has generated considerable private and public investment and several spin-out companies, but there remains a gap in late-stage drug development.

      “When we started M4K, many people thought an open approach to late-stage drug development might only be applicable to rare or neglected diseases, if at all,” says Aled Edwards, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto and CEO of the SGC. “But we’re getting unexpected funding and scientific contributions from industry, academic and clinical sources, and slowly but surely we’re advancing a medicine through the pipeline. It’s time to move the goal posts again on what’s possible with open science.”

    • IoT

      • Security Vulnerabilities Pose a Challenge to IoT/IIoT Mass Adoption

        Statista, a leading market and consumer data research firm, estimates that by 2020, the utilities, transportation and logistics, and discrete manufacturing industries are each projected to spend $40 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, systems and services. The next largest spending category will be business-to-consumer vendors, at $25 billion, while the health-care, energy and retail industries are each projected to spend north of $10 billion. These numbers add up to a significant investment in the IoT. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group predicts that the IoT market will reach $267 billion by 2020.

      • Decentralised IoT Network Gets Tencent Investment

        Wienke Giezeman is a man on a mission: since 2015, he’s been busy creating a decentralized LoRaWAN based internet of things (IoT) network which has no single owner and no single point of control. His goal is to make it easy for people to focus on the business value created by IoT, and not have to worry about the technology.

        Giezeman stood on the stage at his The Things Conference here earlier this month to announce some major breakthroughs that could just tip the balance for mass deployment of LoRaWAN devices and gateways. This includes a very low cost $69 indoor gateway, a generic software defined IoT node device incorporating multiple sensors, a security chip in conjunction with Microchip Technology, and a partnership with Tencent to accelerate LoRaWAN network expansion among the Chinese developer community.

      • Open IoT Network Adds Devices, Expands in China

        Giezeman stood on the stage at his The Things Conference here earlier this month to announce some major breakthroughs that could just tip the balance for mass deployment of LoRaWAN devices and gateways. This includes a very low cost $69 indoor gateway, a generic software defined IoT node device incorporating multiple sensors, a security chip in conjunction with Microchip Technology, and a partnership with Tencent to accelerate LoRaWAN network expansion among the Chinese developer community.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RISC-V Climbs Software Mountain

        Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

        The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

        So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

      • Western Digital’s RISC-V ‘Swerv’ Core Now Available for Free

        Western Digital has announced that it’s completed work on its Swerv RISC-V CPU core and has published the register-transfer level (RTL) abstraction of the design. Publishing the RTL code allows other companies to use the design.

        Open-source hardware initiatives and ISAs have existed for decades, but RISC-V has gathered a critical ecosystem and corporate interests in these projects where historically there was little incentive to buy-in. The issue isn’t primarily cost savings — particularly as node sizes decrease, the licensing costs of an ARM core simply aren’t a major part of the total. The end of conventional Moore’s Law scaling has moved interest back to ISAs, as has the rise of IoT, AI, ML, and the need for new architectures to address these challenges.

      • Western Digital Releases Their RISC-V Cores To The World

        What grew out of a university research project is finally becoming real silicon. RISC-V, the ISA that’s completely Big-O Open, is making inroads in dev boards, Arduino-ish things, and some light Internet of Things things. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t mean anything until you can find RISC-V cores in actual products. The great hope for RISC-V in this regard looks to be Western Digital, manufacturers of storage. They’re going to put RISC-V in all their drives, and they’ve just released their own version of the core, the SweRV.

        Last year, Western Digital made the amazing claim that they will transition their consumption of silicon over to RISC-V, putting one Billion RISC-V cores per year into the marketplace. This is huge news, akin to Apple saying they’re not going to bother with ARM anymore. Sure, these cores won’t necessarily be user-facing but at least we’re getting something.

        As far as technical specs for the Western Digital SweRV core go, it’s a 32-bit in-order core, with a target implementation process of 28nm, running at 1.8GHz. Performance per MHz is good, and if you want a chip or device to compare the SweRV core to (this is an inexact comparison, because we’re just talking about a core here and not an entire CPU or device), we’re looking at something between a decade-old iPhone or a very early version of the Raspberry Pi and a modern-ish tablet. Again, an inexact comparison, but no direct comparison can be made at this point.

      • A Network Card For The Trash-80

        The idea for the trsnic comes from [Arno Puder]’s RetroStoreCard, a device that plugs into the TRS-80 Model III and connects it to a ‘personal cloud’ of sorts that hosts and runs applications without the need for cassettes or floppys. It does this with an ESP32 wired up to the I/O bus in the Model III, and it’s all completely Open Source.

        [Peter] took this idea and ran with it. Thanks to the power found in the ESP32, real encrypted Internet communication can happen, and that means HTTPS and TLS.

      • RISC-V Eases Innovation in Military/Aerospace Designs

        The RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), and open hardware standards in general, have the potential to be a real boon the military and aerospace designers. “RISC-V is being received with open arms by the military and aerospace sectors,” said Tim Morin, director of strategic marketing in Microchip Technnology’s FPGA business unit. “They are very excited about it.”

        From a design perspective, the ISA addresses the need to minimize power consumption, streamline bill of material (BOM) costs, and optimize board space. “With RISC-V, when you create an integrated circuit, you do exactly what you need,” said Michael Cave, senior director, strategic technology at SiFive, adding that the company is bidding on DARPA projects currently. “The government loves that reality. The government feels like if they don’t do something innovative, China is going to capture the lead.”

      • RISC-V: The Road Ahead

        Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

        The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

        So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

        RISC-V is in as many as 20 million fitness bands and smartwatches in China. In the U.S., SiFive has shipped more than 2,500 development boards using processors that it aims to sell as IP cores or as SoCs through its design services.

        “The lowest-hanging fruit is the embedded space where the APIs are not exposed to programmers,” said Rick O’Connor, executive director of the non-profit RISC-V Foundation. “That’s the easiest thing to do, but there’s healthy activity in all segments.

      • Libre RISC-V GPU Aiming For 2.5 Watt Power Draw Continues Being Plotted

        Besides having a dedicated Intel GPU to look forward to in 2020, the effort around creating an open-source RISC-V architecture based graphics processor continues being spearheaded by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton and other libre hardware developers.

        This is the ambitious effort for effectively creating a RISC-V-based Vulkan accelerator that hopes to be able to achieve 25 FPS @ 720p, 5~6 GFLOPs. Part of how they plan to make a RISC-V based GPU viable is via their Simple-V extension for RISC-V. While the performance target is incredibly lax by today’s standards, they do plan for an aggressive power consumption target of just about 2.5 Watts.

  • Programming/Development

    • Chinese Tech Giant Baidu Launches Blockchain OS to Support DApp Development

      Chinese search engine and web services company Baidu has launched its Baidu Blockchain Engine (BBE), an operating system designed to facilitate decentralized application (DApp) development. The news was officially announced by Baidu’s cloud computing unit, Baidu Cloud, on Feb. 14.
      Baidu Cloud states that it considers an open source, commercialized platform to be “the only way to build a blockchain operating system.” BBE has reportedly been built on the basis of Baidu’s “ABC” technology strategy — artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing — and aims to make DApp development “as simple as creating a mobile app.”

    • How is the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP) different from the Java Community Process (JCP)?

      As most of you are aware, Oracle has contributed the Java EE specification to the Eclipse Foundation. The enterprise Java community decided to rename the Java EE specification to Jakarta EE. Part of this huge transition to open source is changing the specification process. The famous Java Community Process (JCP) is going to be replaced by the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP), which will be better suited for vendor neutrality, transparency, and all other attributes associated with open source. So what exactly is the difference?

      To learn more about the new process, please refer to the EFSP v1.0, and Wayne Beaton’s article in this newsletter.

    • How To Build A Successful Developer Community

      As a community starter, the first question one should ask themselves is why developers want to join the community: is it because they are going to learn new skills or make their work easier?

      What is the impetus for building the community by asking questions like, whether the community is built around an open-source project? Are the developer tools available? Is there a platform with an API? Is it like a partner ecosystem? Or is it just selling a product?

    • Ember.js video documentary released

      Besides being an interesting piece of content for developers and open-source enthusiasts around the world, the documentary also addresses the human element of open-source software and the power of community.

      The documentary starts off with Tom Dale telling the story about how in the early days of creating web apps using Javascript, people where telling them, “please stop using Javascript”, and “you guys are abusing the system” – but they had to stick with the vision and see it through and today, everyone uses Javascript to create web applications.

    • Why 2019 Will Be the Year for Shift-Left Mainframe Testing

      While 2018 was the year for planning and implementing shift-left methodologies in testing, mainframe and server testers were, for the most part, left behind. These legacy infrastructure experts were tied down to old-school testing tools. Mainframes kept functioning, but tools and testing practices often became bottlenecks, preventing performance testing teams from testing more quickly mid-cycle and pre-release.

    • Ubisoft’s Clever-Commit AI will sniff out bugs in Firefox

      GAMES DO ENCOURAGE VIOLENCE, but against bugs in the case Ubisoft which has partnered with Mozilla to build out an artificial intelligence (AI) system that sniffs out code gremlins.

      Dubbed Clever-Commit, the AI will act as a form of coding assistant that learns from a developer’s base bug and regression data to predict and flag potential new bugs that might be added as new code is slapped onto the codebase.

      The system, which is already being used internally by Ubisoft, will be adopted by Mozilla to review Firefox code and spot dodgy bits, with the goal of making the browser more stable for its users. But if the systems works well, Mozilla has plans to stick it further into Firefox.

    • Ubisoft and Mozilla team up to develop Clever-Commit, an AI coding assistant

      Game developer Ubisoft today announced that it has partnered with Mozilla to develop Clever-Commit, an AI-based coding assistant that learns from your code base’s bug and regression data to analyze and flag potential new bugs as new code is committed. Ubisoft already uses this tool internally and Mozilla says that it will deploy it to spot bugs in its Firefox code.

    • Programming languages: Python rides high but Groovy is cool again with developers

      Groovy, which came to life in 2007, hasn’t been a top-20 language in Tiobe’s index since 2016 but in the February listing it is now at 19th place, up from 49th last year.

      Groovy hit its stride as a language for writing scripts for popular continuous-integration tool Jenkins, but it’s also been buoyed by the Gradle open-source build-automation system. According to Tiobe, these days more ‘glue’ software is being written in Groovy.

    • The Deep Learning Framework Backed By Facebook Is Getting Industry’s Attention

      When it comes to deep learning frameworks, TensorFlow is one of the most preferred toolkits.

    • Inside the AI developer’s toolbox
    • Guide To Web Scraping With Python Libraries Selenium & Beautiful Soup
    • Speeding up basic object operations in Cython
    • Python’s str.isdigit vs. str.isnumeric
    • Test and Code: 65: one assert per test
    • A Lightweight AVR IDE

      All the basic features are there – there’s syntax highlighting, as well as integration with the AVRA assembler and AVRDUDE for programming chips. It’s a tool that could make taking the leap into assembly code just that little bit easier. For another taste of bare metal coding, check out [Ben Jojo]’s discussion of x86 bootloaders.

    • patience diffing algorithm

      I needed a (text) diff algorithm, and if you search for one you mostly come up with the Myers algorithm. But then I stumbled across something called patience diffing, and it turns out to be just what I wanted. It’s already described elsewhere, but it seems more people could stand to know about it, so here we are. It’s easy to understand, and more importantly, usually makes pretty diffs (often prettier than Myers).

    • Converting Decimals to Roman Numerals with Bash

      My last few articles have given me a chance to relive my undergraduate computer science degree and code a Roman numeral to decimal converter. It’s quite handy when you’re watching old movies (when was MCMLVII anyway?), and the basic coding algorithm was reasonably straightforward. (See Dave’s “Roman Numerals and Bash” and “More Roman Numerals and Bash”.)

      The trick with Roman numerals, however, is that it’s what’s known as a subtractive notation. In other words, it’s not a position → value or even symbol → value notation, but a sort of hybrid. MM = 2000, and C = 100, but MMC and MCM are quite different: the former is 2100, and the latter is 1000 + (–100 + 1000) = 1900.

      This means that the conversion isn’t quite as simple as a mapping table, which makes it a good homework assignment for young comp-sci students!

    • Creating a containerized Python/Flask development environment with Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces

      Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces provide developers with containerized development environments hosted on OpenShift/Kubernetes. DevOps teams can now use a hosted development environment that’s pre-built for their chosen stack and customized for their project.

      CodeReady Workspaces can help you rapidly onboard developers for your project as everything they need to develop is running in a containized workspace. In this post, we’re going to use CodeReady Workspaces to get up and running quickly with an existing open source project, Peak. Peak is a multi-container Kubernetes application for performance testing web services, and it allows you to create distributed performance tests using the Kubernetes Batch API for test orchestration. We’ll make some modifications to Peak’s Flask front end, a stateless web interface that interacts with a Falcon RESTful API to return data about performance tests. You won’t need the complete Peak application deployed, though if you like, you can find steps to deploy it to OpenShift here.

    • How to Run Your Python Scripts

      One of the most important skills you need to build as a Python developer is to be able to run Python scripts and code. This is going to be the only way for you to know if your code works as you planned. It’s even the only way of knowing if your code works at all!

      This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through a series of ways to run Python scripts, depending on your environment, platform, needs, and skills as a programmer.

    • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Maria McKinley

      This week we welcome Maria McKinley (@twiteness) as our PyDev of the Week. Maria is a Senior Software Engineer at the Walt Disney Company and will be a speaker at PyCascades 2019. She is also teaching the Python Certificate Program at the University of Washington Continuing Education. Let’s spend a few moments getting to know her better.

    • How To Program A Really Cheap Microcontroller

      There are rumors of a cheap chip that does USB natively, has an Open Source toolchain, and costs a quarter. These aren’t rumors: you can buy the CH552 microcontroller right now. Surprisingly, there aren’t many people picking up this cheap chip for their next project. If there’s no original projects using this chip, no one is going to use this chip. Catch 22, and all that.

      Like a generous god, [Aaron Christophel] has got your back with a working example of programming this cheap chip, and doing something useful with it. It blinks LEDs, it writes to an I2C display, and it does everything you would want from a microcontroller that costs a few dimes.

      The CH552, and its friends the small CH551 all the way up to the CH559, contain an 8051 core, somewhere around 16 kB of flash, the high-end chips have a USB controller, there’s SPI, PWM, I2C, and it costs pennies. Unlike so many other chips out there, you can find SDKs and toolchains. You can program the chip over USB. Clearly, we’re looking at something really cool if someone writes an Arduino wrapper for it. We’re not there yet, but we’re close.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • A natural selection: Evolution evolves from board game to digital app

      Players in Evolution compete to create and grow their species to consume more food tokens, which are worth points at the game’s end and which become scarcer as the game progresses. Each species can have up to three Trait cards that give it extra powers or makes it harder to attack. One of the Traits makes species (which are herbivores by default) into Carnivores, which feed by attacking other species—including your own, if you can’t feed them by attacking species belonging to other players.

    • Scientists provide new insight on gene mutations associated with autism

      Autism spectrum disorder, and autism patients’ responses to treatments, is increasingly studied using neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – immature cells that can give rise to an unlimited source of any type of cell needed by the body. But high costs mean that only a few iPSC-derived neuronal lines are typically tested in a single study, limiting previous autism research. New approaches are therefore needed to speed up developments in this area.

      A team of researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the University of Toronto and McMaster University in Canada set out to establish a scalable iPSC-derived neuron model to help improve autism research. They developed a resource of 53 different iPSC lines derived from 25 individuals with autism, who carry a wide range of rare genetic variants, and from their unaffected family members.

      Using CRISPR editing, the scientists also created four ‘isogenic’ pairs of iPSC lines (cell lines with the same or similar genetic makeup) that either had or did not have a mutation, to explore the impacts of mutations on autistic characteristics.

    • Innovation and Disruption Get Less Likely With a Bigger Team, Study Finds

      One silver lining of having an apartment so small you can feel your stomach brush the wall with a particularly strong exhale is that you don’t have to feel bad not helping whomever is cooking dinner or doing the dishes. Fitting two people into the foot-and-a-half wide corridor that houses our fridge, oven, microwave, and sink is simply a non-starter. It’s frustrating at times, but it has helped instill a natural division of labor — whoever cooks does not touch the dishes — that I don’t think would have occurred otherwise, and it muted the well-intentioned, but not always constructive, instinct to help a busy cook who’s in the zone and doesn’t want to be bothered with finding you a vegetable to peel or something.

    • As Scholars Are Driven to Less Prestigious Journals, New Measures of Quality Emerge

      As more scholars publish in less-recognized open-access journals, the search is on for other ways to measure the impact of their research. One potential measure of reach is in online sharing: posts on Twitter, blog links, and other engagement metrics of various kinds.

      HuMetricsHSS, a humanities and social-sciences project that tracks indicators in those fields, includes as another such metric “openness,” including a researcher’s “transparency, candor, and accountability, in addition to the practice of making one’s research open access at all stages.”

      Such efforts seek to chip away at long-established cultural norms. Early-career academics, encouraged by the incentives of tenure and promotion, feel pressure to publish in prestigious academic journals. Faculty members reviewing an applicant’s research may not be able to evaluate its content if they do not have the proper specialty, so the name of a well-known subscription journal can serve as a proxy for quality.

  • Hardware

    • ‘This collaboration is absolutely critical going forward’… One positive thing about Meltdown CPU hole? At least it put aside tech rivalries…

      The group met at the Churchill Club in San Francisco to reflect on 2018′s big security story – the Spectre-Meltdown CPU flaws – and ponder how it could be better handled going forward. Although chip designers were alerted to the vulnerabilities around June 2017, and operating system developers soon after, an action plan for disclosure was still being formulated the week before they hoped to public on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The Reg blew the lid off it on January 2, after hearing no response from vendors, forcing timetables to be torn up.

      Among the board of brains were Intel government and policy director Audrey Plonk, Semiconductor Industry Association CEO John Neuffer, UC Berkeley Law Prof Deidre Mulligan, and White House NSC bod turned Venable cybersec director Ari Schwartz.

      The talk centered on the CPU speculative execution holes that sent chip designers back to the drawing board, and kernel and toolchain programmers back to their IDEs, to solve and come up with mitigations. Now one year past the big reveal, the panel pondered how they could have done things differently.

      For Schwartz, the saga reaches back to 2014′s Heartbleed, the data-leaking OpenSSL bug that was Meltdown before Meltdown. At the time, he was working in the White House, and had to actually play up the risk of the bug until it got the right attention.

      “When we looked at it we know this was very big,” Schwartz recounted. “The chief of staff to the President walked into our office, and said: I want to know everything about this.”

      The crisis of Heartbleed seemingly trained the tech giants on how to handle mass disclosure and patching of major security holes that affect the entire industry. Companies would learn how to cooperate with one another and set aside competitive differences for the greater good.

      Fast forward three years to late 2017, and researchers dotted around the world uncovered fundamental flaws in the way modern CPUs predicted which data or code would be needed next, flaws that could be exploited by malware to read memory that should be out of bounds – kernel memory or that of another application – and potentially steal passwords and other secrets.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Real Reason Anti-Vax Beliefs Spread So Fast Online Isn’t About Facts

      In a world where people are increasingly encountering science information online, particularly on social media, it’s important to understand why people are vulnerable to anti-vaccination messages and why this kind of [dis-]information spreads so easily.

    • Unequal Justice: Kavanaugh’s Vote on Abortion Access Bodes Ill for Roe

      On September 4, at the outset of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh pledged that if he became the 114th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he would serve as a fair decider of the law.

      “A good judge must be an umpire—a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” Kavanaugh told the committee. “I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge.”

      Even before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in late September that Kavanaugh had tried to rape her in 1982, when he was a seventeen-year-old high school student, Kavanaugh’s critics weren’t buying the umpire metaphor. They believed that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would operate as a conservative judicial activist bent on moving the high tribunal hard to the right. Women’s groups, in particular, feared that Kavanaugh would provide a fifth and decisive vote to gut, and eventually overturn, Roe v. Wade.

  • Security

    • RunC container vulnerability: What makes it so dangerous?

      First of all, what is runC? It is a command-line tool for spawning and running containers according to the OCI specification. It has the ability with run containers without root privileges using rootless.

      Researchers Adam Iwaniuk and Borys Popławski discovered the runC security vulnerability.

      An e-mail from Aleksa Sarai, Senior Software Engineer and developer at the open source software company SUSE, describes the runc Container breakout.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 134 – What’s up with the container runc security flaw?

      Josh and Kurt talk about the new runc container security flaw. How does the flaw work, what can you do about it, what should you do about it, and what the future of container security may look like.

    • Switzerland launches e-voting bug bounty

      The Swiss government is inviting hackers to test its electronic voting (e-voting) system for vulnerabilities, in a move aimed at improving the security and integrity of the country’s electoral process.

      The initiative was unveiled last week by Swiss Post, Switzerland’s national postal service and the organization tasked with deploying and managing the country’s e-voting platform.

      Ahead of the system’s planned nationwide rollout, a public intrusion test will take place between February 25 and March 24. A range of cash prizes are on offer for successful pen testers.

    • A Conversation about ZipSlip, NodeJS Security, and BBS Hacking

      Earlier this year, the popular Bower package manager was found vulnerable to archive extraction, allowing attackers to write arbitrary files on a user’s disk. As Nodejs Security WG member and Snyk developer advocate Liran Tal wrote, the vector attacks used by this exploit have been known since the early days of BBS.

      As security researcher skyn3t reported on January 1st 2019, an attacker could craft a malicious zip archive to exploit improper validation of symlinks to write arbitrary files outside of the zip extraction directory. According to Tal, the culprit for enabling path transversal in Bower’s case is a small Nodejs package, decompress-zip, but it is far from being an isolated case. In fact, this kind of vulnerability has been found in several ecosystems, including JavaScript, Ruby, .NET, Go, and Java, and seems to affect thousands of projects, making it deserve the ZipSlip moniker. What is even more striking is that the basic attack vector used by ZipSlip has been known, and potentially exploited many times, since the very early days of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

    • Vet third-party apps to reduce supply chain threats [Ed: At least NPM caught this; with proprietary software the back doors are there permanent, hidden, and you cannot remove them]

      Case in point: there was last fall’s update to the event-stream Node Package Manager (NPM), which included cryptocurrency-stealing code, and which wasn’t revealed until almost two months after the software was released. There have also been prior security issues identified in NPM packages.

      Jarrod Overson blogged about investigating the event-stream NPM package. The event-stream developer changed ownership of the project and the cryptocurrency-stealing code was added by the new developer in a subsequent update. The original developer hadn’t used the module in years and agreed to give a new developer control of the package.

      Once the malicious code was added, the developer updated the version information so applications that used the module would install the updated version. The package was installed as a dependency to other modules and was reportedly downloaded two million times per week. NPM packages will follow best practices to determine if updates to dependencies are available and auto-install the updated modules, making these types of attacks difficult to combat.

    • Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

      Canonical has issued an update for Ubuntu to address a security vulnerability that can be exploited by malware and rogue users to gain root access.

      As this bug affects desktop and server editions of the Linux distro, this is an irritating flaw for folks using shared systems, such as labs or offices of workstations.

      Chris Moberly gets credit for the discovery and reporting of the flaw in question, CVE-2019-7304, which is an elevation-of-privilege vulnerability present in Ubuntu versions prior to 19.04. To reiterate, the flaw is not remotely exploitable, so a miscreant would need to already have a foothold on victim’s machine.

    • Pakistan Feels The Wrath Of Indian Hacktivists: Govt Sites Taken Down
    • Pulwama attack aftermath: Over 200 Pakistani websites hacked by Indian group
  • Defence/Aggression

    • NSC Memo Shows Elliott Abrams ‘Caballed Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker

      When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

      Trump’s infamous appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, according to a September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North.

      In a U.S. House Committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up of the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

      Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

      Actually, the impertinent congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.

    • Abu Dhabi Arms Fair Opens Amid Yemen War Carnage

      The United Arab Emirates’ yearslong war in Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia bled into the start of a biennial Abu Dhabi arms fair Sunday, which saw the Emirates sign $1.3 billion in weapons deals.

      One manufacturer displayed a model of a machine gun on sale that’s now in the hands of Emirati-backed militiamen in Yemen, while the armored personnel carriers and tanks used in the war in the Arab world’s poorest country also could be seen at the show. Even the military show that began the fair included troops raiding a militant hideout equipped with both mobile and land-based ballistic missiles, just like those in the possession of Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

      While Emirati officials avoided discussing Yemen, allied American officials linked arms smuggling there to what they described as the wider malign activities of Iran across the greater Middle East.

    • The Crimes of Elliot Abrams

      Last week’s completely appropriate and mild questioning of President Trump’s Venezuela envoy Elliot Abrams seems to have struck a chord for both critics of US Latin American policy over the years and for the foreign policy establishment. The latter has recoiled in horror that one of their own has actually been publicly taken to task, in a congressional setting by a sitting Congresswoman (Omar Ilhan (D)-Minnesota), and the former has rejoiced that, at least, the crimes of US Latin American policy in the 80’s have been recognized. So, what exactly are the crimes of Elliot Abrams?

      Elliot Abrams is a cipher for US imperialism in Latin America and the world.

      From the inception of the United States US business interests and political leaders have coveted the natural resources, strategic position, markets and labor of Latin America. Thomas Jefferson was horrified by the first full blown republic in the hemisphere (Haiti) and imposed an embargo. Founder and President James Monroe was so grandiose in his view of the future imperial republic that his Doctrine basically proclaimed back yard status for the entire hemisphere in 1823. By the 1840’s there was little talk of neighbors and fellow republicans and overt racist discussion of the Manifest Destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race. This led to, as well as the destruction of most of the First Nation’s population and sovereignty, the theft of the northern half of Mexico. By 1898 the US set its sights on the remains of the Spanish Empire and successfully occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico, where they remain today.

      Naked aggression did not abate with the new century, it accelerated. With its maturing industrial economy, the US built the “Great White Fleet,” toured the world as a warning to all that there was a new Sheriff in town, and in response to the “Venezuela Crisis” the “great” progressive hero Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the right of the US to intervene (The Roosevelt Corollary, 1904), at any time, for any purpose in the affairs of Latin America. Soon there after TR sent the US Navy to Columbia to lop off its northern province to create a canal.

    • What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?

      Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi was Iran’s senior intelligence officer in Beirut in the late 1990s. I met him many times and he was always frank about Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon; he even spoke to students at a Christian university in east Beirut to explain why his country supported Syria. He was not very convincing: claiming that the Syrian revolution had nothing to do with poverty or oppression was a hard sell. He arrived back in Beirut as ambassador – and be sure, even more senior intelligence officer — in 2010, and subsequently herded then-president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – a crackpot if ever there was one – on a tour of southern Lebanon.

      But in November 2013, two suicide bombers attacked the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 23 employees, Hezbollah guards and civilians who fell from their high-storey balconies when the explosion blasted through the streets. The attack was claimed by the ‘Abdullah Azzam Brigades’, named after a former lecturer in Saudi Arabia who would later help to found al-Qaeda, and was intended to destroy the entire embassy compound.

      The Iranians believed the Saudis were behind the attack. The Saudis, as always, denied it. The bombers never got through the gates, and so their intended target, Ambassador Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi, survived. For less than another two years.

      For in September 2015, now one of his country’s top diplomats (and still an intelligence officer, of course), he made the Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and was one of those among the more than 2,300 men and women killed in the Mecca stampede. Among the 464 Iranians to die were a number of Iranian officials, of whom Rokon Abadi was one.

    • It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans

      There is a lot of talk lately in the liberal media about how President Trump and his Neocon advisors John Bolton (National Security Advisor) and Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State) along with his acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, are moving the country and the world dangerously closer to a catastrophic global nuclear war with the administration decision to terminate the Reagan-era treaty banning intermediate range nuclear missiles.

      It is true that the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, concluded by President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, did greatly reduce the chances of nuclear war by removing US missiles from Europe and Asia that had the ability to strike the Soviet Union in minutes. It’s also true that with the INF gone, Russia will, as it is already doing, inevitably develop countermeasures, such as designing and deploying fleets of quick-launch, virtually unstoppable hypersonic cruise missiles that could head towards the US before attacked, assuring the destruction of the United States in response to any first strike. (Russian or Chinese hyperspeed cruise missiles that travel perhaps 6000 mph, pose no first strike threat unless based along the US border, as they give the US plenty of time to launch a counterattack–probably the reason the US never put much effort into developing them.)

      What is not true is the notion that it is just Trump who has pushed the nuclear doomsday clock closer to midnight.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard defends WikiLeaks: It ‘spurred some necessary change’

      Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 presidential hopeful, defended WikiLeaks Saturday night, saying the information released by the organization brought “necessary change.”

      The Hawaii congresswoman was fielding questions at a meet-and-greet in Concord, New Hampshire, over the weekend when she was asked about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Use these tools to help visualize the horror of rising sea levels
    • A Green New Deal for American Labor?

      The simple yellow protest signs were stenciled “Green Jobs for All.” Speaker after speaker stepped into the middle of the office floor, marked with a U.S. House of Representatives seal. Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh off her election win, gave the protesters high fives.

      That was the scene in November when the youth climate justice organization Sunrise Movement held a sit-in at the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was soon to be the Speaker of the House.

      Most Americans had never heard of the “Green New Deal” at the time.

      Now, it’s on the mainstream radar. The New York Times and the Washington Post ran multiple stories when Ocasio-Cortez introduced a resolution on February 7 to reduce carbon emissions through a massive good jobs program. The resolution has 67 House co-sponsors, while the Senate version has 12.

      Just like the original New Deal in the ’30s, her version of a Green New Deal would include a federal guarantee of living-wage employment—that is, anyone who wanted a job could get one at a salary that could support a family, with an emphasis on union jobs and protecting the right to organize.

    • What Green New Deal Advocates Can Learn From the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act

      Congressional Democrats have introduced a “Green New Deal” proposal that calls for a 10-year national mobilization to curb climate change by shifting the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. Many progressives support this idea, while skeptics argue that a decade is not long enough to remake our nation’s energy system.

      The closest analog to this effort occurred in 2009, when President Obama and Congress worked together to combat a severe economic recession by passing a massive economic stimulus plan. Among its many provisions, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided US$90 billion to promote clean energy. The bil’s clean energy package, which was dubbed the “biggest energy bill in history,” laid the foundation for dramatic changes to the energy system over the last 10 years.

    • Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

      As the global temperature steadily rises, it ensures that levels of one of the most potent greenhouse gases are increasing in a way new to science: the planet will have to reckon with more methane than expected.

      Researchers who monitored one bog for three years in the Alaskan permafrost have identified yet another instance of what engineers call positive feedback. They found that global warming meant earlier springs and with that, earlier spring rains.

      And as a consequence, the influx of warm water on what had previously been frozen ground triggered a biological frenzy that sent methane emissions soaring.

    • When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame

      Global temperatures are rising in a synchronous dance with glacier ablation and rising ocean levels. Hurricanes are strengthening, islands are drowning, droughts are worsening, and weather is gravitating towards extremes, at the same time that our modern version of the Know-Nothings is willfully denying the obvious. Meanwhile, an exceedingly few people are attacked by one of the trifling number of grizzly bears that have survived the onslaught of humanity. And of those exceedingly few people, fewer yet are killed. Fewer by orders of magnitude than those killed by surgical procedures, measles, lightning strikes, dog attacks, murderous white supremacists…and any other of a multitude of causes.

      Yet you wouldn’t know this. Based on media coverage, the polemics of certain politicians, and the lament of privileged ranchers and hunters, you would think that grizzly bears are running amuck, killing all who venture near their malicious claws and teeth. Or, even among those inclined to be more temperate, you would think that grizzlies are the unmitigated malefactors, and the attacked humans, victims without exception.

    • Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal

      In humanity’s current existential climate crisis, leftists who see any hope for humanity put our faith in movements. Without movements relentlessly pressuring them to do the right thing, politicians of both US major parties—especially at the crucial national and state levels—will remain their bought-off pro-corporate warmongering selves, and powerful corporate media will provide them propaganda cover.

      US media providing propaganda cover for politicians doing the wrong thing has been “a thing” almost forever, especially in foreign policy, where we’ve persistently done the murderous wrong thing in distant lands most Americans know or care little about. Among almost countless instances, the Vietnam and Iraq wars spring powerfully to mind. Our government lied, our media spread their lies, and our government mass-murdered, while We the People helped foot the bill with our taxes. But even where tax-cutting was all the rage, as in the “Dubya” Bush administration, no cost was too high for wars elites wanted— unwittingly providing a powerful argument for supporters of modern monetary theory (MMT).

      With the stakes higher than ever, when doing the wrong thing now bears a hideous climate price tag, our government is at it again. While Naomi Klein titled her groundbreaking book on climate politics This Changes Everything, for our bought-off Republican and Democrat warmongers, humanity’s climate crisis evidently changes nothing, and the business-as-usual of illegal, murderous US regime change remains the order of the day. If our intentions in Venezuelan aren’t murderous, why put a proven amoral butcher like Elliot Abrams in charge of things? Under the PR stunt cover of US humanitarian aid to Venezuela (a self-serving political stunt the Red Cross and the UN warned the US not to try), Abrams may already be up to his old trick of smuggling arms to Venezuelan rebels. While our corporate media—acting yet again as our warmongering government’s propaganda arm—almost universally applauds.

  • Finance

    • An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.

      The Amazon corporation walked out in a huff. On Valentine’s Day, the retailer announced that its romance with New York is off.

      Faced with stiffer-than-anticipated resistance, the company announced February 14th that it is pulling out of its previously reported plan to build a gleaming corporate headquarters in Long Island City.

      The timing seemed perfect for what has felt from the start like a very old-school seduction routine.

      Having led this city and others around in an embarrassing flirt-to-the-finish, Amazon, the wealthy suitor, chose to bed down in Long Island City. Now they’ve stormed out. Apparently, Amazon didn’t like the fact that the city of Lady Liberty wanted to set a few terms before sex.

      Like a macho man in the pre-feminist era, Amazon wanted things their way or no way. That’s how monopolies roll. Don’t ask questions, don’t consider options, and whatever you do, don’t conduct a background check. New York’s tryst with the the company was struck in private before local residents groups, unions, and state and city legislators got their say.

      Stuart Appelbaum of the retail union, who participated in what turned out to be the final meeting between Amazon and lawmakers, said the company had refused to compromise even on a demand that it not actively work against the unionization of its New York workers, and rumor has it they didn’t like activists talking about exploitation in their warehouses and their workplaces out of state.

      In the #MeToo era, intimacy requires informed consent. So, too, development. City residents didn’t fancy an arranged marriage. The Amazon deal required answers to some basic questions: who will get what for what kind of compensation, and how do city taxpayers know they won’t be left high and dry when the fun is over, the profits are gone, and it’s time to clean up the mess?

    • How a Failing Capitalist System Is Allowing Amazon to Cripple America

      Capitalism is failing in America, and Amazon is both the cause and beneficiary of much of the breakdown. Jeff Bezos said, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” He might have added three capitalist practices familiar to his company: (1) Pay no taxes; (2) Drive competitors out of business; and (3) Exploit workers.

    • Are the super-rich ruining Burning Man?

      The increase in so-called “turnkey” or “plug-and-play” camps offering luxury and glamour for the super-rich or Insta-famous has become a source of tension at Black Rock City.

    • To Get Any Economic Fairness, We Need To Be Demanding It—By Name

      The United States has the most inequitable distribution of wealth of any developed country in the world. The top 1% own 40% of the nation’s wealth. The US has 26% of the world’s 2208 billionaires, including 12 of the top 15. The three wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the entire bottom half of the US population.

      Meanwhile, those in that bottom half struggle to get by. 39.7 million (or 12.3% of) Americans live below the poverty line, including 17.5% of all children under 18. Tens of millions of others live barely above it. 78.8% percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 71% are in debt. On any given night an estimated 554,00 Americans are homeless.

      This maldistribution of national wealth has major societal consequences. Studies by British researchers have found strong correlations between economic inequality and a variety of social ills including obesity, heavy drug use, shorter life expectancy, high rate of teen births, high rates of violent crime, poor educational performance, high rates of incarceration, less social mobility, fewer job opportunities, etc. Compared to other developed countries, the United States performs badly on all these measures, suggesting that our high degree of economic inequality is a prime cause. It is also a major factor in the US’s ranking of 108th out of 140 countries in the Happy Planet Index.

    • After Superstorm Sandy’s Rain, Cooperatives Sprang Up Like Mushrooms

      In the wake of Superstorm Sandy back in 2012, a grassroots relief effort growing partly out of Occupy Wall Street did its best to help the hardest-hit area of the Rockaways, a neighborhood located in the Queens borough of New York City. Networks grew up offering business assistance and loans, and gradually the “worker-owned Rockaway cooperatives” (WORCs) were born. Offering residents in this remote part of Queens, New York, a way to meet their immediate needs while kind of staving off what author Naomi Klein has described as disaster capitalism.

      After all these years, how are those efforts faring? Is there, in fact, an alternative path for developers after disasters? And if so, what do the Rockaways have to teach? Do lessons also emerge from places like Florida after Hurricane Michael, or Puerto Rico after Maria? To talk about all this, we are joined by Lorena Giron, a Rockaways resident and co-owner of the La Miez Bakery. We are also joined by Brendan Martin, founder and director of the Working World, a nonprofit that provided free business development training and ongoing technical assistance to many of the Rockaways co-ops.

    • They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

      The February sun reflects off the concertina razor wire strung across the U.S.-Mexico border wall like razor-sharp tinsel. The wire seemed to bloom overnight, six rows of it, placed all the way to the ground, within reach of playing children or wandering dogs.

      On the sidewalk where I stood in Nogales, Arizona, a storefront window displayed mannequin brides, dressed in white wedding dresses. Not 50 feet away, the coils of glinting wire expand like a lethal slinky.

      It was morning, and the town of 20,000 was just beginning to wake up. Downtown in the shopping district, a garbage truck rumbled past, and Norteño music played from stereos outside of just-opening shops. Shuttle drivers congregated along the sidewalk, waiting for Tucson or Phoenix-bound passengers to fill their vans.

      In November 2018, the Trump administration ordered that the wall at the Nogales port of entry be topped with concertina razor wire. Last week, more rows of wire were suddenly added to the Arizona side of the wall, and stretched much further than the immediate port of entry. And this time, the wire was placed all the way to ground level.

    • Welfare for Those ‘Unwilling to Work?’ It’s Not As Crazy As You Might Think.

      The rollout of the progressives’ Green New Deal has been less than smooth. One major reason: the release of an FAQ that listed “economic security” for those “unwilling to work” as one of the program’s goals.

      “Unwilling”? The now-retracted FAQ made other eyebrow-raising claims, but conservatives pounced on that word in particular. Of a piece with the usual complaints about welfare as a reward for laziness, it was called extreme, absurd and, in one florid instance, a “Communist Manifesto, 21st Century.”

      But is the idea of unconditional economic security really so extraordinary? In fact, Finland recently completed a landmark basic income project aimed at just that. And while the results are preliminary, they give us reason to reflect on our own values.

    • BuzzFeed News Employees Unionized And The Company Says It’s Open To Voluntary Recognition

      The union’s announcement on Tuesday came little more than two weeks after BuzzFeed laid off roughly 15% of its workforce, or more than 200 employees — cuts that hit the news division hard in bureaus in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and New York.

      “We look forward to meeting with the organizers to discuss a way toward voluntarily recognizing their union,” Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, said.

      The employees have organized under the NewsGuild of New York. The organizing effort dates back to 2015, when a group of employees met with the guild to discuss workplace grievances.

      Dominic Holden, a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and a member of the organizing committee, said in an interview that employees were well on their way to unionizing before the latest round of layoffs. However, he said, the recent cuts “made it abundantly clear that we need a contract that protects workers during periods of intense transition.”

    • Nasdaq to Add Bitcoin and Ethereum Indices to Global Data Service

      Stock exchange operator Nasdaq is adding indices for bitcoin and ethereum to its global data service later this month.

      The company announced Monday that it has partnered with New Zealand-based blockchain data and research firm Brave New Coin to offer information on the two new indices starting Feb. 25.

      The Bitcoin Liquid Index (BLX) and the Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX) will offer ?real-time? information on the Nasdaq Global Index Data ServiceSM (GIDS), its consolidated data feed, Nasdaq said.

    • J.P. Morgan is using Ethereum to launch a ‘digital U.S. dollar’—here’s what it means for blockchain

      One blockchain milestone that I’ve been anticipating this year is the slow but sure arrival of the institutional herd. Well, the herd is arriving. J.P. Morgan just became the first bank to create and successfully test a digital coin that represents the U.S. dollar and plans to extend their digital coin to other major currencies.

      The JPM Coin was built on Quorum, an enterprise iteration of the Ethereum blockchain, that enables the instantaneous transfer of payments between institutional accounts.

      While J.P. Morgan is the first U.S. bank to issue a blockchain-based digital coin that represents the U.S. dollar, it is not the first time large financial institutions have used an enterprise implementation of the Ethereum blockchain to tokenize fiat currency.

    • Of Stress and Inequality

      Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s “The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being” is a follow-up to their 2009 best-seller “The Spirit Level.” That book reviewed several hundred studies expounding on their book’s subtitle: “Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger,” and came to the breakthrough finding that “inequality affects the vast majority of the population, not only the poor minority.”

      The data also supported their contention that closing the wealth gap between the highest- and lowest-income citizens reduced the cost and impact of health and social problems, such as violence and drug abuse, for an entire society. They update this previous research to demonstrate ever more strongly that the United States is not “the land of opportunity,” but one of the world’s most unequal societies, offering less upward mobility than most other economically developed democracies.

      Had they gone no further, the new book could have served as a valuable revision of their original work. But they do go further. In fact, I felt that their contention that we are in a new era where inequality affects everyone’s mental health was at times too ambitious for the data presented. Nevertheless, the authors break new ground. They go beyond the economic impact that weakens a society when it cannot create a reasonably balanced distribution of wealth, extending into the psychological fallout from inequality. But they’re quick to dissuade readers from assuming that they are concerned about individual neuroses, beginning with the title of the first chapter: “This is Not a Self-Help Book.”

    • Jimmy Song Gives 3 Reasons Why Bitcoin SV is a Scam… But Is It Enough to Change Your Mind?

      Mr. Song has been a profound critic of Bitcoin SV from the very moment of its announcement, however even before its birth; he was one of the biggest voices against Bitcoin Cash, the altcoin from which it originated. A few months ago, on the Blockchain Cruise, Song held a debate with Roger Ver, in which he shared the reasons why he opposes the BCH philosophy. He argued that BCH was fiat on a blockchain, it was extremely centralized, it was somewhat toxic and not at all what was envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto

    • Brock Pierce: My Mt. Gox Redemption Plan ‘Shows Power Of Bitcoin’

      Venture capitalist and ex-Bitcoin Foundation director Brock Pierce thinks his plan to take over the Mt. Gox rehabilitation process “demonstrates the power of open source.”

    • Bitcoin [BTC] developer Jimmy Song lists 3 reasons why Bitcoin SV [BSV] is a “scam”

      Bitcoin SV [BSV] has been met with a host of varied opinions from the global cryptocurrency since it emerged three months ago, from being lauded as the true vision of Satoshi, to being called a “dumpster fire,” BSV has seen it all.

      Recently, Jimmy Song, a developer of the top cryptocurrency Bitcoin [BTC] and author of the book, “Programming Bitcoin,” called BSV a “scam” and listed out three specific reasons for his conclusion, via a video on his YouTube channel, “Off Chain with Jimmy Song.”

      [...]

      Craig S Wright, recently went on a tirade about how he, “was Satoshi,” for which he received a lot of flak from the crypto industry. Known for being very verbal on Twitter, Wright even got into a heated dispute with Wikileaks, which he brands a “fakenews cesspool.”

      Wikileaks did not take things lying down, the news organization claimed and even produced evidence of Wright editing a blog post from August 2008, which he wanted to use to prove that he was involved in cryptocurrencies over a decade ago. Wikileaks, and many in the crypto-community labeled Wright as “faketoshi” since, a label that Song would approve of.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Will Be Here: On Donuts, Dogs, the Duck of Justice and Other Non-Emergencies

      We are again in need of a break from the latest batshit executive follies: Nominating himself for the Nobel Peace Prize; grazing like any thick doddering geezer, national “emergency” notwithstanding, at the scuzzy omelette bar at his scuzzy golf club; fuming about punishing a late-night comedy show on the teevee – “This is the real Collusion!” – because what First Amendment? For a touch of comic relief mixed with improbable humanity, we turn to the slice-of-Maine-life that is the Bangor Police Department’s Facebook page, full of wry tales of good deeds, small crimes like ineptly self-updated license plate registrations – a “weak effort in criminal behavior” – hope, grief, dogs, drugs, empathy, cereal, their “marginally famous” Duck of Justice, the universal “fight to find the light,” small acts of grace and, yes, donuts. To get real: These are cops, white men (mostly) with power, so there have to be some skanky acts going unrecorded. Lieut. Tim Cotton, a detective and the page’s author/administrator, addresses the ugly elephant in the room: “Of course there are bad cops that need to be out of the industry (and) out of a job. But most cops are good people. I hear cops do interviews saying, ‘We want to show that we’re human’” – which is “a given. We need to show kindness, empathy and humor.”

    • Trump’s Wall an Ugly Scar Across Hot Zone of Biological Diversity

      Trump’s Wall, like most Trump fantasies, is more symbolic than real, which is why he can never remember what its shape would be or what to call it. The fact is that it is just a projection of his racist anxieties, something standing between him and the rapists, murderers, and drug dealers he believes seep into his life from the south, just his worst subconscious impulses seep up to make him rape and launder money and commit other enormities. Trump’s Wall is a mirror for his unfaced dark side, which he projects on the Mexican Other.

      Because it exists in his fevered imagination he cannot imagine that it has an impact on real, living beings. But the impact is profound, and deeply damaging.

      An important article in the journal Bioscience pointed out last summer that “The Border Wall bypasses and violates environmental laws.”

      The Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act can be waived by the Department of Homeland Security on the authority of the 2005 Real ID Act.

      This waiver allows wall construction to evade any analysis of environmental impact or any study of “less damaging alternative strategies.” There are no opportunities for public comment or legal remedies. 8 such waivers have been issued so far, for all of the four southern border states, 3 of them under Trump himself.

    • Slamming President for Jeopardizing Disaster Funds, States Prepare Legal Challenge to Trump’s Emergency Declaration

      At least five states are preparing a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, which he made on Friday to secure funding for a border wall after congressional Democrats refused to approve $5.7 billion in funds for the project.

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday to say a lawsuit he’s preparing with officials in Minnesota, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oregon will be filed “definitely and imminently.”

      “We knew something like this might happen, and with our sister state partners we are ready to go,” Becerra told Martha Raddatz.

    • White House Indicates Trump to Veto Resolution to Disapprove Emergency

      President Donald Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a top White House adviser said on Sunday.

      White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”

      The West Wing is digging in for fights on multiple fronts as the president’s effort to go around Congress to fund his long-promised border wall faces bipartisan criticism and multiple legal challenges. After lawmakers in both parties blocked his requests for billions of dollars to fulfill his signature campaign pledge, Trump’s declared national emergency Friday shifts billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction to the border.

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” that his state would sue “imminently” to block the order, after the American Civil Liberties Union and the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen announced Friday they were taking legal action.

    • Facebook Is Incapable Of Governing Itself; Strict Laws Underway: UK Govt

      After 18 months of an investigation against Facebook, probing the social media platform’s privacy practice, the UK government has published a detailed report. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the UK Parliament has accused Facebook of violating data privacy laws.

      The report also contained information acquired from Facebook’s internal emails. The officials have asked social media platforms to remove “hurtful” or “illegal” content and must be held responsible for it. Members of Parliament have advocated for a compulsory code of conduct that must be followed by the social media companies to limit their role and to make them accountable for their actions.

    • Worshipping the Electronic Image

      Donald Trump, like much of the American public, is entranced by electronic images. He interprets reality through the distortions of digital media. His decisions, opinions, political positions, prejudices and sense of self are reflected back to him on screens. He views himself and the world around him as a vast television show with himself as the star. His primary concerns as president are his ratings, his popularity and his image. He is a creature—maybe the poster child—of the modern, post-literate culture, a culture that critics such as Marshall McLuhan, Daniel Boorstin, James W. Carey and Neil Postman warned us about.

      It is not, as some have suggested, merely that Trump speaks at the level of a seventh-grader or that he harkens back to a preliterate oral culture. He embodies the incoherence of the modern digital age, filled with sudden shifts from subject to subject, a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows punctuated with commercials. There is nonstop stimulation. Seldom does anything occupy our attention for more than a few seconds. Nothing has context. Images overwhelm words. We are perpetually confused, but always entertained. We barely remember what we saw or heard a few minutes earlier. This is by design of the elites who manipulate us.

      “It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse,” Postman points out. “It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.” Americans, because television stages their world, “no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other.” Trump is what is produced when a society severs itself from print, when it pushes art, ethics, classics, philosophy, history and the humanities to the margins of the universities and culture, when its members spend hours sitting inert in front of a screen. Information, ideas and epistemology are, as Postman writes, given form today by electronic images.

      [...]

      The fixation on electronic images by Trump means he and millions of other American adults—who, according to a 2018 report by the Nielsen company, on average watch four hours, 46 minutes of TV each day and spend “over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media”—have severed themselves from complex thought. They have been infantilized. Television, including the news, reduces all reality to a childish, cartoonish simplicity. News as presented on screens “provides degenerate photographs or a pseudo-reality of stereotypes,” James W. Carey writes. “News can approximate truth only when reality is reducible to a statistical table: sport scores, stock exchange reports, births, deaths, marriages, accidents, court decisions, elections, economic transactions such as foreign trade or balance of payments.” News on our screens is incapable of imparting complexity and nuance. It is devoid of historical, social or cultural context. TV news speaks in easily digestible clichés and political and cultural tropes. It is sensational and fragmented. The frenetic pace of TV news means that except when delivering statistics, the programs can trade only in established stereotypes. TV news is, in essence, divorced from the real, mindlessly grounded in the ruling elites’ reigning ideology of neoliberalism, militarism and white supremacy.

      Postman, in his book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” writes that after the development of the telegraph, “News took the form of slogans, to be noted with excitement, to be forgotten with dispatch.” Arguing that the 19th-century invention is the basis for communication in the digital age, he says, “Its language was also entirely discontinuous. One message had no connection to that which preceded or followed it. Each ‘headline’ stood alone as its own context. The receiver of the news had to provide a meaning if he could. The sender was under no obligation to do so. And because of all this, the world as depicted by the telegraph began to appear unmanageable, even undecipherable. The line-by-line, sequential, continuous form of the printed page slowly began to lose its resonance as a metaphor of how knowledge was to be acquired and how the world was to be understood. ‘Knowing’ the facts took on a new meaning, for it did not imply that one understood implications, background, or connections. Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative.”

    • Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry

      European leaders have long been alarmed that President Trump’s words and Twitter messages could undo a trans-Atlantic alliance that had grown stronger over seven decades. They had clung to the hope that those ties would bear up under the strain.

      But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.

      A senior German official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on such matters, shrugged his shoulders and said: “No one any longer believes that Trump cares about the views or interests of the allies. It’s broken.”

      The most immediate danger, diplomats and intelligence officials warned, is that the trans-Atlantic fissures now risk being exploited by Russia and China.
      Even the normally gloomy Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, happily noted the strains, remarking that the Euro-Atlantic relationship had become increasingly “tense.”

      “We see new cracks forming, and old cracks deepening,” Mr. Lavrov said.

    • 31 Actual National Emergencies

      Everyone with five functioning gray cells knows that the aspiring fascist strongman Donald Trump’s Declaration of a National Emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border is absurd.

      There is no “national security crisis” of illegal immigration on the southern United States border.

      Illegal crossings are not at “emergency” levels; they are at a fifty-year low.

      Undocumented immigrants are not a crime and violence threat. They are less likely to commit crimes, violent ones included, than naturalized U.S. citizens.

      Drugs come into the U.S. not through gaps in border fencing but primarily through legal ports of entry.

      There is no big call for a completed U.S.-Mexico wall on the part of U.S. citizens on the southern border.

      The United States military has not been “breaking up” and blocking “monstrous caravans” of illegal immigrants trying to harm the U.S.

      The only crisis at the border is the humanitarian one created by Trump’s war on asylum-seekers and legal as well as technically illegal immigrants. The wannabe strongman has set up a ridiculous brown menace strawman in an effort to take an unprecedented step. He wants to use the National Emergencies Act to fulfill a ridiculous campaign promises to his white-nationalist base. He wants to make an end run around Congress to spend federal taxpayer on a project that lawmakers chose not to fund – a political vanity scheme that is opposed by 60 percent of the U.S. populace.

    • Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System

      You can draw a pretty straight line from the last electoral process to the current unrest in Haiti. Building for months, and frankly years, the country has now been shut down for five days as tensions – and violence – increase, threatening President Jovenel Moise’s mandate.

      In 2015 and 2016, backed by the international community, political and economic actors made a Faustian bargain in the name of “stability.” They decided to allow fraudulent and violence-plagued legislative elections to stand, and rerun them at the presidential level.

      The failure of that analysis is evidenced by the situation in Haiti today. In truth, it’s been international policy for more than a decade. Keep a lid on things, while sustaining the unsustainable status quo.

    • The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall

      In an impromptu animated speech from the Rose Garden, President Trump continued his streak of fanatical claims about his beloved wall. Moving on from lengthy rambling about how “Mexico will foot the bill,” and building a “human wall, if necessary,” Trump played his final card: declaring a national emergency. It’s a constitutionally questionable move—and one that comes with an $8 billion price tag.

      With this latest anger-fueled outburst par for the course from the White House, it’s no surprise that a majority of millennials do not agree with how Trump handles immigration. Considering that millennials are the largest voting bloc for the 2020 election, Trump needs our support—so he should consider what we want.

      Millennials are both the largest living generation, and the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history. In 2016, according to the Census Bureau, 39 percent of foreign-born U.S. citizens and 48 percent of foreign-born non-citizens were between the ages of 25 and 44. And roughly one in five millennials identify as Latino, while 14 percent are black and seven percent are Asian.

      Given this diversity, it’s not surprising that millennials have dramatically different views on immigration compared to Baby Boomers—who are more ethnically homogeneous. Though the border wall isn’t particularly popular with the American people at large, it’s even less popular with young voters: 77 percent of millennials under 30 oppose Trump’s plans.

      Still, regardless of political persuasion, nearly all Americans recognize the broken state of our immigration system. Yet millennials have identified the correct solution, and largely agree that the fix isn’t a wall, but, rather, effective changes in policy.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC

      Washington’s political establishment went berserk when US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) publicly noted that US-Israel relations are “all about the Benjamins” — slang for $100 bills, referring to money shoveled at American politicians by the American Israel Public Affairs Group (AIPAC).

      Omar was accused of antisemitism — immediately by Republicans, shortly after by members of her own party — and bullied into apologizing. She may or may not be prejudiced against Jews, but even if she is, that wasn’t her real offense.

      Her real offense was publicly mentioning the irrefutable fact that many members of Congress take their marching orders from a foreign power’s lobbying apparatus (an apparatus not, as required by law, registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act), at least partly because those marching orders come with promises of significant donations to those politicians’ campaigns.

      AIPAC itself doesn’t make direct donations to political campaigns. But AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups like Christians United For Israel punch well above their weight in American politics, largely by motivating their supporters to financially support and work for “pro-Israel” candidates in general elections and help weed out “anti-Israel” candidates in party primaries.

      By the way, “pro-Israel” in this context always means “supportive of the jingoism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party,” and never “supportive of the many Israelis who’d like peace with the Palestinian Arabs.”

    • USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech

      When Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) last November, he said that this was “the most advanced trade deal in the world with ambitious provisions on the digital economy”—and he wasn’t lying. The USMCA has effectively replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement that was signed by Canada, Mexico and the US under the Clinton administration in 1994. This redraft, however, does not look like its predecessor in scope or political aims and dangerously treads upon the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Article 6 of Mexico’s Constitution in addition to all three countries’ accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

      To understand what has happened here, we need to examine the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA, also known as Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996). Section 230 states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). What this means is that the host which acts as an online intermediary by republishing our speech is protected against a series of laws that would otherwise hold them accountable and legally responsible for what we post online as individuals. Those protected under this section are every entity from our ISPs to the platforms upon which we publish, be it Twitter, Instagram, Google, and any online service that publishes third-party content.

      While there are certain exceptions for mostly criminal content and anything related to intellectual property, the CDA 230 created a wide range of protections allowing for free speech online. This translates to if The Guardian publishes a defamatory piece about me, I could sue this newspaper for libel. But if The Guardian tweets the very same claims, Twitter would not be held legally accountable for libel. One caveat to CDA 230, however, is that this bill had been wrongly interpreted to shield websites that participate in sex trafficking from any criminal liability. So, last year an important piece of legislation removed this loophole, the bipartisan “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” H.R. 1865, 115th Congress (2018), provides websites immunity for content posted by third parties with the exclusion of sex trafficking. Additionally, two to bills with online provisions were passed into law—one in the House known as FOSTA (the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) and the Senate bill, SESTA, (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act)—have held big tech responsible for child pornography and human trafficking.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook may not collect or combine personal data using “forced consent”, says German competition authority

      It would be an understatement to say that Facebook is under intense scrutiny at the moment. Mostly this has come from data protection authorities in the EU, using the GDPR as a means for challenging Facebook’s business practices. But the attack has just broadened, with Germany’s competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, issuing a ruling that strikes at the heart of Facebook’s business model.

      Following a three-year investigation, the German competition authority has imposed a number of restrictions on Facebook. In the future, 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. By combining data from its own site and from many others around the Internet, Facebook is able to build a uniquely powerful database for each individual user, and thus to gain market power. That market power is why the competition authority has intervened.

    • A Line in the Sand

      At the time I wrote that, I assumed that the GDPR would clear paths for work already moving forward within all 13 items on that muggle-liberating punch list. Alas, the GDPR’s single positive achievement so far has been shaking things up. That’s it. The worst thing the GDPR has done is encourage surveillance capitalists to keep doing the same damn things, only now with the “consent” of “data subjects” clicking “agree” to misleading cookie notices everywhere.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • HATE-FEST IN WARSAW

      The point of this cynical exercise was to lay the diplomatic groundwork for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran planned by President Donald Trump and his close ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The real question is who is calling the shots in bleak Warsaw, Trump or Bibi Netanyahu? It seems to many that the Israeli tail is again wagging the American dog.

      This is thanks to the power of America’s born-again evangelicals, hoodwinked into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow a key part of the Second Coming of Christ.

      A Fox News poll this week finds that a quarter of these credulous folks believe that God actually summoned Donald Trump to become president. This may even be more than the number of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive. More proof that the Republicans have pretty much become a theological party.

      The three horseman of the hard right Republican Apocalypse, Vice president Mike Pence, Insecurity advisor John Bolton, and State Secretary Mike Pompeo (who reportedly keeps an open bible on his desk) joined their voices to the Warsaw jamboree to excoriate Iran for being a ‘sponsor of terrorism,’ and a danger to world peace and stability.

    • Former Congressman Anthony Weiner Released From Prison

      Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner has been released from federal prison after being convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old girl in 2017.

      The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows the 54-year-old New York Democrat is currently in the custody of its Residential Re-entry Management office in Brooklyn, N.Y.

      It’s not immediately clear when Weiner was transferred and where he’s staying now, but Weiner will have to register as a sex-offender and spend three years on supervised release under the terms of his sentence.

      The prison bureau, federal prosecutors in New York and Weiner’s lawyer didn’t respond to emails seeking comment Sunday.

    • Smollett Developments Leave Some Baffled, Others Outraged

      The national outrage that simmered after actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by people shouting racial and anti-gay slurs was fueled in part by celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media.

      But the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors and politicians who came out in support of the “Empire” star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment.

      The narrative that just a week ago seemed cut-and-dry has become messy and divisive — and it’s all playing out again on social media.

    • America Has a Lot to Learn From the Roman Empire’s Fall

      And soon enough after September 11th, those unapologetic, implacable demonstrations of will did, in fact, begin — first in Afghanistan and then, a year and a half later, in Iraq. Goaded by Osama bin Laden, the new Rome went into action.

      Of course, in 2019 we have the benefit of hindsight, which Charles Krauthammer, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of that crew didn’t have as they applied their Roman-style vision of an imperial America to the actual world. It should be added, however, that the millions of people who hit the streets globally to protest the coming invasion of Iraq in the winter of 2003 — “How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” said a typical protest sign (which Donald Trump would have understood in his own way) — had a far better sense of the world than did their American rulers-to-be. Like the Soviets before them, in fact, they would grievously confuse military power with power on this planet.

      More than 17 years later, the U.S. military remains stuck in Afghanistan, bedeviled in Iraq, and floundering across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa on a planet with a resurgent Russia, and an impressively rising China. One-third of the former axis of evil, Iran, is, remarkably enough, still in Washington’s gunsights, while another third (North Korea) sits uncomfortably in a presidential bear hug. It’s no exaggeration to say that none of the dreams of a new Rome were ever faintly fulfilled. In fact, if you want to think about what’s been truly exceptional in these years, it might be this: never in history has such a great power, at its height, seemed quite so incapable of effectively applying force, military or otherwise, to achieve its imperial ends or bring its targets to heel.

      And yet, wrong as they may have been on such subjects, don’t sell Krauthammer and the rest of that neocon crew short. They were, in their own way, also prophets, at least domestically speaking. After all, Rome, like the United States, had been an imperial republic. That republic was replaced, as its empire grew, by autocratic rule, first by the self-anointed emperor Augustus and then by his successors. Arguably, 18 years after Krauthammer wrote that column, the American republic might be heading down the same path. After all, so many years later, the neocons, triumphantly risen yet again in Washington (both in the administration and as its critics), finally have their Caesar.

      Hail, Donald J. Trump, we who are about to read your latest tweet salute you!

    • If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics

      Amy Klobuchar could’ve waited for the temperature to rise above 15 degrees before launching her 2020 presidential bid. Instead, she chose to risk frostbite and make her pitch in the middle of a snowstorm — all for an election more than 600 days away.
      The Minnesota senator is just one of around a dozen Democrats who’ve already thrown their hats into the presidential ring or hinted they intend to soon.
      What’s the big rush?
      People in other countries think we’re insane for having such long political races. By one count, in the timeframe of the 2016 U.S. election, you could’ve fit about four elections in Mexico, seven in Canada, 14 in the UK, and 41 in France.

    • How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers

      The BLM just released its decision on its proposed Bruneau Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project (BOSH Project) which will degrade 617,000 acres of southern Idaho by logging juniper, creating linear weed patches known as fire breaks, and using other questionable management strategies, all done, we are told in the name of enhancing sage grouse habitat.

      Remarkably the BLM failed to note that livestock grazing is by far and away the biggest factor in sage grouse decline across the West, in part, because of the multiple ways that the livestock production harms the bird. But, of course, seeing its role to pander to the welfare ranchers of the West, the BLM has taken the politically expediate measure of doing more harm in the name of sage grouse.

      The BLM starts out with some questionable assertions. The first is that juniper, a native species, is expanding its range and thus must be eradicated. Any number of studies challenge that assumption. Juniper woodlands tend to burn at intervals of hundreds of years, and in stand replacement blazes. After such blazes, the juniper slowly recolonizes the landscape. Also climate change has led to natural expansion of juniper in some areas. In either case, the presence of juniper is not abnormal or something to be destroyed.

      Instead of even responding to such studies, the BLM relies only on studies by Range Department professors who exist to justify livestock grazing on public lands. These studies start with the incorrect assumption that wildfire was very frequent in sagebrush ecosystems and therefore, also in juniper woodlands, but more recent sagebrush fire studies also find sagebrush burns at long rotations of hundreds of years.

    • A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”

      More than half a century has passed since Rachel Carson meticulously exposed government and corporate poisoning of the planet with synthetic pesticides. Serialized in the New Yorker in weekly install­ments, Carson’s Silent Spring was officially published as a hard-cover book in September 1962 by Houghton Mifflin Co. for the price of $5. The book, with its wonderful drawings, excoriated the government and corporations for covering the planet with cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, a product of the newly powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical infrastructure. Many of the pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses and weapons of war.[i] “Since the earliest origins of modern industrial agriculture, agribusiness has been at war against all life on earth, including ourselves,”[ii] writes Brian Tokar, author of Earth for Sale and Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth. From its origins, “chemical agriculture has been a form of warfare—it is a war against the soil, against our reserves of fresh water, and against all the microbes and insects that are necessary for the growing of healthy food.”[iii] But in an expansive America following World War II, few were concerned about the mass application of pesticides, which was promoted as part of the promise for securing “the good life” for all. (To actually achieve that, though – if it were possible to be achieved at all – would require powerful social justice movements to overturn the country’s legacy of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws. Millions of people were excluded from partaking in what was portrayed as the American dream, and which remained, for many, the American Nightmare.)

      Carson’s mind-blowing exposé not only revealed the prevalence of chemical pesticides but – and we’ve forgotten this today – also the “secret” that radio­active Strontium 90, a byproduct of above-ground nuclear bomb tests, had tainted the nation’s milk supply. This was shocking information. “No one had ever thought humans could create something that could create harm all over the globe and come back and get in our bodies,” oceanographer Carl Safina told Eliza Griswold, whose story about Rachel Carson appeared in 2012 inThe New York Times Sunday Magazine. [iv] The uproar that followed inspired an army of parents anguishing over the threats of pesticides and radioactive Strontium 90 to the health of their children. Many were women who had worked for the first time in jobs previously “set aside” for men, in support of the anti-Nazi effort during World War II, only to be replaced by male workers reclaiming “their” jobs upon returning from the war. They brought those experiences into organizing a new mass “environmental” movement in the context of the Cold War, and as their children were drilled to “duck and cover” under their desks in case Russia was to order a nuclear bomb attack – more an ideological device than offering practical protection.[v] Would such a mass environmental movement have emerged had there been no perceived external threat to fuse with ongoing ecological disasters? Would so many women have participated had they not first experienced a sort of liberation (at least in part) from traditional family roles through their work in factories during the anti-Nazi effort in World War II? It’s impossible to say. But one thing is true: As a consequence, women’s organizing of the ecology and Ban the Bomb movements, and their participation in factory jobs, shook up the typical or traditional nuclear family structure—a structure neither as typical nor as traditional as we’re led to believe.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How Tim Berners-Lee’s Inrupt project plans to fix the web

      Tim Berners-Lee wants to change the face of the internet he created. In September 2018, the father of the world wide web announced the launch of startup Inrupt, co-founded with cybersecurity entrepreneur John Bruce, which has as its mission “to restore rightful ownership of data back to every web user.”

      Since 2015, Berners-Lee has been working on a new web infrastructure called Solid, which rethinks how web apps store and share personal data. Inrupt aims to drive the development of the Solid platform and transform it from an innovative idea to a viable platform for businesses and consumers. “My group in the CSAIL [Computer Sciences and Artifical Intelligence Laboratory] Lab at MIT had been working on Solid for some years,” Berners-Lee says. “The initial goal of Inrupt is to add the energy and resources of a startup to the open-source efforts to make the Solid movement happen.”

      Over the past three decades, the web has evolved into something very different to Berners-Lee’s original vision of openness, co-operation and creativity. Most of the data we put online is now siloed on the servers of companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, and used to sell us as an audience for targeted advertising. We can download and delete our online histories, but we still can’t easily move our data between services. “Innovation and value creation are choked by powerful forces whose focus is primarily on what generates profit or serves political agendas,”says John Bruce, who takes the role of CEO at Inrupt (Berners-Lee is CTO).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Foreign Meaning Matters: Brauneis and Moerland on Trademark’s Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents

      I was enjoying some siggi’s® yogurt, and noticed, just below the trademark name siggi’s®, an interesting piece of trivia: “skyr, that’s Icelandic for thick yogurt!” You learn something new every day.

      Robert Brauneis and Anke Moerland’s recent article argues that it would not be good policy to allow the company that distributes siggi’s ® yogurt to trademark the name SKYR for yogurt in the United States, even though most people in the United States do not currently know what the word “skyr” means. In short, they argue that when reviewing trademarks for purposes of distinctiveness, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and the courts should translate foreign terms that are generic or merely descriptive in their home country, because allowing such marks would cause unexpected harms for competition.

      This is a fascinating paper that warrants serious thinking, and perhaps re-thinking, of how trademark law currently treats foreign terms.

      What’s the harm, we might ask? If a US company wants to sell thick yogurt under the trademark SKYR, and virtually no one in the US knows what SKYR means, surely this should be classified as fanciful (inherently distinctive) and receive strong protection. At least this would be the answer provided by a typical “doctrine of foreign equivalents” analysis.

    • Copyrights

      • EU copyright directive moves into critical final stage

        In September 2018 the European Parliament voted to approve drastic changes to copyright law that would negatively affect creativity, freedom of expression, research, and sharing across the EU. Over the last few months the Parliament, Commission, and Council (representing the Member State governments) were engaged in secret talks to come up with a reconciled version of the copyright directive text.

        The closed-door “trilogue” negotiations are now complete and a final compromise has been reached. The text is not yet published but MEP Julia Reda has shared unofficial versions of Article 13 (upload filters) and Article 11 (press publishers right). Both of these carried through with no major improvements on behalf of user rights and the public interest.

      • NJ AG: Takedown notice that led to new gun-file lawsuit came from Slovakia—not us

        Last week, it appeared that Defense Distributed’s battle against the State of New Jersey over a recently enacted “ghost gun” law had new life. This week, a filing from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office puts one of the new lawsuit’s inciting incidents into question.

        In a February 12 letter (PDF) to District of New Jersey Judge Anne Thompson, NJ Assistant AG Glenn J. Moramarco writes that a recent takedown notice submitted to Cloudflare and aimed at the website CodeIsFreeSpeech was faked.

        “A key document supporting Plaintiff’s TRO application—a ‘takedown notice’ purportedly sent by [New Jersey AG's Division of Criminal Justice] to CloudFlare, Inc., which hosts one of the plaintiff’s websites, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com—was not in fact issued by DCJ,” the NJ AG’s office writes in the filing. “[It] appears to have been issued by some entity impersonating the Attorney General’s Office.”

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