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03.11.19

Links 11/3/2019: Linux 5.0.1, Audacity 2.3.1, GNU Coreutils 8.31

Posted in News Roundup at 11:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Rancher Labs Release Lightweight Kubernetes Distribution “k3s” for Edge, IoT and Telco Platforms

      Rancher Labs has announced a new open source project, k3s, which is a lightweight Kubernetes distribution that has been optimised towards running within resource-constrained environments, such as edge or IoT locations, or within telco and manufacturing systems.

      Darren Shepherd, co-founder and chief architect at Rancher Labs, stated in the k3s launch blog post that then new orchestration framework was created for running at the (network) edge, for example on ARM chips and IoT platforms, and for use within continuous integration systems where there is a requirement to minimise the speed of cluster initialisation and tear down. The name “k3s” is a play on the popular shortening of the word Kubernetes to “k8s”, and the k3s GitHub repository states that the project is “5 less than k8s”.

    • Fifty Years Of Operating IBM Systems

      The world is celebrating some important 50th anniversaries this year. My interests in aerospace and music led me to recall four events from 1969. The most famous event was the first manned moon landing in July, which occurred the same week that I turned 21. Two months before that was the first flight of the Concorde supersonic transport. I mark the beginning of the “summer of love” with the Woodstock concert, and its end with the tragic concert at Altamont Speedway. (Who knew that Hell’s Angels would not make great security guards?)

      For me, all of this pales in comparison to two events that shaped my life forever. In late August, my wife Sandy and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary with our four kids, their spouses, and five grandchildren. Roughly three months before the wedding, I started my first job in IT. Of course, the field would not be called Information Technology for many years. To be precise, I began my career as a summer intern in the data processing department of a large Chicago bank. While I cannot avoid talking about my personal history, my goal here is to describe the relationships I have observed between today’s most modern operating system (IBM i) and those that I encountered during my early career.

      I thought that working as a computer operator would be a temporary thing to get me through college. The summer job turned into a part-time job as I finished my senior year and started grad school. It evolved into a full-time job when our first child came along. Unfortunately, this coincided with the hard part of graduate school, coming up with a math idea that no one has thought of before and documenting it in a thesis. Somehow, A Computer Calculation of the Homology of the Lambda Algebra got produced and I was on my way. Today, the only part of it that I remember well is the primal fear of dropping my 2,000-card Fortran program.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Going Linux #364 · Back to Basics – Definition of Terms

      Today we define some basic terms used in the Linux and Open Source community. This is the first in a series of ‘back to basics’ episodes in which we will update the information we’ve been providing over the past 12 years. We also want to ensure that we continue to provide a reference for Linux users to use as a reference when using Linux for their day-to-day computing needs.

    • Linux Action News 96

      Free Software does what commercial can’t this week, getting a Debian desktop on more Android devices gets closer, and PureOS promises Convergence but is there more beneath the surface?

      Plus Microsoft open sources Windows Calculator, and a quick recap of SCaLE 17x.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.1

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.1 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.1.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.1.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Linux 4.20.15
    • Linux 4.19.28
    • SIMPLE_LMK: A Low Memory Killer For Android Systems Being Worked On For Linux Kernel

      SIMPLE_LMK is a simple low-memory killer being worked on for potential upstreaming in the mainline Linux kernel in the future but for now is simply seeking comments on its design approach.

      SIMPLE_LMK is being worked on by Sultan Alsawaf, a kernel engineer currently employed by the Comma.ai self-driving car startup. This low memory killer is designed for Android and relies upon the priorities assigned to processes within the Android ecosystem for determining what applications should be killed off first — those with the lowest priority. This implementation is tied into the kernel’s page allocator code and begins acting as soon as a page allocation hits out-of-memory and for knowing when a page is freed.

    • Linux 5.1 Might Pick Up Support For Using Persistent Memory As System RAM

      While we are expecting to see more Intel Optane NVDIMMs this year that offer up persistent memory using 3DXPoint memory on the DDR4 bus for persistent storage, the Linux 5.1 kernel might pick-up support for treating this persistent memory back as traditional RAM if so desired.

      Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory is expected to begin appearing in more servers this year for offering application-level persistent memory for use-cases like database servers, HPC, and other enterprise computing possibilities. If you are buying such NVDIMMs in the first place, chances are you planning to utilize the persistent memory for such purposes, but otherwise with Linux 5.1 there are patches pending to allow this PMEM to function as traditional system RAM.

    • More Touchscreens To Be Supported By The Linux 5.1 Kernel

      The input subsystem updates for the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel include a number of touch-screen driver additions.

      Input maintainer Dmitry Torokhov sent in a number of touchscreen driver updates for this next kernel version.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation leads work on open source framework for edge computing

        The Linux Foundation has announced the launch of LF Edge, an umbrella organization that will work to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system.

        Arpit Joshipura, general manager, The Linux Foundation, said in a media statement that more than 60 global organizations were backing the initiative at launch.

        “This massive endorsement, combined with existing code and project contributions like Akraino from AT&T and EdgeX Foundry from Dell EMC, means LF Edge is well-positioned to transform edge and IoT (internet of things) application development,” he said in a media statement.

        The market opportunity for LF Edge spans industrial, enterprise and consumer use cases in complex environments that cut across multiple edges and domains, Joshipura said.

      • ONS Evolution: Cloud, Edge, and Technical Content for Carriers and Enterprise

        The first Open Networking Summit was held in October 2011 at Stanford University and described as “a premier event about OpenFlow and Software-Defined Networking (SDN)”. Here we are seven and half years later and I’m constantly amazed at both how far we’ve come since then, and at how quickly a traditionally slow-moving industry like telecommunications is embracing change and innovation powered by open source. Coming out of the ONS Summit in Amsterdam last fall, Network World described open source networking as the “new norm,” and indeed, open platforms have become de-facto standards in networking.

        Like the technology, ONS as an event is constantly evolving to meet industry needs and is designed to help you take advantage of this revolution in networking. The theme of this year’s event is “Enabling Collaborative Development & Innovation” and we’re doing this by exploring collaborative development and innovation across the ecosystem for enterprises, service providers and cloud providers onkey areas like SDN, NFV, VNF, CNF/Cloud Native Networking, Orchestration, Automation of Cloud, Core Network, Edge, Access, IoT services, and more.

        A unique aspect of ONS is that it facilitates deep technical discussions in parallel with exciting keynotes, industry, and business discussions in an integrated program. The latest innovations from the networking project communities including LF Networking (ONAP, OpenDaylight, OPNFV, Tungsten Fabric) are well represented in the program, and in features and add-ons such as the LFN Unconference Track and LFN Networking Demos. A variety of event experiences ensure that attendees have ample opportunities to meet and engage with each other in sessions, the expo hall, and during social events.

    • Graphics Stack

      • A DRM-Based Linux Oops Viewer Is Being Proposed Again – Similar To Blue Screen of Death

        Back when kernel mode-setting (KMS) was originally talked about a decade ago one of the talked about possibilities of implementing a Linux “Blue Screen of Death” / better error handling when a dramatic system problem occurs. Such an implementation never really materialized but now in 2019 there is a developer pursuing new work in this area with a DRM-based kernel oops viewer.

        Ahmed Darwish is the developer now pursuing this “kernel oops viewer” with the intention of implementing the support as “minimal” DRM drivers for each hardware — something slim enough that these drivers could still work in the cases of major kernel problems, so not using any dynamic memory, IRQs disabled, and other minimal assumptions about the state of the hardware or its capabilities. Ahmed looked at using the standards offered by UEFI, but the UEFI-provided frame-buffer is normally lost once the operating system DRM/KMS drivers take over.

      • Mesa’s Panfrost Gallium3D Driver Can Now Work With Its New DRM Driver

        The Panfrost Gallium3D driver has been quick to take form since it was merged to the Mesa 19.1 development code a month ago providing open-source 3D support for Arm Mali Midgard and Bifrost graphics hardware. The latest achievement for this Gallium3D driver in Mesa Git is being able to run with the yet-to-be-merged DRM kernel driver.

        Up to now the Panfrost driver has been pushed along with Arm’s non-DRM kernel driver while recently Collabora and other developers have been creating a new open-source “Panfrost” DRM/KMS kernel driver with their eyes on eventually getting it into the mainline kernel. That DRM kernel driver is still under active development and hopefully later in the year will be in a state for merging into the mainline kernel once its user-space ABI has been deemed stable. But already the Mesa 19.1-devel Git code has added support for using this new kernel driver.

  • Applications

    • Audacity 2.3.1 Released, Restores Linux Support

      A new version of Audacity, the open-source audio editor, is now available for Linux.

      Audacity 2.3.1 restores support for Linux desktops. Last year’s major Audacity 2.3.0 release was only available on macOS and Windows platforms. Linux users were stuck on version 2.2.1.

      The reason for the omission? A severe crashing bug that only affected Linux.

      With that show-stopper bug now resolved, Linux can finally upgrade to a new release of Audacity.

    • Audacity 2.3.1

      Audacity is a free, open source digital audio editor and recording application. Edit your sounds using cut, copy, and paste features (with unlimited undo functionality), mix tracks, or apply effects to your recordings. The program also has a built-in amplitude-envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram mode, and a frequency-analysis window for audio-analysis applications. Built-in effects include bass boost, wah wah, and noise removal, and the program also supports VST plug-in effects.

    • The Best Ubuntu Apps

      Best Ubuntu Apps. There are countless apps or applications for Ubuntu and other Linux distros available. However, I feel strongly that these five Linux apps are must have software, especially the first four software titles. The latter is simply an application I feel strongly that most of us who have large ebook libraries ought to be using.

    • Top 8 Video Players for Your Linux Desktop

      Gone are the days when Linux systems are mainly used for Server-side functionalities as the latest distributions released are well-advanced and are specially designed to capture the attention of home computer users. With a much-improved GUI and various other applications, Linux Desktop has emerged far better than a Windows PC in many ways. And a video player is one such application that has gone a long way in Linux Desktop as the video players available in Linux Desktops can easily rival its Windows counterparts. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 8 video players for Linux Desktop.

    • 8 Excellent Free Weather Software

      Are you worried about global warming? Or are you looking for weather forecasts at your fingers? What’s the difference between climate change and weather. Weather refers to short term atmospheric (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere. Climate is the weather of a specific region averaged over a long period of time.

      Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure. In most places, weather changes from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season.

      Are you looking to stream your weather data to a personal web site? We highly recommend you combine WeeWX with a small single-board computer, such as one from the very inexpensive Raspberry Pi range. A very cheap but reliable solution.

      Many of the software tools retrieve their weather data from the OpenWeatherMap no charge weather API. This lets you access current weather data for any location including over 200,000 cities.

      If you love the power of the command-line, we’ve included some console based weather tools. We’ve also included the best weather widgets for the hugely popular GNOME and KDE desktop environments. They each offer an excellent way to have an always-on display of the weather.

    • Animate Your Wallpaper With An Audio Visualizer Using GLava (1.6.0 Released)

      GLava, an OpenGL audio spectrum visualizer for X11, had a new release yesterday which includes improvements like FIFO support, support for disabling shader passes through GLSL, along with other enhancements and bug fixes.

      GLava can be made to look as a live, animated wallpaper that’s in sync with your music. While the application itself does not replace your current wallpaper, GLava can be made to appear as if it’s embedded in your desktop background, so you can use it as a real-time audio visualizer on top of your favorite wallpaper. A video demonstration using multiple GLava instances can be seen here.

      This is done by options in GLava that allow hiding the application borders, and to allow clicks throw the Glava window, making it behave like it’s part of your desktop background.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Cities: Skylines turns four years old, has some impressive stats

        Cities: Skylines, probably the best city-builder available on Linux has turned four years old and Paradox have released some impressive stats on it.

        Firstly, it’s officially hit over six million copies sold and seems to show no sign of slowing down. Since the last birthday of the game, it sold over a million more copies so it seems to have a rather healthy life ahead of it.

      • A Vulkan renderer is in the works for GZDoom

        One of the GZDoom developers, dpJudas, has been working diligently on the Vulkan [GitHub] renderer for GZDoom.

        I have tried it out myself and at this point it seems to be coming along nicely, but there are still many loose ends that need to be taken care of, which is only to be expected of such an early work in progress. For example, alt-tabbing out of a full screen window and back into it will make the game crash.

      • Intel Vulkan Driver Now Dumps More To EXT_debug_report, Used By VKpipeline-DB

        The latest work within Mesa 19.1 is for the Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver and that is dumping more shader information within the VK_EXT_debug_report extension. The output of that is then used by the Mesa developers’ VKpipeline-DB utility for offline analysis.

        VK_EXT_debug_report is the Vulkan extension for being able to enable error/debug reporting between Vulkan applications/games and the drivers. The debug reporting extension can reveal various information bits useful in debugging crashes and areas for optimization. With the new Mesa Git there is support in the Intel open-source Vulkan Linux driver for dumping shader information with this extension.

      • Valve’s card game Artifact has lost almost all players and designer Richard Garfield has left

        Not everything Valve does hits the right spot and it seems the final few nails of Artifact’s coffin are being hammered in.

        Back in January, I wrote a small bit about Artifact and how it was bleeding players constantly. I said it would probably “die off completely within another three to six months” and it looks like I could be right there. Even back in January, it still had over two thousand regular players and less than two months later it’s sunk down to around six hundred.

      • The innovative FPS ‘Shotgun Farmers’ has left Early Access with a tasty update

        Shotgun Farmers is a first-person shooter that’s not only good fun, it’s also rather innovative with how you collect ammo and weapons.

        When you shoot, if you miss and hit the floor, your missed bullets will end up growing new weapons/ammo for anyone luckily enough to run by and grab it. It’s such a simple yet genius idea as it works so well! It’s also good for a pretty wide audience, since it’s quite a colourful and inviting game so both myself and my Son have enjoyed many hours in it.

      • Gamehub – Shows Games From Different Sources

        We’ve recently seen the spike in Linux games, many popular gaming platforms have focused on Linux gaming. Last year Steam released Steam Play to play Windows games on Linux. Awesome! The list is growing fast so Linux gamers need Gamehub, an app allows to install, run, uninstall games from different sources from one place.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Sam Thursfield: Inspire me, Nautilus!

        I find a lot of inspiration online, so I want a digital equivalent. I looked for one, and I found various apps for iOS and Mac which act like digital inspiration boards, but I didn’t find anything I can use with GNOME. So I began planning an elaborate new GTK+ app, but then I remembered that I get tired of such projects before they actually become useful. In fact, there’s already a program that lets you manage a collection of images and text! It’s known as Files (Nautilus), and for me it only lacks the ability to store web links amongst the other content.

        Then, I discovered that you can create .desktop files that point to web locations, the equivalent of .url files on Microsoft Windows. Would a folder full of URL links serve my needs? I think so!

        Nautilus had some crufty code paths to deal with these shortcut files, which was removed in 2018. Firefox understands them directly, so if you set Firefox as the default application for the application/x-desktop file type then they work nicely: click on a shortcut and it opens in Firefox.

      • Christian Hergert: Scale 17x – Slides
  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: EasyOS 1.0

        When I first began looking at EasyOS I was not sure what I was getting myself into this week. The project’s documentation tends to be more focused on the technical wizardry of the distribution and less on the day-to-day practicalities. The documentation also warns EasyOS is in an development stage and users may have some problems as a result. I also thought I might be setting out to explore just a strange a remix of Puppy Linux since EasyOS also uses PET packages and many of the same technologies.

        However, I came away from my experience with EasyOS feeling impressed. Partly because everything seemed to work well and blend together smoothly. The configuration tools all worked well, the application menu was arranged in a way that provided a lot of functionality without too much clutter, and the system was surprisingly responsive most of the time. But the crown jewel of EasyOS is the way it handles containers. On most distributions, containers are an add-on, an extra security feature we need to set up manually and often configure or run from the command line.

        EasyOS provides an evolution in containers for desktop applications. Not only are some key components set up to run in containers by default, the package manager will offer to install applications into containers (either a fresh container or an existing one) with the click of a button. In the application menu, contained applications are marked with a little lock symbol. We do not need to use the command line or do any manual steps as we do with other sandboxes like Firejail. EasyOS containers are automatic and effective.

        Inside a container we can create or delete anything and our actions are wiped clean, leaving no footprint on the host operating system. EasyOS will even let us run an entire guest desktop environment in isolation. This allows us (or a guest) to run as root inside a container, create files, download anything, and when we sign out, the whole contained desktop is wiped clean. It’s a lot like guest accounts on Ubuntu, but the guest user gets to act as root in their own sandboxed environment.

        Speaking of root, EasyOS takes the philosophy of running as root by default. We can change this, but we are signed in as root automatically by default for the sake of convenience. Some people see this as a security issue, only somewhat offset by the use of containers. Personally, while I am less worried about the security side of things (given the use of containers when browsing the web), I do get nervous when signed in as root as I am aware a wrong click or key combination could wipe out a partition or move a directory tree to the wrong location by accident. I prefer not to wield that level of power by default, at least not before noon.

        EasyOS also shuns the idea that operating systems need to be installed locally. While it is possible to install EasyOS on its own partition, the more standard approach is to run a frugal install (allowing distributions to share a partition) or run the system live. The distribution is quite flexible in this regard, if somewhat unusual.

        EasyOS may be experimental at this stage, but it is setting the bar higher for portable applications, at least from the point of view of being easy of use, and it is making containers easier than any other distribution I have used to date. I hope EasyOS’s contained desktop applications migrate to other distributions as they have the potential to make users a lot safer with virtually no additional effort.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Discuss everything Fedora

        Are you new to using Fedora, or have a question about using Fedora? Got a story or helpful hint for Fedora that you want to share? You want to check out Fedora Discussion. It is a relatively new place where users and members of the Fedora Community meet to discuss, ask questions, and interact.

      • Reporting problems in Flatpak applications

        If you’ve ever experienced a crash in a Flatpak application, you might have noticed that there is no notification coming from ABRT for it, and maybe you even noticed some strange messages in the system journal:

        abrt-server[…]: Unsupported container technology

        The above appears when ABRT attempts to collect information about the container (currently only Docker and LXC), if the binary has been detected to have been run in one. For Flatpak applications, we probably get enough information already, so we can just special-case and do nothing instead.

        Unfortunately, getting things like stack traces gets a bit more complicated than that.

      • Copr – Removing outdated chroots

        Even though Copr currently supports building packages for Fedora, EPEL, Mageia, let’s talk about just Fedora to keep this article simple. The same principles apply also for other distributions, they only differ in small nuances such as length of the release cycle.

        Let’s briefly talk about the Fedora release cycle. There are always two stable versions (at this point F28 and F29) and rawhide. These are enabled in Fedora build systems and you can build packages for them. Once a next version is released, the oldest one gets marked as End Of Life (EOL) and it is not possible to build official packages for it and push updates. In Copr, we try to give users more time to migrate and allow them to build packages even for EOL version for another several weeks/months.

        Now we are getting to the actual topic of this article. Can you guess, what happens with the repositories once the chroots for a particular EOL distribution gets disabled? Interestingly enough, nothing happens to them. If you have created a project in the Copr humble beginnings and built some packages for e.g. F21, you can still boot your old laptop and install them. As awesome as it sounds, we are changing this a little.

    • Debian Family

      • Winding down my Debian involvement

        This post is hard to write, both in the emotional sense but also in the “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time” sense. Hence, please assume the best of intentions when reading it—it is not my intention to make anyone feel bad about their contributions, but rather to provide some insight into why my frustration level ultimately exceeded the threshold.

        Debian has been in my life for well over 10 years at this point.

        A few weeks ago, I have visited some old friends at the Zürich Debian meetup after a multi-year period of absence. On my bike ride home, it occurred to me that the topics of our discussions had remarkable overlap with my last visit. We had a discussion about the merits of systemd, which took a detour to respect in open source communities, returned to processes in Debian and eventually culminated in democracies and their theoretical/practical failings. Admittedly, that last one might be a Swiss thing.

        I say this not to knock on the Debian meetup, but because it prompted me to reflect on what feelings Debian is invoking lately and whether it’s still a good fit for me.

        So I’m finally making a decision that I should have made a long time ago: I am winding down my involvement in Debian to a minimum.

      • Debian Package Maintainer Steps Down, Complaining About ‘Old Infrastructure’

        Michael Stapelberg, maintains “a bunch” of Debian packages and services, and says the free software Linux distro “has been in my life for well over 10 years at this point.”

        Today he released a 2,255-word essay explaining why he’s “winding down” his involvement in Debian to a minimum, citing numerous complaints including Debian’s complicated build stack, waits of up to seven hours before package uploads can be installed, leading to “asynchronous” feedback — and Debian’s lack of tooling for large changes.

      • What does democracy mean in free software communities?

        Yesterday, a developer posted the message below to the debian-vote mailing list.

        Censors blocked it. It wasn’t received by list subscribers and it isn’t visible in the debian-vote list archive.

        Can you see any possible way that this message violates the code of conduct used by this free software community?

        In many free software communities, we accept that we contribute without the promise of anything in return.

        In Debian, they gave us the promise of membership. Membership doesn’t mean much either, except the right to vote. But it turns out even that was a hollow promise. Enrico Zini from the Debian account managers team simply deleted a candidate from the Debian keyring in the same way that he would delete an unwanted file, just days before elections were announced. Consider the countless things I’ve done for Debian and free software over more than 20 years, 8 visits to new communities in the Balkans over the last 2 years and acting as an admin in Google Summer of Code, a huge responsibility that brought in significant revenue for Debian.

        When Zini tampered with the keyring, no due process was followed, no reason was given and any reason made up after the fact has no credibility. But making stuff up retrospectively to justify bullying isn’t new.

      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in February 2019

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Noah Meyerhans: Further Discussion for DPL!

        Further Discussion has been with Debian from the very beginning! Don’t you think it’s time we gave Further Discussion its due, after all the things Further Discussion has accomplished for the project?

        Somewhat more seriously, have we really exhausted the community of people interested in serving as Debian Project Leader? That seems unfortunate. I’m not worried about it from a technical point of view, as Debian has established ways of operating without a DPL. But the lack of interest suggest some kind of stagnation within the community. Or maybe this is just the cabal trying to wrest power from the community by stifling the vote. Is there still a cabal?

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Open Source Apps Can Save Your Small Business Money

    Most businesses utilize apps to better integrate data, improve their mail service, and to speed up accounting, billing and invoicing processes.

  • Databases

  • CMS

    • A Splintering Martech Market Is Driving Open Source Adoption, Says Acquia

      Acquia has expanded from its traditional enterprise level web content management product and services built on the open source software Drupal to a new experience platform, whic includes several marketing solutions. The new platform is also based on Drupal open source software.

      The shift was in response to the complex and underwhelming proprietary martech solutions, according to Acquia executives speaking at the company’s APAC conference in Melbourne last week.

      The flexibility and scalability of open source is a popular trend, not only restricted to martech, but, Acquia argues the model is particularly effective for marketing solutions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • mandoc-1.14.5 released

      This is a regular maintenance release. As structural changes are quite limited, i expect it to be very stable, so all downstream systems are encouraged to upgrade from any earlier version.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • coreutils-8.31 released [stable]

      This is to announce coreutils-8.31, a stable release.

    • GNU Coreutils 8.31 Released With New basenc Command, Stat Prints File Creation Time

      A new release of the GNU “Core Utilities” is out that brings with it the new basenc command.

      The GNU Coreutils 8.31 release brings better handling of –version/–help arguments for a number of commands, the date command now supports the “+” conversion specification flag from POSIX.1-2017, sleep and other commands now accept floating point numbers in both the current and C locales, stat/tail are now familiar with Android’s sdcardfs file-system, and a number of bug fixes,

      One change worth pointing out as well is that stat now can print file creation time when running on a capable file-system paired with Linux 4.11+ and Glibc 2.28+ for having the necessary bits for carrying the file creation time.

    • GNU World Order 13×11
    • GNU Octave 5.1 Adds HiDPI Support

      There’s a major new version of GNU Octave with support for HiDPI, new print options, and a range of new functions.

      GNU Octave is popular as a free open source alternative to MATLAB that makes doing difficult math easy. It supports matrix operations, provides capabilities for the numerical solution of linear and nonlinear problems, and has extensive graphics capabilities for data visualization and manipulation.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Deprecation Notice: MIT and BSD

      Both copyrights and patents apply to software, but the word “patent” does not appear in MIT or BSD terms. MIT and Cal’s tech transfer offices say they never intended to license any patents. There is some argument that other words, like “use”, imply permission under patents, anyway. And there is some law that may or may not imply patent permission, when giving someone a copy of software. But a license can avoid all that uncertainty by spelling out plainly that it covers all relevant intellectual property [sic]. MIT and BSD don’t.

      Licenses like Apache 2.0 show how lawyers do this in legal terms for private deals every day. Blue Oak shows the same job done in everyday English, without long lists, run-on sentences, or complex scope rules.

      Patents are a problem that MIT and BSD do not solve. Open source developers have better options, at no real cost, with significant additional benefits. Even developers and companies that despise software patents, and will never seek them, benefit by choosing modern terms. It’s one thing to know that you won’t seek or enforce any patents. It’s quite another to have legal assurance from others that they, or their successors, won’t lay a patent trap.

    • VMWare’s GPL woes continue

      For the last decade, VMware has been accused of illegally using Linux code in its VMware ESX bare-metal virtual machine hypervisor.

      While a German court has dismissed the case, the struggle may not be over.

      VMware was accused of illegally using Linux code in its flagship VMware ESX bare-metal virtual machine (VM) hypervisor.

      In 2011, the Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit organisation that promotes open-source software, discovered that VMware had failed to properly license any Linux or BusyBox, a popular embedded Linux toolkit, source code.

    • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE and Mi 8 SE Android Pie kernel source code now available

      If you’re looking to install third-party modifications, or play with TWRP custom recovery, and use AOSP ROM on these devices, then your wait is over as Xiaomi has released Kernel Source code based on Android Pie for both Mi 9 SE and Mi 8 SE. The kernel source would allow developers to create custom ROMs, recoveries and other MODs. Under GPL license, it’s mandatory for companies to publish kernel source of every change they make to Android Linux’s Kernel.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data/Google

      • Plugging the data gap: Google and UN Environment unveil freshwater monitoring app

        UN Environment, Google and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre have unveiled a groundbreaking web-based platform that fuses big data and environmental science to monitor global freshwater ecosystems, opening the door to a new era of data-rich analysis that could reshape how we measure humanity’s environmental footprint.

        The publicly available, free platform brings together Google’s expertise in satellite data, cloud computing, earth observation and artificial intelligence, UN Environment’s scientific knowledge, and the data analysis expertise of the Joint Research Centre, to show how water ecosystems are changing over time.

      • Big Announcements at TensorFlow Dev Summit; Google’s Open Data Efforts
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open source advances deeper into hardware: The CHIPS Alliance project

        Open-source hardware is older than you might think. Sun released OpenSPARC in 2007, and IBM started OpenPOWER in 2013. OpenSPARC would die after Oracle bought Sun, and OpenPOWER remains largely IBM-driven. With the recent arrival of the RISC-V (pronounced Risk-Five), though, open-source CPU designs have finally caught fire. Now, the Linux Foundation is helping form the CHIPS Alliance project. CHIPS, in turn, will host and curate high-quality, open-source silicon device design code.

        Backed by Esperanto, Google, SiFive, and Western Digital, the CHIPS Alliance will foster a collaborative environment for creating and deploying new open-source chip designs. These will be used across the entire spectrum of computing. This will include mobile, computing, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things (IoT) chip and System on a Chip (SoC) designs.

      • ESP8266 Gets Its Game On With Open Source Engine

        Well, judging by software frameworks like the “Little Game Engine” created by [Igor], it looks like the ESP is expanding its reach into offline projects as well. While it might not turn the ESP8266 into a next-gen gaming powerhouse, we’ve got to admit that the demos shown off so far are pretty impressive. When paired with a couple of buttons and a TFT display such as the ILI9341, the ESP could make for a particularly pocket-friendly game system.

        The game engine that [Igor] has developed provides the programmer with a virtual screen resolution of 128×128, a background layer, and 32 sprites which offer built-in tricks like collision detection and rotation. All while running at a respectable 20 frames per second. This environment is ideal for the sort of 2D scrolling games that dominated the 8 and 16-bit era of gaming, and as seen in the video after the break, it can even pull off a fairly decent clone of “Flappy Bird”.

  • Programming/Development

    • Meson 0.50 released
    • Meson 0.50 Build System Brings PGI Compiler Support, Various Fortran Improvements & CUDA

      Meson 0.50 is now available as the latest feature update to this increasingly used cross-platform build system that is powering the likes of many GNOME projects, many X.Org/FreeDesktop.org low-level software components, and other software that when paired with Ninja is known for its lightning fast build times and better cross-OS support compared to traditional alternatives.

    • Techiediaries – Django: CORS in Django REST Framework

      CORS stands for Cross Origin Resource Sharing. If you are building applications with Django and modern front-end/JavaScript technologies such as Angular, React or Vue, chances are that you are using two development servers for the back-end server (running at the 8000 port) and a development server (Webpack) for your front-end application.

      When sending HTTP requests from your front-end application, using the browser’s fetch API, the Axios client or the jQuery $.ajax() method (a wrapper for the JavaScript XHR interface), to your back-end API built with Django REST framework the web browser will throw an error related to the Same Origin Policy.

    • Techiediaries – Django: Multiple Image/File Upload with Django, Ionic 4 and FormData
    • Django Weekly: #73 – Djangochat podcast, Django Recommended Reading and more
    • Reading Linux groups via the Rust Foreign Function Interface
    • Iterating through an FFI API in Rust
    • Accessing C Arrays of String from Rust
    • LLVM 8.0 Drags On As An RC5 Now Gets Scheduled

      LLVM 8.0 had been expected for release prior to the end of February, but now as we approach the middle of March, this major compiler update along with associated sub-projects like Clang 8.0 have yet to see the light of day.

      LLVM 8.0 is running quite tardy at this point compared to its 27 February release target. On Friday a fourth release candidate was issued as their second unscheduled RC while this morning it was announced a fifth RC is likely coming out in the days ahead. LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg announced a fifth release candidate is on the way for picking up another new commit.

    • Working with LDAP and Active Directory
    • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Maria Khalusova

      This week we welcome Maria Khalusova ( @mariakhalusova) as our PyDev of the Week! Maria works for JetBrains and will be speaking at AnacondaCON this April. If you’d like to catch up with her, you can check out Maria’s blog. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Maria better!

    • Programiz: Python RegEx
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 9 – Variable Scopes

      If you are following our C programming tutorial series, you should be aware of the concept of variables. While we’ve discussed the basics of variables, there’s another important aspect related to variables that we’ll be discussing here: scope of variables.

    • Inside Kdenlive: How to fuzz a complex GUI application?

      Fuzz-testing, also called Fuzzing, is an essential tool inside the tool-box of software developers and testers. The idea is simple yet effective: simply throw a huge amount of random test inputs at the target program, until you manage to get it to crash or otherwise misbehave. This crashes are often revealing some defects in the code, some overlooked corner-cases that are at best annoying for the end-user if she stumbles upon them, or at worse dangerous if the holes have security implications. As part of our refactoring efforts of the main components of Kdenlive, this is one of the tools we wanted to use to ensure as much stability as possible.
      One of the most commonly used fuzzing library is called LibFuzzer, and is built upon LLVM. It has already helped finding thousands of issues in a wide range of projects, including well tested ones. LibFuzzer is a coverage based fuzzer, which means that it attempts to generate inputs that creates new execution paths. That way, it tries to cover the full scope of the target software, and is more likely to uncover corner-cases.
      Building a library (in this case Kdenlive’s core library) with the correct instrumentation to support fuzzing is straightforward: with Clang, you simply need to pass the flag -fsanitize=fuzzer-no-link. And while we’re at it, we can also add Clang’s extremely useful Address sanitizer with -fsanitize=fuzzer-no-link, address. This way, we are going to detect any kind of memory malfunction as soon as it occurs.

    • 5 Popular Python Open-Source IDEs For Data Science Enthusiasts

      Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is the daily-used coding tool for a programmer which enables a complete set for Source Code.

    • Post Multipart Form Data in Python with Requests: Flask File Upload Example

      In this tutorial we’ll demonstrate how to upload a file from a Python server to another server by sending a POST request with multipart/form-data using the Python requests library.

    • Become Queen Bee for a Day Using Python’s Built-in Data Types

      Like many other nerds, I love word puzzles. I’m not always great at them, and I don’t always have time to do them, but when I do, I really enjoy them.

      I recently discovered a new daily puzzle, known as “spelling bee”, that the New York Times offers online. The idea is simple. There are seven different letters, one in the center of a circle and six around it. Your job is to make as many different words as you can from those seven letters. Each word must be at least four letters long, and each word also must contain the center letter. You can use each letter as many times as you want.

      So if the letters are “eoncylt”, with a center letter of “y”, some of the words you could create might be “cyclone”, “eyelet” and “nylon”.

      The online game gives you a score based on how many words you’ve made from the potential pool. If you get them all, you’re awarded “queen bee” status.

      I do pretty well at this puzzle, but I’ve never managed to find all of the hidden words. Nevertheless, I have become queen bee on a few occasions. How? The answer is simple. I cheated. How? Using Python, of course.

      Now, cheating at games isn’t necessarily the first order of business when it comes to programming. And cheating at word games in which you’re competing against yourself is probably a sign of unhealthy competition. But, doing so also provides a great way to review some of the ways you can use Python’s built-in data types and the ease with which you can process words and text.

Leftovers

  • The Sad State of Logging Bugs for Apple

    This is where things get screwy depending on the component your bug lands in, since bug management is group dependent. Many groups will have only one or two QA people to do the initial screening of those large drop areas for bugs. QA engineers are sometimes instructed to screen bugs with a priority and “fix period” before passing them off to the engineer responsible for the code. This is terrible because many engineers will not look at bugs with a low priority. It is much better for the engineer who “owns the code” to look at a bug and determine the priority. The QA engineers will frequently get a huge back log of bugs to screen, and it can take weeks, or even months, for some bugs to get screened. Sometimes this leads to a mass screening of bugs, marking them all with a low priority. Bug originators have to notice this, and complain about it for the priority to get increased. Worse yet, some groups mass close bugs older than a year or so, and ask the originator to re-open the bug if the issue still exists. A lot of people don’t pay attention to bugs that need verification, and they simply become lost.

  • Crashed Ethiopian Air Jet Is Same Model as Lion Air Accident

    While authorities say it’s too early to speculate about what caused the crash, the situation is scarily reminiscent of the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people after plunging into the Java Sea last October, shortly after takeoff. That plane also showed unstable vertical speed. The Indonesian Transportation Safety Committee found that Lion Air Flight 610 had an erroneous input from one of its angle-of-attack sensors. Afterward, Boeing issued a safety warning, advising airlines operating the 737 MAX to have their pilots review how to handle such readings. The Federal Aviation Administration then issued an Airworthiness Directive, making that advice mandatory for US airlines.

  • Science

    • Get Off My Lawn

      [...] One of my longest-running themes as a journalist has been how changes in technology force people to adapt their habits and livelihoods. I thought I was doing my part, with gear that let me attend to my work while others attended to theirs. There even turned out to be a bonus: As other parts of my body went into a predictable age-related descent, my hearing remained sharp.

      [...]

      Leaf blowers are especially insidious. Something about their sound had long attracted my attention. A study organized by Jamie Banks, a scientist and the founder of Quiet Communities, a Boston-area nonprofit, quantified what it was. Acoustic engineers from a firm called Arup compared gas- and battery-powered blowers with equal manufacturer-rated noise levels. Their analysis showed that gas-powered blowers produce far more “sound energy” in the low-frequency range. This may seem benign—who doesn’t like a nice basso profundo?—but it has a surprising consequence. High-frequency sound—a mosquito’s buzz, a dental drill—gets your attention, but it does not travel. It falls off rapidly with distance and struggles to penetrate barriers. If you’re in the next room, you may not hear it at all. By contrast, low-frequency noise has great penetrating power: It goes through walls, cement barriers, and many kinds of hearing-protection devices. The acoustic study found that in a densely settled neighborhood, a gas-powered blower rated at, say, 75 decibels of noisiness can affect up to 15 times as many households as a battery-powered blower with the same 75-decibel rating.

    • Technical Debt is like Tetris

      Like most people who’ve played it, I love Tetris. I still remember playing it for the first time on a friend’s Nintendo Game Boy. You may already have the theme song stuck in your head. Not only is Tetris one of the best games of all time, it’s also an excellent analogy for technical debt. The point of this analogy is to reach a common understanding of technical debt and its impact.

  • Hardware

    • Global smartphone shipments to fall for third consecutive year

      The global smartphone market is projected to experience its third consecutive year of declining shipments as smartphone volumes are forecast to fall by 0.8 per cent, with volumes dipping to 1.39 billion, said a International Data Corp (IDC) report.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Man told he’s going to die by doctor on video-link robot

      Ernest Quintana, 78, was at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont when a doctor – appearing on the robot’s screen – informed him that he would die within a few days.

      A family friend wrote on social media that it was “not the way to show value and compassion to a patient”.

  • Security

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 137 – When the IoT attacks!

      Josh and Kurt talk about when devices attack! It’s not quite that exciting, but there have been a slew of news about physical devices causing problems for humans. We end on the note that we’re getting closer to a point when lawyers and regulators will start to pay attention. We’re not there yet, so we still have a horrible insecure future on the horizon.

    • The RSA 2019 Conference

      [...] The industry is primarily based on selling the illusion that vendors’ products can — in the right combination and with enough money spent — completely protect target systems. Someone pointing out that this is fundamentally flawed is not a welcome addition. I get that a lot — it is probably why I don’t get asked to be a company advisor, either. People would rather believe they can find a unicorn to grant them immortality rather than hear the dreary truth that they will die someday, and probably sooner than they expect. Instead of hearing that, let there be bread and circuses!

    • A brief history of Wi-Fi security protocols from “oh my, that’s bad” to WPA3

      Before anyone can understand WPA3, it’s helpful to take a look at what came before it during The Dark Ages (of Internet)—a time with no Wi-Fi and unswitched networks. Swaths of the Internet today may be built upon “back in my day” ranting, but those of you in your 20s or early 30s may genuinely not remember or realize how bad things used to be. In the mid-to-late 1990s, any given machine could “sniff” (read “traffic not destined for it”) any other given machine’s traffic at will even on wired networks. Ethernet back then was largely connected with a hub rather than a switch, and anybody with a technical bent could (and frequently did) watch everything from passwords to Web traffic to emails wing across the network without a care.

    • A look at Matrix.org’s OLM | MEGOLM encryption protocol

      The similarities between OMEMO and Matrix’ encryption solution end when it comes to group chat encryption.

      OMEMO does not treat chats with more than two parties any other than one-to-one chats. The sender simply has to manage a lot more keys and the amount of required trust decisions grows by a factor roughly equal to the number of chat participants.

      Yep, this is a mess but luckily XMPP isn’t a very popular chat protocol so there are no large encrypted group chats ;P

      So how does Matrix solve the issue?

      When a user joins a group chat, they generate a session for that chat. This session consists of an Ed25519 SigningKey and a single ratchet which gets initialized randomly.

      The public part of the signing key and the state of the ratchet are then shared with each participant of the group chat. This is done via an encrypted channel (using Olm encryption). Note, that this session is also shared between the devices of the user. Contrary to Olm, where every device has its own Olm session, there is only one Megolm session per user per group chat.

    • Kodi Users at Risk From Github Repo ‘Hijack’ But Solution is Already Available

      Many Kodi add-ons are hosted on Github but when a developer deletes his or her account, other developers are sometimes stepping in to exploit the situation, to pass their product off as the original. However, Github says it will not tolerate any exploits and will take action in response complaints.

    • Programmers Are Too Lazy To Implement Password Encryption: Study

      group of researchers from The University of Bonn has found that computer science students need to be explicitly told to employ important password security measures. This research carried out by the German academics found that without prompting, the programmers didn’t feel the need to store the passwords securely.

      The programmers that took part in the research were hired from Freelancer.com. The researchers asked 260 Java coders to create a user registration system for a fake social network. Out of 260, only 43 accepted the job.

    • Smart alarms left 3 million cars vulnerable to [criminals] who could turn off motors

      Two popular smart alarm systems for cars had major security flaws that allowed potential [criminals] to track the vehicles, unlock their doors and, in some cases, cut off the engine.

      [...]

      The problems were found in alarm systems made by Viper and Pandora Car Alarm System, two of the largest smart car alarm makers in the world. The two brands have as many as 3 million customers between them and make high-end devices that can cost thousands. Like other smart devices, smart car alarms offer people convenience, allowing owners to find their cars from a distance and unlock their doors from their phones.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Man who exposed 2012 Kohistan video scandal shot dead in Abbottabad

      Afzal had been receiving constant death threats, prompting the Supreme Court to direct the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to provide him security, but the orders were reportedly not followed.

    • What’s Really Going On in Kashmir?

      Diplomats and the mainstream media focused on the danger of another war between the two nuclear-armed countries. But the major media provided less information about the flashpoint for the crisis: India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir.

      Assistant Professor Junaid Ahmad, director of the Center for Global Dialogue at the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan, said in a phone interview that the conflict reflects “the bitterness and anger that remains from the British partition of the region back in 1947.”

    • Judging U.S. War Crimes

      Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the U.S. military, is again imprisoned in a U.S. jail. On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center for refusing to testify in front of a secretive Grand Jury. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months, and the U.S. courts could allow the formation of future Grand Juries, potentially jailing her again.

      Chelsea Manning has already paid an extraordinarily high price for educating the U.S. public about atrocities committed in the wars of choice the U.S. waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea Manning was a U.S. Army soldier and former U.S. intelligence analyst. She already testified, in court, how she downloaded and disseminated government documents revealing classified information she believed represented possible war crimes. In 2013, she was convicted by court-martial and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks. On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence. In May of 2017, she was released from military prison having served seven years.

      “Where you stand determines what you see.” Chelsea Manning, by virtue of her past work as an analyst with the U.S. military, carefully studied footage of what could only be described as atrocities against human beings. She saw civilians killed, on her screen, and conscience didn’t allow her to ignore what she witnessed, to more or less change the channel. One scene of carnage occurred on July 12, 2007, in Iraq. Chelsea Manning made available to the world the black and white grainy footage and audio content which depicted a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. Twelve people were killed, including two Reuters journalists.

    • Chelsea Manning’s Fight Against the Grand Jury Exposes Battle for Free Speech

      The former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was sent to jail Friday for refusing to answer questions relating to WikiLeaks 2010 disclosures at a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. She has been remanded into federal custody and is made to remain confined until she testifies or until the end of the life of the grand jury.

      Manning, 31 was convicted in 2013 of releasing the largest trove of state secrets in US history, revealing Bush era’s war crimes. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence until President Barack Obama commuted her sentence just before leaving his office in 2017.

      On March 5, Manning, a network security expert, appeared in Alexandria federal court to fight the subpoena requiring her to testify before a federal grand jury. Outside the courthouse after an hour-long closed-door hearing where the judge rejected her motion to quash the subpoena, she spoke to activists and reporters stating her principle opposition to the grand jury system was that it is shrouded in secrecy.

      Manning’s subpoena came about three months after prosecutors, from a copy and paste error, revealed the US government’s sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The secret criminal charges, whose existence was made known inadvertently in November last year, have been originally filled in the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. In January this year, a U.S. federal judge ruled against the petition filed by the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press that demands the government to unseal that criminal complaint.

    • US Blamed Venezuelan President for Burning AID Trucks. Wrong.

      “They tried a false flag operation, that supposedly the people of Venezuela had burned a truck carrying rotten food — no, no, no — it was they themselves”

    • Will the Corporate Media Retract Its Venezuela Lies?

      The New York Times published a video on Saturday that disproves reporting by the U.S. establishment media that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s forces had set ablaze trucks filled with humanitarian aid. While U.S. officials and media parroted the story as a provocation of war, some independent journalists have argued for weeks that the story was false.

      The claim that Maduro had burned aid on the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge on Feb. 23 was repeated and used as a way to catalyze support for further U.S. involvement in Venezuela. More politicians began to speak out in support of regime change. And as national security adviser John Bolton made clear, the U.S. is interested in Venezuela’s oil.

      “U.S. news stars and think tank luminaries who lack even a single critical brain cell when it comes to war-provoking claims from U.S. officials took a leading role in beating the war drums without spending even a single second to ask whether what they were being told were true,” wrote Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.

      The detailed video published by The New York Times aligns with an earlier independent report. On Feb. 24, the day after the fire, The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal used several photographs and videos to show a “total lack of evidence of Venezuelan culpability.” The Times has now reported that opposition protesters accidentally lit a truck on fire with a Molotov cocktail.

      Blumenthal rebutted the claim that Venezuelan forces had started the fire with tear gas: “I have personally witnessed tear gas canisters hit every kind of vehicle imaginable in the occupied Palestinian West Bank,” he wrote, “and I have never seen a fire like the one that erupted on the Santander bridge.”

      At the same time, mainstream news outlets spread the lies. CNN reported that some of their journalists “saw incendiary devices from police on the Venezuelan side of the border ignite the trucks.” One of the reporters who worked on Saturday’s Times story, Nick Casey, tweeted on Feb. 24: “I think the more simple explanation is the right one: The oppo threw the rocks and the govt burned the trucks.”

    • The Rise of the Hardliners

      I’ll tell you when the nightmare that TomDispatch regular Bob Dreyfuss raises so eloquently first hit me hard. I’m talking about the possibility that the next U.S. military disaster of the twenty-first century might be Iran. That country has, of course, had a significant spot on Washington’s war-making to-do list since the days of George W. Bush’s presidency. After all, the Washington catch-phrase of that moment when neocons like… well, John Bolton… helped take us so disastrously into Iraq was “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” The “real men” didn’t make it then. The question is: Will they now?

      You remember, of course, that, on entering the Oval Office, Donald Trump turned to America’s generals for a hand. For secretary of defense, he proudly tapped retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, reveling in his nickname, which was “Mad Dog.” As it happened, Mattis already had a rep for obsessiveness on Iran that seemed to fit that moniker perfectly. As the head of U.S. Central Command in 2011, he reportedly responded to a query from President Obama about the top three threats across the Greater Middle East by saying, “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” In the end, he was evidently removed from that command early because he hatched a scheme to take out an Iranian oil refinery or power plant in a “dead-of-night U.S. strike” to pay Iran back for supporting Iraqi Shia militias then fighting American troops.

      I truly started worrying about Iran in the Trump era, however, only when the media began reporting that the same James Mattis was acting as a crucial restraint — yes, restraint — on the president, National Security Advisor John Bolton (famous for a 2015 New York Times op-ed entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”), and that other notorious Iranophobe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Bolton, a man who never saw a regime he didn’t want to change, has had similar urges when it comes to North Korea and may recently have been responsible for torpedoing the president’s summit with Kim Jong-un.) Now, of course, Mattis is gone and I leave Dreyfuss to fill you in on the rest.

    • First Time in Baghdad: Iran’s President to Visit Iraq

      Iran’s president is making his first official visit to Iraq this week as he faces mounting pressure from hard-liners at home in the wake of the Trump administration’s unraveling of the nuclear deal.

      Hassan Rouhani’s trip — billed as “historic and noble” by his foreign minister — is meant to solidify ties between Shiite power Iran and Iraq’s Shiite led-government, a strong Tehran ally. It is also Iran’s response to President Donald Trump’s snap December trip to Iraq and the American president’s comments that U.S. forces should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran, with which Iraq shares a 1,400-kilometer-long (870 miles) border.

      At the time, Trump slipped into Iraq at night, without stopping in Baghdad, to greet U.S. service members at a base far from the Iraqi capital where he extolled the American troops’ fight against the Islamic State group.

    • Fire on the Border: Analyzing Venezuela’s February 23 Border Clashes

      The events of February 23 threatened to push the years-long conflict between the government of president Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition closer to the abyss of armed struggle. Both sides were quick to use the burning of the aid trucks as ammunition against the other, hoping to capitalize on the event before the flames on the Santander bridge were quenched. To add to the tension, a new factor is now at play: the active interest that the international community—and in particular the United States—has in the Venezuelan crisis.

      While not definitive given the available evidence, our analysis of the burning of the aid trucks on the Santander bridge nevertheless adds detail to the event beyond the political rhetoric that saturated the media in the days after the fire.

      High profile events like those that drew world attention on Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil on February 23 have the capacity to precipitate policy decisions at the national level which could have severe consequences. Open source evidence like that analyzed in this article has the potential to bring some level of clarity to what may at first appear to be a hopelessly chaotic event, and in so doing provide vital information in situations that demand it.

    • Press review: US hackers rig Venezuelan blackout and Poroshenko to aim missiles at Moscow

      Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces carried out surgical strikes against targets in Syria’s Idlib Governorate on March 9 in response to the terrorists’ violation of the ceasefire, two Russian military sources told Kommersant. According to them, the strikes were delivered on Idlib’s northwestern area near Jisr ash-Shugur, some 55 km from Hmeymim. The move had been agreed on with Ankara, they said. The Russian Defense Ministry has not officially announced the strikes. Now there is no talk about a large-scale operation in the last remaining de-escalation zone in Syria. Moscow still hopes the mid-September deal on Idlib signed with Ankara in Sochi will be fulfilled. Six months after the Sochi summit, the Russian and Turkish militaries finally started jointly patrolling Idlib.

      [...]

      A cyber attack against Venezuela’s power facilities, which Caracas has blamed on the US, was designed to create intolerable living conditions throughout the Latin American country, Izvestia writes. According to Washington strategists, the power outage was aimed at whipping up protest sentiment to topple Venezuela’s legitimate President Nicolas Maduro. On March 7, state power corporation Corpoelec reported an act of sabotage at the country’s major Guri hydroelectric plant, which supplies power to the capital and 70% of Venezuela. Since Thursday afternoon, 21 out of 23 states across the country have been without electricity.

    • It’s time to disrupt nuclear weapons

      Those are the words of Leo Szilard, one of the scientists who pushed for the development of nuclear weapons. He wrote them as part of a petition signed by dozens of other scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project pleading with President Harry Truman not to use the nuclear bomb on Japan.

      Mere months after its introduction in 1945, the architects of today’s nuclear world feared the implications of the technology they had created.

      Nearly 75 years later it’s time again to ask technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and academics: will you be party to the ‘ruthless annihilation of cities’? Will you expend your talents in the service of nuclear weapons? Will you use technology to create or to destroy?

    • The Path to Climate Justice Passes Through Caracas

      Today we are all witness to the subversion and slander of one of our best hopes. Venezuelans call it “the media war.” Karl Marx called it “the war of calumny undertaken by the lying power of the civilised world,” and went on to describe how “all the sluices of slander at the disposal of the venal respectable press were opened at once to set free a deluge of infamy in which to drown the execrated foe. This war of calumny finds no parallel in history for the truly international area over which it has spread, and for the complete accord in which it has been carried on by all shades of ruling class opinion.”

      These words of Marx describe an older media war – a war against the International Workingmen’s Association, which later became known as The First International. Today they could be applied seamlessly to the media war against the democratically elected government of Venezuela and the revolutionary process it represents. And the comparison is historically and politically sound, because Venezuela was host to the founding in 2017 of the First Ecosocialist International– a piece of world news which has been all but completely drowned out in the furor to topple the only government in the world which has laid out a comprehensive planfor an ecosocialist mode of production “to preserve peace in the planet and save the human species.”

      It hurts us to read and write about Venezuela today. A tyrannous troika of mendacity, ignorance and laziness rules with near impunity in the world or journalism; from Fox News to the BBC, from CNN to the Guardian, from Amnesty International to the Committee to Protect Journalists, from John Oliver to Jacobin Magazine. We would much prefer to write about how we have been moved to joy and courage and compassion by the mass popular democratic movements in this country. We would prefer to write about the sense of goodwill, hope and inspiration which emanates from the grassroots Venezuelan revolutionary process. As Che Guevara said, revolutionaries are guided by great feelings of love.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Sunshine Week Puts Spotlight on Accessing Government Information

      Sunday marks the start of Sunshine Week, an effort to highlight the role of freedom of information at all levels of the U.S. government.

      The week brings together a range of groups including media outlets, government officials, nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries in an effort to promote and explain the importance of open government and how individuals and groups can access government data.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • In Bellwether, Norway Wealth Fund Dumps Oil Exploration Stocks as Bad Investment

      Norway is an extremely ambiguous actor when it comes to hydrocarbons. The Scandinavian country is Europe’s biggest oil producer, and some 20% of its national income derives from oil sales. At the same time, Norway recognizes the dangers of the climate crisis, and has moved to ban coal and promote electric vehicles.

      Norway puts its oil income into a national sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s major investors, with $1 trillion in assets. And the sovereign wealth fund has decided to pull its investments from oil exploration companies.

      The fund will sell $7.5 billion in shares in 134 energy companies.

      Despite the denials of Finance Minister Siv Jensen (who after all does not want to crash the value of the oil on which Norway still depends), this move is clearly a vote of no-confidence in the petroleum industry going forward. That is, petroleum will still be fueling automobiles and buses for another decade and a half and so has not suddenly become completely worthless. But the Norwegian investment officials are clearly signaling that there is no point in investing money in finding and developing new petroleum fields, and investing in these activities bears a large exposure to risk.

    • Human growth robs other species of space

      There is only one Earth, but human growth is ensuring that it carries steadily more passengers. And that leaves less and less room for humanity’s companions on board the planet.

      The Nile lechwe is an antelope that lives in the swamps of Ethiopia and South Sudan. Its Linnaean name is Kobus megaceros and it stands a metre high at the shoulders so you couldn’t miss it. Except that you could.

      That is because it is one of at least 1,700 species identified by biologists to be at risk from human action: quite simply, as humans take an ever-greater share of animal living space, the animals’ chances of survival dwindle rapidly.

    • Action Jackson: Of Poachers, Grizzlies and Coexistence

      In a new Grizzly Times podcast, Bob Jackson shares stories of his fascinating 30-year career as a backcountry ranger in Yellowstone Park. He was dubbed “Action Jackson” for his work contributing to a record number of convictions of poachers in a remote southern area of the Park known as the Thorofare. As Bob and I swapped stories about a particularly fraught period during the early 2000s — Bob while employed by the Park Service and me with Sierra Club and later Natural Resources Defense Council — my blood boiled again at the pattern of unnecessary conflicts between hunters and grizzlies that each of us worked hard to address, each in the ways we could.

      The chronic conflicts that Bob highlighted involving dirty hunter camps and poor handling of game carcasses have receded in public consciousness with an increasingly obsessive focus of the debate about grizzly bears on whether or not federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections should be removed for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. Even the tragic but avoidable mauling of a hunting guide named Mark Uptain by grizzly bears in the Teton Wilderness last fall has not produced a shift in focus by those cynically promoting removal of protections. This essay not only explores but also provides necessary historical context for the wide-ranging conversation that Bob and I recorded for the podcast.

    • The Downside of the World’s Love Affair with Shrimp

      Shrimp was once considered a treat for special occasions, but now it is a frequent mealtime staple. And that is not necessarily so good.

      More than half of imported shrimp is “farmed”—grown in huge industrial tanks or shallow, manmade ponds that can stretch for acres. At least 150 shrimp can be crowded into a single square meter, where they’re fed commercial pellets, sometimes laced with antibiotics to ward off disease. What isn’t eaten can sink to the bottom and rot, creating a putrid soup of feed and fecal matter.

      These vast, polluting overseas operations routinely use antibiotics that are needed to treat common human infections––for example, Amoxycillin—which is not approved in U.S. shrimp farming but used overseas. Such use, of course, encourages antibiotic resistant bacteria––so that human and animal diseases no longer respond to the drugs and can become life-threatening. What’s more, this resistance isn’t limited to one type of bacteria, but can be transferred to other, more common bacteria, including those that cause common human infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant infections are associated with 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses in the U.S. each year.

      In the U.S., no antibiotics are approved for regular use in shrimp farming, but many foreign countries permit them, making imported shrimp a big concern. The US’s Food and Drug Administration examines only a fraction of the shrimp coming into the country—and “examined” may simply mean reading the label, not actually testing the shrimp for residues in a laboratory. Between 2009 and 2012, the FDA tested just 0.9 percent of shrimp imports.

  • Finance

    • Startups Expose Europe’s Divisions

      Research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product is below the European Union average in every former eastern bloc country except Slovenia. The 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which ranks countries by categories including research, patent activity, higher education and productivity, puts the former communist region at the lowest in Europe along with Portugal, Greece Malta and Cyprus.

      Without sufficient support, the region’s countries won’t be able to adapt fast enough to new technologies, including software development, artificial intelligence and robotics, as they revolutionize manufacturing, according to an assessment of innovation in eastern Europe published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Saab AB.

    • China: ‘All necessary measures’ will be used to defend Chinese companies from US
    • China promises ‘all necessary measures’ to defend companies

      Wang was responding to a question about Beijing’s stance on Canada’s arrest of a Huawei Technologies Ltd. executive on U.S. criminal charges and the company’s lawsuit in an American court aimed at overturning restrictions on sales of its telecom equipment.

    • Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Apple, too [iophk: "Microsoft is not even mentioned"]

      I spoke to Senator Warren after she appeared on stage at SXSW in Austin, Texas today, and she told me explicitly that she thinks Apple should be broken apart too — specifically, that it should not get to both run the App Store and distribute apps in it. “It’s got to be one or the other,” she said. “Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time.”

    • SXSWarren: A day later, Elizabeth Warren defends her Big Tech breakup proposal [iophk: "why is she so quiet about Microsoft still?"]

      Time Editor-at-Large Anand Giridharadas led with that at his South by Southwest conversation with Massachusetts Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren. The politician didn’t miss a beat. Barely 24 hours after she made headlines by publicly proposing that the US should break up companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook as part of a plan to regulate tech platforms as utilities, Warren took the opportunity to further emphasize her idea.

    • Elizabeth Warren says she wants to break up Amazon, Google, and Facebook

      The proposal is the most stringent stance taken by a candidate in the presidential campaign so far. Warren, pointing to the antitrust battle over Microsoft in the 1990s, said the companies must be broken up to stimulate competition in a monopolistic market.

    • The Last Place Big Tech Wants to Be Is on the Defense

      Whether you think this is a great idea or a terrible one, it is highly unlikely that this issue is going away. And whether or not Elizabeth Warren makes it to the top of the Democratic presidential ticket, this issue is bigger than her ability to get first-mover attention. Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York has already begun to prepare his Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of David Cicilline of Rhode Island, to probe anti-competitive consolidation in the tech industry, building on Nadler’s earlier observation that companies like Facebook “cannot be trusted” to regulate themselves. And of course, the populist backlash to Amazon’s New York headquarters plan indicates the public’s growing unease. Big Tech is patient zero for the plain truth that vast agglomerations of money and power, combined with highly opaque business practices and little government oversight or accountability, does not tend to fare well in democratic societies.

    • The shutdown brought people who rely on SNAP an extra helping of economic hardship

      Millions of the poorest Americans are probably feeling the aftershocks of the partial government shutdown weeks after it ended.

      One big reason for that is how it disrupted the flow of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Florida, Ohio, Virginia and many other states are adjusting their monthly disbursements to avoid making SNAP recipients go 50 days or more without any assistance. But the distribution schedule will be altered in many cases through mid-April.

      We are health economists who have studied how public policies affect low-income people. We have found that the timing of when benefits through the program, commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps, are disbursed affects everything from what and how much people eat and how well children learn to how likely they are to visit the emergency room.

    • Huawei to boost research and development spending in Canada, even if government blocks its 5G tech

      Chinese telecommunications company Huawei pledged Thursday to boost investment in research and development in Canada and to add 200 high-paying jobs here amid ongoing concerns over the company’s role in the development of new high-speed 5G wireless networks.

      Ottawa is in the midst of a review of national and economic security around 5G technology and has not yet made a decision about whether Huawei, which has operated in Canada for 10 years and partnered with major players including Telus and Bell on their infrastructure, will be permitted to participate.

    • An overhaul of the international tax system can wait no longer

      The public perception that large multinational companies pay little tax has led to political demands for urgent action.

    • Job Growth Slows to 20,000 in February, Modest Acceleration in Wage Growth

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the economy added just 20,000 jobs in February. While this is a very weak number, it most likely is a bounce back from the extraordinarily rapid growth reported in January, which was revised up to 311,000. The average growth for the last three months was a solid 186,000.

      Wage growth accelerated modestly, with the average hourly wage up 3.4 percent compared to its year-ago level. The annual rate of increase for the last three months (December, January, and February) compared with the prior three months (September, October, November) is 3.3 percent.

      The news in the household survey was mostly positive with the unemployment rate slipping down to 3.8 percent. The overall and prime-age (ages 25–54) employment-to-population ratios (EPOP) were both unchanged from the highs for the recovery reached last month. The number of people reporting that they were involuntarily working part-time plunged by 837,000, more than reversing a sharp jump in January. As a share of employment, involuntary part-time is now below its prerecession lows. The drop in involuntary part-time pushed the U-6 measure of unemployment down to 7.3 percent, a new low for the recovery.

      The weak job growth in the establishment survey is clearly a reversal of unusually strong growth in January. Restaurants reportedly added 51,300 in January after adding 47,400 in December. In February, job growth was just 1,600. The average for the last year is 23,400. Health care added 20,800 jobs in February, after adding a total of 88,700 in the prior two months. The average over the last year is 30,100. Employment in education services, which is very erratic, jumped 27,000 in January, but it fell by 18,700 in February.

    • Don’t Panic: The Retail Apocalypse Isn’t Disaster, It’s Progress

      In the first week of March, big retail chains announced more than 1,100 planned store closings. That, writes Hayley Peterson at Insider, brings the number of planned US store closings for 2019 to more than 5,300.

      The Retail Apocalypse is here, and it has consequences. Including, reports Krystal Hu for Yahoo! Finance, 41,000 retail jobs cut in January and February.

      Yet the US economy recorded a net gain of 20,000 total jobs each in January and February, its 101st straight month of job gains.

      The economy is slowing down a bit, and we don’t know yet what consumer spending looked like for January (the Commerce Department was delayed in issuing that report by the federal “shutdown”), but people haven’t stopped and won’t stop buying food, clothing, electronics, etc. Many Americans are tightening their belts for various reasons, but that on its own doesn’t explain the Retail Apocalypse.

      What does explain it? Progress.

      Nearly 30 years after it became widely publicly accessible, the Internet is in the final stages of killing off physical retail as we once knew it. But it’s not killing the economy.

      How much stuff do you buy from Amazon or other online retailers (some of them formerly entirely brick and mortar establishments) that you used to have to hunt down in a physical store?

      If your family is anything like mine, the answer is “a lot.” And your needs are met, more conveniently and often at lower prices, by a few humans packing boxes in warehouses instead many humans stocking helves, assisting customers, dragging items over price scanners, and bagging them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Credentials of firm that linked Parliament hack to Iran questioned

      Infosec outfit Resecurity, which has come under scrutiny by some well-known researchers over its attribution of some recent hacks, has hit back by accusing its detractors of having ulterior motives for indulging in such criticism.

    • This Big Facebook Critic Fears Tech’s Business Model

      McNamee explained the arc of his view. Early in the 2000s, the burgeoning companies of Web 2.0, like Google, Paypal, and Facebook, began “blitz-scaling.” And as they quickly grew, they operated from a different value system, McNamee said, which basically said “none of us is responsible for the disruptions that we create.” The founders of these companies collected loads of personal data to fuel their own growth and profits and thought it was OK. “I don’t think that in prior generations of Silicon Valley, people would have thought that way,” McNamee said. “These people are brilliant, and I have enormous admiration for what they created; I just wish we could have created it without some of the business model characteristics that are causing the harm.”

      [...]

      McNamee said he is especially concerned because users, and society, have not had a chance to debate whether companies should gather information and profit from people’s financial transactions, health data, or location. “That may be fine, but all of that business model developed behind a curtain,” he said. “We didn’t know that’s what was going on. And there’s a lot of history that says that’s a model that we don’t want.”

    • Israel’s Stranglehold on American Politics

      The Israel lobby’s buying off of nearly every senior politician in the United States, facilitated by our system of legalized bribery, is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. The lobby’s campaign of vicious character assassination, smearing and blacklisting against those who defend Palestinian rights—including the Jewish historian Norman Finkelstein and university students, many of them Jewish, in organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine—is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. Twenty-four state governments’ passage of Israel lobby-backed legislation requiring their workers and contractors, under threat of dismissal, to sign a pro-Israel oath and promise not to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. The shameless decision in 2014 by all 100 U.S. senators, including Bernie Sanders, to pass a Soviet-style plebiscite proposed by the Israel lobby to affirm Israel’s “right to defend itself” during the 51 days it bombed and shelled homes, water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals and U.N. schools in Gaza, killing 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. The U.S. refusal, including in the United Nations and other international bodies, to criticize Israel’s apartheid state and routine violation of international law is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. The well-funded campaigns by the Israel lobby, which works closely with Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, to discredit any American politician or academic who even slightly deviates from Israeli policy is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact. (One infamous example of a U.S. politician kowtowing was the unconstitutional invitation by then-House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in 2015 to denounce President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear agreement.) The massive interference in our internal affairs by Israel and the Israel lobby, far exceeding that of any other country, including Russia or China, is not an anti-Semitic trope. It is a fact.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Ilhan Omar deletes tweet claiming Politico distorted Obama criticism

      Her cry of “fake news” prompted hundreds to tweet back in Politico’s defense, pointing out that a tape of the interview clearly shows she’d been quoted accurately.

      The critics included Tim Alberta, the Politico chief political correspondent who’d interviewed Omar. He tweeted, “Exhibit A of how politicians use the media as a straw man to avoid owning what they said.”

    • The UK’s AgeID porn filters are a recurring April Fool’s joke with a dark punchline

      The UK has already implemented a de facto porn filter. You have to turn off your adult filters to be able to access the open web. And of course, the filters have unnecessarily restricted access to non-pornographic content on the internet. How much so? At its height, 20% of the entire internet was blocked behind the UK’s overactiveporn filters. Even today, some of these adult filters are blocking the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine – one of the furthest things from a pornographic site. Even this site, Private Internet Access, was at one point misidentified as an adult site and blocked by default in the UK.

      If you have to tell your ISP that you want to opt-out of your adult filter, and they mark that in their database – how is that different than a list of porn users? Why should you need to go to the corner shop to pick up a 24 hour porn pass if every home internet connection or smartphone dataplan is tied to a credit card or bank account? Basically, the government already has a list of which households want to view pornography – now they want to granularize that data so they can know which individuals are watching pornography.

    • Tanzania Authorities Cite Bias in Banning of Major English Newspaper

      Last Wednesday, government authorities notified editors of Tanzania’s major English language newspaper, The Citizen, that the paper would be suspended for seven days. The newspaper had published two articles, one about US lawmaker, Bob Menendez, raising concerns about “the gradual spiral of respect for civil liberties in Tanzania” and another reporting that the Tanzania shilling was falling against the US dollar. Authorities say the articles were one sided.

      This is not the first time the government has banned newspapers in recent times. [...]

    • Amazon’s book banning crosses a dangerous censorship line

      Two immediate questions come to mind. First, why ban a book critiquing Islam when a host of other books critiquing – no, harshly attacking – other religious faiths are available on Amazon? Second, why ban this book and not other books that critique Islam? Why draw the line here?

    • Indonesia: Prison for WhatsApp Messages

      On February 26, 2019, the court sentenced Syamlan to 10 months in jail for defamation for allegedly sending four WhatsApp messages to two banks regarding a company’s performance. She denies sending the messages. The Indonesian government should repeal criminal provisions that restrict peaceful free expression online.

    • Malaysian man gets 10 years in prison for insulting Islam on Facebook

      The Royal Malaysia Police filed charges against three other social media account owners for insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, according to a statement published on Bernama, the nation’s state media news agency.

    • The colonial-era laws that still govern African journalism

      Exploring how colonial-era and apartheid laws still determine what can and cannot be reported in sub-Saharan Africa.

    • Killing a Mockingbird

      Harper Lee’s book To Kill A Mockingbird continues to get reproduced. It is read across the country in school. Now the book is going to Broadway. We should all breathe a sigh of relief that Hamilton no longer center stage. What was with that play anyways? Could anyone figure that out? Wasn’t American history class nauseating and unbelievable for more people? If there was a national poll on Hamilton one would guess it would do no better than the 1% who actually saw it.

      Hamilton and To Kill A Mockingbird are the same story, more or less. It’s a fairy type of heroic rich white men in a history that produced none of these characters. To dull the sins of the present moment these stories are repeated. History is told inaccurately not for history’s sake, but for the sake of the present. If there were heroes in the past, why couldn’t there be heroes now?

      To Kill A Mockingbird isn’t about a black guy (Tom Robinson) getting accused of rape. Tom isn’t even real. He’s not a character, he’s just a plot structure. Could anyone say anything about Tom besides his race? To be fair, none of the characters are complex, well-developed or interesting in any way, shape or form. And yet the book is clearly about one person: Atticus Finch. Unlike the helpless but angelic prisoner, Mr. Finch is a real person. And he’s annoying as hell.

    • Thailand Decides To Make Its Terrible Cybersecurity Law Even Worse

      More censorship and encryption-breaking is on the way, thanks to the Thai government’s broad interpretation of the term “cybersecurity.” The government has been leaning heavily on American social media companies to disappear content critical of… you guessed it, the government. To keep the king from being insulted too often (or for too long), the government is also exploring undermining website encryption and holding service providers directly (and criminally) responsible for the words and deeds of their users.

      Another round of amendments has made Thailand’s cybersecurity law worse. It seems almost impossible, given its history. And yet here we are, watching as the government gives itself everything it wants, leaving citizens with the dubious privilege of generating tons of data the government can access at will.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brexit, Data Privacy and the EU Settled Status Scheme

      The EU Settled Status Scheme (“the scheme”) provides the administrative route through which all EU nationals must apply to remain in the UK after 30 June 2021, in the event of a deal, or 31 December 2020, in the event of no deal.

      Operation of the scheme relies heavily on an automated data check: enter your national insurance number on the online portal and the Home Office will use HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) and/or Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data to identify if you’ve reached the required five years of continuous residence to qualify for “Settled Status”. If the data says ‘no’, you’ll be invited to accept an outcome of “Pre-Settled Status” or to upload further documents evidencing your residence for manual checking by a Home Office caseworker.

    • Facebook’s former chief of security says its privacy pivot is ‘punting’ on its hardest issues

      According to the company’s former security chief, Alex Stamos, the move could mean that some of Facebook’s toughest issues around moderating speech and curbing bad behavior effectively disappear. “Mark Zuckerberg decided he can’t be in the middle anymore. The middle is where you lose continuously,” Stamos told a crowd at Vox Media’s SXSW event series in Austin, referring to Facebook’s attempt to straddle a line between strictly controlling speech and behavior on its platform and allowing for freedom of expression.

    • Facebook wants to build a private-messaging behemoth

      Facebook’s ambition for a cross-platform private messaging service extends far beyond messaging. Zuckerberg said the company would build out this interoperability much as it expanded WhatsApp: start by fine-tuning messaging and secure communication, “and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services.”

    • United States citizens will need a visa to visit Europe starting in 2021

      The European Union announced on Friday that American travelers will need a new type of visa — a European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS — to visit the European Schengen Area.

    • Starting in 2021, Americans will need to register to travel to EU

      U.S. nationals crossing the pond will need a passport and a credit or debit card to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) permit.

      The travel authorizations are valid for three years and an unlimited number of entries.

    • Is handing over personal data the ‘price of admission’ to modern life?

      Brenda McPhail, Director of the Privacy, Surveillance and Technology Project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says it’s likely that some of the biggest corporations in the world “probably know more about us than we know about ourselves.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • California Police Report Almost No Racial Profiling

      California’s first-in-the-nation attempt to track racial profiling complaints against police produced numbers so small that the board overseeing the tally wants departments to make changes to encourage more people to come forward.

      The panel’s most recent report found 17 percent of California’s law enforcement agencies reported not a single complaint in 2017.

    • Europe’s Antifascists Prepare to Fight Against the Far Right

      Trumpism is not a uniquely American phenomenon. It is in line with the national populist insurrection happening worldwide in the midst of neoliberal and climate catastrophe. What anchored this growth in Europe is the emergence of far-right parties and coalitions manipulating fears over immigration and instability to unseat social democracy’s role in working class life.

      Independent journalist Patrick Strickland has been covering the explosion of Europe’s far-right and the shifting antifascist movement that is responding to it. His recent book Alerta! Alerta!: Snapshots of Europe’s Anti-fascist Struggle (AK Press, 2018) breaks down the conflict into moments of insight, looking into the stories of the people resting at the center of the fight against emerging fascism.

    • Sanders Connects Farmers’ Struggles to Labor Movement in Iowa Rallies

      Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) headlined three rallies in three days in the early voting state of Iowa this week, turning out nearly 5,000 of his supporters in a display of his campaign’s organizational strength and support.

      Sanders spent a significant amount of time at all three of his Iowa campaign rallies discussing rural agricultural issues, something he did not do at his kickoff rallies in New York or Illinois last week. In particular, the Vermont senator spoke at length in Iowa about connecting the struggles of the independent family farmer to the struggles of workers and students for economic, environmental and racial justice and access to health care.

      “We have seen in recent years schools, churches and community centers shut down,” he said at his rally in Council Bluffs. “All across rural America, we have seen family farmers by the thousands go out of business as the prices that they receive for their products decline rapidly and large agribusiness corporations and factory farming take over agriculture. We have seen rural hospitals and nursing homes shut down and not enough doctors to provide for quality health care that rural America deserves.”

      Between 1,000 and 2,000 people attended each of Sanders’s three campaign rallies that took place from March 7-9, in Council Bluffs, Iowa City and Des Moines.

    • Trump Budget Sets Up Another Battle Over Wall Funding

      President Donald Trump is reviving his border wall fight, preparing a new budget that will seek $8.6 billion for the U.S-Mexico barrier while imposing steep spending cuts to other domestic programs and setting the stage for another fiscal battle.
      Budget documents are often seen as just a starting point of negotiation, but fresh off the longest government shutdown in history Trump’s 2020 proposal shows he is eager to confront Congress again to reduce domestic spending and refocus money on his priorities. It calls for boosting defense spending and making $2.7 trillion in nondefense cuts.

      Trump’s proposal, titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First” and set for release Monday, “embodies fiscal responsibility,” said Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    • Tape Appears to Show R. Kelly Sexually Abusing Girls

      A man who said he was cleaning out an old videotape collection found what he thought was a recording of R&B singer R. Kelly in concert, but instead turned out to show a man who appeared to be Kelly sexually abusing girls, he and his attorney said Sunday.
      The man then turned the tape over to law enforcement, according to attorney Gloria Allred. She and her client, Gary Dennis, would not discuss the specifics of the tape during a news conference in New York. But Allred said it appears to show a separate incident from the 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse that Kelly faces in Chicago, though she acknowledged she could not be “100 percent certain” that the man in the tape is Kelly.

      Steve Greenberg, an attorney for Kelly, noted that lack of certainty.

    • On Biblical Inerrancy: Some Reflections for United Methodists and Other “Christians”

      The United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States , voted on voted on Tuesday, February 26th, to affirm its official stance that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Not all Methodists agree with this view, of course, as is detailed in an article on the vote in The New York Times. Many do, though, hence the outcome of the vote. And Methodists are not the only “Christians” who consider homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching. People who hold this view usually justify it by pointing to specific passages in the New Testament that appear to support it. The question is: Does the New Testament unequivocally condemn homosexuality?

      Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Bible is inerrant. What are the implications of that? That means, it would appear, that the Bible can’t be wrong in either descriptive or prescriptive terms. What does it mean, though, to be “right” in those terms? Is the primary purpose of historical narrative to present an accurate reconstruction of past events, or is it to guide readers, or listeners, to teach them something about human folly, human weakness and frailty, with the aim of making humanity’s future better than its past? Is an “accurate” historical narrative one that gets the facts right or one that presents them in a way that will be optimally instructive?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Denmark: PI granted against Tadalafil »Mylan«

      The main issue in the case was the assessment of the inventive step. The central point made by Mylan was that a person skilled in the art would consider a prior art patent (Daugan II) and thereby be motivated to carry out pre-clinical and clinical trials in an effort to arrive at the optimal dosage for tadalafil. Thus, it was argued, the trials carried out by Eli Lilly were very standard by nature and followed a strictly routine pattern.

      Eli Lilly argued that such a construction would be contrary to the case law and practice of the EPO. If such a construction were to apply it would in theory exclude any invention resulting from an empirical, stepwise R&D effort with an advantageous technical effect. This constructions would be very strict and prohibitive in relation to R&D based towards and effectively take away their incentive to carry out research in the field of dosage forms.

      In the end the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court decided in favour of Eli Lilly, i.e. that Eli Lilly had rendered it probable that the patent-in-suit exhibited inventive step. Consequently, the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court granted a preliminary injunction against Mylan’s sale of the product Tadalafil »Mylan containing 5 mg tadalafil in Denmark. The Court’s reasons were summary simply and only stated that Mylan did not lift its burden of proof.

    • Can a CJEU ruling on the European system of central banks pave the way towards an even greater impact of CJEU IP rulings?

      As I discuss at greater length in this book, there are arguably provisions in EU copyright directives that are drafted in such a way that EU Member States enjoy limited freedom when transposing them into national legal systems.

      The CJEU has clarified that this may be the case when a provision in a EU directive imposes on EU Member States, in unequivocal terms, well-defined obligations as to the result to be achieved that is not coupled with any condition regarding application of the rule laid down in them.

    • Reliance on Science in Patenting

      Citations from patents to other patents have frequently been employed in studies of innovation, but these citations have many limitations. By contrast, citations from patents to non-patent materials—especially scientific articles—promise to be more useful but are much more difficult to discern given that they appear in patent documents as unstructured text. We present methods for automatically linking patents to scientific papers from 1800-2018 and share the results publicly. Moreover, we characterize the performance of our algorithms and present ROC curves so that researchers can select data according to their sensitivity to false positives vs. false negatives. Our hope is that publicly-available patent citations to science fuel research on innovation, knowledge diffusion, technology commercialization, and other topics.

    • Ni-Q, LLC v. Prolacta Bioscience, Inc. (D. Or. 2019)

      Last month, in Ni-Q, LLC v. Prolacta Bioscience, Inc., District Judge Michael H. Simon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Ni-Q, LLC that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,628,921, which is assigned to Defendant Prolacta Bioscience, Inc. (“Prolacta”), are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter. The District Court also determined on summary judgment that Ni-Q did not infringe the asserted claims of the ’921 patent, even if those claims had been found valid. We previously reported on this case in 2017 when the District Court denied Ni-Q’s motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that the claims of the ’921 patent were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter.

      Ni-Q had initiated the dispute between the parties by filing a complaint for declaratory judgment of noninfringement and invalidity of the ’921 patent, as well as alleging a violation of the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Prolacta responded by filing a counterclaim against Ni-Q for money damages and injunctive relief, asserting that Ni-Q had infringed claims 1, 2, and 9 of the ’921 patent.

    • Copyrights

      • Anti-Piracy Outfit Still Sends Takedown Notices For Megaupload

        Megaupload has been offline since it was raided in 2012 and the original file-hosting platform is not coming back. That doesn’t prevent anti-piracy outfit Link-Buster from sending takedown notices to Google, targeting URLs of the long-defunct site. Other sites which are long gone, including Hotfile and FileServe, are on their list too.

      • Label Apologizes For All The Cracked Software Visible in Rapper’s YouTube Video

        Music production software is both notoriously expensive and heavily pirated, quite often by those just getting into the game. However, if you’re an already famous performer and screenshots of your desktop appear on the Internet, removing evidence of cracked apps is probably a good move.

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    Links for the day



  2. Just Published: Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

    Iancu and his fellow Trump-appointed "swamp" at the USPTO are urged to consult academics rather than law firms in order to improve patent quality in the United States



  3. Microsoft Paid the Open Source Initiative. Now (a Year Later) Microsoft is in the Board of the Open Source Initiative.

    The progression of Microsoft entryism in FOSS-centric institutions (while buying key "assets" such as GitHub) isn't indicative of FOSS "winning" but of FOSS being infiltrated (to be undermined)



  4. Jim Zemlin's Linux Foundation Still Does Not Care About Linux Desktops

    We are saddened to see that the largest body associated with Linux (the kernel and more) is not really eager to see GNU/Linux success; it's mostly concerned about its bottom line (about $100,000,000 per annum)



  5. Links 23/3/2019: Falkon 3.1.0 and Tails 3.13.1

    Links for the day



  6. The Unified Patent Court is Dead, But Doubts Remain Over the EPO's Appeal Boards' Ability to Rule Independently Against Patents on Nature and Code

    Patents used to cover physical inventions (such as engines); nowadays this just isn't the case anymore and judges who can clarify these questions lack the freedom to think outside the box (and disobey patent maximalists' dogma)



  7. Patent Law Firms Still Desperate to Find New Ways to Resurrect Dead Software Patents in the United States

    There's no rebound and no profound changes that favour software patents; in fact, judging by caselaw, there's nothing even remotely like that



  8. Links 22/3/2019: Libinput 1.13 RC2 and Facebook's Latest Security Scandal

    Links for the day



  9. Why the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) Cannot Ignore Judges, Whereas the EPO Can (and Does)

    The European Patent Convention (EPC) ceased to matter, judges' interpretation of it no longer matters either; the EPO exploits this to grant hundreds of thousands of dodgy software patents, then trumpet "growth"



  10. The European Patent Office Needs to Put Lives Before Profits

    Patents that pertain to health have always posed an ethical dilemma; the EPO apparently tackled this dilemma by altogether ignoring the rights and needs of patients (in favour of large corporations that benefit financially from poor people's mortality)



  11. “Criminal Organisation”

    Brazil's ex-President, Temer, is arrested (like other former presidents of Brazil); will the EPO's ex-President Battistelli ever be arrested (now that he lacks diplomatic immunity and hides at CEIPI)?



  12. Links 21/3/2019: Wayland 1.17.0, Samba 4.10.0, OpenShot 2.4.4 and Zorin Beta

    Links for the day



  13. Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

    Team UPC's propaganda about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become so ridiculous that the pertinent firms do not wish to be identified



  14. António Campinos Makes Up Claims About Patent Quality, Only to be Rebutted by Examiners, Union (Anyone But the 'Puff Pieces' Industry)

    Battistelli's propagandistic style and self-serving 'studies' carry on; the notion of patent quality has been totally discarded and is nowadays lied about as facts get 'manufactured', then disseminated internally and externally



  15. Links 20/3/2019: Google Announces ‘Stadia’, Tails 3.13

    Links for the day



  16. CEN and CENELEC Agreement With the EPO Shows That It's Definitely the European Commission's 'Department'

    With headlines such as “EPO to collaborate on raising SEP awareness” it is clear to see that the Office lacks impartiality and the European Commission cannot pretend that the EPO is “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “da kenne ich mich nicht aus”



  17. Decisions Made Inside the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Lack Credibility Because Examiners and Judges Lack Independence

    The lawless, merciless, Mafia-like culture left by Battistelli continues to haunt judges and examiners; how can one ever trust the Office (or the Organisation at large) to deliver true justice in adherence or compliance with the EPC?



  18. Team UPC Buries Its Credibility Deeper in the Grave

    The three Frenchmen at the top do not mention the UPC anymore; but those who promote it for a living (because they gambled on leveraging it for litigation galore) aren't giving up and in the process they perpetuate falsehoods



  19. The EPO Has Sadly Taken a Side and It's the Patent Trolls' Side

    Abandoning the whole rationale behind patents, the Office now led for almost a year by António Campinos prioritises neither science nor technology; it's all about granting as many patents (European monopolies) as possible for legal activity (applications, litigation and so on)



  20. Where the USPTO Stands on the Subject of Abstract Software Patents

    Not much is changing as we approach Easter and software patents are still fool's gold in the United States, no matter if they get granted or not



  21. Links 19/3/2019: Jetson/JetBot, Linux 5.0.3, Kodi Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, and Firefox 66

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

    Links for the day



  23. Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

    Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network



  24. Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

    As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)



  25. Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

    Links for the day



  26. To Team UPC the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Has Become a Joke and the European Patent Office (EPO) Never Mentions It Anymore

    The EPO's frantic rally to the very bottom of patent quality may be celebrated by obedient media and patent law firms; to people who actually produce innovative things, however, this should be a worrisome trend and thankfully courts are getting in the way of this nefarious agenda; one of these courts is the FCC in Germany



  27. Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

    Links for the day



  28. Stopping António Campinos and His Software Patents Agenda (Not Legal in Europe) Would Require Independent Courts

    Software patents continue to be granted (new tricks, loopholes and buzzwords) and judges who can put an end to that are being actively assaulted by those who aren't supposed to have any authority whatsoever over them (for decisions to be impartially delivered)



  29. The Linux Foundation Needs to Speak Out Against Microsoft's Ongoing (Continued) Patent Shakedown of OEMs That Ship Linux

    Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft while taking Microsoft money; he meanwhile ignores how Microsoft viciously attacks Linux using patents, revealing the degree to which his foundation, the “Linux Foundation” (not about Linux anymore, better described as Zemlin’s PAC), has been compromised



  30. Links 15/3/2019: Linux 5.0.2, Sublime Text 3.2

    Links for the day


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