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03.21.19

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

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google is winning in education, but Apple and Microsoft are battling for market share

      Apple used to have the most devices in U.S. schools, but Google soared to the top after the release of the Chromebook in 2011. In 2018, Chromebooks made up 60 percent of all laptops and tablets purchased for U.S. K-12 classrooms, up from just 5 percent in 2012. Microsoft is second at 22 percent, followed by Apple, with 18 percent of shipments to U.S. schools in 2018, according to data from Futuresource Consulting.

  • Server

    • Portworx Boosts Cloud-Native Data Security and Disaster Recovery

      ortworx announced the latest edition of its namesake cloud-native storage and data management platform on March 20, providing users with new security and disaster recovery capabilities.

      Portworx Enterprise 2.1 integrates a new feature the company has dubbed PX-Security, which provides granular role-based access controls that go beyond what are natively available in the open-source Kubernetes cloud-native container orchestration system. Data backup is being enhanced with the new PX-DR disaster recovery feature that provides low latency resiliency for critical data recovery.

      “Kubernetes alone can’t meet all of an enterprise’s application needs,” Murli Thirumale, co-founder and CEO of Portworx, told eWEEK. “There are needs around security monitoring, and particularly data storage and data management that are needed to really allow adoption of containers and Kubernetes orchestration across a wide set of application platforms.”

    • A Look Back and What’s in Store for Kubernetes Contributor Summits

      As our contributing community grows in great numbers, with more than 16,000 contributors this year across 150+ GitHub repositories, it’s important to provide face to face connections for our large distributed teams to have opportunities for collaboration and learning. In Contributor Experience, our methodology with planning events is a lot like our documentation; we build from personas – interests, skills, and motivators to name a few. This way we ensure there is valuable content and learning for everyone.

    • 3 Reasons Every Enterprise Should Use Kubernetes

      As those who follow me online know, I’ve long been a fan of Kubernetes—and it’s clear I’m not alone. Kubernetes is less than five years old and it’s become the de facto container management system across the globe. In fact, back in Forrester’s cloud predictions for 2018 experts were already declaring Kubernetes the victor in the “war for container orchestration dominance.”[1] Its popularity has only grown since then and CIOs across industries are considering it the gold standard for container management, especially when it comes to supporting their DevOps efforts.

    • Three Ways Long Term Service Pack Support (LTSS) Makes the Life of Enterprise IT Easier
    • Knative: What developers need to know

      Knative is not just a hot topic in software development, it’s a whole new way to look at services and functions. As a developer, what do you need to know to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology? Are there important design or implementation considerations? Let’s take a look.

    • Quarkus 0.12.0 released

      Quarkus, a next-generation Kubernetes native Java framework, was announced in early March, and now Quarkus 0.12.0 has been released and is available from the Maven repository. The quickstarts, guides, and website also have been updated, and 213 issues and PRs are included in this release. That’s quite a few updates, but in particular check out the new metrics, health check, and Kafka guides. Also, this release requires GraalVM 1.0.0-RC13 for Building a Native Executable.

    • How Service Meshes Are a Missing Link for Microservices

      “We are coming to all those communities and basically pitching them to move, right? We tell them, ‘look, monolithic is very complicated — let’s move to microservices,’ so, they are working very, very hard to move but then they discover that the tooling is not that mature,” Idit Levine, founder and CEO of Solo.io, said. “And actually, there are many gaps in the tooling that they had or used it before and now they’re losing this functionality. For instance, like logging or like debugging microservices is a big problem and so on.”

      Levine, whose company offers service mesh solutions, also described how service meshes were designed to “solve exactly this problem,” during a podcast episode of The New Stack Analyst hosted by Alex Williams, founder and editor-in-chief of The New Stack, with Janakiram MSV, a The New Stack Correspondent and principal of Janakiram & Associates.

      One of the first things organizations notice when migrating away from monolithic to microservices environments is how “suddenly you’re losing your observability for all of the applications,” Levine said. “That’s one thing that [service meshes] is really big in solving.”

      Then there is security. Making sure that applications and microservices are secure involves different dynamics than monolithic security does in a number of ways. “Are microservices allowed to talk to each other or are they not?” Levine said. “How you do all this policy about who’s allowed to talk to whom and if it’s secure” is a major consideration.

      Routing can also pose problems. “It’s about making sure that the pipe is available to all those microservices with all of the connections,” Levine said. “This is one of three problems any organization will have once they try to move to microservices — and that’s exactly why service mesh is needed because it’s solving those problems.”

      The early development of service meshes can be traced back to when Google, IBM and other firms created Istio, Levine noted. “And the reason I believed that they did it is because they looked at their Linkerd and they just said, ‘yeah, the idea is very solid but the implementation is not the best.’”

      The issue, Levine said, was how the Java code “was very, very heavy and then there was a lot of overhead in the performance and the installation and the overall solution.”

    • Google Open Sources Sandboxed API

      Google on Monday announced that it has made available its Sandboxed API as open source in an effort to make it easier for software developers to create secure products.

      It’s not uncommon for applications to be affected by memory corruption or other types of vulnerabilities that can be exploited for remote code execution and other purposes. Using a sandbox ensures that the code responsible for processing user input can only access the resources it needs to, which mitigates the impact of a flaw by containing the exploit to a restricted environment and preventing it from interacting with other software components.

      While sandboxing can be highly useful, Google says it’s often not easy to implement. That is why the internet giant has decided to open source its Sandboxed API, which should make it easier to sandbox C and C++ libraries. The company has also open sourced its core sandboxing project, Sandbox2, which can be used on its own to secure Linux processes.

    • BMC Touches Clouds with Job Scheduler

      Clouds are growing quickly as IT executives look to find more flexibility and cut costs by adopting cloud and software as a service (SaaS) applications. But most enterprises aren’t getting rid of all their on-premise systems, which means somebody needs to connect those cloud and on-premise systems. One of those “somebodies” is BMC Software.

    • Midnight Commander Comes To IBM i

      IBM i professionals who work extensively with files in the IFS will be happy to hear a new software utility has been ported to the IBM i PASE environment that could save them a bunch of time. The open source software, called Midnight Commander, gives developers and administrators a handy command line experience that can help speed up tasks, especially when giving commands to large number of files stored on remote machines.

      Midnight Commander was originally developed in 1994 as a file utility for UNIX, which was beginning to emerge from software labs to challenge minicomputer platforms of the day, such as the AS/400, as well as early Windows operating systems. Miguel de Icaza, who’s known for founding the Mono project (among others), is credited with creating Midnight Commander, but over the years development of the product has become a group effort.

      The utility, which is distributed via a GNU license from www.midnightcommander.org, was largely modeled off Norton Commander, an MS-DOS utility developed in the 1980s by Norton. But Midnight Commander has evolved into its own thing over the years, and the resemblance to that old Norton product today largely is only in the name.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 59 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll talk about some big releases from the GNOME desktop environment, Sway window manager, distro releases from Lakka, KNOPPIX and UBports’ Ubuntu Touch. I’ve got a couple of announcements for this show, TuxDigital and a Linux Conference I will be attenting so be sure to check out that segment. We’ll also check out some new releases from Audacity, Mesa drivers, NetworkManager, TLP project and more. We’ll also look at a new file sharing service provided by Mozilla. Then we’ll discuss some news from the Linux Foundation, Debian and Humble Bundle. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

    • FLOSS Weekly 522: Railroader

      Railroader is a security static analysis tool for applications that use Ruby on Rails. Railroader will examine custom code to look for potential problems, and warn about them. Railroader can’t find every vulnerability, but it’s a great tool to help find problems before they hurt anyone. It is a static analysis tool – that means it does not try to run the application users are analyzing. Railroader is an OSS fork of the Brakeman project, which has gone proprietary

    • LHS Episode #276: Logical Volume Management Deep Dive

      Hello and welcome to Episode 276 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts take a relatively in-depth look at the world of Logical Volume Management under Linux. LVM is a method for creating redundant, scalable and highly available disk volumes that can span multiple physical drives and media types. The topic is more immersive than could be covered in one episode but this should be a good initial primer for anyone looking to explore what LVM can offer. Thanks for listening.

    • Going Linux #365 · Listener Feedback

      We hear from George about Windows and printers. Roger and Gord also comment on printers. Many questions as always, and a report of problems installing the Software Center.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 801
  • Kernel Space

    • 5.1 Merge window part 1

      As of this writing, 6,135 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.1 release. That is approximately halfway through the expected merge-window volume, which is a good time for a summary. A number of important new features have been merged for this release; read on for the details.

    • Controlling device peer-to-peer access from user space

      The recent addition of support for direct (peer-to-peer) operations between PCIe devices in the kernel has opened the door for different use cases. The initial work concentrated on in-kernel support and the NVMe subsystem; it also added support for memory regions that can be used for such transfers. Jérôme Glisse recently proposed two extensions that would allow the mapping of those regions into user space and mapping device files between two devices. The resulting discussion surprisingly led to consideration of the future of core kernel structures dealing with memory management.

      Some PCIe devices can perform direct data transfers to other devices without involving the CPU; support for these peer-to-peer transactions was added to the kernel for the 4.20 release. The rationale behind the functionality is that, if the data is passed between two devices without modification, there is no need to involve the CPU, which can perform other tasks instead. The peer-to-peer feature was developed to allow Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) network interface cards to pass data directly to NVMe drives in the NVMe fabrics subsystem. Using peer-to-peer transfers lowers the memory bandwidth needed (it avoids one copy operation in the standard path from device to system memory, then to another device) and CPU usage (the devices set up the DMAs on their own). While not considered directly in the initial work, graphics processing units (GPUs) and RDMA interfaces have been able to use that functionality in out-of-tree modules for years.

      The merged work concentrated on support at the PCIe layer. It included setting up special memory regions and the devices that will export and use those regions. It also allows finding out if the PCIe topology allows the peer-to-peer transfers.

    • Intel Posts Linux Perf Support For Icelake CPUs

      With the core functionality for Intel Icelake CPUs appearing to be in place, Intel’s open-source developers have been working on the other areas of hardware enablement for these next-generation processors.

      The latest Icelake Linux patches we are seeing made public by Intel is in regards to the “perf” subsystem support. Perf, of course, is about exposing the hardware performance counters and associated instrumentation that can be exercised by user-space when profiling performance of the hardware and other events.

    • What is after Gemini Lake?

      Based on a 10 nm manufacturing process, the Elkhart Lake SoC uses Tremont microarchitectures (Atom) [2] and features Gen 11 graphics similar to the Ice Lake processors [3]. Intel’s Gen 11 solution offers 64 execution units, and it has managed over 1 TFLOP in GPU performance [4]. This can be compared with the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 which offered a peak throughput of 0.94 TFLOPs [5]. Code has already been added in the Linux mainline kernel [6] suggesting a possible Computex announcement and mid to late 2019 availability [7].

    • Systemd’s Nspawn Lands OCI Runtime Support

      Merged this morning into the systemd code-base was a big feature addition that’s been in the works for the better part of one year by Lennart Poettering and other developers.

      Merged into the systemd tree is now the OCI runtime support for nspawn. Systemd’s Nspawn, their tool that can be used for starting an OS within a lightweight container, now has support for the OCI run-time specification.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation Adds a Project for Building Data Best Practices

        The Linux Foundation today added a new project, called DataPractices.org, which acts as a template for data best practices. The project will offer open coursework for data teamwork in an effort to create a vendor-neutral community to establish these practices and increase data knowledge.

        The project was initially created by data.world, a data catalog platform for data and analysis, as a data practices manifesto. The manifesto contains the values and principles that create an effective, modern, and ethical approach to data teamwork. According to Brett Hurt, data.world co-founder and CEO, the main goal of the project is to “raise the level of data literacy across the ecosystem.”

        Data teamwork, said Hurt, is a method for bringing together “your data practitioners, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders by removing costly barriers to data discovery, comprehension, integration, and sharing.” He added that this method enables companies to “achieve anything with data, faster.”

        Under the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org will continue and further the work started by data.world’s manifesto. The manifesto is up on the Linux Foundation’s website (and available to sign) and contains a number of values and principles.

      • The Kodi Foundation Officially Joins Forces with The Linux Foundation

        Ever since the first line of its code was written, there was the idea of creating Kodi (known as XBMC back in the day) based on open-source principles. This means that the source code of this application is available for anyone to access, see, review, and edit as they see fit. And now, the Kodi Foundation has joined the Linux Foundation in a not-as-surprising move as these organizations share the same core values.

        In a freshly-published blog post, Kodi’s development team explains the reasons why it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member. This move will allow Kodi’s team to work with similar organizations, spread their reach, and to improve their own software in the long run. The Linux Foundation has both corporate members and individual supporters, with companies like Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Oracle, Samsung, and many others on board.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces Kingsoft Cloud as Gold Member

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which sustains open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus, today announced that Kingsoft Cloud has joined the Foundation as a Gold member.

        Kingsoft Cloud, a unit of Kingsoft Group, is a leading global cloud computing service provider. According to recent research from IDC, Kingsoft is among the top three cloud computing companies in China. The company offers a broad portfolio covering cloud server, physical cloud host, relational database, object storage, load balancing, VPN, CDN, cloud security, cloud DNS, and more, as well as cloud-based solutions for the government and enterprises in vertical industries.

        “By joining CNCF, we look forward to contributing to a more holistic integration of open source technologies across real-world business scenarios,” said Liu Tao,General Manager for Product Center of Cloud Computing and Partner of Kingsoft Cloud. “Becoming a Gold member will not only increase our power to innovate with cutting-edge technologies, but the practical experience Kingsoft Cloud brings can help the CNCF community deploy its projects across commercial application scenarios.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s Iris Gallium3D Driver Lands Support For Fast Color Clears

        Intel’s Iris Gallium3D driver may now see slightly better performance in some scenarios thanks to fast color clears support having landed.

        The Iris driver continues picking up new features and optimizations ahead of its debut next quarter in Mesa 19.1 as the next-generation successor to Intel’s long-standing i965 “classic” Mesa driver. The Iris Gallium3D driver is focused on supporting Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics and newer.

      • NVIDIA 418.56 Linux Driver Released With GeForce MX230 / MX250 Support

        Out for GDC week is the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver as the latest stable update to their current long-lived driver release branch.

        New hardware support with the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver is support for the GeForce MX230 and MX250.

      • Radeon GPU Analyzer 2.1 Adds Vulkan Support In Its GUI, Other Debug Improvements

        AMD has launched a new version of its open-source Radeon GPU Analyzer (RGA) software under the GPUOpen umbrella.

        The Radeon GPU Analyzer allows the offline compiler and code analysis for DirectX/OpenGL/Vulkan/OpenCL code with various nifty features catered towards AMD GPUs. This is an important tool for game/graphics developers trying to study performance bottlenecks or other issues happening on Radeon hardware.

      • SVT-AV1 Can Now Achieve 1080p @ 60 FPS AV1 Video Encoding On Select Configurations

        The performance out of Intel’s SVT video encoders for offering great CPU-based video encoding performance for the likes of HEVC / AV1 / VP9 continues maturing quite nicely. Since discovering Intel’s open-source work at the start of February and benchmarking it several times since, its performance has continued to improve particularly for the SVT-AV1 encoder.

        The work on SVT-AV1 is notable considering all of the other CPU-based AV1 video encoders have been notoriously slow. As of the latest performance optimizations in their Git tree, when using the 8th level encoding pre-set, SVT-AV1 should be capable of achieving up to 1080p @ 60 FPS when using a Xeon Platinum 8180 processor. That’s quite a beefy CPU, but the results are impressive when considering where the SVT-AV1 performance was even at one week ago.

      • wayland 1.17.0

        Wayland 1.17 is released, with no changes (except the version) since RC1.

      • Wayland 1.17 Released With Updated Protocol & Other Improvements

        Wayland release manager Derek Foreman has officially announced the release of Wayland 1.17, the first official update since last August.

        Wayland 1.17 isn’t the most exciting release for end-users but does have some low-level improvements in tow. Wayland 1.17 has some memory leaks plugged and other fixes to its scanner code and tests, the wl_seat protocol has been updated to require keymaps be private and perhaps most notable with Wayland 1.17 is support for internal server error messages. These internal server error messages allow for notifying clients of internal bugs as up to now there was no way of notifying clients of internal server errors. This is an interesting contribution to Wayland by Canonical’s Christopher James Halse Rogers.

  • Applications

    • Samba 4.10.0 Available for Download

      This is the first stable release of the Samba 4.10 release series.
      Please read the release notes carefully before upgrading.

    • Samba 4.10 Released With Pre-Fork Process Model Improvements, Full Support For Python 3

      For those using Samba as the open-source re-implementation of SMB/CIFS and allowing for file/print sharing with Microsoft Windows systems, Samba 4.10 is now available as the project’s latest feature release.

      Samba 4.10 marks the first release where it has full support for Python 3 finally in place. Python 2 also remains supported but this is expected to be the last Samba release with full support for Python 2. Python 3 will be used by default where present.

    • 15 Best Free Linux Wiki Engines

      A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. A Wiki engine is a type of collaborative software that runs a wiki system. This facilitates web pages being created and edited using a web browser. This type of software is usually implemented as an application server that runs on one or more web servers.

      The content is stored in a file system, and changes to the content are typically stored in a relational database management system (such as MySQL), although some simple wiki engines use text files instead.

      Wikis try to make it as simple as possible to write and share useful content, using intuitive page naming and text formatting conventions. Wikis are usually (but not always) wide open and assume a cooperating community. However, with spam bots prevalent, most wiki engines have lots of anti-spam measures such as page permissions, Access Control Lists, host blocking, blacklists, and CAPTCHAs in place.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 15 high quality free Linux wiki engines. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to share information with others.

    • Michal Čihař: translation-finder 1.1

      The translation-finder module has been released in version 1.1. It is used by Weblate to detect translatable files in the repository making setup of translation components in Weblate much easier. This release brings lot of improvements based on feedback from our users, making the detection more reliable and accurate.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released | Keyframe Scaling, Docking, and More!

      I am proud to announce the immediate release of OpenShot 2.4.4, the absolute best version yet! This is going to be a long post, but here is a quick summary for those who are short on time. This release brings huge performance and stability improvements, along with some major bug fixes, lots of polish, and many new features.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released With Better SVG Rendering, Preview Performance

      OpenShot 2.4.4 is the latest update to this long advancing open-source non-linear video editing solution that competes with the likes of Kdenlive and Shotcut.

    • Proprietary

      • Nuvola: Desktop Music Player for Streaming Services

        Initially I thought that it wouldn’t be too different than simply running the web app in Firefox, since many desktop environments like KDE support media controls and shortcuts for media playing in Firefox.

        However, this isn’t the case with many other desktops environments and that’s where Nuvola comes in handy. Often, it’s also faster to access than loading the website on the browser.

        Once loaded, it behaves pretty much like a normal web app with the benefit of keyboard shortcuts. Speaking of shortcuts, you should check out the list of must know Ubuntu shortcuts.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • Stadia is about the future of YouTube, not gaming

        Yesterday, Google announced plans for a new game-streaming service called Stadia. Besides the logo, the controller, and a single game — Doom Eternal — the announcement left us with more questions than answers. Primary in my mind has been the query of why Google needs to be in the gaming business at all. Isn’t it enough to dominate web search, ads, and browsers, smartphone operating systems, and maps? What part of our lives does Google not want to know about? And then it dawned on me that we might be looking at it from the wrong perspective: what if Stadia isn’t a case of Google aggressively entering a new business sphere, but rather a defensive one to protect its existing kingdom?

      • Google Stadia’s Grand Vision for Gaming Clashes With America’s Shitty Internet

        Slow speeds, usage caps, and overage fees could mar the long-awaited arrival of game streams.

      • Slow Broadband, Usage Caps Could Mar Google Stadia’s Game Streaming Ambitions

        I can remember being at E3 in 2000 and being pitched on the idea of a sort of “dumb terminal” for gaming. As in, you wouldn’t need a computer or game console in your home, since all of the actual game processing would be accomplished in the cloud then streamed to your TV via broadband. Most of these early pitches never materialized. Initially because cloud computing simply wasn’t fully baked yet, but also thanks to America’ shoddy broadband.

        Cloud-based game streaming is something the industry has continued to push for, though nobody has yet to truly crack the market. Onlive probably tried the hardest, though again a lack of real cloud horsepower and sketchy residential broadband prevented the service from truly taking off.

        Undaunted, Google took to the stage at the Game Developers Conference to unveil Stadia, a looming game streaming platform that will let gamers play top-shelf games on any hardware with a Chrome browser. Google insists that the service, when it launches this summer, will be able to drive games at up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second seamlessly between multiple devices with no need for game consoles, high-end PCs, loading times, or installs. The whole presentation is available here:

      • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on PC store moderation: ‘We’re not in the porn business’

        Last year, Valve announced a hands-off approach to Steam that would allow anything onto the platform “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” In addition to the Rape Day controversy, that policy has pushed Valve to take hardline stances on content revolving around child exploitation, school shootings, and most recently around tributes memorializing the New Zealand shooter. Sweeney, it seems, does not see the value it trying to protect content that pushes up against that amorphous line.

      • Linux Gaming Report and Purism Librem 15 | Choose Linux 5

        Jason goes deeper down the rabbit hole by exploring the state of Steam gaming on 9 different Linux distributions. Find out how Fedora compares to Pop!_OS.

        Plus, first impressions of Purism’s brand new Librem 15 v4 laptop.

      • Objects in Space released for Linux on Steam, needs you to disable Steam Play

        While the Linux version has been up on GOG for a little while, Steam was left a bit behind. Now the Linux version on Steam has been officially announced and released but there’s an issue with Steam Play.

      • First-person roguelike ‘Barony’ released the Myths & Outcasts DLC recently, also now on GOG

        Barony is a game I hadn’t honestly touched in a very long time, which all changed with the Myths & Outcasts DLC that released last month giving new ways to play. It’s also now on GOG, so that’s great.

      • Chasm, the adventure platformer from Bit Kid just had a big update giving more variety

        Chasm, the crowdfunded adventure platformer continues to see great post-release support with the latest big free update out now.

        While it’s not a personal favourite of mine (I much prefer Dead Cells honestly), it’s still a reasonably good game overall. In fact, it’s far better than a lot of action/adventure platformers and it does look great.

      • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now has much better queue times for Danger Zone

        Following on from the tweak to Danger Zone to focus more on duos, Valve are still tweaking their Battle Royale mode in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well as the game as a whole.

        Firstly, for Danger Zone you should now see much better queue times for matchmaking. Before this patch, I could easily see queue times around 3 to 5 minutes (often the latter) even with a lot of people online which is not ideal and frankly that makes me (and no doubt others) get bored and look to play something else. Since this patch has dropped, I’ve played a good 30-40 matches and not a single one has hit even 2 minutes queue time (under 1 minute mostly now!) which is a pretty huge improvement.

        • SteamOS is alive with a new beta and updated drivers, also a new Steam Client Beta is out

          Valve haven’t given up on their home-grown Linux distribution yet, with SteamOS seeing another beta update. Additionally, there’s another Steam Client Beta update about.

          As far as updates to SteamOS go, the last time they actually announced anything was with the 2.170 update back in January but they have actually been doing multiple newer builds since then you can see here. Just today, they officially announced the SteamOS 2.183 beta and the gist of it is this…

        • Oxygen Not Included from Klei Entertainment to leave Early Access in May with new content

          Oxygen Not Included, the incredible space-colony sim from Klei Entertainment is leaving Early Access in May and they’ve detailed some of what’s coming and future plans.

          Before I get started, I just want to mention how much I love Oxygen Not Included. It fills me with wonder as much as it charges me with rage at times, especially when all my people are sick and throwing up everywhere or urinating in our clean water. It has a fantastic style to it too, although Klei games always look good (Don’t Starve being another example of this). It’s quite amusing to rename your people too, makes it quite hilarious when someone you know well goes around wrecking the place. Every game is a new challenge, every cavern you dig into might have something awesome and it’s just good fun.

        • Kingdom Rush Origins expanded again recently, the Forgotten treasures expansion is out

          Kingdom Rush Origins, the excellent tower defense game from Ironhide Game Studio is seeing some great updates, with another campaign named Forgotten treasures now up.

        • Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service Powered by Linux and Vulkan

          Google announced today during the GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2019 conference a new cloud-based video game streaming platform called Stadia.
          With Stadia, Google aims to take on Nvidia’s GeForce NOW and Valve’s Steam Link game streaming services by offering users select and original titles developed in-house, as well as instant access to your games library, which you’ll be able to stream virtually anywhere in up to 4K HDR resolutions at 60 frames per second.

          “To build Stadia, we’ve thought deeply about what it means to be a gamer and worked to converge two distinct worlds: people who play video games and people who love watching them. Stadia will lift restrictions on the games we create and play—and the communities who enjoy them,” said Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM, Google Stadia.

          Stadia promises to be an advanced game streaming powered by Google’s globally connected network of data centers that combine server class CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage to deliver 24/7 gaming to players around the world and unlimited resources to game developers who want to create original and gorgeous games.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Parental controls hackfest

          Various of us have been meeting in the Red Hat offices in London this week (thanks Red Hat!) to discuss parental controls and digital wellbeing. The first two days were devoted to this; today and tomorrow will be dedicated to discussing metered data (which is unrelated to parental controls, but the hackfests are colocated because many of the same people are involved in both).

        • GNOME Bugzilla closed for new bug entry

          As part of GNOME’s ongoing migration from Bugzilla to Gitlab, from today on there are no products left in GNOME Bugzilla which allow the creation of new tickets.
          The ID of the last GNOME Bugzilla ticket is 797430 (note that there are gaps between 173191–200000 and 274555–299999 as the 2xxxxx ID range was used for tickets imported from Ximian Bugzilla).

          Since the year 2000, the Bugzilla software had served as GNOME’s issue tracking system. As forges emerged which offer tight and convenient integration of issue tracking, code review of proposed patches, automated continuous integration testing, code repository browsing and hosting and further functionality, Bugzilla’s shortcomings became painful obstacles for modern software development practices.

          Nearly all products which used GNOME Bugzilla have moved to GNOME Gitlab to manage issues. A few projects (Bluefish, Doxygen, GnuCash, GStreamer, java-gnome, LDTP, NetworkManager, Tomboy) have moved to other places (such as freedesktop.org Gitlab, self-hosted Bugzilla instances, or Github) to track their issues.

        • Metered data hackfest

          We’re now into the second day of the metered data hackfest in London. Yesterday we looked at Endless’ existing metered data implementation, which is restricted to OS and application updates, and discussed how it could be reworked to fit in with the new control centre design, and which applications would benefit from scheduling their large downloads to avoid using metered data unnecessarily (and hence costing the user money).

          The conclusion was that the first step is to draw up a design for the control centre integration, which determines when to allow downloads on metered connections, and which connections are actually metered. Then to upstream the integration of metered data with gnome-software, so that app and OS updates adhere to the policy. Integration with other applications which do large downloads (such as podcasts, file syncing, etc.) can then follow.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 15 Enters Beta with Flatpak Support, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

          The development team behind the Ubuntu-based and user-friendly Zorin OS GNU/Linux distribution announced that they are working on the next major release, Zorin OS 15, which entered beta testing today.

          Based on the long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, Zorin OS 15 promises a revamped user experience that has been modeled to suit everyone’s needs, not only those who are migrating from a Microsoft Windows operating system, but also power users and advanced Linux users.

          “Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level,” said the Zorin OS team in today’s announcement.

        • Windows 7 nagging you to move to Windows 10? Upgrade to Linux instead with Zorin OS 15 Beta!

          Well, folks, it’s happening — Windows 7 will soon be unsupported. Yes, the last Microsoft operating system to truly be loved by users will soon be dead. Microsoft would love for these users to switch to Windows 10, but understandably, not everyone wants to. After all, the user interface is a mess, and there are spying concerns with overly aggressive telemetry.

          If you are still on Windows 7, Microsoft will soon begin warning you that support is ending. I actually don’t hate Microsoft for nagging these users — quite the opposite. The company informing users that the Windows 7 operating system will soon be dangerous to use should be celebrated. Thankfully, Windows 10 is not the only path — Linux is a great option these days. In fact, one of my favorite distributions for Windows switchers, Zorin OS, has a new Beta out today. You should definitely give it a go.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Fedora

      • Debian Family

        • DebConf20 Conference to Be Hosted in Haifa, Israel, for Debian GNU/Linux 11

          port city built in tiers, Haifa is found in the northern area of Israel, extending from the Mediterranean sea till the north slope of the Carmel Mountain National Park. Haifa it’s the third-largest city in Israel after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it is close to the biblical city Nazareth where Jesus studied and prayed.

          In 2020, the Debian Project will celebrate 12 years since the first DebConf Debian developer conference, so they decided to choose Israel instead of Lisbon, Portugal, for next year’s DebConf20 event despite the extensive discussions between the DebConf team and committee due to Israel’s political system.

        • Bits from Debian: DebConf19 registration is open!

          Registration for DebConf19 is now open. The event will take place from July 21st to 28th, 2019 at the Central campus of Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná – UTFPR, in Curitiba, Brazil, and will be preceded by DebCamp, from July 14th to 19th, and an Open Day on the 20th.

          DebConf is an event open to everyone, no matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you. We want to increase visibility of our diversity and work towards inclusion at Debian Project, drawing our attendees from people just starting their Debian journey, to seasoned Debian Developers or active contributors in different areas like packaging, translation, documentation, artwork, testing, specialized derivatives, user support and many other. In other words, all are welcome.

        • Jonathan Carter: GitLab and Debian

          As part of my DPL campaign, I thought that I’d break out a few items out in blog posts that don’t quite fit into my platform. This is the first post in that series.

          When Debian was hunting for a new VCS-based collaboration suite in 2017, the administrators of the then current platform, called Alioth (which was a FusionForge instance) strongly considered adopting Pagure, a git hosting framework from Fedora. I was a bit saddened that GitLab appeared to be losing the race, since I’ve been a big fan of the project for years already. At least Pagure would be a huge improvement over the status quo and it’s written in Python, which I considered a plus over GitLab, so at least it wasn’t going to be all horrible.

          The whole discussion around GitLab vs Pagure turned out to be really fruitful though. GitLab did some introspection around its big non-technical problems, especially concerning their contributor licence agreement, and made some major improvements which made GitLab a lot more suitable for large free software projects, which shortly lead to its adoption by both the Debian project and the Gnome project. I think it’s a great example of how open communication and engagement can help reduce friction and make things better for everyone. GitLab has since became even more popular and is now the de facto self-hosted git platform across all types of organisations.

        • Lucas Nussbaum: Call for help: graphing Debian trends

          It has been raised in various discussions how much it’s difficult to make large-scale changes in Debian.

          I think that one part of the problem is that we are not very good at tracking those large-scale changes, and I’d like to change that. A long time ago, I did some graphs about Debian (first in 2011, then in 2013, then again in 2015). An example from 2015 is given below, showing the market share of packaging helpers.

        • Antoine Beaupré: Securing registration email

          I’ve been running my own email server basically forever. Recently, I’ve been thinking about possible attack vectors against my personal email. There’s of course a lot of private information in that email address, and if someone manages to compromise my email account, they will see a lot of personal information. That’s somewhat worrisome, but there are possibly more serious problems to worry about.

          TL;DR: if you can, create a second email address to register on websites and use stronger protections on that account from your regular mail.

        • Daniel Pocock: Don’t trust me. Trust the voters.

          Any reply in support of my nomination has been censored, so certain bullies create the impression that theirs is the last word.

          I’ve put myself up for election before yet I’ve never, ever been so disappointed. Just as Venezuela’s crisis is now seen as a risk to all their neighbours, the credibility of elections and membership status is a risk to confidence throughout the world of free software. It has already happened in Linux Foundation and FSFE and now we see it happening in Debian.

          In student politics, I was on the committee that managed a multi-million dollar budget for services in the union building and worked my way up to become NUS ambassador to Critical Mass, paid to cycle home for a year and sharing an office with one of the grand masters of postal voting: Voters: 0, Cabals: 1.

          Ironically, the latter role is probably more relevant to the skills required to lead a distributed organization like Debian. Critical Mass rides have no leader at all.

          When I volunteered to be FSFE Fellowship representative, I faced six other candidates. On the first day of voting, I was rear-ended by a small van, pushed several meters along the road and thrown off a motorbike, half way across a roundabout. I narrowly missed being run over by a bus.

          It didn’t stop me. An accident? Russians developing new tactics for election meddling? Premonition of all the backstabbings to come? Miraculously, the Fellowship still voted for me to represent them.

        • Derivatives

          • Canonical/Ubuntu

            • Design and Web team summary – 15 March 2019

              This was a fairly busy two weeks for the Web & design team at Canonical.

              [...]

              We maintain the Vanilla css framework that most of the websites at Ubuntu and Canonical use. Here are a few patterns and websites that were updated.

    • Devices/Embedded

    Free Software/Open Source

    • Turris: secure open-source routers

      One of the other things it is doing is creating open-source home routers. It started because CZ.NIC wondered about how safe home users are from network attacks. Are there active attacks against home users? And, if so, how frequent are they and what kinds of attacks are being made? To figure out the answer, the organization created Project Turris to create a secure router that it gave away. These routers would monitor the network and report suspicious traffic back to the project. They also served as endpoints for some honeypots that the project was running.

      CZ.NIC wanted to make the Turris router “the right way”, he said, so the organization made it all open source. The router has automatic security updates and users are given root access on the device. It also sported some “interesting hardware”, Hrušecký said; it had a two-core PowerPC CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 256MB of NAND flash.

      Based on the information provided by the Turris routers, CZ.NIC researchers started publishing reports about what they were finding. That led some people to ask if they could get the routers themselves, because they felt that other router makers were “not doing things right”. That led to the creation of commercial Turris routers: the Turris Omnia (which was reviewed here in 2016) and the upcoming Turris Mox. Those routers will still allow people to participate in the research if they choose to.

      Building the routers with free and open-source software (FOSS) is really the only way to go, he said. The project knew that it was not going to be able to compete with small, cheap routers, so it created routers with lots of capability that would allow them to run lots of different kinds of services. FOSS makes it easy to get started on a project like this because there is lots of available software that can be easily integrated into the OS.

      These routers allow users to do whatever they want and people believe they are more capable than they truly are, Hrušecký said. That means they break things in “really creative ways”. Sometimes they will make custom changes, completely outside of the OS framework, which get overwritten with the next automatic update. These are “tricky problems” to handle; the project would not have if it locked its users out. At some “dark moments” he understands why some companies do that.

    • 4 questions Uber’s open source program office answers with data

      It’s been said that “Software is eating the world,” and every company will eventually become a “software company.” Since open source is becoming the mainstream path for developing software, the way companies manage their relationships with the open source projects they depend on will be crucial for their success.

      An open source program office (OSPO) is a company’s asset to manage such relationships, and more and more companies are setting them up. Even the Linux Foundation has a project called the TODO Group “to collaborate on practices, tools, and other ways to run successful and effective open source projects and programs”.

    • Baidu open-sources NLP model it claims achieves state-of-the-art results in Chinese language tasks

      Baidu, the Beijing conglomerate behind the eponymous Chinese search engine, invests heavily in natural language processing (NLP) research. In October, it debuted an AI model capable of beginning a translation just a few seconds into a speaker’s speech and finishing seconds after the end of a sentence, and in 2016 and 2017, it launched SwiftScribe, a web app powered by its DeepSpeech platform, and TalkType, a dictation-centric Android keyboard.

      Building on that and other previous work, Baidu this week detailed ERNIE (Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration), a natural language model based on its PaddlePaddle deep learning platform. The company claims it achieves “high accuracy” on a range of language processing tasks, including natural language inference, semantic similarity, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, and question-answer matching, and that it’s state-of-the-art with respect to Chinese language understanding.

    • The New York Times has released an open-source tool to let you manage all your internal knowledge more easily

      Library is a wiki at heart, but it uses the familiar Google Docs as its backend and editing interface, easing maintenance for a wide population of users (“we wanted to meet people where they already were, rather than trying to teach them something entirely new”).

    • We Built a Collaborative Documentation Site. Deploy Your Own With the Push of a Button.

      Our solution to this problem has worked well for us. We hope others will find value in the technology we built, so we’re releasing Library to the open source community.

    • Events

      • foss-north 2019: Community Day

        I don’t dare to count the days until foss-north 2019, but it is very soon. One of the changes to this year is that we expand the conference with an additional community day.

        The idea with the community day here is that we arrange for conference rooms all across town and invite open source projects to use them for workshops, install fests, hackathons, dev sprints or whatever else they see fit. It is basically a day of mini-conferences spread out across town.

        The community day is on April 7, the day before the conference days, and is free of charge.

    • Web Browsers

      • Chrome

        • Google Releases Chrome 73 Update for Linux, Windows, and macOS

          Google has just released an update for Chrome 73, the major update of the browser that was shipped to all supported platforms earlier this month.

          Now at version 73.0.3683.86, Google Chrome comes with under-the-hood improvements on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and you can download it using the links here.

        • Google will implement a Microsoft-style browser picker for EU Android devices

          We don’t have many details on exactly how Google’s new search and browser picker will work; there’s just a single paragraph in the company’s blog post. Google says it will “do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.”

        • EU hits Google with fine for abuse of AdSense service

          The European Commission has hit search giant Google with a third fine, related to abuse of its AdSense advertising service, and told the company to fork out €1.49 billion (A$2.38 billion) for breaching EU anti-trust rules.

        • The EU fines Google $1.69 billion for bundling search and advertising

          Google and the EU’s European Commission are making all sorts of announcements lately. Fresh off the revelation that Google would implement a browser and search-engine picker in EU-sold Android devices, Google’s advertising division is getting slapped with a fine next, to the tune of €1.5 billion ($1.69 billion). The European Commission’s latest antitrust ruling says that Google’s bundling of its advertising platform with its custom search engine program is anti-competitive toward other ad providers.

      • Mozilla

        • Sharing our Common Voices

          From the onset, our vision for Common Voice has been to build the world’s most diverse voice dataset, optimized for building voice technologies. We also made a promise of openness: we would make the high quality, transcribed voice data that was collected publicly available to startups, researchers, and anyone interested in voice-enabled technologies.

          Today, we’re excited to share our first multi-language dataset with 18 languages represented, including English, French, German and Mandarin Chinese (Traditional), but also for example Welsh and Kabyle. Altogether, the new dataset includes approximately 1,400 hours of voice clips from more than 42,000 people.

          With this release, the continuously growing Common Voice dataset is now the largest ever of its kind, with tens of thousands of people contributing their voices and original written sentences to the public domain (CC0). Moving forward, the full dataset will be available for download on the Common Voice site.

        • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #42

          WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

        • Firefox UX: Look over here! Results from a Firefox user research study about interruptions.

          The Attention War. There have been many headlines related to it in the past decade. This is the idea that apps and companies are stealing attention. It’s the idea that technologists throw up ads on websites in a feeble attempt to get the attention of the people who visit the website.

          In tech, or any industry really, people often say something to the effect of, “well if the person using this product or service only read the instructions, or clicked on the message, or read our email, they’d understand and wouldn’t have any problems”. We need people’s attention to provide a product experience or service. We’re all in the “attention war”, product designers and users alike.

          And what’s a sure-fire way to grab someone’s attention? Interruptions. Regardless if they’re good, bad, or neutral. Interruptions are not necessarily a “bad” thing, they can also lead to good behavior, actions, or knowledge.

    • Databases

      • How to use Spark SQL: A hands-on tutorial

        In the first part of this series, we looked at advances in leveraging the power of relational databases “at scale” using Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames. We will now do a simple tutorial based on a real-world dataset to look at how to use Spark SQL. We will be using Spark DataFrames, but the focus will be more on using SQL. In a separate article, I will cover a detailed discussion around Spark DataFrames and common operations.

        I love using cloud services for my machine learning, deep learning, and even big data analytics needs, instead of painfully setting up my own Spark cluster. I will be using the Databricks Platform for my Spark needs. Databricks is a company founded by the creators of Apache Spark that aims to help clients with cloud-based big data processing using Spark.

      • Scaling relational databases with Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames
    • LibreOffice

      • LibreOffice 6.2.2 Office Suite Released with More Than 50 Fixes, Download Now

        While LibreOffice 6.1 is still the recommended version for those who want a more stable and well-tested LibreOffice office suite, LibreOffice 6.2.2 is here for technology enthusiasts and early adopters who want to get a taste of the latest new features and innovations in the free and open-source office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide.

        “LibreOffice 6.2.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise-class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.,” said Italo Vignoli.

      • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2

        The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2, the third release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family targeted at tech savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

        LibreOffice individual users are supported by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all these resources available.

        LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • BSD

    • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

      • FSFE Newsletter March 2019

        This month’s newsletter highlights the new project the FSFE recently joined and the funding opportunities it offers, that you may want to take advantage of. You can get the latest updates on the Copyright Directive reform and the hottest news regarding Article 13, as well as a short summary of what else has happened during the past month. In the Editor’s choice section this month you can find interesting news on developments with the Radio Equipment Directive, and find out who else have expressed their support for our “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign and what they have to say about it.

    • Licensing/Legal

      • FOSS vs FRAND is a collision of worldviews

        Of late there have been a number of interventions sponsored by the world’s largest and most profitable tech patent holders to muddy the waters about open source and FRAND licensing of patents in standards by arguing contentious minutiae like the intent of the authors of the BSD license. This is happening because of the clash of industries I wrote about in 2016, with companies fundamentally based on extracting patent royalties unable to imagine any other way of doing business so mistaking the issue of FRAND as being about license compliance rather than as it being an obstacle to the very purpose of open source in commercial software — collaboration with others.

      • Motivations and pitfalls for new “open-source” licenses

        One of the bigger developments of the last year has been the introduction of licenses that purport to address perceived shortcomings in existing free and open-source software licenses. Much has been said and written about them, some of it here, and they are clearly much on the community’s mind. At FOSDEM 2019, Michael Cheng gave his view on the motivations for the introduction of these licenses, whether they’ve been effective in addressing those motivations, what unintended consequences they may also have had, and the need for the community to develop some ground rules about them going forward.

        In the past year we have seen several unusual new licenses, the Server Side Public License (SSPL), the Commons Clause license addendum, the CockroachDB Community License, and the Confluent Community License among them. All either perturb the historical copyleft norm of “you must distribute derivative works under the same license” by extending the scope past what’s covered under the definition of a derivative work, or they exclude some historically permitted form of activity such as building similar works or making money. These developments have been of concern to many; talks at FOSDEM and the immediately-following Copyleft Conference with titles like “Redis Labs and the tragedy of the Commons Clause”, “Who wants you to think nobody uses the AGPL and why”, and “What is the maximum permissible scope for copyleft?” leave little room to doubt how many people are mulling over them.

    • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Ender 3: Open Source 3D Printer Reviewed By A 3D Printing Noob

          3D printing has been all the rage lately with both professionals and prosumers accomplishing incredible things from printing patient organs for surgery practice to printing robotic arms and quad-copters. As with all things, there has been a trickle-down effect that’s led to even the most inexperienced being able to obtain this revolutionary technology.

          Here we will explore my adventure from having never touched a 3D printer to assembling and operating my own Creality Ender 3.

    • Programming/Development

      • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Kona, February 2019

        A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in Kona, Hawaii. This was the first committee meeting in 2019; you can find my reports on 2018’s meetings here (November 2018, San Diego), here (June 2018, Rapperswil), and here (March 2018, Jacksonville). These reports, particularly the San Diego one, provide useful context for this post.

        This week marked the feature-complete deadline of C++20, so there was a heavy focus on figuring out whether certain large features that hadn’t yet merged into the working draft would make it in. Modules and Coroutines made it; Executors and Networking did not.

        Attendance at this meeting wasn’t quite at last meeting’s record-breaking level, but it was still quite substantial. We continued the experiment started at the last meeting of running Evolution Incubator (“EWGI”) and Library Evolution Incubator (“LEWGI”) subgroups to pre-filter / provide high-level directional guidance for proposals targeting the Evolution and Library Evolution groups (EWG and LEWG), respectively.

      • Comparing Machine Learning Methods

        When working with data and modeling, its sometimes hard to determine what model you should use for a particular modeling project. A quick way to find an algorithm that might work better than others is to run through an algorithm comparison loop to see how various models work against your data. In this post, I’ll be comparing machine learning methods using a few different sklearn algorithms.

      • Python Sets: Cheat Sheet
      • Unique sentinel values, identity checks, and when to use object() instead of None
      • The [IBM-sponsored] RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2019
      • This Week in Rust 278
      • Speed: Default value vs checking for None
      • Book Review: Mission Python
      • How To Create A ‘Hello, World!’ Application With Django

        Django is a high-level full stack open source web framework written in Python, that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django comes with lots of advance functionalities baked in which saves developers a lot of time. The simplicity Django offers lets developers focus more on writing the app instead of rewriting the same wheel. Since it’s release in 2003 Django has proven to be the most productive framework for Python developers to know more about Django read: Django – Web Framework For Perfectionists

        In this article, we will create the traditional “Hello, World!” app, which will basically display the string ‘Hello, world!’ in the browser. This might be your first Django app so pay close attention to the core principles of Django which we will discuss later in the article.

      • Announcing Public Anaconda Package Download Data

        I’m very happy to announce that starting today, we will be publishing summarized download data for all conda packages served in the Anaconda Distribution, as well as the popular conda-forge and bioconda channels. The dataset starts January 1, 2017 (April 2017 for Anaconda Cloud channels) and will be updated roughly once a month. We hope these data will help the community understand how quickly new package versions are being adopted, which platforms are popular for users, and track the usage of different Python versions. For example, this dataset can be used to see how the Python 2 to 3 transition has been progressing for the past 2 years:

      • [Older] BPF: A Tour of Program Types
      • How to Be a Tech-Savvy

        Learn how to write a program:
        You cannot make anything new in the computer world without programming skills. You can create windows, apps, websites, a desktop application using programming languages. Some programming languages that you can learn in your beginning level of becoming tech-savvy is Java, C, C++, Html, CSS, JAVASCRIPT, PHP, PYTHON. You can enhance your programming skills by sitting home by taking online tutorials.

        Use a Linux or Unix Operating System:
        If you want to be a tech- savvy I recommend using Unix operating system because a techy person mostly uses the Unix operating system in the world. Unix operating system is open source anyone can use it, and you can view its code too. So, it will help in enhancing your programming skills and learning about technical skills.

      • JDK 12: The new features in Java 12

        The production release of Java Development Kit 12, based on Java SE (Standard Edition) 12, is now available. JDK 12 builds are available from Oracle for Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

        [...]

        Open source builds are provided under the GNU General Public License v2, with Classpath Exception. Commercial builds of JDK 12 from Oracle can be found on the Oracle Technology network under a non-open source license.

      • Python dictionary “addition” and “subtraction”

        A proposal to add a new dictionary operator for Python has spawned a PEP and two large threads on the python-ideas mailing list. To a certain extent, it is starting to look a bit like the “PEP 572 mess”; there are plenty of opinions on whether the feature should be implemented and how it should be spelled, for example. As yet, there has been no formal decision made on how the new steering council will be handling PEP pronouncements, though a review of open PEPs is the council’s “highest priority”. This PEP will presumably be added into the process; it is likely too late to be included in Python 3.8 even if it were accepted soon, so there is plenty of time to figure it all out before 3.9 is released sometime in 2021.

      • Debugging and Profiling Python Scripts [Tutorial]

        Debugging and profiling play an important role in Python development. The debugger helps programmers to analyze the complete code. The debugger sets the breakpoints whereas the profilers run our code and give us the details of the execution time. The profilers will identify the bottlenecks in your programs. In this tutorial, we’ll learn about the pdb Python debugger, cProfile module, and timeit module to time the execution of Python code.

        This tutorial is an excerpt from a book written by Ganesh Sanjiv Naik titled Mastering Python Scripting for System Administrators. This book will show you how to leverage Python for tasks ranging from text processing, network administration, building GUI, web-scraping as well as database administration including data analytics & reporting.

    Leftovers

    • Science

      • Beeps and melodies in two-way radio

        Lately my listening activities have focused on two-way FM radio. I’m interested in automatic monitoring and visualization of multiple channels simultaneously, and classifying transmitters. There’s a lot of in-band signaling to be decoded! This post shall demonstrate this diversity and also explain how my listening station works.

    • Hardware

      • The Modern Workstation — A Litmus Test for Today

        The same is not true at the high-volume low end of the market, where workstations today at a component-level share much of the same technology and chips that drive the general PC marketplace. Under the hood of most workstations less than $2,000 are the same pieces of silicon-powered machines branded as high-performance PCs. CPUs are often the same Intel Core brand and even if the GPU is branded NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro, the silicon die at the heart of the graphics card is the same silicon driving sibling GeForce and Radeon consumer products. At this point, we can no longer point a finger at one or two hardware components in a box and conclude that the machine should be classified as a high-end desktop or a low-end workstation.

        Is the low-end workstation a marketing scam perpetrated by OEMs looking to increase their margins at the expense of customers? No, that’s a myth long dispelled, with most buyers understanding that while the make-up of the workstation has changed, its value as the premier tool for 3D visual computing is clear. However, there needs to be a different, legitimate means to cleanly differentiate the two, as the definitions or preconceptions formed in the 80s and 90s no longer apply.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • About a third of medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego came from one doctor

        A single San Diego doctor wrote nearly a third of the area’s medical vaccination exemptions since 2015, according to an investigation by the local nonprofit news organization Voice of San Diego.

      • How Rhode Island’s Emergency 911 System Failed Baby Alijah

        Barbara’s son had just gotten out of the shower and gone back downstairs to where his 6-month-old son was napping when she heard a scream. Then came the pounding of feet on the stairs of their home in Warwick, Rhode Island.

        Conner handed her Alijah, who was limp.

        Barbara tried to stay calm as she carried her grandson into the living room. She’d watched medical shows on TV where they did CPR on babies.

        “He’s turning purple!” Barbara shouted as her daughter, Jessica, spoke to a 911 operator. (We’re not using last names at the family’s request to protect their privacy.)

        “Do we give him mouth-to-mouth? What do we do?” Jessica, the baby’s aunt, asked the 911 call taker at one point.

        She never got a good answer.

        The call taker asked the same questions repeatedly, wasting crucial time. She gave incorrect information. And she failed to recognize that the baby was in cardiac arrest, meaning his heart had stopped and he was not breathing, according to three emergency medical experts who reviewed a recording of the 911 call obtained by Barbara and provided to The Public’s Radio.

        The call on that Friday morning in February 2018 lasted nearly four minutes, at which point emergency medical services personnel arrived. During the call, the 911 operator never instructed the family in how to perform a basic, potentially lifesaving, treatment: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

      • WaPo’s ‘Hard-Line’ Stance Against Medicare for All

        The phrase “hard-line,” as commonly used in the Washington Post, is almost always a pejorative. Often it references official enemy states like Iran (5/4/18, 5/9/18) or North Korea (1/18/19). In a recent Post (3/11/19) article, however, reporter Paige W. Cunningham used the term to refer to a different kind of enemy: proponents of Medicare for All.

        Among the “hard-line liberal groups and unions” the article refers to in its headline and lead is the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations. The “hard-line” groups include much of the grassroots movements for healthcare justice in the country: National Nurses United, Social Security Works and the Center for Popular Democracy. These orgs—described elsewhere in the piece as “advocates on the far left”—are devoted to such “hard-line” positions as universal healthcare, protecting senior citizens and empowering voters and activists. The Post is concerned that these groups provided input to Rep. Pramila Jayapal as she wrote the Medicare for All legislation (H.R. 1384) she introduced in February.

        In fact, what the Post describes as “hard-line” and “far left” is actually a very popular position. Medicare for All has long polled well among the public at large, especially Democratic voters. A Reuters poll from 2018 (The Hill, 8/23/18) showed 70 percent of the public, 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans support Medicare for All. That poll is the high water mark, but the policy polls well in most other polls as well (Politico/Harvard, 1/7/19).

        [...]

        The implication from Cunningham—who has been critiqued for parroting right-wing talking points by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters (2/15/18)—is that there are acceptably mainstream policies like the ACA, backed by acceptably mainstream groups like CAP. Jayapal and others, on the other hand, are going “a step (or steps) too far” with Medicare for All, “as it would upend health coverage for tens of millions of Americans”—according “to some progressives.”

        Assuredly “some progressives” disagree with the Medicare for All policy. It is also true that “some conservatives” agree with the policy. In fact, you can put the word “some” before virtually any demographic group and be correct. Given the volume of information about this issue available, it is hard to believe the Post could not be bothered to put these vague terms in context. Who are these progressives? Voters or politicians? Do they get money from the industry? There was no information about any of that.

      • Boston City Council Passes Groundbreaking Food Justice Ordinance

        Food justice advocates heaped praise on Boston Monday after the city’s legislative body unanimously passed an ordinance that boosts the local economy and environment as well as workers, animal welfare, and healthful eating.

        “With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools,” said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability, following the vote on the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).

        “This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation,” she added.

        The GFPP, sponsored by Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu, affects public food purchasers, the largest of which is the Boston Public Schools, which has a $18 million food budget.

      • Strawberries, Spinach Top ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Pesticide-Contaminated Produce

        Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That’s the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

    • Security

      • The Many Flavors of Linux

        Linux is not as popularly used in both the security- and user-focused computing worlds as other OSes such as Windows and macOS, but it can still be used for both. In fact, depending on your needs, there are many different flavors of Linux you can use.

        And the different versions have key differences between them. Aside from security user-focused distros, there are what can be considered unique Linux distros that have their own specific uses, weird as they may be. This article will detail some of the many flavors of Linux available today and will leave you with a better understanding of their differences, and you will be in a better position to select the distro of Linux for your needs.

      • Putty 0.71 Fixes Weakness That Allows Fake Login Prompts

        The latest version of PuTTY SSH and Telnet client adds protection against spoofing the terminal authentication prompt to steal login info. Recently released, the update comes after a 20-month hiatus and fixes a total of eight security issues.

        An attacker taking advantage of this weakness could allow authentication on a malicious server with no password and at the start of the session send the text PuTTY shows when prompting for the private key passphrase.

      • VLANs and More Added to AccessEnforcer UTM Firewall

        AccessEnforcer Version 4.1 also updates firewall’s operating system to OpenBSD 6.3. OpenBSD is one of the most secure operating systems in the world. Version 6.3 provides additional mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities and also mitigates against return-oriented programming and other memory corruption attacks.

      • Norwegian aluminium firm slowly recovering from ransomware attack

        Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro says it has made some progress restoring its systems back to normal after being hit by Windows ransomware known as LockerGoGa on Monday evening.

      • Spammers Send Junk Mail to Thousands of Printers

        Spam has been with us since the very first days of email, but a Russian marketing agency recently took things a stage further by sending good old-fashioned paper-based junk mail over the internet.

        The company claims to have advertised a graphic design course for its client Skillbox using a software bot that searched for online printers. It printed a one-page promotion on every device it found, directing them to a website boasting about its exploits.

        The website for the company’s marketing campaign, which I am deliberately not linking to here, explains that “by the 2024″, it is “94% likely” that bots will replace accountants, auditors, and financial analysts by the million. Consequently, it says, accountants (or anyone else worried about being replaced by AI) should learn graphic design instead. The stats come from a five-year-old Oxford Martin School report, but that needn’t concern us here.

        What’s more interesting is another statistic: 600,000. That’s how many printers the marketing agency claim to have clogged up with advertising, according to this report from Graham Cluley.

        [...]

        It wouldn’t be the first time that someone had spammed printers online. In December, a hacker calling himself TheHackerGiraffe spammed 50,000 printers promoting popular YouTube celebrity PewDiePie. Other incidents have been much darker. Nazi nerd Andrew Aurenheimer, a.k.a. Weev, sent white supremacist messages to every printer in North America that he could find instead of using Shodan, he used Masscan, which is a mass IP port scanner.

      • Android clampdown on calls and texts access trashes bunch of apps

        Android looks a little less open now that Google has begun to enforce draconian new rules on accessing a phone’s call and text logs.

        Developers have been forced to remove features or in some cases change the fundamental nature of the application. One example is BlackBerry’s Hub, an email client which also aggregated notifications from a variety of apps and presented them chronologically in a timeline. This application has lost its ability to includes calls and texts in that timeline.

        Exceptions created by Google don’t seem to be honoured, developers complained. One said that an enterprise archiving app – a category specifically exempt from the clampdown – has been broken.

        Another developer, Miroslav Novosvetsky of MobileSoft, rued that he might have to withdraw his Callistics usage monitor app altogether.

      • The martian packet case in our Neutron floating IP setup

        A community member opened a bug the other day related to a weird networking behavior in the Cloud VPS service, offered by the Cloud Services team at Wikimedia Foundation. This VPS hosting service is based on Openstack, and we implement the networking bits by means of Neutron.

        Our current setup is based on Openstack Mitaka (old, I know) and the networking architecture we use is extensively described in our docs. What is interesting today is our floating IP setup, which Neutron uses by means of the Netfilter NAT engine.

        Neutron creates a couple of NAT rules for each floating IP, to implement both SNAT and DNAT. In our setup, if a VM uses a floating IP, then all its traffic to and from The Internet will use this floating IP. In our case, the floating IP range is made of public IPv4 addresses.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • NZ declares massacre video “objectionable,” arrests people who shared it

        Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

      • 4chan, 8chan blocked by Australian and NZ ISPs for hosting shooting video

        Telstra and Optus also blocked the sites in Australia. Besides 4chan and 8chan, ISP-level blocking affected the social network Voat, the blog Zerohedge, video hosting site LiveLeak, and others. “The ban on 4chan was lifted a few hours later,” AAP wrote.

      • Telcos block access to websites continuing to host Christchurch terror footage

        Vodafone said while blocking requests normally came from the courts or law enforcement agencies “this was an extreme case which we think requires an extraordinary response”.

      • Telcos caught in social media crackdown

        The ISPs’ decision to block access to websites was controversial as they acted to censor content without instruction from either the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the eSafety Commissioner, and most smaller service providers have decided to keep access open.

      • Theft from lorries is becoming a growing problem

        Checks carried out by South and Southern Jutland Police reveal that almost three out of four tarpaulin lorries crossing the border have had holes cut in their coverings.

        The holes have been cut by thieves to check the lorry’s load for anything worth taking.

      • Stoking Fear: We Must Remember How the Iraq War Was Sold

        It was 16 years ago this month, on March 19, 2003, that U.S. forces began a misguided and illegal “shock and awe” military assault on Iraq. The enormous costs of that invasion and subsequent occupation are all too clear today. Thousands of American soldiers and coalition allies were killed and many more suffered horrific, debilitating injuries; among the U.S. casualties, a disproportionate numberwere underprivileged youth. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died, andmillions were driven from their homes. To this toll we can also add the emergence and growth of the monstrous Islamic State (ISIS). And our Iraq War expenditures—past, present, and future—total trillions of dollars, a massive drain on crucial domestic programs for those in need.

        Many painful lessons can still be drawn from this devastating war and its ongoing aftermath. Among them, the tragedy represents a distressing case study in the manipulative use of fear—what I call “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals—by disingenuous leaders who insist that disaster awaits if we fail to heed their policy prescriptions. Unfortunately, dire warnings from influential figures can short-circuit our critical thinking and propel us toward action even before we’ve examined the evidence or considered the consequences and alternatives. Psychologically, we’re soft targets for these tactics because, in our desire to avoid being unprepared when danger strikes, we’re often too quick to conjure catastrophe—the worst outcome imaginable—regardless of how unlikely it may be.

        These “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals were employed by the George W. Bush White House throughout the Iraq War. They began with repeated claims months before the invasion that Saddam Hussein—the country’s brutal dictator—had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

        In August 2002, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney told attendees at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

        Two months later, President Bush presented this frightful image to an audience in Cincinnati: “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

      • On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”

        Perhaps no elected official has ever been subjected to the level of vitriol, threats, and attacks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Black Muslim woman ever elected to Congress and one of only two Muslim women there, has. And while we cannot be surprised that Omar was mercilessly attacked by the Israel Lobby and its various appendages and mouthpieces for speaking plainly about Israel’s policies and its influence in US politics, the degree of viciousness was appalling.

        Omar was variously described as disloyal to the US, an adherent of sharia law, and an anti-semite. These attacks came from both Democrats and Republicans, and were themselves intended to stoke further animosity in the media and social media. They were designed to cow the Somali-American Omar, intimidate her into silence so she won’t speak openly about apartheid Israel’s crimes, or grill and publicly humiliate war criminals like Elliott Abrams in the way she did, or assert any independent voice in the oversight of US foreign policy.

      • America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War

        Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 — with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh about the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, that country’s autocratic leader. Note what she left out, though: the “vici” or victory part. And how right she was to do so, since Washington’s invasions, occupations, and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in this century have never produced anything faintly like a single decisive and lasting victory.

        “Failure is not an option” was the stirring 1995 movie catchphrase for the dramatic 1970 rescue of the Apollo 13 moon mission and crew, but were such a movie to be made about America’s wars and their less-than-vici-esque results today, the phrase would have to be corrected in Clintonian fashion to read “We came, we saw, we failed.”

        Wars are risky, destructive, unpredictable endeavors, so it would hardly be surprising if America’s military and civilian leaders failed occasionally in their endless martial endeavors, despite the overwhelming superiority in firepower of “the world’s greatest military.” Here’s the question, though: Why have all the American wars of this century gone down in flames and what in the world have those leaders learned from such repetitive failures?

        The evidence before our eyes suggests that, when it comes to our senior military leaders at least, the answer would be: nothing at all.

      • Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean

        The dramatic health situation in Venezuela, where the national health system has all but collapsed, invites an assessment on how Latin America and the Caribbean are doing regarding the health status of the population. While in the last decades, Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced measurable gains in several health indicators such as life expectancy, infant survival, and prevalence of infectious diseases, the Venezuelan people’s health status has deteriorated considerably.

        Most countries in these regions, however, still face daunting challenges due to sprawling urbanization, environmental problems, and increasing levels of obesity that affect all ages, but particularly children. In the Caribbean, for example, obesity has increased by almost 400 percent in the last two decades, affecting also the infant population.

        Prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue, tobacco and substance abuse, chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and physical and mental disabilities continue to exact a heavy toll in most countries.80% of NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the adult population of Central and South America has stabilized somewhat at 0.6 percent, the Caribbean, with an HIV infection rate of more than two percent, is the second most heavily infected area in the world after sub-Saharan Africa.

        With little change in maternal mortality rates during the last decade, the gap in this indicator between Latin American and Caribbean countries, on one hand, and the United States and Canada, on the other, is still substantial. The risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth and post labor is 50 times greater in developing countries than in Canada and the U.S.

      • Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption

        Once considered the “world’s gold standard for aircraft safety,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was conspicuously slower than the rest of the world to take appropriate action after a tragic airline crash in Ethiopia credibly called into question the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8.

        That there were problems with Boeing’s software was not unknown to the FAA. Pilots in the U.S. had reportedly expressed concerns that the software limited their control of the planes.

        After the Lion Air crash last fall in Indonesia, Boeing undertook a fix but the implementation of the update was delayed thanks in part to Trump’s border wall shutdown. Shockingly, the FAA deemed these delays “acceptable” because there was “no imminent safety threat.”

        America’s precipitous downfall — from world leader in safe aviation to dangerous laggard — demonstrates how deeply Trump-era corruption has infected our government and underscores the pressing need for broad congressional oversight.

        Happily, there are now lawmakers empowered and willing to investigate. This week, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the committee would investigate the FAA’s approval process for the 737 Max 8s. Critically, DeFazio emphasized his willingness to issue subpoenas.

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

      • Judge Blocks Oil, Gas Drilling Over Climate Change

        A judge blocked oil and gas drilling across almost 500 square miles (1,295 sq. kilometers) in Wyoming and said the U.S. government must consider climate change impacts more broadly as it leases huge swaths of public land for energy exploration.

        The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade — including one last month in Montana — that have faulted the U.S. for inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal land.

        U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington appeared to go a step further than other judges in his order issued late Tuesday.

        Previous rulings focused on individual lease sales or permits. But Contreras said that when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctions public lands for oil and gas leasing, officials must consider emissions from past, present and foreseeable future oil and gas leases nationwide.

      • ‘Triumph for Our Climate’: Judge Blocks Fracking on 300,000 Acres of Public Land

        “This ruling is a triumph for our climate,” Jeremy Nichols, director of WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program, said in a statement.

        “To limit greenhouse gas emissions, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground and putting an end to selling public lands for fracking,” added Nichols. “This decision is a critical step toward making that happen.”

        U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras’ landmark decision was focused on the Trump administration’s land sales in Wyoming, but environmentalists said the ruling could have national implications.

        “It calls into question the legality of the Trump administration’s entire oil and gas program,” Nichols told the Washington Post. “This forces them to pull their head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture.”

      • The Government Is Hiding Its Plans for Anti-Pipeline Protests

        Federal and state responses to public records requests raise concerns of a crackdown on First Amendment-protected speech.
        President Trump likes to build things — apartment buildings, casinos, golf courses, walls — and among his first acts as president was to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline over the objections of environmental and Indigenous activists and local landowners.

        The pipeline would carry massive amounts of crude oil from Canadian tar sands through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, threatening the environment and private property as well as adjacent Native American land, sacred sites, and water sources along the way.

        The pipeline has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge pending required environmental impact assessments, but if they’re completed, it is possible that construction could begin in the coming months — and many tribes and activists are at the ready to protest. That’s their right under the First Amendment, but there seems to be mounting evidence — from a new law in South Dakota to new documents from our Freedom of Information Act litigation — that the government wants to suppress protests even before they begin.

        [...]

        So far, we know that dozens of federal-state planning meetings have taken place, and we discovered that an interagency task team was specifically convened to plan for Keystone XL protests.

        Despite that, the government has not disclosed any documents that reflect what was decided during these planning meetings, how many more took place, whether they’ve continued through today, or anything about what this interagency team has been up to. Nor has the government disclosed any information about collaboration with TransCanada or private security contractors.

        In one particularly absurd exchange, we wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to help it understand the type of documents we were seeking. We sent them a copy of an unclassified report from 2017 that had been published in the press on “Techniques, Tactics and Procedures Used in Recent US Pipeline Attacks by Suspected Environmental Rights Extremists.” In response, DHS provided us with a redacted version of the very same report we had sent them!

      • Green Groups Call Out Big Banks for Pouring Billions Into Fossil Fuel Industry

        The call-out came in Banking on Climate Change (pdf), published Wednesday as the tenth annual fossil fuel report card from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth.

        “This report is a red alert,” declared RAN climate and energy researcher Alison Kirsch. “The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future.”

        “If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable,” Kirsch warned. “It is imminent.”

        According to the report, the top four funders of coal, oil, and gas companies from 2016 to 2018 were all U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase ($195.66 billion), Wells Fargo ($151.6 billion), Citi ($129.49 billion), and Bank of America ($106.69 billion).

      • Rivers gain legal protection from misuse

        So Old Man River is getting a day in court: a growing international initiative is seeing to it that rivers gain legal protection against pollution and other forms of exploitation, in a move which insists that they have rights just as people do.

        There are hopes that protecting rivers (and one lake) in this way could in time be extended to living species and to other features of the natural world.

        The first river to win this legal safeguard is the Whanganui in New Zealand, which in March 2017 gained recognition as holding rights and responsibilities equivalent to a person. (The country had in 2014 already granted legal personhood to a forest.) The river – or rather, those acting for it – will now be able to sue for protection under the law.

        The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017 recognises the river and all its tributaries as a single entity, Te Awa Tupua, which has rights and interests and is the owner of its own river bed. The river can both sue and be sued. The Act also acknowledges the river as a living whole that stretches from the mountains to the sea.

      • Greens demand ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed from European parliament

        Greens in the European Parliament have demanded that access badges of ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed. The call comes as representatives of the oil giant refuse to attend a public hearing in the European Parliament today which will, for the first time, address climate denial in the EU, and focus on the prominent role Exxon Mobil has played. When representatives of Monsanto refused to attend a similar hearing they had their access badges revoked and Greens are demanding the same action be taken against ExxonMobile.

        Currently around 220 lobbyists linked to ExxonMobil have direct access to the European Parliament through their EU badge together with many more unregistered lobbyists. This is despite the fact the corporation stands accused of funding public misinformation campaigns and slowing down political attempts to move towards progressive policies on energy. Internal company document have also revealed that the corporation has known about the realities of climate change for decades. The company helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition of businesses opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and funded organizations critical of the Kyoto Protocol.

    • Finance

      • Fortnite Billionaire Pledges $100 Million for Game Developers

        Sweeney isn’t requiring grant recipients to use either the Unreal Engine or the Epic Store. “There are no commercial hooks back to Epic,” Sweeney said. “You don’t have to commit to any deliverables. This is our way of sharing Fortnite’s unbelievable success with as many developers as we can.”

      • Man Charged With Setting Up Bogus Websites to Scam Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke Donors

        Authorities say Dupont claimed to be raising money for “roughly 10 individual Senate candidates,” Gillum’s 2018 campaign for governor of Florida, and causes including immigrant aid, NBC wrote. To do so, they alleged, he set up at least three bogus PACs and about 15 websites, including Beto4Senate.org, Sanders2016Campaign.org, GillumForFloridaGovernor.org and ImmigrantChildrenUnited.org.

      • California con man set up bogus websites for Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke to defraud donors, prosecutors say

        John Pierre Dupont, 80, is accused of setting up at least three bogus political action committees, or PACs, and several websites that purported to be raising money for roughly 10 individual Senate candidates, a candidate for governor and for progressive causes, according to a criminal complaint.

        Instead of passing along the cash to the candidates or campaigns, Dupont used it to pay his rent, a parking ticket, and to cover the costs of a $25,300 Mercedes-Benz sedan, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

      • Neo-Nazis Bet Big on Bitcoin (And Lost)

        Bitcoin also failed for the neo-Nazis as a funding channel, because cryptocurrency is still too hard to use. “Nobody would go to the effort to get a bitcoin wallet to give them the 10 bucks a month that they were more than happy to give them.” One neo-Nazi podcaster found a credit card processor that was fine with the content of his show but said he was untouchable for another reason: He was considered a money laundering risk because he dealt in cryptocurrency.

      • Social Democratic Nations Rank Happiest on Global Index (Again). US Ranking Falls (Again).

        The social democracy of Finland was once again ranked number one on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released on Wednesday, while the corporate-dominated United States fell one place to rank at 19th.

        For the seventh year in a row, the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network released a report ranking 156 countries according to measures including income, freedom, trust in government, and social support.

      • Ending the NCAA’s Shameless Exploitation of ‘Student-Athletes’

        When Zion Williamson’s foot broke through the sole of his Nike shoe on February 20th, the sporting world stood still.
        The consensus number one player in college basketball was playing in the biggest game of the season — North Carolina versus Duke — and suffered his startling injury in the opening minute. Williamson’s sprained knee cost Nike $1.1 billion in stock market valuation the next day.
        The injury came on the doorstep of March Madness, the NCAA’s most profitable event of the year — to the tune of $900 million in revenue.

      • EU Leaders Open to Brexit Delay, But May Faces Storm at Home

        European Union leaders meeting for a Brexit summit are likely to grant Britain a short extension, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, if the U.K. government can win parliamentary support next week for its divorce deal.

        But the early signs of that happening were not good. British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many legislators with a televised speech late Wednesday blaming a divided Parliament for an impasse that has left Britain eight days away from crashing out of the bloc. One lawmaker slammed her remarks as “toxic.”

        May has a tough day ahead as she arrives in Brussels to lobby her European partners to extend the Brexit date from March 29 until June 30 to push through the agreement she reached with the EU in November.

        Her deal has been roundly rejected twice by the U.K. Parliament, and EU leaders are being asked to take the risk that May can convince the lawmakers next week.

        That looked more uncertain after her speech on the eve of the summit, in which May told a Brexit-weary public: “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

        May accused lawmakers of “infighting, “political games” and “arcane procedural rows,” but acknowledged no personal role in creating the impasse.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Kidfluencers’ Rampant YouTube Marketing Creates Minefield for Google

        Siwa encapsulates many of the things that made YouTube the world’s most-watched video site. She dances, sings and screams excitedly into the camera, drawing millions of viewers, mostly young girls. The 15-year-old kidfluencer also highlights how YouTube’s success with children has created an ethical and perhaps even legal minefield for its owner, Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

        [...]

        “The uptick in sponsored content and child influencers is very overwhelming,” said Dona Fraser, director of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, an industry watchdog funded by companies including Google. “This has exploded in front of our eyes. How do you now wrangle every child influencer out there?”

        The Federal Trade Commission warned dozens of Instagram influencers in 2017 that they weren’t disclosing properly when a company was paying them to peddle a product.

      • Using Networks To Govern Network Problems

        Today, botnets and the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can accompany them, are considered among “the most severe cybersecurity threats.” Botnets have caused extensive economic harm to businesses, banks, hospitals, and government agencies around the world. Furthermore, botnets are used to spread political propaganda aimed at distorting democratic elections. In fact, U.S. government officials concluded that the Russian propaganda campaign has not stopped since the 2016 election and the magnitude of the issue is expected to grow. Yet, a time-tested framework for addressing the problem already exists. Governing complex internet-based problems is best accomplished by a network of stakeholders similar to the way the internet is currently governed.

        In her Nobel Lecture, Elinor Ostrom emphasized the necessity to study human economic behavior in any complex system. She added that no “one size fits all” policy solution would work for a highly complex socio-economic issue, but approaches created by a disperse, spontaneously self-organized group are far more innovative. This is the essence of polycentric order as defined by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. A polycentric order has multiple overlapping decision-making centers comprised of individuals equipped with necessary knowledge and expertise to create better outcomes for issues of high complexity.

      • After Trump

        Centrist liberalism is dead, and Trump is a disaster. But progressives can use what he’s done to remake America and its place in the world

      • ‘Momentum Is Shifting’: MoveOn Calls for Democratic Presidential Candidates to Boycott AIPAC Conference

        MoveOn, a progressive advocacy group with millions of members, is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC’s annual conference.

        “It’s no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn Political Action, said in a statement.

        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are among the confirmed speakers for the event, which begins Sunday.

        None of the Democratic presidential candidates are listed as speakers at the conference, and there is no indication that any of them plan to attend. But MoveOn’s demand for a boycott will nevertheless “give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.,” said Ali.

        Anna Zuccaro, a spokeswoman for MoveOn, told Politico that the boycott demand is “a clear sign that momentum is shifting.”

      • Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for 2020

        To understand Beto O’Rourke as a candidate, it’s vital to go beneath the surface of his political backstory. News watchers are already well aware of the former Texas congressman’s good looks, charisma, youthful energy and fundraising prowess. But most remain unaware of an inconvenient truth that could undermine the O’Rourke campaign among the people who matter most—the ones who’ll be voting to choose the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

        O’Rourke is hardly eager for those upcoming voters to realize that the growth of his political career is rooted in an alliance with powerful Republicans that began 15 years ago. Or that he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012. Or that—during six years in Congress, through the end of 2018—he often aligned himself with Republican positions.

        If facts matter, such weighty facts could sink the “Beto for America” presidential campaign. Since his announcement, information gaining traction nationwide runs directly counter to the Beto brand.

        “Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party,” the Wall Street Journal reported a week ago, “Beto O’Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Mr. O’Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age.”

        Meanwhile, a Washington Post news article—under the headline “Beto O’Rourke’s Political Career Drew on Donations From the Pro-Republican Business Establishment”—also foreshadowed a bumpy ride on the campaign trail. In the eyes of most people who don’t like the GOP, key points in the Post’s reporting are apt to be concerning.

      • Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence

        Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.

        These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.

        In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.

        Yet his election incited a harsh reaction as well, a new trafficking in hate, fear and violence. Donald Trump used his celebrity to claim that Obama was illegitimate, literally un-American. He had relished spreading racial fears before. When five young men were falsely arrested in New York City, Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty, inciting fear of young African-American males. When DNA testing proved their innocence, Trump simply denied the truth. His campaign for president was stained by his race-bait politics: slurring immigrants as rapists and murderers, promising to ban Muslims, denouncing a judge of Mexican descent, born in Indiana, as too biased to rule on the case involving students defrauded by Trump University.

      • Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness

        Despite the incredible degree of media hype surrounding the show, even prior to its 2015 Broadway debut, I remembered reading a number of strongly argued and intensely passionate negative reviews of Hamilton for profound historical distortions. These reviews particularly showed up on one of my favorite political websites, CounterPunch.

        Attending Broadway productions was a rarity for me and admittedly I was reluctant to look a Broadway gift ticket “in the mouth,” so-to-speak. I was also growing weary of my far-left political stances causing strain among family, friends and coworkers. I never could seem to align with the political (and now, it seemed, cultural) consensus of the vast majority of “normal” pro-establishment liberals. Actually my marginalization had begun with the early Obama years, steadily intensifying — me and my ilk being regarded as ideological “extremists” with the ever-hardening polarization of what used to constitute “the American Left.”

        Of course, why would any of my loved ones begin to expect a discouraging word, even from me, about a show that had swept the 2016 Tony Awards, won a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize, and was the only work of art ever to receive a Kennedy Center honor.

        I decided to forego revisiting those trouble-making Hamilton reviews before seeing the show.

      • Let’s Impeach Trump If He Continues the Yemen War

        Earlier this month, the Senate passed a War Powers resolution to cut off U.S. military support for the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. The resolution is expected to pass in the House, but President Trump has vowed to veto the measure as the administration doubles down in its support for the coalition.

        Such a state of affairs means those of us working to end the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history need to escalate our tactics. There are many opportunities for potential escalation.

        One thing we could do is push to override the veto: We could force the votes on this issue to take place, but doing so is arguably not that much of an escalation if we don’t have a plausible story for how we could successfully find these votes.

      • Trump Is Livid Because He Can’t Fire All the Investigators

        We have been dealing with the ongoing reality of President Donald Trump for 789 days. Before the American carnage of that fateful January day when he turned the oath of office into a slur, we had to deal with Candidate Trump for two grinding years, TV Star Trump since 1988 and Grifter Trump since all the way back to 1971, the year of my birth. Talk about being born under a bad sign.

        Over the span of that half-century, the public at large has gotten to know Trump’s moods and temperament with an intimacy that is rare for most public figures. Whether he was firing people on The Apprentice or cheating on his wife on the front page of the New York City tabloids, the word “subtle” has never shared the same postal code as the brutish, base, benighted bunko artist currently polluting the White House.

        Without doubt, a callus has formed over most people’s Trump receptors since he came down that escalator in June of 2015, a fact which is both positive and negative. It is positive because it means folks have begun tuning out his frantic nonsense for the sake of their own emotional equilibrium, but negative because that same nonsense is becoming normalized in the public sphere. “Oh, that’s just Trump being Trump” is an ever-growing sentiment that may come to doom us all.

        That callus is what makes Trump’s most recent free-swinging exercise in focused bedlam genuinely astonishing. In the span of six days, the man somehow managed to lower his personal bar even further, despite the fact that his bar was already so far down an Etruscan shrew could step over it without brushing its belly fur. “Beneath the bottom of the barrel” is becoming an expression without meaning. This house has no floor, and for the last few days, that callus has been a thoroughly imperfect prophylactic against the onslaught.

        It started after Trump responded to the Senate vote against his emergency declaration on Thursday by threatening the political left with violence by cops, soldiers and bikers, and continued through Tuesday with a blitzkrieg of vengeful grievances that ranged from the petty to the downright peculiar. Of course, Trump’s chosen platform for the majority of his klaxon whine festival was Twitter, which I am verging on putting in the same “Things I Wish Never Existed” category as shingles, unrepentant foot odor and Mitch McConnell.

      • Meet Trump’s Other Partners on His Attempted Moscow Tower — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

        This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring President Donald Trump’s efforts to do business in Moscow. Our team — Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer and Katie Zavadski — dug into just who Trump was working with and just what Trump needed from Russia to get a deal done. (Listen to the podcast episode here.)

        First, the big picture. We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign.

      • Is Kamala Harris The Centrist We Need?

        In 2016 Bruce Dixon recounted that the Democrats have employed a sheepdog in all the recent past elections: “1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.” The purpose of the sheepdog is to shepherd radical and progressive voters back into the Democratic Party.

        Bernie Sanders was excellent at playing the sheep, but almost in spite of himself, he was better at playing the dog. Bernie is a loyal company man, but his individual ideas remain too sane to be ignored. The policies he advocated for are being taken up by an assemblage of politicians in local and national races. For this reason we should give Bernie more credit than the typical sheepdog. Even as he props up the carcass of the Democratic Party, Bernie has helped breath life into new ideas such as socialism, Medicare for all, 15$ an hour minimum wage and free college tuition.

        Progressivism cannot coexist with the current corporate duopoly structure. This contradiction has not yet been resolved. But Bernie has helped to mainstream the idea that such a contradiction exists. Bernie then is not just “a good boy” in the sheepdog sense of the word, but a man who has brought some good in his own right.

      • Florida Lawmakers Attempt to Weaken Voter Rights Restoration

        On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers advanced a bill that could severely restrict one of the most impactful expansions of the right to vote in over four decades. The legislation, which passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, is a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of Florida voters, who voted just months ago to restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions. Now, lawmakers are attempting to make the restoration of voting rights contingent on the full payment of all fees and court costs. This would heap financial obligations on people involved in Florida’s criminal justice system and essentially reserve the restoration of voting rights to Floridians who have the financial means to pay.

        In November 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a constitutional amendment that automatically restored the right to vote to more than 1.4 million Floridians who have completed their sentence, including parole or probation. It was a shining example of voters using direct democracy to expand democracy. But even though nearly 65 percent of Florida voters approved the measure, lawmakers have suggested they might limit the amendment’s reach through legislation. This week’s bill would do just that.

        In fact, this new bill would make Florida’s rule regarding repayment of financial obligations even more restrictive than it was before Amendment 4’s passage. While the clemency procedure under then-Governor Rick Scott was terribly restrictive and arbitrary, it did not require the payment of all fees and costs as a condition for restoring voting rights.

        As a nation, we long ago shunned the practice of making voting contingent on wealth. Unfortunately, the practice continues, as a handful of states prohibit individuals who owe court debt from voting. This practice will be particularly harmful in Florida. Since 1996, the Florida legislature has added more than 20 new categories of legal financial obligations for criminal defendants, while simultaneously eliminating exemptions for those who cannot pay. Florida’s criminal justice system purposefully levies excessive court costs and fees as a means to underwrite the state’s criminal justice costs, trapping poor Floridians in cycles of debt.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • @DevinNunesLawyers (Video)

        Well, California Rep. Devin Nunes’ marketing campaign to boost the visibility of the Twitter account of Devin Nunes’ Cow succeeded fabulously. In the five hours or so that has passed since I took the screenshot of the @DevinCow page for this animation, the parody account has added around 70,000 followers. Before Nunes sued his imaginary cow’s Twitter account, it had a grand total of 1,204 followers.

        Nunes seems to have no grasp of satire, parody, free speech and, um, intelligence. (Which is a tad ironic given that he is the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.) This story is about more than just a little Twitter dispute and a frivolous lawsuit, Nunes is one of President Trump’s staunchest defenders and errand boys in Congress.

      • A human rights advocate explains Russia’s new limits on free speech

        On March 18, Vladimir Putin signed two new laws penalizing Internet users who publish fake news or posts that show disrespect to the Russian government. Users who violate the new regulations would not face a criminal sentence, but they would be made to pay administrative fines. The two laws were approved two and a half months after the partial decriminalization of Article 282 of Russia’s Criminal Code. Certain parts of that law, which penalizes “inciting hate and enmity,” were shifted from their original, criminal status to become administrative regulations after a series of criminal charges were brought against social media users in response to provocative posts. Pavel Chikov, who leads the international human rights group Agora, told Meduza about the consequences of Article 282’s partial decriminalization and discussed the laws the Russian government may now use to limit freedom of speech.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • IBM used Flickr photos for facial-recognition project

        IBM has been accused of using Flickr photos for a facial-recognition project, without the full consent of people in the images.
        The company extracted nearly one million photos from a dataset of Flickr images originally compiled by Yahoo.
        Many people pictured were probably unaware of how their data had been used, according to an NBC News report.
        IBM said in a statement that it had taken great care to comply with privacy principles.
        But one digital rights group said IBM’s actions represented a “huge threat” to people’s privacy.
        “None of the people I photographed had any idea their images were being used in this way,” a photographer told NBC News.
        Photos selected by IBM were listed under a Creative Commons licence, which generally means the images can be widely used with only a small number of restrictions.

      • Who Defends Your Data? Report Reveals Peruvian ISPs Progress on User Privacy, Still Room for Improvement

        Hiperderecho, the leading digital rights organization in Peru, in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, today launched its second ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?), an evaluation of the privacy practices of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that millions of Peruvians use every day. This year’s results are more encouraging than those in 2015′s report, with Telefonica’s Movistar making significant improvement in its privacy policy, responses to judicial orders, and commitment to privacy. Five out of the six ISPs now publish specific, detailed policies on how they collect and process personal data. However, the report also revealed that there is plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to user notification and Peruvian ISPs’ public commitment to privacy.

        Internet access has grown significantly in Peru in recent years, particularly through mobile networks. Movistar (Telefónica) and Claro (América Móvil) are the main players, making up 70% of the Internet market. For landline connections, these two ISPs connect more than 90% of users in Peru; Movistar alone has 74.4% of them. The report also evaluated four other telecom operators: Bitel, Entel, Olo, and Inkacel. Every day, these users provide these companies with specific information about their movements, routines, and relations – a treasure trove of data for government authorities, who can use unnecessary and disproportionate measures to access it. This constant threat from State authorities demands public awareness and oversight.

        That’s why this new Peru report aims to push companies to counter surveillance measures that are conducted without proper safeguards, and to be transparent about their policies and practices.

      • Tulare Police Department says it didn’t know it was sharing data with ICE, apologizes

        The police department’s announcement comes days after the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California released documents showing 80 law enforcement agencies across the country – including the Tulare Police Department – were sharing license plate location data with ICE.

      • IBM supplied surveillance gear to Davao while Duterte was mayor and cheering on the city’s police-linked death-squads

        In 2012, IBM signed a multi-million-dollar deal to supply high-tech surveillance gear to the Duterte regime, a program that IBM boasted of when attempting to sell surveillance gear to other cities. IBM also produced sales literature boasting of having sold its “Face Capture” facial recognition program to the city (the city’s promotional material also features police using this tool), though now IBM claims it never supplied facial recognition tools to Davao.

      • Uber drivers demand their data

        Under European law, any “data subject”, or person about whom data are being collected, has the right to access that information. But do gig workers? Four British Uber drivers think they do, arguing that it will help them to improve their performance, understand how Uber’s algorithms assign jobs to them and get a precise measure of the time they spend working for the ride-hailing platform.

        Uber has declined to provide comprehensive data that the drivers have requested access to over the past two years. The requests, made separately, are now bundled up as one with Ravi Naik, a lawyer who is also handling data-protection cases against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and online advertising companies. Uber supplied a limited dataset containing the origin and destination points of the drivers’ trips and some location data. The drivers say that the firm did not offer an explanation for its decision. Uber says it offered a detailed explanation but declined to say what it was.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Civil Rights And Faith Leaders To FBI: Take White Nationalist Violence Seriously
      • Supreme Court Maintains Congress Granted Homeland Security Secretary Broad Power To Detain Immigrants Without Bail

        The United States Supreme Court ruled the government has broad executive power to detain immigrants previously convicted of a crime and deny them a bail hearing prior to deportation proceedings.

        In a 5-4 decision [PDF], the majority, led by Justice Samuel Alito, argued Congress granted sweeping authority to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen when it passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

        The justices maintained Congress was concerned “deportable criminal aliens who are not detained” would continue to “engage in crime and fail to appear for their removal hearings in large numbers” so lawmakers mandated arrest without bail or parole.

        Attorneys, including lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, contended the government did not have the authority to detain immigrants without bail years after they were released from prison and had served a sentence for any offenses. There was a temporal limit to the government’s authority.

        But Alito wrote, “As we have held time and again, an official’s crucial duties are better carried out later than never.”

      • Washington Prison Management Software Setting People Free Too Early, Keeping Other People Locked Up Too Long

        The previous bug miscalculated “good time” credits, resulting in thousands of premature releases. This time around, buggy code is screwing up calculations for inmates who have violated their parole. A few have benefited from the problem. But most of the cases being reviewed involve inmates who have been jailed for too long.

        The previous calculation error resulted in two homicides by an inmate who was released too early. This time around, it’s far more likely inmates who have served their time aren’t being released. Either way, there’s life and liberty on the line and the Department of Corrections is showing little sense of urgency when addressing these problems.

        [...]

        And if it’s not working now, there’s a good chance the DOC’s software will never function properly. Part of the problem is the legislature itself, which complicates sentence calculations by adding new wrinkles with each legislative session. According to the Seattle Times, at least 60 bills in the pipeline could affect sentencing guidelines, increasing the chance of new calculation errors developing.

        Software may be the only way to handle a job this complex. But those overseeing the software’s deployment have shown they’re not too interested in proactive maintenance of this complex system. Problems are eventually solved, years after the fact. That sort of responsiveness is unacceptable when guidelines are being constantly altered by new legislation.

      • ‘A naked man is always more submissive than one wearing clothes’

        Russian senators are entertaining the idea of resurrecting the country’s vytrezviteli (sobering-up centers, or drunk tanks) and empowering the police to lock up people caught intoxicated in public. Under the new proposal, those who spend a night in the tank would be forced to pay for their stay, though lawmakers have yet to draft a mechanism for extracting these payments. Russia’s first “haven for the inebriated” appeared in 1902, but drunk tanks weren’t common until the Soviet era, when the standard procedure involved a medical exam, a cold shower, and a few hours of sleep in a shared room, for which residents were charged a fee. Police guards often allowed violence, and anti-government demonstrators were sometimes locked up here during the USSR’s “Era of Stagnation,” from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. As the Federation Council moves forward with its initiative, Meduza translates journal entries published by the project Prozhito, written by people who had brushes with the drunk tanks of the Soviet Union.

      • Harvard Profiting From Photos of Slaves, Lawsuit Says

        Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

        Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.

        Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university “has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint.”

        At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.

        They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

        “To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

      • Jordan Peele Makes Cutting Commentary Extra Scary in ‘Us’

        Surely more than once while dreaming, you’ve been aware that you’re in a dream, inside it and outside at the same time. Sleep scientists call such self-aware reveries “lucid dreams.”

        So when I describe “Us,” Jordan Peele’s intelligent and unnerving new film, as a “lucid nightmare,” you’ll get my drift. It’s a nightmare you are immersed in while watching yourself watch it.

        Like Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out,” the new film—a variation on the theme of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—is simultaneously a horror movie, a satire of horror movies and an American parable. It takes place in Santa Cruz, Calif., and chronicles a home invasion of the summer house owned by the Wilsons, played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, as the intruders freak out their pubescent daughter and pre-teen son.

      • In Praise Of Jonathan Daniels and Ruby Sales: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

        In Selma, Daniels worked on voter registration, tutored black kids, tried to integrate a local church and lived with a black family, the Wests. Rachel West Nelson: “He was a part of our family…He was a part of every black family in Selma in those days.” When racists accused him of being a “white nigger,” he said he was. When he was refused work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – Stokely Carmichael argued they’d have to spend their time protecting him from the KKK, but later praised Daniels’ “abundance of strength that comes from the inside…People realized that with the strength they got from Jon Daniels they had to carry on, they had to carry on” – Daniels joined the Southern Leadership Christian Conference. “Sometimes we confront the posse, and sometimes we hold a child,” he wrote. “Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity… (groping) through the bramble bush of doubt and fear…In this, (it) is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.”

      • All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge

        Virginia over the past several years has become more purple while Mississippi has remained deep red. Democrats won more legislative and congressional seats in Virginia. As I pointed out in my last piece, that trend was kicked off by a successful constitutional based lawsuit against the racially based gerrymandering that the Virginia legislature had created. Court cases are one of the three primary tools available to make government’s more accountable.

        Unlike Virginia, there is no court ruling pending nor cases filed challenging Mississippi’s gerrymandered state or federal district boundaries. A seasoned research and legal staff are required to file effective lawsuits against a state legislature’s gerrymandering. In Virginia’s case the fair redistricting advocacy groupThe Princeton Gerrymandering Project provided relevant data analysis, which specializes on election and political law, and Kevin Hamilton, a litigator from the law firm Perkins Coie, brought the case representing the interests of African-American voters.

        They are not involved with Mississippi’s situation. And the other the most likely institution in Mississippi to have available legal staff would be the ACLU. However, Mississippi’s ACLU has focused on directly stopping excessive force abuses against the black community; they filed a federal class-action lawsuit against county deputies who used unconstitutional tactics to target black people. As a result, the courts are not currently looking at any cases that would overturn Mississippi’s racially biased gerrymandered districts.

        Mississippi allows citizen initiated constitutional amendments, but none is currently being planned around redistricting or expanding voter access. Past progressive initiative efforts have failed at the polls. In 2001, a vote to change the state flag by eliminating the Confederate emblem was rejected by nearly two-thirds of voters. Reflecting that same conservative culture, another amendment in 2011 requiring a strict Voter ID law passed. However, that year an amendment supporting an extreme anti-abortion failed. And although the last citizen initiated promoting greater government accountability, in this case by increasing funding for public education, failed in 2015, it almost passed.

      • Women Who Worked with Billionaire Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt Say He Asked for Sex

        Sheila Katz was a young executive at Hillel International, the Jewish college outreach organization, when she was sent to visit the philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire. He had once been a major donor, and her goal was to persuade him to increase his support. But in their first encounter, he asked her repeatedly if she wanted to have sex with him, she said.

        Deborah Mohile Goldberg worked for Birthright Israel, a nonprofit co-founded by Steinhardt, when he asked her if she and a female colleague would like to join him in a threesome, she said.

        Natalie Goldfein, an officer at a small nonprofit that Steinhardt had helped establish, said he suggested in a meeting that they have babies together.

        Steinhardt, 78, a retired hedge fund founder, is among an elite cadre of donors who bankroll some of the country’s most prestigious Jewish nonprofits. His foundations have given at least $127 million to charitable causes since 2003, public filings show.

      • And Now Algeria

        It has now been nine years since protests broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. After citizens took to the streets, the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen all were deposed during the Arab Spring. What about Algeria – the tenth-largest country in the world, the largest in Africa and a country with the tenth-largest reservesof natural gas? Up until now, there has been no change of government since 1999, no calls for revolution despite a gross inequality of wealth and no overthrow of its leader. Understandably, Algeria has been off the media’s radar.

        The country has been ripe for revolution. Economic conditions have worsened since the 1980s with declining oil prices. There has been high unemployment. Between 1988 and 1995, for example, the percentage of the population below the poverty line increased from 8 to 14 per cent. Almost 70 per cent of the poor live in rural areas.

        For four consecutive Fridays, hundreds of thousands of Algerians have protested throughout the country. Revolutions can spread, such as in 1848 in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. While during the Arab Spring Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hasni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Ali Abdullah in Yemen left power, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has remained president of Algeria. Although there were protests in Algeria in January and February 2011, he and his followers have dominated Algerian politics for two decades.

        The government has provided stability. The 1991 to 2002 Algerian civil war was a devastating armed struggle between the Algerian Government and Islamic rebels. The total number of dead has been estimated at around 200,000, during what has been called the “dark decade” in Algerian history.

        Memories of how the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win an election in 1992 when hundreds of thousands took to the streets have been omnipresent and reason to accept the important position of the military. Bouteflika, his circle, and the army, with obvious support from the West, have provided a buffer against fundamentalist radicalization and ensured that there would not be another “dirty war” or takeover by groups like ISIS.

      • Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad

        Moneyed men can usually win the silence or compliance of troublesome women by paying them off. It’s news when this traditional strategy fails, as with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and CBS chief Leslie Moonves. And even these recentlyfallen exceptions succeeded for decades in wielding their wealth and clout to keep women they’d misused at bay. Donald Trump did the same, casually tossing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to stifle at least two extra-marital flings who were threatening to tattle. His money squelched them long enough for him to win the presidency.

        An Alabama teen didn’t have such a cushion of cash when his girlfriend became pregnant a couple years ago. He wanted to be a father, she didn’t want to be a mother. In defiance of his wishes, she got an abortion.

        Last year the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment affirming “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” It also specified that the state constitution provides no right to an abortion.

        This year the fatherless teen found a local judge willing to recognize that amendment as basis for the legal personhood of the departed fetus. The judge accepted a wrongful death lawsuit by the thwarted father against his girlfriend’s abortion clinic.

        Lacking the money to induce her to comply with his preference, the young man turned to the one resource he could employ—the law. The case just began and is far from resolved, but it has flashed onto media screens nationwide and beyond.

        Right-to-lifers are in ecstasy over this. They believe he will win his case in Alabama courts, although the Supreme Court would likely reverse these lower court rulings. But if Justice Ginsburg would only be agreeable enough to shuffle along to her reward, then a Trump-appointed replacement will give the court the extra vote conservatives need for a majority to uphold the fellow’s wrongful death plea.

      • Retiring the Statue of Liberty

        I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New York, Tommy in shorts and a T-shirt and his grandfather, Moore (that wasn’t his original name), wearing a suit and tie. It’s hard to imagine him as the young Jewish boy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who ran away from home — somewhere in modern-day Poland — after reportedly “pulling the Rabbi’s whiskers” in a dispute. By his own account, he spent two desperate years working to scrape together the money for passage alone in the steerage of a ship from Hamburg to America and finally made it here in the early 1890s with the equivalent of a 50-cent piece in his pocket. And he was a lucky man.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • 4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll

        More than sixty-seven percent of respondents said they are concerned Internet content will be blocked or censored, while 63.5 percent said they fear customers will receive different services and web speeds.

      • Cable lobby seeks better reputation by dropping “cable” from its name

        Cable lobbyists don’t want to be called cable lobbyists anymore. The nation’s top two cable industry lobby groups have both dropped the word “cable” from their names. But the lobby groups’ core mission—the fight against regulation of cable networks—remains unchanged.

        The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) got things started in 2016 when it renamed itself NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, keeping the initialism but dropping the words it stood for. The group was also known as the National Cable Television Association between 1968 and 2001.

      • The World Wide Web — not the internet — turns 30 years old

        Is that a dial-up modem ringing in your ears, or are you just looking at today’s Google Doodle? It might be both, because March 12 marks a special moment in the history of the internet: the birthday of the World Wide Web.

        The series of tubes we know and love as the web is now a sprightly 30 years old. The www you see in your browser’s address bar when you access a URL, a.k.a. the web, a.k.a. what helps keep you tethered to your screens, is barely a millennial; indeed, the web is 18 years younger than email and two years younger than the GIF.

        Wondering what the difference is between the World Wide Web and the internet? Rethinking your ability to explain what the web actually is? Strap in, because the answers are fun and inspiring, and there’s no time like a birthday to time-travel through internet history.

    • DRM

      • California Becomes 20th State To Push ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

        A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement. The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

        The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska that not only proposed protecting the consumers’ right to repair their own tech, but protected independent, third-party repair shops from efforts by many major companies to monopolize repair (Apple and game console vendors like Sony and Microsoft usually come first to mind). This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven by a groundswell of consumer annoyance.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Qualcomm may seek declaration of having met FRAND obligations, gets minor adjustment of Korean antitrust fine, wholesale acquittal in Japan

        There’s three pieces of news regarding Qualcomm’s antitrust issues, none of which has huge impact in its own right, but the combination of the three warrants an update.

      • Reports of Qualcomm’s Imminent Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

        Last week, the first patent jury trial between Qualcomm and Apple concluded, with the jury deciding that Apple had infringed three Qualcomm patents and awarding Qualcomm damages. Outside of Qualcomm’s hometown jury in San Diego, though, things aren’t going so well for Qualcomm.

        [...]

        Qualcomm takes a disproportionate share not only of mobile patent licensing revenue but of all patent licensing revenue. Just looking at cell phones, Qualcomm receives approximately 70% of all cellular patent licensing revenue. That 70% represents approximately 25% of all patent licensing revenue worldwide. That includes licensing revenues for life-saving drugs, for advances in computer processors and networking, for advances in clean energy, automobiles, airplanes, for every invention under the sun—every advance created by every other industry. 70% of all cellular patent revenue and 25% of all patent licensing revenue is a strong signal that Qualcomm has leveraged its position in the market to charge royalty rates far out of sync with those charged by everyone else, to the detriment of consumers and competition.

        In the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case, Qualcomm’s lawyers claimed that those royalty rates were earned by the quality of Qualcomm’s patents. And one jury seems to have agreed. But what happens when Qualcomm puts its patents in front of experts? The ITC found that only one claim of one patent was infringed, after Qualcomm started out asserting 6 patents. And the PTO found that, out of 33 challenges to claims of Qualcomm’s patents, 97% of those challenges were reasonably likely to prove the patent invalid. That’s not a group of high quality patents—and those are the ones Qualcomm picked as the most likely to be valid and infringed.

      • Dutch Discovery: to beer or not to beer

        … that is the question in recent ‘Dutch discovery’ proceedings in a patent dispute between beer giants Anheuser-Busch Inbev (‘ABI’) and Heineken. Well, sort of: the legal question was if ABI would be granted access to documentation seized at Heineken’s premises in the Netherlands. The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge answer did all but refresh the parts ABI tried to reach.

        To get back to the title of this post, ‘Dutch discovery’ is also not really spot on. In the Netherlands there exists no U.S. style pre-trial discovery. Dutch ‘discovery’ is to shoot first (by securing information on the basis of an ex parte court order), and discover later (in follow-up inter partes access proceedings). Other European states allow for similar measures to preserve evidence (partly thanks to the EU Enforcement Directive). And the funniest thing about Europe? It’s the little differences. While, like in France, we got the metric system, a Dutch discovery still tastes a little different from a saisie–contrefaçon.

        A Dutch discovery starts off with a seizure (well, often: there are some options to request an order to produce information in pending proceedings). A party seeking evidence to (further) substantiate its infringement claim, can request the court permission to seize documentation and samples and make a detailed description of products and processes at the alleged infringer’s premises. In short, to receive permission from the court – to be precise: one judge, the Preliminary Relief Judge – the patentee should make the alleged infringement sufficiently plausible and specify the in documentation it seeks to secure. If granted, the patentee is not (yet) allowed to access the secured information (which will be stored at a custodian).

        [...]

        The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge dismissed ABI’s access request. In particular noteworthy is how the Judge considers the ‘legal interest’ requirement while balancing the interests of ABI and Heineken. The Judge notes that in summary proceedings such as these (in Dutch: kort geding), there should always be a balancing of (urgent) interests. The patentee (i.c. ABI) has an interest in getting access to documents to determine if initiating actual infringement proceedings makes sense, while the alleged infringer (i.c. Heineken) has an interest in the protection of its trade secrets. Factors to consider in that regard are the value of the trade secrets and that access, if granted, is irrevocable, while it is – according to the Judge: “commonly known” – notoriously difficult to prove the misappropriation of trade secrets (for example of those acquired via access proceedings).

      • Patent case: Natural Alternatives International Inc. v. Creative Compounds LLC, USA

        Claims for methods of administering beta-alanine to increase muscles’ working capacity were valid treatment claims, not merely directed to natural laws. Claims for the supplement products and means of making them were directed to specific formulations, not natural phenomena.

      • Inventors, Licensing Groups Back US Withdrawal From Standards-Essential Patent Pact

        Standards-essential patents (SEPs) are those deemed vital for all parties to comply with a new standard, requiring the patent-owner to licence them under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The temptation for a company who owns a patent on a technology that is necessary for a standard can be to charge higher prices. The groups argue in a 15 March letter that the 2013 statement may have been well-intentioned but has been serving to weaken patents.

        [...]

        Invoking the US Constitution, the groups argue that “if standard development organizations refuse patent holders the right to exclude others who reject a license offered on reasonable terms from using their inventions, effectively creating, in the words of the AAG [Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim], a compulsory license.”

      • Network Monitoring and

        At the close of trial, the jury issued its verdict favoring the patentee and awarding $23 million in reasonable royalty damages that were then doubled by the D.Del. Judge Robinson based upon the adjudged willful infringement. On appeal, a 2-1 Federal Circuit panel has sided with the patentee on eligibility, but rejected the enhanced damages.

        The eligibility outcome here fits expectations with the majority opinion penned by Judge Stoll and joined by Judge O’Malley while Judge Lourie stood in dissent.

        SRI’s asserted claims are directed to methods of “hierarchical event monitoring” used within a computer network. U.S. Patent 6,711,615. The basic approach is (1) using a “plurality of network monitors” to detect “suspicious network activities”; (2) generate a report at the network monitor levele; and (3) a “hierarchical monitor” “automatically receiving and integrating the report.” The specification makes clear that the “integrating” step might be simply looking for commonalities in the intrusion reports or might further involve “countermeasures.” The specification does not appear to define “hierarchical monitor” other than contrasting them with peer-to-peer.

      • Trademarks

        • CJEU applies Louboutin, clarifying notion of ‘shape, or another characteristic, which gives substantial value to the goods’

          In light of the principles of legal certainty and the need to protect legitimate expectations, the CJEU ruled that Article 7(1)(e)(iii) EUTMR in its new formulation would not have retroactive effect.

          In Louboutin C‑163/16 the CJEU had considered that the concept of ‘shape’ is usually understood as a set of lines or contours that outline the product concerned. In particular, the application of a particular colour in a specific position of a product would not mean that the sign at issue consists of a ‘shape’ – within the meaning of Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of the EUTMR – where it is not the form of the product or part of the product that registration of the mark seeks to protect, but only the application of that colour in this specific location.

          However, unlike a sign relating to a specific colour, the sign in the present case contains lines and contours which together make up the two-dimensional and decorative motifs affixed to goods such as fabric or paper.

        • EU Agrees To Accede To Controversial WIPO Agreement Raising GI Protection

          European Union member states today agreed to accede to an agreement negotiated under the World Intellectual Property Organization that raises protections for geographical indications, products whose names derive from a particular regions with certain characteristics. Joining the so-called Geneva Act establishes a GI register for agricultural and non-agricultural products and appears to have the effect of requiring EU members to protect registered GIs of other members.

          It was unclear at press time what impact this will have for non-EU nations selling products in the EU. Intellectual Property Watch will seek to provide a fuller analysis of this action shortly.

      • Copyrights

        • Europeans should tell Parliament to vote NO to copyright filters

          It’s the end of the line for the EU’s proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The dramatic negative effects of upload filters would be disastrous to the vision Creative Commons cares about as an organisation and global community. The continued inclusion of Article 13 makes the directive impossible to support as-is.

          Last month the Parliament, Council, and Commission completed their trilogue negotiations and reached a final compromise on the copyright directive text. Soon thereafter the EU Member State Ambassadors and the Parliament’s legal affairs committee gave a green light, now leading to a final vote in the plenary session of the Parliament scheduled for March 26.

          Next week all 751 MEPs will get a chance vote on whether to adopt the copyright directive, or send it back to the drawing board.

        • Tell The EU Not To Wreck The Internet

          As we noted earlier this week, a bunch of sites are taking part in an internet blackout today and urging their visitors, especially those in the EU to contact their MEPs, asking them to sign the pledge not to vote for Article 13. As the page notes, Article 13 is bad for the public, bad for creators and bad for innovation.

          Because this is being pushed (misleadingly) as being good for creators, I wanted to go into a bit more depth as to why that’s wrong and why this will be bad for most creators. Over the past two decades, contrary to what some lobbyists will tell you, the internet has been an incredible boon to creativity and creators. The internet has made it easier to create, to promote, to distribute, to build a fan base, and to monetize your works than ever before in history. The idea that the internet has somehow harmed creators is a laughable myth. What the internet did do was change the model by which creators could make money. Historically, outside of the absolute fringes, it required you to get “accepted” into the club by a giant gatekeeper — a giant gatekeeper most creators couldn’t even get in front of, let alone sign a deal with. And, since that was the only path to success, those gatekeepers signed insanely bad deals with creators. They would own your copyright, not you. They would be in charge of what you created. They would be in charge of the relationship with fans. They would control how the content was distributed. You might have some input, but it was theirs now.

          And, yes, they might give you an “advance,” but it was structured as a loan. You would need to use that advance to pay for everything having to do with the creation of your work — and then the gatekeeper would bill against that “advance” for any revenue that came in. The amount of money you actually made would be tiny — and the likelihood of ever actually “recouping” the advance is so slim, that record labels were known to not even keep records because they knew they’d never have to give you another dime.

          Compare that to the world today, with the internet. In the modern world, any content creator can just go online. They can create using tools available online. They can upload their content for free at a ton of different sites. They can reach a worldwide audience. They can promote. They can build a fanbase. They can make money from a bunch of different platforms. And they retain their copyright. They retain control. They don’t have some giant company telling them what to do or keeping every penny that comes in.

        • South Africa Moves Forward With Creator Rights Agenda

          By Sean Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law

          South Africa took another step toward enactment of a Copyright Amendment Bill focused on improving the lot of creators. On March 20, the committee of jurisdiction in the National Council of Provinces voted 6-3 in favor of reporting the bill to the full house next week without amendment. The full house is likely to pass the bill, clearing the last hurdle before the President can sign the bill into law.

          South Africa and Singapore appear to be on the forefront of a new wave of explicitly pro-creator copyright reform, often at the expense of publishers and collective management organizations. Understandably for this reason, the South Africa bill has drawn considerable opposition from publishers and collective management organizations.

        • Italian Supreme Court clarifies availability of safe harbours, content of notice-and-takedown requests, and stay-down obligations

          In 2001 the Milan Court of First Instance found Yahoo! liable for hosting user-uploaded unlicensed audiovisual content owned by Radio Televisive Italiane (RTI) on its videosharing portal.

          In 2015 the Milan Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision and held that Yahoo! would qualify as a hosting provider eligible for the safe harbour protection under the relevant national provision corresponding to Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive.

          RTI appealed to the Supreme Court (it should be noted that an appeal to this court is only possible insofar as the lower court has erred in its application of legal provisions: in this sense, the Italian Supreme Court is not a court on the merits), claiming – among other things – that Yahoo! could not qualify for protection under the safe harbour, it being an ‘active host’.

          The Supreme Court reviewed relevant case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), including the most recent decision on Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive – that is SNB-REACT [commented on The IPKat here] – and the decision in Ziggo [The Pirate Bay case, commented here], in which the CJEU acknowledged the possibility for a provider to be directly liable for copyright infringement.

        • Merkel party’s delegation to the European Parliament embarrasses itself with idiotic tweet displaying total digital-economy incompetence

          However, each MEP will be free to vote for or against anything. This week the political groups are just preparing their official recommendations, and given that the current version of the copyright bill resulted from a “trilogue” (interinstitutional negotiations between EU Council, European Commission and European Parliament), it’s normal that the major political groups in the EP officially recommend to their MEPs that they vote in favor. That said, there definitely is a problem because southern European center-left parties are inclined to support the bill.

          Comparing the current situation to the one we faced in 2005 before the plenary vote on software patents, there’s certainly a wider gap now. However, there will be massive protests on Saturday. In my previous post I provided a list of demonstrations (which has even grown since) and mentioned that I’m going to be one of the speakers at the Munich demonstration. Should those demonstrations have major impact, then there’s still a chance that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party (Christian Social Union, CSU) may prefer to avoid holding a vote so shortly before EU elections in May.

          The CDU and CSU delegation to the European Parliament has embarrassed and disqualified itself to the extent that no citizen could possibly trust them to understand the issues in the slightest. There are people in the CDU and CSU with a far better grasp of digital policy issues, but they’re active in national politics, not in the European Parliament.

        • Unknown Nintendo Game Gets Digitized With Museum’s Help, Showing The Importance Of Copyright Exceptions

          Roughly a year ago, we wrote about how museums were requesting an exception to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions in order to preserve online games. While the Librarian of Congress has already allowed for exceptions for preserving non-online games, the request led to pushback by the Entertainment Software Association, which indicated preserving online games would be copyright infringement. Nintendo is a member of the ESA and the gaming giant was at the same time going around to ROMs sites all over the internet and either threatening them with legal action or scaring them into shutting down. This happened all while Nintendo also released several retro consoles, essentially cashing in on the nostalgia that the emulation sites had kept alive for the past decade or so.

          All of which is to say this: Nintendo is not generally friendly to the idea of preserving Nintendo games via digitization that it does not control itself. Standing in contrast to that is the recent discovery of an otherwise essentially unknown Nintendo game from 30 years ago that, upon discovery, was swiftly digitized for posterity.

        • The Best of Europe’s Web Went Dark Today. We Can’t Let That Be Our Future.

          With confusing rhetoric, the Directive’s advocates have always claimed that they mean no harm to popular, user-driven sites like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. They’ve said that the law is aimed only at big American tech giants, even as drafters have scrambled to address the criticism that it affects all of the Internet. Late in the process, the drafters tried to carve out exceptions for “online encyclopedias,” and the German government and European Parliamentarians fought hard – though ultimately failed – to put in effective exceptions for European start-ups and other competitors.

          Very few of the organizations and communities for whom these exceptions are meant to protect are happy with the end result. The Wikimedia Foundation, which worked valiantly to improve the Directive over its history, came out last week and declared that it could not support its final version. Even though copyright reform is badly needed online, and Wikipedians fought hard to include positive fixes in the rest of the Directive, Article 13 and Article 11 have effectively undermined all of those positive results.

        • Article 13 must go: No desperate last-minute witchcraft can turn it into magic pixie dust

          As we draw close to the finish of this long and exhausting legislative process, a few things are clear. One is that Article 13 does mean upload filters – no one can seriously deny this. Another is that Article 13 will not only harm freedom of expression on a massive scale, but it will also seriously damage the region’s already struggling digital economy. That’s the urgent message of a new open letter from 130 EU businesses. No amount of tweaking, tricks or supposed ‘fixes’ will turn this flawed technology into the long hoped-for magic pixie dust. The only solution is to drop Article 13 from the agreed text completely.

          Please use what little time is left before the final vote next week to join the Great 2019 Web Black-out on Thursday; to participate in marches across Europe in support of the open Internet on Saturday; and, above all, to contact your MEPs to ask them to vote for the removal of Article 13.

Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Headless chicken
Mike the Headless Chicken

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

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is 100% mute when it comes to UPC/UPCA. António Campinos has not mentioned it even once this year. Team UPC is another matter.

Notice this thing about Team UPC which we’ve been saying for about a year (every now and then). Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies. So in order to advance UPC, based on falsehoods, it’s increasingly hiding behind anonymous names/pseudonyms.

“Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies.”Yesterday we wrote about the latest from Bristows, which already speaks about UPC robes (for judges) and venues as if the FCC does not exist, Brexit never happened, and UPC is just about to kick off. Yesterday (later on in the day) they also published an exact copy, word by word, knowing nobody reads the blog. Bristows, the firm, published its blog post, for a fee, in another site or two (as usual over the past year or so). Then it published it a third time with different wording and an added picture (Italian flag). It is again hiding behind “Kluwer Patent blogger”, as if nobody will know who wrote it…

Team UPC is an appalling bunch; they’re antidemocratic, they’re manipulative liars, they’re censors and they’re anonymous cowards who hide behind fake names. This has become increasingly so in recent years because the only way to promote UPC is to intentionally lie about it. Even IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby, paid to promote the UPC) could no longer sustain all this chronic lying and virtually threw in the towel. Team UPC will never give up. “An overview of the INPI’s measures to reduce the patent backlog” is the title of some self-promotional piece that IAM has just published regarding Brazil. They want us to think that speed matters more than accuracy/quality. Well, go tell that to law firms that make business out of monopolies and lawsuits. Bogus patents don’t worry them as it’s their clients that pay the price.

“The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show.”Last but not least, we’ve just noticed Daniel Rowe of Dehns (Team UPC) taking note of EP 2429542, which the Enlarged Board of Appeals will look into. “In an appeal from a decision of the Examining Division on EP 2429542,” he explained, “this point is being challenged and the question has now been referred up to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.”

It’s about “double patenting” — the sort of thing patent maximalism leads to. The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show. If these patents are really that bad, why should they be decided on in courts outside the country of the accused/defendant? Why should the same people who grant these bogus patents have leverage over the branch that rules on them? No separation of powers?

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

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“EPO CQI pilot scheme improved patent quality, claims president”

Modernising the EPO

Summary: 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 (as above)

SEVERAL years ago Battistelli spent millions of euros, budget of the European Patent Office (EPO), bribing the media. This was an ethical breach on many levels. He did the same to academia, both in Europe and in the US (well outside the scope of the EPO’s members). We’re still seeing the effect of it; a lot of the media keeps silent about EPO scandals and crimes. Some of it actively yanks out fluff and PR. We’d rather not link to it this year; it would serve no positive purpose and we’ve already mentioned the earliest pieces about the so-called ‘results’ for 2018 [1, 2]. These had been published before the EPO even formally announced these, indicating there was prior coordination between the EPO’s PR people and media giants, such as Bloomberg. One might even call that “collusion” (media lending itself for PR purposes, as happened in the Battistelli days, e.g. Financial Times). The EPO is virtually above the law, so bribes to journalists aren’t even up there in the list of top offenses. We already wrote dozens of articles about this one aspect alone.

A reader has sent us the latest nonsense from the EPO. It’s a message passed around internally (late on Friday, i.e. the usual timing, probably for strategic purposes). We wonder if this mention of SUEPO (posted yesterday) can be regarded as endorsement of the rebuttal, the original, or both. In the same update SUEPO included “BARDEHLE PAGENBERG’s Contribution to the Public Consultation: EPO Strategic Plan 2023″ — a ‘contribution’ to itself. It’s pushing software patents agenda or as the FFII’s President put it about a day ago (quoting and responding): “Computer implemented inventions, recently in particular artificial intelligence” #swpats “Comvik should serve as guidance for differentiating patentable inventions from abstract ideas, which should be free from monopolies” software is abstract dude…”

Totally awful patent applications are being sent to the Office, containing many of the usual buzzwords (which the Office invites and recommends in events and written guidelines). The Office, which is granting patents on anything that contains such buzzwords, oughtn’t be surprised by an increase in applications. After all, who wouldn’t want a monopoly, even a bogus one that presumably holds EU-wide (unless or until tackled in court)?

There’s this new article from IPPro Magazine’s Barney Dixon (unlike his colleague, he doesn’t just do puff pieces). President António Campinos is evidently resorting to pseudoscience and lies (he’s no scientist, he’s a former banker). Here is the introduction and rebuttal, which SUEPO links to:

The European Patent Office (EPO)’s Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) pilot scheme has already resulted in quality improvements of 37 percent of cases, the office’s president has claimed.

[...]

An examiner close to the situation told IPPro that there were some issues with the results of this meeting.

First off, the examiner said that the large improvement percentages were “unverifiable”, as staff representation was not involved.

The examiner added: “Only management has an overview so it seems we have to take their word for it.”

Secondly, the examiner questioned the statistical validity of the figures put forward. They said: “How was the alleged increase in quality measured? Which methodology was used? What exactly was compared with what, to then be able to claim quality improvement?”

“Improvement in 37 percent of cases, as alleged, means nothing if one does not know what is considered as improvement … Quality measurement is a serious business.”

The EPO was contacted regarding the matter but declined to comment.

Writing with tongue-in-cheek expressions and in a totally sarcastic fashion, one reader spoke of “improved patent quality, claims president,” adding that: “It’s best to take what Campinos says with a pinch of salt…”

As we pointed out earlier this month, Campinos has begun lying in his writings just like Battistelli did. And he hasn’t even been in the Office for 9 months!

Here are the lies in full:

15.03.2019 Outcome and main issues

Dear Colleagues,

This week I held a meeting with participants of the Management Advisory Committee. To keep you informed on our ongoing discussions, you will find a brief summary below on two particularly important themes. Firstly our preparations to make sure the Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023) is based on extensive input continue well. The MAC received updates on the progress of the preparation of both the Financial Study and the Staff Survey report and I would like to underline that all staff will have access to the findings of both sources of information. I will also be communicating on the outcome of the One-to-One meetings separately.

Secondly, while we are currently developing the SP2023 to make improvements over the next four years, we are already starting to implement schemes intended to improve both the work place and the patent granting process. In this MAC, we therefore received an update on the development of a new Ad Hoc Teleworking Scheme and the initial results of the Collaborative Quality Improvements pilot.

Inputs for the Strategic Plan

Financial Study – An overview of the progress of this on-going study gave us good hope that it will be ready on time, as scheduled. The purpose of the study is to give us an accurate assessment of the Office’s current financial situation and how it is expected to evolve in the future. Four scenarios will be presented from “Conservative” to “Optimistic” based upon the evolution of a set of various external factors, which determine the economic environment in which our organisation operates and which we cannot influence. The consultant will also provide a number of takeaways – or conclusions – and identify a series of levers, which are measures under the influence of our Office and which can be managed to help steer our financial future. The outcome of the Financial Study will be made available to all staff. An internal communication plan is being prepared so that all our departments will have access to comprehensive information and can ask their questions to obtain clarification where required on this sometimes complex issue.

We are convinced that greater financial sustainability for our organisation can be achieved through careful management of the various elements which can have a financial effect on our organisation. While we have already increased our operational and financial performance over recent years, the issue of financial sustainability is ongoing. We are now aiming to manage these questions based on a solid plan to address our liabilities for the years to come and so these questions do not have to be revisited in the near future.

Staff Engagement Survey – Following the closure of the survey on the 1 March with an 85% participation rate, we will soon have another invaluable source of information containing the views of the staff. The results will be delivered directly by the survey provider, Willis Towers Watson, at the beginning of April.

As well as being published on the Intranet, the consultant will be providing both Office-wide and DG specific results through a series of presentations at different sites. Further information on the presentations and the specific timing will be provided shortly but it is planned that all staff will be able to access the presentation either in person or by VICO (or similar means).

New Schemes

Ad hoc Teleworking Scheme – The MAC received an update on an Ad hoc Teleworking (AHTW) pilot scheme under development. By complementing the current Part-Time Home Working Scheme, it will provide more opportunities for staff members to work remotely on an occasional basis. It aims to contribute towards a more flexible working environment that can help balance the various professional and private demands faced by our staff members.

The main elements of the scheme were discussed, as well as the criteria for evaluating the success of the pilot. While the exact details are still to be finalised it’s anticipated that approximately 200 employees will initially take part, starting in April and following consultation with the GCC. We have every confidence that the scheme will prove a win-win for the Office and our employees.

Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) – Some staff may recall that we intend to encourage greater collaboration (broken link) among staff and departments to see whether it can yield benefits, such as increased transparency and the spread of knowledge and best practice. In the last couple of months, based on already existing collaborations used in many teams, DG1 has implemented a pilot that aimed to enhance quality in the patent granting process through greater collaboration within divisions and in teams. In the MAC yesterday, VP1 presented the findings of the first few weeks of operation and already the results are extremely encouraging.

Overall, quality improvements were reported in 37% of cases. The exercise is proving particularly useful for increasing the quality of examination, in which consultations led to quality improvements in 46% of the cases. Efficiency gains were also registered in 20% of all cases and the consultations were judged to be useful or very useful by the participants in the vast majority of cases (72%).

Although these are initial results, they are providing an extremely useful insight into the way in which greater collaboration can help contribute to greater quality, and confirming the findings of teams already using an enhanced collaborative approach. But other metrics being recorded also show a range of additional benefits, such as improved confidence among participants in their judgements, a sense of shared ownership and job satisfaction.

All members of the MAC would like to convey their thanks to everyone involved in the CQI initiative and look forward to hearing more about the pilot in the weeks to come.

Other Business

In other business, a statistical overview on different key figures from the patent granting process and some social indicators were presented, showing some positive trends that included an increase in applications and a reduction in the backlog. Finally, the timing of the rewards process was also discussed. More information on the rewards process will be communicated to all staff on 15 April.

I look forward to updating you in due course on the outcome of the next MAC. In the meantime, and following the Strategic Quality Board held in February, I will also be reporting on next week’s meeting on engaging our users in quality.

António Campinos
President

We’re probably the first and perhaps only site to publish this text (other than the intranet). Making it public may make rebuttal by anyone easier. Are puff pieces based on it going to come in the form of a public ‘study’?

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